Publications by authors named "Geoff Shaw"

66 Publications

Circulating protein carbonyls are specifically elevated in critically ill patients with pneumonia relative to other sources of sepsis.

Free Radic Biol Med 2021 Nov 21. Epub 2021 Nov 21.

Department of Pathology and Biomedical Science, University of Otago, Christchurch, PO Box 4345, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand. Electronic address:

Background: Septic shock is a life-threatening dysregulated response to severe infection and is associated with elevated oxidative stress. We aimed to assess protein carbonyls in critically ill patients with different sources of sepsis and determine the effect of vitamin C intervention on protein carbonyl concentrations.

Methods: Critically ill patients with septic shock (n = 40) were recruited, and sources of sepsis and ICU severity scores were recorded. The patients were randomised to receive either intravenous vitamin C (100 mg/kg body weight/day) or placebo infusions. Blood samples were collected at baseline and daily for up to three days for measurement of cell counts, vitamin C concentrations, protein carbonyls, C-reactive protein, and myeloperoxidase concentrations.

Results: Protein carbonyl concentrations increased 2.2-fold in the cohort over the duration of the study (from 169 to 369 pmol/mg protein; p = 0.03). There were significant correlations between protein carbonyl concentrations and ICU severity scores (APACHE III r = 0.47 and SOFA r = 0.37; p < 0.05) at baseline. At study admission, the patients with pneumonia had nearly 3-fold higher protein carbonyl concentrations relative to the patients with other sources of sepsis (435 vs 157 pmol/mg protein, p < 0.0001). The septic patients had deficient vitamin C status at baseline (9.8 ± 1.4 μmol/L). This increased to 456 ± 90 μmol/L following three days of intravenous vitamin C intervention. Vitamin C intervention did not attenuate the increase in protein carbonyl concentrations.

Conclusions: Circulating protein carbonyls are specifically elevated in critically ill patients with pneumonia relative to other sources of sepsis. The reasons for this are currently unclear and may indicate a mechanism unique to pulmonary sources of sepsis. Intravenous vitamin C administration did not attenuate the increase in protein carbonyls over time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2021.11.029DOI Listing
November 2021

Placentation in Marsupials.

Adv Anat Embryol Cell Biol 2021 ;234:41-60

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

It is sometimes implied that marsupials are "aplacental," on the presumption that the only mammals that have a placenta are the eponymous "placental" mammals. This misconception has persisted despite the interest in and descriptions of the marsupial placenta, even in Amoroso's definitive chapter. It was also said that marsupials had no maternal recognition of pregnancy and no placental hormone production. In addition, it was thought that genomic imprinting could not exist in marsupials because pregnancy was so short. We now know that none of these ideas have held true with extensive studies over the last four decades definitively showing that they are indeed mammals with a fully functional placenta, and with their own specializations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77360-1_4DOI Listing
January 2021

Neutrophils Isolated from Septic Patients Exhibit Elevated Uptake of Vitamin C and Normal Intracellular Concentrations despite a Low Vitamin C Milieu.

Antioxidants (Basel) 2021 Oct 13;10(10). Epub 2021 Oct 13.

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Christchurch Hospital, Private Bag 4710, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.

Vitamin C (ascorbate) plays an important role in neutrophil function and is accumulated by the cells either directly via vitamin C transporters (SVCT) or indirectly following oxidation to dehydroascorbic acid. Septic patients are known to have significantly depleted plasma ascorbate status, but little is known about the ascorbate content of their circulating cells. Therefore, we assessed the ascorbate concentrations of plasma, leukocytes and erythrocytes from septic patients and compared these to healthy controls. Non-fasting blood samples were collected from healthy volunteers ( = 20) and critically ill patients with sepsis ( = 18). The ascorbate content of the plasma and isolated neutrophils and erythrocytes was measured using HPLC and plasma myeloperoxidase concentrations were determined using ELISA. Ex vivo uptake of ascorbate and dehydroascorbic acid by neutrophils from septic patients was also assessed. Neutrophils isolated from septic patients had comparable intracellular ascorbate content to healthy volunteers (0.33 vs. 0.35 nmol/10 cells, > 0.05), despite significantly lower plasma concentrations than the healthy controls (14 vs. 88 µmol/L, < 0.001). In contrast, erythrocytes from septic patients had significantly lower intracellular ascorbate content than healthy controls (30 vs. 69 µmol/L, = 0.002), although this was 2.2-fold higher than the matched plasma concentrations in the patients ( = 0.008). Higher concentrations of myeloperoxidase, a source of reactive oxygen species, were observed in the septic patients relative to healthy controls (194 vs. 14 mg/mL, < 0.0001). In contrast to neutrophils from healthy volunteers, the neutrophils from septic patients demonstrated elevated uptake of extracellular ascorbate. Overall, neutrophils from septic patients exhibited comparable intracellular ascorbate content to those from healthy controls, despite the patients presenting with hypovitaminosis C. The mechanisms involved are currently uncertain, but could include increased generation of dehydroascorbic acid in septic patients, enhanced basal activation of their neutrophils or upregulation of their vitamin C transporters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/antiox10101607DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8533547PMC
October 2021

In memoriam: Professor Roger Valentine Short AM FRSE FRS FAA, 31 July 1930 to 6 August 2021.

Reprod Fertil Dev 2021 Oct;33(12):i-iii

Professor Short was a great scholar, researcher, teacher, mentor and raconteur whose research spanned 60 years and an incredible breadth of topics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RDv33n12_OBDOI Listing
October 2021

Estimating Enhanced Endogenous Glucose Production in Intensive Care Unit Patients with Severe Insulin Resistance.

J Diabetes Sci Technol 2021 Jun 2:19322968211018260. Epub 2021 Jun 2.

