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Margaret McFall-Ngai

Picture of Margaret McFall-NgaiProfessor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology & Immunology
No longer on campus
1550 Linden Drive
Email: mjmcfallngai@wisc.edu
Overview · Publications · Lab Website
  • Rook G, Bäckhed F, Levin BR, McFall-Ngai MJ, McLean AR (2017) Evolution, human-microbe interactions, and life history plasticity. Lancet 390(10093):521-530 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    A bacterium was once a component of the ancestor of all eukaryotic cells, and much of the human genome originated in microorganisms. Today, all vertebrates harbour large communities of microorganisms (microbiota), particularly in the gut, and at least 20% of the small molecules in human blood are products of the microbiota. Changing human lifestyles and medical practices are disturbing the content and diversity of the microbiota, while simultaneously reducing our exposures to the so-called old infections and to organisms from the natural environment with which human beings co-evolved. Meanwhile, population growth is increasing the exposure of human beings to novel pathogens, particularly the crowd infections that were not part of our evolutionary history. Thus some microbes have co-evolved with human beings and play crucial roles in our physiology and metabolism, whereas others are entirely intrusive. Human metabolism is therefore a tug-of-war between managing beneficial microbes, excluding detrimental ones, and channelling as much energy as is available into other essential functions (eg, growth, maintenance, reproduction). This tug-of-war shapes the passage of each individual through life history decision nodes (eg, how fast to grow, when to mature, and how long to live).

  • Chen F, Krasity BC, Peyer SM, Koehler S, Ruby EG, Zhang X, McFall-Ngai MJ (2017) Bactericidal Permeability-Increasing Proteins Shape Host-Microbe Interactions. MBio 8(2): (PMC5380838) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    We characterized bactericidal permeability-increasing proteins (BPIs) of the squid Euprymna scolopes, EsBPI2 and EsBPI4. They have molecular characteristics typical of other animal BPIs, are closely related to one another, and nest phylogenetically among invertebrate BPIs. Purified EsBPIs had antimicrobial activity against the squid's symbiont, Vibrio fischeri, which colonizes light organ crypt epithelia. Activity of both proteins was abrogated by heat treatment and coincubation with specific antibodies. Pretreatment under acidic conditions similar to those during symbiosis initiation rendered V. fischeri more resistant to the antimicrobial activity of the proteins. Immunocytochemistry localized EsBPIs to the symbiotic organ and other epithelial surfaces interacting with ambient seawater. The proteins differed in intracellular distribution. Further, whereas EsBPI4 was restricted to epithelia, EsBPI2 also occurred in blood and in a transient juvenile organ that mediates hatching. The data provide evidence that these BPIs play different defensive roles early in the life of E. scolopes, modulating interactions with the symbiont.IMPORTANCE This study describes new functions for bactericidal permeability-increasing proteins (BPIs), members of the lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP)/BPI protein family. The data provide evidence that these proteins play a dual role in the modulation of symbiotic bacteria. In the squid-vibrio model, these proteins both control the symbiont populations in the light organ tissues where symbiont cells occur in dense monoculture and, concomitantly, inhibit the symbiont from colonizing other epithelial surfaces of the animal.

  • Peyer SM, Heath-Heckman EAC, McFall-Ngai MJ (2017) Characterization of the cell polarity gene crumbs during the early development and maintenance of the squid-vibrio light organ symbiosis. Dev. Genes Evol. 227(6):375-387 (PMC5519459) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The protein Crumbs is a determinant of apical-basal cell polarity and plays a role in apoptosis of epithelial cells and their protection against photodamage. Using the squid-vibrio system, a model for development of symbiotic partnerships, we examined the modulation of the crumbs gene in host epithelial tissues during initiation and maintenance of the association. The extracellular luminous symbiont Vibrio fischeri colonizes the apical surfaces of polarized epithelia in deep crypts of the Euprymna scolopes light organ. During initial colonization each generation, symbiont harvesting is potentiated by the biochemical and biophysical activity of superficial ciliated epithelia, which are several cell layers from the crypt epithelia where the symbionts reside. Within hours of crypt colonization, the symbionts induce the cell death mediated regression of the remote superficial ciliated fields. However, the crypt cells directly interacting with the symbiont are protected from death. In the squid host, we characterized the gene and encoded protein during light organ morphogenesis and in response to symbiosis. Features of the protein sequence and structure, phylogenetic relationships, and localization patterns in the eye supported assignment of the squid protein to the Crumbs family. In situ hybridization revealed that the crumbs transcript shows opposite expression at the onset of symbiosis in the two different regions of the light organ: elevated levels in the superficial epithelia were attenuated whereas low levels in the crypt epithelia were turned up. Although a rhythmic association in which the host controls the symbiont population over the day-night cycle begins in the juvenile upon colonization, cycling of crumbs was evident only in the adult organ with peak expression coincident with maximum symbiont population and luminescence. Our results provide evidence that crumbs responds to symbiont cues that induce developmental apoptosis and to symbiont population dynamics correlating with luminescence-based stress throughout the duration of the host-microbe association.

  • Krasity BC, Troll JV, Lehnert EM, Hackett KT, Dillard JP, Apicella MA, Goldman WE, Weiss JP, McFall-Ngai MJ (2015) Structural and functional features of a developmentally regulated lipopolysaccharide-binding protein. MBio 6(5):e01193-15 (PMC4620459) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Mammalian lipopolysaccharide (LPS) binding proteins (LBPs) occur mainly in extracellular fluids and promote LPS delivery to specific host cell receptors. The function of LBPs has been studied principally in the context of host defense; the possible role of LBPs in nonpathogenic host-microbe interactions has not been well characterized. Using the Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri model, we analyzed the structure and function of an LBP family protein, E. scolopes LBP1 (EsLBP1), and provide evidence for its role in triggering a symbiont-induced host developmental program. Previous studies showed that, during initial host colonization, the LPS of V. fischeri synergizes with peptidoglycan (PGN) monomer to induce morphogenesis of epithelial tissues of the host animal. Computationally modeled EsLBP1 shares some but not all structural features of mammalian LBPs that are thought important for LPS binding. Similar to human LBP, recombinant EsLBP1 expressed in insect cells bound V. fischeri LPS and Neisseria meningitidis lipooligosaccharide (LOS) with nanomolar or greater affinity but bound Francisella tularensis LPS only weakly and did not bind PGN monomer. Unlike human LBP, EsLBP1 did not bind N. meningitidis LOS:CD14 complexes. The eslbp1 transcript was upregulated ~22-fold by V. fischeri at 24 h postinoculation. Surprisingly, this upregulation was not induced by exposure to LPS but, rather, to the PGN monomer alone. Hybridization chain reaction-fluorescent in situ hybridization (HCR-FISH) and immunocytochemistry (ICC) localized eslbp1 transcript and protein in crypt epithelia, where V. fischeri induces morphogenesis. The data presented here provide a window into the evolution of LBPs and the scope of their roles in animal symbioses. Mammalian lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding protein (LBP) is implicated in conveying LPS to host cells and potentiating its signaling activity. In certain disease states, such as obesity, the overproduction of this protein has been a reliable biomarker of chronic inflammation. Here, we describe a symbiosis-induced invertebrate LBP whose tertiary structure and LPS-binding characteristics are similar to those of mammalian LBPs; however, the primary structure of this distantly related squid protein (EsLBP1) differs in key residues previously believed to be essential for LPS binding, suggesting that an alternative strategy exists. Surprisingly, symbiotic expression of eslbp1 is induced by peptidoglycan derivatives, not LPS, a pattern converse to that of RegIIIγ, an important mammalian immunity protein that binds peptidoglycan but whose gene expression is induced by LPS. Finally, EsLBP1 occurs along the apical surfaces of all the host's epithelia, suggesting that it was recruited from a general defensive role to one that mediates specific interactions with its symbiont.

  • Alivisatos AP, Blaser MJ, Brodie EL, Chun M, Dangl JL, Donohue TJ, Dorrestein PC, Gilbert JA, Green JL, Jansson JK, Knight R, Maxon ME, McFall-Ngai MJ, Miller JF, Pollard KS, Ruby EG, Taha SA, Alivisatos AP, Balskus EP, Biteen JS, Blaser MJ, Brodie EL, Browning ND, Cardon ZG, Cavanaugh CM, Chun M, Cliffel DE, Colwell RR, Dangl JL, Donohue TJ, Dorrestein PC, Fraser SE, Friesen ML, Gilbert JA, Gilbert SF, Green JL, Harwood CS, Henriksen JR, Highlander SK, Huang Y, Jansson JK, Johnson AT, Kasper DL, Knight R, Kujawinski EB, Martin CL, Maxon ME, McFall-Ngai MJ, Miller JF, Moran MA, Nelson KE, Orphan VJ, Ozcan A, Paša-ToliÄ (2015) MICROBIOME. A unified initiative to harness Earth's microbiomes. Science 350(6260):507-8 View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • Nikolakakis K, Lehnert E, McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2015) Use of Hybridization Chain Reaction-Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization To Track Gene Expression by Both Partners during Initiation of Symbiosis. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 81(14):4728-35 (PMC4551195) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The establishment of a productive symbiosis between Euprymna scolopes, the Hawaiian bobtail squid, and its luminous bacterial symbiont, Vibrio fischeri, is mediated by transcriptional changes in both partners. A key challenge to unraveling the steps required to successfully initiate this and many other symbiotic associations is characterization of the timing and location of these changes. We report on the adaptation of hybridization chain reaction-fluorescent in situ hybridization (HCR-FISH) to simultaneously probe the spatiotemporal regulation of targeted genes in both E. scolopes and V. fischeri. This method revealed localized, transcriptionally coregulated epithelial cells within the light organ that responded directly to the presence of bacterial cells while, at the same time, provided a sensitive means to directly show regulated gene expression within the symbiont population. Thus, HCR-FISH provides a new approach for characterizing habitat transition in bacteria and for discovering host tissue responses to colonization.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ (2015) Giving microbes their due--animal life in a microbially dominant world. J. Exp. Biol. 218(Pt 12):1968-73 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The new technology of next-generation sequencing is changing our perceptions of the form and function of the biological world. The emerging data reveal an array of microbes that is more vast and more central to all biological processes than previously appreciated. Further, evidence is accumulating that the alliances of microbes with one another and with constituents of the macrobiological world are critical for the health of the biosphere. This contribution summarizes the basic arguments as to why, when considering the biochemical adaptations of animals, we should integrate the roles of their microbial partners.

  • Schwartzman JA, Koch E, Heath-Heckman EA, Zhou L, Kremer N, McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2015) The chemistry of negotiation: rhythmic, glycan-driven acidification in a symbiotic conversation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112(2):566-71 (PMC4299225) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Glycans have emerged as critical determinants of immune maturation, microbial nutrition, and host health in diverse symbioses. In this study, we asked how cyclic delivery of a single host-derived glycan contributes to the dynamic stability of the mutualism between the squid Euprymna scolopes and its specific, bioluminescent symbiont, Vibrio fischeri. V. fischeri colonizes the crypts of a host organ that is used for behavioral light production. E. scolopes synthesizes the polymeric glycan chitin in macrophage-like immune cells called hemocytes. We show here that, just before dusk, hemocytes migrate from the vasculature into the symbiotic crypts, where they lyse and release particulate chitin, a behavior that is established only in the mature symbiosis. Diel transcriptional rhythms in both partners further indicate that the chitin is provided and metabolized only at night. A V. fischeri mutant defective in chitin catabolism was able to maintain a normal symbiont population level, but only until the symbiotic organ reached maturity (∼ 4 wk after colonization); this result provided a direct link between chitin utilization and symbiont persistence. Finally, catabolism of chitin by the symbionts was also specifically required for a periodic acidification of the adult crypts each night. This acidification, which increases the level of oxygen available to the symbionts, enhances their capacity to produce bioluminescence at night. We propose that other animal hosts may similarly regulate the activities of epithelium-associated microbial communities through the strategic provision of specific nutrients, whose catabolism modulates conditions like pH or anoxia in their symbionts' habitat.

