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Changes in protein abundance and reversible protein phosphorylation (RPP) play important roles in regulating hypometabolism but have never been documented in overwintering frogs at high altitudes. To test the hypothesis that protein abundance and phosphorylation change in response to winter hibernation, we conducted a comprehensive and quantitative proteomic and phosphoproteomic analysis of the liver of the Xizang plateau frog, Nanorana parkeri, living on the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau (QTP). In total, 5 170 proteins and 5 695 phosphorylation sites in 1 938 proteins were quantified. Based on proteomic analysis, 674 differentially expressed proteins (438 up-regulated, 236 down-regulated) were screened in hibernating N. parkeri versus summer individuals. Functional enrichment analysis revealed that higher expressed proteins in winter were significantly enriched in immune-related signaling pathways, whereas lower expressed proteins were mainly involved in metabolic processes. A total of 4 251 modified sites (4 147 up-regulated, 104 down-regulated) belonging to 1 638 phosphoproteins (1 555 up-regulated, 83 down-regulated) were significantly changed in the liver. During hibernation, RPP regulated a diverse array of proteins involved in multiple functions, including metabolic enzymatic activity, ion transport, protein turnover, signal transduction, and alternative splicing. These changes contribute to enhancing protection, suppressing energy-consuming processes, and inducing metabolic depression. Moreover, the activities of phosphofructokinase, glutamate dehydrogenase, and ATPase were all significantly lower in winter compared to summer. In conclusion, our results support the hypothesis and demonstrate the importance of RPP as a regulatory mechanism when animals transition into a hypometabolic state.
Mammalian T-cell responses require synergism between the first signal and co-stimulatory signal. However, whether and how dual signaling regulates the T-cell response in early vertebrates remains unknown. In the present study, we discovered that the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) encodes key components of the LAT signalosome, namely, LAT, ITK, GRB2, VAV1, SLP-76, GADS, and PLC-γ1. These components are evolutionarily conserved, and CD3ε mAb-induced T-cell activation markedly increased their expression. Additionally, at least ITK, GRB2, and VAV1 were found to interact with LAT for signalosome formation. Downstream of the first signal, the NF-κB, MAPK/ERK, and PI3K-AKT pathways were activated upon CD3ε mAb stimulation. Furthermore, treatment of lymphocytes with CD28 mAbs triggered the AKT-mTORC1 pathway downstream of the co-stimulatory signal. Combined CD3ε and CD28 mAb stimulation enhanced ERK1/2 and S6 phosphorylation and elevated NFAT1, c-Fos, IL-2, CD122, and CD44 expression, thereby signifying T-cell activation. Moreover, rather than relying on the first or co-stimulatory signal alone, both signals were required for T-cell proliferation. Full T-cell activation was accompanied by marked apoptosis and cytotoxic responses. These findings suggest that tilapia relies on dual signaling to maintain an optimal T-cell response, providing a novel perspective for understanding the evolution of the adaptive immune system.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) function as key modulators in mammalian immunity, particularly due to their involvement in lncRNA-mediated competitive endogenous RNA (ceRNA) crosstalk. Despite their recognized significance in mammals, research on lncRNAs in lower vertebrates remains limited. In the present study, we characterized the first immune-related lncRNA (pol-lnc78) in the teleost Japanese flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus). Results indicated that pol-lnc78 acted as a ceRNA for pol-miR-n199-3p to target the sterile alpha and armadillo motif-containing protein (SARM), the fifth discovered member of the Toll/interleukin 1 (IL-1) receptor (TIR) adaptor family. This ceRNA network regulated the antibacterial responses of flounder via the Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathway. Specifically, SARM acted as a negative regulator and exacerbated bacterial infection by inhibiting the expression of inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Pol-miR-n199-3p reduced SARM expression by specifically interacting with the 3’ untranslated region (UTR), thereby promoting SARM-dependent inflammatory cytokine expression and protecting the host against bacterial dissemination. Furthermore, pol-lnc78 sponged pol-miR-n199-3p to ameliorate the inhibition of SARM expression. During infection, the negative regulators pol-lnc78 and SARM were significantly down-regulated, while pol-miR-n199-3p was significantly up-regulated, thus favoring host antibacterial defense. These findings provide novel insights into the mechanisms underlying fish immunity and open new horizons to better understand ceRNA crosstalk in lower vertebrates.
The dynamics of animal social structures are heavily influenced by environmental patterns of competition and cooperation. In folivorous colobine primates, prevailing theories suggest that larger group sizes should be favored in rainforests with a year-round abundance of food, thereby reducing feeding competition. Yet, paradoxically, larger groups are frequently found in high-altitude or high-latitude montane ecosystems characterized by a seasonal scarcity of leaves. This contradiction is posited to arise from cooperative benefits in heterogeneous environments. To investigate this hypothesis, we carried out a six-year field study on two neighboring groups of golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana), a species representing the northernmost distribution of colobine primates. Results showed that the groups adjusted their movement and habitat selection in response to fluctuating climates and spatiotemporal variability of resources, indicative of a dynamic foraging strategy. Notably, during the cold, resource-scarce conditions in winter, the large group occupied food-rich habitats but did not exhibit significantly longer daily travel distances than the smaller neighboring group. Subsequently, we compiled an eco-behavioral dataset of 52 colobine species to explore their evolutionary trajectories. Analysis of this dataset suggested that the increase in group size may have evolved via home range expansion in response to the cold and heterogeneous climates found at higher altitudes or latitudes. Hence, we developed a multi-benefits framework to interpret the formation of larger groups by integrating environmental heterogeneity. In cold and diverse environments, even smaller groups require larger home ranges to meet their dynamic survival needs. The spatiotemporal distribution of high-quality resources within these expanded home ranges facilitates more frequent interactions between groups, thereby encouraging social aggregation into larger groups. This process enhances the benefits of collaborative actions and reproductive opportunities, while simultaneously optimizing travel costs through a dynamic foraging strategy.
