Disruption of epithelial barriers is a common disease manifestation in chronic degenerative diseases of the airways, lung and intestine. Extensive human genetic studies have identified risk loci in such diseases, including in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The genes associated with these loci have not fully been determined, and functional characterization of such genes requires extensive studies in model organisms. Here, we report the results of a screen in Drosophila melanogaster that allowed for rapid identification, validation and prioritization of COPD risk genes that were selected based on risk loci identified in human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) studies. Using intestinal barrier dysfunction in flies as a readout, our results validate the impact of candidate gene perturbations on epithelial barrier function in 56% of the cases, resulting in a prioritized target gene list. We further report the functional characterization in flies of one family of these genes, encoding for nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits (nAchR). We find that nAchR signaling in enterocytes of the fly gut promotes epithelial barrier function and epithelial homeostasis by regulating the production of the peritrophic matrix. Our findings identify COPD associated genes critical for epithelial barrier maintenance, and provide insight into the role of epithelial nAchR signaling for homeostasis.
Sequencing data has been deposited in GEO under accession code GSE236071.
Short-term depletion in Drosophila enteroendocrine cellsNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE236071.
- Judith Klumperman
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Bruno Lemaitre, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
- Received: January 23, 2023
- Accepted: October 31, 2023
- Accepted Manuscript published: December 8, 2023 (version 1)
© 2023, Katheder et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Microbial plankton play a central role in marine biogeochemical cycles, but the timing in which abundant lineages diversified into ocean environments remains unclear. Here, we reconstructed the timeline in which major clades of bacteria and archaea colonized the ocean using a high-resolution benchmarked phylogenetic tree that allows for simultaneous and direct comparison of the ages of multiple divergent lineages. Our findings show that the diversification of the most prevalent marine clades spans throughout a period of 2.2 Ga, with most clades colonizing the ocean during the last 800 million years. The oldest clades – SAR202, SAR324, Ca. Marinimicrobia, and Marine Group II – diversified around the time of the Great Oxidation Event, during which oxygen concentration increased but remained at microaerophilic levels throughout the Mid-Proterozoic, consistent with the prevalence of some clades within these groups in oxygen minimum zones today. We found the diversification of the prevalent heterotrophic marine clades SAR11, SAR116, SAR92, SAR86, and Roseobacter as well as the Marine Group I to occur near to the Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event (0.8–0.4 Ga). The diversification of these clades is concomitant with an overall increase of oxygen and nutrients in the ocean at this time, as well as the diversification of eukaryotic algae, consistent with the previous hypothesis that the diversification of heterotrophic bacteria is linked to the emergence of large eukaryotic phytoplankton. The youngest clades correspond to the widespread phototrophic clades Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, and Crocosphaera, whose diversification happened after the Phanerozoic Oxidation Event (0.45–0.4 Ga), in which oxygen concentrations had already reached their modern levels in the atmosphere and the ocean. Our work clarifies the timing at which abundant lineages of bacteria and archaea colonized the ocean, thereby providing key insights into the evolutionary history of lineages that comprise the majority of prokaryotic biomass in the modern ocean.
In the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, gustatory sensory neurons express taste receptors that are tuned to distinct groups of chemicals, thereby activating neural ensembles that elicit either feeding or avoidance behavior. Members of a family of ligand -gated receptor channels, the Gustatory receptors (Grs), play a central role in these behaviors. In general, closely related, evolutionarily conserved Gr proteins are co-expressed in the same type of taste neurons, tuned to chemically related compounds, and therefore triggering the same behavioral response. Here, we report that members of the Gr28 subfamily are expressed in largely non-overlapping sets of taste neurons in Drosophila larvae, detect chemicals of different valence, and trigger opposing feeding behaviors. We determined the intrinsic properties of Gr28 neurons by expressing the mammalian Vanilloid Receptor 1 (VR1), which is activated by capsaicin, a chemical to which wild-type Drosophila larvae do not respond. When VR1 is expressed in Gr28a neurons, larvae become attracted to capsaicin, consistent with reports showing that Gr28a itself encodes a receptor for nutritious RNA. In contrast, expression of VR1 in two pairs of Gr28b.c neurons triggers avoidance to capsaicin. Moreover, neuronal inactivation experiments show that the Gr28b.c neurons are necessary for avoidance of several bitter compounds. Lastly, behavioral experiments of Gr28 deficient larvae and live Ca2+ imaging studies of Gr28b.c neurons revealed that denatonium benzoate, a synthetic bitter compound that shares structural similarities with natural bitter chemicals, is a ligand for a receptor complex containing a Gr28b.c or Gr28b.a subunit. Thus, the Gr28 proteins, which have been evolutionarily conserved over 260 million years in insects, represent the first taste receptor subfamily in which specific members mediate behavior with opposite valence.