  • Heath-Heckman EA, Gillette AA, Augustin R, Gillette MX, Goldman WE, McFall-Ngai MJ (2014) Shaping the microenvironment: evidence for the influence of a host galaxin on symbiont acquisition and maintenance in the squid-Vibrio symbiosis. Environ. Microbiol. 16(12):3669-82 (PMC4224630) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Most bacterial species make transitions between habitats, such as switching from free living to symbiotic niches. We provide evidence that a galaxin protein, EsGal1, of the squid Euprymna scolopes participates in both: (i) selection of the specific partner Vibrio fischeri from the bacterioplankton during symbiosis onset and, (ii) modulation of V. fischeri growth in symbiotic maintenance. We identified two galaxins in transcriptomic databases and showed by quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction that one (esgal1) was dominant in the light organ. Further, esgal1 expression was upregulated by symbiosis, a response that was partially achieved with exposure to symbiont cell-envelope molecules. Confocal immunocytochemistry of juvenile animals localized EsGal1 to the apical surfaces of light-organ epithelia and surrounding mucus, the environment in which V. fischeri cells aggregate before migration into the organ. Growth assays revealed that one repeat of EsGal1 arrested growth of Gram-positive bacterial cells, which represent the cell type first 'winnowed' during initial selection of the symbiont. The EsGal1-derived peptide also significantly decreased the growth rate of V. fischeri in culture. Further, when animals were exposed to an anti-EsGal1 antibody, symbiont population growth was significantly increased. These data provide a window into how hosts select symbionts from a rich environment and govern their growth in symbiosis.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ (2014) The importance of microbes in animal development: lessons from the squid-vibrio symbiosis. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 68:177-94 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Developmental biology is among the many subdisciplines of the life sciences being transformed by our increasing awareness of the role of coevolved microbial symbionts in health and disease. Most symbioses are horizontally acquired, i.e., they begin anew each generation. In such associations, the embryonic period prepares the animal to engage with the coevolved partner(s) with fidelity following birth or hatching. Once interactions are underway, the microbial partners drive maturation of tissues that are either directly associated with or distant from the symbiont populations. Animal alliances often involve complex microbial communities, such as those in the vertebrate gastrointestinal tract. A series of simpler-model systems is providing insight into the basic rules and principles that govern the establishment and maintenance of stable animal-microbe partnerships. This review focuses on what biologists have learned about the developmental trajectory of horizontally acquired symbioses through the study of the binary squid-vibrio model.

  • Kremer N, Schwartzman J, Augustin R, Zhou L, Ruby EG, Hourdez S, McFall-Ngai MJ (2014) The dual nature of haemocyanin in the establishment and persistence of the squid-vibrio symbiosis. Proc. Biol. Sci. 281(1785):20140504 (PMC4024306) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    We identified and sequenced from the squid Euprymna scolopes two isoforms of haemocyanin that share the common structural/physiological characteristics of haemocyanin from a closely related cephalopod, Sepia officinalis, including a pronounced Bohr effect. We examined the potential roles for haemocyanin in the animal's symbiosis with the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Our data demonstrate that, as in other cephalopods, the haemocyanin is primarily synthesized in the gills. It transits through the general circulation into other tissues and is exported into crypt spaces that support the bacterial partner, which requires oxygen for its bioluminescence. We showed that the gradient of pH between the circulating haemolymph and the matrix of the crypt spaces in adult squid favours offloading of oxygen from the haemocyanin to the symbionts. Haemocyanin is also localized to the apical surfaces and associated mucus of a juvenile-specific epithelium on which the symbionts gather, and where their specificity is determined during the recruitment into the association. The haemocyanin has an antimicrobial activity, which may be involved in this enrichment of V. fischeri during symbiont initiation. Taken together, these data provide evidence that the haemocyanin plays a role in shaping two stages of the squid-vibrio partnership.

  • Koch EJ, Miyashiro T, McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2014) Features governing symbiont persistence in the squid-vibrio association. Mol. Ecol. 23(6):1624-34 (PMC3907463) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Experimental studies of the interaction between host and symbiont in a maturing symbiotic organ have presented a challenge for most animal-bacterial associations. Advances in the rearing of the host squid Euprymna scolopes have enabled us to explore the relationship between a defect in symbiont light production and late-stage development (e.g. symbiont persistence and tissue morphogenesis) by experimental colonization with specific strains of the symbiont Vibrio fischeri. During the first 4 weeks postinoculation of juvenile squid, the population of wild-type V. fischeri increased 100-fold; in contrast, a strain defective in light production (Δlux) colonized normally the first day, but exhibited an exponential decline to undetectable levels over subsequent weeks. Co-colonization of organs by both strains affected neither the trajectory of colonization by wild type nor the decline of Δlux levels. Uninfected animals retained the ability to be colonized for at least 2 weeks posthatch. However, once colonized by the wild-type strain for 5 days, a subsequent experimentally induced loss of the symbionts could not be followed by a successful recolonization, indicating the host's entry into a refractory state. However, animals colonized by the Δlux before the loss of their symbionts were receptive to recolonization. Analyses of animals colonized with either a wild-type or a Δlux strain revealed slight, if any, differences in the developmental regression of the ciliated light-organ tissues that facilitate the colonization process. Thus, some other feature(s) of the Δlux strain's defect also may be responsible for its inability to persist, and its failure to induce a refractory state in the host.

  • Brennan CA, Hunt JR, Kremer N, Krasity BC, Apicella MA, McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2014) A model symbiosis reveals a role for sheathed-flagellum rotation in the release of immunogenic lipopolysaccharide. Elife 3:e01579 (PMC3941163) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Bacterial flagella mediate host-microbe interactions through tissue tropism during colonization, as well as by activating immune responses. The flagellar shaft of some bacteria, including several human pathogens, is encased in a membranous sheath of unknown function. While it has been hypothesized that the sheath may allow these bacteria to evade host responses to the immunogenic flagellin subunit, this unusual structural feature has remained an enigma. Here we demonstrate that the rotation of the sheathed flagellum in both the mutualist Vibrio fischeri and the pathogen Vibrio cholerae promotes release of a potent bacteria-derived immunogen, lipopolysaccharide, found in the flagellar sheath. We further present a new role for the flagellar sheath in triggering, rather than circumventing, host immune responses in the model squid-vibrio symbiosis. Such an observation not only has implications for the study of bacterial pathogens with sheathed flagella, but also raises important biophysical questions of sheathed-flagellum function. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01579.001.

  • Peyer SM, Pankey MS, Oakley TH, McFall-Ngai MJ (2014) Eye-specification genes in the bacterial light organ of the bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes, and their expression in response to symbiont cues. Mech. Dev. 131:111-26 (PMC4000693) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The squid Euprymna scolopes has evolved independent sets of tissues capable of light detection, including a complex eye and a photophore or 'light organ', which houses the luminous bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri. As the eye and light organ originate from different embryonic tissues, we examined whether the eye-specification genes, pax6, eya, six, and dac, are shared by these two organs, and if so, whether they are regulated in the light organ by symbiosis. We obtained sequences of the four genes with PCR, confirmed orthology with phylogenetic analysis, and determined that each was expressed in the eye and light organ. With in situ hybridization (ISH), we localized the gene transcripts in developing embryos, comparing the patterns of expression in the two organs. The four transcripts localized to similar tissues, including those associated with the visual system ∼1/4 into embryogenesis (Naef stage 18) and the light organ ∼3/4 into embryogenesis (Naef stage 26). We used ISH and quantitative real-time PCR to examine transcript expression and differential regulation in postembryonic light organs in response to the following colonization conditions: wild-type, luminescent V. fischeri; a mutant strain defective in light production; and as a control, no symbiont. In ISH experiments light organs showed down regulation of the pax6, eya, and six transcripts in response to wild-type V. fischeri. Mutant strains also induced down regulation of the pax6 and eya transcripts, but not of the six transcript. Thus, luminescence was required for down regulation of the six transcript. We discuss these results in the context of symbiont-induced light-organ development. Our study indicates that the eye-specification genes are expressed in light-interacting tissues independent of their embryonic origin and are capable of responding to bacterial cues. These results offer evidence for evolutionary tinkering or the recruitment of eye development genes for use in a light-sensing photophore.

  • Kremer N, Philipp EE, Carpentier MC, Brennan CA, Kraemer L, Altura MA, Augustin R, Häsler R, Heath-Heckman EA, Peyer SM, Schwartzman J, Rader BA, Ruby EG, Rosenstiel P, McFall-Ngai MJ (2013) Initial symbiont contact orchestrates host-organ-wide transcriptional changes that prime tissue colonization. Cell Host Microbe 14(2):183-94 (PMC3928804) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Upon transit to colonization sites, bacteria often experience critical priming that prepares them for subsequent, specific interactions with the host; however, the underlying mechanisms are poorly described. During initiation of the symbiosis between the bacterium Vibrio fischeri and its squid host, which can be observed directly and in real time, approximately five V. fischeri cells aggregate along the mucociliary membranes of a superficial epithelium prior to entering host tissues. Here, we show that these few early host-associated symbionts specifically induce robust changes in host gene expression that are critical to subsequent colonization steps. This exquisitely sensitive response to the host's specific symbiotic partner includes the upregulation of a host endochitinase, whose activity hydrolyzes polymeric chitin in the mucus into chitobiose, thereby priming the symbiont and also producing a chemoattractant gradient that promotes V. fischeri migration into host tissues. Thus, the host responds transcriptionally upon initial symbiont contact, which facilitates subsequent colonization.

  • Altura MA, Heath-Heckman EA, Gillette A, Kremer N, Krachler AM, Brennan C, Ruby EG, Orth K, McFall-Ngai MJ (2013) The first engagement of partners in the Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri symbiosis is a two-step process initiated by a few environmental symbiont cells. Environ. Microbiol. : (PMC3937295) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    We studied the Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri symbiosis to characterize, in vivo and in real time, the transition between the bacterial partner's free-living and symbiotic life styles. Previous studies using high inocula demonstrated that environmental V. fischeri cells aggregate during a 3 h period in host-shed mucus along the light organ's superficial ciliated epithelia. Under lower inoculum conditions, similar to the levels of symbiont cells in the environment, this interaction induces haemocyte trafficking into these tissues. Here, in experiments simulating natural conditions, microscopy revealed that at 3 h following first exposure, only ∼ 5 V. fischeri cells aggregated on the organ surface. These cells associated with host cilia and induced haemocyte trafficking. Symbiont viability was essential and mutants defective in symbiosis initiation and/or production of certain surface features, including the Mam7 protein, which is implicated in host cell attachment of V. cholerae, associated normally with host cilia. Studies with exopolysaccharide mutants, which are defective in aggregation, suggest a two-step process of V. fischeri cell engagement: association with host cilia followed by aggregation, i.e. host cell-symbiont interaction with subsequent symbiont-symbiont cell interaction. Taken together, these data provide a new model of early partner engagement, a complex model of host-symbiont interaction with exquisite sensitivity.

  • Heath-Heckman EA, Peyer SM, Whistler CA, Apicella MA, Goldman WE, McFall-Ngai MJ (2013) Bacterial bioluminescence regulates expression of a host cryptochrome gene in the squid-Vibrio symbiosis. MBio 4(2): (PMC3622930) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and its luminous symbiont, Vibrio fischeri, is characterized by daily transcriptional rhythms in both partners and daily fluctuations in symbiont luminescence. In this study, we sought to determine whether symbionts affect host transcriptional rhythms. We identified two transcripts in host tissues (E. scolopes cry1 [escry1] and escry2) that encode cryptochromes, proteins that influence circadian rhythms in other systems. Both genes cycled daily in the head of the squid, with a pattern similar to that of other animals, in which expression of certain cry genes is entrained by environmental light. In contrast, escry1 expression cycled in the symbiont-colonized light organ with 8-fold upregulation coincident with the rhythms of bacterial luminescence, which are offset from the day/night light regime. Colonization of the juvenile light organ by symbionts was required for induction of escry1 cycling. Further, analysis with a mutant strain defective in light production showed that symbiont luminescence is essential for cycling of escry1; this defect could be complemented by presentation of exogenous blue light. However, blue-light exposure alone did not induce cycling in nonsymbiotic animals, but addition of molecules of the symbiont cell envelope to light-exposed animals did recover significant cycling activity, showing that light acts in synergy with other symbiont features to induce cycling. While symbiont luminescence may be a character specific to rhythms of the squid-vibrio association, resident microbial partners could similarly influence well-documented daily rhythms in other systems, such as the mammalian gut.

  • McFall-Ngai M, Hadfield MG, Bosch TC, Carey HV, Domazet-Loso T, Douglas AE, Dubilier N, Eberl G, Fukami T, Gilbert SF, Hentschel U, King N, Kjelleberg S, Knoll AH, Kremer N, Mazmanian SK, Metcalf JL, Nealson K, Pierce NE, Rawls JF, Reid A, Ruby EG, Rumpho M, Sanders JG, Tautz D, Wernegreen JJ (2013) Animals in a bacterial world, a new imperative for the life sciences. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110(9):3229-36 PMC3587249 [Available on 08/26/13] View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    In the last two decades, the widespread application of genetic and genomic approaches has revealed a bacterial world astonishing in its ubiquity and diversity. This review examines how a growing knowledge of the vast range of animal-bacterial interactions, whether in shared ecosystems or intimate symbioses, is fundamentally altering our understanding of animal biology. Specifically, we highlight recent technological and intellectual advances that have changed our thinking about five questions: how have bacteria facilitated the origin and evolution of animals; how do animals and bacteria affect each other's genomes; how does normal animal development depend on bacterial partners; how is homeostasis maintained between animals and their symbionts; and how can ecological approaches deepen our understanding of the multiple levels of animal-bacterial interaction. As answers to these fundamental questions emerge, all biologists will be challenged to broaden their appreciation of these interactions and to include investigations of the relationships between and among bacteria and their animal partners as we seek a better understanding of the natural world.

