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No abstract given.

BACKGROUND:
Transglutamiase-4 (TGase-4), also known as prostate transglutaminase, belongs to the TGase family and is uniquely expressed in the prostate gland. The functions of this interesting protein are not clearly defined. In the present study, we have investigated an unexpected link between TGase-4 and the melanoma differentiation-associated gene-7/interleukin-24 (MDA-7/IL-24), a cytokine known to regulate the growth and apoptosis of certain cancer and immune cells.

METHODS:
Frozen sections of normal and malignant human prostate tissues and human prostate cancer (PCa) cell lines PC-3 and CA-HPV-10, cell lines expressing low and high levels of TGase-4, and recombinant MDA-7/IL-24 (rhMDA-7/IL-24) were used. Expression construct for human TGase-4 was generated using a mammalian expression vector with full length human TGase-4 isolated from normal human prostate tissues. PC-3 cells were transfected with expression construct or control plasmid. Stably transfected cells for control transfection and TGase-4 over expression were created. Similarly, expression of TGase-4 in CA-HPV-10 cells were knocked down by way of ribozyme transgenes. Single and double immunofluorescence microscopy was used for localization and co-localization of TGase-4 and MDA-7/IL-24 in PCa tissues and cells with antibodies to TGase-4; MDA-7/IL-24; IL-20alpha; IL-20beta and IL-22R. Cell-matrix adhesion, attachment and migration were by electric cell substrate impedance sensing and growth by in vitro cell growth assay. A panel of small molecule inhibitors, including Akt, was used to determine signal pathways involving TGase-4 and MDA-7/IL-24.

RESULTS:
We initially noted that MDA-7 resulted in inhibition of cell adhesion, growth and migration of human PCa PC-3 cells which did not express TGase-4. However, after the cells over-expressed TGase-4 by way of transfection, the TGase-4 expressing cells lost their adhesion, growth and migratory inhibitory response to MDA-7. On the other hand, CA-HPV-10 cells, a cell type naturally expressing high levels of TGase-4, had a contrasting response to MDA-7 when compared with PC-3 cells. Inhibitor to Akt reversed the inhibitory effect of MDA-7, only in PC-3 control cells, but not the TGase-4 expressing PC-3 cells. In human prostate tissues, TGase-4 was found to have a good degree of co-localization with one of the MDA-7 receptor complexes, IL-20Ra.

CONCLUSION:
The presence of TGase-4 has a biological impact on a prostate cancer cell's response to MDA-7. TGase-4, via mechanism(s) yet to be identified, blocked the action of MDA-7 in prostate cancer cells. This has an important implication when considering the use of MDA-7 as a potential anticancer cytokine in prostate cancer therapies.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced by the prostate, and this protein may be elevated for several reasons, including prostatitis, benign prostatic hypertrophy and/or cancer. PSA is not cancer-specific, cannot be used as a cancer marker and it has been demonstrated that there is no level of PSA that is definitive for prostate cancer. The value of the PSA test varies when used for screening, diagnosis, prognosis or as a signal of disease recurrence. Misuse of the test for screening has created unnecessary anxiety and costs, and has led to the significant overdiagnosis and overtreatment of men. More important than whether or not to screen is how one acts upon the data from a single test; with the exception of extremely high double- or triple-digit levels of PSA, it is prudent only to use a single PSA determination as a baseline, with biopsy and cancer treatment reserved for those with significant PSA changes over time, or for those with clinical manifestations mandating immediate therapy. Using the PSA test to monitor disease progression or recurrence is appropriate, provided one understands that absolute levels of PSA are rarely meaningful; it is the relative change in PSA levels over time that provides insight, but not definitive proof of a cancerous condition necessitating therapy. PSA secretion is under hormonal control and thus PSA levels may be affected differently by the type of drug therapy, by the stage of a patients' disease, and by genetic factors suggesting some men are 'high PSA producers'. Until a validated alternative test for prostate cancer is found and adopted, the current flawed PSA test needs to be used more judiciously and not used for routine screening as studies have demonstrated that screening, as defined, does not lead to a reduction in patient mortality. All men, their families and their physicians need to understand the significant limitations of PSA testing.

