2019 Vol. 40, No. 3

Full issue
2019, 40(3)
Macrophages exist in most tissues and play a variety of functions in vertebrates. Teleost fish species are found in most aquatic environments throughout the world and are quite diverse for a group of vertebrate animals. Due to whole genome duplication and environmental adaptation, teleost monocytes/macrophages possess a variety of different functions and modulations compared with those of mammals. A deeper understanding of teleost monocytes/macrophages in the immune system will not only help develop teleost-specific methods of disease prevention but will also help improve our understanding of the various immune mechanisms in mammals. In this review, we summarize the differences in polarization and phagocytosis of teleost and mammalian macrophages to improve our understanding of the various immune mechanisms in vertebrates.
We describe a new species of the genus Tylototriton from Ingyin Taung Mt., Mohnyin Township, Kachin State, Myanmar, based on morphological and molecular evidence. The new species is assigned to the subgenus Tylototriton s. str. and is clearly distinct from all known congeners by the following characters: medium body size; thin, long tail, lacking lateral grooves; rough skin; truncate snout; wide, protruding supratemporal bony ridges on head, beginning at anterior corner of orbit; weak, almost indistinct sagittal ridge; long, thin limbs, broadly overlapping when adpressed along body; distinct, wide, non-segmented vertebral ridge; 13 or 14 rib nodules; brown to dark-brown background coloration with dull orange-brown to yellowish-brown markings on labial regions, parotoids, rib nodules, whole limbs, vent, and ventral tail ridge. We also briefly discuss biogeography and species diversity of the genus Tylototriton in Myanmar.
A new species of the genus Liurana Dubois, 1986 is described from Medog County, Tibet, China, based on morphological and molecular data. The new species can be differentiated from all other congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) head wider than long; (2) tympanum distinct and large; (3) hindlimb long, tibiotarsal articulation beyond tip of snout when adpressed; (4) belly with flat tubercles, cloacal region with small tubercles; (5) transverse bands distinctly on dorsal limbs, four bands on thigh and three on tibia; and, (6) dark brown marbled patterns or speckles on white belly. Here, we also discuss the distribution pattern of Liurana in the East Himalaya region, the role of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in the speciation and genetic isolation of congeners, the direct developmental mode of reproduction, and the two different ecotypes of the genus. Lastly, we provide conservation recommendations for the genus in southeastern Tibet.
Insulin is a key hormone for the regulation of metabolism in vertebrates. Insulin is produced by pancreatic islet cells in response to elevated glucose levels and leads to the uptake of glucose by tissues such as liver and adipose tissue to store energy. Insulin also has additional functions in regulating development. Previous work has shown that the proglucagon gene, which encodes hormones counter regulating insulin, is duplicated in teleost fish, and that the peptide hormones encoded by these genes have diversified in function. I sought to determine whether similar processes have occurred to insulin genes in these species. Searches of fish genomes revealed an unexpected diversity of insulin genes. A triplication of the insulin gene occurred at the origin of teleost fish, however one of these three genes, insc, has been lost in most teleost fish lineages. The two other insulin genes, insa and insb, have been retained but show differing levels of selective constraint suggesting that they might have diversified in function. Intriguingly, a duplicate copy of the insa gene, which I named insab, is found in many fish. The coding sequence encoded by insab genes is under weak selective constraint, with its predicted protein sequences losing their potential to be processed into a two-peptide hormone. However, these sequences have retained perfectly conserved cystine residues, suggesting that they maintain insulin’s three-dimensional structure and therefore might modulate the processing and secretion of insulin produced by the other genes.
Rana kunyuensis is a species of brown frog that lives exclusively on Kunyu Mountain, Yantai, China. In the current study, a 279-bp cDNA sequence encoding a novel antimicrobial peptide (AMP), designated as amurin-9KY, was cloned from synthesized double-strand skin cDNA of R. kunyuensis. The amurin-9KY precursor was composed of 62 amino acid (aa) residues, whereas the mature peptide was composed of 14 aa and contained two cysteines forming a C-terminal heptapeptide ring (Rana box domain) and an amidated C-terminus. These structural characters represent a novel amphibian AMP family. Although amurin-9KY exhibited high similarity to the already identified amurin-9AM from R. amurensis, little is known about the structures and activities of amurin-9 family AMPs so far. Therefore, amurin-9KY and its three derivatives (amurin-9KY1–3) were designed and synthesized. The structures and activities were examined to evaluate the influence of C-terminal amidation and the heptapeptide ring on the activities and structure of amurin-9KY. Results indicated that C-terminal amidation was essential for antimicrobial activity, whereas both C-terminal amidation and the heptapeptide ring played roles in the low hemolytic activity. Circular dichroism (CD) spectra showed that the four peptides adopted an a-helical conformation in THF/H2O (v/v 1:1) solution, but a random coil in aqueous solution. Elimination of the C-terminal heptapeptide ring generated two free cysteine residues with unpaired thiol groups, which greatly increased the concentration-dependent anti-oxidant activity. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was also performed to determine the possible bactericidal mechanisms.
