skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Edgar, Allison"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Differential regulation of gene expression has produced the astonishing diversity of life on Earth. Understanding the origin and evolution of mechanistic innovations for control of gene expression is therefore integral to evolutionary and developmental biology. Cytoplasmic polyadenylation is the biochemical extension of polyadenosine at the 3′-end of cytoplasmic mRNAs. This process regulates the translation of specific maternal transcripts and is mediated by the Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element-Binding Protein family (CPEBs). Genes that code for CPEBs are amongst a very few that are present in animals but missing in nonanimal lineages. Whether cytoplasmic polyadenylation is present in non-bilaterian animals (i.e., sponges, ctenophores, placozoans, and cnidarians) remains unknown. We have conducted phylogenetic analyses of CPEBs, and our results show that CPEB1 and CPEB2 subfamilies originated in the animal stem lineage. Our assessment of expression in the sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis (Cnidaria), and the comb jelly, Mnemiopsis leidyi (Ctenophora), demonstrates that maternal expression of CPEB1 and the catalytic subunit of the cytoplasmic polyadenylation machinery (GLD2) is an ancient feature that is conserved across animals. Furthermore, our measurements of poly(A)-tail elongation reveal that key targets of cytoplasmic polyadenylation are shared between vertebrates, cnidarians, and ctenophores, indicating that this mechanism orchestrates a regulatory network thatmore »is conserved throughout animal evolution. We postulate that cytoplasmic polyadenylation through CPEBs was a fundamental innovation that contributed to animal evolution from unicellular life.

    « less
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 24, 2024
  3. Crandall, Keith (Ed.)
    Abstract Innexins facilitate cell–cell communication by forming gap junctions or nonjunctional hemichannels, which play important roles in metabolic, chemical, ionic, and electrical coupling. The lack of knowledge regarding the evolution and role of these channels in ctenophores (comb jellies), the likely sister group to the rest of animals, represents a substantial gap in our understanding of the evolution of intercellular communication in animals. Here, we identify and phylogenetically characterize the complete set of innexins of four ctenophores: Mnemiopsis leidyi, Hormiphora californensis, Pleurobrachia bachei, and Beroe ovata. Our phylogenetic analyses suggest that ctenophore innexins diversified independently from those of other animals and were established early in the emergence of ctenophores. We identified a four-innexin genomic cluster, which was present in the last common ancestor of these four species and has been largely maintained in these lineages. Evidence from correlated spatial and temporal gene expression of the M. leidyi innexin cluster suggests that this cluster has been maintained due to constraints related to gene regulation. We describe the basic electrophysiological properties of putative ctenophore hemichannels from muscle cells using intracellular recording techniques, showing substantial overlap with the properties of bilaterian innexin channels. Together, our results suggest that the last common ancestor ofmore »animals had gap junctional channels also capable of forming functional innexin hemichannels, and that innexin genes have independently evolved in major lineages throughout Metazoa.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  4. A substantial body of literature reports that ctenophores exhibit an apparently unique life history characterized by biphasic sexual reproduction, the first phase of which is called larval reproduction or dissogeny. Whether this strategy is plastically deployed or a typical part of these species’ life history was unknown. In contrast to previous reports, we show that the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi does not have separate phases of early and adult reproduction, regardless of the morphological transition to what has been considered the adult form. Rather, these ctenophores begin to reproduce at a small body size and spawn continuously from this point onward under adequate environmental conditions. They do not display a gap in productivity for metamorphosis or other physiological transition at a certain body size. Furthermore, nutritional and environmental constraints on fecundity are similar in both small and large animals. Our results provide critical parameters for understanding resource partitioning between growth and reproduction in this taxon, with implications for management of this species in its invaded range. Finally, we report an observation of similarly small-size spawning in a beroid ctenophore, which is morphologically, ecologically, and phylogenetically distinct from other ctenophores reported to spawn at small sizes. We conclude that spawning at smallmore »body size should be considered as the default, on-time developmental trajectory rather than as precocious, stress-induced, or otherwise unusual for ctenophores. The ancestral ctenophore was likely a direct developer, consistent with the hypothesis that multiphasic life cycles were introduced after the divergence of the ctenophore lineage.« less
  5. Changes in developmental gene regulatory networks (dGRNs) underlie much of the diversity of life, but the evolutionary mechanisms that operate on interactions with these networks remain poorly understood. Closely related species with extreme phenotypic divergence provide a valuable window into the genetic and molecular basis for changes in dGRNs and their relationship to adaptive changes in organismal traits. Here we analyze genomes, epigenomes, and transcriptomes during early development in two sea urchin species in the genus Heliocidaris that exhibit highly divergent life histories and in an outgroup species. Signatures of positive selection and changes in chromatin status within putative gene regulatory elements are both enriched on the branch leading to the derived life history, and particularly so near core dGRN genes; in contrast, positive selection within protein-coding regions have at most a modest enrichment in branch and function. Single-cell transcriptomes reveal a dramatic delay in cell fate specification in the derived state, which also has far fewer open chromatin regions, especially near dGRN genes with conserved roles in cell fate specification. Experimentally perturbing the function of three key transcription factors reveals profound evolutionary changes in the earliest events that pattern the embryo, disrupting regulatory interactions previously conserved for ~225 millionmore »years. Together, these results demonstrate that natural selection can rapidly reshape developmental gene expression on a broad scale when selective regimes abruptly change and that even highly conserved dGRNs and patterning mechanisms in the early embryo remain evolvable under appropriate ecological circumstances.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  6. Abstract Background Gelatinous zooplankton can be difficult to preserve morphologically due to unique physical properties of their cellular and acellular components. The relatively large volume of mesoglea leads to distortion of the delicate morphology and poor sample integrity in specimens prepared with standard aldehyde or alcohol fixation techniques. Similar challenges have made it difficult to extend standard laboratory methods such as in situ hybridization to larger juvenile ctenophores, hampering studies of late development. Results We have found that a household water repellant glass treatment product commonly used in laboratories, Rain-X®, alone or in combination with standard aldehyde fixatives, greatly improves morphological preservation of such delicate samples. We present detailed methods for preservation of ctenophores of diverse sizes compatible with long-term storage or detection and localization of target molecules such as with immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization and show that this fixation might be broadly useful for preservation of other delicate marine specimens. Conclusion This new method will enable superior preservation of morphology in gelatinous specimens for a variety of downstream goals. Extending this method may improve the morphological fidelity and durability of museum and laboratory specimens for other delicate sample types.
  7. Ctenophores (a.k.a. comb jellies) are one of the earliest branching extant metazoan phyla. Adult regenerative ability varies greatly within the group, with platyctenes undergoing both sexual and asexual reproduction by fission while others in the genus Beroe having completely lost the ability to replace missing body parts. We focus on the unique regenerative aspects of the lobate ctenophore, Mnemiopsis leidyi, which has become a popular model for its rapid wound healing and tissue replacement, optical clarity, and sequenced genome. M. leidyi’s highly mosaic, stereotyped development has been leveraged to reveal the polar coordinate system that directs whole-body regeneration as well as lineage restriction of replacement cells in various regenerating organs. Several cell signaling pathways known to function in regeneration in other animals are absent from the ctenophore’s genome. Further research will either reveal ancient principles of the regenerative process common to all animals or reveal novel solutions to the stability of cell fates and whole-body regeneration.