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Genes, Volume 10, Issue 11 (November 2019)

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Open AccessArticle
Proteomics Recapitulates Ovarian Proteins Relevant to Puberty and Fertility in Brahman Heifers (Bos indicus L.)
Genes 2019, 10(11), 923; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110923 (registering DOI) - 12 Nov 2019
Abstract
High fertility and early puberty in Bos indicus heifers are desirable and genetically correlated traits in beef production. The hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian (HPO) axis synthesizes steroid hormones, which contribute to the shift from the pre-pubertal state into the post-pubertal state and influence subsequent fertility. Understanding [...] Read more.
High fertility and early puberty in Bos indicus heifers are desirable and genetically correlated traits in beef production. The hypothalamus–pituitary–ovarian (HPO) axis synthesizes steroid hormones, which contribute to the shift from the pre-pubertal state into the post-pubertal state and influence subsequent fertility. Understanding variations in abundance of proteins that govern steroid synthesis and ovarian signaling pathways remains crucial to understanding puberty and fertility. We used whole ovaries of six pre-pubertal and six post-pubertal Brahman heifers to conduct differential abundance analyses of protein profiles between the two physiological states. Extracted proteins were digested into peptides followed by identification and quantification with massspectrometry (MS) by sequential window acquisition of all instances of theoretical fragment ion mass spectrometry (SWATH-MS). MS and statistical analysis identified 566 significantly differentially abundant (DA) proteins (adjusted p < 0.05), which were then analyzed for gene ontology and pathway enrichment. Our data indicated an up-regulation of steroidogenic proteins contributing to progesterone synthesis at luteal phase post-puberty. Proteins related to progesterone signaling, TGF-β, retinoic acid, extracellular matrix, cytoskeleton, and pleiotrophin signaling were DA in this study. The DA proteins probably relate to the formation and function of the corpus luteum, which is only present after ovulation, post-puberty. Some DA proteins might also be related to granulosa cells signaling, which regulates oocyte maturation or arrest in ovaries prior to ovulation. Ten DA proteins were coded by genes previously associated with reproductive traits according to the animal quantitative trait loci (QTL) database. In conclusion, the DA proteins and their pathways were related to ovarian activity in Bos indicus cattle. The genes that code for these proteins may explain some known QTLs and could be targeted in future genetic studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genomics of Sexual Development and Reproduction in Mammals)
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Open AccessArticle
A Weighted Genomic Relationship Matrix Based on Fixation Index (FST) Prioritized SNPs for Genomic Selection
Genes 2019, 10(11), 922; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110922 (registering DOI) - 12 Nov 2019
Abstract
A dramatic increase in the density of marker panels has been expected to increase the accuracy of genomic selection (GS), unfortunately, little to no improvement has been observed. By including all variants in the association model, the dimensionality of the problem should be [...] Read more.
A dramatic increase in the density of marker panels has been expected to increase the accuracy of genomic selection (GS), unfortunately, little to no improvement has been observed. By including all variants in the association model, the dimensionality of the problem should be dramatically increased, and it could undoubtedly reduce the statistical power. Using all Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to compute the genomic relationship matrix (G) does not necessarily increase accuracy as the additive relationships can be accurately estimated using a much smaller number of markers. Due to these limitations, variant prioritization has become a necessity to improve accuracy. The fixation index (FST) as a measure of population differentiation has been used to identify genome segments and variants under selection pressure. Using prioritized variants has increased the accuracy of GS. Additionally, FST can be used to weight the relative contribution of prioritized SNPs in computing G. In this study, relative weights based on FST scores were developed and incorporated into the calculation of G and their impact on the estimation of variance components and accuracy was assessed. The results showed that prioritizing SNPs based on their FST scores resulted in an increase in the genetic similarity between training and validation animals and improved the accuracy of GS by more than 5%. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Wnt-11 Expression Promotes Invasiveness and Correlates with Survival in Human Pancreatic Ductal Adeno Carcinoma
Genes 2019, 10(11), 921; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110921 (registering DOI) - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, proving difficult to manage clinically. Wnt-11, a developmentally regulated gene producing a secreted protein, has been associated with various carcinomas but has not previously been studied in PDAC. The present study [...] Read more.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, proving difficult to manage clinically. Wnt-11, a developmentally regulated gene producing a secreted protein, has been associated with various carcinomas but has not previously been studied in PDAC. The present study aimed to elucidate these aspects first in vitro and then in a clinical setting in vivo. Molecular analyses of Wnt-11 expression as well as other biomarkers involved qRT-PCR, RNA-seq and siRNA. Proliferation was measured by MTT; invasiveness was quantified by Boyden chamber (Matrigel) assay. Wnt-11 mRNA was present in three different human PDAC cell lines. Wnt-11 loss affected epithelial-mesenchymal transition and expression of neuronal and stemness biomarkers associated with metastasis. Indeed, silencing Wnt-11 in Panc-1 cells significantly inhibited their Matrigel invasiveness without affecting their proliferative activity. Consistently with the in vitro data, human biopsies of PDAC showed significantly higher Wnt-11 mRNA levels compared with matched adjacent tissues. Expression was significantly upregulated during PDAC progression (TNM stage I to II) and maintained (TNM stages III and IV). Wnt-11 is expressed in PDAC in vitro and in vivo and plays a significant role in the pathophysiology of the disease; this evidence leads to the conclusion that Wnt-11 could serve as a novel, functional biomarker PDAC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wnt Signaling in Development, Regeneration and Cancer)
Open AccessArticle
RNA Sequencing Reveals That Both Abiotic and Biotic Stress-Responsive Genes are Induced during Expression of Steroidal Glycoalkaloid in Potato Tuber Subjected to Light Exposure
Genes 2019, 10(11), 920; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110920 (registering DOI) - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs), which are widely produced by potato, even in other Solanaceae plants, are a class of potentially toxic compounds, but are beneficial to host resistance. However, changes of the other metabolic process along with SGA accumulation are still poorly understood and [...] Read more.
Steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs), which are widely produced by potato, even in other Solanaceae plants, are a class of potentially toxic compounds, but are beneficial to host resistance. However, changes of the other metabolic process along with SGA accumulation are still poorly understood and researched. Based on RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and bioinformatics analysis, the global gene expression profiles of potato variety Helan 15 (Favorita) was investigated at four-time points during light exposure. The data was further verified by using quantitative Real-time PCR (qRT-PCR). When compared to the control group, 1288, 1592, 1737, and 1870 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were detected at 6 h, 24 h, 48 h, and 8 d, respectively. The results of both RNAseq and qRT-PCR showed that SGA biosynthetic genes were up-regulated in the potato tuber under light exposure. Functional enrichment analysis revealed that genes related to PS light reaction and Protein degradation were significantly enriched in most time points of light exposure. Additionally, enriched Bins included Receptor kinases, Secondary metabolic process in flavonoids, Abiotic stress, and Biotic stress in the early stage of light exposure, but PS Calvin cycle, RNA regulation of transcription, and UDP glucosyl and glucoronyl transferases in the later stage. Most of the DEGs involved in PS light reaction and Abiotic stress were up-regulated at all four time points, whereas DEGs that participated in biotic stresses were mainly up-regulated at the later stage (48 h and 8 d). Cis-element prediction and co-expression assay were used to confirm the expressional correlation between genes that are responsible for SGA biosynthesis and disease resistance. In conclusion, the expressions of genes involved in PS light reaction, Abiotic stress, and Biotic stress were obviously aroused during the accumulation of SGAs induced by light exposure. Moreover, an increased defense response might contribute to the potato resistance to the infection by phytopathogenic microorganisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Epigenetics of Biotic Stress Response in Plants)
Open AccessArticle
X-Linked Emery–Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy: Study Of X-Chromosome Inactivation and Its Relation with Clinical Phenotypes in Female Carriers
Genes 2019, 10(11), 919; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110919 (registering DOI) - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
X-linked Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD1) affects approximately 1:100,000 male births. Female carriers are usually asymptomatic but, in some cases, they may present clinical symptoms after age 50 at cardiac level, especially in the form of conduction tissue anomalies. The aim of this study [...] Read more.
X-linked Emery–Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD1) affects approximately 1:100,000 male births. Female carriers are usually asymptomatic but, in some cases, they may present clinical symptoms after age 50 at cardiac level, especially in the form of conduction tissue anomalies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relation between heart involvement in symptomatic EDMD1 carriers and the X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) pattern. The XCI pattern was determined on the lymphocytes of 30 symptomatic and asymptomatic EDMD1 female carriers—25 familial and 5 sporadic cases—seeking genetic advice using the androgen receptor (AR) methylation-based assay. Carriers were subdivided according to whether they were above or below 50 years of age. A variance analysis was performed to compare the XCI pattern between symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. The results show that 20% of EDMD1 carriers had cardiac symptoms, and that 50% of these were ≥50 years of age. The XCI pattern was similar in both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. Conclusions: Arrhythmias in EDMD1 carriers poorly correlate on lymphocytes to a skewed XCI, probably due to (a) the different embryological origin of cardiac conduction tissue compared to lymphocytes or (b) the preferential loss of atrial cells replaced by fibrous tissue. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Restrictive Cardiomyopathy is Caused by a Novel Homozygous Desmin (DES) Mutation p.Y122H Leading to a Severe Filament Assembly Defect
Genes 2019, 10(11), 918; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110918 (registering DOI) - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
Here, we present a small Iranian family, where the index patient received a diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) in combination with atrioventricular (AV) block. Genetic analysis revealed a novel homozygous missense mutation in the DES gene (c.364T > C; p.Y122H), which is absent [...] Read more.