  • Hentschel U, Weis VM, McFall-Ngai MJ (2012) Biological bulletin virtual symposium: discoveries in animal symbiosis in the “omics” age. Biol. Bull. 223(1):5-6 View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • Mandel MJ, Schaefer AL, Brennan CA, Heath-Heckman EA, Deloney-Marino CR, McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2012) Squid-derived chitin oligosaccharides are a chemotactic signal during colonization by Vibrio fischeri. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78(13):4620-6 (PMC3370474) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Chitin, a polymer of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), is noted as the second most abundant biopolymer in nature. Chitin serves many functions for marine bacteria in the family Vibrionaceae ("vibrios"), in some instances providing a physical attachment site, inducing natural genetic competence, and serving as an attractant for chemotaxis. The marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri is the specific symbiont in the light-emitting organ of the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes. The bacterium provides the squid with luminescence that the animal uses in an antipredatory defense, while the squid supports the symbiont's nutritional requirements. V. fischeri cells are harvested from seawater during each host generation, and V. fischeri is the only species that can complete this process in nature. Furthermore, chitin is located in squid hemocytes and plays a nutritional role in the symbiosis. We demonstrate here that chitin oligosaccharides produced by the squid host serve as a chemotactic signal for colonizing bacteria. V. fischeri uses the gradient of host chitin to enter the squid light organ duct and colonize the animal. We provide evidence that chitin serves a novel function in an animal-bacterial mutualism, as an animal-produced bacterium-attracting synomone.

  • Rader BA, Kremer N, Apicella MA, Goldman WE, McFall-Ngai MJ (2012) Modulation of symbiont lipid A signaling by host alkaline phosphatases in the squid-vibrio symbiosis. MBio 3(3): (PMC3569863) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The synergistic activity of Vibrio fischeri lipid A and the peptidoglycan monomer (tracheal cytotoxin [TCT]) induces apoptosis in the superficial cells of the juvenile Euprymna scolopes light organ during the onset of the squid-vibrio symbiosis. Once the association is established in the epithelium-lined crypts of the light organ, the host degrades the symbiont's constitutively produced TCT by the amidase activity of a peptidoglycan recognition protein (E. scolopes peptidoglycan recognition protein 2 [EsPGRP2]). In the present study, we explored the role of alkaline phosphatases in transforming the lipid A of the symbiont into a form that changes its signaling properties to host tissues. We obtained full-length open reading frames for two E. scolopes alkaline phosphatase (EsAP) mRNAs (esap1 and esap2); transcript levels suggested that the dominant light organ isoform is EsAP1. Levels of total EsAP activity increased with symbiosis, but only after the lipid A-dependent morphogenetic induction at 12 h, and were regulated over the day-night cycle. Inhibition of total EsAP activity impaired normal colonization and persistence by the symbiont. EsAP activity localized to the internal regions of the symbiotic juvenile light organ, including the lumina of the crypt spaces where the symbiont resides. These data provide evidence that EsAPs work in concert with EsPGRPs to change the signaling properties of bacterial products and thereby promote persistent colonization by the mutualistic symbiont. IMPORTANCE: The potential for microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) to compromise host-tissue health is reflected in the often-used nomenclature for these molecules: lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is also called "endotoxin" and the peptidoglycan monomer is also called "tracheal cytotoxin" (TCT). With constant presentation of MAMPs by the normal microbiota, mechanisms to tolerate their effects have developed. The results of this contribution provide evidence that host alkaline phosphatases (APs) dephosphorylate and inactivate the symbiont MAMP lipid A. As such, APs work in synergy with a peptidoglycan recognition protein, which inactivates symbiont-exported TCT, to alter the symbiont MAMPs and promote persistence of the partnership. Not only may these activities serve to "tame" the MAMPs, but also the resulting products may themselves be important signals in persistent mutualisms. The finding of lipid A modification by APs in an invertebrate mutualism provides evidence that this specific strategy for dealing with symbiotic partners is conserved across the animal kingdom.

  • Post DM, Yu L, Krasity BC, Choudhury B, Mandel MJ, Brennan CA, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ, Gibson BW, Apicella MA (2012) O-antigen and core carbohydrate of Vibrio fischeri lipopolysaccharide: composition and analysis of their role in Euprymna scolopes light organ colonization. J. Biol. Chem. 287(11):8515-30 (PMC3318738) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Vibrio fischeri exists in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, where the squid provides a home for the bacteria, and the bacteria in turn provide camouflage that helps protect the squid from night-time predators. Like other gram-negative organisms, V. fischeri expresses lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on its cell surface. The structure of the O-antigen and the core components of the LPS and their possible role in colonization of the squid have not previously been determined. In these studies, an O-antigen ligase mutant, waaL, was utilized to determine the structures of these LPS components and their roles in colonization of the squid. WaaL ligates the O-antigen to the core of the LPS; thus, LPS from waaL mutants lacks O-antigen. Our results show that the V. fischeri waaL mutant has a motility defect, is significantly delayed in colonization, and is unable to compete with the wild-type strain in co-colonization assays. Comparative analyses of the LPS from the wild-type and waaL strains showed that the V. fischeri LPS has a single O-antigen repeat composed of yersiniose, 8-epi-legionaminic acid, and N-acetylfucosamine. In addition, the LPS from the waaL strain showed that the core structure consists of L-glycero-D-manno-heptose, D-glycero-D-manno-heptose, glucose, 3-deoxy-D-manno-octulosonic acid, N-acetylgalactosamine, 8-epi-legionaminic acid, phosphate, and phosphoethanolamine. These studies indicate that the unusual V. fischeri O-antigen sugars play a role in the early phases of bacterial colonization of the squid.

  • Bosch TC, McFall-Ngai MJ (2011) Metaorganisms as the new frontier. Zoology (Jena) 114(4):185-90 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Because it appears that almost all organisms are part of an interdependent metaorganism, an understanding of the underlying host-microbe species associations, and of evolution and molecular underpinnings, has become the new frontier in zoology. The availability of novel high-throughput sequencing methods, together with the conceptual understanding that advances mostly originate at the intersection of traditional disciplinary boundaries, enable biologists to dissect the mechanisms that control the interdependent associations of species. In this review article, we outline some of the issues in inter-species interactions, present two case studies illuminating the necessity of interfacial research when addressing complex and fundamental zoological problems, and show that an interdisciplinary approach that seeks to understand co-evolved multi-species relationships will connect genomes, phenotypes, ecosystems and the evolutionary forces that have shaped them. We hope that this article inspires other collaborations of a similar nature on the diverse landscape commonly referred to as "zoology".

  • Heath-Heckman EA, McFall-Ngai MJ (2011) The occurrence of chitin in the hemocytes of invertebrates. Zoology (Jena) 114(4):191-8 (PMC3243742) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The light-organ symbiosis of Euprymna scolopes, the Hawaiian bobtail squid, is a useful model for the study of animal-microbe interactions. Recent analyses have demonstrated that chitin breakdown products play a role in communication between E. scolopes and its bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri. In this study, we sought to determine the source of chitin in the symbiotic organ. We used a commercially available chitin-binding protein (CBP) conjugated to fluorescein to label the polymeric chitin in host tissues. Confocal microscopy revealed that the only cells in contact with the symbionts that labeled with the probe were the macrophage-like hemocytes, which traffic into the light-organ crypts where the bacteria reside. Labeling of extracted hemocytes by CBP was markedly decreased following treatment with purified chitinase, providing further evidence that the labeled molecule is polymeric chitin. Further, CBP-positive areas co-localized with both a halide peroxidase antibody and Lysotracker, a lysosomal marker, suggesting that the chitin-like biomolecule occurs in the lysosome or acidic vacuoles. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of hemocytes revealed mRNA coding for a chitin synthase, suggesting that the hemocytes synthesize chitin de novo. Finally, upon surveying blood cells from other invertebrate species, we observed CBP-positive regions in all granular blood cells examined, suggesting that this feature is a shared character among the invertebrates; the vertebrate blood cells that we sampled did not label with CBP. Although the function of the chitin-like material remains undetermined, its presence and subcellular location in invertebrate hemocytes suggests a conserved role for this polysaccharide in the immune system of diverse animals.

  • Krasity BC, Troll JV, Weiss JP, McFall-Ngai MJ (2011) LBP/BPI proteins and their relatives: conservation over evolution and roles in mutualism. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 39(4):1039-44 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    LBP [LPS (lipopolysaccharide)-binding protein] and BPI (bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein) are components of the immune system that have been principally studied in mammals for their involvement in defence against bacterial pathogens. These proteins share a basic architecture and residues involved in LPS binding. Putative orthologues, i.e. proteins encoded by similar genes that diverged from a common ancestor, have been found in a number of non-mammalian vertebrate species and several non-vertebrates. Similar to other aspects of immunity, such as the activity of Toll-like receptors and NOD (nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain) proteins, analysis of the conservation of LBPs and BPIs in the invertebrates promises to provide insight into features essential to the form and function of these molecules. This review considers state-of-the-art knowledge in the diversity of the LBP/BPI proteins across the eukaryotes and also considers their role in mutualistic symbioses. Recent studies of the LBPs and BPIs in an invertebrate model of beneficial associations, the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes' alliance with the marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri, are discussed as an example of the use of non-vertebrate models for the study of LBPs and BPIs.

  • Phillips NJ, Adin DM, Stabb EV, McFall-Ngai MJ, Apicella MA, Gibson BW (2011) The lipid A from Vibrio fischeri lipopolysaccharide: a unique structure bearing a phosphoglycerol moiety. J. Biol. Chem. 286(24):21203-19 (PMC3122182) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Vibrio fischeri, a bioluminescent marine bacterium, exists in an exclusive symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, whose light organ it colonizes. Previously, it has been shown that the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or free lipid A of V. fischeri can trigger morphological changes in the juvenile squid's light organ that occur upon colonization. To investigate the structural features that might be responsible for this phenomenon, the lipid A from V. fischeri ES114 LPS was isolated and characterized by multistage mass spectrometry (MS(n)). A microheterogeneous mixture of mono- and diphosphorylated diglucosamine disaccharides was observed with variable states of acylation ranging from tetra- to octaacylated forms. All lipid A species, however, contained a set of conserved primary acyl chains consisting of an N-linked C14:0(3-OH) at the 2-position, an unusual N-linked C14:1(3-OH) at the 2'-position, and two O-linked C12:0(3-OH) fatty acids at the 3- and 3'-positions. The fatty acids found in secondary acylation were considerably more variable, with either a C12:0 or C16:1 at the 2-position, C14:0 or C14:0(3-OH) at the 2'-position, and C12:0 or no substituent at the 3'-position. Most surprising was the presence of an unusual set of modifications at the secondary acylation site of the 3-position consisting of phosphoglycerol (GroP), lysophosphatidic acid (GroP bearing C12:0, C16:0, or C16:1), or phosphatidic acid (GroP bearing either C16:0 + C12:0 or C16:0 + C16:1). Given their unusual nature, it is possible that these features of the V. fischeri lipid A may underlie the ability of E. scolopes to recognize its symbiotic partner.

  • Altura MA, Stabb E, Goldman W, Apicella M, McFall-Ngai MJ (2011) Attenuation of host NO production by MAMPs potentiates development of the host in the squid-vibrio symbiosis. Cell. Microbiol. 13(4):527-37 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Bacterial pathogens typically upregulate the host's production of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and nitric oxide (NO) as antimicrobial agents, a response that is often mediated by microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) of the pathogen. In contrast, previous studies of the beneficial Euprymna scolopes/Vibrio fischeri symbiosis demonstrated that symbiont colonization results in attenuation of host NOS/NO, which occurs in high levels in hatchling light organs. Here, we sought to determine whether V. fischeri MAMPs, specifically lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and the peptidoglycan derivative tracheal cytotoxin (TCT), attenuate NOS/NO, and whether this activity mediates the MAMPs-induced light organ morphogenesis. Using confocal microscopy, we characterized levels of NOS with immunocytochemistry and NO with a NO-specific fluorochrome. When added exogenously to seawater containing hatchling animals, V. fischeri LPS and TCT together, but not individually, induced normal NOS/NO attenuation. Further, V. fischeri mutants defective in TCT release did not. Experiments with NOS inhibitors and NO donors provided evidence that NO mediates apoptosis and morphogenesis associated with symbiont colonization. Attenuation of NOS/NO by LPS and TCT in the squid-vibrio symbiosis provides another example of how the host's response to MAMPs depends on the context. These data also provide a mechanism by which symbiont MAMPs regulate host development.