The coreid bug Thasus neocalifornicus Brailovsky and Barrera, commonly known as the giant mesquite bug, is a ubiquitous insect of the southwestern United States. Both nymphs and adults are often found aggregated on mesquite trees (Prosopis spp.: Fabaceae) feeding on seedpods and plant sap. We characterized the indigenous bacterial populations of nymphs and adults of this species by using molecular and phylogenetic techniques and culturing methods. Results show that this insect's bacterial gut community has a limited diversity dominated by Burkholderia associates. Phylogenetic analysis by using 16s rRNA sequences suggests that these β-Proteobacteria are closely related to those symbionts obtained from other heteropteran midgut microbial communities but not to Burkholderia symbionts associated with other insect orders. These bacteria were absent from the eggs and were not found in all younger nymphs, suggesting that they are acquired after the insects have hatched. Rearing experiments of nymphs with potentially Burkholderia contaminated soil suggested that if this symbiont is not acquired, giant mesquite bugs experience higher mortality. Egg, whole-body DNA extractions of younger nymphs, and midgut DNA extractions of fifth-instar nymphs and adults also revealed the presence of α-Proteobacteria from the Wolbachia genus. However, this bacterium was also present in reproductive organs of adults, indicating that this symbiont is not specific to the gut.

Hybrids between genetically diverse varieties display enhanced growth, and increased total biomass, stress resistance and grain yield. Gene expression and metabolic studies in maize, rice and other species suggest that protein metabolism plays a role in the growth differences between hybrids and inbreds. Single trait heterosis can be explained by the existing theories of dominance, overdominance and epistasis. General multigenic heterosis is observed in a wide variety of different species and is likely to share a common underlying biological mechanism. This review presents a model to explain differences in growth and yield caused by general multigenic heterosis. The model describes multigenic heterosis in terms of energy-use efficiency and faster cell cycle progression where hybrids have more efficient growth than inbreds because of differences in protein metabolism. The proposed model is consistent with the observed variation of gene expression in different pairs of inbred lines and hybrid offspring as well as growth differences in polyploids and aneuploids. It also suggests an approach to enhance yield gains in both hybrid and inbred crops via the creation of an appropriate computational analysis pipeline coupled to an efficient molecular breeding program.

BACKGROUND:
Adequate termination of an immune response is as important as the induction of an appropriate response. CD46, a regulator of complement activity, promotes T cell activation and differentiation towards a regulatory Tr1 phenotype. This Tr1 differentiation pathway is defective in patients with MS, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, underlying its importance in controlling T cell function and the need to understand its regulatory mechanisms. CD46 has two cytoplasmic tails, Cyt1 and Cyt2, derived from alternative splicing, which are co-expressed in all nucleated human cells. The regulation of their expression and precise functions in regulating human T cell activation has not been fully elucidated.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:
Here, we first report the novel role of CD46 in terminating T cell activation. Second, we demonstrate that its functions as an activator and inhibitor of T cell responses are mediated through the temporal processing of its cytoplasmic tails. Cyt1 processing is required to turn T cell activation on, while processing of Cyt2 switches T cell activation off, as demonstrated by proliferation, CD25 expression and cytokine secretion. Both tails require processing by Presenilin/γSecretase (P/γS) to exert these functions. This was confirmed by expressing wild-type Cyt1 and Cyt2 tails and uncleavable mutant tails in primary T cells. The role of CD46 tails was also demonstrated with T cells expressing CD19 ectodomain-CD46 C-Terminal Fragment (CTF) fusions, which allowed specific triggering of each tail individually.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:
We conclude that CD46 acts as a molecular rheostat to control human T cell activation through the regulation of processing of its cytoplasmic tails.

