Open AccessArticle
Genome-Guided Analysis of Clostridium ultunense and Comparative Genomics Reveal Different Strategies for Acetate Oxidation and Energy Conservation in Syntrophic Acetate-Oxidising Bacteria
Genes 2018, 9(4), 225; doi:10.3390/genes9040225 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Syntrophic acetate oxidation operates close to the thermodynamic equilibrium and very little is known about the participating organisms and their metabolism. Clostridium ultunense is one of the most abundant syntrophic acetate-oxidising bacteria (SAOB) that are found in engineered biogas processes operating with high
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Syntrophic acetate oxidation operates close to the thermodynamic equilibrium and very little is known about the participating organisms and their metabolism. Clostridium ultunense is one of the most abundant syntrophic acetate-oxidising bacteria (SAOB) that are found in engineered biogas processes operating with high ammonia concentrations. It has been proven to oxidise acetate in cooperation with hydrogenotrophic methanogens. There is evidence that the Wood-Ljungdahl (WL) pathway plays an important role in acetate oxidation. In this study, we analysed the physiological and metabolic capacities of C. ultunense strain Esp and strain BST on genome scale and conducted a comparative study of all the known characterised SAOB, namely Syntrophaceticus schinkii, Thermacetogenium phaeum, Tepidanaerobacter acetatoxydans, and Pseudothermotoga lettingae. The results clearly indicated physiological robustness to be beneficial for anaerobic digestion environments and revealed unexpected metabolic diversity with respect to acetate oxidation and energy conservation systems. Unlike S. schinkii and Th. phaeum, C. ultunense clearly does not employ the oxidative WL pathway for acetate oxidation, as its genome (and that of P. lettingae) lack important key genes. In both of those species, a proton motive force is likely formed by chemical protons involving putative electron-bifurcating [Fe-Fe] hydrogenases rather than proton pumps. No genes encoding a respiratory Ech (energy-converting hydrogenase), as involved in energy conservation in Th. phaeum and S. schinkii, were identified in C. ultunense and P. lettingae. Moreover, two respiratory complexes sharing similarities to the proton-translocating ferredoxin:NAD+ oxidoreductase (Rnf) and the Na+ pumping NADH:quinone hydrogenase (NQR) were predicted. These might form a respiratory chain that is involved in the reduction of electron acceptors rather than protons. However, involvement of these complexes in acetate oxidation in C. ultunense and P. lettingae needs further study. This genome-based comparison provides a solid platform for future meta-proteomics and meta-transcriptomics studies and for metabolic engineering, control, and monitoring of SAOB. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genome Wide Identification, Evolutionary, and Expression Analysis of VQ Genes from Two Pyrus Species
Genes 2018, 9(4), 224; doi:10.3390/genes9040224 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
The VQ motif-containing gene, a member of the plant-specific genes, is involved in the plant developmental process and various stress responses. The VQ motif-containing gene family has been studied in several plants, such as rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays
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The VQ motif-containing gene, a member of the plant-specific genes, is involved in the plant developmental process and various stress responses. The VQ motif-containing gene family has been studied in several plants, such as rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). However, no systematic study has been performed in Pyrus species, which have important economic value. In our study, we identified 41 and 28 VQ motif-containing genes in Pyrus bretschneideri and Pyrus communis, respectively. Phylogenetic trees were calculated using A. thaliana and O. sativa VQ motif-containing genes as a template, allowing us to categorize these genes into nine subfamilies. Thirty-two and eight paralogous of VQ motif-containing genes were found in P. bretschneideri and P. communis, respectively, showing that the VQ motif-containing genes had a more remarkable expansion in P. bretschneideri than in P. communis. A total of 31 orthologous pairs were identified from the P. bretschneideri and P. communis VQ motif-containing genes. Additionally, among the paralogs, we found that these duplication gene pairs probably derived from segmental duplication/whole-genome duplication (WGD) events in the genomes of P. bretschneideri and P. communis, respectively. The gene expression profiles in both P. bretschneideri and P. communis fruits suggested functional redundancy for some orthologous gene pairs derived from a common ancestry, and sub-functionalization or neo-functionalization for some of them. Our study provided the first systematic evolutionary analysis of the VQ motif-containing genes in Pyrus, and highlighted the diversification and duplication of VQ motif-containing genes in both P. bretschneideri and P. communis. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Divergent Roles of RPA Homologs of the Model Archaeon Halobacterium salinarum in Survival of DNA Damage
Genes 2018, 9(4), 223; doi:10.3390/genes9040223 -
Abstract
The haloarchaea are unusual in possessing genes for multiple homologs to the ubiquitous single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB or replication protein A, RPA) found in all three domains of life. Halobacterium salinarum contains five homologs: two are eukaryotic in organization, two are prokaryotic
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The haloarchaea are unusual in possessing genes for multiple homologs to the ubiquitous single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB or replication protein A, RPA) found in all three domains of life. Halobacterium salinarum contains five homologs: two are eukaryotic in organization, two are prokaryotic and are encoded on the minichromosomes, and one is uniquely euryarchaeal. Radiation-resistant mutants previously isolated show upregulation of one of the eukaryotic-type RPA genes. Here, we have created deletions in the five RPA operons. These deletion mutants were exposed to DNA-damaging conditions: ionizing radiation, UV radiation, and mitomycin C. Deletion of the euryarchaeal homolog, although not lethal as in Haloferax volcanii, causes severe sensitivity to all of these agents. Deletion of the other RPA/SSB homologs imparts a variable sensitivity to these DNA-damaging agents, suggesting that the different RPA homologs have specialized roles depending on the type of genomic insult encountered. Full article
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Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Jimena Soledad Cadona, et al.; Pathogenicity Islands Distribution in Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Genes 2018, 9, 81
Genes 2018, 9(4), 222; doi:10.3390/genes9040222 -
Abstract
We wish to make the following correction to the paper by Soledad-Cadona et al.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Analyses of Calcium Sensors Reveal Their Involvement in Drought Stress Response and Storage Roots Deterioration after Harvest in Cassava
Genes 2018, 9(4), 221; doi:10.3390/genes9040221 -
Abstract
Calcium (Ca2+) plays a crucial role in plant development and responses to environmental stimuli. Currently, calmodulins (CaMs), calmodulin-like proteins (CMLs), and calcineurin B-like proteins (CBLs), such as Ca2+ sensors, are not well understood in cassava (Manihotesculenta Crantz), an
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Calcium (Ca2+) plays a crucial role in plant development and responses to environmental stimuli. Currently, calmodulins (CaMs), calmodulin-like proteins (CMLs), and calcineurin B-like proteins (CBLs), such as Ca2+ sensors, are not well understood in cassava (Manihotesculenta Crantz), an important tropical crop. In the present study, 8 CaMs, 48 CMLs, and 9 CBLs were genome-wide identified in cassava, which were divided into two, four, and four groups, respectively, based on evolutionary relationship, protein motif, and gene structure analyses. Transcriptomic analysis revealed the expression diversity of cassava CaMs-CMLs-CBLs in distinct tissues and in response to drought stress in different genotypes. Generally, cassava CaMs-CMLs-CBLs showed different expression profiles between cultivated varieties (Arg7 and SC124) and wild ancestor (W14) after drought treatment. In addition, numerous CaMs-CMLs-CBLs were significantly upregulated at 6 h, 12 h, and 48 h after harvest, suggesting their possible role during storage roots (SR) deterioration. Further interaction network and co-expression analyses suggested that a CBL-mediated interaction network was widely involved in SR deterioration. Taken together, this study provides new insights into CaMs-CMLs-CBLs-mediated drought adaption and SR deterioration at the transcription level in cassava, and identifies some candidates for the genetic improvement of cassava. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Full Mitogenomes in the Critically Endangered Kākāpō Reveal Major Post-Glacial and Anthropogenic Effects on Neutral Genetic Diversity