Here, we present a small Iranian family, where the index patient received a diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) in combination with atrioventricular (AV) block. Genetic analysis revealed a novel homozygous missense mutation in the DES gene (c.364T > C; p.Y122H), which is absent in human population databases. The mutation is localized in the highly conserved coil-1 desmin subdomain. In silico, prediction tools indicate a deleterious effect of the desmin (DES) mutation p.Y122H. Consequently, we generated an expression plasmid encoding the mutant and wildtype desmin formed, and analyzed the filament formation in vitro in cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells and HT-1080 cells. Confocal microscopy revealed a severe filament assembly defect of mutant desmin supporting the pathogenicity of the DES mutation, p.Y122H, whereas the wildtype desmin formed regular intermediate filaments. According to the guidelines of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, we classified this mutation, therefore, as a novel pathogenic mutation. Our report could point to a recessive inheritance of the DES mutation, p.Y122H, which is important for the genetic counseling of similar families with restrictive cardiomyopathy caused by DES mutations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel Software and Method for the Efficient Development of Polymorphic SSR Loci Based on Transcriptome Data
Genes 2019, 10(11), 917; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110917 (registering DOI) - 11 Nov 2019
Abstract
Traditional methods for developing polymorphic microsatellite loci without reference sequences are time-consuming and labor-intensive, and the polymorphisms of simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci developed from expressed sequence tag (EST) databases are generally poor. To address this issue, in this study, we developed a [...] Read more.
Traditional methods for developing polymorphic microsatellite loci without reference sequences are time-consuming and labor-intensive, and the polymorphisms of simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci developed from expressed sequence tag (EST) databases are generally poor. To address this issue, in this study, we developed a new software (PSSRdt) and established an effective method for directly obtaining polymorphism details of SSR loci by analyzing diverse transcriptome data. The new method includes three steps, raw data processing, PSSRdt application, and loci extraction and verification. To test the practicality of the method, we successfully obtained 1940 potential polymorphic SSRs from the transcript dataset combined with 44 pea aphid transcriptomes. Fifty-two SSR loci obtained by the new method were selected for validating the polymorphic characteristics by genotyping in pea aphid individuals. The results showed that over 92% of SSR loci were polymorphic and 73.1% of loci were highly polymorphic. Our new software and method provide an innovative approach to microsatellite development based on RNA-seq data, and open a new path for the rapid mining of numerous loci with polymorphism to add to the body of research on microsatellites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Technologies and Resources for Genetics)
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Open AccessArticle
The Molecular Determination of Hybridity and Homozygosity Estimates in Breeding Populations of Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.)
Genes 2019, 10(11), 916; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110916 (registering DOI) - 09 Nov 2019
Abstract
The development of new varieties of horticultural crops benefits from the integration of conventional and molecular marker-assisted breeding schemes in order to combine phenotyping and genotyping information. In this study, a selected panel of 16 microsatellite markers were used in different steps of [...] Read more.
The development of new varieties of horticultural crops benefits from the integration of conventional and molecular marker-assisted breeding schemes in order to combine phenotyping and genotyping information. In this study, a selected panel of 16 microsatellite markers were used in different steps of a breeding programme of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L., 2 n = 18). Molecular markers were first used to genotype 71 putative parental lines and to plan 89 controlled crosses designed to maximise recombination potentials. The resulting 871 progeny plants were then molecularly screened, and their marker allele profiles were compared with the profiles expected based on the parental lines. The average cross-pollination success rate was 68 ± 33%, so 602 F1 hybrids were completely identified. Unexpected genotypes were detected in 5% of cases, consistent with this species’ spontaneous out-pollination rate. Finally, in a later step of the breeding programme, 47 different F3 progenies, selected by phenotyping for a number of morphological descriptors, were characterised in terms of their observed homozygosity and within-population genetic uniformity and stability. Ten of these populations had a median homozygosity above 90% and a median genetic similarity above 95% and are, therefore, particularly suitable for pre-commercial trials. In conclusion, this study shows the synergistic effects and advantages of conventional and molecular methods of selection applied in different steps of a breeding programme aimed at developing new varieties of lettuce. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Diversity Assessment and Marker-Assisted Selection in Crops)
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Open AccessReview
Melanoma-Bearing Libechov Minipig (MeLiM): The Unique Swine Model of Hereditary Metastatic Melanoma
Genes 2019, 10(11), 915; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110915 (registering DOI) - 09 Nov 2019
Abstract
National cancer databases document that melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly cutaneous malignancy with worldwide increasing incidence in the Caucasian population. Around 10% of melanomas occur in families. Several germline mutations were identified that might help to indicate individuals at risk for [...] Read more.
National cancer databases document that melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly cutaneous malignancy with worldwide increasing incidence in the Caucasian population. Around 10% of melanomas occur in families. Several germline mutations were identified that might help to indicate individuals at risk for preventive interventions and early disease detection. More than 50% of sporadic melanomas carry mutations in Ras/Raf/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK/MEK) pathway, which may represent aims of novel targeted therapies. Despite advances in targeted therapies and immunotherapies, the outcomes in metastatic tumor are still unsatisfactory. Here, we review animal models that help our understanding of melanoma development and treatment, including non-vertebrate, mouse, swine, and other mammal models, with an emphasis on those with spontaneously developing melanoma. Special attention is paid to the melanoma-bearing Libechov minipig (MeLiM). This original swine model of hereditary metastatic melanoma enables studying biological processes underlying melanoma progression, as well as spontaneous regression. Current histological, immunohistochemical, biochemical, genetic, hematological, immunological, and skin microbiome findings in the MeLiM model are summarized, together with development of new therapeutic approaches based on tumor devitalization. The ongoing study of molecular and immunological base of spontaneous regression in MeLiM model has potential to bring new knowledge of clinical importance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Modeling in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Analysis of Basic Helix–Loop–Helix Superfamily Members Reveals Organization and Chilling-Responsive Patterns in Cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata L.)
