Publications by authors named "Emily S W Wong"

18 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

L-arginine and Arginase Products Potentiate Dexmedetomidine-induced Contractions in the Rat Aorta.

Anesthesiology 2018 03;128(3):564-573

From the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China; Applied Science and Environmental Studies, School of Science and Technology, The Open University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (E.S.W.W.); and the State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnologies, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (S.W.S.L., P.M.V.).

Background: The α2-adrenergic sedative/anesthetic agent dexmedetomidine exerts biphasic effects on isolated arteries, causing endothelium-dependent relaxations at concentrations at or below 30 nM, followed by contractions at higher concentrations. L-arginine is a common substrate of endothelial nitric oxide synthase and arginases. This study was designed to investigate the role of L-arginine in modulating the overall vascular response to dexmedetomidine.

Methods: Isometric tension was measured in isolated aortic rings of Sprague Dawley rats. Cumulative concentrations of dexmedetomidine (10 nM to 10 μM) were added to quiescent rings (with and without endothelium) after previous incubation with vehicle, N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (L-NAME; nitric oxide synthase inhibitor), prazosin (α1-adrenergic antagonist), rauwolscine (α2-adrenergic antagonist), L-arginine, (S)-(2-boronethyl)-L-cysteine hydrochloride (arginase inhibitor), N-hydroxy-L-arginine (arginase inhibitor), urea and/or ornithine. In some preparations, immunofluorescent staining, immunoblotting, or measurement of urea content were performed.

Results: Dexmedetomidine did not contract control rings with endothelium but evoked concentration-dependent increases in tension in such rings treated with L-NAME (Emax 50 ± 4%) or after endothelium-removal (Emax 74 ± 5%; N = 7 to 12). Exogenous L-arginine augmented the dexmedetomidine-induced contractions in the presence of L-NAME (Emax 75 ± 3%). This potentiation was abolished by (S)-(2-boronethyl)-L-cysteine hydrochloride (Emax 16 ± 4%) and N-hydroxy-L-arginine (Emax 18 ± 4%). Either urea or ornithine, the downstream arginase products, had a similar potentiating effect as L-arginine. Immunoassay measurements demonstrated an upregulation of arginase I by L-arginine treatment in the presence of L-NAME (N = 4).

Conclusions: These results suggest that when vascular nitric oxide homeostasis is impaired, the potentiation of the vasoconstrictor effect of dexmedetomidine by L-arginine depends on arginase activity and the production of urea and ornithine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000002032DOI Listing
March 2018

Echidna venom gland transcriptome provides insights into the evolution of monotreme venom.

PLoS One 2013 12;8(11):e79092. Epub 2013 Nov 12.

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, QLD, Australia.

Monotremes (echidna and platypus) are egg-laying mammals. One of their most unique characteristic is that males have venom/crural glands that are seasonally active. Male platypuses produce venom during the breeding season, delivered via spurs, to aid in competition against other males. Echidnas are not able to erect their spurs, but a milky secretion is produced by the gland during the breeding season. The function and molecular composition of echidna venom is as yet unknown. Hence, we compared the deeply sequenced transcriptome of an in-season echidna crural gland to that of a platypus and searched for putative venom genes to provide clues into the function of echidna venom and the evolutionary history of monotreme venom. We found that the echidna venom gland transcriptome was markedly different from the platypus with no correlation between the top 50 most highly expressed genes. Four peptides found in the venom of the platypus were detected in the echidna transcriptome. However, these genes were not highly expressed in echidna, suggesting that they are the remnants of the evolutionary history of the ancestral venom gland. Gene ontology terms associated with the top 100 most highly expressed genes in echidna, showed functional terms associated with steroidal and fatty acid production, suggesting that echidna "venom" may play a role in scent communication during the breeding season. The loss of the ability to erect the spur and other unknown evolutionary forces acting in the echidna lineage resulted in the gradual decay of venom components and the evolution of a new role for the crural gland.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0079092PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827146PMC
September 2014

SVM-based prediction of propeptide cleavage sites in spider toxins identifies toxin innovation in an Australian tarantula.

