2012 Vol. 33, No. 6

Display Method:
2012, 33(6): 547-603.
As the most prominent sub-nuclear compartment in the interphase nucleus and the site of ribosome biogenesis, the nucleolus synthesizes and processes rRNA and also assembles ribosomal subunits. Though several lines of research in recent years have indicated that the nucleolus might have additional functions—such as the assembling of signal recognition particles, the processing of mRNA, tRNA and telomerase activities, and regulating the cell cycle—proteomic analyses of the nucleolus in three representative eukaryotic species has shown that a plethora of proteins either have no association with ribosome biogenesis or are of presently unknown function. This phenomenon further indicates that the composition and function of the nucleolus is far more complicated than previously thought. Meanwhile, the available nucleolar proteome databases has provided new approaches and led to remarkable progress in understanding the nucleolus. Here, we have summarized recent advances in the study of the nucleolus, including new discoveries of its structure, function, genomics/proteomics as well as its origin and evolution. Moreover, we highlight several of the important unresolved issues in this field.
The proliferation of tumor cells is an extremely energy-consuming process. However, different from normal cells, tumor cells generate energy via glycolysis even under aerobic conditions, which is one of the ten hallmarks of tumor cells. The switch of energy metabolism results in a series of physiological changes in tumor cells, including rapid generation of ATP and abundent biomass for cell proliferation, which form the basis of tumor cells to successfully adapt to their extreme microenvironment (e.g. lack of oxygen). In this review, we will introduce recent progress in studying somatic mutations on the energy metabolism related genes in tumors, with special focus on the potential factors involving in the “switch” and to decipher the genetic adaptive footprint of the “switch” from the angle of molecular evolution.
Mitochondria are old organelles found in most eukaryotic cells. Due to its rapid mutation ratio, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been widely used as a DNA marker in molecular studies and has long been suggested to undergo neutral evolution or purifying selection. Mitochondria produces 95% of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) needed for locomotion, and heat for thermoregulation. Recent studies had found that mitochondria play critical roles in energy metabolism, and proved that functional constraints acting on mitochondria, due to energy metabolism and/or thermoregulation, influence the evolution of mtDNA. This review summarizes mitochondrial genome composition, evolution, and its applications in molecular evolution studies (reconstruction of species phylogenesis, the relationship between biological energy metabolism and mtDNA evolution, and the mtDNA codon reassignment influences the adaptation in different creatures).
Metagenome, a term first dubbed by Handelsman in 1998 as “the genomes of the total microbiota found in nature”, refers to sequence data directly sampled from the environment (which may be any habitat in which microbes live, such as the guts of humans and animals, milk, soil, lakes, glaciers, and oceans). Metagenomic technologies originated from environmental microbiology studies and their wide application has been greatly facilitated by next-generation high throughput sequencing technologies. Like genomics studies, the bottle neck of metagenomic research is how to effectively and efficiently analyze the gigantic amount of metagenomic sequence data using the bioinformatics pipelines to obtain meaningful biological insights. In this article, we briefly review the state-of-the-art bioinformatics software tools in metagenomic research. Due to the differences between the metagenomic data obtained from whole genome sequencing (i.e., shotgun metagenomics) and amplicon sequencing (i.e., 16S-rRNA and gene-targeted metagenomics) methods, there are significant differences between the corresponding bioinformatics tools for these data; accordingly, we review the computational pipelines separately for these two types of data.
Whether or not oogenesis continues after birth in mammalian ovaries remains controversial. Since the 1950’s, it has been generally accepted that oogenesis takes place during embryogenesis in mammals and ceases at birth. At birth, germ cells in mammalian ovaries have progressed to the diplotene stage of meiotic prophase and have formed primordial follicles with surrounding somatic cells. These primordial follicles represent follicle reserves of the reproductive life. However, this view has been recently challenged by a growing body of evidence showing the isolation and propagation of germ stem cells from mouse and human ovaries. These ovarian germ stem cells are capable of regenerating functional oocytes when transplanted back into recipient ovaries. Despite the discovery of the potential germ stem cells in mammalian ovaries, it remains uncertain whether these cells exist and function in ovaries under physiological conditions. Herein we review the current progress and future direction in this infant area.
The crested ibis is among the rarest and most endangered species worldwide. To preserve its genetic resources and conveniently provide materials for biological research, we successfully established two cell lines from biopsies of a male and female adult crested ibis. The cultured cells from both specimens had typical fibroblast morphology. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that the cultured cells strongly expressed the marker of smooth muscle specific α-actin, clearly indicating the cells were from the smooth muscle tissue. Growth property analysis showed that the cells grew well past the first 10 passages and continued growing with reduced proliferation after 15 passages, but ceased by passage 25 as the cells could not grow to form a confluent monolayer. From these two cell lines, we harvested mitotic metaphase chromosomes and conducted different staining, banding, and fluorescent in situ hybridization. Throughout the process, cells maintained normal diploidy, with the karyotypes of these two cell lines being 2n=68, ZZ in the male and 2n=68, ZW in the female. Patterns of Ag staining, C- and G-bands of the crested ibis chromosomes were also studied. Banding analyses and fluorescent in situ hybridization also allowed identification of the sex chromosomes. We suggest that the external implants method for establishing primary cell lines used in this study may also be applicable to other birds, especially similarly endangered avian species.
The identification of medicinal insects is a complex task, especially when they are processed into pieces or powders. This difficulty has potential to create severe complications. For example, inaccurate identification can affect the safety of clinical application for corresponding medicinal insects. A quick and accurate method to identify these kinds of organisms is needed. Here, we amplified and sequenced the mtCOI gene in processed product of Catharsius molossus, including intact individuals and broken individuals, to test the feasibility of DNA barcoding this kind of sample. After comparing results of different DNA extraction methods, we finally succeed in amplifying and sequencing the barcoding segments in these samples. Our method’s barcoding sequences could clearly distinguish between C. molossus and its allied species. The data also indicated that a degree of interfusion of other insects was present in the broken medicinal C. molossus product. These results are quite promising to the establishment of performance criteria for future identification of medicinal C.molossus that will help ensure the safety application of these medicinal insects.
Heat shock protein 60 is an essential chaperone that can maintain the natural structure and function of mitochondrial proteins. Here, we successfully cloned the full length cDNA of HSP60 from Neobenedenia melleni, designated as NmHSP60. Real-time quantitative PCR and Western blot were used to analyze the expression change of NmHSP60 under different temperature and salinity. Compared with the typical 25 ℃, expressions decreased dramatically in eggs and adults at 18 ℃. Conversely, at 32 ℃, expression increase dramatically in adults. Compared with salinity 24, expressions were significantly down-regulated in adults at salinity 18, and up-regulated in eggs at salinity 30. Experimental results suggest that NmHSP60 may play an significant role in N. melleni's adaptation to adverse environmental conditions.