Department of Control Engineering and Information Technology, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Budapest, Hungary.

Background: Critically ill ICU patients frequently experience acute insulin resistance and increased endogenous glucose production, manifesting as stress-induced hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. STAR (Stochastic TARgeted) is a glycemic control protocol, which directly manages inter- and intra- patient variability using model-based insulin sensitivity (SI). The model behind STAR assumes a population constant for endogenous glucose production (EGP), which is not otherwise identifiable.

Objective: This study analyses the effect of estimating EGP for ICU patients with very low SI (severe insulin resistance) and its impact on identified, model-based insulin sensitivity identification, modeling accuracy, and model-based glycemic clinical control.

Methods: Using clinical data from 717 STAR patients in 3 independent cohorts (Hungary, New Zealand, and Malaysia), insulin sensitivity, time of insulin resistance, and EGP values are analyzed. A method is presented to estimate EGP in the presence of non-physiologically low SI. Performance is assessed via model accuracy.

Results: Results show 22%-62% of patients experience 1+ episodes of severe insulin resistance, representing 0.87%-9.00% of hours. Episodes primarily occur in the first 24 h, matching clinical expectations. The Malaysian cohort is most affected. In this subset of hours, constant model-based EGP values can bias identified SI and increase blood glucose (BG) fitting error. Using the EGP estimation method presented in these constrained hours significantly reduced BG fitting errors.

Conclusions: Patients early in ICU stay may have significantly increased EGP. Increasing modeled EGP in model-based glycemic control can improve control accuracy in these hours. The results provide new insight into the frequency and level of significantly increased EGP in critical illness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/19322968211018260DOI Listing
June 2021

The Unique Penile Morphology of the Short-Beaked Echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus.

Sex Dev 2021 29;15(4):262-271. Epub 2021 Apr 29.

School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Monotremes diverged from therian mammal ancestors approximately 184 million years ago and have a number of novel reproductive characteristics. One in particular is their penile morphology. There are differences between echidna and platypus phalluses, but both are somewhat similar in structure to the reptilian phallus. The echidna penis consists of 4 rosette glans, each of which contains a termination of the quadrifurcate urethra, but it appears that only 2 of the 4 glans become erect at any one time. Despite this, only a few historical references describe the structure of the echidna penis and none provides an explanation for the mechanisms of unilateral ejaculation. This study confirmed that the echidna penis contains many of the same overall structures and morphology as other mammalian penises and a number of features homologous with reptiles. The corpus cavernosum is well supplied with blood, extends up to the base of the glans penis and is primarily responsible for erection. However, the echidna possesses 2 distinct corpora spongiosa separated by a septum, each of which surround the urethra only distal to the initial urethral bifurcation in the glans penis. Together with the bifurcation of the main penile artery, this provides a mechanism by which blood flow could be directed to only one corpus spongiosum at a time to maintain an open urethra that supplies 2 of the 4 glans to facilitate unilateral ejaculation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000515145DOI Listing
April 2021

Accurate end systole detection in dicrotic notch-less arterial pressure waveforms.

J Clin Monit Comput 2021 Feb 11;35(1):79-88. Epub 2020 Feb 11.

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Identification of end systole is often necessary when studying events specific to systole or diastole, for example, models that estimate cardiac function and systolic time intervals like left ventricular ejection duration. In proximal arterial pressure waveforms, such as from the aorta, the dicrotic notch marks this transition from systole to diastole. However, distal arterial pressure measures are more common in a clinical setting, typically containing no dicrotic notch. This study defines a new end systole detection algorithm, for dicrotic notch-less arterial waveforms. The new algorithm utilises the beta distribution probability density function as a weighting function, which is adaptive based on previous heartbeats end systole locations. Its accuracy is compared with an existing end systole estimation method, on dicrotic notch-less distal pressure waveforms. Because there are no dicrotic notches defining end systole, validating which method performed better is more difficult. Thus, a validation method is developed using dicrotic notch locations from simultaneously measured aortic pressure, forward projected by pulse transit time (PTT) to the more distal pressure signal. Systolic durations, estimated by each of the end systole estimates, are then compared to the validation systolic duration provided by the PTT based end systole point. Data comes from ten pigs, across two protocols testing the algorithms under different hemodynamic states. The resulting mean difference ± limits of agreement between measured and estimated systolic duration, of [Formula: see text] versus [Formula: see text], for the new and existing algorithms respectively, indicate the new algorithms superiority.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10877-020-00473-3DOI Listing
February 2021

Transcriptomic Analysis of MAP3K1 and MAP3K4 in the Developing Marsupial Gonad.

Sex Dev 2019 1;13(4):195-204. Epub 2020 Feb 1.

MAPKs affect gonadal differentiation in mice and humans, but whether this applies to all mammals is as yet unknown. Thus, we investigated MAPK expression during gonadal differentiation and after treatment with oestrogen in a distantly related mammal, the marsupial tammar wallaby, using our model of oestrogen-induced gonadal sex reversal. High-throughput RNA-sequencing was carried out on gonads collected from developing tammar 2 days before birth to 8 days after birth to characterise MAPK and key sexual differentiation markers. Day 25 foetal testes were cultured for 120 h in control medium or medium supplemented with exogenous oestrogen and processed for RNA-seq to identify changes in gene expression in response to oestrogen. MAPK pathway genes in the tammar were highly conserved at the sequence and amino acid level with those of mice and humans. Marsupial MAP3K1 and MAP3K4 clustered together in a separate branch from eutherian mammals. There was a marked decrease in the expression of male-determining genes SOX9 and AMH and increase in the female marker FOXL2 in oestrogen-treated male gonads. Only MAP3K1 expression increased in male gonads in response to oestrogen while other MAPK genes remained unaffected. This study suggests that MAP3K1 can be influenced by exogenous oestrogens during gonadal differentiation in this marsupial.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000505799DOI Listing
August 2020

Androgen and Oestrogen Affect the Expression of Long Non-Coding RNAs During Phallus Development in a Marsupial.

