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Genes, Volume 9, Issue 2 (February 2018)

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Cover Story (view full-size image) ADAR2, the main enzyme involved in the RNA editing process in the central nervous system, works as [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle Proteomic Analysis of Methanonatronarchaeum thermophilum AMET1, a Representative of a Putative New Class of Euryarchaeota, “Methanonatronarchaeia”
Genes 2018, 9(2), 28; doi:10.3390/genes9020028
Received: 18 December 2017 / Revised: 9 January 2018 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 23 January 2018
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Abstract
The recently discovered Methanonatronarchaeia are extremely halophilic and moderately thermophilic methyl-reducing methanogens representing a novel class-level lineage in the phylum Euryarchaeota related to the class Halobacteria. Here we present a detailed analysis of 1D-nano liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry data obtained for
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The recently discovered Methanonatronarchaeia are extremely halophilic and moderately thermophilic methyl-reducing methanogens representing a novel class-level lineage in the phylum Euryarchaeota related to the class Halobacteria. Here we present a detailed analysis of 1D-nano liquid chromatography–electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry data obtained for “Methanonatronarchaeum thermophilum” AMET1 grown in different physiological conditions, including variation of the growth temperature and substrates. Analysis of these data allows us to refine the current understanding of the key biosynthetic pathways of this triple extremophilic methanogenic euryarchaeon and identify proteins that are likely to be involved in its response to growth condition changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles)
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Open AccessArticle Genome-Wide Characterization of Heat-Shock Protein 70s from Chenopodium quinoa and Expression Analyses of Cqhsp70s in Response to Drought Stress
Genes 2018, 9(2), 35; doi:10.3390/genes9020035
Received: 3 December 2017 / Revised: 17 January 2018 / Accepted: 19 January 2018 / Published: 23 January 2018
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Abstract
Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) are ubiquitous proteins with important roles in response to biotic and abiotic stress. The 70-kDa heat-shock genes (Hsp70s) encode a group of conserved chaperone proteins that play central roles in cellular networks of molecular chaperones and folding catalysts
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Heat-shock proteins (HSPs) are ubiquitous proteins with important roles in response to biotic and abiotic stress. The 70-kDa heat-shock genes (Hsp70s) encode a group of conserved chaperone proteins that play central roles in cellular networks of molecular chaperones and folding catalysts across all the studied organisms including bacteria, plants and animals. Several Hsp70s involved in drought tolerance have been well characterized in various plants, whereas no research on Chenopodium quinoa HSPs has been completed. Here, we analyzed the genome of C. quinoa and identified sixteen Hsp70 members in quinoa genome. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the independent origination of those Hsp70 members, with eight paralogous pairs comprising the Hsp70 family in quinoa. While the gene structure and motif analysis showed high conservation of those paralogous pairs, the synteny analysis of those paralogous pairs provided evidence for expansion coming from the polyploidy event. With several subcellular localization signals detected in CqHSP70 protein paralogous pairs, some of the paralogous proteins lost the localization information, indicating the diversity of both subcellular localizations and potential functionalities of those HSP70s. Further gene expression analyses revealed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) analysis illustrated the significant variations of Cqhsp70s in response to drought stress. In conclusion, the sixteen Cqhsp70s undergo lineage-specific expansions and might play important and varied roles in response to drought stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Genomics and Epigenomics for Trait Improvement)
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Open AccessArticle Exploring Genomic Variants Related to Residual Feed Intake in Local and Commercial Chickens by Whole Genomic Resequencing
Genes 2018, 9(2), 57; doi:10.3390/genes9020057
Received: 17 October 2017 / Revised: 20 December 2017 / Accepted: 2 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
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Abstract
Improving feed efficiency is a major goal in poultry production to reduce production costs and increase profitability. The genomic variants and possible molecular mechanisms responsible for residual feed intake (RFI) in chickens, however, remain poorly understood. In this study, using both local and
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Improving feed efficiency is a major goal in poultry production to reduce production costs and increase profitability. The genomic variants and possible molecular mechanisms responsible for residual feed intake (RFI) in chickens, however, remain poorly understood. In this study, using both local and commercial breeds, genome re-sequencing of low RFI and high RFI chickens was performed to elucidate the genomic variants underlying RFI. Results showed that 8,505,214 and 8,479,041 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were detected in low and high RFI Beijing-You chickens, respectively; 8,352,008 and 8,372,769 SNPs were detected in low- and high-RFI Cobb chickens, respectively. Through a series of filtering processes, 3746 candidate SNPs assigned to 1137 genes in Beijing-You chickens and 575 candidate SNPs (448 genes) in Cobb chickens were found. The validation of the selected 191 SNPs showed that 46 SNPs were significantly associated with the RFI in an independent population of 779 Cobb chickens, suggesting that the method of screening associated SNPs with whole genome sequencing (WGS) strategy was reasonable. Functions annotation of RFI-related genes indicated that genes in Beijing-You were enriched in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as the phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) signaling pathway. In Cobb, however, RFI-related genes were enriched in the feed behavior process and cAMP responsive element binding protein (CREB) signaling pathway. For both breeds, organismal development physiological processes were enriched. Correspondingly, NOS1, PHKG1, NEU3 and PIP5K1B were differentially expressed in Beijing-You, while CDC42, CSK, PIK3R3, CAMK4 and PLCB4 were differentially expressed in Cobb, suggesting that these might be key genes that contribute to RFI. The results of the present study identified numerous novel SNPs for RFI, which provide candidate biomarkers for use in the genetic selection for RFI. The study has improved knowledge of the genomic variants and potential biological pathways underlying RFI in chickens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle The AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Homolog Snf1 Concerts Carbon Utilization, Conidia Production and the Biosynthesis of Secondary Metabolites in the Taxol-Producer Pestalotiopsis microspora
Genes 2018, 9(2), 59; doi:10.3390/genes9020059
Received: 10 November 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 17 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
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Abstract
Highly conserved, the Snf1/AMPK is a central regulator of carbon metabolism and energy production in the eukaryotes. However, its function in filamentous fungi has not been well established. In this study, we reported functional characterization of Snf1/AMPK in the growth, development and secondary
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Highly conserved, the Snf1/AMPK is a central regulator of carbon metabolism and energy production in the eukaryotes. However, its function in filamentous fungi has not been well established. In this study, we reported functional characterization of Snf1/AMPK in the growth, development and secondary metabolism in the filamentous fungus Pestalotiopsis microspora. By deletion of the yeast SNF1 homolog, we found that it regulated the utilization of carbon sources, e.g., sucrose, demonstrating a conserved function of this kinase in filamentous fungus. Importantly, several novel functions of SNF1 were unraveled. For instance, the deletion strain displayed remarkable retardation in vegetative growth and pigmentation and produced a diminished number of conidia, even in the presence of the primary carbon source glucose. Deletion of the gene caused damages in the cell wall as shown by its hypersensitivities to Calcofluor white and Congo red, suggesting a critical role of Snf1 in maintaining cell wall integrity. Furthermore, the mutant strain Δsnf1 was hypersensitive to stress, e.g., osmotic pressure (1 M sorbitol), drug G418 and heat shock, though the mechanism remains to be illustrated. Significantly, disruption of the gene altered the production of secondary metabolites. By high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) profiling, we found that Δsnf1 barely produced secondary metabolites, e.g., the known product pestalotiollide B. This study suggests that Snf1 is a key regulator in filamentous fungus Pestalotiopsis microspora concerting carbon metabolism and the filamentous growth, conidiation, cell wall integrity, stress tolerance and the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Genomic Diversity in the Endosymbiotic Bacterium Rhizobium leguminosarum
Genes 2018, 9(2), 60; doi:10.3390/genes9020060
Received: 18 December 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 22 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
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Abstract
Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae is a soil α-proteobacterium that establishes a diazotrophic symbiosis with different legumes of the Fabeae tribe. The number of genome sequences from rhizobial strains available in public databases is constantly increasing, although complete, fully annotated genome structures from rhizobial
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Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae is a soil α-proteobacterium that establishes a diazotrophic symbiosis with different legumes of the Fabeae tribe. The number of genome sequences from rhizobial strains available in public databases is constantly increasing, although complete, fully annotated genome structures from rhizobial genomes are scarce. In this work, we report and analyse the complete genome of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae UPM791. Whole genome sequencing can provide new insights into the genetic features contributing to symbiotically relevant processes such as bacterial adaptation to the rhizosphere, mechanisms for efficient competition with other bacteria, and the ability to establish a complex signalling dialogue with legumes, to enter the root without triggering plant defenses, and, ultimately, to fix nitrogen within the host. Comparison of the complete genome sequences of two strains of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae, 3841 and UPM791, highlights the existence of different symbiotic plasmids and a common core chromosome. Specific genomic traits, such as plasmid content or a distinctive regulation, define differential physiological capabilities of these endosymbionts. Among them, strain UPM791 presents unique adaptations for recycling the hydrogen generated in the nitrogen fixation process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of the Rhizobium-Legume Symbiosis)
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Open AccessArticle Fungal Screening on Olive Oil for Extracellular Triacylglycerol Lipases: Selection of a Trichoderma harzianum Strain and Genome Wide Search for the Genes
Genes 2018, 9(2), 62; doi:10.3390/genes9020062
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
A lipolytic screening with fungal strains isolated from lignocellulosic waste collected in banana plantation dumps was carried out. A Trichoderma harzianum strain (B13-1) showed good extracellular lipolytic activity (205 UmL−1). Subsequently, functional screening of the lipolytic activity on Rhodamine B enriched
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A lipolytic screening with fungal strains isolated from lignocellulosic waste collected in banana plantation dumps was carried out. A Trichoderma harzianum strain (B13-1) showed good extracellular lipolytic activity (205 UmL−1). Subsequently, functional screening of the lipolytic activity on Rhodamine B enriched with olive oil as the only carbon source was performed. The successful growth of the strain allows us to suggest that a true lipase is responsible for the lipolytic activity in the B13-1 strain. In order to identify the gene(s) encoding the protein responsible for the lipolytic activity, in silico identification and characterization of triacylglycerol lipases from T. harzianum is reported for the first time. A survey in the genome of this fungus retrieved 50 lipases; however, bioinformatic analyses and putative functional descriptions in different databases allowed us to choose seven lipases as candidates. Suitability of the bioinformatic screening to select the candidates was confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The gene codifying 526309 was expressed when the fungus grew in a medium with olive oil as carbon source. This protein shares homology with commercial lipases, making it a candidate for further applications. The success in identifying a lipase gene inducible with olive oil and the suitability of the functional screening and bioinformatic survey carried out herein, support the premise that the strategy can be used in other microorganisms with sequenced genomes to search for true lipases, or other enzymes belonging to large protein families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Influence of NKG2D Genetic Variants on Response to Anti-TNF Agents in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Genes 2018, 9(2), 64; doi:10.3390/genes9020064
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 18 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
A natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) acts as a powerful activating and co-stimulatory receptor on immune effector cells including NK and T cells. Disruptions within the NKG2D signalling pathway may trigger an exacerbated immune response and promote autoimmune reactions. The objective
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A natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) acts as a powerful activating and co-stimulatory receptor on immune effector cells including NK and T cells. Disruptions within the NKG2D signalling pathway may trigger an exacerbated immune response and promote autoimmune reactions. The objective of the study was to evaluate a plausible role of polymorphisms within the NKG2D gene as a predictor of how effective anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy is in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. A total of 280 RA patients receiving anti-TNF therapy were genotyped for NKG2D rs2255336 (A > G), rs1049174 (C > G), and rs1154831 (C > A). Clinical response was evaluated according to the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria at the 12th and 24th week. Both the NKG2D rs225336 and rs1049174 polymorphisms were significantly associated with efficacy of TNF inhibitors. Inefficient therapy was more frequently observed in patients with rs2255336 GG or rs1049174 CC genotype as compared to other genotypes (p-value = 0.003 and p-value = 0.004, respectively). The presence of the rs2255336 G or the rs1049174 C allele correlated with a worse EULAR response (p-value = 0.002, p-value = 0.031, respectively). Moreover, patients carrying the rs2255336 or rs1049174 heterozygous genotype achieved better EULAR responses than patients with homozygous genotypes (p-value = 0.010 and p-value = 0.002, respectively). Data from the present study provides evidence that NKG2D polymorphisms may affect response to anti-TNF inhibitors in RA patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Variations in Evolution and Human Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle lncRNA Gene Signatures for Prediction of Breast Cancer Intrinsic Subtypes and Prognosis
