2015, 36(4): 183-222. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2015.4.183
Venom (toxins) is an important trait evolved along the evolutionary tree of animals. Our knowledges on venoms, such as their origins and loss, the biological relevance and the coevolutionary patterns with other organisms are greatly helpful in understanding many fundamental biological questions, i.e., the environmental adaptation and survival competition, the evolution shaped development and balance of venoms, and the sophisticated correlations among venom, immunity, body power, intelligence, their genetic basis, inherent association, as well as the cost-benefit and trade-offs of biological economy. Lethal animal envenomation can be found worldwide. However, from foe to friend, toxin studies have led lots of important discoveries and exciting avenues in deciphering and fighting human diseases, including the works awarded the Nobel Prize and lots of key clinic therapeutics. According to our survey, so far, only less than 0.1% of the toxins of the venomous animals in China have been explored. We emphasize on the similarities shared by venom and immune systems, as well as the studies of toxin knowledge-based physiological toxin-like proteins/peptides (TLPs). We propose the natural pairing hypothesis. Evolution links toxins with humans. Our mission is to find out the right natural pairings and interactions of our body elements with toxins, and with endogenous toxin-like molecules. Although, in nature, toxins may endanger human lives, but from a philosophical point of view, knowing them well is an effective way to better understand ourselves. So, this is why we study toxins.
2017, 38(3): 118-126. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2017.032
The Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis), a squirrel-like and rat-sized mammal, has a wide distribution in Southeast Asia, South and Southwest China and has many unique characteristics that make it suitable for use as an experimental animal. There have been many studies using the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) aimed at increasing our understanding of fundamental biological mechanisms and for the modeling of human diseases and therapeutic responses. The recent release of a publicly available annotated genome sequence of the Chinese tree shrew and its genome database (www.treeshrewdb.org) has offered a solid base from which it is possible to elucidate the basic biological properties and create animal models using this species. The extensive characterization of key factors and signaling pathways in the immune and nervous systems has shown that tree shrews possess both conserved and unique features relative to primates. Hitherto, the tree shrew has been successfully used to create animal models for myopia, depression, breast cancer, alcohol-induced or non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, to name a few. The recent successful genetic manipulation of the tree shrew has opened a new avenue for the wider usage of this animal in biomedical research. In this opinion paper, I attempt to summarize the recent research advances that have used the Chinese tree shrew, with a focus on the new knowledge obtained by using the biological properties identified using the tree shrew genome, a proposal for the genome-based approach for creating animal models, and the genetic manipulation of the tree shrew. With more studies using this species and the application of cutting-edge gene editing techniques, the tree shrew will continue to be under the spot light as a viable animal model for investigating the basis of many different human diseases.
2017, 38(3): 127-137. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2017.033
The tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) is a promising laboratory animal that possesses a closer genetic relationship to primates than to rodents. In addition, advantages such as small size, easy breeding, and rapid reproduction make the tree shrew an ideal subject for the study of human disease. Numerous tree shrew disease models have been generated in biological and medical studies in recent years. Here we summarize current tree shrew disease models, including models of infectious diseases, cancers, depressive disorders, drug addiction, myopia, metabolic diseases, and immune-related diseases. With the success of tree shrew transgenic technology, this species will be increasingly used in biological and medical studies in the future.
2016, 37(4): 214-219. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.4.214
In the past three years, RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease from the microbial clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) adaptive immune system has been used to facilitate efficient genome editing in many model and non-model animals. However, its application in nonhuman primates is still at the early stage, though in view of the similarities in anatomy, physiology, behavior and genetics, closely related nonhuman primates serve as optimal models for human biology and disease studies. In this review, we summarize the current proceedings of gene editing using CRISPR/Cas9 in nonhuman primates.