PLoS One 2013 22;8(7):e66279. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Division of Chemistry and Structural Biology, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.

Spider neurotoxins are commonly used as pharmacological tools and are a popular source of novel compounds with therapeutic and agrochemical potential. Since venom peptides are inherently toxic, the host spider must employ strategies to avoid adverse effects prior to venom use. It is partly for this reason that most spider toxins encode a protective proregion that upon enzymatic cleavage is excised from the mature peptide. In order to identify the mature toxin sequence directly from toxin transcripts, without resorting to protein sequencing, the propeptide cleavage site in the toxin precursor must be predicted bioinformatically. We evaluated different machine learning strategies (support vector machines, hidden Markov model and decision tree) and developed an algorithm (SpiderP) for prediction of propeptide cleavage sites in spider toxins. Our strategy uses a support vector machine (SVM) framework that combines both local and global sequence information. Our method is superior or comparable to current tools for prediction of propeptide sequences in spider toxins. Evaluation of the SVM method on an independent test set of known toxin sequences yielded 96% sensitivity and 100% specificity. Furthermore, we sequenced five novel peptides (not used to train the final predictor) from the venom of the Australian tarantula Selenotypus plumipes to test the accuracy of the predictor and found 80% sensitivity and 99.6% 8-mer specificity. Finally, we used the predictor together with homology information to predict and characterize seven groups of novel toxins from the deeply sequenced venom gland transcriptome of S. plumipes, which revealed structural complexity and innovations in the evolution of the toxins. The precursor prediction tool (SpiderP) is freely available on ArachnoServer (http://www.arachnoserver.org/spiderP.html), a web portal to a comprehensive relational database of spider toxins. All training data, test data, and scripts used are available from the SpiderP website.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0066279PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3718798PMC
February 2014

Identification of natural killer cell receptor genes in the genome of the marsupial Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).

Immunogenetics 2013 Jan 25;65(1):25-35. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, B19 RMC Gunn, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Within the mammalian immune system, natural killer (NK) cells contribute to the first line of defence against infectious agents and tumours. Their activity is regulated, in part, by cell surface NK cell receptors. NK receptors can be divided into two unrelated, but functionally analogous superfamilies based on the structure of their extracellular ligand-binding domains. Receptors belonging to the C-type lectin superfamily are predominantly encoded in the natural killer complex (NKC), while receptors belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily are predominantly encoded in the leukocyte receptor complex (LRC). Natural killer cell receptors are emerging as a rapidly evolving gene family which can display significant intra- and interspecific variation. To date, most studies have focused on eutherian mammals, with significantly less known about the evolution of these receptors in marsupials. Here, we describe the identification of 43 immunoglobulin domain-containing LRC genes in the genome of the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), the largest remaining marsupial carnivore and only the second marsupial species to be studied. We also identify orthologs of NKC genes KLRK1, CD69, CLEC4E, CLEC1B, CLEC1A and an ortholog of an opossum NKC receptor. Characterisation of these regions in a second, distantly related marsupial provides new insights into the dynamic evolutionary histories of these receptors in mammals. Understanding the functional role of these genes is also important for the development of therapeutic agents against Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a contagious cancer that threatens the Tasmanian devil with extinction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00251-012-0643-zDOI Listing
January 2013

Proteomics and deep sequencing comparison of seasonally active venom glands in the platypus reveals novel venom peptides and distinct expression profiles.