Genes 2018, 9(2), 65; doi:10.3390/genes9020065
Received: 9 November 2017 / Revised: 23 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 26 January 2018
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Abstract
Background: Breast cancer is intrinsically heterogeneous and is commonly classified into four main subtypes associated with distinct biological features and clinical outcomes. However, currently available data resources and methods are limited in identifying molecular subtyping on protein-coding genes, and little is known about
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Background: Breast cancer is intrinsically heterogeneous and is commonly classified into four main subtypes associated with distinct biological features and clinical outcomes. However, currently available data resources and methods are limited in identifying molecular subtyping on protein-coding genes, and little is known about the roles of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which occupies 98% of the whole genome. lncRNAs may also play important roles in subgrouping cancer patients and are associated with clinical phenotypes. Methods: The purpose of this project was to identify lncRNA gene signatures that are associated with breast cancer subtypes and clinical outcomes. We identified lncRNA gene signatures from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA )RNAseq data that are associated with breast cancer subtypes by an optimized 1-Norm SVM feature selection algorithm. We evaluated the prognostic performance of these gene signatures with a semi-supervised principal component (superPC) method. Results: Although lncRNAs can independently predict breast cancer subtypes with satisfactory accuracy, a combined gene signature including both coding and non-coding genes will give the best clinically relevant prediction performance. We highlighted eight potential biomarkers (three from coding genes and five from non-coding genes) that are significantly associated with survival outcomes. Conclusion: Our proposed methods are a novel means of identifying subtype-specific coding and non-coding potential biomarkers that are both clinically relevant and biologically significant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-coding RNAs)
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Open AccessArticle WNT9A Is a Conserved Regulator of Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cell Development
Genes 2018, 9(2), 66; doi:10.3390/genes9020066
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 10 January 2018 / Accepted: 23 January 2018 / Published: 29 January 2018
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Abstract
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) differentiate into all cell types of the blood and can be used therapeutically to treat hematopoietic cancers and disorders. Despite decades of research, it is not yet possible to derive therapy-grade HSCs from pluripotent precursors. Analysis of HSC development
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Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) differentiate into all cell types of the blood and can be used therapeutically to treat hematopoietic cancers and disorders. Despite decades of research, it is not yet possible to derive therapy-grade HSCs from pluripotent precursors. Analysis of HSC development in model organisms has identified some of the molecular cues that are necessary to instruct hematopoiesis in vivo, including Wnt9A, which is required during an early time window in zebrafish development. Although bona fide HSCs cannot be derived in vitro, it is possible to model human hematopoietic progenitor development by differentiating human pluripotent stem cells to hematopoietic cells. Herein, we modulate WNT9A expression during the in vitro differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to hematopoietic progenitor cells and demonstrate that WNT9A also regulates human hematopoietic progenitor cell development in vitro. Overexpression of WNT9A only impacts differentiation to CD34+/CD45+ cells during early time windows and does so in a dose-dependent manner. The cells that receive the Wnt signal—not the cells that secrete WNT9A—differentiate most efficiently to hematopoietic progenitors; this mimics the paracrine action of Wnt9a during in vivo hematopoiesis. Taken together, these data indicate that WNT9A is a conserved regulator of zebrafish and human hematopoietic development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Stem Cells)
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Open AccessArticle Autosomal Recessive NRL Mutations in Patients with Enhanced S-Cone Syndrome
Genes 2018, 9(2), 68; doi:10.3390/genes9020068
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 23 January 2018 / Accepted: 23 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
Enhanced S-cone syndrome (ESCS) is mainly associated with mutations in the NR2E3 gene. However, rare mutations in the NRL gene have been reported in patients with ESCS. We report on an ESCS phenotype in additional patients with autosomal recessive NRL (arNRL)
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Enhanced S-cone syndrome (ESCS) is mainly associated with mutations in the NR2E3 gene. However, rare mutations in the NRL gene have been reported in patients with ESCS. We report on an ESCS phenotype in additional patients with autosomal recessive NRL (arNRL) mutations. Three Moroccan patients of two different families with arNRL mutations were enrolled in this study. The mutation in the DNA of one patient, from a consanguineous marriage, was detected by homozygosity mapping. The mutation in the DNA of two siblings from a second family was detected in a targeted next-generation sequencing project. Full ophthalmic examination was performed, including best-corrected visual acuity, slit-lamp biomicroscopy, funduscopy, Goldmann kinetic perimetry, optical coherence tomography, fundus autofluorescence, and extended electroretinography including an amber stimulus on a blue background and a blue stimulus on an amber background. One patient carried a homozygous missense mutation (c.508C>A; p.Arg170Ser) in the NRL gene, whereas the same mutation was identified heterozygously in the two siblings of a second family, in combination with a one base-pair deletion (c.654del; p.Cys219Valfs*4) on the other allele. All patients had reduced visual acuity and showed a typical clumped pigmentary retinal degeneration (CPRD). Foveal schisis-like changes were observed in the oldest patient. An electroretinogram (ERG) under dark-adapted conditions showed absent responses for low stimulus strengths and reduced responses for high stimulus strengths, with constant b-wave latencies despite increasing stimulus strength. A relatively high amplitude was detected with a blue stimulus on an amber background, while an amber stimulus on a blue background showed reduced responses. The arNRL mutations cause a phenotype with typical CPRD. This phenotype has previously been described in patients with ESCS caused by NR2E3 mutations, and rarely by NRL mutations. Based on our findings in ERG testing, we conclude that S-cone function is enhanced in our patients in a similar manner as in patients with NR2E3-associated ESCS, confirming previous reports of NRL as a second gene to cause ESCS. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Genome-Wide Identification and Expression Analysis of the HD-Zip Gene Family in Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
Genes 2018, 9(2), 70; doi:10.3390/genes9020070
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 23 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
The homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) gene family, as plant-specific transcription factors, plays an important role in plant development and growth as well as in the response to diverse stresses. Although HD-Zip genes have been extensively studied in many plants, they had not yet been
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The homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) gene family, as plant-specific transcription factors, plays an important role in plant development and growth as well as in the response to diverse stresses. Although HD-Zip genes have been extensively studied in many plants, they had not yet been studied in wheat, especially those involved in response to abiotic stresses. In this study, 46 wheat HD-Zip genes were identified using a genome-wide search method. Phylogenetic analysis classified these genes into four groups, numbered 4, 5, 17 and 20 respectively. In total, only three genes with A, B and D homoeologous copies were identified. Furthermore, the gene interaction networks found that the TaHDZ genes played a critical role in the regulatory pathway of organ development and osmotic stress. Finally, the expression profiles of the wheat HD-Zips in different tissues and under various abiotic stresses were investigated using the available RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) data and then validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) to obtain the tissue-specific and stress-responsive candidates. This study systematically identifies the HD-Zip gene family in wheat at the genome-wide level, providing important candidates for further functional analysis and contributing to the better understanding of the molecular basis of development and stress tolerance in wheat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Regulation of Abiotic Stress Responses)
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Open AccessArticle Transcriptomic Analysis Provides Insights into Grafting Union Development in Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
Genes 2018, 9(2), 71; doi:10.3390/genes9020071
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 18 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 5 February 2018
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Abstract
Pecan (Carya illinoinensis), as a popular nut tree, has been widely planted in China in recent years. Grafting is an important technique for its cultivation. For a successful grafting, graft union development generally involves the formation of callus and vascular bundles
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Pecan (Carya illinoinensis), as a popular nut tree, has been widely planted in China in recent years. Grafting is an important technique for its cultivation. For a successful grafting, graft union development generally involves the formation of callus and vascular bundles at the graft union. To explore the molecular mechanism of graft union development, we applied high throughput RNA sequencing to investigate the transcriptomic profiles of graft union at four timepoints (0 days, 8 days, 15 days, and 30 days) during the pecan grafting process. After de novo assembly, 83,693 unigenes were obtained, and 40,069 of them were annotated. A total of 12,180 differentially expressed genes were identified between by grafting. Genes involved in hormone signaling, cell proliferation, xylem differentiation, cell elongation, secondary cell wall deposition, programmed cell death, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging showed significant differential expression during the graft union developmental process. In addition, we found that the content of auxin, cytokinin, and gibberellin were accumulated at the graft unions during the grafting process. These results will aid in our understanding of successful grafting in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Differentially Methylated Sites with Weak Methylation Effects
Genes 2018, 9(2), 75; doi:10.3390/genes9020075
Received: 2 December 2017 / Revised: 17 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
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Abstract
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation is an epigenetic alteration crucial for regulating stress responses. Identifying large-scale DNA methylation at single nucleotide resolution is made possible by whole genome bisulfite sequencing. An essential task following the generation of bisulfite sequencing data is to detect differentially
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Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation is an epigenetic alteration crucial for regulating stress responses. Identifying large-scale DNA methylation at single nucleotide resolution is made possible by whole genome bisulfite sequencing. An essential task following the generation of bisulfite sequencing data is to detect differentially methylated cytosines (DMCs) among treatments. Most statistical methods for DMC detection do not consider the dependency of methylation patterns across the genome, thus possibly inflating type I error. Furthermore, small sample sizes and weak methylation effects among different phenotype categories make it difficult for these statistical methods to accurately detect DMCs. To address these issues, the wavelet-based functional mixed model (WFMM) was introduced to detect DMCs. To further examine the performance of WFMM in detecting weak differential methylation events, we used both simulated and empirical data and compare WFMM performance to a popular DMC detection tool methylKit. Analyses of simulated data that replicated the effects of the herbicide glyphosate on DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana show that WFMM results in higher sensitivity and specificity in detecting DMCs compared to methylKit, especially when the methylation differences among phenotype groups are small. Moreover, the performance of WFMM is robust with respect to small sample sizes, making it particularly attractive considering the current high costs of bisulfite sequencing. Analysis of empirical Arabidopsis thaliana data under varying glyphosate dosages, and the analysis of monozygotic (MZ) twins who have different pain sensitivities—both datasets have weak methylation effects of <1%—show that WFMM can identify more relevant DMCs related to the phenotype of interest than methylKit. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) are genomic regions with different DNA methylation status across biological samples. DMRs and DMCs are essentially the same concepts, with the only difference being how methylation information across the genome is summarized. If methylation levels are determined by grouping neighboring cytosine sites, then they are DMRs; if methylation levels are calculated based on single cytosines, they are DMCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Genetics)
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Open AccessArticle The Moss Physcomitrella patens Is Hyperresistant to DNA Double-Strand Breaks Induced by γ-Irradiation
Genes 2018, 9(2), 76; doi:10.3390/genes9020076
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 31 January 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
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Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the moss Physcomitrella patens cells are more resistant to ionizing radiation than animal cells. Protoplasts derived from P. patens protonemata were irradiated with γ-rays of 50–1000 gray (Gy). Clonogenicity of the protoplasts decreased in
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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the moss Physcomitrella patens cells are more resistant to ionizing radiation than animal cells. Protoplasts derived from P. patens protonemata were irradiated with γ-rays of 50–1000 gray (Gy). Clonogenicity of the protoplasts decreased in a γ-ray dose-dependent manner. The dose that decreased clonogenicity by half (LD50) was 277 Gy, which indicated that the moss protoplasts were 200-times more radioresistant than human cells. To investigate the mechanism of radioresistance in P. patens, we irradiated protoplasts on ice and initial double-strand break (DSB) yields were measured using the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis assay. Induced DSBs linearly increased dependent on the γ-ray dose and the DSB yield per Gb DNA per Gy was 2.2. The DSB yield in P. patens was half to one-third of those reported in mammals and yeasts, indicating that DSBs are difficult to induce in P. patens. The DSB yield per cell per LD50 dose in P. patens was 311, which is three- to six-times higher than those in mammals and yeasts, implying that P. patens is hyperresistant to DSBs. Physcomitrella patens is indicated to possess unique mechanisms to inhibit DSB induction and provide resistance to high numbers of DSBs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Damage Responses in Plants)
