Special Issue "Genomics and Evolution of Sauropsid Traits in the Genomics Era"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 November 2021.
Interests: genome; molecular evolution; bird; feather; algae; bioinformatics
Birds have diversified to all habitats on earth, which concurrently has led to the evolution of multiple diverse and unique traits. Feathers are perhaps the most noticeable characteristic due to their vibrant colors and morphological diversity. Understanding the genetics behind the evolution of the sauropsid epidermis, feathers, and other traits such as vision, speech, and flight has been accelerated with the explosion of avian genomes in 2014 (Zhang et al. 2014). In that same year, Strasser et al. (2014) identified and characterized the chicken epidermal differentiation complex, which is a genomic locus containing over eighty genes that encode for proteins comprising the epidermis and epidermal appendages. This as well as many other studies highlight how genomics is invigorating the study of sauropsid evolution. We invite colleagues who are investigating the genetics of sauropsid traits using bird and reptile comparative genomics and other genetic methods to contribute to this Special Edition of Genes.
Dr. Matthew Greenwold
Prof. Dr. Roger Sawyer
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genes is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- comparative genomics
- beta keratin
The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.
Expansion of an epidermal differentiation complex gene family from a common archosaur ancestor has helped drive evolution of feather diversity in birds
Abstract: The transition of amniotes to a fully terrestrial lifestyle involved the adaptation of major molecular innovations to the epidermis, often in the form of epidermal appendages such as hair, scales and feathers. Feathers are diverse epidermal structures of birds, and their evolution has played a key role in the expansion of avian species to a wide range of lifestyles and habitats. Like other epidermal appendages, feather development is a complex process which involves many different genetic and protein elements. In mammals, many of the genetic elements involved in epidermal development are located at a specific genetic locus known as the Epidermal Differentiation Complex (EDC). Studies have identified a homologous EDC locus in birds which contains several genes expressed throughout epidermal and feather development. Previous studies have reported that a family of avian EDC genes rich in aromatic amino acids which also contain MTF motifs (EDAAs/EDMTFs) that also includes the previously reported Histidine-rich or fast-protein (HRP/fp), an important marker in feather development, has expanded significantly in birds. Here we characterize the EDAA/EDMTF gene family in birds and investigate the evolutionary history and possible functions of these genes using phylogenetic and sequence analyses. We provide evidence that the EDAA/EDMTF gene family originated in an early archosaur ancestor, and has since expanded in birds, crocodiles and turtles respectively. Furthermore, this study shows that the respective amino acid compositions of avian EDAAs are characteristic of structural functions associated with EDC genes and feather development. Finally, these results support the hypothesis that the genes of the EDC have evolved as the result of tandem duplications and diversification resulting in neofunctionalization and expansion of respective gene families, including the EDAA/EDMTF gene families and this has played a significant role in the diversification of avian feathers.
Structures of the ß-Keratin Filaments and Keratin Intermediate Filaments in the Epidermal Appendages of Birds and Reptiles (Sauropsids): A Review
The epidermal appendages of birds and reptiles (the sauropsids) include claws, scales and feathers. Each has specialised physical properties that facilitate movement, thermal insulation, defence mechanisms and/or the catching of prey. The mechanical attributes of each of these appendages originate from its fibril-matrix texture, where the two filamentous structures present i.e. the corneous ß-keratins (CBP or ß-keratins) that form 3.4 nm diameter filaments and the keratin molecules that form the 7-10 nm diameter keratin intermediate filaments (KIF), provide much of the required tensile properties. The matrix, which is composed of the terminal domains of the ß- and KIF molecules and other specialised proteins of the epidermal differentiation complex (EDC), provides the appendages with an ability to resist compression and torsion. Only by knowing the detailed structures of the individual components and the manner in which they interact with one another will a full understanding be gained of the physical properties of the tissues as a whole. Towards that end newly-derived aspects of the detailed conformations of the two filamentous structures will be discussed and placed in the context of former knowledge.