Molecular cloning, pathologically-correlated expression and functional characterization of the colonystimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF-1R) gene from a teleost, Plecoglossus altivelis
2016, 37(2): 96-102. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.2.96
Colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF-1R) is an important regulator of monocytes/macrophages (MO/MΦ). Although several CSF-1R genes have been identified in teleosts, the precise role of CSF- 1R in ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis) remains unclear. In this study, we characterized the CSF-1R homologue from P. altivelis, and named it PaCSF-1R. Multiple sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree analysis showed that PaCSF-1R was most closely related to that of Japanese ricefish (Oryzias latipes). Tissue distribution and expression analysis showed that the PaCSF-1R transcript was mainly expressed in the head kidney-derived MO/MΦ, spleen, and head kidney, and its expression was significantly altered in various tissues upon Vibrio anguillarum infection. After PaCSF-1R neutralization for 48 h, the phagocytic activity of MO/MΦ was significantly decreased, suggesting that PaCSF-1R plays a role in regulating the phagocytic function of ayu MO/MΦ.
2016, 37(4): 220-228. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.4.220
Insects compose more than half of all living organisms on earth, playing essential roles in global ecosystems and forming complex relationships with humans. Insect research has significant biological and practical importance. However, the application of genetic manipulation technology has long been restricted to several model insects only, such as gene knockout in Drosophila, which has severely restrained the development of insect biology research. Recently, with the increase in the release of insect genome data and the introduction of the CRISPR/Cas9 system for efficient genetic modification, it has been possible to conduct meaningful functional studies in a broad array of insect species. Here, we summarize the advances in CRISPR/Cas9 in different insect species, discuss methods for its promotion, and consider its application in future insect studies. This review provides detailed information about the application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in insect research and presents possible ways to improve its use in functional studies and insect pest control.
Involvement of ayu NOD2 in NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways: Insights into functional conservation of NOD2 in antibacterial innate immunity
2019, 40(2): 77-88. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.066
Nucleotide oligomerization domain 2 (NOD2) is a major cytoplasmic sensor for pathogens and is critical for the clearance of cytosolic bacteria in mammals. However, studies regarding NOD2, especially the initiated signaling pathways, are scarce in teleost species. In this study, we identified a NOD2 molecule (PaNOD2) from ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis). Bioinformatics analysis showed the structure of NOD2 to be highly conserved during vertebrate evolution. Dual-luciferase reporter assays examined the activation of NF-κB signaling and Western blotting analysis detected the phosphorylation of three MAP kinases (p-38, Erk1/2, and JNK1/2). Functional study revealed that, like its mammalian counterparts, PaNOD2 was the receptor of the bacterial cell wall component muramyl dipeptide (MDP), and the leucine-rich repeat motif was responsible for the recognition and binding of PaNOD2 with the ligand. Overexpression of PaNOD2 activated the NF-κB signaling pathway, leading to the upregulation of inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α and IL-1β in HEK293T cells and ayu head kidney-derived monocytes/macrophages (MO/MΦ). Particularly, we found that PaNOD2 activated the MAPK signaling pathways, as indicated by the increased phosphorylation of p-38, Erk1/2, and JNK1/2, which have not been characterized in any teleost species previously. Our findings proved that the NOD2 molecule and initiated pathways are conserved between mammals and ayu. Therefore, ayu could be used as an animal model to investigate NOD2-based diseases and therapeutic applications.
2019, 40(2): 70-76. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.069
Intensive aquaculture has increased the severity and frequency of fish diseases. Given the functional importance of gut microbiota in various facets of host physiology, modulation of this microbiota is a feasible strategy to mitigate emerging diseases in aquaculture. To achieve this, a fundamental understanding of the interplay among fish health, microbiota, and invading pathogens is required. This mini-review focuses on current knowledge regarding the associations between fish diseases, dysbiosis of gut microbiota, and immune responses. Furthermore, updated research on fish disease from an ecological perspective is discussed, including colonization resistance imposed by commensals and strategies used by pathogens to overcome resistance. We also propose several directions for future research, such as exploration of the causal links between fish diseases and specific taxa, and identification of universal gut microbial biomarkers for rapid disease diagnosis.
2017, 38(2): 55-80. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2017.003
Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent global health challenge in human and veterinary medicine. Wild animals are not directly exposed to clinically relevant antibiotics; however, antibacterial resistance in wild animals has been increasingly reported worldwide in parallel to the situation in human and veterinary medicine. This underlies the complexity of bacterial resistance in wild animals and the possible interspecies transmission between humans, domestic animals, the environment, and wildlife. This review summarizes the current data on expanded-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL), AmpC β-lactamase, carbapenemase, and colistin resistance genes in Enterobacteriaceae isolates of wildlife origin. The aim of this review is to better understand the important role of wild animals as reservoirs and vectors in the global dissemination of crucial clinical antibacterial resistance. In this regard, continued surveillance is urgently needed worldwide.