The loss of tuberin, the tuberous sclerosis-2 (Tsc-2) gene product, is associated with cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27 in uterine leiomyomas derived from Eker rats (Tsc-2(EK/+)) and in human metastatic renal cell carcinoma tissue. Signaling associated with cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27 in renal cancer is relatively unknown. Renal tumors derived from 2,3,5-tris-(glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone (TGHQ)-treated Tsc-2(EK/+) rats, and null for tuberin, display elevated nuclear and cytosolic p27, with parallel increases in cytosolic cyclin D1 levels. Similar changes are observed in TGHQ-transformed renal epithelial cells derived from Tsc-2(EK/+) rats (QTRRE cells), which, in addition to the cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27 and cyclin D1, exhibit high ERK, B-Raf, and Raf-1 kinase activity. Renal tumor xenografts, derived from subcutaneous injection of QTRRE cells into nude mice, also display increases in cytosolic mislocalization of p27 and cyclin D1. Dibutyryl cAMP and/or phosphodiesterase inhibitors (PIs; pentoxifylline or theophylline) increase Rap1B activation, B-Raf kinase activity, and cytosolic p27/cyclin D1 protein levels in QTRRE cells. Inhibition of Raf kinases with either sorafenib or B-Raf small interfering RNA (siRNA) caused a mitogen-activated protein kinase-mediated downregulation of p27. Moreover, decreases in cyclin D1 were also associated with p27 siRNA knockdown in QTRRE cells. Finally, theophylline-mediated increases in p27 and cyclin D1 were attenuated by sorafenib, which modulated Raf/MEK/ERK signaling. Collectively, these data suggest that the cAMP/Rap1B/B-Raf pathway modulates the expression of p27 and the cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27-cyclin D1 in tuberous sclerosis gene-regulated-renal cancer. Therefore, the loss of tuberin and engagement of the cAMP pathway may independently direct p27-cyclin D1 cytosolic stabilization during renal tumor formation.

The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling cascades have been implicated in a number of human cancers. The tumor suppressor gene tuberous sclerosis-2 (Tsc-2) functions as a negative regulator of mTOR. Critical proteins in both pathways are activated following treatment of Eker rats (Tsc-2(EK/+)) with the nephrocarcinogen 2,3,5-tris-(glutathion-S-yl)hydroquinone (TGHQ), which also results in loss of the wild-type allele of Tsc-2 in renal preneoplastic lesions and tumors. Western blot analysis of kidney tumors formed following treatment of Tsc-2(EK/+) rats with TGHQ for 8 months revealed increases in B-Raf, Raf-1, pERK, cyclin D1, 4EBP1, and p-4EBP1-Ser65, -Thr70, and -Thr37/46 expression. Similar changes are observed following TGHQ-mediated transformation of primary renal epithelial cells derived from Tsc-2(EK/+) rats (quinol-thioether rat renal epithelial [QTRRE] cells) that are also null for tuberin. These cells exhibit high ERK, B-Raf, and Raf-1 kinase activity and increased expression of all p-4EBP1s and cyclin D1. Treatment of the QTRRE cells with the Raf kinase inhibitor, sorafenib, or the MEK1/2 kinase inhibitor, PD 98059, produced a significant decrease in the protein expression of all p-4EBP1s and cyclin D1. Following siRNA knockdown of Raf-1, Western blot analysis revealed a significant decrease in Raf-1, cyclin D1, and all p-4EBP1 forms noted above. In contrast, siRNA knockdown of B-Raf resulted in a nominal change in these proteins. The data indicate that Raf-1/MEK/ERK participates in crosstalk with 4EBP1, which represents a novel pathway interaction leading to increased protein synthesis, cell growth, and kidney tumor formation.