Noncoding RNA 2018 Dec 30;5(1). Epub 2018 Dec 30.

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne 3010, VIC, Australia.

There is increasing evidence that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are important for normal reproductive development, yet very few lncRNAs have been identified in phalluses so far. Unlike eutherians, phallus development in the marsupial tammar wallaby occurs post-natally, enabling manipulation not possible in eutherians in which differentiation occurs in utero. We treated with sex steroids to determine the effects of androgen and oestrogen on lncRNA expression during phallus development. Hormonal manipulations altered the coding and non-coding gene expression profile of phalluses. We identified several predicted co-regulatory lncRNAs that appear to be co-expressed with the hormone-responsive candidate genes regulating urethral closure and phallus growth, namely , and . Interestingly, more than 50% of -associated coding genes and lncRNAs were also associated with . In addition, we identified and validated three novel co-regulatory and hormone-responsive lncRNAs: and . was detected in the urethral epithelium of male phalluses and was downregulated by oestrogen in males. was downregulated by oestrogen treatment in male phalluses at day 50 post-partum (pp). was downregulated by adiol treatment in female phalluses but increased in male phalluses after castration. Thus, the expression pattern and hormone responsiveness of these lncRNAs suggests a physiological role in the development of the phallus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ncrna5010003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6468475PMC
December 2018

DNA methylation dynamics in the germline of the marsupial tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii.

DNA Res 2019 Feb;26(1):85-94

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Parent specific-DNA methylation is the genomic imprint that induces mono-allelic gene expression dependent on parental origin. Resetting of DNA methylation in the germ line is mediated by a genome-wide re-methylation following demethylation known as epigenetic reprogramming. Most of our understanding of epigenetic reprogramming in germ cells is based on studies in mice, but little is known about this in marsupials. We examined genome-wide changes in DNA methylation levels by measuring 5-methylcytosine expression, and mRNA expression and protein localization of the key enzyme DNA methyltransferase 3 L (DNMT3L) during germ cell development of the marsupial tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii. Our data clearly showed that the relative timing of genome-wide changes in DNA methylation was conserved between the tammar and mouse, but in the tammar it all occurred post-natally. In the female tammar, genome-wide demethylation occurred in two phases, I and II, suggesting that there is an unidentified demethylation mechanism in this species. Although the localization pattern of DNMT3L in male germ cells differed, the expression patterns of DNMT3L were broadly conserved between tammar, mouse and human. Thus, the basic mechanisms of DNA methylation-reprogramming must have been established before the marsupial-eutherian mammal divergence over 160 Mya.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/dnares/dsy040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6379045PMC
February 2019

Effects of androgen and oestrogen on IGF pathways controlling phallus growth.

Reproduction 2019 01;157(1):1-12

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The development of the mammalian phallus involves hormone-dependent mesenchymal-epithelial signalling mechanisms that contribute to urethral closure and regulation of phallus elongation and growth. In marsupials, most differentiation and growth of the phallus occurs post-natally, making them amenable to direct hormone treatment. Expression of IGFs, FGFs, EFNB2, MAFB, DLX5 and AP-1 mRNAs in the phallus at day 50 post-partum (pp) were altered after treatment of tammar wallaby young from day 20 to 40 pp with androgen, oestrogen or after castration at day 25 pp. However, the most interesting changes occurred in the IGF pathway genes. Androgen treatment upregulated IGF1 in female phalluses and oestrogen treatment upregulated IGF1 in male phalluses, but it was downregulated by castration. IGFBP3 was higher in female phalluses and downregulated by androgen. IGF1 expression was higher in all untreated male than in female phalluses from day 50 to 150 pp, but IGFBP3 had the reverse pattern. At day 90 pp, when urethral closure in males is progressing and male phallus growth is accelerating. IGF1 and PCNA protein were only detected in the male urorectal septum, suggesting for the first time that closure and elongation may involve IGF1 activation of cell proliferation specifically in male phalluses. These effects of sex steroids on gene expression and on the IGF1 signalling pathway in particular, suggest that the developing phallus may be especially susceptible to perturbation by exogenous hormones.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-18-0416DOI Listing
January 2019

Hormone-responsive genes in the SHH and WNT/β-catenin signaling pathways influence urethral closure and phallus growth.

Biol Reprod 2018 10;99(4):806-816

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Environmental endocrine disruptors (EEDs) that affect androgen or estrogen activity may disrupt gene regulation during phallus development to cause hypospadias or a masculinized clitoris. We treated developing male tammar wallabies with estrogen and females with androgen from day 20-40 postpartum (pp) during the androgen imprinting window of sensitivity. Estrogen inhibited phallus elongation but had no effect on urethral closure and did not significantly depress testicular androgen synthesis. Androgen treatment in females did not promote phallus elongation but initiated urethral closure. Phalluses were collected for transcriptome sequencing at day 50 pp when they first become sexually dimorphic to examine changes in two signaling pathways, sonic hedgehog (SHH) and wingless-type MMTV integration site family (WNT)/β-catenin. SHH mRNA and β-catenin were predominantly expressed in the urethral epithelium in the tammar phallus, as in eutherian mammals. Estrogen treatment and castration of males induced an upregulation of SHH, while androgen treatment downregulated SHH. These effects appear to be direct since we detected putative estrogen receptor α (ERα) and androgen receptor (AR) binding sites near SHH. WNT5A, like SHH, was downregulated by androgen, while WNT4 was upregulated in female phalluses after androgen treatment. After estrogen treatment, WIF1 and WNT7A were both downregulated in male phalluses. After castration, WNT9A was upregulated. These results suggest that SHH and WNT pathways are regulated by both estrogen and androgen to direct the proliferation and elongation of the phallus during differentiation. Their response to exogenous hormones makes these genes potential targets of EEDs in the etiology of abnormal phallus development including hypospadias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biolre/ioy117DOI Listing
October 2018

Non-invasive placentation in the marsupials Macropus eugenii (Macropodidae) and Trichosurus vulpecula (Phalangeridae) involves redistribution of uterine Desmoglein-2.