2017, 38(2): 110-112. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2017.017
A computer software package called ‘FasParser’ was developed for manipulating sequence data. It can be used on personal computers to perform series of analyses, including counting and viewing differences between two sequences at both DNA and codon levels, identifying overlapping regions between two alignments, sorting of sequences according to their IDs or lengths, concatenating sequences of multiple loci for a particular set of samples, translating nucleotide sequences to amino acids, and constructing alignments in several different formats, as well as some extracting and filtrating of data for a particular FASTA file. Majority of these functions can be run in a batch mode, which is very useful for analyzing large data sets. This package can be used by a broad audience, and is designed for researchers that do not have programming experience in sequence analyses. The GUI version of FasParser can be downloaded from https://github.com/Sun-Yanbo/FasParser, free of charge.
2016, 37(5): 263-269. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.5.263
Lampreys belong to the superclass Cyclostomata and represent the most ancient group of vertebrates. Existing for over 360 million years, they are known as living fossils due to their many evolutionally conserved features. They are not only a keystone species for studying the origin and evolution of vertebrates, but also one of the best models for researching vertebrate embryonic development and organ differentiation. From the perspective of genetic information, the lamprey genome remains primitive compared with that of other higher vertebrates, and possesses abundant functional genes. Through scientific and technological progress, scientists have conducted in-depth studies on the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems of lampreys. Such research has significance for understanding and revealing the origin and evolution of vertebrates, and could contribute to a greater understanding of human diseases and treatments. This review presents the current progress and significance of lamprey research.
2018, 39(2): 72-86. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2017.055
Acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are worldwide public health problems affecting millions of people and have rapidly increased in prevalence in recent years. Due to the multiple causes of renal failure, many animal models have been developed to advance our understanding of human nephropathy. Among these experimental models, rodents have been extensively used to enable mechanistic understanding of kidney disease induction and progression, as well as to identify potential targets for therapy. In this review, we discuss AKI models induced by surgical operation and drugs or toxins, as well as a variety of CKD models (mainly genetically modified mouse models). Results from recent and ongoing clinical trials and conceptual advances derived from animal models are also explored.
2016, 37(2): 110-115. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.2.110
The World Health Organization has declared the present Zika virus epidemic to be a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. The virus appears to have spread from Thailand to French Polynesia in 2013, and has since infected over a million people in the countries of South and Central America. In most cases the infection is mild and transient, but the virus does appear to be strongly neurotropic and the presumptive cause of both birth defects in fetuses and Guillain-Barré syndrome in some adults. In this paper, the techniques and utilities developed in the study of mitochondrial DNA were applied to the Zika virus. As a result, it is possible to show in a simple manner how a phylogenetic tree may be constructed and how the mutation rate of the virus can be measured. The study showed the mutation rate to vary between 12 and 25 bases a year, in a viral genome of 10272 bases. This rapid mutation rate will enable the geographic spread of the epidemic to be monitored easily and may also prove useful in assisting the identification of preventative measures that are working, and those that are not.
2018, 39(4): 255-265. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2018.045
Gibbons in China represent the northernmost margin of present day gibbon species distribution (around N25°). Compared to tropical habitats, northern gibbon habitats are characterized by low temperatures and remarkable seasonal variation in fruit abundance. How gibbons adapt to their cold and seasonal habitats and what ecological factors affect their sociality are key questions for understanding their ecology and social system evolution, the elucidation of which will contribute to the conservation of these special populations/species. According to preliminary short-term studies, northern gibbons consume more leaves and use larger home ranges than tropical gibbons. Interestingly, some Nomascus groups consist of more than one adult female. However, these preliminary results are not well understood or incorporated into current socio-ecological theories regarding gibbon species. To better understand northern gibbons, our team has systematically studied three habituated groups of Nomascus concolor, three groups of N. nasutus, and two habituated groups of Hoolock tianxing since 2002. In this paper, we stress the challenges facing gibbons living in northern habitats and summarize their behavioral adaptations to their harsh environments. We also describe the northern gibbon social system and discuss the potential relationships between their ecology and sociality. Finally, we highlight future research questions related to northern gibbons in China.