The gastrointestinal tract is essential for food digestion, nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and microbial defense. Single-cell transcriptome profiling of the intestinal tract has greatly enriched our understanding of cellular diversity, functional heterogeneity, and their importance in intestinal tract development and disease. Although such profiling has been extensively conducted in humans and mice, the single-cell gene expression landscape of the pig cecum remains unexplored. Here, single-cell RNA sequencing was performed on 45 572 cells obtained from seven cecal samples in pigs at four different developmental stages (days (D) 30, 42, 150, and 730). Analysis revealed 12 major cell types and 38 subtypes, as well as their distinctive genes, transcription factors, and regulons, many of which were conserved in humans. An increase in the relative proportions of CD8+ T and Granzyme A (low expression) natural killer T cells (GZMAlow NKT) cells and a decrease in the relative proportions of epithelial stem cells, Tregs, RHEX+ T cells, and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) were noted across the developmental stages. Moreover, the post-weaning period exhibited an up-regulation in mitochondrial genes, COX2 and ND2, as well as genes involved in immune activation in multiple cell types. Cell-cell crosstalk analysis indicated that IBP6+ fibroblasts were the main signal senders at D30, whereas IBP6 fibroblasts assumed this role at the other stages. NKT cells established interactions with epithelial cells and IBP6+ fibroblasts in the D730 cecum through mediation of GZMA-F2RL1/F2RL2 pairs. This study provides valuable insights into cellular heterogeneity and function in the pig cecum at different development stages.
Birds exhibit extraordinary mobility and remarkable navigational skills, obtaining guidance cues from the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation and long-distance movement. Bird species also show tremendous diversity in navigation strategies, with considerable differences even within the same taxa and among individuals from the same population. The highly conserved iron and iron-sulfur cluster binding magnetoreceptor (MagR) protein is suggested to enable animals, including birds, to detect the geomagnetic field and navigate accordingly. Notably, MagR is also implicated in other functions, such as electron transfer and biogenesis of iron-sulfur clusters, raising the question of whether variability exists in its biochemical and biophysical features among species, particularly birds. In the current study, we conducted a comparative analysis of MagR from two different bird species, including the migratory European robin and the homing pigeon. Sequence alignment revealed an extremely high degree of similarity between the MagRs of these species, with only three sequence variations. Nevertheless, two of these variations underpinned significant differences in metal binding capacity, oligomeric state, and magnetic properties. These findings offer compelling evidence for the marked differences in MagR between the two avian species, potentially explaining how a highly conserved protein can mediate such diverse functions.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with mutations in lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP), but the underlying epigenetic mechanisms remain understudied. Herein, LBP-/- rats with NAFLD were established and used to conduct integrative targeting-active enhancer histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac) chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput and transcriptomic sequencing analysis to explore the potential epigenetic pathomechanisms of active enhancers of NAFLD exacerbation upon LBP deficiency. Notably, LBP-/- reduced the inflammatory response but markedly diminished high-fat diet (HFD)-induced NAFLD in rats, with pronounced alterations in the histone acetylome and regulatory transcriptome. In total, 1 128 differential enhancer-target genes significantly enriched in cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism were identified between wild-type (WT) and LBP-/- NAFLD rats. Based on integrative analysis, CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β (C/EBPβ) was identified as a pivotal transcription factor (TF) and contributor to dysregulated histone acetylome H3K27ac, and the lipid metabolism gene SCD was identified as a downstream effector exacerbating NAFLD. This study not only broadens our understanding of the essential role of LBP in the pathogenesis of NAFLD from an epigenetics perspective but also identifies key TF C/EBPβ and functional gene SCD as potential regulators and therapeutic targets.
The gut microbiome interacts with the host to maintain body homeostasis, with gut microbial dysbiosis implicated in many diseases. However, the underlying mechanisms of gut microbe regulation of host behavior and brain functions remain unclear. This study aimed to elucidate the influence of gut microbiota on brain functions via post-translational modification mechanisms in the presence or absence of bacteria without any stimulation. We conducted succinylome analysis of hippocampal proteins in germ-free (GF) and specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice and metagenomic analysis of feces from SPF mice. These results were integrated with previously reported hippocampal acetylome and phosphorylome data from the same batch of mice. Subsequent bioinformatics analyses revealed 584 succinylation sites on 455 proteins, including 54 up-regulated succinylation sites on 91 proteins and 99 down-regulated sites on 51 proteins in the GF mice compared to the SPF mice. We constructed a panoramic map of gut microbiota-regulated succinylation, acetylation, and phosphorylation, and identified cross-talk and relative independence between the different types of post-translational modifications in modulating complicated intracellular pathways. Pearson correlation analysis indicated that 13 taxa, predominantly belonging to the Bacteroidetes phylum, were correlated with the biological functions of post-translational modifications. Positive correlations between these taxa and succinylation and negative correlations between these taxa and acetylation were identified in the modulation of intracellular pathways. This study highlights the hippocampal physiological changes induced by the absence of gut microbiota, and proteomic quantification of succinylation, phosphorylation, and acetylation, contributing to our understanding of the role of the gut microbiome in brain function and behavioral phenotypes.
Letter to the editor