Mol Reprod Dev 2018 01 15;85(1):72-82. Epub 2018 Jan 15.

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

In mammalian pregnancy, the uterus is remodeled to become receptive to embryonic implantation. Since non-invasive placentation in marsupials is likely derived from invasive placentation, and is underpinned by intra-uterine conflict between mother and embryo, species with non-invasive placentation may employ a variety of molecular mechanisms to maintain an intact uterine epithelium and to prevent embryonic invasion. Identifying such modifications to the uterine epithelium of marsupial species with non-invasive placentation is key to understanding how conflict is mediated during pregnancy in different mammalian groups. Desmoglein-2, involved in maintaining lateral cell-cell adhesion of the uterine epithelium, is redistributed before implantation to facilitate embryo invasion in mammals with invasive placentation. We identified localization patterns of this cell adhesion molecule throughout pregnancy in two marsupial species with non-invasive placentation, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii; Macropodidae), and the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula; Phalangeridae). Interestingly, Desmoglein-2 redistribution also occurs in both M. eugenii and T. vulpecula, suggesting that cell adhesion, and thus integrity of the uterine epithelium, is reduced during implantation regardless of placental type, and may be an important component of uterine remodeling. Desmoglein-2 also localizes to the mesenchymal stromal cells of M. eugenii and to epithelial cell nuclei in T. vulpecula, suggesting its involvement in cellular processes that are independent of adhesion and may compensate for reduced lateral adhesion in the uterine epithelium. We conclude that non-invasive placentation in marsupials involves diverse and complementary strategies to maintain an intact epithelial barrier.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.22940DOI Listing
January 2018

Hypovitaminosis C and vitamin C deficiency in critically ill patients despite recommended enteral and parenteral intakes.

Crit Care 2017 Dec 11;21(1):300. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Christchurch Hospital, Private Bag 4710, Christchurch, 8140, New Zealand.

Background: Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble nutrient which cannot be synthesised or stored by humans. It is a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive roles. Previous research has indicated that vitamin C levels are depleted in critically ill patients. In this study we have assessed plasma vitamin C concentrations in critically ill patients relative to infection status (septic shock or non-septic) and level of inflammation (C-reactive protein concentrations). Vitamin C status was also assessed relative to daily enteral and parenteral intakes to determine if standard intensive care unit (ICU) nutritional support is adequate to meet the vitamin C needs of critically ill patients.

Methods: Forty-four critically ill patients (24 with septic shock, 17 non-septic, 3 uncategorised) were recruited from the Christchurch Hospital Intensive Care Unit. We measured concentrations of plasma vitamin C and a pro-inflammatory biomarker (C-reactive protein) daily over 4 days and calculated patients' daily vitamin C intake from the enteral or total parenteral nutrition they received. We compared plasma vitamin C and C-reactive protein concentrations between septic shock and non-septic patients over 4 days using a mixed effects statistical model, and we compared the vitamin C status of the critically ill patients with known vitamin C bioavailability data using a four-parameter log-logistic response model.

Results: Overall, the critically ill patients exhibited hypovitaminosis C (i.e., < 23 μmol/L), with a mean plasma vitamin C concentration of 17.8 ± 8.7 μmol/L; of these, one-third had vitamin C deficiency (i.e., < 11 μmol/L). Patients with hypovitaminosis C had elevated inflammation (C-reactive protein levels; P < 0.05). The patients with septic shock had lower vitamin C concentrations and higher C-reactive protein concentrations than the non-septic patients (P < 0.05). Nearly 40% of the septic shock patients were deficient in vitamin C, compared with 25% of the non-septic patients. These low vitamin C levels were apparent despite receiving recommended intakes via enteral and/or parenteral nutritional therapy (mean 125 mg/d).

Conclusions: Critically ill patients have low vitamin C concentrations despite receiving standard ICU nutrition. Septic shock patients have significantly depleted vitamin C levels compared with non-septic patients, likely resulting from increased metabolism due to the enhanced inflammatory response observed in septic shock.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13054-017-1891-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5725835PMC
December 2017

Expression of STRA8 is conserved in therian mammals but expression of CYP26B1 differs between marsupials and mice.

Biol Reprod 2017 Aug;97(2):217-229

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The first sign of mammalian germ cell sexual differentiation is the initiation of meiosis in females and of mitotic arrest in males. In the mouse, retinoic acid induces ovarian Stra8 expression and entry of germ cells into meiosis. In developing mouse testes, cytochrome P450 family 26, subfamily b, polypeptide 1 (CYP26B1) produced by the Sertoli cells degrades retinoic acid, preventing Stimulated by Retinoic Acid Gene 8 (Stra8), expression and inhibiting meiosis. However, in developing humans, there is no evidence that CYP26B1 acts a meiosis-inhibiting factor. We therefore examined aspects of the retinoic acid/STRA8/CYP26B1 pathway during gonadal development in the tammar wallaby, a marsupial, to understand whether retinoic acid stimulation of STRA8 and CYP26B1 degradation of retinoic acid was conserved between widely divergent mammals. In tammar ovaries, as in human ovaries and unlike the pattern in mice, CYP26B1 expression was not downregulated before the onset of meiosis. Exposure of pre-meiotic tammar ovaries to exogenous retinoic acid in vitro upregulated STRA8 expression compared to controls. We conclude that retinoic acid and STRA8 are conserved factors that control the initiation of meiosis amongst mammals but the role of CYP26B1 as a meiosis-inhibiting factor may be specific to rodents. The identity of the marsupial meiosis-inhibiting factor remains unknown.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biolre/iox083DOI Listing
August 2017

Uterine molecular changes for non-invasive embryonic attachment in the marsupials Macropus eugenii (Macropodidae) and Trichosurus vulpecula (Phalangeridae).