Genes 2019, 10(11), 914; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110914 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) transcription factor (TF) family is commonly found in eukaryotes, which is one of the largest families of regulator proteins. It plays an important role in plant growth and development, as well as various biotic and abiotic stresses. However, a comprehensive [...] Read more.
Basic helix–loop–helix (bHLH) transcription factor (TF) family is commonly found in eukaryotes, which is one of the largest families of regulator proteins. It plays an important role in plant growth and development, as well as various biotic and abiotic stresses. However, a comprehensive analysis of the bHLH family has not been reported in Brassica oleracea. In this study, we systematically describe the BobHLHs in the phylogenetic relationships, expression patterns in different organs/tissues, and in response to chilling stress, and gene and protein characteristics. A total of 234 BobHLH genes were identified in the B. oleracea genome and were further clustered into twenty-three subfamilies based on the phylogenetic analyses. A large number of BobHLH genes were unevenly located on nine chromosomes of B. oleracea. Analysis of RNA-Seq expression profiles revealed that 21 BobHLH genes exhibited organ/tissue-specific expression. Additionally, the expression of six BobHLHs (BobHLH003, -048, -059, -093, -109, and -148) were significantly down-regulated in chilling-sensitive cabbage (CS-D9) and chilling-tolerant cabbage (CT-923). At 24h chilling stress, BobHLH054 was significantly down-regulated and up-regulated in chilling-treated CS-D9 and CT-923. Conserved motif characterization and exon/intron structural patterns showed that BobHLH genes had similar structures in the same subfamily. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of BobHLH genes and reveals several candidate genes involved in chilling tolerance of B. oleracea, which may be helpful to clarify the roles of bHLH family members and understand the regulatory mechanisms of BobHLH genes in response to the chilling stress of cabbage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
Open AccessReview
Influencers on Thyroid Cancer Onset: Molecular Genetic Basis
Genes 2019, 10(11), 913; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110913 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Thyroid cancer, a cancerous tumor or growth located within the thyroid gland, is the most common endocrine cancer. It is one of the few cancers whereby incidence rates have increased in recent years. It occurs in all age groups, from children through to [...] Read more.
Thyroid cancer, a cancerous tumor or growth located within the thyroid gland, is the most common endocrine cancer. It is one of the few cancers whereby incidence rates have increased in recent years. It occurs in all age groups, from children through to seniors. Most studies are focused on dissecting its genetic basis, since our current knowledge of the genetic background of the different forms of thyroid cancer is far from complete, which poses a challenge for diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. In this review, we describe prevailing advances and update our understanding of the molecular genetics of thyroid cancer, focusing on the main genes related with the pathology, including the different noncoding RNAs associated with the disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thyroid Cancer: Genetics and Targeted Therapies)
Open AccessArticle
MicroRNA-1258 Inhibits the Proliferation and Migration of Human Colorectal Cancer Cells through Suppressing CKS1B Expression
Genes 2019, 10(11), 912; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110912 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Increasing evidence has demonstrated that increased expression of cyclin-dependent kinase regulatory subunit 1B (CKS1B) is associated with the pathogenesis of many human cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the regulatory mechanisms underlying the expression of CKS1B in CRC are not completely understood. Here, [...] Read more.
Increasing evidence has demonstrated that increased expression of cyclin-dependent kinase regulatory subunit 1B (CKS1B) is associated with the pathogenesis of many human cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the regulatory mechanisms underlying the expression of CKS1B in CRC are not completely understood. Here, we investigate the role played by microRNAs in the expression of CKS1B and carcinogenesis in CRC. Among the six microRNAs predicted to target CKS1B gene expression, only miR-1258 was revealed to downregulate CKS1B expression through binding to its 3’-UTR region, as ectopic miR-1258 expression suppressed CKS1B expression and vice versa. In CRC, miR-1258 expression also decreased cell proliferation and migration in vitro and tumor growth in vivo, similar to cells with silenced CKS1B expression. Considering the highly increased levels of CKS1B and decreased expression of miR-1258 in tumors from CRC patients, these findings suggest that miR-1258 may play tumor-suppressive roles by targeting CKS1B expression in CRC. However, the therapeutic significance of these findings should be evaluated in clinical settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-coding RNAs: Variety of Roles and Applications in Human Diseases)
Open AccessArticle
Genome-Wide Analysis of Members of the WRKY Gene Family and Their Cold Stress Response in Prunus mume
Genes 2019, 10(11), 911; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110911 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Prunus mume, which is a rosaceous arbor with very high ornamental, edible and medical values, has a distribution that is mainly restricted by low temperature. WRKY transcription factor genes play crucial roles in the growth, development, and stress responses of plants. However, the [...] Read more.