Genes 2018, 9(4), 220; doi:10.3390/genes9040220 -
Abstract
Understanding how species respond to population declines is a central question in conservation and evolutionary biology. Population declines are often associated with loss of genetic diversity, inbreeding and accumulation of deleterious mutations, which can lead to a reduction in fitness and subsequently contribute
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Understanding how species respond to population declines is a central question in conservation and evolutionary biology. Population declines are often associated with loss of genetic diversity, inbreeding and accumulation of deleterious mutations, which can lead to a reduction in fitness and subsequently contribute to extinction. Using temporal approaches can help us understand the effects of population declines on genetic diversity in real time. Sequencing pre-decline as well as post-decline mitogenomes representing all the remaining mitochondrial diversity, we estimated the loss of genetic diversity in the critically endangered kākāpō (Strigops habroptilus). We detected a signal of population expansion coinciding with the end of the Pleistocene last glacial maximum (LGM). Also, we found some evidence for northern and southern lineages, supporting the hypothesis that the species may have been restricted to isolated northern and southern refugia during the LGM. We observed an important loss of neutral genetic diversity associated with European settlement in New Zealand but we could not exclude a population decline associated with Polynesian settlement in New Zealand. However, we did not find evidence for fixation of deleterious mutations. We argue that despite high pre-decline genetic diversity, a rapid and range-wide decline combined with the lek mating system, and life-history traits of kākāpō contributed to a rapid loss of genetic diversity following severe population declines. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Patchoulol Production with Metabolically Engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum
Genes 2018, 9(4), 219; doi:10.3390/genes9040219 -
Abstract
Patchoulol is a sesquiterpene alcohol and an important natural product for the perfume industry. Corynebacterium glutamicum is the prominent host for the fermentative production of amino acids with an average annual production volume of ~6 million tons. Due to its robustness and well
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Patchoulol is a sesquiterpene alcohol and an important natural product for the perfume industry. Corynebacterium glutamicum is the prominent host for the fermentative production of amino acids with an average annual production volume of ~6 million tons. Due to its robustness and well established large-scale fermentation, C. glutamicum has been engineered for the production of a number of value-added compounds including terpenoids. Both C40 and C50 carotenoids, including the industrially relevant astaxanthin, and short-chain terpenes such as the sesquiterpene valencene can be produced with this organism. In this study, systematic metabolic engineering enabled construction of a patchoulol producing C. glutamicum strain by applying the following strategies: (i) construction of a farnesyl pyrophosphate-producing platform strain by combining genomic deletions with heterologous expression of ispA from Escherichia coli; (ii) prevention of carotenoid-like byproduct formation; (iii) overproduction of limiting enzymes from the 2-c-methyl-d-erythritol 4-phosphate (MEP)-pathway to increase precursor supply; and (iv) heterologous expression of the plant patchoulol synthase gene PcPS from Pogostemon cablin. Additionally, a proof of principle liter-scale fermentation with a two-phase organic overlay-culture medium system for terpenoid capture was performed. To the best of our knowledge, the patchoulol titers demonstrated here are the highest reported to date with up to 60 mg L−1 and volumetric productivities of up to 18 mg L−1 d−1. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genetic Evaluation of Natural Populations of the Endangered Conifer Thuja koraiensis Using Microsatellite Markers by Restriction-Associated DNA Sequencing
Genes 2018, 9(4), 218; doi:10.3390/genes9040218 -
Abstract