Recombination is strongly suppressed in centromeric regions. In chromosomal regions with suppressed recombination, deleterious mutations can easily accumulate and cause degeneration of genes and genomes. Surprisingly, the centromere of chromosome8 (Cen8) of rice (Oryza sativa) contains several transcribed genes. However, it remains unclear as to what selective forces drive the evolution and existence of transcribed genes in Cen8. Sequencing of orthologous Cen8 regions from two additional Oryza species, Oryza glaberrima and Oryza brachyantha, which diverged from O. sativa 1 and 10 million years ago, respectively, revealed a set of seven transcribed Cen8 genes conserved across all three species. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis with the centromere-specific histone CENH3 confirmed that the sequenced orthologous regions are part of the functional centromere. All seven Cen8 genes have undergone purifying selection, representing a striking phenomenon of active gene survival within a recombination-free zone over a long evolutionary time. The coding sequences of the Cen8 genes showed sequence divergence and mutation rates that were significantly reduced from those of genes located on the chromosome arms. This suggests that Oryza has a mechanism to maintain the fidelity and functionality of Cen8 genes, even when embedded in a sea of repetitive sequences and transposable elements.

BACKGROUND:
Recent phylogenetic analyses have identified Amborella trichopoda, an understory tree species endemic to the forests of New Caledonia, as sister to a clade including all other known flowering plant species. The Amborella genome is a unique reference for understanding the evolution of angiosperm genomes because it can serve as an outgroup to root comparative analyses. A physical map, BAC end sequences and sample shotgun sequences provide a first view of the 870 Mbp Amborella genome.

RESULTS:
Analysis of Amborella BAC ends sequenced from each contig suggests that the density of long terminal repeat retrotransposons is negatively correlated with that of protein coding genes. Syntenic, presumably ancestral, gene blocks were identified in comparisons of the Amborella BAC contigs and the sequenced Arabidopsis thaliana, Populus trichocarpa, Vitis vinifera and Oryza sativa genomes. Parsimony mapping of the loss of synteny corroborates previous analyses suggesting that the rate of structural change has been more rapid on lineages leading to Arabidopsis and Oryza compared with lineages leading to Populus and Vitis. The gamma paleohexiploidy event identified in the Arabidopsis, Populus and Vitis genomes is shown to have occurred after the divergence of all other known angiosperms from the lineage leading to Amborella.

CONCLUSIONS:
When placed in the context of a physical map, BAC end sequences representing just 5.4% of the Amborella genome have facilitated reconstruction of gene blocks that existed in the last common ancestor of all flowering plants. The Amborella genome is an invaluable reference for inferences concerning the ancestral angiosperm and subsequent genome evolution.

The genus Drosophila has been the subject of intense comparative phylogenomics characterization to provide insights into genome evolution under diverse biological and ecological contexts and to functionally annotate the Drosophila melanogaster genome, a model system for animal and insect genetics. Recent sequencing of 11 additional Drosophila species from various divergence points of the genus is a first step in this direction. However, to fully reap the benefits of this resource, the Drosophila community is faced with two critical needs: i.e., the expansion of genomic resources from a much broader range of phylogenetic diversity and the development of additional resources to aid in finishing the existing draft genomes. To address these needs, we report the first synthesis of a comprehensive set of bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) resources for 19 Drosophila species from all three subgenera. Ten libraries were derived from the exact source used to generate 10 of the 12 draft genomes, while the rest were generated from a strategically selected set of species on the basis of salient ecological and life history features and their phylogenetic positions. The majority of the new species have at least one sequenced reference genome for immediate comparative benefit. This 19-BAC library set was rigorously characterized and shown to have large insert sizes (125-168 kb), low nonrecombinant clone content (0.3-5.3%), and deep coverage (9.1-42.9×). Further, we demonstrated the utility of this BAC resource for generating physical maps of targeted loci, refining draft sequence assemblies and identifying potential genomic rearrangements across the phylogeny.