Protease inhibitors have been reported rarely from the leech Hirudinaria manillensis. In this study, we purified a novel protease inhibitor (bdellin-HM-2) with anticoagulant properties from H. manillensis. With a molecular weight of 1.4x104, bdellin-HM-2 was also characterized with three intra-molecular disulfide bridges at the N-terminus and multiple HHXDD and HXDD motifs at the C-terminus. cDNA cloning revealed that the putative nucleotide-encoding protein of bdellin-HM-2 contained 132 amino acids and was encoded by a 399 bp open reading frame (ORF). Sequence alignment showed that bdellin-HM-2 shared similarity with the “non-classical” Kazal-type serine protease inhibitors, but had no inhibitory effect on trypsin, elastase, chymotrypsin, kallikrein, factor XIIa (FXIIa), factor XIa (FXIa), factor Xa (FXa), thrombin, or plasmin. Bdellin-HM-2 showed anticoagulant effects by prolonging the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), indicating a role in enabling H. manillensis to obtain a blood meal from its host. Our results suggest that bdellin-HM-2 may play a crucial role in blood-sucking in this leech species and may be a potential candidate for the development of clinical anti-thrombotic drugs.
Accurate information on eye position in the orbit is available from visual feedback, efference copy of the oculomotor commands and proprioceptive signals from the extraocular muscles (EOM). Whereas visual feedback and oculomotor commands have been extensively studied, central processing of EOM proprioceptive signals remains to be elucidated. A challenge to the field is to develop an approach to induce passive eye movements without physically contacting the eyes. A novel method was developed to generate passive eye movements in rats. A small rare-earth magnet disk (0.7 mm diameter, 0.5 mm thickness) was attached to the surface of a rat’s eyeball. A metal rod (5 mm diameter) wrapped with an electromagnetic (EM) coil was placed near the magnet (8–15 mm). By passing currents to the EM coil, electromagnetic force (EMF) was generated and acted upon the magnet and induced passive eye movements. The EMF induced well-defined passive eye movements, whose directions were dependent on current polarity and amplitudes and peak velocities were dependent on current intensity and duration. Peak velocities of the EMF-induced eye movements were linearly related to amplitudes, exhibiting main sequence relationships similar to that of saccades in awake rats and eye movements induced by electrical microstimulation of the abducens nucleus in anesthetized rats. Histological examination showed that repetitive EMF stimulations did not appear to result in damages in the EOM fibers. These results validated the EMF approach as a novel tool to investigate EOM proprioceptive signals and their roles in visual localization and gaze control.
This research aimed to provide evidence of a relationship between digit ratio and depression status in the cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis). In stable cynomolgus monkey social groups, we selected 15 depressed monkeys based on depressive-like behavioral criteria and 16 normal control monkeys. All animals were video recorded for two weeks, with the duration and frequency of the core depressive behaviors and 58 other behaviors in 12 behavioral categories then evaluated via behavioral analysis. Finger lengths from the right and left forelimb hands of both groups were measured by X-ray imaging. Finger length and digit ratio comparisons between the two groups were conducted using Student’s t-test. In terms of the duration of each behavior, significant differences emerged in “Huddling” and five other behavioral categories, including Ingestive, Amicable, Parental, Locomotive, and Resting. In addition to the above five behavioral categories, we found that depressed monkeys spent less time in parental and rubbing ‘ and forth behaviors than the control group. Furthermore, the 4th fingers were significantly longer in the left and right hands in the control group relative to the depressed monkeys. The second-to-fourth (2D:4D) digit ratio in the left and right forelimb hands was significantly lower in the control group than that in the depressed group. Our findings revealed significant differences in finger lengths and digit ratios between depressed monkeys and healthy controls, which concords with our view that relatively high fetal testosterone exposure may be a protective factor against developing depressive symptoms (or that low fetal testosterone exposure is a risk factor).
Letters to the editor
everal previous studies have indicated that nest sanitation behavior is a general adaptation in altricial birds, with egg recognition capacity evolving as a specific response to interspecific brood parasitism (IBP). However, a recent study suggested an alternative hypothesis, concluding that conspecific brood parasitism (CBP) selects for egg rejection in thrushes, with IBP as a by-product. In the present study, we used a spectrophotometer to quantify egg coloration and egg mimicry and performed artificial parasitism experiments in the grey-backed thrush (Turdus hortulorum). We showed that individuals of this species rejected 100% of 12 foreign eggs, without IBP or CBP detected. In a review of previous studies, we also discuss possible explanations for the high egg rejection rate in the grey-backed thrush and suggest areas for future study.
Early brain development after birth is extremely dynamic, suggesting that potential functional changes occur during this period. In this study, the maximal electroshock seizure threshold (MEST) was used to explore the electrophysiological variation among three developmental stages in young mice (no more than 5 weeks old). The induced electroshock seizure (ES) behavior of early postnatal mice (1–2-weeks old) differed from that during weaning (3 weeks old) and early puberty (4–5-weeks old). Thus, we further explored their respective characteristic responses to the ES parameters. When the stimulation current (SC) was limited to 4.0 mA, only the 1–2-week-old mice were induced to exhibit ES behavior at voltages of 30 V and 40 V, indicating they were more sensitive to maximal electroshock seizure (MES) (response to lower voltage). Surprisingly, however, they showed substantially lower mortality than the older groups under higher voltage conditions (60, 100, 160, and 200 V), suggesting better tolerance to the SC. We also found that when the current limit decreased to 3.5 mA, the 4–5-week-olds mice exhibited stable ES behavior with low mortality, while for 3-week-olds mice, the SC limit required to be reduced to 1.5 mA. In conclusion, our findings showed that neural sensitivity to MES was significantly different in young mice before puberty. Thus, greater attention should be given to distinguishing the developmental period of mice, especially in electrophysiological examination.
Why humans have large brains with higher cognitive abilities is a question long asked by scientists. However, much remains unknown, especially the underlying genetic mechanisms. With the use of a transgenic monkey model, we showed that human-specific sequence changes of a key brain development gene (primary microcephaly1, MCPH1) could result in detectable molecular and cognitive changes resembling human neoteny, a notable characteristic developed during human evolution.
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