Prunus mume, which is a rosaceous arbor with very high ornamental, edible and medical values, has a distribution that is mainly restricted by low temperature. WRKY transcription factor genes play crucial roles in the growth, development, and stress responses of plants. However, the WRKY gene family has not been characterised in P. mume. There were 58 PmWRKYs identified from genome of P. mume. They were anchored onto eight link groups and categorised into three broad groups. The gene structure and motif composition were reasonably conservative in each group. Investigation of gene duplication indicated that nine and seven PmWRKYs were arranged in tandem and segmental duplications, respectively. PmWRKYs were discriminately expressed in different tissues (i.e., roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits) in P. mume. The 17 cold-related candidate genes were selected based on RNA-seq data. Further, to investigate the function of PmWRKYs in low temperatures, the expression patterns under artificial cold treatments were analysed. The results showed that the expression levels of the 12 PmWRKYs genes significantly and 5 genes slightly changed in stems. In particular, the expression level of PmWRKY18 was up-regulated after ABA treatment. In addition, the spatiotemporal expression patterns of 17 PmWRKYs were analysed in winter. These results indicated that 17 PmWRKYs were potential transcription factors regulating cold resistance in P. mume. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Massive Loss of Olfactory Receptors But Not Trace Amine-Associated Receptors in the World’s Deepest-Living Fish (Pseudoliparis swirei)
Genes 2019, 10(11), 910; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110910 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
Olfactory receptor repertoires show highly dynamic evolution associated with ecological adaptations in different species. The Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) living below a depth of 6000 m in the Mariana Trench evolved degraded vision and occupies a specific feeding habitat in a [...] Read more.
Olfactory receptor repertoires show highly dynamic evolution associated with ecological adaptations in different species. The Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) living below a depth of 6000 m in the Mariana Trench evolved degraded vision and occupies a specific feeding habitat in a dark, low-food environment. However, whether such adaptations involve adaptive changes in the chemosensory receptor repertoire is not known. Here, we conducted a comparative analysis of the olfactory receptor (OR) and trace amine-associated receptor (TAAR) gene repertoires in nine teleosts with a focus on the evolutionary divergence between the Mariana snailfish and its shallow-sea relative, Tanaka’s snailfish (Liparis tanakae). We found many fewer functional OR genes and a significantly higher fraction of pseudogenes in the Mariana snailfish, but the numbers of functional TAAR genes in the two species were comparable. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the expansion patterns of the gene families were shared by the two species, but that Mariana snailfish underwent massive gene losses in its OR repertoire. Despite an overall decreased size in OR subfamilies and a reduced number of TAAR subfamilies in the Mariana snailfish, expansion of certain subfamilies was observed. Selective pressure analysis indicated greatly relaxed selective strength in ORs but a slightly enhanced selective strength in TAARs of Mariana snailfish. Overall, our study reveals simplified but specific OR and TAAR repertoires in the Mariana snailfish shaped by natural selection with respect to ecological adaptations in the hadal environment. This is the first study on the chemosensation evolution in vertebrates living in the hadal zone, which could provide new insights into evolutionary adaptation to the hadal environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Population and Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessArticle
Differential Expression of Genes Related to Sexual Determination Can Modify the Reproductive Cycle of Astyanax scabripinnis (Characiformes: Characidae) in B Chromosome Carrier Individuals
Genes 2019, 10(11), 909; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110909 - 08 Nov 2019
Abstract
The species complex Astyanax scabripinnis is one of the most studied with respect to origin, distribution, and frequency of B chromosomes, and is considered a model organism for evolutionary studies. Research using population inferences about the occurrence and frequency of the B chromosome [...] Read more.
The species complex Astyanax scabripinnis is one of the most studied with respect to origin, distribution, and frequency of B chromosomes, and is considered a model organism for evolutionary studies. Research using population inferences about the occurrence and frequency of the B chromosome shows seasonal variation between sexes, which is associated with the presence of this supernumerary element. We hypothesized that the B chromosome could influence the sex ratio of these animals. Based on this assumption, the present work aimed to investigate if differences exist among levels of gene expression with qRT-PCR of the amh (associated with testicular differentiation) and foxl2a (associated with ovarian differentiation) genes between B-carrier and non-B-carrier individuals. The results showed that for the amh gene, the difference in expression between animals with B chromosomes was not accentuated compared to that in animals without this chromosome. Expression of foxl2a in B-carrier females, however, was reduced by 73.56% compared to females that lacked the B chromosome. Males had no difference in expression of the amh and foxl2a genes between carriers and non-carriers of the B chromosome. Results indicate that the presence of B chromosomes is correlated with the differential expression of sex-associated genes. An analysis of these results integrated with data from other studies on the reproductive cycle in the same species reveals that this difference in expression may be expanding the reproductive cycle of the species. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Genetically Determined Physical Activity and Its Association with Circulating Blood Cells
Genes 2019, 10(11), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110908 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Lower levels of physical activity (PA) have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Worldwide, there is a shift towards a lifestyle with less PA, posing a serious threat to public health. One of the suggested mechanisms behind the association between PA [...] Read more.