In this study, we examined the role of neprilysin (NEP), a key membrane-bound endopeptidase, in the inflammatory response induced by diesel exhaust emissions (DEE) in the airways through a number of approaches: in vitro, animal, and controlled human exposure. Our specific aims were (1) to examine the role of NEP in inflammatory injury induced by diesel exhaust particles (DEP) using Nep-intact (wild-type) and Nep-null mice; (2) to examine which components of DEP are associated with NEP downregulation in vitro; (3) to determine the molecular impact of DEP exposure and decreased NEP expression on airway epithelial cells' gene expression in vitro, using a combination of RNA interference (RNAi) and microarray approaches; and (4) to evaluate the effects on NEP activity of human exposure to DEE. We report four main results: First, we found that exposure of normal mice to DEP consisting of standard reference material (SRM) 2975 via intratracheal installation can downregulate NEP expression in a concentration-dependent manner. The changes were accompanied by increases in the number of macrophages and epithelial cells, as well as proinflammatory cytokines, examined in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and cells. Nep-null mice displayed increased and/or additional inflammatory responses when compared with wild-type mice, especially in response to exposure to the higher dose of DEP that we used. These in vivo findings suggest that loss of NEP in mice could cause increased susceptibility to injury or exacerbate inflammatory responses after DEP exposure via release of specific cytokines from the lungs. Second, we found evidence, using in vitro studies, that downregulation of NEP by DEP in cultured human epithelial BEAS-2B cells was mostly attributable to DEP-adsorbed organic compounds, whereas the carbonaceous core and transition metal components of DEP had little or no effect on NEP messenger RNA (mRNA) expression. This NEP downregulation was not a specific response to DEP or its contents because the change also occurred after exposure to urban dust (SRM 1649a), which differs in physical and chemical composition from DEP. Third, we also collected the transcriptome profiles of the concentration-effects of SRM 2975 in cultured BEAS-2B cells through a 2 X 3 factorial design. DEP exposure upregulated 151 genes and downregulated 59 genes. Cells with decreased NEP expression (accomplished by transfecting an NEP-specific small interfering RNA [siRNA]) substantially altered the expression of genes (upregulating 17 and downregulating 14) associated with DNA/protein binding, calcium channel activities, and the cascade of intracellular signaling by cytokines. Data generated from the combined RNAi and microarray approaches revealed that there is a complex molecular cascade mediated by NEP in different subcellular compartments, possibly influencing the inflammatory response. Fourth, in a controlled human exposure study, we observed significant increases in soluble NEP in sputum after acute exposure to DEE, with an average net increase of 31%. We speculate that the change in NEP activity in sputum, if confirmed in larger epidemiologic investigations at ambient exposure levels to DEE, may provide a useful endpoint and promote insight into the mechanism of DEE-induced airway alterations.

BACKGROUND:
Chronic arsenic exposure is a worldwide health problem. How arsenic exposure promotes a variety of diseases is poorly understood, and specific relationships between experimental and human exposures are not established. We propose phenotypic anchoring as a means to unify experimental observations and disease outcomes.

OBJECTIVES:
We examined the use of phenotypic anchors to translate experimental data to human pathology and investigated research needs for which phenotypic anchors need to be developed.

METHODS:
During a workshop, we discussed experimental systems investigating arsenic dose/exposure and phenotypic expression relationships and human disease responses to chronic arsenic exposure and identified knowledge gaps. In a literature review, we identified areas where data exist to support phenotypic anchoring of experimental results to pathologies from specific human exposures.

DISCUSSION:
Disease outcome is likely dependent on cell-type-specific responses and interaction with individual genetics, other toxicants, and infectious agents. Potential phenotypic anchors include target tissue dosimetry, gene expression and epigenetic profiles, and tissue biomarkers.

CONCLUSIONS:
Translation to human populations requires more extensive profiling of human samples along with high-quality dosimetry. Anchoring results by gene expression and epigenetic profiling has great promise for data unification. Genetic predisposition of individuals affects disease outcome. Interactions with infectious agents, particularly viruses, may explain some species-specific differences between human pathologies and experimental animal pathologies. Invertebrate systems amenable to genetic manipulation offer potential for elaborating impacts of specific biochemical pathways. Anchoring experimental results to specific human exposures will accelerate understanding of mechanisms of arsenic-induced human disease.