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Open AccessArticle Development of an Effective 6-Methylpurine Counterselection Marker for Genetic Manipulation in Thermococcus barophilus
Genes 2018, 9(2), 77; doi:10.3390/genes9020077
Received: 8 January 2018 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
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Abstract
A gene disruption system for Thermococcus barophilus was developed using simvastatin (HMG-CoA reductase encoding gene) for positive selection and 5-Fluoroorotic acid (5-FOA), a pyrF gene for negative selection. Multiple gene mutants were constructed with this system, which offers the possibility of complementation in
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A gene disruption system for Thermococcus barophilus was developed using simvastatin (HMG-CoA reductase encoding gene) for positive selection and 5-Fluoroorotic acid (5-FOA), a pyrF gene for negative selection. Multiple gene mutants were constructed with this system, which offers the possibility of complementation in trans, but produces many false positives (<80%). To significantly reduce the rate of false positives, we used another counterselective marker, 6-methylpurine (6-MP), a toxic analog of adenine developed in Thermococcus kodakarensis, consistently correlated with the TK0664 gene (encoding a hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl-transferase). We thus replaced pyrF by TK0664 on our suicide vector and tested T. barophilus strain sensitivity to 6-MP before and after transformation. Wild-Type (WT) T. barophilus is less sensitive to 6-MP than WT T. kodakarensis, and an increase of cell resistance was achieved after deletion of the T. barophilus TERMP_00517 gene homologous to T. kodakarensis TK0664. Results confirmed the natural resistance of T. barophilus to 6-MP and show that TK0664 can confer sensitivity. This new counterselection system vastly improves genetic manipulations in T. barophilus MP, with a strong decrease in false positives to <15%. Using this genetic tool, we have started to investigate the functions of several genes involved in genomic maintenance (e.g., polB and rnhB). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles)
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Open AccessArticle DNA Methylation and All-Cause Mortality in Middle-Aged and Elderly Danish Twins
Genes 2018, 9(2), 78; doi:10.3390/genes9020078
Received: 29 September 2017 / Revised: 16 January 2018 / Accepted: 25 January 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
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Abstract
Several studies have linked DNA methylation at individual CpG sites to aging and various diseases. Recent studies have also identified single CpGs whose methylation levels are associated with all-cause mortality. In this study, we perform an epigenome-wide study of the association between CpG
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Several studies have linked DNA methylation at individual CpG sites to aging and various diseases. Recent studies have also identified single CpGs whose methylation levels are associated with all-cause mortality. In this study, we perform an epigenome-wide study of the association between CpG methylation and mortality in a population of 435 monozygotic twin pairs from three Danish twin studies. The participants were aged 55–90 at the time of blood sampling and were followed for up to 20 years. We validated our results by comparison with results from a British and a Swedish cohort, as well as results from the literature. We identified 2806 CpG sites associated with mortality (false discovery rate ( FDR ) < 0.05 ), of which 24 had an association p-value below 10 7 . This was confirmed by intra-pair comparison controlling for confounding effects. Eight of the 24 top sites could be validated in independent datasets or confirmed by previous studies. For all these eight sites, hypomethylation was associated with poor survival prognosis, and seven showed monozygotic correlations above 35%, indicating a potential moderate to strong heritability, but leaving room for substantial shared or unique environmental effects. We also set up a predictor for mortality using least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression. The predictor showed good performance on the Danish data under cross-validation, but did not perform very well in independent samples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Epigenetics of Aging and Longevity)
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Open AccessArticle Differential Enzymatic Activity of Rat ADAR2 Splicing Variants Is Due to Altered Capability to Interact with RNA in the Deaminase Domain
Genes 2018, 9(2), 79; doi:10.3390/genes9020079
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 19 January 2018 / Published: 8 February 2018
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Abstract
In mammals, adenosine (A) to inosine (I) RNA editing is performed by adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADAR), ADAR1 and ADAR2 enzymes, encoded by mRNAs that might undergo splicing process. In rat, two splicing events produce several isoforms of ADAR2, called ADAR2a, ADAR2b,
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In mammals, adenosine (A) to inosine (I) RNA editing is performed by adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADAR), ADAR1 and ADAR2 enzymes, encoded by mRNAs that might undergo splicing process. In rat, two splicing events produce several isoforms of ADAR2, called ADAR2a, ADAR2b, ADAR2e, and ADAR2f, but only ADAR2a and ADAR2b are translated into an active protein. In particular, they differ for ten amino acids located in the catalytic domain of ADAR2b. Here, we focused on these two isoforms, analyzing the splicing pattern and their different function during rat neuronal maturation. We found an increase of editing levels in cortical neurons overexpressing ADAR2a compared to those overexpressing ADAR2b. These results indicate ADAR2a isoform as the most active one, as reported for the homologous human short variant. Furthermore, we showed that the differential editing activity is not due to a different dimerization of the two isoforms; it seems to be linked to the ten amino acids loop of ADAR2b that might interfere with RNA binding, occupying the space volume in which the RNA should be present in case of binding. These data might shed light on the complexity of ADAR2 regulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Genetics)
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Open AccessArticle Phenotypic and Genotypic Analysis of Antimicrobial Resistance among Listeria monocytogenes Isolated from Australian Food Production Chains
Genes 2018, 9(2), 80; doi:10.3390/genes9020080
Received: 10 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 31 January 2018 / Published: 9 February 2018
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Abstract
The current global crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among important human bacterial pathogens has been amplified by an increased resistance prevalence. In recent years, a number of studies have reported higher resistance levels among Listeria monocytogenes isolates, which may have implications for treatment
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The current global crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among important human bacterial pathogens has been amplified by an increased resistance prevalence. In recent years, a number of studies have reported higher resistance levels among Listeria monocytogenes isolates, which may have implications for treatment of listeriosis infection where resistance to key treatment antimicrobials is noted. This study examined the genotypic and phenotypic AMR patterns of 100 L. monocytogenes isolates originating from food production supplies in Australia and examined this in the context of global population trends. Low levels of resistance were noted to ciprofloxacin (2%) and erythromycin (1%); however, no resistance was observed to penicillin G or tetracycline. Resistance to ciprofloxacin was associated with a mutation in the fepR gene in one isolate; however, no genetic basis for resistance in the other isolate was identified. Resistance to erythromycin was correlated with the presence of the ermB resistance gene. Both resistant isolates belonged to clonal complex 1 (CC1), and analysis of these in the context of global CC1 isolates suggested that they were more similar to isolates from India rather than the other CC1 isolates included in this study. This study provides baseline AMR data for L. monocytogenes isolated in Australia, identifies key genetic markers underlying this resistance, and highlights the need for global molecular surveillance of resistance patterns to maintain control over the potential dissemination of AMR isolates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Foodborne Pathogens)
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Open AccessArticle Pathogenicity Islands Distribution in Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC)
Genes 2018, 9(2), 81; doi:10.3390/genes9020081
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 6 February 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 10 February 2018
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Abstract
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are foodborne pathogens associated with outbreaks and hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Cattle and meat foods are the main reservoir and infection source, respectively. Pathogenicity islands (PAIs) play an important role in STEC pathogenicity, and non-locus of the enterocyte effacement(LEE) effector
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Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are foodborne pathogens associated with outbreaks and hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Cattle and meat foods are the main reservoir and infection source, respectively. Pathogenicity islands (PAIs) play an important role in STEC pathogenicity, and non-locus of the enterocyte effacement(LEE) effector (nle) genes present on them encode translocated substrates of the type III secretion system. A molecular risk assessment based on the evaluation of the nle content has been used to predict which STEC strains pose a risk to humans. The goal was to investigate the distribution of the PAIs OI (O-island)-36 (nleB2, nleC, nleH1-1, nleD), OI-57 (nleG2-3, nleG5-2, nleG6-2), OI-71 (nleA, nleF, nleG, nleG2-1, nleG9, nleH1-2) and OI-122 (ent/espL2, nleB, nleE, Z4321, Z4326, Z4332, Z4333) among 204 clinical, food and animal isolates belonging to 52 non-O157:H7 serotypes. Differences in the frequencies of genetic markers and a wide spectrum of PAI virulence profiles were found. In most LEE-negative strains, only module 1 (Z4321) of OI-122 was present. However, some unusual eae-negative strains were detected, which carried other PAI genes. The cluster analysis, excluding isolates that presented no genes, defined two major groups: eae-negative (determined as seropathotypes (SPTs) D, E or without determination, isolated from cattle or food) and eae-positive (mostly identified as SPTs B, C, or not determined). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Foodborne Pathogens)
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Open AccessArticle Re-Arrangements in the Cytoplasmic Distribution of Small RNAs Following the Maternal-to-Zygotic Transition in Drosophila Embryos
Genes 2018, 9(2), 82; doi:10.3390/genes9020082
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 10 February 2018
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Abstract
Small ribonucleic acids (RNAs) are known to regulate gene expression during early development. However, the dynamics of interaction between small RNAs and polysomes during this process is largely unknown. To investigate this phenomenon, 0–1 h and 7–8 h Drosophila melanogaster embryos were fractionated
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Small ribonucleic acids (RNAs) are known to regulate gene expression during early development. However, the dynamics of interaction between small RNAs and polysomes during this process is largely unknown. To investigate this phenomenon, 0–1 h and 7–8 h Drosophila melanogaster embryos were fractionated on sucrose density gradients into four fractions based on A254 reading (1) translationally inactive messenger ribonucleoprotein (mRNP), (2) 60S, (3) monosome, and (4) polysome. Comparative analysis of deep-sequencing reads from fractionated and un-fractionated 0–1 h and 7–8 h embryos revealed development-specific co-sedimentation pattern of small RNAs with the cellular translation machinery. Although most micro RNAs (miRNAs) did not have a specific preference for any state of the translational machinery, we detected fraction-specific enrichment of a few miRNAs such as dme-miR-1-3p, -184-3p, 5-5p and 263-5p. More interestingly, we observed changes in the subcellular location of a subset of miRNAs in fractionated embryos despite no measurable difference in their amount in unfractionated embryos. Transposon-derived endo small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) were over-expressed in 7–8 h embryos and associated mainly with the mRNP fraction. In contrast, transposon-derived PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNA), which were more abundant in 0–1 h embryos, co-sedimented primarily with the polysome fractions. These results suggest that there appears to be a complex interplay among the small RNAs with respect to their polysome-cosedimentation pattern during early development in Drosophila melanogaster. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Genetics)
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Open AccessArticle Small RNAs of Haloferax mediterranei: Identification and Potential Involvement in Nitrogen Metabolism
Genes 2018, 9(2), 83; doi:10.3390/genes9020083
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 10 February 2018
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Abstract
Small RNAs have been studied in detail in domains Bacteria and Eukarya but, in the case of the domain Archaea, the knowledge is scarce and the physiological function of these small RNAs (sRNAs) is still uncertain. To extend the knowledge of sRNAs in
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Small RNAs have been studied in detail in domains Bacteria and Eukarya but, in the case of the domain Archaea, the knowledge is scarce and the physiological function of these small RNAs (sRNAs) is still uncertain. To extend the knowledge of sRNAs in the domain Archaea and their possible role in the regulation of the nitrogen assimilation metabolism in haloarchaea, Haloferax mediterranei has been used as a model microorganism. The bioinformatic approach has allowed for the prediction of 295 putative sRNAs genes in the genome of H. mediterranei, 88 of which have been verified by means of RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq). The secondary structure of these sRNAs and their possible targets have been identified. Curiously, some of them present as possible target genes relating to nitrogen assimilation, such as glutamate dehydrogenase and the nitrogen regulatory PII protein. Analysis of RNA-Seq data has also revealed differences in the expression pattern of 16 sRNAs according to the nitrogen source. Consequently, RNomic and bioinformatic approaches used in this work have allowed for the identification of new sRNAs in H. mediterranei, some of which show different expression patterns depending on the nitrogen source. This suggests that these sRNAs could be involved in the regulation of nitrogen assimilation and can constitute an important gene regulatory network. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles)
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Open AccessArticle Genome-Wide Identification, Characterization, and Expression Profiling of Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) Family in Pumpkin Reveals Likely Role in Cold-Stress Tolerance
Genes 2018, 9(2), 84; doi:10.3390/genes9020084
Received: 17 January 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2018 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 10 February 2018
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Abstract
Plant growth and development can be adversely affected by cold stress, limiting productivity. The glutathione S-transferase (GST) family comprises important detoxifying enzymes, which play major roles in biotic and abiotic stress responses by reducing the oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species.
