The small molecules that mediate chemical communication between nematodes—so-called 'nematode-derived-modular-metabolites' (NDMMs)—are of major interest due to their ability to regulate development, behavior, and life-history. Pristionchus pacificus nematodes produce an impressive diversity of structurally complex NDMMs, some of which act as primer pheromones capable of triggering irreversible developmental switches. Many of these NDMMs have only ever been found in P. pacificus but no attempts had been made to study their evolution by profiling closely related species. This study was designed to bring a comparative perspective to the biochemical study of NDMMs via the systematic MS/MS and NMR-based analysis of exo-metabolomes from over 30 Pristionchus species. We identified 36 novel compounds and found evidence for the convergent evolution of complex NDMMs in separate branches of the Pristionchus phylogeny. Our results demonstrate that biochemical innovation is a recurrent process in Pristionchus nematodes, a pattern likely typical across the animal kingdom.
All data generated during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided.
- Ralf J Sommer
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Jon Clardy, Harvard Medical School, United States
© 2020, Dong 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.
We have focused on the mushroom bodies (MB) of Drosophila to determine how the larval circuits are formed and then transformed into those of the adult at metamorphosis. The adult MB has a core of thousands of Kenyon neurons; axons of the early-born g class form a medial lobe and those from later-born a'b' and ab classes form both medial and vertical lobes. The larva, however, hatches with only g neurons and forms a vertical lobe 'facsimile' using larval-specific axon branches from its g neurons. Computations by the MB involves MB input (MBINs) and output (MBONs) neurons that divide the lobes into discrete compartments. The larva has 10 such compartments while the adult MB has 16. We determined the fates of 28 of the 32 types of MBONs and MBINs that define the 10 larval compartments. Seven larval compartments are eventually incorporated into the adult MB; four of their larval MBINs die, while 12 MBINs/MBONs continue into the adult MB although with some compartment shifting. The remaining three larval compartments are larval specific, and their MBIN/MBONs trans-differentiate at metamorphosis, leaving the MB and joining other adult brain circuits. With the loss of the larval vertical lobe facsimile, the adult vertical lobes, are made de novo at metamorphosis, and their MBONs/MBINs are recruited from the pool of adult-specific cells. The combination of cell death, compartment shifting, trans-differentiation, and recruitment of new neurons result in no larval MBIN-MBON connections persisting through metamorphosis. At this simple level, then, we find no anatomical substrate for a memory trace persisting from larva to adult. For the neurons that trans-differentiate, our data suggest that their adult phenotypes are in line with their evolutionarily ancestral roles while their larval phenotypes are derived adaptations for the larval stage. These cells arise primarily within lineages that also produce permanent MBINs and MBONs, suggesting that larval specifying factors may allow information related to birth-order or sibling identity to be interpreted in a modified manner in these neurons to cause them to adopt a modified, larval phenotype. The loss of such factors at metamorphosis, though, would then allow these cells to adopt their ancestral phenotype in the adult system.
Causal loss-of-function (LOF) variants for Mendelian and severe complex diseases are enriched in 'mutation intolerant' genes. We show how such observations can be interpreted in light of a model of mutation-selection balance, and use the model to relate the pathogenic consequences of LOF mutations at present-day to their evolutionary fitness effects. To this end, we first infer posterior distributions for the fitness costs of LOF mutations in 17,318 autosomal and 679 X-linked genes from exome sequences in 56,855 individuals. Estimated fitness costs for the loss of a gene copy are typically above 1%; they tend to be largest for X-linked genes, whether or not they have a Y homolog, followed by autosomal genes and genes in the pseudoautosomal region. We then compare inferred fitness effects for all possible de novo LOF mutations to those of de novo mutations identified in individuals diagnosed with one of six severe, complex diseases or developmental disorders. Probands carry an excess of mutations with estimated fitness effects above 10%; as we show by simulation, when sampled in the population, such highly deleterious mutations are typically only a couple of generations old. Moreover, the proportion of highly deleterious mutations carried by probands reflects the typical age of onset of the disease. The study design also has a discernible influence: a greater proportion of highly deleterious mutations is detected in pedigree than case-control studies, and for autism, in simplex than multiplex families and in female versus male probands. Thus, anchoring observations in human genetics to a population genetic model allows us to learn about the fitness effects of mutations identified by different mapping strategies and for different traits.