Publications by authors named "Sebastián R Najle"

11 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Stable transfection in protist Corallochytriumlimacisporum identifies novel cellular features among unicellular animals relatives.

Curr Biol 2021 Jul 14. Epub 2021 Jul 14.

Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Electronic address:

The evolutionary path from protists to multicellular animals remains a mystery. Recent work on the genomes of several unicellular relatives of animals has shaped our understanding of the genetic changes that may have occurred in this transition. However, the specific cellular modifications that took place to accommodate these changes remain unclear. To address this, we need to compare metazoan cells with those of their extant relatives, which are choanoflagellates, filastereans, ichthyosporeans, and corallochytreans/pluriformeans. Interestingly, these lineages display a range of developmental patterns potentially homologous to animal ones. Genetic tools have already been established in three of those lineages. However, there are no genetic tools available for Corallochytrea. We here report the development of stable transfection in the corallochytrean Corallochytrium limacisporum. Using these tools, we discern previously unknown biological features of C. limacisporum. In particular, we identify two different paths for cell division-binary fission and coenocytic growth-that reveal a non-linear life cycle. Additionally, we found that C. limacisporum is binucleate for most of its life cycle, and that, contrary to what happens in most eukaryotes, nuclear division is decoupled from cellular division. Moreover, its actin cytoskeleton shares characteristics with both fungal and animal cells. The establishment of these tools in C. limacisporum fills an important gap in the unicellular relatives of animals, opening up new avenues of research to elucidate the specific cellular changes that occurred in the evolution of animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.061DOI Listing
July 2021

Genetic tool development in marine protists: emerging model organisms for experimental cell biology.

Nat Methods 2020 05 6;17(5):481-494. Epub 2020 Apr 6.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Diverse microbial ecosystems underpin life in the sea. Among these microbes are many unicellular eukaryotes that span the diversity of the eukaryotic tree of life. However, genetic tractability has been limited to a few species, which do not represent eukaryotic diversity or environmentally relevant taxa. Here, we report on the development of genetic tools in a range of protists primarily from marine environments. We present evidence for foreign DNA delivery and expression in 13 species never before transformed and for advancement of tools for eight other species, as well as potential reasons for why transformation of yet another 17 species tested was not achieved. Our resource in genetic manipulation will provide insights into the ancestral eukaryotic lifeforms, general eukaryote cell biology, protein diversification and the evolution of cellular pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41592-020-0796-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7200600PMC
May 2020

Genome-wide Transcriptional Analysis of Tetrahymena thermophila Response to Exogenous Cholesterol.

J Eukaryot Microbiol 2020 03 26;67(2):209-222. Epub 2019 Nov 26.

Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario, CONICET, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Ocampo y Esmeralda s/n, S2000FHQ, Rosario, Argentina.

The ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila does not require sterols for growth and synthesizes pentacyclic triterpenoid alcohols, mainly tetrahymanol, as sterol surrogates. However, when sterols are present in the environment, T. thermophila efficiently incorporates and modifies them. These modifications consist of desaturation reactions at positions C5(6), C7(8), and C22(23), and de-ethylation at C24 of 29-carbon sterols (i.e. phytosterols). Three out of four of the enzymes involved in the sterol modification pathway have been previously identified. However, identification of the sterol C22 desaturase remained elusive, as did other basic aspects of this metabolism. To get more insights into this peculiar metabolism, we here perform a whole transcriptome analysis of T. thermophila in response to exogenous cholesterol. We found 356 T. thermophila genes to be differentially expressed after supplementation with cholesterol for 2 h. Among those that were upregulated, we found two genes belonging to the long spacing family of desaturases that we tentatively identified by RNAi analysis as sterol C22 desaturases. Additionally, we determined that the inhibition of tetrahymanol synthesis after supplementation with cholesterol occurs by a transcriptional downregulation of genes involved in squalene synthesis and cyclization. Finally, we identified several uncharacterized genes that are likely involved in sterols transport and signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jeu.12774DOI Listing
March 2020

Reticulate evolution in eukaryotes: Origin and evolution of the nitrate assimilation pathway.