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Plant growth and development can be adversely affected by cold stress, limiting productivity. The glutathione S-transferase (GST) family comprises important detoxifying enzymes, which play major roles in biotic and abiotic stress responses by reducing the oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species. Pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) are widely grown, economically important, and nutritious; however, their yield can be severely affected by cold stress. The identification of putative candidate genes responsible for cold-stress tolerance, including the GST family genes, is therefore vital. For the first time, we identified 32 C. maxima GST (CmaGST) genes using a combination of bioinformatics approaches and characterized them by expression profiling. These CmaGST genes represent seven of the 14 known classes of plant GSTs, with 18 CmaGSTs categorized into the tau class. The CmaGSTs were distributed across 13 of pumpkin’s 20 chromosomes, with the highest numbers found on chromosomes 4 and 6. The large number of CmaGST genes resulted from gene duplication; 11 and 5 pairs of CmaGST genes were segmental- and tandem-duplicated, respectively. In addition, all CmaGST genes showed organ-specific expression. The expression of the putative GST genes in pumpkin was examined under cold stress in two lines with contrasting cold tolerance: cold-tolerant CP-1 (C. maxima) and cold-susceptible EP-1 (Cucurbita moschata). Seven genes (CmaGSTU3, CmaGSTU7, CmaGSTU8, CmaGSTU9, CmaGSTU11, CmaGSTU12, and CmaGSTU14) were highly expressed in the cold-tolerant line and are putative candidates for use in breeding cold-tolerant crop varieties. These results increase our understanding of the cold-stress-related functions of the GST family, as well as potentially enhancing pumpkin breeding programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle MicroRNA-31 and MicroRNA-155 Are Overexpressed in Ulcerative Colitis and Regulate IL-13 Signaling by Targeting Interleukin 13 Receptor α-1
Genes 2018, 9(2), 85; doi:10.3390/genes9020085
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
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Abstract
Interleukin-13 (IL-13) is an important Type 2 T helper (Th2) cytokine, controlling biological functions in epithelium and has been linked to asthma, atopic dermatitis and ulcerative colitis (UC). Interleukin-13 signals through IL-13 receptor α-1 (IL13RA1 (gene) and IL13Rα1 (protein)), a receptor that
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Interleukin-13 (IL-13) is an important Type 2 T helper (Th2) cytokine, controlling biological functions in epithelium and has been linked to asthma, atopic dermatitis and ulcerative colitis (UC). Interleukin-13 signals through IL-13 receptor α-1 (IL13RA1 (gene) and IL13Rα1 (protein)), a receptor that can be regulated by microRNAs (miRs). MicroRNAs are small non-coding single-stranded RNAs with a role in several pathologies. However, their relevance in the pathophysiology of UC, a chronic inflammatory condition of the colonic mucosa, is poorly characterised. Here, we determined the expression of IL13Rα1 in UC, its potential regulation by miRs and the subsequent effect on IL-13 signalling. Inflamed mucosa of UC patients showed decreased mRNA and protein expression of IL13RA1 when compared to healthy controls. We show that miR-31 and miR-155 are upregulated in inflamed UC mucosa and that both directly target the 3′ untranslated region of IL13RA1 mRNA. Transfection of miR-31 and miR-155 mimics reduced the expression of IL13RA1 mRNA and protein, and blocked IL-13-dependent phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) in HT-29 cells, a gut epithelium cell line. Interleukin-13 activation of suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) and eotaxin-3 (CCL26) expression was also diminished. MicroRNA-31/microRNA-155 mimics also downregulated IL13RA1 in ex vivo human inflamed UC biopsies. We propose that miR-31 and miR-155 have an important role in limiting IL-13 signalling in UC disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle Characterization of TTN Novex Splicing Variants across Species and the Role of RBM20 in Novex-Specific Exon Splicing
Genes 2018, 9(2), 86; doi:10.3390/genes9020086
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 30 January 2018 / Published: 13 February 2018
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Abstract
Titin (TTN) is a major disease-causing gene in cardiac muscle. Titin (TTN) contains 363 exons in human encoding various sizes of TTN protein due to alternative splicing regulated mainly by RNA binding motif 20 (RBM20). Three isoforms of TTN
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Titin (TTN) is a major disease-causing gene in cardiac muscle. Titin (TTN) contains 363 exons in human encoding various sizes of TTN protein due to alternative splicing regulated mainly by RNA binding motif 20 (RBM20). Three isoforms of TTN protein are produced by mutually exclusive exons 45 (Novex 1), 46 (Novex 2), and 48 (Novex 3). Alternatively splicing in Novex isoforms across species and whether Novex isoforms are associated with heart disease remains completely unknown. Cross-species exon comparison with the mVISTA online tool revealed that exon 45 is more highly conserved across all species than exons 46 and 48. Importantly, a conserved region between exons 47 and 48 across species was revealed for the first time. Reverse transcript polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and DNA sequencing confirmed a new exon named as 48′ in Novex 3. In addition, with primer pairs for Novex 1, a new truncated form preserving introns 44 and 45 was discovered. We discovered that Novex 2 is not expressed in the pig, mouse, and rat with Novex 2 primer pairs. Unexpectedly, three truncated forms were identified. One TTN variant with intron 46 retention is mainly expressed in the human and frog heart, another variant with co-expression of exons 45 and 46 exists predominantly in chicken and frog heart, and a third with retention of introns 45 and 46 is mainly expressed in pig, mouse, rat, and chicken. Using Rbm20 knockout rat heart, we revealed that RBM20 is not a splicing regulator of Novex variants. Furthermore, the expression levels of Novex variants in human hearts with cardiomyopathies suggested that Novexes 2 and 3 could be associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and/or arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Taken together, our study reveals that splicing diversity of Novex exons across species and Novex variants might play a role in cardiomyopathy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aberrant Pre-mRNA Splicing in Disease)
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Open AccessArticle GWAS Uncovers Differential Genetic Bases for Drought and Salt Tolerances in Sesame at the Germination Stage
Genes 2018, 9(2), 87; doi:10.3390/genes9020087
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 25 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Sesame has great potential as an industrial crop but its production is challenged by drought and salt stresses. To unravel the genetic variants leading to salinity and drought tolerances at the germination stage, genome-wide association studies of stress tolerance indexes related to NaCl-salt
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Sesame has great potential as an industrial crop but its production is challenged by drought and salt stresses. To unravel the genetic variants leading to salinity and drought tolerances at the germination stage, genome-wide association studies of stress tolerance indexes related to NaCl-salt and polyethylene glycol-drought induced stresses were performed with a diversity panel of 490 sesame accessions. An extensive variation was observed for drought and salt responses in the population and most of the accessions were moderately tolerant to both stresses. A total of 132 and 120 significant Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) resolved to nine and 15 Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were detected for drought and salt stresses, respectively. Only two common QTLs for drought and salt responses were found located on linkage groups 5 and 7, respectively. This indicates that the genetic bases for drought and salt responses in sesame are different. A total of 13 and 27 potential candidate genes were uncovered for drought and salt tolerance indexes, respectively, encoding transcription factors, antioxidative enzymes, osmoprotectants and involved in hormonal biosynthesis, signal transduction or ion sequestration. The identified SNPs and potential candidate genes represent valuable resources for future functional characterization towards the enhancement of sesame cultivars for drought and salt tolerances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Embedded Disposable Functionalized Electrochemical Biosensor with a 3D-Printed Flow Cell for Detection of Hepatic Oval Cells (HOCs)
Genes 2018, 9(2), 89; doi:10.3390/genes9020089
Received: 8 January 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2018 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Hepatic oval cells (HOCs) are considered the progeny of the intrahepatic stem cells that are found in a small population in the liver after hepatocyte proliferation is inhibited. Due to their small number, isolation and capture of these cells constitute a challenging task
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Hepatic oval cells (HOCs) are considered the progeny of the intrahepatic stem cells that are found in a small population in the liver after hepatocyte proliferation is inhibited. Due to their small number, isolation and capture of these cells constitute a challenging task for immunosensor technology. This work describes the development of a 3D-printed continuous flow system and exploits disposable screen-printed electrodes for the rapid detection of HOCs that over-express the OV6 marker on their membrane. Multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) electrodes have a chitosan film that serves as a scaffold for the immobilization of oval cell marker antibodies (anti-OV6-Ab), which enhance the sensitivity of the biomarker and makes the designed sensor specific for oval cells. The developed sensor can be easily embedded into the 3D-printed flow cell to allow cells to be exposed continuously to the functionalized surface. The continuous flow is intended to increase capture of most of the target cells in the specimen. Contact angle measurements were performed to characterize the nature and quality of the modified sensor surface, and electrochemical measurements (cyclic voltammetry (CV) and square wave voltammetry (SWV)) were performed to confirm the efficiency and selectivity of the fabricated sensor to detect HOCs. The proposed method is valuable for capturing rare cells and could provide an effective tool for cancer diagnosis and detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From the Lab-on-a-Chip to the Organ-on-a-Chip)
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Open AccessArticle PClass: Protein Quaternary Structure Classification by Using Bootstrapping Strategy as Model Selection
Genes 2018, 9(2), 91; doi:10.3390/genes9020091
Received: 21 December 2017 / Revised: 24 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Protein quaternary structure complex is also known as a multimer, which plays an important role in a cell. The dimer structure of transcription factors is involved in gene regulation, but the trimer structure of virus-infection-associated glycoproteins is related to the human immunodeficiency virus.
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Protein quaternary structure complex is also known as a multimer, which plays an important role in a cell. The dimer structure of transcription factors is involved in gene regulation, but the trimer structure of virus-infection-associated glycoproteins is related to the human immunodeficiency virus. The classification of the protein quaternary structure complex for the post-genome era of proteomics research will be of great help. Classification systems among protein quaternary structures have not been widely developed. Therefore, we designed the architecture of a two-layer machine learning technique in this study, and developed the classification system PClass. The protein quaternary structure of the complex is divided into five categories, namely, monomer, dimer, trimer, tetramer, and other subunit classes. In the framework of the bootstrap method with a support vector machine, we propose a new model selection method. Each type of complex is classified based on sequences, entropy, and accessible surface area, thereby generating a plurality of feature modules. Subsequently, the optimal model of effectiveness is selected as each kind of complex feature module. In this stage, the optimal performance can reach as high as 70% of Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC). The second layer of construction combines the first-layer module to integrate mechanisms and the use of six machine learning methods to improve the prediction performance. This system can be improved over 10% in MCC. Finally, we analyzed the performance of our classification system using transcription factors in dimer structure and virus-infection-associated glycoprotein in trimer structure. PClass is available via a web interface at http://predictor.nchu.edu.tw/PClass/. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Key Pathways and Genes in the Dynamic Progression of HCC Based on WGCNA
Genes 2018, 9(2), 92; doi:10.3390/genes9020092
Received: 16 January 2018 / Revised: 4 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a devastating disease worldwide. Though many efforts have been made to elucidate the process of HCC, its molecular mechanisms of development remain elusive due to its complexity. To explore the stepwise carcinogenic process from pre-neoplastic lesions to the end
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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a devastating disease worldwide. Though many efforts have been made to elucidate the process of HCC, its molecular mechanisms of development remain elusive due to its complexity. To explore the stepwise carcinogenic process from pre-neoplastic lesions to the end stage of HCC, we employed weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) which has been proved to be an effective method in many diseases to detect co-expressed modules and hub genes using eight pathological stages including normal, cirrhosis without HCC, cirrhosis, low-grade dysplastic, high-grade dysplastic, very early and early, advanced HCC and very advanced HCC. Among the eight consecutive pathological stages, five representative modules are selected to perform canonical pathway enrichment and upstream regulator analysis by using ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) software. We found that cell cycle related biological processes were activated at four neoplastic stages, and the degree of activation of the cell cycle corresponded to the deterioration degree of HCC. The orange and yellow modules enriched in energy metabolism, especially oxidative metabolism, and the expression value of the genes decreased only at four neoplastic stages. The brown module, enriched in protein ubiquitination and ephrin receptor signaling pathways, correlated mainly with the very early stage of HCC. The darkred module, enriched in hepatic fibrosis/hepatic stellate cell activation, correlated with the cirrhotic stage only. The high degree hub genes were identified based on the protein-protein interaction (PPI) network and were verified by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. The novel five high degree hub genes signature that was identified in our study may shed light on future prognostic and therapeutic approaches. Our study brings a new perspective to the understanding of the key pathways and genes in the dynamic changes of HCC progression. These findings shed light on further investigations Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Approaches for Disease Gene Identification)
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Open AccessArticle Differential Expression of Six Rnase2 and Three Rnase3 Paralogs Identified in Blunt Snout Bream in Response to Aeromonas hydrophila Infection
Genes 2018, 9(2), 95; doi:10.3390/genes9020095
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Ribonucleases (Rnases)2 and Rnase3 belong to the ribonuclease A (RnaseA) superfamily. Apart from their role in molecular evolutionary and functional biological studies, these genes have also been studied in the context of defense against pathogen infection in mammals. However, expression
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Ribonucleases (Rnases)2 and Rnase3 belong to the ribonuclease A (RnaseA) superfamily. Apart from their role in molecular evolutionary and functional biological studies, these genes have also been studied in the context of defense against pathogen infection in mammals. However, expression patterns, structures and response to bacterial infection of the two genes in blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala) remain unknown. In this study, we identified multiple copies of Rnase2 (six) and Rnase3 (three) in the M. amblycephala genome. The nine genes all possess characteristics typical of the RnaseA superfamily. No expression was detected in the early developmental stages, while a weak expression was observed at 120 and 140 h post-fertilization (hpf) for Rnase2b, Rnase2c, Rnase2e and Rnase3a, suggesting that only three copies of Rnase2 and one of Rnase3 are expressed. Interestingly, only Rnase2e was up-regulated in the kidney of M. amblycephala after Aeromonas hydrophila infection, while Rnase3a was significantly up-regulated in liver, gut and blood after the infection. We conclude that the paralogs of Rnase3 are more susceptible to A. hydrophila infection than Rnase2. These results indicate that different Rnase2 and Rnase3 paralogs suggest a role in the innate immune response of M. amblycephala to bacterial infection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Exploration and Exploitation of Novel SSR Markers for Candidate Transcription Factor Genes in Lilium Species
Genes 2018, 9(2), 97; doi:10.3390/genes9020097
Received: 5 January 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Lilies (Lilium sp.) are commercially important horticultural crops widely cultivated for their flowers and bulbs. Here, we conducted large-scale data mining of the lily transcriptome to develop transcription factor (TF)-associated microsatellite markers (TFSSRs). Among 216,768 unigenes extracted from our sequence data, 6966
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Lilies (Lilium sp.) are commercially important horticultural crops widely cultivated for their flowers and bulbs. Here, we conducted large-scale data mining of the lily transcriptome to develop transcription factor (TF)-associated microsatellite markers (TFSSRs). Among 216,768 unigenes extracted from our sequence data, 6966 unigenes harbored simple sequence repeats (SSRs). Seventy-one SSRs were associated with TF genes, and these were used to design primers and validate their potential as markers. These 71 SSRs were accomplished with 31 transcription factor families; including bHLH, MYB, C2H2, ERF, C3H, NAC, bZIP, and so on. Fourteen highly polymorphic SSRs were selected based on Polymorphic Information Content (PIC) values and used to study genetic diversity and population structure in lily accessions. Higher genetic diversity was observed in Longiflorum compared to Oriental and Asiatic populations. Lily accessions were divided into three sub-populations based in our structure analysis, and an un-rooted neighbor-joining tree effectively separated the accessions according to Asiatic, Oriental, and Longiflorum subgroups. Finally, we showed that 46 of the SSR-associated genes were differentially expressed in response to Botrytis elliptica infection. Thus, our newly developed TFSSR markers represent a powerful tool for large-scale genotyping, high-density and comparative mapping, marker-aided backcrossing, and molecular diversity analysis of Lilium sp. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Characterization of the Symbiotic Nitrogen-Fixing Common Bean Low Phytic Acid (lpa1) Mutant Response to Water Stress
Genes 2018, 9(2), 99; doi:10.3390/genes9020099
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
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Abstract
The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) low phytic acid (lpa1) biofortified genotype produces seeds with improved nutritional characteristics and does not display negative pleiotropic effects. Here we demonstrated that lpa1 plants establish an efficient nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with Rhizobium etli CE3.