In the early stages of reproductive isolation, genomic regions of reduced recombination are expected to show greater levels of differentiation, either because gene flow between species is reduced in these regions or because the effects of selection at linked sites within species are enhanced in these regions. Here, we study the patterns of DNA sequence variation at 27 autosomal loci among populations of Mus musculus musculus, M. m. domesticus, and M. m. castaneus, three subspecies of house mice with collinear genomes. We found that some loci exhibit considerable shared variation among subspecies, while others exhibit fixed differences. We used an isolation-with-gene-flow model to estimate divergence times and effective population sizes (N(e) ) and to disentangle ancestral variation from gene flow. Estimates of divergence time indicate that all three subspecies diverged from one another within a very short period of time approximately 350,000 years ago. Overall, N(e) for each subspecies was associated with the degree of genetic differentiation: M. m. musculus had the smallest N(e) and the greatest proportion of monophyletic gene genealogies, while M. m. castaneus had the largest N(e) and the smallest proportion of monophyletic gene genealogies. M. m. domesticus and M. m. musculus were more differentiated from each other than either were from M. m. castaneus, consistent with greater reproductive isolation between M. m. domesticus and M. m. musculus. F(ST) was significantly greater at loci experiencing low recombination rates compared to loci experiencing high recombination rates in comparisons between M. m. castaneus and M. m. musculus or M. m. domesticus. These results provide evidence that genomic regions with less recombination show greater differentiation, even in the absence of chromosomal rearrangements.

This study developed a method for extracting infectious prions from Class B biosolids and subsequently evaluated the survival of infectious prions under the influence of mesophilic (37°C) and thermophilic (60°C) temperatures in Class B biosolids. Unlike other studies, this study utilized a scrapie cell assay to determine infectivity and quantity of infectious prions. The best method for extraction was exposing the biosolids to 4 M urea at 80°C for 10 minutes followed by a membrane centrifugation to reduce the concentration of urea. The recovery efficiency of the infectious prions from the biosolids for this method was 17.2%. In the survival study, a 2.43-log(10) reduction in prion infectivity was observed under mesophilic temperatures after 15 days and a 3.41-log(10) reduction after 10 days under thermophilic conditions. The reduction of infectious prions was greater in the biosolids than the control in phosphate buffered saline, suggesting factors other than temperature were also playing a role in the loss of infectivity of the prions in the biosolids.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the fate of infectious prions in water. Known concentrations of infectious prions were added to deionized water, tap water, and wastewater. Samples were incubated at 25°C, 37°C, and 50°C for 1 to 8 weeks. The standard scrapie cell assay (SSCA) which includes the ELISPOT (Enzyme Linked Immuno-Spot) reaction was performed to determine prion infectivity and quantity as a function of time. A reduction of infectious prions was observed at 25°C, 37°C, and 50°C ranging between 0.5-log₁₀ and 1.4-log₁₀ in one week. Results suggest that organic matter was instrumental in protecting infectious prions, allowing them to remain infectious for a longer period of time. Thus, our data effectively show a quantifiable reduction of infectious prions in water and identifies some of the components that may influence infectivity.

This study evaluated real-time sensing of Escherichia coli as a microbial contaminant in water distribution systems. Most sensors responded to increased E. coli concentrations, showing that select sensors can detect microbial water quality changes and be utilized as part of a contaminant warning system.