Mol Reprod Dev 2017 Oct 7;84(10):1076-1085. Epub 2017 Aug 7.

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Pregnancy in mammals requires remodeling of the uterus to become receptive to the implanting embryo. Remarkably similar morphological changes to the uterine epithelium occur in both eutherian and marsupial mammals, irrespective of placental type. Nevertheless, molecular differences in uterine remodeling indicate that the marsupial uterus employs maternal defences, including molecular reinforcement of the uterine epithelium, to regulate embryonic invasion. Non-invasive (epitheliochorial) embryonic attachment in marsupials likely evolved secondarily from invasive attachment, so uterine defences in these species may prevent embryonic invasion. We tested this hypothesis by identifying localization patterns of Talin, a key basal anchoring molecule, in the uterine epithelium during pregnancy in the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii; Macropodidae) and the brush tail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula; Phalangeridae). Embryonic attachment is non-invasive in both species, yet Talin undergoes a clear distributional change during pregnancy in M. eugenii, including recruitment to the base of the uterine epithelium just before attachment, that closely resembles that of invasive implantation in the marsupial species Sminthopsis crassicaudata. Basal localization occurs throughout pregnancy in T. vulpecula, although, as for M. eugenii, this pattern is most specific prior to attachment. Such molecular reinforcement of the uterine epithelium for non-invasive embryonic attachment in marsupials supports the hypothesis that less-invasive and non-invasive embryonic attachment in marsupials may have evolved via accrual of maternal defences. Recruitment of basal molecules, including Talin, to the uterine epithelium may have played a key role in this transition.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.22861DOI Listing
October 2017

Prostaglandin D2 Regulates SOX9 Nuclear Translocation during Gonadal Sex Determination in Tammar Wallaby, Macropus eugenii.

Sex Dev 2017 5;11(3):143-150. Epub 2017 May 5.

School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Sex determination and sexual differentiation pathways are highly conserved between marsupials and eutherians. There are 2 different pathways of prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) synthesis: prostaglandin D synthase (PTGDS) and haematopoietic prostaglandin D synthase (HPGDS). PGD2 regulates the subcellular localization of SOX9 during gonadal sexual differentiation. To investigate the function of PGD2 in the tammar gonad, we cultured undifferentiated male gonads in the presence of the HPGDS inhibitor HQL-79 and female gonads with exogenous PGD2 to mimic activation of the PTGDS-PGD2 pathway. Tammar PTGDS and HPGDS have only 50% similarity with mouse and human orthologues, but functional domains are conserved. The expression of SOX9 was unchanged by the treatments in cultured gonads, but its subcellular localization was markedly affected. SOX9 remained cytoplasmic in the Sertoli cells of testes treated with HQL-79. Treated testes developed a thickened ovary-like surface epithelium. In contrast, SOX9 became nuclear in the granulosa cells of developing ovaries treated with PGD2 and the surface epithelium was thin, as in testes. These results demonstrate that PGD2 regulates the subcellular localization of SOX9 and subsequent gonadal development in the developing marsupial gonads, as it does in mice, and that it must have been an ancestral mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000473782DOI Listing
April 2018

Uterine flushing proteome of the tammar wallaby after reactivation from diapause.

Reproduction 2016 11 2;152(5):491-505. Epub 2016 Aug 2.

School of BioSciences

The marsupial tammar wallaby has the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, up to 11 months, during which there is no cell division or blastocyst growth. Since the blastocyst in diapause is surrounded by acellular coats, the signals that maintain or terminate diapause involve factors that reside in uterine secretions. The nature of such factors remains to be resolved. In this study, uterine flushings (UFs) were used to assess changes in uterine secretions of tammars using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) during diapause (day 0 and 3) and reactivation days (d) 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 24 after removal of pouch young (RPY), which initiates embryonic development. This study supports earlier suggestions that the presence of specific factors stimulate reactivation, early embryonic growth and cell proliferation. A mitogen, hepatoma-derived growth factor and soluble epidermal growth factor receptors were observed from d3 until at least d11 RPY when these secreted proteins constituted 21% of the UF proteome. Binding of these factors to specific cellular receptors or growth factors may directly stimulate DNA synthesis and division in endometrial gland cells. Proteins involved in the p53/CDKN1A (p21) cell cycle inhibition pathway were also observed in the diapause samples. Progesterone and most of the oestrogen-regulated proteins were present in the UF after d3, which is concomitant with the start of blastocyst mitoses at d4. We propose that once the p21 inhibition of the cell cycle is lost, growth factors including HDGF and EGFR are responsible for reactivation of the diapausing blastocyst via the uterine secretions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-16-0154DOI Listing
November 2016

Uterine morphology during diapause and early pregnancy in the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii).

J Anat 2016 09 11;229(3):459-72. Epub 2016 May 11.