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The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) low phytic acid (lpa1) biofortified genotype produces seeds with improved nutritional characteristics and does not display negative pleiotropic effects. Here we demonstrated that lpa1 plants establish an efficient nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with Rhizobium etli CE3. The lpa1 nodules showed a higher expression of nodule-function related genes than the nodules of the parental wild type genotype (BAT 93). We analyzed the response to water stress of lpa1 vs. BAT 93 plants grown under fertilized or under symbiotic N2-fixation conditions. Water stress was induced by water withholding (up to 14% soil moisture) to fertilized or R. etli nodulated plants previously grown with normal irrigation. The fertilized lpa1 plants showed milder water stress symptoms during the water deployment period and after the rehydration recovery period when lpa1 plants showed less biomass reduction. The symbiotic water-stressed lpa1 plants showed decreased nitrogenase activity that coincides with decreased sucrose synthase gene expression in nodules; lower turgor weight to dry weight (DW) ratio, which has been associated with higher drought resistance index; downregulation of carbon/nitrogen (C/N)-related and upregulation of stress-related genes. Higher expression of stress-related genes was also observed in bacteroids of stressed lpa1 plants that also displayed very high expression of the symbiotic cbb3 oxidase (fixNd). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of the Rhizobium-Legume Symbiosis)
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Open AccessArticle High Prevalence of Quorum-Sensing and Quorum-Quenching Activity among Cultivable Bacteria and Metagenomic Sequences in the Mediterranean Sea
Genes 2018, 9(2), 100; doi:10.3390/genes9020100
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract
There is increasing evidence being accumulated regarding the importance of N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHL)-mediated quorum-sensing (QS) and quorum-quenching (QQ) processes in the marine environment, but in most cases, data has been obtained from specific microhabitats, and subsequently little is known regarding these
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There is increasing evidence being accumulated regarding the importance of N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHL)-mediated quorum-sensing (QS) and quorum-quenching (QQ) processes in the marine environment, but in most cases, data has been obtained from specific microhabitats, and subsequently little is known regarding these activities in free-living marine bacteria. The QS and QQ activities among 605 bacterial isolates obtained at 90 and 2000 m depths in the Mediterranean Sea were analyzed. Additionally, putative QS and QQ sequences were searched in metagenomic data obtained at different depths (15–2000 m) at the same sampling site. The number of AHL producers was higher in the 90 m sample (37.66%) than in the 2000 m sample (4.01%). However, the presence of QQ enzymatic activity was 1.63-fold higher in the 2000 m sample. The analysis of putative QQ enzymes in the metagenomes supports the relevance of QQ processes in the deepest samples, found in cultivable bacteria. Despite the unavoidable biases in the cultivation methods and biosensor assays and the possible promiscuous activity of the QQ enzymes retrieved in the metagenomic analysis, the results indicate that AHL-related QS and QQ processes could be common activity in the marine environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Dietary Fiber Treatment Corrects the Composition of Gut Microbiota, Promotes SCFA Production, and Suppresses Colon Carcinogenesis
Genes 2018, 9(2), 102; doi:10.3390/genes9020102
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 29 January 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
PDF Full-text (582 KB) | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Epidemiological studies propose a protective role for dietary fiber in colon cancer (CRC). One possible mechanism of fiber is its fermentation property in the gut and ability to change microbiota composition and function. Here, we investigate the role of a dietary fiber mixture
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Epidemiological studies propose a protective role for dietary fiber in colon cancer (CRC). One possible mechanism of fiber is its fermentation property in the gut and ability to change microbiota composition and function. Here, we investigate the role of a dietary fiber mixture in polyposis and elucidate potential mechanisms using TS4Cre×cAPCl°x468 mice. Stool microbiota profiling was performed, while functional prediction was done using PICRUSt. Stool short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) metabolites were measured. Histone acetylation and expression of SCFA butyrate receptor were assessed. We found that SCFA-producing bacteria were lower in the polyposis mice, suggesting a decline in the fermentation product of dietary fibers with polyposis. Next, a high fiber diet was given to polyposis mice, which significantly increased SCFA-producing bacteria as well as SCFA levels. This was associated with an increase in SCFA butyrate receptor and a significant decrease in polyposis. In conclusion, we found polyposis to be associated with dysbiotic microbiota characterized by a decline in SCFA-producing bacteria, which was targetable by high fiber treatment, leading to an increase in SCFA levels and amelioration of polyposis. The prebiotic activity of fiber, promoting beneficial bacteria, could be the key mechanism for the protective effects of fiber on colon carcinogenesis. SCFA-promoting fermentable fibers are a promising dietary intervention to prevent CRC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intestinal Microbes and Cancer)
Open AccessArticle Microbiome Data Accurately Predicts the Postmortem Interval Using Random Forest Regression Models
Genes 2018, 9(2), 104; doi:10.3390/genes9020104
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 12 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract
Death investigations often include an effort to establish the postmortem interval (PMI) in cases in which the time of death is uncertain. The postmortem interval can lead to the identification of the deceased and the validation of witness statements and suspect alibis. Recent
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Death investigations often include an effort to establish the postmortem interval (PMI) in cases in which the time of death is uncertain. The postmortem interval can lead to the identification of the deceased and the validation of witness statements and suspect alibis. Recent research has demonstrated that microbes provide an accurate clock that starts at death and relies on ecological change in the microbial communities that normally inhabit a body and its surrounding environment. Here, we explore how to build the most robust Random Forest regression models for prediction of PMI by testing models built on different sample types (gravesoil, skin of the torso, skin of the head), gene markers (16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA), 18S rRNA, internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS)), and taxonomic levels (sequence variants, species, genus, etc.). We also tested whether particular suites of indicator microbes were informative across different datasets. Generally, results indicate that the most accurate models for predicting PMI were built using gravesoil and skin data using the 16S rRNA genetic marker at the taxonomic level of phyla. Additionally, several phyla consistently contributed highly to model accuracy and may be candidate indicators of PMI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forensic Genomics)
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Open AccessCommunication Antibiotic Resistance Genetic Markers and Integrons in White Soft Cheese: Aspects of Clinical Resistome and Potentiality of Horizontal Gene Transfer
Genes 2018, 9(2), 106; doi:10.3390/genes9020106
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 15 February 2018 / Published: 19 February 2018
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Abstract
Antibiotic resistance poses an important threat to global public health and has become a challenge to modern medicine. The occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a broad range of foods has led to a growing concern about the impact that food may have as
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Antibiotic resistance poses an important threat to global public health and has become a challenge to modern medicine. The occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a broad range of foods has led to a growing concern about the impact that food may have as a reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes. Considering Minas Frescal Cheese (MFC)—a typical Brazilian white soft cheese—and its economic and cultural values, in this study, medically relevant antimicrobial-resistance genetic markers (AR genes) were screened, and the occurrence of integrons were evaluated in manufactured MFC using culture-independent approaches. Through a fingerprinting analysis, the tested MFCs were brand-clustered, indicating reproducibility along the production chain. A common core of resistance markers in all brands evaluated and related antimicrobials such as β-lactams, tetracyclines, quinolones, and sulfonamide was detected. Several other markers, including efflux pumps and aminoglycosides-resistance were distributed among brands. Class 1 and 2 integrons were observed, respectively, in 77% and 97% of the samples. The presence of AR genes is of special interest due to their clinical relevance. Taken together, the data may suggest that the production chain of MFC might contribute to the spread of putative drug-resistant bacteria, which could greatly impact human health. Furthermore, detection of class 1 and class 2 integrons in MFC has led to discussions about resistance gene spread in this traditional cheese, providing evidence of potential horizontal transfer of AR genes to human gut microbiota. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Foodborne Pathogens)
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Open AccessArticle Genome-Wide Analysis of the GRF Family Reveals Their Involvement in Abiotic Stress Response in Cassava
Genes 2018, 9(2), 110; doi:10.3390/genes9020110
Received: 12 January 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 15 February 2018 / Published: 20 February 2018
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Abstract
GENERAL REGULATORY FACTOR (GRF) proteins play vital roles in the regulation of plant growth, development, and response to abiotic stress. However, little information is known for this gene family in cassava (Manihot esculenta). In this study, 15 MeGRFs were identified from
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GENERAL REGULATORY FACTOR (GRF) proteins play vital roles in the regulation of plant growth, development, and response to abiotic stress. However, little information is known for this gene family in cassava (Manihot esculenta). In this study, 15 MeGRFs were identified from the cassava genome and were clustered into the ε and the non-ε groups according to phylogenetic, conserved motif, and gene structure analyses. Transcriptomic analyses showed eleven MeGRFs with constitutively high expression in stems, leaves, and storage roots of two cassava genotypes. Expression analyses revealed that the majority of GRFs showed transcriptional changes under cold, osmotic, salt, abscisic acid (ABA), and H2O2 treatments. Six MeGRFs were found to be commonly upregulated by abiotic stress, ABA, and H2O2 treatments, which may be the converging points of multiple signaling pathways. Interaction network analysis identified 18 possible interactors of MeGRFs. Taken together, this study elucidates the transcriptional control of MeGRFs in tissue development and the responses of abiotic stress and related signaling in cassava. Some constitutively expressed, tissue-specific, and abiotic stress-responsive candidate MeGRF genes were identified for the further genetic improvement of crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle Genetic Variation and Hybridisation among Eight Species of kōwhai (Sophora: Fabaceae) from New Zealand Revealed by Microsatellite Markers
Genes 2018, 9(2), 111; doi:10.3390/genes9020111
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 12 February 2018 / Accepted: 16 February 2018 / Published: 20 February 2018
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Abstract
We analysed nine microsatellite markers for 626 individuals representing the geographic range of eight closely related endemic New Zealand species of Sophora. Structure analysis identified the optimal K value as seven, with samples identified as Sophora chathamica, Sophora fulvida
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We analysed nine microsatellite markers for 626 individuals representing the geographic range of eight closely related endemic New Zealand species of Sophora. Structure analysis identified the optimal K value as seven, with samples identified as Sophora chathamica, Sophora fulvida, Sophora longicarinata, and Sophora prostrata retrieved as well-defined groups. The remaining samples formed less resolved groups referable to Sophora tetraptera and Sophora godleyi, with Sophora microphylla and Sophora molloyi forming the seventh group. Our data suggest that considerable admixture occurs and this is most likely the result of hybridisation or introgression. S. fulvida shows admixture with the sympatric S. chathamica, and the widespread S. microphylla exhibits admixture with the sympatric S. godleyi, S. molloyi, and S. tetraptera. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of the Rhizobium-Legume Symbiosis)
