Factor VII deficiency rescues the intrauterine lethality in mice associated with a tissue factor pathway inhibitor deficit.
Mice doubly heterozygous for a modified tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) allele (tfpi delta) lacking its Kunitz-type domain-1 (TFPI+/delta) and for a deficiency of the factor VII gene (FVII+/-) were mated to generate 309 postnatal and 205 embryonic day 17.5 (E17. 5) offspring having all the predicted genotypic combinations. Progeny singly homozygous for the tfpidelta modification but with the wild-type fVII allele (FVII+/+/TFPIdelta/delta), and mice singly homozygous for the fVII deficiency and possessing the wild-type tfpi allele (FVII-/-/TFPI+/+), displayed previously detailed phenotypes (i.e., a high percentage of early embryonic lethality at E9.5 or normal development with severe perinatal bleeding, respectively). Surprisingly, mice of the combined FVII-/-/TFPIdelta/delta genotype were born at the expected mendelian frequency but suffered the fatal perinatal bleeding associated with the FVII-/- genotype. Mice carrying the FVII+/-/TFPIdelta/delta genotype were also rescued from the lethality associated with the FVII+/+/TFPIdelta/delta genotype but succumbed to perinatal consumptive coagulopathy. Thus, the rescue of TFPIdelta/delta embryos, either by an accompanying homozygous or heterozygous FVII deficiency, suggests that diminishment of FVII activity precludes the need for TFPI-mediated inhibition of the FVIIa/tissue factor coagulation pathway during embryogenesis. Furthermore, the phenotypes of these combined deficiency states suggest that embryonic FVII is produced in mice as early as E9.5 and that any level of maternal FVII in early-stage embryos is insufficient to cause a coagulopathy in TFPIdelta/delta mice. (+info)
Prolonged mating in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) increases likelihood of ovulation and embryo number.
Prairie voles are induced ovulators that mate frequently in brief bouts over a period of approximately 24 h. We examined 1) impact of mating duration on ovulation and embryo number, 2) incidence of fertilization, 3) temporal pattern of embryo development, 4) embryo progression through the reproductive tract over time, and 5) embryo development in culture. Mating was videotaped to determine first copulation, and the ovaries were examined and the reproductive tracts flushed at 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 h and 2, 3, and 4 days after first copulation. The number of mature follicles and fresh corpora lutea and the number and developmental stage of embryos were quantified. One, two-, and four-cell embryos were cultured in Whitten's medium. Mature follicles were present at the earliest time examined (6 h). Thirty-eight percent of females that had been paired for < 12 h after the first copulation ovulated, whereas all females paired >/= 12 h after the first copulation ovulated. Virtually all (> 99%) oocytes recovered from females paired for >/= 12 h after first copulation were fertilized. Pairing time after first copulation and mean copulation-bout duration were significant (p < 0.05) determinants of embryo number. Embryos entered the uterine horns and implanted on Days 3 and 4, respectively, after first copulation (Day 0). Embryos cultured in vitro underwent approximately one cell division per day, a rate similar to that in vivo. We conclude that prairie voles ovulate reliably after pairing for >/= 12 h, although some females showed exceptional sensitivity not predicted by the variables quantified. Prolonged mating for longer than 12 h increased the total embryos produced. This mechanism likely has adaptive significance for increasing offspring number. (+info)
Improving the efficiency of artificial selection: more selection pressure with less inbreeding.
The use of population genetic variability in present-day selection schemes can be improved to reduce inbreeding rate and inbreeding depression without impairing genetic progress. We performed an experiment with Drosophila melanogaster to test mate selection, an optimizing method that uses linear programming to maximize the selection differential applied while at the same time respecting a restriction on the increase in inbreeding expected in the next generation. Previous studies about mate selection used computer simulation on simple additive genetic models, and no experiment with a real character in a real population had been carried out. After six selection generations, the optimized lines showed an increase in cumulated phenotypic selection differential of 10.76%, and at the same time, a reduction of 19.91 and 60.47% in inbreeding coefficient mean and variance, respectively. The increased selection pressure would bring greater selection response, and in fact, the observed change in the selected trait was on average 31.03% greater in the optimized lines. These improvements in the selection scheme were not made at the expense of the long-term expectations of genetic variability in the population, as these expectations were very similar for both mate selection and conventionally selected lines in our experiment. (+info)
Sodefrin: a novel sex pheromone in a newt.
