Citation: Thompson, J. R., Petsios, E., Davidson, E. H., Erkenbrack, E. M., Gao, F., & Bottjer, D. J. (2015). Reorganization of sea urchin gene regulatory networks at least 268 million years ago as revealed by oldest fossil cidaroid echinoid.Scientific reports, 5.
Animals consist of a wide variety of cells that serve different functions depending on their location in the body. Cells with similar functions, or cell types, in different animal species are related both by an evolutionary line of descentÐsimilar to the relatedness of species themselvesÐand by a developmental line of descent in the embryo. Networks of interacting genes, or gene regulatory networks, control gene expression in the cell, thereby specifying cell type identity. Understanding how new cell types arise by changing gene regulatory networks is critical both to comprehending fundamental aspects of human biology and to manipulating cell types in the laboratory. We approached this question by studying endometrial stromal fibroblast (ESF) cells from the uterus of humans and opossums, two distantly related mammals. We showed that the distantly related cell type in opossum expresses a similar set of regulatory genes as the human cell, but in response to pregnancy-related signals, the opossum cells induce a stress response. In the human cells, these signals induce differentiation into decidual cells, a specialized cell type present in humans and closely related mammals. These results suggest that a gene regulatory network that modulated an ancestral, pregnancy-related stress response was hijacked and repurposed to function in differentiation and specification of the decidual cell type.
Production of fungal and bacterial growth modulating secondary metabolites is widespread among mycorrhiza-associated streptomycetes
Studies on mycorrhiza associated bacteria suggest that bacterial-fungal interactions play important roles during mycorrhiza formation and affect plant health. We surveyed Streptomyces Actinobacteria, known as antibiotic producers and antagonists of fungi, from Norway spruce mycorrhizas with predominantlyPiloderma species as the fungal partner. Mycorrhiza associated streptomycetes appear to have an important role in inhibiting the growth of fungi and bacteria. Additionally, our study indicates that the Streptomyces strains, which are not general antagonists of fungi, may produce still un-described metabolites.
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