Lower levels of physical activity (PA) have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Worldwide, there is a shift towards a lifestyle with less PA, posing a serious threat to public health. One of the suggested mechanisms behind the association between PA and disease development is through systemic inflammation, in which circulating blood cells play a pivotal role. In this study we investigated the relationship between genetically determined PA and circulating blood cells. We used 68 single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with objectively measured PA levels to perform a Mendelian randomization analysis on circulating blood cells in 222,645 participants of the UK Biobank. For inverse variance fixed effects Mendelian randomization analyses, p < 1.85 × 10−3 (Bonferroni-adjusted p-value of 0.05/27 tests) was considered statistically significant. Genetically determined increased PA was associated with decreased lymphocytes (β = –0.03, SE = 0.008, p = 1.35 × 10−3) and decreased eosinophils (β = –0.008, SE = 0.002, p = 1.36 × 10−3). Although further mechanistic studies are warranted, these findings suggest increased physical activity is associated with an improved inflammatory state with fewer lymphocytes and eosinophils. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
ARPNet: Antidepressant Response Prediction Network for Major Depressive Disorder
Genes 2019, 10(11), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110907 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Treating patients with major depressive disorder is challenging because it takes several months for antidepressants prescribed for the patients to take effect. This limitation may result in increased risks and treatment costs. To address this limitation, an accurate antidepressant response prediction model is [...] Read more.
Treating patients with major depressive disorder is challenging because it takes several months for antidepressants prescribed for the patients to take effect. This limitation may result in increased risks and treatment costs. To address this limitation, an accurate antidepressant response prediction model is needed. Recently, several studies have proposed models that extract useful features such as neuroimaging biomarkers and genetic variants from patient data, and use them as predictors for predicting the antidepressant responses of patients. However, it is impossible to utilize all the different types of predictors when making a clinical decision on what drugs to prescribe for a patient. Although a machine learning-based antidepressant response prediction model has been proposed to overcome this problem, the model cannot find the most effective antidepressant for a patient. Based on a neural network, we propose an Antidepressant Response Prediction Network (ARPNet) model capturing high-dimensional patterns from useful features. Based on a literature survey and data-driven feature selection, we extract useful features from patient data, and use the features as predictors. In ARPNet, the patient representation layer captures patient features and the antidepressant prescription representation layer captures antidepressant features. Utilizing the patient and antidepressant prescription representation vectors, ARPNet predicts the degree of antidepressant response. The experimental evaluation results demonstrate that our proposed ARPNet model outperforms machine learning-based models in predicting antidepressant response. Moreover, we demonstrate the applicability of ARPNet in downstream applications in use case scenarios. Full article
Open AccessArticle
In-Silico Molecular Binding Prediction for Human Drug Targets Using Deep Neural Multi-Task Learning
Genes 2019, 10(11), 906; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110906 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
In in-silico prediction for molecular binding of human genomes, promising results have been demonstrated by deep neural multi-task learning due to its strength in training tasks with imbalanced data and its ability to avoid over-fitting. Although the interrelation between tasks is known to [...] Read more.
In in-silico prediction for molecular binding of human genomes, promising results have been demonstrated by deep neural multi-task learning due to its strength in training tasks with imbalanced data and its ability to avoid over-fitting. Although the interrelation between tasks is known to be important for successful multi-task learning, its adverse effect has been underestimated. In this study, we used molecular interaction data of human targets from ChEMBL to train and test various multi-task and single-task networks and examined the effectiveness of multi-task learning for different compositions of targets. Targets were clustered based on sequence similarity in their binding domains and various target sets from clusters were chosen. By comparing the performance of deep neural architectures for each target set, we found that similarity within a target set is highly important for reliable multi-task learning. For a diverse target set or overall human targets, the performance of multi-task learning was lower than single-task learning, but outperformed single-task for the target set containing similar targets. From this insight, we developed Multiple Partial Multi-Task learning, which is suitable for binding prediction for human drug targets. Full article
Open AccessArticle
MicroRNAs in Vitis vinifera cv. Chardonnay Are Differentially Expressed in Response to Diaporthe Species
Genes 2019, 10(11), 905; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110905 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Diaporthe species are important pathogens, saprobes, and endophytes on grapevines. Several species are known, either as agents of pre- or post-harvest infections, as causal agents of many relevant diseases, including swelling arm, trunk cankers, leaf spots, root and fruit rots, wilts, and cane [...] Read more.
