The advent of sexual reproduction and the evolution of a dedicated germline in multicellular organisms are critical landmarks in eukaryotic evolution. We report an ancient family of GCNA (germ cell nuclear antigen) proteins that arose in the earliest eukaryotes, and feature a rapidly evolving intrinsically disordered region (IDR). Phylogenetic analysis reveals that GCNA proteins emerged before the major eukaryotic lineages diverged; GCNA predates the origin of a dedicated germline by a billion years. Gcna gene expression is enriched in reproductive cells across eukarya - either just prior to or during meiosis in single-celled eukaryotes, and in stem cells and germ cells of diverse multicellular animals. Studies of Gcna-mutant C. elegans and mice indicate that GCNA has functioned in reproduction for at least 600 million years. Homology to IDR-containing proteins implicated in DNA damage repair suggests that GCNA proteins may protect the genomic integrity of cells carrying a heritable genome.
- Michelle A Carmell
- Gregoriy A Dokshin
- Helen Skaletsky
- Yueh-Chiang Hu
- Kyomi J Igarashi
- Daniel W Bellott
- Peter W Reddien
- Craig C Mello
- Michelle A Carmell
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All mouse studies were performed using a protocol approved by the Committee on Animal Care at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Protocol number: 0714-074-17).
- Yukiko M Yamashita, University of Michigan, United States
© 2016, Carmell et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Neuroblasts in Drosophila divide asymmetrically, sequentially expressing a series of intrinsic factors to generate a diversity of neuron types. These intrinsic factors known as temporal factors dictate timing of neuroblast transitions in response to steroid hormone signaling and specify early versus late temporal fates in neuroblast neuron progeny. After completing their temporal programs, neuroblasts differentiate or die, finalizing both neuron number and type within each neuroblast lineage. From a screen aimed at identifying genes required to terminate neuroblast divisions, we identified Notch and Notch pathway components. When Notch is knocked down, neuroblasts maintain early temporal factor expression longer, delay late temporal factor expression, and continue dividing into adulthood. We find that Delta, expressed in cortex glia, neuroblasts, and after division, their GMC progeny, regulates neuroblast Notch activity. We also find that Delta in neuroblasts is expressed high early, low late, and is controlled by the intrinsic temporal program: early factor Imp promotes Delta, late factors Syp/E93 reduce Delta. Thus, in addition to systemic steroid hormone cues, forward lineage progression is controlled by local cell-cell signaling between neuroblasts and their cortex glia/GMC neighbors: Delta transactivates Notch in neuroblasts bringing the early temporal program and early temporal factor expression to a close.
The fusion of mammalian gametes requires the interaction between IZUMO1 on the sperm and JUNO on the oocyte. We have recently shown that ectopic expression of mouse IZUMO1 induces cell-cell fusion and that sperm can fuse to fibroblasts expressing JUNO. Here, we found that the incubation of mouse sperm with hamster fibroblasts or human epithelial cells in culture induces the fusion between these somatic cells and the formation of syncytia, a pattern previously observed with some animal viruses. This sperm-induced cell-cell fusion requires a species-matching JUNO on both fusing cells, can be blocked by an antibody against IZUMO1, and does not rely on the synthesis of new proteins. The fusion is dependent on the sperm’s fusogenic capacity, making this a reliable, fast, and simple method for predicting sperm function during the diagnosis of male infertility.