- mucin coats the oocyte during passage through the oviduct
Ultrasonography of wallaby prenatal development shows that the climb to the pouch begins in utero
Sci Rep. 2013 Mar 15;3:1458. doi: 10.1038/srep01458.
Drews B, Roellig K, Menzies BR, Shaw G, Buentjen I, Herbert CA, Hildebrandt TB, Renfree MB. Source Department of Reproduction Management, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany. Abstract Marsupials have a functional placenta for a shorter period of time compared to that of eutherian species, and their altricial young reach the teats without any help from the mother. We have monitored the short intrauterine development of one marsupial, the tammar wallaby, with high-resolution ultrasound from reactivation of the 100-cell diapausing blastocyst to birth. The expanding blastocyst could be visualized when it had reached a diameter of 1.5 mm. From at least halfway through pregnancy, there are strong undulating movements of the endometrium that massage the expanding vesicle against the highly secretory endometrial surface. These unique movements possibly enhance exchange of uterine secretions and gases between the mother and embryo. There was a constant rate of development measured ultrasonographically from mid-gestation, regardless of when the blastocyst reactivated. Interestingly climbing movements by the fetus began in utero about 3 days before birth, mimicking those required to climb to the pouch.
The tammar wallaby genome and transcriptome
BMC Genomics A cross-journal collection of articles from the tammar wallaby genome and transcriptome sequencing project. Collection published: 10 August 2011 Last updated: 11 January 2012
HOXA13 and HOXD13 expression during development of the syndactylous digits in the marsupial Macropus eugenii
BMC Dev Biol. 2012 Jan 11;12:2.
Chew KY, Yu H, Pask AJ, Shaw G, Renfree MB. Source ARC Centre of Excellence in Kangaroo Genomics, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia. email@example.com.
Abstract ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Kangaroos and wallabies have specialised limbs that allow for their hopping mode of locomotion. The hindlimbs differentiate much later in development but become much larger than the forelimbs. The hindlimb autopod has only four digits, the fourth of which is greatly elongated, while digits two and three are syndactylous. We investigated the expression of two genes, HOXA13 and HOXD13, that are crucial for digit patterning in mice during formation of the limbs of the tammar wallaby. RESULTS: We describe the development of the tammar limbs at key stages before birth. There was marked heterochrony and the hindlimb developed more slowly than the forelimb. Both tammar HOXA13 and HOXD13 have two exons as in humans, mice and chickens. HOXA13 had an early and distal mRNA distribution in the tammar limb bud as in the mouse, but forelimb expression preceded that in the hindlimb. HOXD13 mRNA was expressed earlier in the forelimb than the hindlimb and was predominantly detected in the interdigital tissues of the forelimb. In contrast, the hindlimb had a more restricted expression pattern that appeared to be expressed at discrete points at both posterior and anterior margins of the limb bud, and was unlike expression seen in the mouse and the chicken. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first examination of HOXA and HOXD gene expression in a marsupial. The gene structure and predicted proteins were highly conserved with their eutherian orthologues. Interestingly, despite the morphological differences in hindlimb patterning, there were no modifications to the polyalanine tract of either HOXA13 or HOXD13 when compared to those of the mouse and bat but there was a marked difference between the tammar and the other mammals in the region of the first polyserine tract of HOXD13. There were also altered expression domains for both genes in the developing tammar limbs compared to the chicken and mouse. Together these findings suggest that the timing of HOX gene expression may contribute to the heterochrony of the forelimb and hindlimb and that alteration to HOX domains may influence phenotypic differences that lead to the development of marsupial syndactylous digits.
Placental expression of pituitary hormones is an ancestral feature of therian mammals
Evodevo. 2011 Aug 19;2:16.
Menzies BR, Pask AJ, Renfree MB. Source Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str 17, 10315, Berlin, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The placenta is essential for supplying nutrients and gases to the developing mammalian young before birth. While all mammals have a functional placenta, only in therian mammals (marsupials and eutherians) does the placenta closely appose or invade the uterine endometrium. The eutherian placenta secretes hormones that are structurally and functionally similar to pituitary growth hormone (GH), prolactin (PRL) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Marsupial and eutherian mammals diverged from a common ancestor approximately 125 to 148 million years ago and developed distinct reproductive strategies. As in eutherians, marsupials rely on a short-lived but functional placenta for embryogenesis. RESULTS: We characterized pituitary GH, GH-R, IGF-2, PRL and LHβ in a macropodid marsupial, the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii. These genes were expressed in the tammar placenta during the last third of gestation when most fetal growth occurs and active organogenesis is initiated. The mRNA of key growth genes GH, GH-R, IGF-2 and PRL were expressed during late pregnancy. We found significant up-regulation of GH, GH-R and IGF-2 after the start of the rapid growth phase of organogenesis which suggests that the placental growth hormones regulate the rapid phase of fetal growth. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first demonstration of the existence of pituitary hormones in the marsupial placenta. Placental expression of these pituitary hormones has clearly been conserved in marsupials as in eutherian mammals, suggesting an ancestral origin of the evolution of placental expression and a critical function of these hormones in growth and development of all therian mammals.
