Host immune and physical barriers protect against pathogens but also impede the establishment of essential symbiotic partnerships. To reveal mechanisms by which beneficial organisms adapt to circumvent host defenses, we experimentally evolved ecologically distinct bioluminescent Vibrio fischeri through Euprymna scolopes squid light organs. Serial squid passaging of bacteria produced eight distinct mutations in the binK sensor kinase gene that conferred an exceptional selective advantage demonstrated through both empirical and theoretical analysis. Squid-adaptive binK alleles promoted colonization and immune evasion that was mediated by cell-associated matrices including symbiotic polysaccharide (Syp) and cellulose. binK variation also altered quorum sensing, raising the threshold for luminescence induction. Preexisting coordinate regulation of symbiosis traits by BinK presented an efficient solution where altered BinK function was the key to unlock multiple colonization barriers. These results identify a genetic basis for microbial adaptability and underscore the importance of hosts as selective agents that shape emergent symbiont populations.
Genomes of ancestral and evolved Vibrio fisheriPublicly available at the NCBI BioProject (accession no: PRJNA316342).
Transcriptomes of ancestral, evolved and mutant binK Vibrio fischeri MJ11Publicly available at the NCBI BioProject (accession no: PRJNA316360).
- Vaughn S Cooper
- Cheryl A Whistler
- Cheryl A Whistler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Edward G Ruby, University of Hawaii, United States
© 2017, Pankey 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.
Animal development requires coordination among cyclic processes, sequential cell fate specifications, and once-a-lifetime morphogenic events, but the underlying timing mechanisms are not well understood. Caenorhabditis elegans undergoes four molts at regular 8 to 10 hour intervals. The pace of the cycle is governed by PERIOD/lin-42 and other as-yet unknown factors. Cessation of the cycle in young adults is controlled by the let-7 family of microRNAs and downstream transcription factors in the heterochronic pathway. Here, we characterize a negative feedback loop between NHR-23, the worm homolog of mammalian retinoid-related orphan receptors (RORs), and the let-7 family of microRNAs that regulates both the frequency and finite number of molts. The molting cycle is decelerated in nhr-23 knockdowns and accelerated in let-7(−) mutants, but timed similarly in let-7(−) nhr-23(−) double mutants and wild-type animals. NHR-23 binds response elements (ROREs) in the let-7 promoter and activates transcription. In turn, let-7 dampens nhr-23 expression across development via a complementary let-7-binding site (LCS) in the nhr-23 3′ UTR. The molecular interactions between NHR-23 and let-7 hold true for other let-7 family microRNAs. Either derepression of nhr-23 transcripts by LCS deletion or high gene dosage of nhr-23 leads to protracted behavioral quiescence and extra molts in adults. NHR-23 and let-7 also coregulate scores of genes required for execution of the molts, including lin-42. In addition, ROREs and LCSs isolated from mammalian ROR and let-7 genes function in C. elegans, suggesting conservation of this feedback mechanism. We propose that this feedback loop unites the molting timer and the heterochronic gene regulatory network, possibly by functioning as a cycle counter.
The RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas9 system is a powerful tool for genome editing, but its targeting scope is limited by the protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM). To expand the target scope, it is crucial to develop a CRISPR toolbox capable of recognizing multiple PAMs. Here, using a GFP-activation assay, we tested the activities of 29 type II-C orthologs closely related to Nme1Cas9, 25 of which are active in human cells. These orthologs recognize diverse PAMs with variable length and nucleotide preference, including purine-rich, pyrimidine-rich, and mixed purine and pyrimidine PAMs. We characterized in depth the activity and specificity of Nsp2Cas9. We also generated a chimeric Cas9 nuclease that recognizes a simple N4C PAM, representing the most relaxed PAM preference for compact Cas9s to date. These Cas9 nucleases significantly enhance our ability to perform allele-specific genome editing.