Thuja koraiensis Nakai is an endangered conifer of high economic and ecological value in Jilin Province, China. However, studies on its population structure and conservation genetics have been limited by the lack of genomic data. Here, 37,761 microsatellites (simple sequence repeat, SSR) were
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Thuja koraiensis Nakai is an endangered conifer of high economic and ecological value in Jilin Province, China. However, studies on its population structure and conservation genetics have been limited by the lack of genomic data. Here, 37,761 microsatellites (simple sequence repeat, SSR) were detected based on 875,792 de novo-assembled contigs using a restriction-associated DNA (RAD) approach. Among these SSRs, 300 were randomly selected to test for polymorphisms and 96 obtained loci were able to amplify a fragment of expected size. Twelve polymorphic SSR markers were developed to analyze the genetic diversity and population structure of three natural populations. High genetic diversity (mean NA = 5.481, HE = 0.548) and moderate population differentiation (pairwise Fst = 0.048–0.078, Nm = 2.940–4.958) were found in this species. Molecular variance analysis suggested that most of the variation (83%) existed within populations. Combining the results of STRUCTURE, principal coordinate, and neighbor-joining analysis, the 232 individuals were divided into three genetic clusters that generally correlated with their geographical distributions. Finally, appropriate conservation strategies were proposed to protect this species. This study provides genetic information for the natural resource conservation and utilization of T. koraiensis and will facilitate further studies of the evolution and phylogeography of the species. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects on Parapatric Divergence of Linkage between Preference and Trait Loci versus Pleiotropy
Genes 2018, 9(4), 217; doi:10.3390/genes9040217 -
Abstract
Attempts to uncover the genetic basis of female mating preferences and male signals involved in reproductive isolation have discovered intriguing cases in which loci contributing to these traits co-localize in their chromosomal positions. Such discoveries raise the question of whether alleles at certain
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Attempts to uncover the genetic basis of female mating preferences and male signals involved in reproductive isolation have discovered intriguing cases in which loci contributing to these traits co-localize in their chromosomal positions. Such discoveries raise the question of whether alleles at certain loci contribute pleiotropically to male and female components of premating reproductive isolation, versus whether these loci are merely tightly linked. Here we use population genetic models to assess the degree to which these alternatives affect both short term and equilibrium patterns of trait (signal) and preference divergence. We take advantage of the fact that in the case of secondary contact between populations exchanging migrants, patterns of divergence across the range of preference strengths differ markedly when preferences and traits are controlled by the same locus (the case of phenotype matching) versus when they are on separate chromosomes. We find that tight linkage between preference and trait loci can mimic the pleiotropic pattern for many generations (roughly the reciprocal of the recombination rate), but that any recombination ultimately results in equilibrium patterns of divergence far more similar to those found when preferences and traits are on separate chromosomes. In general, our finding that pleiotropy results in quite different long-term patterns from tight linkage highlights the importance of distinguishing between these possibilities in empirical systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Accurate Classification of NF1 Gene Variants in 84 Italian Patients with Neurofibromatosis Type 1
Genes 2018, 9(4), 216; doi:10.3390/genes9040216 -
Abstract
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is one of the most common autosomal dominant genetic diseases. It is caused by mutations in the NF1 gene encoding for the large protein, neurofibromin. Genetic testing of NF1 is cumbersome because 50% of cases are sporadic, and there