PLoS Genet 2019 02 21;15(2):e1007986. Epub 2019 Feb 21.

Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Genes and genomes can evolve through interchanging genetic material, this leading to reticular evolutionary patterns. However, the importance of reticulate evolution in eukaryotes, and in particular of horizontal gene transfer (HGT), remains controversial. Given that metabolic pathways with taxonomically-patchy distributions can be indicative of HGT events, the eukaryotic nitrate assimilation pathway is an ideal object of investigation, as previous results revealed a patchy distribution and suggested that the nitrate assimilation cluster of dikaryotic fungi (Opisthokonta) could have been originated and transferred from a lineage leading to Oomycota (Stramenopiles). We studied the origin and evolution of this pathway through both multi-scale bioinformatic and experimental approaches. Our taxon-rich genomic screening shows that nitrate assimilation is present in more lineages than previously reported, although being restricted to autotrophs and osmotrophs. The phylogenies indicate a pervasive role of HGT, with three bacterial transfers contributing to the pathway origin, and at least seven well-supported transfers between eukaryotes. In particular, we propose a distinct and more complex HGT path between Opisthokonta and Stramenopiles than the one previously suggested, involving at least two transfers of a nitrate assimilation gene cluster. We also found that gene fusion played an essential role in this evolutionary history, underlying the origin of the canonical eukaryotic nitrate reductase, and of a chimeric nitrate reductase in Ichthyosporea (Opisthokonta). We show that the ichthyosporean pathway, including this novel nitrate reductase, is physiologically active and transcriptionally co-regulated, responding to different nitrogen sources; similarly to distant eukaryotes with independent HGT-acquisitions of the pathway. This indicates that this pattern of transcriptional control evolved convergently in eukaryotes, favoring the proper integration of the pathway in the metabolic landscape. Our results highlight the importance of reticulate evolution in eukaryotes, by showing the crucial contribution of HGT and gene fusion in the evolutionary history of the nitrate assimilation pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007986DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400420PMC
February 2019

Transfection of , a close unicellular relative of animals.

Development 2018 05 23;145(10). Epub 2018 May 23.

Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Passeig Marítim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

How animals emerged from their unicellular ancestor remains a major evolutionary question. New genome data from the closest unicellular relatives of animals have provided important insights into the evolution of animal multicellularity. We know that the unicellular ancestor of animals had an unexpectedly complex genetic repertoire, including many genes that are key to animal development and multicellularity. Thus, assessing the function of these genes among unicellular relatives of animals is key to understanding how they were co-opted at the onset of the Metazoa. However, such analyses have been hampered by the lack of genetic tools. Progress has been made in choanoflagellates and teretosporeans, two of the three lineages closely related to animals, whereas no tools are yet available for functional analysis in the third lineage: the filastereans. Importantly, filastereans have a striking repertoire of genes involved in transcriptional regulation and other developmental processes. Here, we describe a reliable transfection method for the filasterean We also provide a set of constructs for visualising subcellular structures in live cells. These tools convert into a unique experimentally tractable organism to use to investigate the origin and evolution of animal multicellularity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.162107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6001378PMC
May 2018

Sterol metabolism in the filasterean Capsaspora owczarzaki has features that resemble both fungi and animals.