Differential roles of TGIF family genes in mammalian reproduction
BMC Dev Biol. 2011 Sep 29;11:58.
Hu Y, Yu H, Shaw G, Renfree MB, Pask AJ. Source ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics, Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, VIC, 3010, Australia.
BACKGROUND: TG-interacting factors (TGIFs) belong to a family of TALE-homeodomain proteins including TGIF1, TGIF2 and TGIFLX/Y in human. Both TGIF1 and TGIF2 act as transcription factors repressing TGF-β signalling. Human TGIFLX and its orthologue, Tex1 in the mouse, are X-linked genes that are only expressed in the adult testis. TGIF2 arose from TGIF1 by duplication, whereas TGIFLX arose by retrotransposition to the X-chromosome. These genes have not been characterised in any non-eutherian mammals. We therefore studied the TGIF family in the tammar wallaby (a marsupial mammal) to investigate their roles in reproduction and how and when these genes may have evolved their functions and chromosomal locations. RESULTS: Both TGIF1 and TGIF2 were present in the tammar genome on autosomes but TGIFLX was absent. Tammar TGIF1 shared a similar expression pattern during embryogenesis, sexual differentiation and in adult tissues to that of TGIF1 in eutherian mammals, suggesting it has been functionally conserved. Tammar TGIF2 was ubiquitously expressed throughout early development as in the human and mouse, but in the adult, it was expressed only in the gonads and spleen, more like the expression pattern of human TGIFLX and mouse Tex1. Tammar TGIF2 mRNA was specifically detected in round and elongated spermatids. There was no mRNA detected in mature spermatozoa. TGIF2 protein was specifically located in the cytoplasm of spermatids, and in the residual body and the mid-piece of the mature sperm tail. These data suggest that tammar TGIF2 may participate in spermiogenesis, like TGIFLX does in eutherians. TGIF2 was detected for the first time in the ovary with mRNA produced in the granulosa and theca cells, suggesting it may also play a role in folliculogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: The restricted and very similar expression of tammar TGIF2 to X-linked paralogues in eutherians suggests that the evolution of TGIF1, TGIF2 and TGIFLX in eutherians was accompanied by a change from ubiquitous to tissue-specific expression. The distribution and localization of TGIF2 in tammar adult gonads suggest that there has been an ultra-conserved function for the TGIF family in fertility and that TGIF2 already functioned in spermatogenesis and potentially folliculogenesis long before its retrotransposition to the X-chromosome of eutherian mammals. These results also provide further evidence that the eutherian X-chromosome has actively recruited sex and reproductive-related genes during mammalian evolution.
Desert hedgehog is a mammal-specific gene expressed during testicular and ovarian development in a marsupial
BMC Dev Biol. 2011 Dec 1;11(1):72. [Epub ahead of print]
O'Hara WA, Azar WJ, Behringer RR, Renfree MB, Pask AJ. Abstract ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Desert hedgehog (DHH) belongs to the hedgehog gene family that act as secreted intercellular signal transducers. DHH is an essential morphogen for normal testicular development and function in both mice and humans but is not present in the avian lineage. Like other hedgehog proteins, DHH signals through the patched (PTCH) receptors 1 and 2. Here we examine the expression and protein distribution of DHH, PTCH1 and PTCH2 in the developing testes of a marsupial mammal (the tammar wallaby) to determine whether DHH signalling is a conserved factor in gonadal development in all therian mammals. RESULTS: DHH, PTCH1 and PTCH2 were present in the marsupial genome and highly conserved with their eutherian orthologues. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that DHH has recently evolved and is a mammal-specific hedgehog orthologue. The marsupial PTCH2 receptor had an additional exon (exon 21a) not annotated in eutherian PTCH2 proteins. Interestingly we found evidence of this exon in humans and show that its translation would result in a truncated protein with functions similar to PTCH1. We also show that DHH expression was not restricted to the testes during gonadal development (as in mice), but was also expressed in the developing ovary. Expression of DHH, PTCH1 and PTCH2 in the adult tammar testis and ovary was consistent with findings in the adult mouse. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that there is a highly conserved role for DHH signalling in the differentiation and function of the mammalian testis and that DHH may be necessary for marsupial ovarian development. The receptors PTCH1 and PTCH2 are highly conserved mediators of hedgehog signalling in both the developing and adult marsupial gonads. Together these findings indicate DHH is an essential therian mammal-specific morphogen in gonadal development and gametogenesis.