Mol Cell Proteomics 2012 Nov 16;11(11):1354-64. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

The platypus is a venomous monotreme. Male platypuses possess a spur on their hind legs that is connected to glands in the pelvic region. They produce venom only during the breeding season, presumably to fight off conspecifics. We have taken advantage of this unique seasonal production of venom to compare the transcriptomes of in- and out-of-season venom glands, in conjunction with proteomic analysis, to identify previously undiscovered venom genes. Comparison of the venom glands revealed distinct gene expression profiles that are consistent with changes in venom gland morphology and venom volumes in and out of the breeding season. Venom proteins were identified through shot-gun sequenced venom proteomes of three animals using RNA-seq-derived transcripts for peptide-spectral matching. 5,157 genes were expressed in the venom glands, 1,821 genes were up-regulated in the in-season gland, and 10 proteins were identified in the venom. New classes of platypus-venom proteins identified included antimicrobials, amide oxidase, serpin protease inhibitor, proteins associated with the mammalian stress response pathway, cytokines, and other immune molecules. Five putative toxins have only been identified in platypus venom: growth differentiation factor 15, nucleobindin-2, CD55, a CXC-chemokine, and corticotropin-releasing factor-binding protein. These novel venom proteins have potential biomedical and therapeutic applications and provide insights into venom evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/mcp.M112.017491DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3494181PMC
November 2012

Venom evolution through gene duplications.

Gene 2012 Mar 18;496(1):1-7. Epub 2012 Jan 18.

Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Venoms contain highly complex mixtures that typically include hundreds of different components and have evolved independently in a diverse range of animals including platypuses, shrews, snakes, lizards, fishes, echinoderms, spiders, wasps, centipedes, sea snails, cephalopods, jellyfish and sea anemones. Many venom genes evolved through gene duplication. Gene duplication occurs in all domains of life and provides the raw substrate from which novel function arise. In this review, we focus on the role that gene duplication has played in the origin and diversification of venom genes. We outline the selective advantages of venom gene duplicates and the role that selection has played in the retention of these duplicates. We use toxin gene intermediates to help trace the evolution of toxin innovation. We also focus on other genomic processes, such as exon and domain duplications, in venom evolution. Finally, we conclude by focusing on the use of high throughput sequencing technology in understanding venom evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2012.01.009DOI Listing
March 2012

Ancient antimicrobial peptides kill antibiotic-resistant pathogens: Australian mammals provide new options.

PLoS One 2011 30;6(8):e24030. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

Biosciences Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, Bundoora, Australia.

Background: To overcome the increasing resistance of pathogens to existing antibiotics the 10×'20 Initiative declared the urgent need for a global commitment to develop 10 new antimicrobial drugs by the year 2020. Naturally occurring animal antibiotics are an obvious place to start. The recently sequenced genomes of mammals that are divergent from human and mouse, including the tammar wallaby and the platypus, provide an opportunity to discover novel antimicrobials. Marsupials and monotremes are ideal potential sources of new antimicrobials because they give birth to underdeveloped immunologically naïve young that develop outside the sterile confines of a uterus in harsh pathogen-laden environments. While their adaptive immune system develops innate immune factors produced either by the mother or by the young must play a key role in protecting the immune-compromised young. In this study we focus on the cathelicidins, a key family of antimicrobial peptide genes.

Principal Finding: We identified 14 cathelicidin genes in the tammar wallaby genome and 8 in the platypus genome. The tammar genes were expressed in the mammary gland during early lactation before the adaptive immune system of the young develops, as well as in the skin of the pouch young. Both platypus and tammar peptides were effective in killing a broad range of bacterial pathogens. One potent peptide, expressed in the early stages of tammar lactation, effectively killed multidrug-resistant clinical isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii.

Conclusions And Significance: Marsupial and monotreme young are protected by antimicrobial peptides that are potent, broad spectrum and salt resistant. The genomes of our distant relatives may hold the key for the development of novel drugs to combat multidrug-resistant pathogens.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0024030PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166071PMC
December 2011

Transcriptomic analysis supports similar functional roles for the two thymuses of the tammar wallaby.

BMC Genomics 2011 Aug 19;12:420. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Background: The thymus plays a critical role in the development and maturation of T-cells. Humans have a single thoracic thymus and presence of a second thymus is considered an anomaly. However, many vertebrates have multiple thymuses. The tammar wallaby has two thymuses: a thoracic thymus (typically found in all mammals) and a dominant cervical thymus. Researchers have known about the presence of the two wallaby thymuses since the 1800s, but no genome-wide research has been carried out into possible functional differences between the two thymic tissues. Here, we used pyrosequencing to compare the transcriptomes of a cervical and thoracic thymus from a single 178 day old tammar wallaby.

