Genes2016, 7(8), 40; doi:10.3390/genes7080040 (registering DOI) - published 25 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Duplication of bacterial chromosomes is initiated via the assembly of two replication forks at a single defined origin. Forks proceed bi-directionally until they fuse in a specialised termination area opposite the origin. This area is flanked by polar replication fork pause sites that allow forks to enter but not to leave. The precise function of this replication fork trap has remained enigmatic, as no obvious phenotypes have been associated with its inactivation. However, the fork trap becomes a serious problem to cells if the second fork is stalled at an impediment, as replication cannot be completed, suggesting that a significant evolutionary advantage for maintaining this chromosomal arrangement must exist. Recently, we demonstrated that head-on fusion of replication forks can trigger over-replication of the chromosome. This over-replication is normally prevented by a number of proteins including RecG helicase and 3’ exonucleases. However, even in the absence of these proteins it can be safely contained within the replication fork trap, highlighting that multiple systems might be involved in coordinating replication fork fusions. Here, we discuss whether considering the problems associated with head-on replication fork fusion events helps us to better understand the important role of the replication fork trap in cellular metabolism.
Abstract: An aquatic gastropod belonging to the family Neritidae, Clithon retropictus is listed as an endangered class II species in South Korea. The lack of information on its genomic background limits the ability to obtain functional data resources and inhibits informed conservation planning for this species. In the present study, the transcriptomic sequencing and de novo assembly of C. retropictus generated a total of 241,696,750 high-quality reads. These assembled to 282,838 unigenes with mean and N50 lengths of 736.9 and 1201 base pairs, respectively. Of these, 125,616 unigenes were subjected to annotation analysis with known proteins in Protostome DB, COG, GO, and KEGG protein databases (BLASTX; E ≤ 0.00001) and with known nucleotides in the Unigene database (BLASTN; E ≤ 0.00001). The GO analysis indicated that cellular process, cell, and catalytic activity are the predominant GO terms in the biological process, cellular component, and molecular function categories, respectively. In addition, 2093 unigenes were distributed in 107 different KEGG pathways. Furthermore, 49,280 simple sequence repeats were identified in the unigenes (>1 kilobase sequences). This is the first report on the identification of transcriptomic and microsatellite resources for C. retropictus, which opens up the possibility of exploring traits related to the adaptation and acclimatization of this species.
Abstract: Telomere length and cell function can be preserved by the human reverse transcriptase telomerase (hTERT), which synthesizes the new telomeric DNA from a RNA template, but is normally restricted to cells needing a high proliferative capacity, such as stem cells. Consequently, telomerase-based therapies to elongate short telomeres are developed, some of which have successfully reached the stage I in clinical trials. Telomerase is also permissive for tumorigenesis and 90% of all malignant tumors use telomerase to obtain immortality. Thus, reversal of telomerase upregulation in tumor cells is a potential strategy to treat cancer. Natural and small-molecule telomerase inhibitors, immunotherapeutic approaches, oligonucleotide inhibitors, and telomerase-directed gene therapy are useful treatment strategies. Telomerase is more widely expressed than any other tumor marker. The low expression in normal tissues, together with the longer telomeres in normal stem cells versus cancer cells, provides some degree of specificity with low risk of toxicity. However, long term telomerase inhibition may elicit negative effects in highly-proliferative cells which need telomerase for survival, and it may interfere with telomere-independent physiological functions. Moreover, only a few hTERT molecules are required to overcome senescence in cancer cells, and telomerase inhibition requires proliferating cells over a sufficient number of population doublings to induce tumor suppressive senescence. These limitations may explain the moderate success rates in many clinical studies. Despite extensive studies, only one vaccine and one telomerase antagonist are routinely used in clinical work. For complete eradication of all subpopulations of cancer cells a simultaneous targeting of several mechanisms will likely be needed. Possible technical improvements have been proposed including the development of more specific inhibitors, methods to increase the efficacy of vaccination methods, and personalized approaches. Telomerase activation and cell rejuvenation is successfully used in regenerative medicine for tissue engineering and reconstructive surgery. However, there are also a number of pitfalls in the treatment with telomerase activating procedures for the whole organism and for longer periods of time. Extended cell lifespan may accumulate rare genetic and epigenetic aberrations that can contribute to malignant transformation. Therefore, novel vector systems have been developed for a ‘mild’ integration of telomerase into the host genome and loss of the vector in rapidly-proliferating cells. It is currently unclear if this technique can also be used in human beings to treat chronic diseases, such as atherosclerosis.
Abstract: Genome sequencing is now a common procedure, but prior to this, screening experiments using protein baits was one of the routinely used methods that, occasionally, allowed the identification of new gene products. One such experiment uncovered the gene product called willin/human Expanded/FRMD6. Initial characterization studies found that willin bound phospholipids and was strongly co-localised with actin. However, subsequently, willin was found to be the closest human sequence homologue of the Drosophila protein Expanded (Ex), sharing 60% homology with the Ex FERM domain. This in turn suggested, and then was proven that willin could activate the Hippo signalling pathway. This review describes the increasing body of knowledge about the actions of willin in a number of cellular functions related to cancer. However, like many gene products involved in aspects of cell signalling, a convincing direct role for willin in cancer remains tantalisingly elusive, at present.
Abstract: The accumulated evidence has pointed to a key role of telomerase in carcinogenesis. As a RNA-dependent DNA polymerase, telomerase synthesizes telomeric DNA at the end of linear chromosomes, and attenuates or prevents telomere erosion associated with cell divisions. By lengthening telomeres, telomerase extends cellular life-span or even induces immortalization. Consistent with its functional activity, telomerase is silent in most human normal somatic cells while active only in germ-line, stem and other highly proliferative cells. In contrast, telomerase activation widely occurs in human cancer and the enzymatic activity is detectable in up to 90% of malignancies. Recently, hotspot point mutations in the regulatory region of the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene, encoding the core catalytic component of telomerase, was identified as a novel mechanism to activate telomerase in cancer. This review discusses the cancer-specific TERT promoter mutations and potential biological and clinical significances.
Abstract: The swine leukocyte antigens (SLAs) are the multigene families related to immune responses. Little is known about the effect of the DRA gene on diarrheal disease. This study reported the genetic diversity of the DRA gene in exons 1, 3 and 4 in 290 Chinese Yantai black pigs. No variation was identified in exon 3. In exon 1, three genotypes and two alleles were identified, generated by two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In exon 4, there were eight genotypes and five alleles containing seven SNPs were detected with four SNPs being novel SNPs. The low polymorphism found in swine DRA is consistent with the concept that the DRA gene is highly conserved among all mammalian species. Statistical analyses indicated that the genotypes of exon 1 were not significantly associated with piglet diarrhea (p> 0.05); however, genotypes C4C4 (1.80 ± 0.33) and A4E4 (1.66 ± 0.25) of exon 4 were significantly susceptible to diarrhea (p< 0.01). These indicate that the particular genotypes of the DRA gene are susceptible to diarrheal disease, which provides valuable information for disease-resistance breeding in swine.