  • Wang Y, Dunn AK, Wilneff J, McFall-Ngai MJ, Spiro S, Ruby EG (2010) Vibrio fischeri flavohaemoglobin protects against nitric oxide during initiation of the squid-Vibrio symbiosis. Mol. Microbiol. 78(4):903-15 (PMC2978254) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Nitric oxide (NO) is implicated in a wide range of biological processes, including innate immunity against pathogens, signal transduction and protection against oxidative stress. However, its possible roles in beneficial host-microbe associations are less well recognized. During the early stages of the squid-vibrio symbiosis, the bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri encounters host-derived NO, which has been hypothesized to serve as a specificity determinant. We demonstrate here that the flavohaemoglobin, Hmp, of V. fischeri protects against NO, both in culture and during colonization of the squid host. Transcriptional analyses indicate that hmp expression is highly responsive to NO, principally through the repressor, NsrR. Hmp protects V. fischeri from NO inhibition of aerobic respiration, and removes NO under both oxic and anoxic conditions. A Δhmp mutant of V. fischeri initiates squid colonization less effectively than wild type, but is rescued by the presence of an NO synthase inhibitor. The hmp promoter is activated during the initial stage of colonization, during which the Δhmp strain fails to form normal-sized aggregates of colonizing cells. Taken together, these results suggest that the sensing of host-derived NO by NsrR, and the subsequent removal of NO by Hmp, influence aggregate size and, thereby, V. fischeri colonization efficiency.

  • Troll JV, Bent EH, Pacquette N, Wier AM, Goldman WE, Silverman N, McFall-Ngai MJ (2010) Taming the symbiont for coexistence: a host PGRP neutralizes a bacterial symbiont toxin. Environ. Microbiol. 12(8):2190-203 (PMC2889240) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    In horizontally transmitted mutualisms between marine animals and their bacterial partners, the host environment promotes the initial colonization by specific symbionts that it harvests from the surrounding bacterioplankton. Subsequently, the host must develop long-term tolerance to immunogenic bacterial molecules, such as peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccaride derivatives. We describe the characterization of the activity of a host peptidoglycan recognition protein (EsPGRP2) during establishment of the symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and its luminous bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri. Using confocal immunocytochemistry, we localized EsPGRP2 to all epithelial surfaces of the animal, and determined that it is exported in association with mucus shedding. Most notably, EsPGRP2 was released by the crypt epithelia into the extracellular spaces housing the symbionts. This translocation occurred only after the symbionts had triggered host morphogenesis, a process that is induced by exposure to the peptidoglycan monomer tracheal cytotoxin (TCT), a bacterial 'toxin' that is constitutively exported by V. fischeri. Enzymatic analyses demonstrated that, like many described PGRPs, EsPGRP2 has a TCT-degrading amidase activity. The timing of EsPGRP2 export into the crypts provides evidence that the host does not export this protein until after TCT induces morphogenesis, and thereafter EsPGRP2 is constantly present in the crypts ameliorating the effects of V. fischeri TCT.

  • Wier AM, Nyholm SV, Mandel MJ, Massengo-Tiassé RP, Schaefer AL, Koroleva I, Splinter-Bondurant S, Brown B, Manzella L, Snir E, Almabrazi H, Scheetz TE, Bonaldo Mde F, Casavant TL, Soares MB, Cronan JE, Reed JL, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (2010) Transcriptional patterns in both host and bacterium underlie a daily rhythm of anatomical and metabolic change in a beneficial symbiosis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107(5):2259-64 (PMC2836665) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Mechanisms for controlling symbiont populations are critical for maintaining the associations that exist between a host and its microbial partners. We describe here the transcriptional, metabolic, and ultrastructural characteristics of a diel rhythm that occurs in the symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. The rhythm is driven by the host's expulsion from its light-emitting organ of most of the symbiont population each day at dawn. The transcriptomes of both the host epithelium that supports the symbionts and the symbiont population itself were characterized and compared at four times over this daily cycle. The greatest fluctuation in gene expression of both partners occurred as the day began. Most notable was an up-regulation in the host of >50 cytoskeleton-related genes just before dawn and their subsequent down-regulation within 6 h. Examination of the epithelium by TEM revealed a corresponding restructuring, characterized by effacement and blebbing of its apical surface. After the dawn expulsion, the epithelium reestablished its polarity, and the residual symbionts began growing, repopulating the light organ. Analysis of the symbiont transcriptome suggested that the bacteria respond to the effacement by up-regulating genes associated with anaerobic respiration of glycerol; supporting this finding, lipid analysis of the symbionts' membranes indicated a direct incorporation of host-derived fatty acids. After 12 h, the metabolic signature of the symbiont population shifted to one characteristic of chitin fermentation, which continued until the following dawn. Thus, the persistent maintenance of the squid-vibrio symbiosis is tied to a dynamic diel rhythm that involves both partners.

  • Lee PN, McFall-Ngai MJ, Callaerts P, de Couet HG (2009) Whole-mount in situ hybridization of Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) embryos with DIG-labeled riboprobes: II. Embryo preparation, hybridization, washes, and immunohistochemistry. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2009(11):pdb.prot5322 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Whole-mount in situ hybridization is a technique used to localize and visualize specific gene transcripts in whole embryos by hybridizing labeled RNA probes complementary to the sequence of interest. A digoxigenin (DIG)-labeled riboprobe synthesized during in vitro transcription through the incorporation of DIG-labeled UTP is hybridized to the target sequence under stringent conditions, and excess unhybridized probe is removed during a series of washes. The location of the labeled riboprobe, and thus the mRNA sequence of interest, is then visualized by immunohistochemistry. This protocol outlines the steps involved in preparing Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) embryos, hybridizing a DIG-labeled riboprobe in whole-mount embryos, and visualizing the labeled RNA colorimetrically using an alkaline-phosphatase-conjugated anti-DIG antibody.

  • Lee PN, McFall-Ngai MJ, Callaerts P, de Couet HG (2009) Whole-mount in situ hybridization of Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) embryos with DIG-labeled riboprobes: I. DNA template preparation and in vitro transcription of riboprobes. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2009(11):pdb.prot5321 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Whole-mount in situ hybridization is a technique used to localize and visualize specific gene transcripts in whole embryos by hybridizing labeled RNA probes complementary to the sequence of interest. A digoxigenin (DIG)-labeled riboprobe synthesized during in vitro transcription through the incorporation of a DIG-labeled UTP is hybridized to the target sequence under stringent conditions, and excess, unhybridized probe is removed during a series of washes. The location of the labeled riboprobe, and thus the mRNA sequence of interest, is then visualized by immunohistochemistry. This protocol outlines the techniques for preparing RNA probes for whole-mount in situ hybridization in Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) embryos from linearized plasmid DNA or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) products.

  • Lee PN, McFall-Ngai MJ, Callaerts P, de Couet HG (2009) Confocal immunocytochemistry of embryonic and juvenile Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) tissues. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2009(11):pdb.prot5320 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes is a cephalopod whose small size, short lifespan, rapid growth, and year-round availability make it suitable as a model organism. This protocol describes the preparation of whole juvenile squids by whole-mount immunocytochemistry for visualization by confocal microscopy.

  • Lee PN, McFall-Ngai MJ, Callaerts P, de Couet HG (2009) Preparation of genomic DNA from Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) tissue by cesium chloride gradient centrifugation. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2009(11):pdb.prot5319 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    This procedure describes the extraction of genomic DNA from adult bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) tissues by cesium chloride (CsCl) gradient centrifugation. There are numerous generic methods and commercial kits for the preparation of genomic DNA based on proteolytic digestion of chromatin components, followed by selective binding of nucleic acids to ion-exchange affinity media, but many of these do not yield DNA that can be readily restricted. Also, molluscan tissues contain mucopolysaccharides, which tend to copurify with DNA under certain conditions. Although nucleic acids prepared this way can serve as a template for polymerase chain reaction (PCR), other enzymatic modifications of nucleic acids are inhibited by these contaminants. The method described here yields high-molecular-weight DNA that can be readily restricted for Southern hybridization. The procedure uses brain tissue under the assumption that its genome is unlikely to be rearranged in any way, has a high nucleic acid:protein ratio, and avoids potential sources of enzymatic contaminants and parasites from the intestinal sac. However, the method can be applied to other tissue sources and works well with other species. The purification of DNA by gradient centrifugation is an established method based on the specific buoyant density of double-stranded nucleic acids and the ability of CsCl solutions to form a salt gradient in a centrifugal field. It can also be adapted to the purification of RNA, which has a higher buoyant density than DNA. Unfortunately, this method is somewhat involved and expensive and produces large amounts of ethidium bromide waste.

  • Lee PN, McFall-Ngai MJ, Callaerts P, de Couet HG (2009) The Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes): a model to study the molecular basis of eukaryote-prokaryote mutualism and the development and evolution of morphological novelties in cephalopods. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2009(11):pdb.emo135 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, is a cephalopod whose small size, short lifespan, rapid growth, and year-round availability make it suitable as a model organism. E. scolopes is studied in three principal contexts: (1) as a model of cephalopod development; (2) as a model of animal-bacterial symbioses; and (3) as a system for studying adaptations of tissues that interact with light. E. scolopes embryos can be obtained continually and can be reared in the laboratory over an entire generation. The embryos and protective chorions are optically clear, facilitating in situ developmental observations, and can be manipulated experimentally. Many molecular protocols have been developed for studying E. scolopes development. This species is best known, however, for its symbiosis with the luminous marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri and has been used to study determinants of symbiont specificity, the influence of symbiosis on development of the squid light organ, and the mechanisms by which a stable association is achieved. Both partners can be grown independently under laboratory conditions, a feature that offers the unusual opportunity to manipulate the symbiosis experimentally. Molecular and genetic tools have been developed for V. fischeri, and a large expressed sequence tag (EST) database is available for the host symbiotic tissues. Additionally, comparisons between light organ form and function to those of the eye can be made. Both types of tissue interact with light, but have divergent embryonic development. As such, they offer an opportunity to study the molecular basis for the evolution of morphological novelties.

  • Troll JV, Adin DM, Wier AM, Paquette N, Silverman N, Goldman WE, Stadermann FJ, Stabb EV, McFall-Ngai MJ (2009) Peptidoglycan induces loss of a nuclear peptidoglycan recognition protein during host tissue development in a beneficial animal-bacterial symbiosis. Cell. Microbiol. 11(7):1114-27 (PMC2758052) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRPs) are mediators of innate immunity and recently have been implicated in developmental regulation. To explore the interplay between these two roles, we characterized a PGRP in the host squid Euprymna scolopes (EsPGRP1) during colonization by the mutualistic bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Previous research on the squid-vibrio symbiosis had shown that, upon colonization of deep epithelium-lined crypts of the host light organ, symbiont-derived peptidoglycan monomers induce apoptosis-mediated regression of remote epithelial fields involved in the inoculation process. In this study, immunofluorescence microscopy revealed that EsPGRP1 localizes to the nuclei of epithelial cells, and symbiont colonization induces the loss of EsPGRP1 from apoptotic nuclei. The loss of nuclear EsPGRP1 occurred prior to DNA cleavage and breakdown of the nuclear membrane, but followed chromatin condensation, suggesting that it occurs during late-stage apoptosis. Experiments with purified peptidoglycan monomers and with V. fischeri mutants defective in peptidoglycan-monomer release provided evidence that these molecules trigger nuclear loss of EsPGRP1 and apoptosis. The demonstration of a nuclear PGRP is unprecedented, and the dynamics of EsPGRP1 during apoptosis provide a striking example of a connection between microbial recognition and developmental responses in the establishment of symbiosis.

  • Tong D, Rozas NS, Oakley TH, Mitchell J, Colley NJ, McFall-Ngai MJ (2009) Evidence for light perception in a bioluminescent organ. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106(24):9836-41 (PMC2700988) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Here we show that bioluminescent organs of the squid Euprymna scolopes possess the molecular, biochemical, and physiological capability for light detection. Transcriptome analyses revealed expression of genes encoding key visual transduction proteins in light-organ tissues, including the same isoform of opsin that occurs in the retina. Electroretinograms demonstrated that the organ responds physiologically to light, and immunocytochemistry experiments localized multiple proteins of visual transduction cascades to tissues housing light-producing bacterial symbionts. These data provide evidence that the light-organ tissues harboring the symbionts serve as extraocular photoreceptors, with the potential to perceive directly the bioluminescence produced by their bacterial partners.