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Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is one of the most common autosomal dominant genetic diseases. It is caused by mutations in the NF1 gene encoding for the large protein, neurofibromin. Genetic testing of NF1 is cumbersome because 50% of cases are sporadic, and there are no mutation hot spots. In addition, the most recognizable NF1 clinical features—café-au-lait (CALs) spots and axillary and/or inguinal freckling—appear early in childhood but are rather non-specific. Thus, the identification of causative variants is extremely important for early diagnosis, especially in paediatric patients. Here, we aimed to identify the underlying genetic defects in 72 index patients referred to our centre for NF1. Causative mutations were identified in 58 subjects, with 29 being novel changes. We evaluated missense and non-canonical splicing mutations with both protein and splicing prediction algorithms. The ratio of splicing mutations detected was higher than that reported in recent patients’ series and in the Human Gene Mutation Database (HGMD). After applying in silico predictive tools to 41 previously reported missense variants, we demonstrated that 46.3% of these putatively missense mutations were forecasted to alter splicing instead. Our data suggest that mutations affecting splicing can be frequently underscored if not analysed in depth. We confirm that hamartomas can be useful for diagnosing NF1 in children. Lisch nodules and cutaneous neurofibromas were more frequent in patients with frameshifting mutations. In conclusion, we demonstrated that comprehensive in silico analysis can be a highly specific method for predicting the nature of NF1 mutations and may help in assuring proper patient care. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Special Issue Introduction: Inherited Retinal Disease: Novel Candidate Genes, Genotype–Phenotype Correlations, and Inheritance Models
Genes 2018, 9(4), 215; doi:10.3390/genes9040215 -
Abstract
Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are genetically and clinically heterogeneous disorders.[...] Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Major Rhizobacterial Taxa Affected by a Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean Line via Shotgun Metagenomic Approach
Genes 2018, 9(4), 214; doi:10.3390/genes9040214 -
Abstract
The worldwide commercial cultivation of transgenic crops, including glyphosate-tolerant (GT) soybeans, has increased widely during the past 20 years. However, it is accompanied with a growing concern about potential effects of transgenic crops on the soil microbial communities, especially on rhizosphere bacterial communities.
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The worldwide commercial cultivation of transgenic crops, including glyphosate-tolerant (GT) soybeans, has increased widely during the past 20 years. However, it is accompanied with a growing concern about potential effects of transgenic crops on the soil microbial communities, especially on rhizosphere bacterial communities. Our previous study found that the GT soybean line NZL06-698 (N698) significantly affected rhizosphere bacteria, including some unidentified taxa, through 16S rRNA gene (16S rDNA) V4 region amplicon deep sequencing via Illumina MiSeq. In this study, we performed 16S rDNA V5–V7 region amplicon deep sequencing via Illumina MiSeq and shotgun metagenomic approaches to identify those major taxa. Results of these processes revealed that the species richness and evenness increased in the rhizosphere bacterial communities of N698, the beta diversity of the rhizosphere bacterial communities of N698 was affected, and that certain dominant bacterial phyla and genera were related to N698 compared with its control cultivar Mengdou12. Consistent with our previous findings, this study showed that N698 affects the rhizosphere bacterial communities. In specific, N698 negatively affects Rahnella, Janthinobacterium, Stenotrophomonas, Sphingomonas and Luteibacter while positively affecting Arthrobacter, Bradyrhizobium, Ramlibacter and Nitrospira. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genome Sequence of the Freshwater Yangtze Finless Porpoise
Genes 2018, 9(4), 213; doi:10.3390/genes9040213 -
Abstract
The Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis ssp. asiaeorientalis) is a subspecies of the narrow-ridged finless porpoise (N. asiaeorientalis). In total, 714.28 gigabases (Gb) of raw reads were generated by whole-genome sequencing of the Yangtze finless porpoise, using an Illumina