Results: We show that both the tammar thoracic and the cervical thymuses displayed gene expression profiles consistent with roles in T-cell development. Both thymuses expressed genes that mediate distinct phases of T-cells differentiation, including the initial commitment of blood stem cells to the T-lineage, the generation of T-cell receptor diversity and development of thymic epithelial cells. Crucial immune genes, such as chemokines were also present. Comparable patterns of expression of non-coding RNAs were seen. 67 genes differentially expressed between the two thymuses were detected, and the possible significance of these results are discussed.

Conclusion: This is the first study comparing the transcriptomes of two thymuses from a single individual. Our finding supports that both thymuses are functionally equivalent and drive T-cell development. These results are an important first step in the understanding of the genetic processes that govern marsupial immunity, and also allow us to begin to trace the evolution of the mammalian immune system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-12-420DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3173455PMC
August 2011

Immunome database for marsupials and monotremes.

BMC Immunol 2011 Aug 19;12:48. Epub 2011 Aug 19.

Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Background: To understand the evolutionary origins of our own immune system, we need to characterise the immune system of our distant relatives, the marsupials and monotremes. The recent sequencing of the genomes of two marsupials (opossum and tammar wallaby) and a monotreme (platypus) provides an opportunity to characterise the immune gene repertoires of these model organisms. This was required as many genes involved in immunity evolve rapidly and fail to be detected by automated gene annotation pipelines.

Description: We have developed a database of immune genes from the tammar wallaby, red-necked wallaby, northern brown bandicoot, brush-tail possum, opossum, echidna and platypus. The resource contains 2,235 newly identified sequences and 3,197 sequences which had been described previously. This comprehensive dataset was built from a variety of sources, including EST projects and expert-curated gene predictions generated through a variety of methods including chained-BLAST and sensitive HMMER searches. To facilitate systems-based research we have grouped sequences based on broad Gene Ontology categories as well as by specific functional immune groups. Sequences can be extracted by keyword, gene name, protein domain and organism name. Users can also search the database using BLAST.

Conclusion: The Immunome Database for Marsupials and Monotremes (IDMM) is a comprehensive database of all known marsupial and monotreme immune genes. It provides a single point of reference for genomic and transcriptomic datasets. Data from other marsupial and monotreme species will be added to the database as it become available. This resource will be utilized by marsupial and monotreme immunologists as well as researchers interested in the evolution of mammalian immunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2172-12-48DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3173380PMC
August 2011

Genome sequence of an Australian kangaroo, Macropus eugenii, provides insight into the evolution of mammalian reproduction and development.

Genome Biol 2011 Aug 29;12(8):R81. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Kangaroo Genomics, Australia.

Background: We present the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, which is a member of the kangaroo family and the first representative of the iconic hopping mammals that symbolize Australia to be sequenced. The tammar has many unusual biological characteristics, including the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, extremely synchronized seasonal breeding and prolonged and sophisticated lactation within a well-defined pouch. Like other marsupials, it gives birth to highly altricial young, and has a small number of very large chromosomes, making it a valuable model for genomics, reproduction and development.

Results: The genome has been sequenced to 2 × coverage using Sanger sequencing, enhanced with additional next generation sequencing and the integration of extensive physical and linkage maps to build the genome assembly. We also sequenced the tammar transcriptome across many tissues and developmental time points. Our analyses of these data shed light on mammalian reproduction, development and genome evolution: there is innovation in reproductive and lactational genes, rapid evolution of germ cell genes, and incomplete, locus-specific X inactivation. We also observe novel retrotransposons and a highly rearranged major histocompatibility complex, with many class I genes located outside the complex. Novel microRNAs in the tammar HOX clusters uncover new potential mammalian HOX regulatory elements.