  • Adin DM, Engle JT, Goldman WE, McFall-Ngai MJ, Stabb EV (2009) Mutations in ampG and lytic transglycosylase genes affect the net release of peptidoglycan monomers from Vibrio fischeri. J. Bacteriol. 191(7):2012-22 (PMC2655524) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The light-organ symbiont Vibrio fischeri releases N-acetylglucosaminyl-1,6-anhydro-N-acetylmuramylalanyl-gamma-glutamyldiaminopimelylalanine, a disaccharide-tetrapeptide component of peptidoglycan that is referred to here as "PG monomer." In contrast, most gram-negative bacteria recycle PG monomer efficiently, and it does not accumulate extracellularly. PG monomer can stimulate normal light-organ morphogenesis in the host squid Euprymna scolopes, resulting in regression of ciliated appendages similar to that triggered by infection with V. fischeri. We examined whether the net release of PG monomers by V. fischeri resulted from lytic transglycosylase activity or from defects in AmpG, the permease through which PG monomers enter the cytoplasm for recycling. An ampG mutant displayed a 100-fold increase in net PG monomer release, indicating that AmpG is functional. The ampG mutation also conferred the uncharacteristic ability to induce light-organ morphogenesis even when placed in a nonmotile flaJ mutant that cannot infect the light-organ crypts. We targeted five potential lytic transglycosylase genes singly and in specific combinations to assess their role in PG monomer release. Combinations of mutations in ltgA, ltgD, and ltgY decreased net PG monomer release, and a triple mutant lacking all three of these genes had little to no accumulation of PG monomers in culture supernatants. This mutant colonized the host as well as the wild type did; however, the mutant-infected squid were more prone to later superinfection by a second V. fischeri strain. We propose that the lack of PG monomer release by this mutant results in less regression of the infection-promoting ciliated appendages, leading to this propensity for superinfection.

  • Nyholm SV, Stewart JJ, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (2009) Recognition between symbiotic Vibrio fischeri and the haemocytes of Euprymna scolopes. Environ. Microbiol. 11(2):483-93 (PMC2652691) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The light organ crypts of the squid Euprymna scolopes permit colonization exclusively by the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Because the crypt interior remains in contact with seawater, the squid must not only foster the specific symbiosis, but also continue to exclude other bacteria. Investigation of the role of the innate immune system in these processes revealed that macrophage-like haemocytes isolated from E. scolopes recognized and phagocytosed V. fischeri less than other closely related bacterial species common to the host's environment. Interestingly, phagocytes isolated from hosts that had been cured of their symbionts bound five times more V. fischeri cells than those from uncured hosts. No such change in the ability to bind other species of bacteria was observed, suggesting that the host adapts specifically to V. fischeri. Deletion of the gene encoding OmpU, the major outer membrane protein of V. fischeri, increased binding by haemocytes from uncured animals to the level observed for haemocytes from cured animals. Co-incubation with wild-type V. fischeri reduced this binding, suggesting that they produce a factor that complements the mutant's defect. Analyses of the phagocytosis of bound cells by fluorescence-activated cell sorting indicated that once binding to haemocytes had occurred, V. fischeri cells are phagocytosed as effectively as other bacteria. Thus, discrimination by this component of the squid immune system occurs at the level of haemocyte binding, and this response: (i) is modified by previous exposure to the symbiont and (ii) relies on outer membrane and/or secreted components of the symbionts. These data suggest that regulation of host haemocyte binding by the symbiont may be one of many factors that contribute to specificity in this association.

  • Chun CK, Troll JV, Koroleva I, Brown B, Manzella L, Snir E, Almabrazi H, Scheetz TE, Bonaldo Mde F, Casavant TL, Soares MB, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (2008) Effects of colonization, luminescence, and autoinducer on host transcription during development of the squid-vibrio association. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105(32):11323-8 (PMC2516268) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The light-organ symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri offers the opportunity to decipher the hour-by-hour events that occur during the natural colonization of an animal's epithelial surface by its microbial partners. To determine the genetic basis of these events, a glass-slide microarray was used to characterize the light-organ transcriptome of juvenile squid in response to the initiation of symbiosis. Patterns of gene expression were compared between animals not exposed to the symbiont, exposed to the wild-type symbiont, or exposed to a mutant symbiont defective in either of two key characters of this association: bacterial luminescence or autoinducer (AI) production. Hundreds of genes were differentially regulated as a result of symbiosis initiation, and a hierarchy existed in the magnitude of the host's response to three symbiont features: bacterial presence > luminescence > AI production. Putative host receptors for bacterial surface molecules known to induce squid development are up-regulated by symbiont light production, suggesting that bioluminescence plays a key role in preparing the host for bacteria-induced development. Further, because the transcriptional response of tissues exposed to AI in the natural context (i.e., with the symbionts) differed from that to AI alone, the presence of the bacteria potentiates the role of quorum signals in symbiosis. Comparison of these microarray data with those from other symbioses, such as germ-free/conventionalized mice and zebrafish, revealed a set of shared genes that may represent a core set of ancient host responses conserved throughout animal evolution.

  • Adin DM, Phillips NJ, Gibson BW, Apicella MA, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ, Hall DB, Stabb EV (2008) Characterization of htrB and msbB mutants of the light organ symbiont Vibrio fischeri. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74(3):633-44 (PMC2227739) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Bacterial lipid A is an important mediator of bacterium-host interactions, and secondary acylations added by HtrB and MsbB can be critical for colonization and virulence in pathogenic infections. In contrast, Vibrio fischeri lipid A stimulates normal developmental processes in this bacterium's mutualistic host, Euprymna scolopes, although the importance of lipid A structure in this symbiosis is unknown. To further examine V. fischeri lipid A and its symbiotic function, we identified two paralogs of htrB (designated htrB1 and htrB2) and an msbB gene in V. fischeri ES114 and demonstrated that these genes encode lipid A secondary acyltransferases. htrB2 and msbB are found on the Vibrio "housekeeping" chromosome 1 and are conserved in other Vibrio species. Mutations in htrB2 and msbB did not impair symbiotic colonization but resulted in phenotypic alterations in culture, including reduced motility and increased luminescence. These mutations also affected sensitivity to sodium dodecyl sulfate, kanamycin, and polymyxin, consistent with changes in membrane permeability. Conversely, htrB1 is located on the smaller, more variable vibrio chromosome 2, and an htrB1 mutant was wild-type-like in culture but appeared attenuated in initiating the symbiosis and was outcompeted 2.7-fold during colonization when mixed with the parent. These data suggest that htrB2 and msbB play conserved general roles in vibrio biology, whereas htrB1 plays a more symbiosis-specific role in V. fischeri.

  • Whistler CA, Koropatnick TA, Pollack A, McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2007) The GacA global regulator of Vibrio fischeri is required for normal host tissue responses that limit subsequent bacterial colonization. Cell. Microbiol. 9(3):766-78 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Harmful and beneficial bacterium-host interactions induce similar host-tissue changes that lead to contrasting outcomes of association. A life-long association between Vibrio fischeri and the light organ of its host Euprymna scolopes begins when the squid collects bacteria from the surrounding seawater using mucus secreted from ciliated epithelial appendages. Following colonization, the bacterium causes changes in host tissue including cessation of mucus shedding, and apoptosis and regression of the appendages that may limit additional bacterial interactions. We evaluated whether delivery of morphogenic signals is influenced by GacA, a virulence regulator in pathogens, which also influences squid-colonization by V. fischeri. Low-level colonization by a GacA mutant led to regression of the ciliated appendages. However, the GacA mutant did not induce cessation of mucus shedding, nor did it trigger apoptosis in the appendages, a phenotype that normally correlates with their regression. Because apoptosis is triggered by lipopolysaccharide, we examined the GacA mutant and determined that it had an altered lipopolysaccharide profile as well as an increased sensitivity to detergents. GacA-mutant-colonized animals were highly susceptible to invasion by secondary colonizers, suggesting that the GacA mutant's inability to signal the full programme of light-organ responses permitted the prolonged recruitment of additional symbionts.

  • Koropatnick TA, Kimbell JR, McFall-Ngai MJ (2007) Responses of host hemocytes during the initiation of the squid-Vibrio symbiosis. Biol. Bull. 212(1):29-39 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Within hours after colonization of the light organ of the squid Euprymna scolopes by its bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri, the symbiont triggers morphogenesis of the light organ. This process involves the induction of apoptosis in the cells of two superficial ciliated epithelial fields and the gradual regression of these surface structures over a 96-h period. In this study, microscopic examination of various squid tissues revealed that host hemocytes specifically migrate into the epithelial fields on the surface of the light organ, a process that begins before any other indication of symbiont-induced morphogenesis. Experimental manipulations of symbiont-signal delivery revealed that hemocyte infiltration alone is not sufficient to induce regression, and high numbers of hemocytes are not necessary for the induction of apoptosis or the initiation of regression. However, studies with mutant strains of V. fischeri that show a defect in the induction of hemocyte infiltration provided evidence that high numbers of hemocytes facilitate the regression of the epithelial fields. In addition, a change in hemocyte gene expression, as indicated by the up-regulation of the C8 subunit of the proteasome, correlates with the induction of light organ morphogenesis, suggesting that bacteria-induced molecular changes in the hemocytes are required for the participation of these host cells in the regression process.

  • Cloud-Hansen KA, Peterson SB, Stabb EV, Goldman WE, McFall-Ngai MJ, Handelsman J (2006) Breaching the great wall: peptidoglycan and microbial interactions. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 4(9):710-6 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Once thought to be a process that occurred only in a few human pathogens, release of biologically active peptidoglycan fragments during growth by Gram-negative bacteria controls many types of bacterial interaction, including symbioses and interactions between microorganisms. This Perspective explores the role of peptidoglycan fragments in mediating a range of microbial-host interactions, and discusses the many systems in which peptidoglycan fragments released during bacterial growth might be active.

  • Chun CK, Scheetz TE, Bonaldo Mde F, Brown B, Clemens A, Crookes-Goodson WJ, Crouch K, DeMartini T, Eyestone M, Goodson MS, Janssens B, Kimbell JL, Koropatnick TA, Kucaba T, Smith C, Stewart JJ, Tong D, Troll JV, Webster S, Winhall-Rice J, Yap C, Casavant TL, McFall-Ngai MJ, Soares MB (2006) An annotated cDNA library of juvenile Euprymna scolopes with and without colonization by the symbiont Vibrio fischeri. BMC Genomics 7:154 (PMC1574308) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Biologists are becoming increasingly aware that the interaction of animals, including humans, with their coevolved bacterial partners is essential for health. This growing awareness has been a driving force for the development of models for the study of beneficial animal-bacterial interactions. In the squid-vibrio model, symbiotic Vibrio fischeri induce dramatic developmental changes in the light organ of host Euprymna scolopes over the first hours to days of their partnership. We report here the creation of a juvenile light-organ specific EST database. We generated eleven cDNA libraries from the light organ of E. scolopes at developmentally significant time points with and without colonization by V. fischeri. Single pass 3' sequencing efforts generated 42,564 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) of which 35,421 passed our quality criteria and were then clustered via the UIcluster program into 13,962 nonredundant sequences. The cDNA clones representing these nonredundant sequences were sequenced from the 5' end of the vector and 58% of these resulting sequences overlapped significantly with the associated 3' sequence to generate 8,067 contigs with an average sequence length of 1,065 bp. All sequences were annotated with BLASTX (E-value < -03) and Gene Ontology (GO). Both the number of ESTs generated from each library and GO categorizations are reflective of the activity state of the light organ during these early stages of symbiosis. Future analyses of the sequences identified in these libraries promise to provide valuable information not only about pathways involved in colonization and early development of the squid light organ, but also about pathways conserved in response to bacterial colonization across the animal kingdom.

  • Goodson MS, Crookes-Goodson WJ, Kimbell JR, McFall-Ngai MJ (2006) Characterization and role of p53 family members in the symbiont-induced morphogenesis of the Euprymna scolopes light organ. Biol. Bull. 211(1):7-17 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Within hours of hatching, the squid Euprymna scolopes forms a specific light organ symbiosis with the marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Interactions with the symbiont result in the loss of a complex ciliated epithelium dedicated to promoting colonization of host tissue, and some or all of this loss is due to widespread, symbiont-induced apoptosis. Members of the p53 family, including p53, p63, and p73, are conserved across broad phyletic lines and p63 is thought to be the ancestral gene. These proteins have been shown to induce apoptosis and developmental morphogenesis. In this study, we characterized p63-like transcripts from mRNA isolated from the symbiotic tissues of E. scolopes and described their role in symbiont-induced morphogenesis. Using degenerate RT-PCR and RACE PCR, we identified two p63-like transcripts encoding proteins of 431 and 567 amino acids. These transcripts shared identical nucleotides where they overlapped, suggesting that they are splice variants of the same gene. Immunocytochemistry and Western blots using an antibody specific for E. scolopes suggested that the p53 family members are activated in cells of the symbiont-harvesting structures of the symbiotic light organ. We propose that once the symbiosis is initiated, a symbiont-induced signal activates p53 family members, inducing apoptosis and developmental morphogenesis of the light organ.