School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

In mammals, embryonic diapause, or suspension of embryonic development, occurs when embryos at the blastocyst stage are arrested in growth and metabolism. In the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), there are two separate uteri, only one of which becomes gravid with the single conceptus at a post-partum oestrus, so changes during pregnancy can be compared between the gravid and non-gravid uterus within the same individual. Maintenance of the viable blastocyst and inhibition of further conceptus growth during diapause in the tammar is completely dependent on the uterine environment. Although the specific endocrine and seasonal signals are well established, much less is known about the cellular changes required to create this environment. Here we present the first detailed study of uterine morphology during diapause and early pregnancy of the tammar wallaby. We combined transmission electron microscopy and light microscopy to describe the histological and ultrastructural changes to luminal and glandular epithelial cells. At entry into diapause after the post-partum oestrus and formation of the new conceptus, there was an increase in abundance of organelles associated with respiration in the endometrial cells of the newly gravid uterus, particularly in the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria, as well as an increase in secretory activity. Organelle changes and active secretion then ceased in these cells as they became quiescent and remained so for the duration of diapause. In contrast, cells of the non-gravid, post-partum, contralateral uterus underwent sloughing and remodelling during this time and some organelle changes in glandular epithelial cells continued throughout diapause, suggesting these cells are not completely quiescent during diapause, although no active secretion occurred. These findings demonstrate that diapause, like pregnancy, is under unilateral endocrine control in the tammar, and that preparation for and maintenance of diapause requires substantial changes to uterine endometrial cell ultrastructure and activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joa.12483DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4974553PMC
September 2016

Validation of clinical activity tracking system in Intensive Care Unit to assess nurse workload distribution.

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2015 Aug;2015:458-61

Therapeutic Intervention Score System (TISS-28) and the Nursing Activities Score (NAS) are common used to evaluate nursing workload in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). However, they require experienced researchers to perform, are subject to user bias and experience, and are labor intensive, which all exclude regular use. A Clinical Activities Tracking System (CATS) was developed to evaluate bedside nursing activities automatically. This paper presents the validation of this system in quantifying bedside nursing activities. A total of 30 hours (1 hour/day) of nursing activities were manually recorded by trained researcher. The manually recorded total time spent on bedside nursing activities (Atime) was compared with time recorded using CATS (Ctime). A high correlation was found between Atime and Ctime with R = 0.882, and thus the actual time spent in nursing activity can be estimated using a first order polynomial function. In this study, it was found that the median Atime between 7 am-10 pm is 1.4-1.5 times higher than nursing activities at 10 pm-7 am. Results showed that CATS was able to provide unique and high information on patient bedside nursing activities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/EMBC.2015.7318398DOI Listing
August 2015

Embryo-endometrial interactions during early development after embryonic diapause in the marsupial tammar wallaby.

Int J Dev Biol 2014 ;58(2-4):175-81

Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

The marsupial tammar wallaby has the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal. Reproduction in the tammar is seasonal, regulated by photoperiod and also lactation. Reactivation is triggered by falling daylength after the austral summer solstice in December. Young are born late January and commence a 9-10-month lactation. Females mate immediately after birth. The resulting conceptus develops over 6- 7 days to form a unilaminar blastocyst of 80-100 cells and enters lactationally, and later seasonally, controlled diapause. The proximate endocrine signal for reactivation is an increase in progesterone which alters uterine secretions. Since the diapausing blastocyst is surrounded by the zona and 2 other acellular coats, the mucoid layer and shell coat, the uterine signals that maintain or terminate diapause must involve soluble factors in the secretions rather than any direct cellular interaction between uterus and embryo. Our studies suggest involvement of a number of cytokines in the regulation of diapause in tammars. The endometrium secretes platelet activating factor (PAF) and leukaemia inhibitory factor, which increase after reactivation. Receptors for PAF are low on the blastocyst during diapause but are upregulated at reactivation. Conversely, there is endometrial expression of the muscle segment homeobox gene MSX2 throughout diapause, but it is rapidly downregulated at reactivation. These patterns are consistent with those observed in diapausing mice and mink after reactivation, despite the very different patterns of endocrine control of diapause in these 3 divergent species. These common patterns suggest a similar underlying mechanism for diapause, perhaps common to all mammals, but which is activated in only a few.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/ijdb.140059mrDOI Listing
March 2015

Inducing sex reversal of the urogenital system of marsupials.

Differentiation 2014 Jan-Feb;87(1-2):23-31. Epub 2014 Jan 14.

Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia.

Marsupials differ from eutherian mammals in their reproductive strategy of delivering a highly altricial young after a short gestation. The young, with its undeveloped organ systems completes its development post-natally, usually within a pouch. The young is dependent on milk with a composition that varies through lactation to support its growth and changing needs as it matures over a lengthy period. Gonadal differentiation occurs after birth, providing a unique opportunity to examine the effects of hormonal manipulations on its sexual differentiation of the highly accessible young. In marsupials a difference in the migration of the urinary ducts around the genital ducts from eutherian mammals results in the unique tammar reproductive tract which has three vaginae and two cervices, and two distinctly separate uteri. In the tammar wallaby, a small member of the kangaroo family, we showed that virilisation of the Wolffian duct, prostate and phallus depends on an alternate androgen pathway, which has now been shown to be important for virilisation in humans. Through hormonal manipulations over differing time periods we have achieved sex reversal of both ovaries and testes, germ cells, genital ducts, prostate and phallus. Whilst we understand many of the mechanisms behind sexual differentiation there are still many lessons to be learned from understanding how sex reversal is achieved by using a model such as the tammar wallaby. This will help guide investigations into the major questions of how and why sex determination is achieved in other species. This review discusses the control and development of the marsupial urogenital system, largely drawn from our studies in the tammar wallaby and our ability to manipulate this system to induce sex reversal.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.diff.2013.11.003DOI Listing
December 2014

ARX/Arx is expressed in germ cells during spermatogenesis in both marsupial and mouse.