Open Biol 2016 07;6(7)

Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario (IBR) CONICET and Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Ocampo y Esmeralda s/n, Rosario S2000FHQ, Argentina

Sterols are essential for several physiological processes in most eukaryotes. Sterols regulate membrane homeostasis and participate in different signalling pathways not only as precursors of steroid hormones and vitamins, but also through its role in the formation of lipid rafts. Two major types of sterols, cholesterol and ergosterol, have been described so far in the opisthokonts, the clade that comprise animals, fungi and their unicellular relatives. Cholesterol predominates in derived bilaterians, whereas ergosterol is what generally defines fungi. We here characterize, by a combination of bioinformatic and biochemical analyses, the sterol metabolism in the filasterean Capsaspora owczarzaki, a close unicellular relative of animals that is becoming a model organism. We found that C. owczarzaki sterol metabolism combines enzymatic activities that are usually considered either characteristic of fungi or exclusive to metazoans. Moreover, we observe a differential transcriptional regulation of this metabolism across its life cycle. Thus, C. owczarzaki alternates between synthesizing 7-dehydrocholesterol de novo, which happens at the cystic stage, and the partial conversion-via a novel pathway-of incorporated cholesterol into ergosterol, the characteristic fungal sterol, in the filopodial and aggregative stages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsob.160029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4967820PMC
July 2016

The Sterol-C7 desaturase from the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila is a Rieske Oxygenase, which is highly conserved in animals.

Mol Biol Evol 2013 Jul 19;30(7):1630-43. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario, CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Rosario, Argentina.

The ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila incorporates sterols from its environment that desaturates at positions C5(6), C7(8), and C22(23). Phytosterols are additionally modified by removal of the ethyl group at carbon 24 (C24). The enzymes involved are oxygen-, NAD(P)H-, and cytochrome b5 dependent, reason why they were classified as members of the hydroxylases/desaturases superfamily. The ciliate's genome revealed the presence of seven putative sterol desaturases belonging to this family, two of which we have previously characterized as the C24-de-ethylase and C5(6)-desaturase. A Rieske oxygenase was also identified; this type of enzyme, with sterol C7(8)-desaturase activity, was observed only in animals, called Neverland in insects and DAF-36 in nematodes. They perform the conversion of cholesterol into 7-dehydrocholesterol, first step in the synthesis of the essential hormones ecdysteroids and dafachronic acids. By adapting an RNA interference-by-feeding protocol, we easily screened six of the eight genes described earlier, allowing the characterization of the Rieske-like oxygenase as the ciliate's C7(8)-desaturase (Des7p). This characterization was confirmed by obtaining the corresponding knockout mutant, making Des7p the first nonanimal Rieske-sterol desaturase described. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the feeding-RNAi technique was successfully applied in T. thermophila, enabling to consider such methodology for future reverse genetics high-throughput screenings in this ciliate. Bioinformatics analyses revealed the presence of Des7p orthologs in other Oligohymenophorean ciliates and in nonanimal Opisthokonts, like the protists Salpingoeca rosetta and Capsaspora owczarzaki. A horizontal gene transfer event from a unicellular Opisthokont to an ancient phagotrophic Oligohymenophorean could explain the acquisition of the Rieske oxygenase by Tetrahymena.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/molbev/mst076DOI Listing
July 2013

A novel sterol desaturase-like protein promoting dealkylation of phytosterols in Tetrahymena thermophila.

Eukaryot Cell 2011 Mar 21;10(3):423-34. Epub 2011 Jan 21.

Cátedra de Biotecnología y Microbiología Industrial, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The gene TTHERM_00438800 (DES24) from the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila encodes a protein with three conserved histidine clusters, typical of the fatty acid hydroxylase superfamily. Despite its high similarity to sterol desaturase-like enzymes, the phylogenetic analysis groups Des24p in a separate cluster more related to bacterial than to eukaryotic proteins, suggesting a possible horizontal gene transfer event. A somatic knockout of DES24 revealed that the gene encodes a protein, Des24p, which is involved in the dealkylation of phytosterols. Knocked-out mutants were unable to eliminate the C-24 ethyl group from C(29) sterols, whereas the ability to introduce other modifications, such as desaturations at positions C-5(6), C-7(8), and C-22(23), were not altered. Although C-24 dealkylations have been described in other organisms, such as insects, neither the enzymes nor the corresponding genes have been identified to date. Therefore, this is the first identification of a gene involved in sterol dealkylation. Moreover, the knockout mutant and wild-type strain differed significantly in growth and morphology only when cultivated with C(29) sterols; under this culture condition, a change from the typical pear-like shape to a round shape and an alteration in the regulation of tetrahymanol biosynthesis were observed. Sterol analysis upon culture with various substrates and inhibitors indicate that the removal of the C-24 ethyl group in Tetrahymena may proceed by a mechanism different from the one currently known.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/EC.00259-10DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3067464PMC
March 2011