  • Kimbell JR, Koropatnick TA, McFall-Ngai MJ (2006) Evidence for the participation of the proteasome in symbiont-induced tissue morphogenesis. Biol. Bull. 211(1):1-6 View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • Goodson MS, Kojadinovic M, Troll JV, Scheetz TE, Casavant TL, Soares MB, McFall-Ngai MJ (2005) Identifying components of the NF-kappaB pathway in the beneficial Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri light organ symbiosis. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71(11):6934-46 (PMC1287678) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The Toll/NF-kappaB pathway is a common, evolutionarily conserved innate immune pathway that modulates the responses of animal cells to microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs). Because MAMPs have been implicated as critical elements in the signaling of symbiont-induced development, an expressed sequence tag library from the juvenile light organ of Euprymna scolopes was used to identify members of the Toll/NF-kappaB pathway. Full-length transcripts were identified by using 5' and 3' RACE PCR. Seven transcripts critical for MAMP-induced triggering of the Toll/NF-kappaB phosphorylation cascade have been identified, including receptors, signal transducers, and a transcription factor. Further investigations should elucidate the role of the Toll/NF-kappaB pathway in the initiation of the beneficial symbiosis between E. scolopes and Vibrio fischeri.

  • Davidson SK, Koropatnick TA, Kossmehl R, Sycuro L, McFall-Ngai MJ (2004) NO means 'yes' in the squid-vibrio symbiosis: nitric oxide (NO) during the initial stages of a beneficial association. Cell. Microbiol. 6(12):1139-51 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    During colonization of the Euprymna scolopes light organ, symbiotic Vibrio fischeri cells aggregate in mucus secreted by a superficial ciliated host epithelium near the sites of eventual inoculation. Once aggregated, symbiont cells migrate through ducts into epithelium-lined crypts, where they form a persistent association with the host. In this study, we provide evidence that nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and its product nitric oxide (NO) are active during the colonization of host tissues by V. fischeri. NADPH-diaphorase staining and immunocytochemistry detected NOS, and the fluorochrome diaminofluorescein (DAF) detected its product NO in high concentrations in the epithelia of the superficial ciliated fields, ducts, and crypt antechambers. In addition, both NOS and NO were detected in vesicles within the secreted mucus where the symbionts aggregate. In the presence of NO scavengers, cells of a non-symbiotic Vibrio species formed unusually large aggregates outside of the light organ, but these bacteria did not colonize host tissues. In contrast, V. fischeri effectively colonized the crypts and irreversibly attenuated the NOS and NO signals in the ducts and crypt antechambers. These data provide evidence that NO production, a defense response of animal cells to bacterial pathogens, plays a role in the interactions between a host and its beneficial bacterial partner during the initiation of symbiotic colonization.

  • Koropatnick TA, Engle JT, Apicella MA, Stabb EV, Goldman WE, McFall-Ngai MJ (2004) Microbial factor-mediated development in a host-bacterial mutualism. Science 306(5699):1186-8 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Tracheal cytotoxin (TCT), a fragment of the bacterial surface molecule peptidoglycan (PGN), is the factor responsible for the extensive tissue damage characteristic of whooping cough and gonorrhea infections. Here, we report that Vibrio fischeri also releases TCT, which acts in synergy with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to trigger tissue development in its mutualistic symbiosis with the squid Euprymna scolopes. As components of PGN and LPS have commonly been linked with pathogenesis in animals, these findings demonstrate that host interpretation of these bacterial signal molecules is context dependent. Therefore, such differences in interpretation can lead to either inflammation and disease or to the establishment of a mutually beneficial animal-microbe association.

  • Nyholm SV, McFall-Ngai MJ (2004) The winnowing: establishing the squid-vibrio symbiosis. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 2(8):632-42 View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • Kimbell JR, McFall-Ngai MJ (2004) Symbiont-induced changes in host actin during the onset of a beneficial animal-bacterial association. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70(3):1434-41 (PMC368416) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The influence of bacteria on the cytoskeleton of animal cells has been studied extensively only in pathogenic associations. We characterized changes in host cytoskeletal actin induced by the bacterial partner during the onset of a cooperative animal-bacteria association using the squid-vibrio model. Two-dimensional sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blot analysis revealed that Vibrio fischeri induced a dramatic increase in actin protein abundance in the bacteria-associated host tissues during the onset of the symbiosis. Immunocytochemistry revealed that this change in actin abundance correlated with a two- to threefold increase in actin in the apical cell surface of the epithelium-lined ducts, the route of entry of symbionts into host tissues. Real-time reverse transcriptase PCR and in situ hybridization did not detect corresponding changes in actin mRNA. Temporally correlated with the bacteria-induced changes in actin levels was a two- to threefold decrease in duct circumference, a 20% loss in the average number of cells interfacing with the duct lumina, and dramatic changes in duct cell shape. When considered with previous studies of the biomechanical and biochemical characteristics of the duct, these findings suggest that the bacterial symbionts, upon colonizing the host organ, induce modifications that physically and chemically limit the opportunity for subsequent colonizers to pass through the ducts. Continued study of the squid-vibrio system will allow further comparisons of the mechanisms by which pathogenic and cooperative bacteria influence cytoskeleton dynamics in host cells.

  • Crookes WJ, Ding LL, Huang QL, Kimbell JR, Horwitz J, McFall-Ngai MJ (2004) Reflectins: the unusual proteins of squid reflective tissues. Science 303(5655):235-8 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    A family of unusual proteins is deposited in flat, structural platelets in reflective tissues of the squid Euprymna scolopes. These proteins, which we have named reflectins, are encoded by at least six genes in three subfamilies and have no reported homologs outside of squids. Reflectins possess five repeating domains, which are highly conserved among members of the family. The proteins have a very unusual composition, with four relatively rare residues (tyrosine, methionine, arginine, and tryptophan) comprising approximately 57% of a reflectin, and several common residues (alanine, isoleucine, leucine, and lysine) occurring in none of the family members. These protein-based reflectors in squids provide a marked example of nanofabrication in animal systems.

  • Nyholm SV, McFall-Ngai MJ (2003) Dominance of Vibrio fischeri in secreted mucus outside the light organ of Euprymna scolopes: the first site of symbiont specificity. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69(7):3932-7 (PMC165210) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Previous studies of the Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri symbiosis have demonstrated that, during colonization, the hatchling host secretes mucus in which gram-negative environmental bacteria amass in dense aggregations outside the sites of infection. In this study, experiments with green fluorescent protein-labeled symbiotic and nonsymbiotic species of gram-negative bacteria were used to characterize the behavior of cells in the aggregates. When hatchling animals were exposed to 10(3) to 10(6) V. fischeri cells/ml added to natural seawater, which contains a mix of approximately 10(6) nonspecific bacterial cells/ml, V. fischeri cells were the principal bacterial cells present in the aggregations. Furthermore, when animals were exposed to equal cell numbers of V. fischeri (either a motile or a nonmotile strain) and either Vibrio parahaemolyticus or Photobacterium leiognathi, phylogenetically related gram-negative bacteria that also occur in the host's habitat, the symbiont cells were dominant in the aggregations. The presence of V. fischeri did not compromise the viability of these other species in the aggregations, and no significant growth of V. fischeri cells was detected. These findings suggested that dominance results from the ability of V. fischeri either to accumulate or to be retained more effectively within the mucus. Viability of the V. fischeri cells was required for both the formation of tight aggregates and their dominance in the mucus. Neither of the V. fischeri quorum-sensing compounds accumulated in the aggregations, which suggested that the effects of these small signal molecules are not critical to V. fischeri dominance. Taken together, these data provide evidence that the specificity of the squid-vibrio symbiosis begins early in the interaction, in the mucus where the symbionts aggregate outside of the light organ.

  • Kimbell JR, McFall-Ngai MJ (2003) The squid-Vibrio symbioses: from demes to genes. Integr. Comp. Biol. 43(2):254-60 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The monospecific light organ association between the Hawaiian sepiolid squid Euprymna scolopes and the marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri has been used as a model for the study of the most common type of coevolved animal-bacterial interaction; i.e., the association of Gram-negative bacteria with the extracellular apical surfaces of polarized epithelia. Analysis of the squid-vibrio symbiosis has ranged from characterizations of the harvesting mechanisms by which the host ensures colonization by the appropriate symbiont to identification of bacteria-induced changes in host gene expression that accompany the establishment and maintenance of the relationship. Studies of this model have been enhanced by extensive collaboration with microbiologists, who are able to manipulate the genetics of the bacterial symbiont. The results of our studies have indicated that initiation and persistence of the association requires a complex, reciprocal molecular dialogue between these two phylogenetically distant partners.

  • Nyholm SV, Deplancke B, Gaskins HR, Apicella MA, McFall-Ngai MJ (2002) Roles of Vibrio fischeri and nonsymbiotic bacteria in the dynamics of mucus secretion during symbiont colonization of the Euprymna scolopes light organ. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 68(10):5113-22 (PMC126412) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    During light organ colonization of the squid Euprymna scolopes by Vibrio fischeri, host-derived mucus provides a surface upon which environmental V. fischeri forms a biofilm and aggregates prior to colonization. In this study we defined the temporal and spatial characteristics of this process. Although permanent colonization is specific to certain strains of V. fischeri, confocal microscopy analyses revealed that light organ crypt spaces took up nonspecific bacteria and particles that were less than 2 micro m in diameter during the first hour after hatching. However, within 2 h after inoculation, these cells or particles were not detectable, and further entry by nonspecific bacteria or particles appeared to be blocked. Exposure to environmental gram-negative or -positive bacteria or bacterial peptidoglycan caused the cells of the organ's superficial ciliated epithelium to release dense mucin stores at 1 to 2 h after hatching that were used to form the substrate upon which V. fischeri formed a biofilm and aggregated. Whereas the uncolonized organ surface continued to shed mucus, within 48 h of symbiont colonization mucus shedding ceased and the formation of bacterial aggregations was no longer observed. Eliminating the symbiont from the crypts with antibiotics restored the ability of the ciliated fields to secrete mucus and aggregate bacteria. While colonization by V. fischeri inhibited mucus secretion by the surface epithelium, secretion of host-derived mucus was induced in the crypt spaces. Together, these data indicate that although initiation of mucus secretion from the superficial epithelium is nonspecific, the inhibition of mucus secretion in these cells and the concomitant induction of secretion in the crypt cells are specific to natural colonization by V. fischeri.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ (2002) Unseen forces: the influence of bacteria on animal development. Dev. Biol. 242(1):1-14 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The diversity of developmental programs present in animal phyla first evolved within the world's oceans, an aquatic environment teeming with an abundance of microbial life. All stages in the life histories of these early animals became adapted to microorganisms bathing their tissues, and countless examples of animal-bacterial associations have arisen as a result. Thus far, it has been difficult for biologists to design ways of determining the extent to which these associations have influenced the biology of animals, including their developmental patterns. The following review focuses on an emerging field, the goal of which is to understand the influence of bacteria on animal developmental programs. This integrative area of research is undergoing a revolution that has resulted from advances in technology and the development of suitable animal-bacterial systems for the study of these complex associations. In this contribution, the current status of the field is reviewed and the emerging research horizons are examined.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ (2001) Identifying 'prime suspects': symbioses and the evolution of multicellularity. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, Biochem. Mol. Biol. 129(4):711-23 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The possible involvement of symbioses in the evolution of multicellularity is explored. Evidence is drawn principally from the biology of present day associations of plants and animals with prokaryotes. A particular emphasis is placed on future research opportunities in this area of biology that have been provided by the advent of specific molecular techniques and new model systems. With the application of new approaches that result from these advances, a more holistic understanding of the biology of the coevolved communities, composed of animals or plants and their associated prokaryotes, is within the reach of biologists over the next few decades.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (2000) Developmental biology in marine invertebrate symbioses. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 3(6):603-7 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Associations between marine invertebrates and their cooperative bacterial symbionts offer access to an understanding of the roots of host-microbe interaction; for example, several symbioses like the squid-vibrio light organ association serve as models for investigating how each partner affects the developmental biology of the other. Previous results have identified a program of specific developmental events that unfolds as the association is initiated. In the past year, published studies have focused primarily on describing the mechanisms underlying the signaling processes that occur between the juvenile squid and the luminous bacteria that colonize it.