Conclusions: Analyses of these resources enhance our understanding of marsupial gene evolution, identify marsupial-specific conserved non-coding elements and critical genes across a range of biological systems, including reproduction, development and immunity, and provide new insight into marsupial and mammalian biology and genome evolution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gb-2011-12-8-r81DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277949PMC
August 2011

A limited role for gene duplications in the evolution of platypus venom.

Mol Biol Evol 2012 Jan 3;29(1):167-77. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Gene duplication followed by adaptive selection is believed to be the primary driver of venom evolution. However, to date, no studies have evaluated the importance of gene duplications for venom evolution using a genomic approach. The availability of a sequenced genome and a venom gland transcriptome for the enigmatic platypus provides a unique opportunity to explore the role that gene duplication plays in venom evolution. Here, we identify gene duplication events and correlate them with expressed transcripts in an in-season venom gland. Gene duplicates (1,508) were identified. These duplicated pairs (421), including genes that have undergone multiple rounds of gene duplications, were expressed in the venom gland. The majority of these genes are involved in metabolism and protein synthesis not toxin functions. Twelve secretory genes including serine proteases, metalloproteinases, and protease inhibitors likely to produce symptoms of envenomation such as vasodilation and pain were detected. Only 16 of 107 platypus genes with high similarity to known toxins evolved through gene duplication. Platypus venom C-type natriuretic peptides and nerve growth factor do not possess lineage-specific gene duplicates. Extensive duplications, believed to increase the potency of toxic content and promote toxin diversification, were not found. This is the first study to take a genome-wide approach in order to examine the impact of gene duplication on venom evolution. Our findings support the idea that adaptive selection acts on gene duplicates to drive the independent evolution and functional diversification of similar venom genes in venomous species. However, gene duplications alone do not explain the "venome" of the platypus. Other mechanisms, such as alternative splicing and mutation, may be important in venom innovation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msr180DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3663093PMC
January 2012

Genomic identification of chemokines and cytokines in opossum.

J Interferon Cytokine Res 2011 Mar 8;31(3):317-30. Epub 2011 Jan 8.

1 Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney , Camperdown, Australia .

The cytokine repertoire of marsupials is largely unknown. The sequencing of the opossum genome has expedited the identification of many immune genes. However, many genes have not been identified using automated annotation pipelines because of high levels of sequence divergence. To fill gaps in our knowledge of the cytokine gene complement in marsupials, we searched the genome assembly of the gray short-tailed opossum for chemokine, interleukin, colony-stimulating factor, tumor necrosis factor, and transforming growth factor genes. In particular, we focused on genes that were not previously identified through Ensembl's automatic annotations. We report that the vast majority of cytokines are conserved, with direct orthologs between therian species. The major exceptions are chemokine genes, which show lineage-specific duplication/loss. Thirty-six chemokines were identified in opossum, including a lineage-specific expansion of macrophage inflammatory protein family genes. Divergent cytokines IL7, IL9, IL31, IL33, and CSF2 were identified. This is the first time IL31 and IL33 have been described outside of eutherian species. The high levels of similarities between the cytokine gene repertoires of therians suggest that the marsupial immune response is highly similar to eutherians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jir.2010.0045DOI Listing
March 2011

Novel venom gene discovery in the platypus.

Genome Biol 2010 29;11(9):R95. Epub 2010 Sep 29.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Regimental Crescent, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia.

Background: To date, few peptides in the complex mixture of platypus venom have been identified and sequenced, in part due to the limited amounts of platypus venom available to study. We have constructed and sequenced a cDNA library from an active platypus venom gland to identify the remaining components.

Results: We identified 83 novel putative platypus venom genes from 13 toxin families, which are homologous to known toxins from a wide range of vertebrates (fish, reptiles, insectivores) and invertebrates (spiders, sea anemones, starfish). A number of these are expressed in tissues other than the venom gland, and at least three of these families (those with homology to toxins from distant invertebrates) may play non-toxin roles. Thus, further functional testing is required to confirm venom activity. However, the presence of similar putative toxins in such widely divergent species provides further evidence for the hypothesis that there are certain protein families that are selected preferentially during evolution to become venom peptides. We have also used homology with known proteins to speculate on the contributions of each venom component to the symptoms of platypus envenomation.