2016, 37(6): 315-326. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.6.315
The grey wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the most widely distributed terrestrial mammals, and its distribution and ecology in Europe and North America are largely well described. However, the distribution of grey wolves in southern China is still highly controversial. Several well-known western literatures stated that there were no grey wolves in southern China, while the presence of grey wolves across China has been indicated in A Guide to the Mammals of China, published by Princeton University Press. It is essential to solve this discrepancy since dogs may have originated from grey wolves in southern China. Therefore, we systematically investigated Chinese literatures about wild animal surveys and identified more than 100 articles and books that included information of the distribution of grey wolves in China. We also surveyed the collections of three Chinese natural museums and found 26 grey wolf skins specimens collected across China. Moreover, we investigated the fossil records in China and identified 25 archaeological sites with wolf remains including south China. In conclusion, with the comprehensive summary of Chinese literatures, museum specimens and fossil records, we demonstrate that grey wolves do distribute across all parts of the Chinese mainland, including the most southern parts.
The big bang of genome editing technology: development and application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in disease animal models
2016, 37(4): 191-204. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.4.191
Targeted genome editing technology has been widely used in biomedical studies. The CRISPR-associated RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9 has become a versatile genome editing tool. The CRISPR/Cas9 system is useful for studying gene function through efficient knock-out, knock-in or chromatin modification of the targeted gene loci in various cell types and organisms. It can be applied in a number of fields, such as genetic breeding, disease treatment and gene functional investigation. In this review, we introduce the most recent developments and applications, the challenges, and future directions of Cas9 in generating disease animal model. Derived from the CRISPR adaptive immune system of bacteria, the development trend of Cas9 will inevitably fuel the vital applications from basic research to biotechnology and bio-medicine.
2016, 37(4): 205-213. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.4.205
With the development of high-throughput sequencing technology in the post-genomic era, researchers have concentrated their efforts on elucidating the relationships between genes and their corresponding functions. Recently, important progress has been achieved in the generation of genetically modified mice based on CRISPR/Cas9 and haploid embryonic stem cell (haESC) approaches, which provide new platforms for gene function analysis, human disease modeling, and gene therapy. Here, we review the CRISPR/Cas9 and haESC technology for the generation of genetically modified mice and discuss the key challenges in the application of these approaches.
Molecular characterization and functional analysis of a piscidin gene in large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea)
2016, 37(6): 347-355. doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.6.347
The piscidin family, which includes potent antimicrobial peptides with broad-spectrum activity, plays an important role in the innate immune system of fish. In this study, we cloned piscidin-5-like type 3 (Lcpis5lt3) in large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea). Multiple alignments with other known piscidins revealed amino acid conservation throughout the fish, especially at the signal peptide (22 amino acids). The phylogenetic tree confirmed that Lcpis5lt3 and large yellow croaker piscidin-5-like proteins were grouped together to form a branch. Quantitative real-time PCR revealed that Lcpis5lt3 was expressed in a wide range of tissues, including the brain, muscle, gill, head kidney, intestine, kidney, liver, and spleen. The highest mRNA expression level of Lcpis5lt3 was found in the spleen. After Vibrio alginolyticus infection, mRNA expression was rapidly upregulated in the liver, head kidney, gill, kidney, and intestine at 4, 8, 12, and 24 h post infection (hpi), whereas there were no significant changes in the spleen. The antimicrobial spectrum showed that the synthetic mature peptide of Lcpis5lt3 exhibited different activity in vitro against various bacteria, such as Aeromonas hydrophila, V. anguillarum, V. alginolyticus, V. parahaemolyticus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes. In addition, survival rates from the in vivo assay indicated that the synthetic peptide of Lcpis5lt3 increased the survival rate of large yellow croaker after V. alginolyticus challenge, resulting in a decline in bacterial burden and mRNA expression levels of interleukin-1β, interleukin-10, and tumor necrosis factor-α. These data suggest that Lcpis5lt3 plays an important role in innate immunity in large yellow croaker and might represent a potential therapeutic agent against pathogen invasion.