  • Foster JS, Apicella MA, McFall-Ngai MJ (2000) Vibrio fischeri lipopolysaccharide induces developmental apoptosis, but not complete morphogenesis, of the Euprymna scolopes symbiotic light organ. Dev. Biol. 226(2):242-54 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    During initiation of the association between the squid host Euprymna scolopes and its bacterial partner Vibrio fischeri, the bacteria induce dramatic morphogenesis of the host symbiotic organ, a portion of which involves the signaling of widespread apoptosis of the cells in a superficial ciliated epithelium on the colonized organ. In this study, we investigated the role in this process of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a bacterial cell-surface molecule implicated in the induction of animal cell apoptosis in other systems. Purified V. fischeri LPS, as well as the LPS of V. cholerae, Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli, and Shigella flexneri, added in the concentration range of pg/ml to ng/ml, induced apoptosis in epithelial cells 10- to 100-fold above background levels. The absence of species specificity suggested that the conserved lipid A portion of the LPS was the responsible component of the LPS molecule. Lipid A from V. fischeri, E. coli, or S. flexneri induced apoptosis. In addition, strains of H. influenzae carrying a mutation in the htrB gene, which is involved in the synthesis of virulent lipid A, showed a diminished ability to induce apoptosis of host cells. Confocal microscopy using fluorescently labeled LPS indicated that the LPS behaves similar to intact bacterial symbionts, interacting with host cells in the internal crypt spaces and not directly with the superficial epithelium. Although LPS was able to induce apoptosis, it did not induce the full morphogenesis of the ciliated surface, suggesting that multiple signals are necessary to mediate the development of this animal-bacterial mutualism.

  • Doino Lemus J, McFall-Ngai MJ (2000) Alterations in the proteome of the Euprymna scolopes light organ in response to symbiotic Vibrio fischeri. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66(9):4091-7 (PMC92263) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    During the onset of the cooperative association between the Hawaiian sepiolid squid Euprymna scolopes and the marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri, the anatomy and morphology of the host's symbiotic organ undergo dramatic changes that require interaction with the bacteria. This morphogenetic process involves an array of tissues, including those in direct contact with, as well as those remote from, the symbiotic bacteria. The bacteria induce the developmental program soon after colonization of the organ, although complete morphogenesis requires 96 h. In this study, to determine critical time points, we examined the biochemistry underlying bacterium-induced host development using two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Specifically, V. fischeri-induced changes in the soluble proteome of the symbiotic organ during the first 96 h of symbiosis were identified by comparing the protein profiles of symbiont-colonized and uncolonized organs. Both symbiosis-related changes and age-related changes were analyzed to determine what proportion of the differences in the proteomes was the result of specific responses to interaction with bacteria. Although no differences were detected over the first 24 h, numerous symbiosis-related changes became apparent at 48 and 96 h and were more abundant than age-related changes. In addition, many age-related protein changes occurred 48 h sooner in symbiotic animals, suggesting that the interaction of squid tissue with V. fischeri cells accelerates certain developmental processes of the symbiotic organ. These data suggest that V. fischeri-induced modifications in host tissues that occur in the first 24 h of the symbiosis are independent of marked alterations in the patterns of abundant proteins but that the full 4-day morphogenetic program requires significant alteration of the host soluble proteome.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ (2000) Negotiations between animals and bacteria: the 'diplomacy' of the squid-vibrio symbiosis. Comp. Biochem. Physiol., Part A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 126(4):471-80 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    A shared characteristic among animals is their propensity to form stable, beneficial relationships with prokaryotes. Usually these associations occur in the form of consortia, i.e. a diverse assemblage of bacteria interacting with a single animal host. These complex communities, while common, have been difficult to characterize. The two-partner symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and the marine luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri offers the opportunity to study the interaction between animal and bacterial cells, because both partners can be cultured in the laboratory and the symbiosis can be manipulated experimentally. This system is being used to characterize the mechanisms by which animals establish, develop and maintain stable alliances with bacteria. This review summarizes the progress to date on the development of this model.

  • Nyholm SV, Stabb EV, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (2000) Establishment of an animal-bacterial association: recruiting symbiotic vibrios from the environment. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97(18):10231-5 (PMC27829) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    While most animal-bacterial symbioses are reestablished each successive generation, the mechanisms by which the host and its potential microbial partners ensure tissue colonization remain largely undescribed. We used the model association between the squid Euprymna scolopes and Vibrio fischeri to examine this process. This light organ symbiosis is initiated when V. fischeri cells present in the surrounding seawater enter pores on the surface of the nascent organ and colonize deep epithelia-lined crypts. We discovered that when newly hatched squid were experimentally exposed to natural seawater, the animals responded by secreting a viscous material from the pores of the organ. Animals maintained in filtered seawater produced no secretions unless Gram-negative bacteria, either living or dead, were reintroduced. The viscous material bound only lectins that are specific for either N-acetylneuraminic acid or N-acetylgalactosamine, suggesting that it was composed of a mucus-containing matrix. Complex ciliated fields on the surface of the organ produced water currents that focused the matrix into a mass that was tethered to, and suspended above, the light organ pores. When V. fischeri cells were introduced into the seawater surrounding the squid, the bacteria were drawn into its fluid-filled body cavity during ventilation and were captured in the matrix. After residing as an aggregate for several hours, the symbionts migrated into the pores and colonized the crypt epithelia. This mode of infection may be an example of a widespread strategy by which aquatic hosts increase the likelihood of successful colonization by rarely encountered symbionts.

  • Hirsch AM, McFall-Ngai MJ (2000) Fundamental Concepts in Symbiotic Interactions: Light and Dark, Day and Night, Squid and Legume. J. Plant Growth Regul. 19(2):113-130 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The legume-Rhizobium symbiosis and that between Euprymna scolopes and Vibrio fischeri show some surprising physiological similarities as well as differences. Both interactions rely on exchange of signal molecules, some of which are derived from bacterial cell surface molecules. Although the legume-Rhizobium symbiosis is nutritionally based as are many animal-microbe symbioses, it is not obligate because the plant initiates nodule formation only when the soil is deficient in nitrogen. In contrast, the squid-Vibrio symbiosis is obligate for the squid but is not nutritionally based. Rather, the bacteria produce light, which enables the animal to evade predators. These similarities and differences are described and discussed in term of the overall question of whether or not these two symbiotic relationships have evolved from commensal or pathogenic/parasitic interactions between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

  • Visick KL, McFall-Ngai MJ (2000) An exclusive contract: specificity in the Vibrio fischeri-Euprymna scolopes partnership. J. Bacteriol. 182(7):1779-87 (PMC101858) View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (1999) Oxygen-utilizing reactions and symbiotic colonization of the squid light organ by Vibrio fischeri. Trends Microbiol. 7(10):414-20 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    A major goal in microbiology is to understand the processes by which bacteria successfully colonize host tissue. Although a wealth of studies focusing on pathogenic microorganisms has revealed much about the rare interactions that result in disease, far less is known about the regulation of the ubiquitous, long-term, cooperative associations of bacteria with their animal hosts.

  • Small AL, McFall-Ngai MJ (1999) Halide peroxidase in tissues that interact with bacteria in the host squid Euprymna scolopes. J. Cell. Biochem. 72(4):445-57 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    An enzyme with similarities to myeloperoxidase, the antimicrobial halide peroxidase in mammalian neutrophils, occurs abundantly in the light organ tissue of Euprymna scolopes, a squid that maintains a beneficial association with the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Using three independent assays typically applied to the analysis of halide peroxidase enzymes, we directly compared the activity of the squid enzyme with that of human myeloperoxidase. One of these methods, the diethanolamine assay, confirmed that the squid peroxidase requires halide ions for its activity. The identification of a halide peroxidase in a cooperative bacterial association suggested that this type of enzyme can function not only to control pathogens, but also to modulate the interactions of host animals with their beneficial partners. To determine whether the squid peroxidase functions under both circumstances, we examined its distribution in a variety of host tissues, including those that typically interact with bacteria and those that do not. Tissues interacting with bacteria included those that have specific cooperative associations with bacteria (i.e., the light organ and accessory nidamental gland) and those that have transient nonspecific interactions with bacteria (i.e., the gills, which clear the cephalopod circulatory system of invading microorganisms). These bacteria-associated tissues were compared with the eye, digestive gland, white body, and ink-producing tissues, which do not typically interact directly with bacteria. Peroxidase enzyme assays, immunocytochemical localization, and DNA-RNA hybridizations showed that the halide-dependent peroxidase is consistently expressed in high concentration in tissues that interact bacteria. Elevated levels of the peroxidase were also found in the ink-producing tissues, which are known to have enzymatic pathways associated with antimicrobial activity. Taken together, these data suggest that the host uses a common biochemical response to the variety of types of associations that it forms with microorganisms.

  • Montgomery MK, McFall-Ngai MJ (1998) Late postembryonic development of the symbiotic light organ of Euprymna scolopes (Cephalopoda: Sepiolidae). Biol. Bull. 195(3):326-36 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The symbiotic light organ of the sepiolid squid Euprymna scolopes undergoes significant anatomical, morphological, and biochemical changes during development. Previously we described the embryonic organogenesis and early postembryonic development of the light organ. During embryogenesis, tissues are developed that will promote the onset of an association with Vibrio fischeri, the light organ symbiont. Upon inoculation, and in response to the first interactions with the bacterial symbionts, the light organ undergoes a dramatic morphogenesis during the first 4-5 days of postembryonic development. Here we describe the final developmental stage of the light organ system, a period of late postembryonic development in which particular tissues of the light organ mature that eventually mediate the functional symbiosis. The maturation of the light organ occurs within 1 to 2 weeks posthatch and entails two principal processes: (1) changes in the shape of the organ and elaboration of the accessory tissues that modify the bacterially produced light; and (2) branching of the epithelial crypts, where the bacterial symbionts reside, and restriction of epithelial cell proliferation to the deepest branches of the crypts. The gross morphological changes of the organ occur in the absence of V. fischeri, although rudiments of the ciliated field of the hatchling remain in animals not exposed to the microbial symbiont.

  • Nyholm SV, McFall-Ngai MJ (1998) Sampling the light-organ microenvironment of Euprymna scolopes: description of a population of host cells in association with the bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri. Biol. Bull. 195(2):89-97 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    The symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri has a pronounced diel rhythm, one component of which is the venting of the contents of the light organ into the surrounding seawater each day at dawn. In this study, we explored the use of this behavior to sample the microenvironment of the light-organ crypts. Intact crypt contents, which emerge from the lateral pores of the organ as a thick paste-like exudate, were collected from anesthetized host animals that had been exposed to a light cue. Microscopy revealed that the expelled material is composed of a conspicuous population of host cells in association with the bacterial symbionts, all of which are embedded in a dense acellular matrix that strongly resembles the bacteria-based biofilms described in other systems. Assays of the viability of expelled crypt cells revealed no dead bacterial symbionts and a mixture of live and dead host cells. Analyses of the ultrastructure, biochemistry, and phagocytic activity of a subset of the host cell population suggested that some of these cells are macrophage-like molluscan hemocytes.

  • Nishiguchi MK, Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (1998) Competitive dominance among strains of luminous bacteria provides an unusual form of evidence for parallel evolution in Sepiolid squid-vibrio symbioses. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64(9):3209-13 (PMC106711) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    One of the principal assumptions in symbiosis research is that associated partners have evolved in parallel. We report here experimental evidence for parallel speciation patterns among several partners of the sepiolid squid-luminous bacterial symbioses. Molecular phylogenies for 14 species of host squids were derived from sequences of both the nuclear internal transcribed spacer region and the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I; the glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase locus was sequenced for phylogenetic determinations of 7 strains of bacterial symbionts. Comparisons of trees constructed for each of the three loci revealed a parallel phylogeny between the sepiolids and their respective symbionts. Because both the squids and their bacterial partners can be easily cultured independently in the laboratory, we were able to couple these phylogenetic analyses with experiments to examine the ability of the different symbiont strains to compete with each other during the colonization of one of the host species. Our results not only indicate a pronounced dominance of native symbiont strains over nonnative strains, but also reveal a hierarchy of symbiont competency that reflects the phylogenetic relationships of the partners. For the first time, molecular systematics has been coupled with experimental colonization assays to provide evidence for the existence of parallel speciation among a set of animal-bacterial associations.