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The Yangtze finless porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis ssp. asiaeorientalis) is a subspecies of the narrow-ridged finless porpoise (N. asiaeorientalis). In total, 714.28 gigabases (Gb) of raw reads were generated by whole-genome sequencing of the Yangtze finless porpoise, using an Illumina HiSeq 2000 platform. After filtering the low-quality and duplicated reads, we assembled a draft genome of 2.22 Gb, with contig N50 and scaffold N50 values of 46.69 kilobases (kb) and 1.71 megabases (Mb), respectively. We identified 887.63 Mb of repetitive sequences and predicted 18,479 protein-coding genes in the assembled genome. The phylogenetic tree showed a relationship between the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Yangtze River dolphin, which diverged approximately 20.84 million years ago. In comparisons with the genomes of 10 other mammals, we detected 44 species-specific gene families, 164 expanded gene families, and 313 positively selected genes in the Yangtze finless porpoise genome. The assembled genome sequence and underlying sequence data are available at the National Center for Biotechnology Information under BioProject accession number PRJNA433603. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transcriptomic Analysis of Flower Bud Differentiation in Magnolia sinostellata
Genes 2018, 9(4), 212; doi:10.3390/genes9040212 -
Abstract
Magnolias are widely cultivated for their beautiful flowers, but despite their popularity, the molecular mechanisms regulating flower bud differentiation have not been elucidated. Here, we used paraffin sections and RNA-seq to study the process of flower bud differentiation in Magnolia sinostellata. Flower
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Magnolias are widely cultivated for their beautiful flowers, but despite their popularity, the molecular mechanisms regulating flower bud differentiation have not been elucidated. Here, we used paraffin sections and RNA-seq to study the process of flower bud differentiation in Magnolia sinostellata. Flower bud development occurred between 28 April and 30 May 2017 and was divided into five stages: undifferentiated, early flower bud differentiation, petal primordium differentiation, stamen primordium differentiation, and pistil primordium differentiation. A total of 52,441 expressed genes were identified, of which 11,592 were significantly differentially expressed in the five bud development stages. Of these, 82 genes were involved in the flowering. In addition, MADS-box and AP2 family genes play critical roles in the formation of flower organs and 20 differentially expressed genes associated with flower bud differentiation were identified in M. sinostellata. A qRT-PCR analysis verified that the MADS-box and AP2 family genes were expressed at high levels during flower bud differentiation. Consequently, this study provides a theoretical basis for the genetic regulation of flowering in M. sinostellata, which lays a foundation for further research into flowering genes and may facilitate the development of new cultivars. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Chromatin Architectural Changes during Cellular Senescence and Aging
Genes 2018, 9(4), 211; doi:10.3390/genes9040211 -
Abstract
Chromatin 3D structure is highly dynamic and associated with many biological processes, such as cell cycle progression, cellular differentiation, cell fate reprogramming, cancer development, cellular senescence, and aging. Recently, by using chromosome conformation capture technologies, tremendous findings have been reported about the dynamics
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Chromatin 3D structure is highly dynamic and associated with many biological processes, such as cell cycle progression, cellular differentiation, cell fate reprogramming, cancer development, cellular senescence, and aging. Recently, by using chromosome conformation capture technologies, tremendous findings have been reported about the dynamics of genome architecture, their associated proteins, and the underlying mechanisms involved in regulating chromatin spatial organization and gene expression. Cellular senescence and aging, which involve multiple cellular and molecular functional declines, also undergo significant chromatin structural changes, including alternations of heterochromatin and disruption of higher-order chromatin structure. In this review, we summarize recent findings related to genome architecture, factors regulating chromatin spatial organization, and how they change during cellular senescence and aging. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Quorum Sensing and Quorum Quenching in Agrobacterium: A “Go/No Go System”?
