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Confused geographical structure of a population and mitonuclear discordance are shaped by a combination of rapid changes in population demographics and shifts in ecology. In this study, we generated a time-calibrated phylogeny of Scutiger boulengeri, an endemic Xizang alpine toad occurring in mountain streams on the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibet) Plateau (QTP). Based on three mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes, eight clades were assigned to three deeply divergent lineages. Analysis of nuclear DNA (nuDNA) genes revealed three distinct clusters without geographic structure, indicating significantly high rates of gene flow. Coalescent theory framework analysis (approximate Bayesian computation model DIYABC and Migrate-N) suggested that divergence of the main intraspecific clusters was the result of hybridization after secondary contact in the Holocene around 0.59 million years ago (Ma). The ratio of mtDNA FST (fixation index) to nuDNA FST was 2.3, thus failing to show male-biased dispersal. Geographic cline analysis showed that a wide hybrid zone was initially established in southwestern China, without significant reproductive isolation but with strong introgression in S. boulengeri, suggesting high hybrid fitness. Furthermore, mtDNA genes exhibited isolation by distance (IBD) while nuDNA genes exhibited significant isolation by environment (IBE). Results suggested that mitonuclear discordance may have initially been caused by geographic isolation, followed by precipitation-mediated hybridization, producing a wide hybrid zone and geographic structure confusion of nuDNA genes in S. boulengeri. This study indicated that complicated historical processes may have led to specific genetic patterns, with a specific climate factor facilitating gene flow in the system.
As a transcription factor of the Pit-Oct-Unc (POU) domain family, octamer-binding transcription factor 6 (OCT6) participates in various aspects of stem cell development and differentiation. At present, however, its role in porcine-induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs) remains unclear. Here, we explored the function of OCT6 in piPSCs. We found that piPSCs overexpressing OCT6 maintained colony morphology and pluripotency under differentiation conditions, with a similar gene expression pattern to that of non-differentiated piPSCs. Functional analysis revealed that OCT6 attenuated the adverse effects of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway inhibition on piPSC pluripotency by activating phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-protein kinase B (PI3K-AKT) signaling activity. Our research sheds new light on the mechanism by which OCT6 promotes PSC maintenance.
Letter to the editor