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Open AccessArticle Delineation of Novel Autosomal Recessive Mutation in GJA3 and Autosomal Dominant Mutations in GJA8 in Pakistani Congenital Cataract Families
Genes 2018, 9(2), 112; doi:10.3390/genes9020112
Received: 19 January 2018 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 20 February 2018
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Abstract
Congenital cataract is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disease. The present study was undertaken to find the genetic cause of congenital cataract families. DNA samples of a large consanguineous Pakistani family were genotyped with a high resolution single nucleotide polymorphism Illumina microarray. Homozygosity
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Congenital cataract is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disease. The present study was undertaken to find the genetic cause of congenital cataract families. DNA samples of a large consanguineous Pakistani family were genotyped with a high resolution single nucleotide polymorphism Illumina microarray. Homozygosity mapping identified a homozygous region of 4.4 Mb encompassing the gene GJA3. Sanger sequence analysis of the GJA3 gene revealed a novel homozygous variant c.950dup p.(His318ProfsX8) segregating in an autosomal recessive (AR) manner. The previously known mode of inheritance for GJA3 gene mutations in cataract was autosomal dominant (AD) only. The screening of additional probands (n = 41) of cataract families revealed a previously known mutation c.56C>T p.(Thr19Met) in GJA3 gene. In addition, sequencing of the exon-intron boundaries of the GJA8 gene in 41 cataract probands revealed two additional mutations: a novel c.53C>T p.(Ser18Phe) and a known c.175C>G p.(Pro59Ala) mutation, both co-segregating with the disease phenotype in an AD manner. All these mutations are predicted to be pathogenic by in silico analysis and were absent in the control databases. In conclusion, results of the current study enhance our understanding of the genetic basis of cataract, and identified the involvement of the GJA3 in the disease etiology in both AR and AD manners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle Biofilm Formation by the Acidophile Bacterium Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans Involves c-di-GMP Pathway and Pel exopolysaccharide
Genes 2018, 9(2), 113; doi:10.3390/genes9020113
Received: 28 December 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 6 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract
Acidophile bacteria belonging to the Acidithiobacillus genus are pivotal players for the bioleaching of metallic values such as copper. Cell adherence to ores and biofilm formation, mediated by the production of extracellular polymeric substances, strongly favors bioleaching activity. In recent years, the second
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Acidophile bacteria belonging to the Acidithiobacillus genus are pivotal players for the bioleaching of metallic values such as copper. Cell adherence to ores and biofilm formation, mediated by the production of extracellular polymeric substances, strongly favors bioleaching activity. In recent years, the second messenger cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) has emerged as a central regulator for biofilm formation in bacteria. C-di-GMP pathways have been reported in different Acidithiobacillus species; however, c-di-GMP effectors and signal transduction networks are still largely uncharacterized in these extremophile species. Here we investigated Pel exopolysaccharide and its role in biofilm formation by sulfur-oxidizing species Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans. We identified 39 open reading frames (ORFs) encoding proteins involved in c-di-GMP metabolism and signal transduction, including the c-di-GMP effector protein PelD, a structural component of the biosynthesis apparatus for Pel exopolysaccharide production. We found that intracellular c-di-GMP concentrations and transcription levels of pel genes were higher in At. thiooxidans biofilm cells compared to planktonic ones. By developing an At. thiooxidans ΔpelD null-mutant strain we revealed that Pel exopolysaccharide is involved in biofilm structure and development. Further studies are still necessary to understand how Pel biosynthesis is regulated in Acidithiobacillus species, nevertheless these results represent the first characterization of a c-di-GMP effector protein involved in biofilm formation by acidophile species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles)
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Open AccessArticle Skin-on-a-Chip: Transepithelial Electrical Resistance and Extracellular Acidification Measurements through an Automated Air-Liquid Interface
Genes 2018, 9(2), 114; doi:10.3390/genes9020114
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2018 / Accepted: 16 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract
Skin is a critical organ that plays a crucial role in defending the internal organs of the body. For this reason, extensive work has gone into creating artificial models of the epidermis for in vitro skin toxicity tests. These tissue models, called reconstructed
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Skin is a critical organ that plays a crucial role in defending the internal organs of the body. For this reason, extensive work has gone into creating artificial models of the epidermis for in vitro skin toxicity tests. These tissue models, called reconstructed human epidermis (RhE), are used by researchers in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and environmental arenas to evaluate skin toxicity upon exposure to xenobiotics. Here, we present a label-free solution that leverages the use of the intelligent mobile lab for in vitro diagnostics (IMOLA-IVD), a noninvasive, sensor-based platform, to monitor the transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) of RhE models and adherent cells cultured on porous membrane inserts. Murine fibroblasts cultured on polycarbonate membranes were first used as a test model to optimize procedures using a custom BioChip encapsulation design, as well as dual fluidic configurations, for continuous and automated perfusion of membrane-bound cultures. Extracellular acidification rate (EAR) and TEER of membrane-bound L929 cells were monitored. The developed protocol was then used to monitor the TEER of MatTek EpiDermTM RhE models over a period of 48 h. TEER and EAR measurements demonstrated that the designed system is capable of maintaining stable cultures on the chip, monitoring metabolic parameters, and revealing tissue breakdown over time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From the Lab-on-a-Chip to the Organ-on-a-Chip)
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Open AccessReview Renal Tubule Repair: Is Wnt/β-Catenin a Friend or Foe?
Genes 2018, 9(2), 58; doi:10.3390/genes9020058
Received: 11 December 2017 / Revised: 14 January 2018 / Accepted: 16 January 2018 / Published: 24 January 2018
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Abstract
Wnt/β-catenin signaling is extremely important for proper kidney development. This pathway is also upregulated in injured renal tubular epithelia, both in acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. The renal tubular epithelium is an important target of kidney injury, and its response (repair
[...] Read more.
Wnt/β-catenin signaling is extremely important for proper kidney development. This pathway is also upregulated in injured renal tubular epithelia, both in acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. The renal tubular epithelium is an important target of kidney injury, and its response (repair versus persistent injury) is critical for determining whether tubulointerstitial fibrosis, the hallmark of chronic kidney disease, develops. This review discusses how Wnt/β-catenin signaling in the injured tubular epithelia promotes either repair or fibrosis after kidney injury. There is data suggesting that epithelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling is beneficial in acute kidney injury and important in tubular progenitors responsible for epithelial repair. The role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in chronically injured epithelia is less clear. There is convincing data that Wnt/β-catenin signaling in interstitial fibroblasts and pericytes contributes to the extracellular matrix accumulation that defines fibrosis. However, some recent studies question whether Wnt/β-catenin signaling in chronically injured epithelia actually promotes fibrosis or repair. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Stem Cells)
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Open AccessReview Another Round of “Clue” to Uncover the Mystery of Complex Traits
Genes 2018, 9(2), 61; doi:10.3390/genes9020061
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 19 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
A plethora of genetic association analyses have identified several genetic risk loci. Technological and statistical advancements have now led to the identification of not only common genetic variants, but also low-frequency variants, structural variants, and environmental factors, as well as multi-omics variations that
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A plethora of genetic association analyses have identified several genetic risk loci. Technological and statistical advancements have now led to the identification of not only common genetic variants, but also low-frequency variants, structural variants, and environmental factors, as well as multi-omics variations that affect the phenotypic variance of complex traits in a population, thus referred to as complex trait architecture. The concept of heritability, or the proportion of phenotypic variance due to genetic inheritance, has been studied for several decades, but its application is mainly in addressing the narrow sense heritability (or additive genetic component) from Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS). In this commentary, we reflect on our perspective on the complexity of understanding heritability for human traits in comparison to model organisms, highlighting another round of clues beyond GWAS and an alternative approach, investigating these clues comprehensively to help in elucidating the genetic architecture of complex traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Complex Genetic Loci)
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Open AccessReview Alternative Splicing of Alpha- and Beta-Synuclein Genes Plays Differential Roles in Synucleinopathies
Genes 2018, 9(2), 63; doi:10.3390/genes9020063
Received: 3 November 2017 / Revised: 15 January 2018 / Accepted: 17 January 2018 / Published: 25 January 2018
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Abstract
The synuclein family is composed of three members, two of which, α- and β-synuclein, play a major role in the development of synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease (PD) as most important movement disorder, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) as the second most frequent cause
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The synuclein family is composed of three members, two of which, α- and β-synuclein, play a major role in the development of synucleinopathies, including Parkinson’s disease (PD) as most important movement disorder, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) as the second most frequent cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and multiple system atrophy. Whereas abnormal oligomerization and fibrillation of α-synuclein are now well recognized as initial steps in the development of synucleinopathies, β-synuclein is thought to be a natural α-synuclein anti-aggregant. α-synuclein is encoded by the SNCA gene, and β-synuclein by SNCB. Both genes are homologous and undergo complex splicing events. On one hand, in-frame splicing of coding exons gives rise to at least three shorter transcripts, and the functional properties of the corresponding protein isoforms are different. Another type of alternative splicing is the alternative inclusion of at least four initial exons in the case of SNCA, and two in the case of SNCB. Finally, different lengths of 3’ untranslated regions have been also reported for both genes. SNCB only expresses in the brain, but some of the numerous SNCA transcripts are also brain-specific. With the present article, we aim to provide a systematic review of disease related changes in the differential expression of the various SNCA and SNCB transcript variants in brain, blood, and non-neuronal tissue of synucleinopathies, but especially PD and DLB as major neurodegenerative disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aberrant Pre-mRNA Splicing in Disease)
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Open AccessReview RhoB: Team Oncogene or Team Tumor Suppressor?