In Parkinson's disease (PD), the consequence of dopaminergic denervation is an imbalance in the activity of the direct and indirect striatofugal pathways, which include potentially important changes in opioid peptide expression and/or activity. The systemic administration of a novel glycosylated opioid peptide MMP-2200 (a.k.a. lactomorphin) was shown to have potent effects in two standard models of PD: 1) amphetamine-induced rotations in the hemi-Parkinsonian 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-treated rat and 2) locomotion in the reserpine-treated rat. MMP-2200, an opioid mu and delta receptor agonist, reduced amphetamine-induced rotations in severely-lesioned hemi-Parkinsonian rats; this effect was fully blocked by naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist. The selective δ-opioid receptor antagonist naltrindole only partially blocked the effect of MMP-2200. MMP-2200 alone did not induce rotations. This effect was also observed in a mild progressive rat 6-OHDA-lesion model. In animals treated with reserpine, profound akinesia was induced that was reversed with apomorphine. There was a prominent overshoot in animals that received apomorphine compared to non-reserpine treated animals, reflecting the well described phenomenon of dopamine supersensitivity indicating that apomorphine not only reversed akinesia but also induced hyper-kinesia. The opioid peptide MMP-2200 blocked the apomorphine-induced hyper-kinesia. This effect of MMP-2200 was prevented by pre-administration of naloxone. MMP-2200 had no effect in preventing the reserpine-induced akinesia, nor did it affect locomotion in control animals. Taken together, the results from these two models are consistent with the glycopeptide opioid agonist MMP-2200 having a potent effect on movements related to dopaminergic hyper-stimulation following striatal dopamine depletion that are best explained by a reduction in the downstream effects of dopamine agonists in these models.

Alternaria is one of the most cosmopolitan fungal genera encountered and impacts humans and human activities in areas of material degradation, phytopathology, food toxicology, and respiratory disease. Contemporary methods of taxon identification rely on assessments of morphology related to sporulation, which are critical for accurate diagnostics. However, the morphology of Alternaria is quite complex, and precise characterization can be laborious, time-consuming, and often restricted to experts in this field. To make morphology characterization easier and more broadly accessible, a generalized statistical model was developed for the three-dimensional geometric structure of the sporulation apparatus. The model is inspired by the widely used grammar-based models for plants, Lindenmayer-systems, which build structure by repeated application of rules for growth. Adjusting the parameters of the underlying probability distributions yields variations in the morphology, and thus the approach provides an excellent tool for exploring the morphology of Alternaria under different assumptions, as well as understanding how it is largely the consequence of local rules for growth. Further, different choices of parameters lead to different model groups, which can then be visually compared to published descriptions or microscopy images to validate parameters for species-specific models. The approach supports automated analysis, as the models can be fit to image data using statistical inference, and the explicit representation of the geometry allows the accurate computation of any morphological quantity. Furthermore, because the model can encode the statistical variation of geometric parameters for different species, it will allow automated species identification from microscopy images using statistical inference. In summary, the approach supports visualization of morphology, automated quantification of phenotype structure, and identification based on form.

Nonribosomal peptides (NRPs) and polyketides (PKs) are ecologically important secondary metabolites produced by bacteria and fungi using multidomain enzymes called nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs) and polyketide synthases (PKSs), respectively. Previous phylogenetic analyses of fungal NRPSs and PKSs have suggested that a few of these genes were acquired by fungi via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from bacteria, including a hybrid NPS/PKS found in Cochliobolus heterostrophus (Dothideomycetes, Ascomycota). Here, we identify this hybrid gene in fungi representing two additional classes of Ascomycota (Aspergillus spp., Microsporum canis, Arthroderma spp., and Trichophyton spp., Eurotiomycetes; Chaetomium spp. and Metarhizium spp., Sordariomycetes) and use phylogenetic analyses of the most highly conserved domains from NRPSs (adenylation (A) domain) and PKSs (ketoacyl synthase (KS) domain) to examine the hypothesis that the hybrid NPS7/PKS24 was acquired by fungi from bacteria via HGT relatively early in the evolution of the Pezizomycotina. Our results reveal a unique ancestry of the A domain and KS domain in the hybrid gene relative to known fungal NRPSs and PKSs, provide strong evidence for HGT of the hybrid gene from a putative bacterial donor in the Burkholderiales, and suggest the HGT event occurred early in the evolution of the filamentous Ascomycota.

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