Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an enzyme co-factor in eukaryotes that also plays a critical role in protecting photosynthetic eukaryotes against damaging reactive oxygen species derived from the chloroplast. Many animal lineages, including primates, have become ascorbate auxotrophs due to the loss of the terminal enzyme in their biosynthetic pathway, L-gulonolactone oxidase (GULO). The alternative pathways found in land plants and Euglena use a different terminal enzyme, L-galactonolactone dehydrogenase (GLDH). The evolutionary processes leading to these differing pathways and their contribution to the cellular roles of ascorbate remain unclear. Here we present molecular and biochemical evidence demonstrating that GULO was functionally replaced with GLDH in photosynthetic eukaryote lineages following plastid acquisition. GULO has therefore been lost repeatedly throughout eukaryote evolution. The formation of the alternative biosynthetic pathways in photosynthetic eukaryotes uncoupled ascorbate synthesis from hydrogen peroxide production and likely contributed to the rise of ascorbate as a major photoprotective antioxidant.
- Joerg Bohlmann, University of British Columbia, Canada
© 2015, Wheeler et al.
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Drug resistance remains a major obstacle to malaria control and eradication efforts, necessitating the development of novel therapeutic strategies to treat this disease. Drug combinations based on collateral sensitivity, wherein resistance to one drug causes increased sensitivity to the partner drug, have been proposed as an evolutionary strategy to suppress the emergence of resistance in pathogen populations. In this study, we explore collateral sensitivity between compounds targeting the Plasmodium dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH). We profiled the cross-resistance and collateral sensitivity phenotypes of several DHODH mutant lines to a diverse panel of DHODH inhibitors. We focus on one compound, TCMDC-125334, which was active against all mutant lines tested, including the DHODH C276Y line, which arose in selections with the clinical candidate DSM265. In six selections with TCMDC-125334, the most common mechanism of resistance to this compound was copy number variation of the dhodh locus, although we did identify one mutation, DHODH I263S, which conferred resistance to TCMDC-125334 but not DSM265. We found that selection of the DHODH C276Y mutant with TCMDC-125334 yielded additional genetic changes in the dhodh locus. These double mutant parasites exhibited decreased sensitivity to TCMDC-125334 and were highly resistant to DSM265. Finally, we tested whether collateral sensitivity could be exploited to suppress the emergence of resistance in the context of combination treatment by exposing wildtype parasites to both DSM265 and TCMDC-125334 simultaneously. This selected for parasites with a DHODH V532A mutation which were cross-resistant to both compounds and were as fit as the wildtype parent in vitro. The emergence of these cross-resistant, evolutionarily fit parasites highlights the mutational flexibility of the DHODH enzyme.
The process of brain folding is thought to play an important role in the development and organisation of the cerebrum and the cerebellum. The study of cerebellar folding is challenging due to the small size and abundance of its folia. In consequence, little is known about its anatomical diversity and evolution. We constituted an open collection of histological data from 56 mammalian species and manually segmented the cerebrum and the cerebellum. We developed methods to measure the geometry of cerebellar folia and to estimate the thickness of the molecular layer. We used phylogenetic comparative methods to study the diversity and evolution of cerebellar folding and its relationship with the anatomy of the cerebrum. Our results show that the evolution of cerebellar and cerebral anatomy follows a stabilising selection process. We observed 2 groups of phenotypes changing concertedly through evolution: a group of 'diverse' phenotypes - varying over several orders of magnitude together with body size, and a group of 'stable' phenotypes varying over less than 1 order of magnitude across species. Our analyses confirmed the strong correlation between cerebral and cerebellar volumes across species, and showed in addition that large cerebella are disproportionately more folded than smaller ones. Compared with the extreme variations in cerebellar surface area, folial anatomy and molecular layer thickness varied only slightly, showing a much smaller increase in the larger cerebella. We discuss how these findings could provide new insights into the diversity and evolution of cerebellar folding, the mechanisms of cerebellar and cerebral folding, and their potential influence on the organisation of the brain across species.