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Zhu S.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Developmental and comparative immunology | Year: 2013

β-Defensins are a group of vertebrate-specific antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) with microbicidal and immune regulatory functions. In spite of their conservation across the vertebrate lineage ranging from bony fish to human, the evolutionary origin of these molecules remains unsolved. We addressed this issue by comparing three-dimensional (3D) structure and genomic organization of β-defensins with those of big defensins, a family of invertebrate-derived β-defensin-related peptides with two distinct structural and functional domains. β-Defensins and the carboxyl-terminal domain of big defensins adopt a conserved β-sheet topology stabilized by three identical disulfide bridges. Genomic organization analysis revealed that the defensin domain of these two classes of molecules is encoded by a single exon with a positionally conserved phase-1 intron in its upstream. The genomic and 3D structural conservation provides convincing evidence for their evolutionary relationship, in which β-defensins emerged from an ancestral big defensin through exon shuffling or intronization of exonic sequences. The phylogenetic distribution of big defensins in Arthropoda, Mollusca and Cephalochordata suggests an early origin of the β-defensin domain, which can be traced to the common ancestor of bilateral metazoans. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Zhao X.Y.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Nature protocols | Year: 2010

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are considered to be an attractive alternative to embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and may provide great potential for clinical applications in regenerative medicine. Although possessing characteristics similar to ESCs, the true pluripotency of these newly studied iPSCs was not known because none of the previously developed iPSCs passed the tetraploid complementation assay, which is regarded as the most stringent test for pluripotency. We have recently shown that by modifying some of the culture conditions for inducing iPSCs, we were able to generate cell lines of high pluripotency, resulting in the production of live-born, fertile animals through tetraploid complementation. In this paper, we describe details of our methods of generating iPS cell lines and subsequently producing full-term live animals through the tetraploid complementation assay; the procedure can be completed within 2 months. Source

Wang L.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Blood | Year: 2013

Reprogramming of somatic cells to desired cell types holds great promise in regenerative medicine. However, production of transplantable hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in vitro by defined factors has not yet been achieved. Therefore, it is critical to fully understand the molecular mechanisms of HSC development in vivo. Here, we show that Fev, an ETS transcription factor, is a pivotal regulator of HSC development in vertebrates. In fev-deficient zebrafish embryos, the first definitive HSC population was compromised and fewer T cells were found in the thymus. Genetic and chemical analyses support a mechanism whereby Fev regulates HSC through direct regulation of ERK signaling. Blastula transplant assay demonstrates that Fev regulation of HSC development is cell autonomous. Experiments performed with purified cord blood show that fev is expressed and functions in primitive HSCs in humans, indicating its conserved role in higher vertebrates. Our data indicate that Fev-ERK signaling is essential for hemogenic endothelium-based HSC development. Source

Liu X.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

Global factors, such as climate change, international trade and introductions of exotic species are often elicited as contributors to the unprecedented rate of disease emergence, but few studies have partitioned these factors for global pandemics. Although contemporary correlative species distribution models (SDMs) can be useful for predicting the spatial patterns of emerging diseases, they focus mainly on the fundamental niche (FN) predictors (i.e. abiotic climate and habitat factors), neglecting dispersal and propagule pressure predictors (PP, number of non-native individuals released into a region). Using a validated, predictive and global SDM, we show that both FN and PP accounted for significant, unique variation to the distribution of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a pathogen implicated in the declines and extinctions of over 200 amphibian species worldwide. Bd was associated positively with vegetation, total trade and introduced amphibian hosts, nonlinearly with annual temperature range and non-significantly with amphibian leg trade or amphibian species richness. These findings provide a rare example where both FN and PP factors are predictive of a global pandemic. Our model should help guide management of this deadly pathogen and the development of other globally predictive models for species invasions and pathogen emergence influenced by FN and PP factors. Source

Wu J.J.,CAS Institute of Zoology
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society | Year: 2013

The matrilineal Mosuo of southwest China live in large communal houses where brothers and sisters of three generations live together, and adult males walk to visit their wives only at night; hence males do not reside with their own offspring. This duolocal residence with 'walking' or 'visiting' marriage is described in only a handful of matrilineal peasant societies. Benefits to women of living with matrilineal kin, who cooperate with child-care, are clear. But why any kinship system can evolve where males invest more in their sister's offspring than their own is a puzzle for evolutionary anthropologists. Here, we present a new hypothesis for a matrilineal bias in male investment. We argue that, when household resources are communal, relatedness to the whole household matters more than relatedness to individual offspring. We use an inclusive fitness model to show that the more sisters (and other closely related females) co-reside, the more effort males should spend working on their sister's farm and less on their wife's farm. The model shows that paternity uncertainty may be a cause of lower overall work rates in males, but it is not likely to be the cause of a matrilineal bias. The bias in work effort towards working on their natal farm, and thus the duolocal residence and 'visiting marriage' system, can be understood as maximizing inclusive fitness in circumstances where female kin breed communally. Source

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