Genes 2018, 9(2), 67; doi:10.3390/genes9020067
Received: 3 January 2018 / Revised: 21 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
Although Rho GTPases RhoA, RhoB, and RhoC share more than 85% amino acid sequence identity, they play very distinct roles in tumor progression. RhoA and RhoC have been suggested in many studies to contribute positively to tumor development, but the role of RhoB
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Although Rho GTPases RhoA, RhoB, and RhoC share more than 85% amino acid sequence identity, they play very distinct roles in tumor progression. RhoA and RhoC have been suggested in many studies to contribute positively to tumor development, but the role of RhoB in cancer remains elusive. RhoB contains a unique C-terminal region that undergoes specific post-translational modifications affecting its localization and function. In contrast to RhoA and RhoC, RhoB not only localizes at the plasma membrane, but also on endosomes, multivesicular bodies and has even been identified in the nucleus. These unique features are what contribute to the diversity and potentially opposing functions of RhoB in the tumor microenvironment. Here, we discuss the dualistic role that RhoB plays as both an oncogene and tumor suppressor in the context of cancer development and progression. Full article
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Open AccessReview Long Non-Coding RNAs in Multiple Myeloma
Genes 2018, 9(2), 69; doi:10.3390/genes9020069
Received: 14 December 2017 / Revised: 18 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable disease caused by the malignant proliferation of bone marrow plasma cells, whose pathogenesis remains largely unknown. Although a large fraction of the genome is actively transcribed, most of the transcripts do not serve as templates for proteins
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Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable disease caused by the malignant proliferation of bone marrow plasma cells, whose pathogenesis remains largely unknown. Although a large fraction of the genome is actively transcribed, most of the transcripts do not serve as templates for proteins and are referred to as non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), broadly divided into short and long transcripts on the basis of a 200-nucleotide threshold. Short ncRNAs, especially microRNAs, have crucial roles in virtually all types of cancer, including MM, and have gained importance in cancer diagnosis and prognosis, predicting the response to therapy and, notably, as innovative therapeutic targets. Long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) are a very heterogeneous group, involved in many physiological cellular and genomic processes as well as in carcinogenesis, cancer metastasis, and invasion. LncRNAs are aberrantly expressed in various types of cancers, including hematological malignancies, showing either oncogenic or tumor suppressive functions. However, the mechanisms of the related disease-causing events are not yet revealed in most cases. Besides emerging as key players in cancer initiation and progression, lncRNAs own many interesting features as biomarkers with diagnostic and prognostic importance and, possibly, for their utility in therapeutic terms as druggable molecules. This review focuses on the role of lncRNAs in the pathogenesis of MM and summarizes the recent literature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-coding RNAs)
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Open AccessReview Chromosome Evolution in Marsupials
Genes 2018, 9(2), 72; doi:10.3390/genes9020072
Received: 23 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
Marsupials typically possess very large, distinctive chromosomes that make them excellent subjects for cytogenetic analysis, and the high level of conservation makes it relatively easy to track chromosome evolution. There are two speciose marsupial families with contrasting rates of karyotypic evolution that could
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Marsupials typically possess very large, distinctive chromosomes that make them excellent subjects for cytogenetic analysis, and the high level of conservation makes it relatively easy to track chromosome evolution. There are two speciose marsupial families with contrasting rates of karyotypic evolution that could provide insight into the mechanisms driving genome reshuffling and speciation. The family Dasyuridae displays exceptional karyotype conservation with all karyotyped species possessing a 2n = 14 karyotype similar to that predicted for the ancestral marsupial. In contrast, the family Macropodidae has experienced a higher rate of genomic rearrangement and one genus of macropods, the rock-wallabies (Petrogale), has experienced extensive reshuffling. For at least some recently diverged Petrogale species, there is still gene flow despite hybrid fertility issues, making this species group an exceptional model for studying speciation. This review highlights the unique chromosome features of marsupial chromosomes, particularly for these two contrasting families, and the value that a combined cytogenetics, genomics, and epigenomics approach will have for testing models of genome evolution and speciation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chromosomal Evolution)
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Open AccessReview Impact, Characterization, and Rescue of Pre-mRNA Splicing Mutations in Lysosomal Storage Disorders
Genes 2018, 9(2), 73; doi:10.3390/genes9020073
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 31 January 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) represent a group of more than 50 severe metabolic diseases caused by the deficiency of specific lysosomal hydrolases, activators, carriers, or lysosomal integral membrane proteins, leading to the abnormal accumulation of substrates within the lysosomes. Numerous mutations have been
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Lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) represent a group of more than 50 severe metabolic diseases caused by the deficiency of specific lysosomal hydrolases, activators, carriers, or lysosomal integral membrane proteins, leading to the abnormal accumulation of substrates within the lysosomes. Numerous mutations have been described in each disease-causing gene; among them, about 5–19% affect the pre-mRNA splicing process. In the last decade, several strategies to rescue/increase normal splicing of mutated transcripts have been developed and LSDs represent excellent candidates for this type of approach: (i) most of them are inherited in an autosomic recessive manner and patients affected by late-onset (LO) phenotypes often retain a fair amount of residual enzymatic activity; thus, even a small recovery of normal splicing may be beneficial in clinical settings; (ii) most LSDs still lack effective treatments or are currently treated with extremely expensive approaches; (iii) in few LSDs, a single splicing mutation accounts for up to 40–70% of pathogenic alleles. At present, numerous preclinical studies support the feasibility of reverting the pathological phenotype by partially rescuing splicing defects in LSDs. This review provides an overview of the impact of splicing mutations in LSDs and the related therapeutic approaches currently under investigation in these disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aberrant Pre-mRNA Splicing in Disease)
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Open AccessReview Covalent Strategies for Targeting Messenger and Non-Coding RNAs: An Updated Review on siRNA, miRNA and antimiR Conjugates
Genes 2018, 9(2), 74; doi:10.3390/genes9020074
Received: 4 January 2018 / Revised: 26 January 2018 / Accepted: 26 January 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
Oligonucleotide-based therapy has become an alternative to classical approaches in the search of novel therapeutics involving gene-related diseases. Several mechanisms have been described in which demonstrate the pivotal role of oligonucleotide for modulating gene expression. Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and more recently siRNAs and
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Oligonucleotide-based therapy has become an alternative to classical approaches in the search of novel therapeutics involving gene-related diseases. Several mechanisms have been described in which demonstrate the pivotal role of oligonucleotide for modulating gene expression. Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) and more recently siRNAs and miRNAs have made important contributions either in reducing aberrant protein levels by sequence-specific targeting messenger RNAs (mRNAs) or restoring the anomalous levels of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) that are involved in a good number of diseases including cancer. In addition to formulation approaches which have contributed to accelerate the presence of ASOs, siRNAs and miRNAs in clinical trials; the covalent linkage between non-viral vectors and nucleic acids has also added value and opened new perspectives to the development of promising nucleic acid-based therapeutics. This review article is mainly focused on the strategies carried out for covalently modifying siRNA and miRNA molecules. Examples involving cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), carbohydrates, polymers, lipids and aptamers are discussed for the synthesis of siRNA conjugates whereas in the case of miRNA-based drugs, this review article makes special emphasis in using antagomiRs, locked nucleic acids (LNAs), peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) as well as nanoparticles. The biomedical applications of siRNA and miRNA conjugates are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-coding RNAs)
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Open AccessReview Genome Size Diversity and Its Impact on the Evolution of Land Plants
Genes 2018, 9(2), 88; doi:10.3390/genes9020088
Received: 10 January 2018 / Revised: 2 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
Genome size is a biodiversity trait that shows staggering diversity across eukaryotes, varying over 64,000-fold. Of all major taxonomic groups, land plants stand out due to their staggering genome size diversity, ranging ca. 2400-fold. As our understanding of the implications and significance of
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Genome size is a biodiversity trait that shows staggering diversity across eukaryotes, varying over 64,000-fold. Of all major taxonomic groups, land plants stand out due to their staggering genome size diversity, ranging ca. 2400-fold. As our understanding of the implications and significance of this remarkable genome size diversity in land plants grows, it is becoming increasingly evident that this trait plays not only an important role in shaping the evolution of plant genomes, but also in influencing plant community assemblages at the ecosystem level. Recent advances and improvements in novel sequencing technologies, as well as analytical tools, make it possible to gain critical insights into the genomic and epigenetic mechanisms underpinning genome size changes. In this review we provide an overview of our current understanding of genome size diversity across the different land plant groups, its implications on the biology of the genome and what future directions need to be addressed to fill key knowledge gaps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution and Biodiversity of the Plant Genome Architecture)
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Open AccessReview The Pleiotropic Effects of the Canonical Wnt Pathway in Early Development and Pluripotency
Genes 2018, 9(2), 93; doi:10.3390/genes9020093
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 30 January 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
The technology to derive embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells from early embryonic stages and adult somatic cells, respectively, emerged as a powerful resource to enable the establishment of new in vitro models, which recapitulate early developmental processes and disease. Additionally, pluripotent stem
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The technology to derive embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells from early embryonic stages and adult somatic cells, respectively, emerged as a powerful resource to enable the establishment of new in vitro models, which recapitulate early developmental processes and disease. Additionally, pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) represent an invaluable source of relevant differentiated cell types with immense potential for regenerative medicine and cell replacement therapies. Pluripotent stem cells support self-renewal, potency and proliferation for extensive periods of culture in vitro. However, the core pathways that rule each of these cellular features specific to PSCs only recently began to be clarified. The Wnt signaling pathway is pivotal during early embryogenesis and is central for the induction and maintenance of the pluripotency of PSCs. Signaling by the Wnt family of ligands is conveyed intracellularly by the stabilization of β-catenin in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus, where it elicits the transcriptional activity of T-cell factor (TCF)/lymphoid enhancer factor (LEF) family of transcription factors. Interestingly, in PSCs, the Wnt/β-catenin–TCF/LEF axis has several unrelated and sometimes opposite cellular functions such as self-renewal, stemness, lineage commitment and cell cycle regulation. In addition, tight control of the Wnt signaling pathway enhances reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotency. Several recent research efforts emphasize the pleiotropic functions of the Wnt signaling pathway in the pluripotent state. Nonetheless, conflicting results and unanswered questions still linger. In this review, we will focus on the diverse functions of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway on the developmental processes preceding embryo implantation, as well as on its roles in pluripotent stem cell biology such as self-renewal and cell cycle regulation and somatic cell reprogramming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Stem Cells)
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Open AccessReview Vertebrate Genome Evolution in the Light of Fish Cytogenomics and rDNAomics
Genes 2018, 9(2), 96; doi:10.3390/genes9020096
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 25 January 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
To understand the cytogenomic evolution of vertebrates, we must first unravel the complex genomes of fishes, which were the first vertebrates to evolve and were ancestors to all other vertebrates. We must not forget the immense time span during which the fish genomes
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To understand the cytogenomic evolution of vertebrates, we must first unravel the complex genomes of fishes, which were the first vertebrates to evolve and were ancestors to all other vertebrates. We must not forget the immense time span during which the fish genomes had to evolve. Fish cytogenomics is endowed with unique features which offer irreplaceable insights into the evolution of the vertebrate genome. Due to the general DNA base compositional homogeneity of fish genomes, fish cytogenomics is largely based on mapping DNA repeats that still represent serious obstacles in genome sequencing and assembling, even in model species. Localization of repeats on chromosomes of hundreds of fish species and populations originating from diversified environments have revealed the biological importance of this genomic fraction. Ribosomal genes (rDNA) belong to the most informative repeats and in fish, they are subject to a more relaxed regulation than in higher vertebrates. This can result in formation of a literal ‘rDNAome’ consisting of more than 20,000 copies with their high proportion employed in extra-coding functions. Because rDNA has high rates of transcription and recombination, it contributes to genome diversification and can form reproductive barrier. Our overall knowledge of fish cytogenomics grows rapidly by a continuously increasing number of fish genomes sequenced and by use of novel sequencing methods improving genome assembly. The recently revealed exceptional compositional heterogeneity in an ancient fish lineage (gars) sheds new light on the compositional genome evolution in vertebrates generally. We highlight the power of synergy of cytogenetics and genomics in fish cytogenomics, its potential to understand the complexity of genome evolution in vertebrates, which is also linked to clinical applications and the chromosomal backgrounds of speciation. We also summarize the current knowledge on fish cytogenomics and outline its main future avenues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chromosomal Evolution)
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Open AccessReview Modulation of VEGF-A Alternative Splicing as a Novel Treatment in Chronic Kidney Disease
Genes 2018, 9(2), 98; doi:10.3390/genes9020098
Received: 2 December 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 15 February 2018
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Abstract
Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) is a prominent pro-angiogenic and pro-permeability factor in the kidney. Alternative splicing of the terminal exon of VEGF-A through the use of an alternative 3′ splice site gives rise to a functionally different family of isoforms, termed
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Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) is a prominent pro-angiogenic and pro-permeability factor in the kidney. Alternative splicing of the terminal exon of VEGF-A through the use of an alternative 3′ splice site gives rise to a functionally different family of isoforms, termed VEGF-Axxxb, known to have anti-angiogenic and anti-permeability properties. Dysregulation of the VEGF-Axxx/VEGF-Axxxb isoform balance has recently been reported in several kidney pathologies, including diabetic nephropathy (DN) and Denys–Drash syndrome. Using mouse models of kidney disease where the VEGF-A isoform balance is disrupted, several reports have shown that VEGF-A165b treatment/over-expression in the kidney is therapeutically beneficial. Furthermore, inhibition of certain splice factor kinases involved in the regulation of VEGF-A terminal exon splicing has provided some mechanistic insight into how VEGF-A splicing could be regulated in the kidney. This review highlights the importance of further investigation into the novel area of VEGF-A splicing in chronic kidney disease pathogenesis and how future studies may allow for the development of splicing-modifying therapeutic drugs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aberrant Pre-mRNA Splicing in Disease)
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Open AccessReview Microfluidic Devices for Drug Delivery Systems and Drug Screening
Genes 2018, 9(2), 103; doi:10.3390/genes9020103
Received: 23 December 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract
Microfluidic devices present unique advantages for the development of efficient drug carrier particles, cell-free protein synthesis systems, and rapid techniques for direct drug screening. Compared to bulk methods, by efficiently controlling the geometries of the fabricated chip and the flow rates of multiphase