  • Foster JS, McFall-Ngai MJ (1998) Induction of apoptosis by cooperative bacteria in the morphogenesis of host epithelial tissues. Dev. Genes Evol. 208(6):295-303 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Associations with pathogenic bacteria have recently been shown to initiate apoptotic programs in the cells of their animal hosts, where host cell death is hypothesized to be a response of the immune system, either initiated as a mechanism of host defense or bacterial offense. In this study, we present evidence that bacterial initiation of apoptosis is neither restricted to pathogenesis nor to the initation of an immune response. In the cooperative association between the sepiolid squid Euprymna scolopes and the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri, the bacteria induce a dramatic morphogenesis of the host tissues during the first few days of interaction between these partners. The most striking change is the bacteria-triggered loss of an extensive superficial epithelium that potentiates the infection process. Our analyses of these tissues revealed that the bacteria induce apoptosis in the cells that comprise this epithelium within hours of the interaction with bacteria. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that after 24 h the integrity of the epithelium had been lost, i.e., the basement membrane had degenerated and the majority of the cells exhibited signs of apoptosis, most notably chromatin condensation. Analysis of these tissues with probes that reveal intracellular acidification showed that the cells first undergo an initial acidification beginning about 6-8 h after exposure to V. fischeri. As determined by end-labeling of DNA fragments, extensive endonuclease activity was detected at approximately 16-20 h post-infection. These data provide evidence that cooperative bacteria can participate in the remodeling of host tissues through the induction of host apoptotic programs.

  • Lamarcq LH, McFall-Ngai MJ (1998) Induction of a gradual, reversible morphogenesis of its host's epithelial brush border by Vibrio fischeri. Infect. Immun. 66(2):777-85 (PMC107970) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Bacteria exert a variety of influences on the morphology and physiology of animal cells whether they are pathogens or cooperative partners. The association between the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri and the sepiolid squid Euprymna scolopes provides an experimental model for the study of the influence of extracellular bacteria on the development of host epithelia. In this study, we analyzed bacterium-induced changes in the brush borders of the light organ crypt epithelia during the initial hours following colonization of this tissue. Transmission electron microscopy of the brush border morphology in colonized and uncolonized hosts revealed that the bacteria effect a fourfold increase in microvillar density over the first 4 days of the association. Estimates of the proportions of bacterial cells in contact with host microvilli showed that the intimacy of the bacterial cells with animal cell surfaces increases significantly during this time. Antibiotic curing of the organ following colonization showed that sustained interaction with bacteria is essential for the retention of the induced morphological changes. Bacteria that are defective in either light production or colonization efficiency produced changes similar to those by the parent strain. Conventional fluorescence and confocal scanning laser microscopy revealed that the brush border is supported by abundant filamentous actin. However, in situ hybridization with beta-actin probes did not show marked bacterium-induced increases in beta-actin gene expression. These experiments demonstrate that the E. scolopes-V. fischeri system is a viable model for the experimental study of bacterium-induced changes in host brush border morphology.

  • Weis VM, Small AL, McFall-Ngai MJ (1996) A peroxidase related to the mammalian antimicrobial protein myeloperoxidase in the Euprymna-Vibrio mutualism. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 93(24):13683-8 (PMC19390) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Many animal-bacteria cooperative associations occur in highly modified host organs that create a unique environment for housing and maintaining the symbionts. It has been assumed that these specialized organs develop through a program of symbiosis-specific or -enhanced gene expression in one or both partners, but a clear example of this process has been lacking. In this study, we provide evidence for the enhanced production of an enzyme in the symbiotic organ of the squid Euprymna scolopes, which harbors a culture of the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Our data show that this enzyme has a striking biochemical similarity to mammalian myeloperoxidase (MPO; EC 1.11.17), an antimicrobial dianisidine peroxidase that occurs in neutrophils. MPO and the squid peroxidase catalyze the same reaction, have similar apparent subunit molecular masses, and a polyclonal antibody to native human MPO specifically localized a peroxidase-like protein to the bacteria-containing regions of the symbiotic organ. We also provide evidence that a previously described squid cDNA encodes the protein (LO4) that is responsible for the observed dianisidine peroxidase activity. An antibody made against a fragment of LO4 immunoprecipiated dianisidine peroxidase activity from extracts of the symbiotic organ, and reacted against these extracts and human MPO in Western blot analysis. These data suggest that related biochemical mechanisms for the control of bacterial number and growth operate in associations that are as functionally diverse as pathogenesis and mutualism, and as phylogenetically distant as molluscs and mammals.

  • Gates RD, Hoegh-Guldberg O, McFall-Ngai MJ, Bil KY, Muscatine L (1995) Free amino acids exhibit anthozoan "host factor" activity: they induce the release of photosynthate from symbiotic dinoflagellates in vitro. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 92(16):7430-4 (PMC41353) View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Reef-building corals and other tropical anthozoans harbor endosymbiotic dinoflagellates. It is now recognized that the dinoflagellates are fundamental to the biology of their hosts, and their carbon and nitrogen metabolisms are linked in important ways. Unlike free living species, growth of symbiotic dinoflagellates is unbalanced and a substantial fraction of the carbon fixed daily by symbiont photosynthesis is released and used by the host for respiration and growth. Release of fixed carbon as low molecular weight compounds by freshly isolated symbiotic dinoflagellates is evoked by a factor (i.e., a chemical agent) present in a homogenate of host tissue. We have identified this "host factor" in the Hawaiian coral Pocillopora damicornis as a set of free amino acids. Synthetic amino acid mixtures, based on the measured free amino acid pools of P. damicornis tissues, not only elicit the selective release of 14C-labeled photosynthetic products from isolated symbiotic dinoflagellates but also enhance total 14CO2 fixation.

  • Tomarev SI, Zinovieva RD, Weis VM, Chepelinsky AB, Piatigorsky J, McFall-Ngai MJ (1993) Abundant mRNAs in the squid light organ encode proteins with a high similarity to mammalian peroxidases. Gene 132(2):219-26 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    A library derived from mRNA in the bacterial light organ of the squid, Euprymna scolopes, contained an unexpectedly high proportion of cDNAs that encode proteins with approximately 30% similarity to a family of mammalian peroxidases (PO) including myelo-PO, eosinophil PO, and thyroid PO (donor:hydrogen-peroxide oxidoreductase; EC Two nearly full-length cDNAs were determined to encode putative PO of nearly 93 kDa each that are 97% identical in amino acid sequence to each other. Each contains four potential glycosylation sites, and His416, believed to be within the active site of the human PO, is conserved in the putative PO from the squid light organ. The mRNAs for the putative squid PO were approximately 250 times more abundant in the tissue housing the bacterial symbiont than in the ocular lens or mantle and were undetectable in the light organ lens. By analogy with the bacteriocidal function of PO in mammalian neutrophils, the putative squid PO may be important for modulating or limiting the population of bacteria within the light organ. The possibility that the squid light organ contains a high concentration of PO raises the possibility that the light organ lens is under oxidative stress, providing a possible rationale for the recruitment of its aldehyde dehydrogenase-like crystallin.

  • Montgomery MK, McFall-Ngai MJ (1992) The muscle-derived lens of a squid bioluminescent organ is biochemically convergent with the ocular lens. Evidence for recruitment of aldehyde dehydrogenase as a predominant structural protein. J. Biol. Chem. 267(29):20999-1003 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Many of the structural proteins of ocular lenses, commonly referred to as crystallins, are identical to specific enzymes or the result of a recent gene duplication (Piatigorsky, J., and Wistow, G. (1991) Science 252, 1078-1079). One such enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), has been recruited as a lens crystallin in certain mammals (Wistow, G., and Kim, H. (1991) J. Mol. Evol. 32, 262-269) and cephalopods (Tomarev, S., Zinovieva, R., and Piatigorsky, J. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 24226-24231). We report here that a transparent tissue, derived from muscle but functioning as a lens in the light-emitting organ of a squid, Euprymna scolopes, shows striking biochemical convergence with the epidermally derived ocular lenses of some mammals and cephalopods. In the light organ lens of E. scolopes, an ALDH-like protein is the predominant molecular component. The typical muscle-specific proteins are replaced as the dominant species by a protein composed of 54-kDa subunits. This protein, which we designate as L-crystallin, constitutes approximately 70% of the total soluble protein of the light organ lens. The amino acid sequences of three peptides of L-crystallin (approximately 9% of the total protein) showed 54.5% sequence identity with human cytosolic ALDH. Using polyclonal antiserum made against L-crystallin, we found that it is present in low abundance in other tissues of the squid, including muscle and the ocular lens. This polyclonal antiserum also cross-reacted with the ALDH-like crystallins found in the ocular lenses of certain mammals and cephalopods. L-Crystallin showed no ALDH activity, which is similar to several other enzyme/crystallins, including ALDH/eta-crystallin (Wistow, G., and Kim, H. (1991) J. Mol. Evol. 32, 262-269). The characteristics of this muscle-derived lens are evidence that a common biochemical basis underlies transparency and that certain proteins may possess properties that promote their selection as lens structural proteins.

  • Ruby EG, McFall-Ngai MJ (1992) A squid that glows in the night: development of an animal-bacterial mutualism. J. Bacteriol. 174(15):4865-70 (PMC206296) View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • McFall-Ngai MJ, Ruby EG (1991) Symbiont recognition and subsequent morphogenesis as early events in an animal-bacterial mutualism. Science 254(5037):1491-4 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Bacterial colonization of the developing light organ of the squid Euprymna scolopes is shown to be highly specific, with the establishment of a successful association resulting only when the juvenile host is exposed to seawater containing one of a subset of Vibrio fischeri strains. Before a symbiotic infection the organ has elaborate epithelial structures covered with cilia and microvilli that are involved in the transfer of bacteria to the incipient symbiotic tissue. These structures regressed within days following infection; however, they were retained in uninfected animals, suggesting that the initiation of symbiosis influences, and is perhaps a prerequisite for, the normal developmental program of the juvenile host.

  • McFall-Ngai MJ, Horwitz J (1990) A comparative study of the thermal stability of the vertebrate eye lens: Antarctic ice fish to the desert iguana. Exp. Eye Res. 50(6):703-9 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    We analyzed the thermal stability characteristics of the lenses of 12 vertebrate species in four vertebrate classes. In the selection of animals for comparisons, we controlled for the variable of phylogenetic relatedness by choosing closely-related species that naturally live under very different environmental temperatures, as well as distantly-related species that live under similar environmental temperature regimes. Further, we obtained animals over the range of temperatures in which vertebrates occur, -2 degrees C to 47 degrees C. Experiments in which whole lens transparency was measured under conditions of heat stress showed that animals naturally occurring in high temperature environments have lenses whose transparency is significantly more resistant heating. Studies of behavior of the crystallins during heat stress of the whole lens showed that: (1) a direct correlation exists between the resistance of the lens to thermal insult and both the preferred and maximum body temperature of the animal, (2) some crystallins are more resistant to thermal stress than others, and (3) the taxon-specific crystallins (delta-, tau- and rho- crystallins) were more labile than alpha-, beta- and gamma-crystallins.

  • Dunlap PV, McFall-Ngai MJ (1987) Initiation and control of the bioluminescent symbiosis between Photobacterium leiognathi and leiognathid fish. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 503:269-83 View Abstract · Pubmed Record
  • McFall-Ngai MJ, Ding LL, Takemoto LJ, Horwitz J (1985) Spatial and temporal mapping of the age-related changes in human lens crystallins. Exp. Eye Res. 41(6):745-58 View Abstract · Pubmed Record

    Using the techniques of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and immunoblotting, we have analyzed the age-related changes in soluble crystallins of the human lens. A 3 mm core along the optical axis of each lens was frozen-sectioned and the sections were biochemically analyzed for distribution and quantity of the various soluble protein species. Both cortical and nuclear samples show a monotonic decrease in the concentration of the 19 000 and 21 000 MW proteins with age. We find that these proteins behave anomalously on SDS-polyacrylamide gels, running near the top of the gel when the samples are not boiled before loading; this permitted us to observe the gradual, age-related loss of these bands from the gels of both nuclear and cortical samples. The high molecular weight, or TSK-3000 void volume, fraction (greater than 350,000) of the cortex contained alpha crystallin at all ages. However, in the nucleus, while this fraction is primarily composed of alpha crystallin early in life (i.e. before 15 years of age), there is a gradual incorporation of other crystallins into the void volume. This change in the composition of the high-molecular-weight, soluble protein fraction is reflected in: a change in the subunit mobility on SDS-polyacrylamide gels; reactivity of the fraction to crystallin antibodies, i.e. in the young nucleus there is reactivity to anti-alpha crystallin only, with a gradual increase in reactivity to anti-beta and anti-gamma crystallins. The void volume fraction of the nucleus persists as a major component of the soluble protein pool until 42-44 years of age, at which time the proportion of the total soluble protein represented by this void volume fraction decreases precipitously. These changes in the soluble protein profile are discussed in terms of their potential influence on the functioning of the lens.