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  1. Abstract

    Laboratory studies have demonstrated that a single phenotype can be produced by many different genotypes; however, in natural systems, it is frequently found that phenotypic convergence is due to parallel genetic changes. This suggests a substantial role for constraint and determinism in evolution and indicates that certain mutations are more likely to contribute to phenotypic evolution. Here we use whole genome resequencing in the Mexican tetra,Astyanax mexicanus, to investigate how selection has shaped the repeated evolution of both trait loss and enhancement across independent cavefish lineages. We show that selection on standing genetic variation and de novo mutations both contribute substantially to repeated adaptation. Our findings provide empirical support for the hypothesis that genes with larger mutational targets are more likely to be the substrate of repeated evolution and indicate that features of the cave environment may impact the rate at which mutations occur.

  2. ABSTRACT Transgenesis is an essential technique for any genetic model. Tol2-based transgenesis paired with Gateway-compatible vector collections has transformed zebrafish transgenesis with an accessible modular system. Here, we establish several next-generation transgenesis tools for zebrafish and other species to expand and enhance transgenic applications. To facilitate gene regulatory element testing, we generated Gateway middle entry vectors harboring the small mouse beta-globin minimal promoter coupled to several fluorophores, CreERT2 and Gal4. To extend the color spectrum for transgenic applications, we established middle entry vectors encoding the bright, blue-fluorescent protein mCerulean and mApple as an alternative red fluorophore. We present a series of p2A peptide-based 3′ vectors with different fluorophores and subcellular localizations to co-label cells expressing proteins of interest. Finally, we established Tol2 destination vectors carrying the zebrafish exorh promoter driving different fluorophores as a pineal gland-specific transgenesis marker that is active before hatching and through adulthood. exorh-based reporters and transgenesis markers also drive specific pineal gland expression in the eye-less cavefish (Astyanax). Together, our vectors provide versatile reagents for transgenesis applications in zebrafish, cavefish and other models.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 15, 2024
  3. Insights from organisms, which have evolved natural strategies for promoting survivability under extreme environmental pressures, may help guide future research into novel approaches for enhancing human longevity. The cave-adapted Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus , has attracted interest as a model system for metabolic resilience , a term we use to denote the property of maintaining health and longevity under conditions that would be highly deleterious in other organisms (Figure 1). Cave-dwelling populations of Mexican tetra exhibit elevated blood glucose, insulin resistance and hypertrophic visceral adipocytes compared to surface-dwelling counterparts. However, cavefish appear to avoid pathologies typically associated with these conditions, such as accumulation of advanced-glycation-end-products (AGEs) and chronic tissue inflammation. The metabolic strategies underlying the resilience properties of A. mexicanus cavefish, and how they relate to environmental challenges of the cave environment, are poorly understood. Here, we provide an untargeted metabolomics study of long- and short-term fasting in two A. mexicanus cave populations and one surface population. We find that, although the metabolome of cavefish bears many similarities with pathological conditions such as metabolic syndrome, cavefish also exhibit features not commonly associated with a pathological condition, and in some cases considered indicative of an overall robust metabolic condition. These includemore »a reduction in cholesteryl esters and intermediates of protein glycation, and an increase in antioxidants and metabolites associated with hypoxia and longevity. This work suggests that certain metabolic features associated with human pathologies are either not intrinsically harmful, or can be counteracted by reciprocal adaptations. We provide a transparent pipeline for reproducing our analysis and a Shiny app for other researchers to explore and visualize our dataset.« less
  4. Abstract

    Cell lines have become an integral resource and tool for conducting biological experiments ever since the Hela cell line was first developed (Scherer et al. in J Exp Med 97:695–710, 1953). They not only allow detailed investigation of molecular pathways but are faster and more cost-effective than most in vivo approaches. The last decade saw many emerging model systems strengthening basic science research. However, lack of genetic and molecular tools in these newer systems pose many obstacles.Astyanax mexicanusis proving to be an interesting new model system for understanding metabolic adaptation. To further enhance the utility of this system, we developed liver-derived cell lines from both surface-dwelling and cave-dwelling morphotypes. In this study, we provide detailed methodology of the derivation process along with comprehensive biochemical and molecular characterization of the cell lines, which reflect key metabolic traits of cavefish adaptation. We anticipate these cell lines to become a useful resource for theAstyanaxcommunity as well as researchers investigating fish biology, comparative physiology, and metabolism.

  5. Image-based cell classification has become a common tool to identify phenotypic changes in cell populations. However, this methodology is limited to organisms possessing well characterized species-specific reagents (e.g., antibodies) that allow cell identification, clustering and convolutional neural network (CNN) training. In the absence of such reagents, the power of image-based classification has remained mostly off-limits to many research organisms. We have developed an image-based classification methodology we named Image3C (Image-Cytometry Cell Classification) that does not require species-specific reagents nor pre-existing knowledge about the sample. Image3C combines image-based flow cytometry with an unbiased, high-throughput cell cluster pipeline and CNN integration. Image3C exploits intrinsic cellular features and non-species-specific dyes to perform de novo cell composition analysis and to detect changes in cellular composition between different conditions. Therefore, Image3C expands the use of imaged-based analyses of cell population composition to research organisms in which detailed cellular phenotypes are unknown or for which species-specific reagents are not available.
  6. Fay, Justin C. (Ed.)
    Circadian rhythms are nearly ubiquitous throughout nature, suggesting they are critical for survival in diverse environments. Organisms inhabiting largely arrhythmic environments, such as caves, offer a unique opportunity to study the evolution of circadian rhythms in response to changing ecological pressures. Populations of the Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus , have repeatedly invaded caves from surface rivers, where individuals must contend with perpetual darkness, reduced food availability, and limited fluctuations in daily environmental cues. To investigate the molecular basis for evolved changes in circadian rhythms, we investigated rhythmic transcription across multiple independently-evolved cavefish populations. Our findings reveal that evolution in a cave environment has led to the repeated disruption of the endogenous biological clock, and its entrainment by light. The circadian transcriptome shows widespread reductions and losses of rhythmic transcription and changes to the timing of the activation/repression of core-transcriptional clock. In addition to dysregulation of the core clock, we find that rhythmic transcription of the melatonin regulator aanat2 and melatonin rhythms are disrupted in cavefish under darkness. Mutants of aanat2 and core clock gene rorca disrupt diurnal regulation of sleep in A . mexicanus , phenocopying circadian modulation of sleep and activity phenotypes of cave populations. Together, these findings revealmore »multiple independent mechanisms for loss of circadian rhythms in cavefish populations and provide a platform for studying how evolved changes in the biological clock can contribute to variation in sleep and circadian behavior.« less