Genes 2018, 9(4), 210; doi:10.3390/genes9040210 -
Abstract
The pathogen Agrobacterium induces gall formation on a wide range of dicotyledonous plants. In this bacteria, most pathogenicity determinants are borne on the tumour inducing (Ti) plasmid. The conjugative transfer of this plasmid between agrobacteria is regulated by quorum sensing (QS). However, processes
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The pathogen Agrobacterium induces gall formation on a wide range of dicotyledonous plants. In this bacteria, most pathogenicity determinants are borne on the tumour inducing (Ti) plasmid. The conjugative transfer of this plasmid between agrobacteria is regulated by quorum sensing (QS). However, processes involved in the disturbance of QS also occur in this bacteria under the molecular form of a protein, TraM, inhibiting the sensing of the QS signals, and two lactonases BlcC (AttM) and AiiB that degrade the acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) QS signal. In the model Agrobacteriumfabrum strain C58, several data, once integrated, strongly suggest that the QS regulation may not be reacting only to cell concentration. Rather, these QS elements in association with the quorum quenching (QQ) activities may constitute an integrated and complex “go/no go system” that finely controls the biologically costly transfer of the Ti plasmid in response to multiple environmental cues. This decision mechanism permits the bacteria to sense whether it is in a gall or not, in a living or decaying tumor, in stressed plant tissues, etc. In this scheme, the role of the lactonases selected and maintained in the course of Ti plasmid and agrobacterial evolution appears to be pivotal. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel G-Protein-Coupled Receptors Gene from Upland Cotton Enhances Salt Stress Tolerance in Transgenic Arabidopsis
Genes 2018, 9(4), 209; doi:10.3390/genes9040209 -
Abstract
Plants have developed a number of survival strategies which are significant for enhancing their adaptation to various biotic and abiotic stress factors. At the transcriptome level, G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are of great significance, enabling the plants to detect a wide range of endogenous
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Plants have developed a number of survival strategies which are significant for enhancing their adaptation to various biotic and abiotic stress factors. At the transcriptome level, G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are of great significance, enabling the plants to detect a wide range of endogenous and exogenous signals which are employed by the plants in regulating various responses in development and adaptation. In this research work, we carried out genome-wide analysis of target of Myb1 (TOM1), a member of the GPCR gene family. The functional role of TOM1 in salt stress tolerance was studied using a transgenic Arabidopsis plants over-expressing the gene. By the use of the functional domain PF06454, we obtained 16 TOM genes members in Gossypium hirsutum, 9 in Gossypium arboreum, and 11 in Gossypium raimondii. The genes had varying physiochemical properties, and it is significant to note that all the grand average of hydropathy (GRAVY) values were less than one, indicating that all are hydrophobic in nature. In all the genes analysed here, both the exonic and intronic regions were found. The expression level of Gh_A07G0747 (GhTOM) was significantly high in the transgenic lines as compared to the wild type; a similar trend in expression was observed in all the salt-related genes tested in this study. The study in epidermal cells confirmed the localization of the protein coded by the gene TOM1 in the plasma membrane. Analysis of anti-oxidant enzymes showed higher concentrations of antioxidants in transgenic lines and relatively lower levels of oxidant substances such as H2O2. The low malondialdehyde (MDA) level in transgenic lines indicated that the transgenic lines had relatively low level of oxidative damage compared to the wild types. The results obtained indicate that Gh_A07G0747 (GhTOM) can be a putative target gene for enhancing salt stress tolerance in plants and could be exploited in the future for the development of salt stress-tolerant cotton cultivars. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Patients with Atrioventricular Septal Defect in Down Syndrome Populations by Using Self-Normalizing Neural Networks and Feature Selection
Genes 2018, 9(4), 208; doi:10.3390/genes9040208 -
Abstract
Atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) is a clinically significant subtype of congenital heart disease (CHD) that severely influences the health of babies during birth and is associated with Down syndrome (DS). Thus, exploring the differences in functional genes in DS samples with and without
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Atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) is a clinically significant subtype of congenital heart disease (CHD) that severely influences the health of babies during birth and is associated with Down syndrome (DS). Thus, exploring the differences in functional genes in DS samples with and without AVSD is a critical way to investigate the complex association between AVSD and DS. In this study, we present a computational method to distinguish DS patients with AVSD from those without AVSD using the newly proposed self-normalizing neural network (SNN). First, each patient was encoded by using the copy number of probes on chromosome 21. The encoded features were ranked by the reliable Monte Carlo feature selection (MCFS) method to obtain a ranked feature list. Based on this feature list, we used a two-stage incremental feature selection to construct two series of feature subsets and applied SNNs to build classifiers to identify optimal features. Results show that 2737 optimal features were obtained, and the corresponding optimal SNN classifier constructed on optimal features yielded a Matthew’s correlation coefficient (MCC) value of 0.748. For comparison, random forest was also used to build classifiers and uncover optimal features. This method received an optimal MCC value of 0.582 when top 132 features were utilized. Finally, we analyzed some key features derived from the optimal features in SNNs found in literature support to further reveal their essential roles. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Gene Therapy for Chronic HBV—Can We Eliminate cccDNA?