Reproduction 2014 Mar 3;147(3):279-89. Epub 2014 Feb 3.

ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics.

The X-linked aristaless gene, ARX, is essential for the development of the gonads, forebrain, olfactory bulb, pancreas, and skeletal muscle in mice and humans. Mutations cause neurological diseases, often accompanied by ambiguous genitalia. There are a disproportionately high number of testis and brain genes on the human and mouse X chromosomes. It is still unknown whether the X chromosome accrued these genes during its evolution or whether genes that find themselves on the X chromosome evolve such roles. ARX was originally autosomal in mammals and remains so in marsupials, whereas in eutherian mammals it translocated to the X chromosome. In this study, we examined autosomal ARX in tammars and compared it with the X-linked Arx in mice. We detected ARX mRNA in the neural cells of the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain, and olfactory bulbs in developing tammars, consistent with the expression in mice. ARX was detected by RT-PCR and mRNA in situ hybridization in the developing tammar wallaby gonads of both sexes, suggestive of a role in sexual development as in mice. We also detected ARX/Arx mRNA in the adult testis in both tammars and mice, suggesting a potential novel role for ARX/Arx in spermiogenesis. ARX transcripts were predominantly observed in round spermatids. Arx mRNA localization distributions in the mouse adult testis suggest that it escaped meiotic sex chromosome inactivation during spermatogenesis. Our findings suggest that ARX in the therian mammal ancestor already played a role in male reproduction before it was recruited to the X chromosome in eutherians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-13-0361DOI Listing
March 2014

Paf receptor expression in the marsupial embryo and endometrium during embryonic diapause.

Reproduction 2014 Jan 16;147(1):21-31. Epub 2013 Nov 16.

Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.

The control of reactivation from embryonic diapause in the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) involves sequential activation of the corpus luteum, secretion of progesterone that stimulates endometrial secretion and subsequent changes in the uterine environment that activate the embryo. However, the precise signals between the endometrium and the blastocyst are currently unknown. In eutherians, both the phospholipid Paf and its receptor, platelet-activating factor receptor (PTAFR), are present in the embryo and the endometrium. In the tammar, endometrial Paf release in vitro increases around the time of the early progesterone pulse that occurs around the time of reactivation, but whether Paf can reactivate the blastocyst is unknown. We cloned and characterised the expression of PTAFR in the tammar embryo and endometrium at entry into embryonic diapause, during its maintenance and after reactivation. Tammar PTAFR sequence and protein were highly conserved with mammalian orthologues. In the endometrium, PTAFR was expressed at a constant level in the glandular epithelium across all stages and in the luminal epithelium during both diapause and reactivation. Thus, the presence of the receptor appears not to be a limiting factor for Paf actions in the endometrium. However, the low levels of PTAFR in the embryo during diapause, together with its up-regulation and subsequent internalisation at reactivation, supports earlier results suggesting that endometrial Paf could be involved in reactivation of the tammar blastocyst from embryonic diapause.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1530/REP-13-0140DOI Listing
January 2014

Identification of a novel PNMA-MS1 gene in marsupials suggests the LTR retrotransposon-derived PNMA genes evolved differently in marsupials and eutherians.

DNA Res 2013 Oct 23;20(5):425-36. Epub 2013 May 23.

1Department of Epigenetics, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1-5-45 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8510, Japan.

Two major gene families derived from Ty3/Gypsy long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons were recently identified in mammals. The sushi-ichi retrotransposon homologue (SIRH) family comprises 12 genes: 11 in eutherians including Peg10 and Peg11/Rtl1 that have essential roles in the eutherian placenta and 1 that is marsupial specific. Fifteen and 12 genes were reported in the second gene family, para-neoplastic antigen MA (PNMA), in humans and mice, respectively, although their biological functions and evolutionary history remain largely unknown. Here, we identified two novel candidate PNMA genes, PNMA-MS1 and -MS2 in marsupials. Like all eutherian-specific PNMA genes, they exhibit the highest homology to a Gypsy12_DR (DR, Danio rerio) Gag protein. PNMA-MS1 is conserved in both Australian and South American marsupial species, the tammar wallaby and grey short-tailed opossum. However, no PNMA-MS1 orthologue was found in eutherians, monotremes or non-mammalian vertebrates. PNMA-MS1 was expressed in the ovary, mammary gland and brain during development and growth in the tammar, suggesting that PNMA-MS1 may have acquired a marsupial-specific function. However, PNMA-MS2 seems to be a pseudogene. The absence of marsupial orthologues of eutherian PNMA genes suggests that the retrotransposition events of the Gypsy12_DR-related retrotransposons that gave rise to the PNMA family occurred after the divergence of marsupials and eutherians.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/dnares/dst020DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3789554PMC
October 2013

A new role for muscle segment homeobox genes in mammalian embryonic diapause.

Open Biol 2013 Apr 24;3(4):130035. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

Division of Reproductive Sciences, Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.

Mammalian embryonic diapause is a phenomenon defined by the temporary arrest in blastocyst growth and metabolic activity within the uterus which synchronously becomes quiescent to blastocyst activation and implantation. This reproductive strategy temporally uncouples conception from parturition until environmental or maternal conditions are favourable for the survival of the mother and newborn. The underlying molecular mechanism by which the uterus and embryo temporarily achieve quiescence, maintain blastocyst survival and then resume blastocyst activation with subsequent implantation remains unknown. Here, we show that uterine expression of Msx1 or Msx2, members of an ancient, highly conserved homeobox gene family, persists in three unrelated mammalian species during diapause, followed by rapid downregulation with blastocyst activation and implantation. Mice with uterine inactivation of Msx1 and Msx2 fail to achieve diapause and reactivation. Remarkably, the North American mink and Australian tammar wallaby share similar expression patterns of MSX1 or MSX2 as in mice-it persists during diapause and is rapidly downregulated upon blastocyst activation and implantation. Evidence from mouse studies suggests that the effects of Msx genes in diapause are mediated through Wnt5a, a known transcriptional target of uterine Msx. These studies provide strong evidence that the Msx gene family constitutes a common conserved molecular mediator in the uterus during embryonic diapause to improve female reproductive fitness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsob.130035DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3718335PMC
April 2013

Ultrasonography of wallaby prenatal development shows that the climb to the pouch begins in utero.