The abdominal gland in the male red-bellied newt, Cynops pyrrhogaster, is the source of a female-attracting pheromone. An attempt was made to isolate and characterize the female-attracting pheromone in the abdominal glands of male newts. The active substance, named sodefrin (from the Japanese 'sodefuri' which means 'soliciting') has been isolated and shown to be a novel decapeptide with the sequence, Ser-Ile-Pro-Ser-Lys-Asp-Ala-Leu-Leu-Lys. Its minimum effective concentration in water is 0.1-1.0 pmol 1-1. Synthetic sodefrin shows a female-attracting activity similar to that of the native peptide, and acts through the olfactory organ of female newts. Electrophysiological studies reveal that sodefrin evokes a marked electroolfactogram response in the vomeronasal epithelium in sexually mature females and in ovariectomized females treated with prolactin and oestrogen. The pheromonal activity of sodefrin appears to be species-specific since it does not attract females of a congeneric species, the sword-tailed newt C. ensicauda. However, C. ensicauda has a variant of sodefrin differing from that in C. pyrrhogaster by substitutions of Leu for Pro at position 3 and Gln for Leu at position 8. The C. ensicauda variant sodefrin does not attract C. pyrrhogaster females. Genes encoding the sodefrin precursor protein have been cloned in both C. pyrrhogaster and C. ensicauda. Immunostaining of the abdominal gland using the antiserum against sodefrin shows that sodefrin occurs in the epithelial cells, predominantly within the secretory granules. Sodefrin content, detected by immunoassay, in C. pyrrhogaster males decreases after castration and hypophysectomy and increases markedly in the castrated and hypophysectomized newts after treatment with androgen and prolactin. This combination of hormones also enhances sodefrin mRNA content in the abdominal gland as assessed by northern blot analysis using sodefrin cDNA. (+info)
Accurate memory for colour but not pattern contrast in chicks.
The visual displays of animals and plants often look dramatic and colourful to us, but what information do they convey to their intended, non-human, audience  ? One possibility is that stimulus values are judged accurately - so, for example, a female might choose a suitor if he displays a specific colour . Alternatively, as for human advertising, displays may attract attention without giving information, perhaps by exploiting innate preferences for bright colours or symmetry   . To address this issue experimentally, we investigated chicks' memories of visual patterns. Food was placed in patterned paper containers which, like seed pods or insect prey, must be manipulated to extract food and their patterns learnt. To establish what was learnt, birds were tested on familiar stimuli and on alternative stimuli of differing colour or contrast. For colour, birds selected the trained stimulus; for contrast, they preferred high contrast patterns over the familiar. These differing responses to colour and contrast show how separate components of display patterns could serve different roles, with colour being judged accurately whereas pattern contrast attracts attention. (+info)
Good genes, oxidative stress and condition-dependent sexual signals.
The immune and the detoxication systems of animals are characterized by allelic polymorphisms, which underlie individual differences in ability to combat assaults from pathogens and toxic compounds. Previous studies have shown that females may improve offspring survival by selecting mates on the basis of sexual ornaments and signals that honestly reveal health. In many cases the expression of these ornaments appears to be particularly sensitive to oxidative stress. Activated immune and detoxication systems often generate oxidative stress by an extensive production of reactive metabolites and free radicals. Given that tolerance or resistance to toxic compounds and pathogens can be inherited, female choice should promote the evolution of male ornaments that reliably reveal the status of the bearers' level of oxidative stress. Hence, oxidative stress may be one important agent linking the expression of sexual ornaments to genetic variation in fitness-related traits, thus promoting the evolution of female mate choice and male sexual ornamentation, a controversial issue in evolutionary biology ever since Darwin. (+info)
Central neuronal circuit innervating the lordosis-producing muscles defined by transneuronal transport of pseudorabies virus.
The lordosis reflex is a hormone-dependent behavior displayed by female rats during mating. This study used the transneuronal tracer pseudorabies virus (PRV) to investigate the CNS network that controls the lumbar epaxial muscles that produce this posture. After PRV was injected into lumbar epaxial muscles, the time course analysis of CNS viral infection showed progressively more PRV-labeled neurons in higher brain structures after longer survival times. In particular, the medullary reticular formation, periaqueductal gray (PAG), and ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMN) were sequentially labeled with PRV, which supports the proposed hierarchical network of lordosis control. Closer inspection of the PRV-immunoreactive neurons in the PAG revealed a marked preponderance of spheroid neurons, rather than fusiform or triangular morphologies. Furthermore, PRV-immunoreactive neurons were concentrated in the ventrolateral column, rather than the dorsal, dorsolateral, or lateral columns of the PAG. Localization of the PRV-labeled neurons in the VMN indicated that the majority were located in the ventrolateral subdivision, although some were also in other subdivisions of the VMN. As expected, labeled cells also were found in areas traditionally associated with sympathetic outflow to blood vessels and motor pathways, including the intermediolateral nucleus of the spinal cord, the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, the red nucleus, and the motor cortex. These results suggest that the various brain regions along the neuraxis previously implicated in the lordosis reflex are indeed serially connected. (+info)
Environmental variation shapes sexual dimorphism in red deer.
Sexual dimorphism results from dichotomous selection on male and female strategies of growth in relation to reproduction. In polygynous mammals, these strategies reflect sexual selection on males for access to females and competitive selection on females for access to food. Consequently, in such species, males display rapid early growth to large adult size, whereas females invest in condition and early sexual maturity at the expense of size. Hence, the magnitude of adult size dimorphism should be susceptible to divergence of the sexes in response to environmental factors differentially influencing their growth to reproduction. We show that divergent growth of male and female red deer after 32 years of winter warming and 15 years of contemporaneously earlier plant phenology support this prediction. In response to warmer climate during their early development, males grew more rapidly and increased in size, while female size declined. Conversely, females, but not males, responded to earlier plant phenology with increased investment in condition and earlier reproduction. Accordingly, adult size dimorphism increased in relation to warmer climate, whereas it declined in relation to forage quality. Thus, the evolutionary trajectories of growth related to reproduction in the sexes (i) originate from sexual and competitive selection, (ii) produce sexual size dimorphism, and (iii) are molded by environmental variation. (+info)