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ncRNAs in colonial ascidians

Grant number: 17/13758-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2017
Effective date (End): July 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Morphology of Recent Groups
Cooperation agreement: ANR
Principal Investigator:Federico David Brown Almeida
Grantee:David dos Santos Soares
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:15/50164-5 - Stem cells, regeneration, and the evolution of coloniality in ascidians, AP.JP


A comparative genomic approach has been launched in the laboratory in collaboration with the Bermudez Laboratory (Colombia) and the Tiozzo Laboratory (France) study in order to better understand the evolution of a major life history transition in marine chordates, in particular the evolutionary transition from sexual to asexual propagation. Size and genome complexity related to the evolution of coloniality as a life history remains to be explored and, in a broader spectrum of interest, we hope to raise new and original questions on how the evolution of different reproductive strategies can shape the structure of a genome.One recent research interest of our laboratory in collaboration with Clara Bermudez (Universidad Nacional, Bogotá) is to explore the evolution of ncRNAs in colonial ascidians. In particular, miRNAs and long ncRNAs regulate maintenance, commitment, or fate of progenitor stem cell lineages. Can ncRNAs reveal specific regulatory mechanism of important developmental pathways involved in budding or clonal reproduction? To what extent can changes in ncRNA genes affect the evolution of new life histories in animals? To answer these questions, we propose to generate ncRNA gene predictions and validations for all styelid genomes on collaboration with Clara Bermudez at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá and Arjan Gittenberger (GIMARIS, Amsterdam). By homology and structure we have already predicted ncRNAs in the genomes of colonial Botryllus schlosseri and Didemnum vexillum and compared them to genomes of solitary tunicates, including Ciona spp., Molgula spp., and Oikopleura dioica. These comparative studies have already generated a handful of candidate ncRNAs, including known oncomirs (oncogenic miRNAs) involved in cancer stem cell function, or snRNAs and snoRNAs involved in RNA processing, that need to be validated for cellular functions related to regeneration or budding in colonial ascidians (unpublished). An overview of ncRNAs in a broader phylogenetic context will allow usto understand how these genes change, duplicate, arise de novo, or become lost during theevolution of a major life history transition in the styelid ascidians. (AU)