Genes 2018, 9(4), 207; doi:10.3390/genes9040207 -
Abstract
Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a global health concern and accounts for approximately 1 million deaths annually. Amongst other limitations of current anti-HBV treatment, failure to eliminate the viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) and emergence of resistance remain
[...] Read more.
Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a global health concern and accounts for approximately 1 million deaths annually. Amongst other limitations of current anti-HBV treatment, failure to eliminate the viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) and emergence of resistance remain the most worrisome. Viral rebound from latent episomal cccDNA reservoirs occurs following cessation of therapy, patient non-compliance, or the development of escape mutants. Simultaneous viral co-infections, such as by HIV-1, further complicate therapeutic interventions. These challenges have prompted development of novel targeted hepatitis B therapies. Given the ease with which highly specific and potent nucleic acid therapeutics can be rationally designed, gene therapy has generated interest for antiviral application. Gene therapy strategies developed for HBV include gene silencing by harnessing RNA interference, transcriptional inhibition through epigenetic modification of target DNA, genome editing by designer nucleases, and immune modulation with cytokines. DNA-binding domains and effectors based on the zinc finger (ZF), transcription activator-like effector (TALE), and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) systems are remarkably well suited to targeting episomal cccDNA. This review discusses recent developments and challenges facing the field of anti-HBV gene therapy, its potential curative significance and the progress towards clinical application. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transcriptome Analysis of Two Rice Varieties Contrasting for Nitrogen Use Efficiency under Chronic N Starvation Reveals Differences in Chloroplast and Starch Metabolism-Related Genes
Genes 2018, 9(4), 206; doi:10.3390/genes9040206 -
Abstract
The nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of crop plants is limited and enhancing it in rice, a major cereal crop, would be beneficial for farmers and the environment alike. Here we report the genome-wide transcriptome analysis of two rice genotypes, IR 64 (IR64) and
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The nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of crop plants is limited and enhancing it in rice, a major cereal crop, would be beneficial for farmers and the environment alike. Here we report the genome-wide transcriptome analysis of two rice genotypes, IR 64 (IR64) and Nagina 22 (N22) under optimal (+N) and chronic starvation (-N) of nitrogen (N) from 15-day-old root and shoot tissues. The two genotypes were found to be contrasting in their response to -N; IR64 root architecture and root dry weight remained almost equivalent to that under +N conditions, while N22 showed high foraging ability but a substantial reduction in biomass under -N. Similarly, the photosynthetic pigments showed a drastic reduction in N22 under low N, while IR64 was more resilient. Nitrate reductase showed significantly low specific activity under -N in both genotypes. Glutamate synthase (GOGAT) and citrate synthase CS activity were highly reduced in N22 but not in IR64. Transcriptome analysis of these genotypes revealed nearly double the number of genes to be differentially expressed (DEGs) in roots (1016) compared to shoots (571). The response of the two genotypes to N starvation was distinctly different reflecting their morphological/biochemical response with just two and eight common DEGs in the root and shoot tissues. There were a total of 385 nitrogen-responsive DEGs (106 in shoots and 279 in roots) between the two genotypes. Fifty-two of the 89 DEGs identified as specific to N22 root tissues were also found to be differentially expressed between the two genotypes under -N. Most of these DEGs belonged to starch and chloroplast metabolism, followed by membrane and signaling proteins. Physical mapping of DEGs revealed 95 DEGs in roots and 76 in shoots to be present in quantitative trait loci (QTL) known for NUE. Full article
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