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Microfluidic devices present unique advantages for the development of efficient drug carrier particles, cell-free protein synthesis systems, and rapid techniques for direct drug screening. Compared to bulk methods, by efficiently controlling the geometries of the fabricated chip and the flow rates of multiphase fluids, microfluidic technology enables the generation of highly stable, uniform, monodispersed particles with higher encapsulation efficiency. Since the existing preclinical models are inefficient drug screens for predicting clinical outcomes, microfluidic platforms might offer a more rapid and cost-effective alternative. Compared to 2D cell culture systems and in vivo animal models, microfluidic 3D platforms mimic the in vivo cell systems in a simple, inexpensive manner, which allows high throughput and multiplexed drug screening at the cell, organ, and whole-body levels. In this review, the generation of appropriate drug or gene carriers including different particle types using different configurations of microfluidic devices is highlighted. Additionally, this paper discusses the emergence of fabricated microfluidic cell-free protein synthesis systems for potential use at point of care as well as cell-, organ-, and human-on-a-chip models as smart, sensitive, and reproducible platforms, allowing the investigation of the effects of drugs under conditions imitating the biological system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue From the Lab-on-a-Chip to the Organ-on-a-Chip)
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Open AccessReview The Role of Wnt Signal in Glioblastoma Development and Progression: A Possible New Pharmacological Target for the Therapy of This Tumor
Genes 2018, 9(2), 105; doi:10.3390/genes9020105
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 12 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 17 February 2018
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Abstract
Wnt is a complex signaling pathway involved in the regulation of crucial biological functions such as development, proliferation, differentiation and migration of cells, mainly stem cells, which are virtually present in all embryonic and adult tissues. Conversely, dysregulation of Wnt signal is implicated
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Wnt is a complex signaling pathway involved in the regulation of crucial biological functions such as development, proliferation, differentiation and migration of cells, mainly stem cells, which are virtually present in all embryonic and adult tissues. Conversely, dysregulation of Wnt signal is implicated in development/progression/invasiveness of different kinds of tumors, wherein a certain number of multipotent cells, namely “cancer stem cells”, are characterized by high self-renewal and aggressiveness. Hence, the pharmacological modulation of Wnt pathway could be of particular interest, especially in tumors for which the current standard therapy results to be unsuccessful. This might be the case of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the most lethal, aggressive and recurrent brain cancers, probably due to the presence of highly malignant GBM stem cells (GSCs) as well as to a dysregulation of Wnt system. By examining the most recent literature, here we point out several factors in the Wnt pathway that are altered in human GBM and derived GSCs, as well as new molecular strategies or experimental drugs able to modulate/inhibit aberrant Wnt signal. Altogether, these aspects serve to emphasize the existence of alternative pharmacological targets that may be useful to develop novel therapies for GBM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Stem Cells)
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Open AccessReview Alternative Splicing of Transcription Factors Genes in Muscle Physiology and Pathology
Genes 2018, 9(2), 107; doi:10.3390/genes9020107
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 10 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 19 February 2018
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Abstract
Skeletal muscle formation is a multi-step process that is governed by complex networks of transcription factors. The regulation of their functions is in turn multifaceted, including several mechanisms, among them alternative splicing (AS) plays a primary role. On the other hand, altered AS
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Skeletal muscle formation is a multi-step process that is governed by complex networks of transcription factors. The regulation of their functions is in turn multifaceted, including several mechanisms, among them alternative splicing (AS) plays a primary role. On the other hand, altered AS has a role in the pathogenesis of numerous muscular pathologies. Despite these premises, the causal role played by the altered splicing pattern of transcripts encoding myogenic transcription factors in neuromuscular diseases has been neglected so far. In this review, we systematically investigate what has been described about the AS patterns of transcription factors both in the physiology of the skeletal muscle formation process and in neuromuscular diseases, in the hope that this may be useful in re-evaluating the potential role of altered splicing of transcription factors in such diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aberrant Pre-mRNA Splicing in Disease)
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Open AccessReview Glutamine Synthetase: Localization Dictates Outcome
Genes 2018, 9(2), 108; doi:10.3390/genes9020108
Received: 20 January 2018 / Revised: 14 February 2018 / Accepted: 15 February 2018 / Published: 19 February 2018
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Abstract
Glutamine synthetase (GS) is the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent enzyme that catalyses the synthesis of glutamine by condensing ammonium to glutamate. In the circulatory system, glutamine carries ammonia from muscle and brain to the kidney and liver. In brain reduction of GS activity has
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Glutamine synthetase (GS) is the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent enzyme that catalyses the synthesis of glutamine by condensing ammonium to glutamate. In the circulatory system, glutamine carries ammonia from muscle and brain to the kidney and liver. In brain reduction of GS activity has been suggested as a mechanism mediating neurotoxicity in neurodegenerative disorders. In cancer, the delicate balance between glutamine synthesis and catabolism is a critical event. In vitro evidence, confirmed in vivo in some cases, suggests that reduced GS activity in cancer cells associates with a more invasive and aggressive phenotype. However, GS is known to be highly expressed in cells of the tumor microenvironment, such as fibroblasts, adipocytes and immune cells, and their ability to synthesize glutamine is responsible for the acquisition of protumoral phenotypes. This has opened a new window into the complex scenario of the tumor microenvironment, in which the balance of glutamine consumption versus glutamine synthesis influences cellular function. Since GS expression responds to glutamine starvation, a lower glutamine synthesizing power due to the absence of GS in cancer cells might apply a metabolic pressure on stromal cells. This event might push stroma towards a GS-high/protumoral phenotype. When referred to stromal cells, GS expression might acquire a ‘bad’ significance to the point that GS inhibition might be considered a conceivable strategy against cancer metastasis. Full article
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Open AccessReview Wnt Signaling and Its Impact on Mitochondrial and Cell Cycle Dynamics in Pluripotent Stem Cells
Genes 2018, 9(2), 109; doi:10.3390/genes9020109
Received: 19 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 14 February 2018 / Published: 19 February 2018
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Abstract
The core transcriptional network regulating stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency remains an intense area of research. Increasing evidence indicates that modified regulation of basic cellular processes such as mitochondrial dynamics, apoptosis, and cell cycle are also essential for pluripotent stem cell identity and
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The core transcriptional network regulating stem cell self-renewal and pluripotency remains an intense area of research. Increasing evidence indicates that modified regulation of basic cellular processes such as mitochondrial dynamics, apoptosis, and cell cycle are also essential for pluripotent stem cell identity and fate decisions. Here, we review evidence for Wnt regulation of pluripotency and self-renewal, and its connections to emerging features of pluripotent stem cells, including (1) increased mitochondrial fragmentation, (2) increased sensitivity to cell death, and (3) shortened cell cycle. We provide a general overview of the stem cell–specific mechanisms involved in the maintenance of these uncharacterized hallmarks of pluripotency and highlight potential links to the Wnt signaling pathway. Given the physiological importance of stem cells and their enormous potential for regenerative medicine, understanding fundamental mechanisms mediating the crosstalk between Wnt, organelle-dynamics, apoptosis, and cell cycle will be crucial to gain insight into the regulation of stemness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Stem Cells)
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Open AccessReview Dynamin-Related Protein 1 at the Crossroads of Cancer
Genes 2018, 9(2), 115; doi:10.3390/genes9020115
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract
Mitochondrial dynamics are known to have an important role in so-called age-related diseases, including cancer. Mitochondria is an organelle involved in many key cellular functions and responds to physiologic or stress stimuli by adapting its structure and function. Perhaps the most important structural
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Mitochondrial dynamics are known to have an important role in so-called age-related diseases, including cancer. Mitochondria is an organelle involved in many key cellular functions and responds to physiologic or stress stimuli by adapting its structure and function. Perhaps the most important structural changes involve mitochondrial dynamics (fission and fusion), which occur in normal cells as well as in cells under dysregulation, such as cancer cells. Dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1), a member of the dynamin family of guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases), is the key component of mitochondrial fission machinery. Dynamin-related protein 1 is associated with different cell processes such as apoptosis, mitochondrial biogenesis, mitophagy, metabolism, and cell proliferation, differentiation, and transformation. The role of DRP1 in tumorigenesis may seem to be paradoxical, since mitochondrial fission is a key mediator of two very different processes, cellular apoptosis and cell mitosis. Dynamin-related protein 1 has been associated with the development of distinct human cancers, including changes in mitochondrial energetics and cellular metabolism, cell proliferation, and stem cell maintenance, invasion, and promotion of metastases. However, the underlying mechanism for this association is still being explored. Herein, we review the published knowledge on the role of DRP1 in cancer, exploring its interaction with different biological processes in the tumorigenesis context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Open AccessReview In a quest for engineering acidophiles for biomining applications: challenges and opportunities
Genes 2018, 9(2), 116; doi:10.3390/genes9020116
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 16 February 2018 / Accepted: 16 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract
Biomining with acidophilic microorganisms has been used at commercial scale for the extraction of metals from various sulfide ores. With metal demand and energy prices on the rise and the concurrent decline in quality and availability of mineral resources, there is an increasing
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Biomining with acidophilic microorganisms has been used at commercial scale for the extraction of metals from various sulfide ores. With metal demand and energy prices on the rise and the concurrent decline in quality and availability of mineral resources, there is an increasing interest in applying biomining technology, in particular for leaching metals from low grade minerals and wastes. However, bioprocessing is often hampered by the presence of inhibitory compounds that originate from complex ores. Synthetic biology could provide tools to improve the tolerance of biomining microbes to various stress factors that are present in biomining environments, which would ultimately increase bioleaching efficiency. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art tools to genetically modify acidophilic biomining microorganisms and the limitations of these tools. The first part of this review discusses resilience pathways that can be engineered in acidophiles to enhance their robustness and tolerance in harsh environments that prevail in bioleaching. The second part of the paper reviews the efforts that have been carried out towards engineering robust microorganisms and developing metabolic modelling tools. Novel synthetic biology tools have the potential to transform the biomining industry and facilitate the extraction of value from ores and wastes that cannot be processed with existing biomining microorganisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles)
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Open AccessCorrection Correction: Shelly Y. Shih; et al.; Applications of Probe Capture Enrichment Next Generation Sequencing for Whole Mitochondrial Genome and 426 Nuclear SNPs for Forensically Challenging Samples. Genes 2018, 9, 49
Genes 2018, 9(2), 90; doi:10.3390/genes9020090
Received: 5 February 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
The authors wish to make the following change to their paper [1][...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forensic Genomics)
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Open AccessAddendum Addendum: Iwaszko et al., Influence of NKG2D Genetic Variants on Response to Anti-TNF Agents in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Genes 2018, 9, 64
Genes 2018, 9(2), 94; doi:10.3390/genes9020094
Received: 1 February 2018 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 5 February 2018 / Published: 14 February 2018
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Abstract
It has been brought to our attention that the funding of the National Center of Science (Poland) was missing in the acknowledgements section of our published paper [1], and therefore we would like to add this and report the acknowledgements as follows:[...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Variations in Evolution and Human Diseases)
Open AccessOpinion Modeling the Role of Wnt Signaling in Human and Drosophila Stem Cells
Genes 2018, 9(2), 101; doi:10.3390/genes9020101
Received: 28 December 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2018 / Accepted: 9 February 2018 / Published: 16 February 2018
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Abstract
The discovery of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, barely more than a decade ago, dramatically transformed the study of stem cells and introduced a completely new way to approach many human health concerns. Although advances have pushed the field forward, human application remains
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The discovery of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, barely more than a decade ago, dramatically transformed the study of stem cells and introduced a completely new way to approach many human health concerns. Although advances have pushed the field forward, human application remains some years away, in part due to the need for an in-depth mechanistic understanding. The role of Wnts in stem cells predates the discovery of iPS cells with Wnts established as major pluripotency promoting factors. Most work to date has been done using mouse and tissue culture models and few attempts have been made in other model organisms, but the recent combination of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) gene editing with iPS cell technology provides a perfect avenue for exploring iPS cells in model organisms. Drosophila is an ideal organism for such studies, but fly iPS cells have not yet been made. In this opinion article, we draw parallels between Wnt signaling in human and Drosophila stem cell systems, propose ways to obtain Drosophila iPS cells, and suggest ways to exploit the versatility of the Drosophila system for future stem cell studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Stem Cells)
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Open AccessBrief Report Environmental Temperature Controls Accumulation of Transacting siRNAs Involved in Heterochromatin Formation
Genes 2018, 9(2), 117; doi:10.3390/genes9020117
Received: 4 January 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 February 2018 / Published: 21 February 2018
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Abstract
Genes or alleles can interact by small RNAs in a homology dependent manner meaning that short interfering (siRNAs) can act in trans at the chromatin level producing stable and heritable silencing phenotypes. Because of the puzzling data on endogenous paramutations, their impact contributing
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Genes or alleles can interact by small RNAs in a homology dependent manner meaning that short interfering (siRNAs) can act in trans at the chromatin level producing stable and heritable silencing phenotypes. Because of the puzzling data on endogenous paramutations, their impact contributing to adaptive evolution in a Lamarckian manner remains unknown. An increasing number of studies characterizes the underlying siRNA accumulation pathways using transgene experiments. Also in the ciliate Paramecium tetraurelia, we induce trans silencing on the chromatin level by injection of truncated transgenes. Here, we characterize the efficiency of this mechanism at different temperatures showing that silencing of the endogenous genes is temperature dependent. Analyzing different transgene constructs at different copy numbers, we dissected whether silencing efficiency is due to varying precursor RNAs or siRNA accumulation. Our data shows that silencing efficiency correlates with more efficient accumulation of primary siRNAs at higher temperatures rather than higher expression of precursor RNAs. Due to higher primary levels, secondary siRNAs also show temperature dependency and interestingly increase their relative proportion to primary siRNAs. Our data shows that efficient trans silencing on the chromatin level in P. tetraurelia depends on environmental parameters, thus being an important epigenetic factor limiting regulatory effects of siRNAs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Population and Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics)
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