• Evolutionary and functional novelty of pancreatic ribonuclease: a study of Musteloidea (order Carnivora)

      Liu, Jiang; Wang, Xiao-ping; Cho, Soochin; Lim, Burton K.; Irwin, David M.; Ryder, Oliver A.; Zhang, Ya-ping; Yu, Li (2014)
      Pancreatic ribonuclease (RNASE1) is a digestive enzyme that has been one of the key models in studies of evolutionary innovation and functional diversification. It has been believed that the RNASE1 gene duplications are correlated with the plant-feeding adaptation of foregut-fermenting herbivores. Here, we characterized RNASE1 genes from Caniformia, which has a simple digestive system and lacks microbial digestion typical of herbivores, in an unprecedented scope based on both gene sequence and tissue expression analyses. Remarkably, the results yielded new hypotheses regarding the evolution and the function of Caniformia RNASE1 genes. Four independent gene duplication events in the families of superfamily Musteloidea, including Procyonidae, Ailuridae, Mephitidae and Mustelidae, were recovered, rejecting previous Mustelidae-specific duplication hypothesis, but supporting Musteloidea duplication hypothesis. Moreover, our analyses revealed pronounced differences among the RNASE1 gene copies regarding their selection pressures, pI values and tissue expression patterns, suggesting the differences in their physiological functions. Notably, the expression analyses detected the transcription of a RNASE1 pseudogene in several tissues, raising the possibility that pseudogenes are also a potential source during the RNase functional diversification. In sum, the present work demonstrated a far more complex and intriguing evolutionary pattern and functional diversity of mammalian ribonuclease than previously thought.
    • Genomic analysis of snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus) identifies genes and processes related to high-altitude adaptation

      Yu, Li; Wang, Guo-Dong; Ruan, Jue; Chen, Yong-Bin; Yang, Cui-Ping; Cao, Xue; Wu, Hong; Liu, Yan-Hu; Du, Zheng-Lin; Wang, Xiao-Ping; et al. (2016)
      The snub-nosed monkey genus Rhinopithecus includes five closely related species distributed across altitudinal gradients from 800 to 4,500 m. Rhinopithecus bieti, Rhinopithecus roxellana, and Rhinopithecus strykeri inhabit high-altitude habitats, whereas Rhinopithecus brelichi and Rhinopithecus avunculus inhabit lowland regions. We report the de novo whole-genome sequence of R. bieti and genomic sequences for the four other species. Eight shared substitutions were found in six genes related to lung function, DNA repair, and angiogenesis in the high-altitude snub-nosed monkeys. Functional assays showed that the high-altitude variant of CDT1 (Ala537Val) renders cells more resistant to UV irradiation, and the high-altitude variants of RNASE4 (Asn89Lys and Thr128Ile) confer enhanced ability to induce endothelial tube formation in vitro. Genomic scans in the R. bieti and R. roxellana populations identified signatures of selection between and within populations at genes involved in functions relevant to high-altitude adaptation. These results provide valuable insights into the adaptation to high altitude in the snub-nosed monkeys.