Genome sequence of an Australian kangaroo, Macropus eugenii, provides insight into the evolution of mammalian reproduction and development
Genome Biol. 2011 Aug 19;12(8):R81.
Renfree MB, Papenfuss AT, Deakin JE, Lindsay J, Heider T, Belov K, Rens W, Waters PD, Pharo EA, Shaw G, Wong ES, Lefevre CM, Nicholas KR, Kuroki Y, Wakefield MJ, Zenger KR, Wang C, Ferguson-Smith M, Nicholas FW, Hickford D, Yu H, Short KR, Siddle HV, Frankenberg SR, Chew KY, Menzies BR, Stringer JM, Suzuki S, Hore TA, Delbridge ML, Mohammadi A, Schneider NY, Hu Y, O'Hara W, Al Nadaf S, Wu C, Feng ZP, Cocks BG, Wang J, Flicek P, Searle SM, Fairley S, Beal K, Herrero J, Carone DM, Suzuki Y, Sagano S, Toyoda A, Sakaki Y, Kondo S, Nishida Y, Tatsumoto S, Mandiou I, Hsu A, McColl KA, Landsell B, Weinstock G, Kuczek E, McGrath A, Wilson P, Men A, Hazar-Rethinam M, Hall A, Davies J, Wood D, Williams S, Sundaravadanam Y, Muzny DM, Jhangiani SN, Lewis LR, Morgan MB, Okwuonu GO, Ruiz SJ, Santibanez J, Nazareth L, Cree A, Fowler G, Kovar CL, Dinh HH, Joshi V, Jing C, Lara F, Thornton R, Chen L, Deng J, Liu Y, Shen JY, Song XZ, Edson J, Troon C, Thomas D, Stephens A, Yapa L, Levchenko T, Gibbs RA, Cooper DW, Speed TP, Fujiyama A, Graves JA, O'Neill RJ, Pask AJ, Forrest SM, Worley KC. Abstract
BACKGROUND: We present the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, which is a member of the kangaroo family and the first representative of the iconic hopping mammals that symbolize Australia to be sequenced. The tammar has many unusual biological characteristics, including the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, extremely synchronized seasonal breeding and prolonged and sophisticated lactation within a well-defined pouch. Like other marsupials, it gives birth to highly altricial young, and has a small number of very large chromosomes, making it a valuable model for genomics, reproduction and development.
RESULTS: The genome has been sequenced to 2x coverage using Sanger sequencing, enhanced with additional next generation sequencing and the integration of extensive physical and linkage maps to build the genome assembly. We also sequenced the tammar transcriptome across many tissues and developmental time points. Our analyses of these data shed light on mammalian reproduction, development and genome evolution: there is innovation in reproductive and lactational genes, rapid evolution of germ cell genes, and incomplete, locus-specific X inactivation. We also observe novel retrotransposons and a highly rearranged major histocompatibility complex, with many class I genes located outside the complex. Novel microRNAs in the tammar HOX clusters uncover new potential mammalian HOX regulatory elements.
CONCLUSIONS: Analyses of these resources enhance our understanding of marsupial gene evolution, identify marsupial-specific conserved non-coding elements and critical genes across a range of biological systems, including reproduction, development and immunity, and provide new insight into marsupial and mammalian biology and genome evolution.
The development of the gubernaculum and inguinal closure in the marsupial Macropus eugenii
J Anat. 2002 Sep;201(3):239-56.
Coveney D, Shaw G, Hutson JM, Renfree MB. Source Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. email@example.com
This study reports the developmental anatomy of testicular descent and inguinal closure of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) from birth to maturity. In females the ovary migrated caudally between days 10 and 20 after birth. The gubernaculum differentiates into the round ligament in the abdomen and extra-abdominally as the ilio-marsupialis muscle of the mammary glands. In males the testes migrated to the internal inguinal ring by day 20 post partum (pp), coinciding with the enlargement of the gubernaculum, and from the internal inguinal ring to the scrotum between days 20 and 65 pp. During descent there was an increase in the hyaluronic acid concentration in cells of the gubernaculum and scrotum. Development of the cremaster muscle began by day 10 pp on the periphery of the gubernaculum and its basic structure was completed by day 60 pp. After descent the inguinal canal closed between days 50 and 60 pp, but a small irregular lumen persisted, somewhat similar to that seen in the congenital scrotal hydrocoele of humans. Tammars have a hopping mode of locomotion and, like humans, are essentially bipedal. We suggest that inguinal closure evolved in these two species because their upright posture may otherwise lead to a high incidence of inguinal hernias. PMID 12363275
Owen R. On the generation of the marsupial animals, with a description of the impregnated uterus of the kangaroo. (1834) Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. Lond. 124: 333-364.