Sci Rep 2013 ;3:1458

Department of Reproduction Management, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany.

Marsupials have a functional placenta for a shorter period of time compared to that of eutherian species, and their altricial young reach the teats without any help from the mother. We have monitored the short intrauterine development of one marsupial, the tammar wallaby, with high-resolution ultrasound from reactivation of the 100-cell diapausing blastocyst to birth. The expanding blastocyst could be visualized when it had reached a diameter of 1.5 mm. From at least halfway through pregnancy, there are strong undulating movements of the endometrium that massage the expanding vesicle against the highly secretory endometrial surface. These unique movements possibly enhance exchange of uterine secretions and gases between the mother and embryo. There was a constant rate of development measured ultrasonographically from mid-gestation, regardless of when the blastocyst reactivated. Interestingly climbing movements by the fetus began in utero about 3 days before birth, mimicking those required to climb to the pouch.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep01458DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3597997PMC
September 2013

Early cell lineage specification in a marsupial: a case for diverse mechanisms among mammals.

Development 2013 Mar 23;140(5):965-75. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, 3010 Victoria, Australia.

Early cell lineage specification in eutherian mammals results in the formation of a pluripotent inner cell mass (ICM) and trophoblast. By contrast, marsupials have no ICM. Here, we present the first molecular analysis of mechanisms of early cell lineage specification in a marsupial, the tammar wallaby. There was no overt differential localisation of key lineage-specific transcription factors in cleavage and early unilaminar blastocyst stages. Pluriblast cells (equivalent to the ICM) became distinguishable from trophoblast cells by differential expression of POU5F1 and, to a greater extent, POU2, a paralogue of POU5F1. Unlike in the mouse, pluriblast-trophoblast differentiation coincided with a global nuclear-to-cytoplasmic transition of CDX2 localisation. Also unlike in the mouse, Hippo pathway factors YAP and WWTR1 showed mutually distinct localisation patterns that suggest non-redundant roles. NANOG and GATA6 were conserved as markers of epiblast and hypoblast, respectively, but some differences to the mouse were found in their mode of differentiation. Our results suggest that there is considerable evolutionary plasticity in the mechanisms regulating early lineage specification in mammals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.091629DOI Listing
March 2013

Selected imprinting of INS in the marsupial.

Epigenetics Chromatin 2012 Aug 28;5(1):14. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

ARC Centre of Excellence in Kangaroo Genomics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia.

Unlabelled:

Background: In marsupials, growth and development of the young occur postnatally, regulated by milk that changes in composition throughout the long lactation. To initiate lactation in mammals, there is an absolute requirement for insulin (INS), a gene known to be imprinted in the placenta. We therefore examined whether INS is imprinted in the mammary gland of the marsupial tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) and compared its expression with that of insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2).

Results: INS was expressed in the mammary gland and significantly increased, while IGF2 decreased, during established milk production. Insulin and IGF2 were both detected in the mammary gland macrophage cells during early lactation and in the alveolar cells later in lactation. Surprisingly, INS, which was thought only to be imprinted in the therian yolk sac, was imprinted and paternally expressed in the liver of the developing young, monoallelically expressed in the tammar mammary gland and biallelic in the stomach and intestine. The INS transcription start site used in the liver and mammary gland was differentially methylated.

Conclusions: This is the first study to identify tissue-specific INS imprinting outside the yolk sac. These data suggest that there may be an advantage of selective monoallelic expression in the mammary gland and that this may influence the growth of the postnatal young. These results are not consistent with the parental conflict hypothesis, but instead provide support for the maternal-infant co-adaptation hypothesis. Thus, imprinting in the mammary gland maybe as critical for postnatal growth and development in mammals as genomic imprinting in the placenta is prenatally.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-8935-5-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3502105PMC
August 2012

Promoter-specific expression and imprint status of marsupial IGF2.

PLoS One 2012 25;7(7):e41690. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

ARC Centre of Excellence in Kangaroo Genomics, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

In mice and humans, IGF2 has multiple promoters to maintain its complex tissue- and developmental stage-specific imprinting and expression. IGF2 is also imprinted in marsupials, but little is known about its promoter region. In this study, three IGF2 transcripts were isolated from placental and liver samples of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii. Each transcript contained a unique 5' untranslated region, orthologous to the non-coding exons derived from promoters P1-P3 in the human and mouse IGF2 locus. The expression of tammar IGF2 was predominantly from the P2 promoter, similar to humans. Expression of IGF2 was higher in pouch young than in the adult and imprinting was highly tissue and developmental-stage specific. Interestingly, while IGF2 was expressed throughout the placenta, imprinting seemed to be restricted to the vascular, trilaminar region. In addition, IGF2 was monoallelically expressed in the adult mammary gland while in the liver it switched from monoalleleic expression in the pouch young to biallelic in the adult. These data suggest a complex mode of IGF2 regulation in marsupials as seen in eutherian mammals. The conservation of the IGF2 promoters suggests they originated before the divergence of marsupials and eutherians, and have been selectively maintained for at least 160 million years.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0041690PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405008PMC
April 2013
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