Diaporthe species are important pathogens, saprobes, and endophytes on grapevines. Several species are known, either as agents of pre- or post-harvest infections, as causal agents of many relevant diseases, including swelling arm, trunk cankers, leaf spots, root and fruit rots, wilts, and cane bleaching. A growing body of evidence exists that a class of small non-coding endogenous RNAs, known as microRNAs (miRNAs), play an important role in post-transcriptional gene regulation, during plant development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, we explored differentially expressed miRNAs in response to Diaporthe eres and Diaporthe bohemiae infection in Vitis vinifera cv. Chardonnay under in vitro conditions. We used computational methods to predict putative miRNA targets in order to explore the involvement of possible pathogen response pathways. We identified 136 known and 41 new miRNA sequence variants, likely generated through post-transcriptional modifications. In the Diaporthe eres treatment, 61 known and 17 new miRNAs were identified while in the Diaporthe bohemiae treatment, 101 known and 21 new miRNAs were revealed. Our results contribute to further understanding the role miRNAs play during plant pathogenesis, which is possibly crucial in understanding disease symptom development in grapevines infected by D. eres and D. bohemiae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant miRNA Mediated Defense Response)
Open AccessArticle
Physical Map of FISH 5S rDNA and (AG3T3)3 Signals Displays Chimonanthus campanulatus R.H. Chang & C.S. Ding Chromosomes, Reproduces its Metaphase Dynamics and Distinguishes Its Chromosomes
Genes 2019, 10(11), 904; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110904 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Chimonanthus campanulatus R.H. Chang & C.S. Ding is a good horticultural tree because of its beautiful yellow flowers and evergreen leaves. In this study, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to analyse mitotic metaphase chromosomes of Ch. campanulatus with 5S rDNA and [...] Read more.
Chimonanthus campanulatus R.H. Chang & C.S. Ding is a good horticultural tree because of its beautiful yellow flowers and evergreen leaves. In this study, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to analyse mitotic metaphase chromosomes of Ch. campanulatus with 5S rDNA and (AG3T3)3 oligonucleotides. Twenty-two small chromosomes were observed. Weak 5S rDNA signals were observed only in proximal regions of two chromosomes, which were adjacent to the (AG3T3)3 proximal signals. Weak (AG3T3)3 signals were observed on both chromosome ends, which enabled accurate chromosome counts. A pair of satellite bodies was observed. (AG3T3)3 signals displayed quite high diversity, changing in intensity from weak to very strong as follows: far away from the chromosome ends (satellites), ends, subtelomeric regions, and proximal regions. Ten high-quality spreads revealed metaphase dynamics from the beginning to the end and the transition to anaphase. Chromosomes gradually grew larger and thicker into linked chromatids, which grew more significantly in width than in length. Based on the combination of 5S rDNA and (AG3T3)3 signal patterns, ten chromosomes were exclusively distinguished, and the remaining twelve chromosomes were divided into two distinct groups. Our physical map, which can reproduce dynamic metaphase progression and distinguish chromosomes, will powerfully guide cytogenetic research on Chimonanthus and other trees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Open AccessCommunication
Fine-Mapping Array Design for Multi-Ethnic Studies of Multiple Sclerosis
Genes 2019, 10(11), 903; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110903 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
While approximately 200 autosomal genetic associations outside of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been identified for multiple sclerosis (MS) risk in European populations, causal variants identified at the majority of these associated loci have been much more elusive. We propose that knowledge [...] Read more.
While approximately 200 autosomal genetic associations outside of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have been identified for multiple sclerosis (MS) risk in European populations, causal variants identified at the majority of these associated loci have been much more elusive. We propose that knowledge gained from replication efforts in Hispanic and African American populations can be utilized to more efficiently fine-map these risk loci. To this end, we have customized a genotyping array by adding ~20,000 bead types (~17,000 variants) to the base content of the Ilumina Infinium expanded multi-ethnic genotyping array and the Infinium ImmunoArray-24 v2 BeadChip. These custom bead types were chosen to allow for the detection of causal variation (1) in the presence of allelic and locus heterogeneity, by incorporating regulatory and coding variation within 1-Mb of previously identified risk variants and (2) in the absence of allelic and locus heterogeneity by incorporation of variants using linkage disequilibrium criteria, which are based on knowledge of replication status in Hispanic and African American study samples. This array has been designed to maximize fine-mapping potential for currently identified MS susceptibility loci, particularly in multi-ethnic populations. The strategies described here could be additionally informative for fine-mapping of other disease phenotypes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Entirely Off-Grid and Solar-Powered DNA Sequencing of Microbial Communities during an Ice Cap Traverse Expedition
Genes 2019, 10(11), 902; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110902 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Microbial communities in remote locations remain under-studied. This is particularly true on glaciers and icecaps, which cover approximately 11% of the Earth’s surface. The principal reason for this is the inaccessibility of most of these areas due to their extreme isolation and challenging [...] Read more.