Oligomerization of Bacillus subtilis DesR is required for fine tuning regulation of membrane fluidity.

Biochim Biophys Acta 2009 Oct 9;1790(10):1238-43. Epub 2009 Jul 9.

Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario (IBR-CONICET) and Departamento de Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Suipacha 531 (S2002LRK) Rosario, Argentina.

Background: The DesK-DesR two-component system regulates the order of membrane lipids in the bacterium Bacillus subtilis by controlling the expression of the des gene coding for the delta 5-acyl-lipid desaturase. To activate des transcription, the membrane-bound histidine kinase DesK phosphorylates the response regulator DesR. This covalent modification of the regulatory domain of dimeric DesR promotes, in a cooperative fashion, the hierarchical occupation of two adjacent, non-identical, DesR-P binding sites, so that there is a shift in the equilibrium toward the tetrameric active form of the response regulator. However, the mechanism of regulation of DesR activity by phosphorylation and oligomerization is not well understood.

Methods: We employed deletion analysis and reporter fusions to study the role of the N-terminal domain on DesR activity. In addition, electromobility shift assays were used to analyze the binding capacity of the transcription factor to deletion mutants of the des promoter.

Results: We show that DesR lacking the N-terminal domain is still able to bind to the des promoter. We also demonstrate that if the RA site is moved closer to the -35 region of Pdes, the adjacent site RB is dispensable for activation.

General Significance: Our results indicate that the unphosphorylated regulatory domain of DesR obstructs the access of the recognition helix of DesR to its DNA target. In addition, we present evidence showing that RB is physiologically relevant to control the activation of the des gene when the levels of DesR-P reach a critical threshold.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbagen.2009.07.002DOI Listing
October 2009

C-5(6) sterol desaturase from tetrahymena thermophila: Gene identification and knockout, sequence analysis, and comparison to other C-5(6) sterol desaturases.

Eukaryot Cell 2009 Aug 12;8(8):1287-97. Epub 2009 Jun 12.

Cátedra de Biotecnología y Microbiología Industrial, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Junin, Argentina.

The gene coding for a C-5(6) sterol desaturase in Tetrahymena thermophila, DES5A, has been identified by the knockout of the TTHERM_01194720 sequence. Macronucleus transformation was achieved by biolistic bombardment and gene replacement through phenotypic assortment, using paromomycin as the selective agent. A knockout cell line (KO270) showed a phenotype consistent with that of the DES5A deletion mutant. KO270 converted only 6% of the added sterol into the C-5 unsaturated derivative, while the wild type accumulated 10-fold larger amounts under similar conditions. The decreased desaturation activity is specific for the C-5(6) position of lathosterol and cholestanol; other desaturations, namely C-7(8) and C-22(23), were not affected. Analysis by reverse transcription-PCR reveals that DES5A is transcribed both in the presence and absence of cholestanol in wild-type cells, whereas the transcribed gene was not detected in KO270. The growth of KO270 was undistinguishable from that of the wild-type strain. Des5Ap resembles known C-5(6) sterol desaturases, displaying the three typical histidine motifs, four hydrophobic transmembrane regions, and two other highly conserved domains of unknown function. A phylogenetic analysis placed T. thermophila's enzyme and Paramecium orthologues in a cluster together with functionally characterized C-5 sterol desaturases from vertebrates, fungi, and plants, although in a different branch.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/EC.00057-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2725563PMC
August 2009
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