Conclusions: This study represents a step towards fully characterizing the first mammal venom transcriptome. We have found similarities between putative platypus toxins and those of a number of unrelated species, providing insight into the evolution of mammalian venom.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gb-2010-11-9-r95DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2965387PMC
February 2011

Dexmedetomidine induces both relaxations and contractions, via different {alpha}2-adrenoceptor subtypes, in the isolated mesenteric artery and aorta of the rat.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2010 Dec 13;335(3):659-64. Epub 2010 Sep 13.

Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, HKSAR, China.

Dexmedetomidine is an α(2)-adrenoceptor agonist and anesthetic. The present study was designed to characterize the receptor subtypes and the downstream mechanisms of the vascular effects of dexmedetomidine in small (mesenteric artery) and large (aorta) arteries ex vivo. Isometric tension was measured in Sprague-Dawley rat mesenteric and aortic rings (with or without endothelium). To study relaxations, cumulative concentrations of dexmedetomidine, 5-bromo-N-(2-imidazolin-2-yl)-6-quinoxalinamine, (UK14304), or clonidine were added to rings contracted with 9,11-dideoxy-9α,11α-methanoepoxy prostaglandin F(2α) (U46619) in the presence or absence of indomethacin; N(ω)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (l-NAME); 2-[2H-(1-methyl-1,3-dihydroisoindole)methyl]-4,5-dihydroimidazole maleate (BRL44408); 2-[2-(4-(2-methoxyphenyl)piperazin-1-yl)ethyl]-4,4-dimethyl-1,3-(2H,4H)-isoquinolindione dihydrochloride (ARC239); l-657,743, (2S-trans)-1,3,4,5',6,6',7,12b-octahydro-1',3'-dimethyl-spiro[2H-benzofuro[2,3-a]quinolizine-2,4'(1'H)-pyrimidin]-2'(3'H)-one hydrochloride hydrate (MK912); rauwolscine; prazosin; or pertussis toxin. To study contractions, dexmedetomidine was added to quiescent rings without endothelium or after incubation with l-NAME, rauwolscine, prazosin, indomethacin, or 3-[(6-amino-(4-chlorobenzensulfonyl)-2-methyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydronaphth)-1-yl]propionic acid (S18886). Dexmedetomidine evoked relaxation at low concentrations (10 pM-30 nM) followed by contraction at higher concentrations (>30 nM) in the mesenteric artery. In the aorta, the relaxation was significantly smaller. The relaxation to dexmedetomidine depended on nitric oxide, endothelium, and G(i) protein, and it was mediated by α(2A/D)-adrenoceptors and possibly α(2B)-adrenoceptors. The contraction was mediated mainly by α(2B)- and α(1)-adrenoceptors and involved the action of prostanoids. UK14304 and clonidine induced greater and smaller relaxations, respectively, than dexmedetomidine. In conclusion, depending on the concentration used and the presence of functional endothelium, dexmedetomidine may evoke both relaxation and contraction in isolated arteries. The vascular effects also vary depending on the blood vessel studied. Its vascular effect is different from that of clonidine and UK14304.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1124/jpet.110.170688DOI Listing
December 2010

Identification of natural killer cell receptor clusters in the platypus genome reveals an expansion of C-type lectin genes.

Immunogenetics 2009 Aug 14;61(8):565-79. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, B19 RMC Gunn, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.

