• Derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells from orangutan skin fibroblasts

      Ramaswamy, Krishna; Yik, Wing Yan; Wang, Xiao-Ming; Oliphant, Erin N.; Lu, Wange; Shibata, Darryl; Ryder, Oliver A.; Hacia, Joseph G. (2015)
      Background Orangutans are an endangered species whose natural habitats are restricted to the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Along with the African great apes, orangutans are among the closest living relatives to humans. For potential species conservation and functional genomics studies, we derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from cryopreserved somatic cells obtained from captive orangutans. Results Primary skin fibroblasts from two Sumatran orangutans were transduced with retroviral vectors expressing the human OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-MYC factors. Candidate orangutan iPSCs were characterized by global gene expression and DNA copy number analysis. All were consistent with pluripotency and provided no evidence of large genomic insertions or deletions. In addition, orangutan iPSCs were capable of producing cells derived from all three germ layers in vitro through embryoid body differentiation assays and in vivo through teratoma formation in immune-compromised mice. Conclusions We demonstrate that orangutan skin fibroblasts are capable of being reprogrammed into iPSCs with hallmark molecular signatures and differentiation potential. We suggest that reprogramming orangutan somatic cells in genome resource banks could provide new opportunities for advancing assisted reproductive technologies relevant for species conservation efforts. Furthermore, orangutan iPSCs could have applications for investigating the phenotypic relevance of genomic changes that occurred in the human, African great ape, and/or orangutan lineages. This provides opportunities for orangutan cell culture models that would otherwise be impossible to develop from living donors due to the invasive nature of the procedures required for obtaining primary cells.
    • Diverse captive non-human primates with phytanic acid-deficient diets rich in plant products have substantial phytanic acid levels in their red blood cells

      Moser, Ann B.; Hey, Jody; Dranchak, Patricia K.; Karaman, Mazen W.; Zhao, Junsong; Cox, Laura A.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Hacia, Joseph G. (2013)
      Background Humans and rodents with impaired phytanic acid (PA) metabolism can accumulate toxic stores of PA that have deleterious effects on multiple organ systems. Ruminants and certain fish obtain PA from the microbial degradation of dietary chlorophyll and/or through chlorophyll-derived precursors. In contrast, humans cannot derive PA from chlorophyll and instead normally obtain it only from meat, dairy, and fish products. Results Captive apes and Old world monkeys had significantly higher red blood cell (RBC) PA levels relative to humans when all subjects were fed PA-deficient diets. Given the adverse health effects resulting from PA over accumulation, we investigated the molecular evolution of thirteen PA metabolism genes in apes, Old world monkeys, and New world monkeys. All non-human primate (NHP) orthologs are predicted to encode full-length proteins with the marmoset Phyh gene containing a rare, but functional, GA splice donor dinucleotide. Acox2, Scp2, and Pecr sequences had amino acid positions with accelerated substitution rates while Amacr had significant variation in evolutionary rates in apes relative to other primates. Conclusions Unlike humans, diverse captive NHPs with PA-deficient diets rich in plant products have substantial RBC PA levels. The favored hypothesis is that NHPs can derive significant amounts of PA from the degradation of ingested chlorophyll through gut fermentation. If correct, this raises the possibility that RBC PA levels could serve as a biomarker for evaluating the digestive health of captive NHPs. Furthermore, the evolutionary rates of the several genes relevant to PA metabolism provide candidate genetic adaptations to NHP diets.