Natural killer (NK) cell receptors belong to two unrelated, but functionally analogous gene families: the immunoglobulin superfamily, situated in the leukocyte receptor complex (LRC) and the C-type lectin superfamily, located in the natural killer complex (NKC). Here, we describe the largest NK receptor gene expansion seen to date. We identified 213 putative C-type lectin NK receptor homologs in the genome of the platypus. Many have arisen as the result of a lineage-specific expansion. Orthologs of OLR1, CD69, KLRE, CLEC12B, and CLEC16p genes were also identified. The NKC is split into at least two regions of the genome: 34 genes map to chromosome 7, two map to a small autosome, and the remainder are unanchored in the current genome assembly. No NK receptor genes from the LRC were identified. The massive C-type lectin expansion and lack of Ig-domain-containing NK receptors represents the most extreme polarization of NK receptors found to date. We have used this new data from platypus to trace the possible evolutionary history of the NK receptor clusters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00251-009-0386-7DOI Listing
August 2009

Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution.

Nature 2008 May;453(7192):175-83

Genome Sequencing Center, Washington University School of Medicine, Campus Box 8501, 4444 Forest Park Avenue, St Louis, Missouri 63108, USA.

We present a draft genome sequence of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus. This monotreme exhibits a fascinating combination of reptilian and mammalian characters. For example, platypuses have a coat of fur adapted to an aquatic lifestyle; platypus females lactate, yet lay eggs; and males are equipped with venom similar to that of reptiles. Analysis of the first monotreme genome aligned these features with genetic innovations. We find that reptile and platypus venom proteins have been co-opted independently from the same gene families; milk protein genes are conserved despite platypuses laying eggs; and immune gene family expansions are directly related to platypus biology. Expansions of protein, non-protein-coding RNA and microRNA families, as well as repeat elements, are identified. Sequencing of this genome now provides a valuable resource for deep mammalian comparative analyses, as well as for monotreme biology and conservation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature06936DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803040PMC
May 2008

Defensins and the convergent evolution of platypus and reptile venom genes.

Genome Res 2008 Jun 7;18(6):986-94. Epub 2008 May 7.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.

When the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) was first discovered, it was thought to be a taxidermist's hoax, as it has a blend of mammalian and reptilian features. It is a most remarkable mammal, not only because it lays eggs but also because it is venomous. Rather than delivering venom through a bite, as do snakes and shrews, male platypuses have venomous spurs on each hind leg. The platypus genome sequence provides a unique opportunity to unravel the evolutionary history of many of these interesting features. While searching the platypus genome for the sequences of antimicrobial defensin genes, we identified three Ornithorhynchus venom defensin-like peptide (OvDLP) genes, which produce the major components of platypus venom. We show that gene duplication and subsequent functional diversification of beta-defensins gave rise to these platypus OvDLPs. The OvDLP genes are located adjacent to the beta-defensins and share similar gene organization and peptide structures. Intriguingly, some species of snakes and lizards also produce venoms containing similar molecules called crotamines and crotamine-like peptides. This led us to trace the evolutionary origins of other components of platypus and reptile venom. Here we show that several venom components have evolved separately in the platypus and reptiles. Convergent evolution has repeatedly selected genes coding for proteins containing specific structural motifs as templates for venom molecules.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gr.7149808DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2413166PMC
June 2008

Characterization of the opossum immune genome provides insights into the evolution of the mammalian immune system.

Genome Res 2007 Jul 10;17(7):982-91. Epub 2007 May 10.

Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

The availability of the first marsupial genome sequence has allowed us to characterize the immunome of the gray short-tailed opossum (Monodelphis domestica). Here we report the identification of key immune genes, including the highly divergent chemokines, defensins, cathelicidins, and Natural Killer cell receptors. It appears that the increase in complexity of the mammalian immune system occurred prior to the divergence of the marsupial and eutherian lineages approximately 180 million years ago. Genomes of ancestral mammals most likely contained all of the key mammalian immune gene families, with evolution on different continents, in the presence of different pathogens leading to lineage specific expansions and contractions, resulting in some minor differences in gene number and composition between different mammalian lineages. Gene expansion and extensive heterogeneity in opossum antimicrobial peptide genes may have evolved as a consequence of the newborn young needing to survive without an adaptive immune system in a pathogen laden environment. Given the similarities in the genomic architecture of the marsupial and eutherian immune systems, we propose that marsupials are ideal model organisms for the study of developmental immunology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/gr.6121807DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1899125PMC
July 2007
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