Microbial communities in remote locations remain under-studied. This is particularly true on glaciers and icecaps, which cover approximately 11% of the Earth’s surface. The principal reason for this is the inaccessibility of most of these areas due to their extreme isolation and challenging environmental conditions. While remote research stations have significantly lowered the barrier to studying the microbial communities on icecaps, their use has led to a bias for data collection in the near vicinity of these institutions. Here, miniaturisation of a DNA sequencing lab suitable for off-grid metagenomic studies is demonstrated. Using human power alone, this lab was transported across Europe’s largest ice cap (Vatnajökull, Iceland) by ski and sledge. After 11 days of unsupported polar-style travel, a metagenomic study of a geothermal hot spring gorge was conducted on the remote northern edge of the ice cap. This tent-based metagenomic study resulted in over 24 h of Nanopore sequencing, powered by solar power alone. This study demonstrates the ability to conduct DNA sequencing in remote locations, far from civilised resources (mechanised transport, external power supply, internet connection, etc.), whilst greatly reducing the time from sample collection to data acquisition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MetaGenomics Sequencing In Situ)
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Open AccessReview
Mitotic Recombination and Adaptive Genomic Changes in Human Pathogenic Fungi
Genes 2019, 10(11), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110901 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Genome rearrangements and ploidy alterations are important for adaptive change in the pathogenic fungal species Candida and Cryptococcus, which propagate primarily through clonal, asexual reproduction. These changes can occur during mitotic growth and lead to enhanced virulence, drug resistance, and persistence in [...] Read more.
Genome rearrangements and ploidy alterations are important for adaptive change in the pathogenic fungal species Candida and Cryptococcus, which propagate primarily through clonal, asexual reproduction. These changes can occur during mitotic growth and lead to enhanced virulence, drug resistance, and persistence in chronic infections. Examples of microevolution during the course of infection were described in both human infections and mouse models. Recent discoveries defining the role of sexual, parasexual, and unisexual cycles in the evolution of these pathogenic fungi further expanded our understanding of the diversity found in and between species. During mitotic growth, damage to DNA in the form of double-strand breaks (DSBs) is repaired, and genome integrity is restored by the homologous recombination and non-homologous end-joining pathways. In addition to faithful repair, these pathways can introduce minor sequence alterations at the break site or lead to more extensive genetic alterations that include loss of heterozygosity, inversions, duplications, deletions, and translocations. In particular, the prevalence of repetitive sequences in fungal genomes provides opportunities for structural rearrangements to be generated by non-allelic (ectopic) recombination. In this review, we describe DSB repair mechanisms and the types of resulting genome alterations that were documented in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The relevance of similar recombination events to stress- and drug-related adaptations and in generating species diversity are discussed for the human fungal pathogens Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genome plasticity of human and plant pathogenic fungi)
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Open AccessReview
Gut Microbiota Influences Experimental Outcomes in Mouse Models of Colorectal Cancer
Genes 2019, 10(11), 900; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110900 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Mouse models are a valuable resource for use throughout the development and testing of new therapeutic strategies for CRC. Tumorigenesis and response to therapy in humans and mouse models alike are influenced [...] Read more.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Mouse models are a valuable resource for use throughout the development and testing of new therapeutic strategies for CRC. Tumorigenesis and response to therapy in humans and mouse models alike are influenced by the microbial communities that colonize the gut. Differences in the composition of the gut microbiota can confound experimental findings and reduce the replicability and translatability of the resulting data. Despite this, the contribution of resident microbiota to preclinical tumor models is often underappreciated. This review does the following: (1) summarizes evidence that the gut microbiota influence CRC disease phenotypes; (2) outlines factors that can influence the composition of the gut microbiota; and (3) provides strategies that can be incorporated into the experimental design, to account for the influence of the microbiota on intestinal phenotypes in mouse models of CRC. Through careful experimental design and documentation, mouse models can continue to rapidly advance efforts to prevent and treat colon cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Modeling in Cancer)
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Open AccessArticle
NOP53 as A Candidate Modifier Locus for Familial Non-Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Genes 2019, 10(11), 899; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110899 - 07 Nov 2019
Abstract
Nonsyndromic familial non-medullary thyroid cancer (FNMTC) represents 3–9% of thyroid cancers, but the susceptibility gene(s) remain unknown. We designed this multicenter study to analyze families with nonsyndromic FNMTC and identify candidate susceptibility genes. We performed exome sequencing of DNA from four affected individuals [...] Read more.
Nonsyndromic familial non-medullary thyroid cancer (FNMTC) represents 3–9% of thyroid cancers, but the susceptibility gene(s) remain unknown. We designed this multicenter study to analyze families with nonsyndromic FNMTC and identify candidate susceptibility genes. We performed exome sequencing of DNA from four affected individuals from one kindred, with five cases of nonsyndromic FNMTC. Single Nucleotide Variants, and insertions and deletions that segregated with all the affected members, were analyzed by Sanger sequencing in 44 additional families with FNMTC (37 with two affected members, and seven with three or more affected members), as well as in an independent control group of 100 subjects. We identified the germline variant p. Asp31His in NOP53 gene (rs78530808, MAF 1.8%) present in all affected members in three families with nonsyndromic FNMTC, and not present in unaffected spouses. Our functional studies of NOP53 in thyroid cancer cell lines showed an oncogenic function. Immunohistochemistry exhibited increased NOP53 protein expression in tumor samples from affected family members, compared with normal adjacent thyroid tissue. Given the relatively high frequency of the variant in the general population, these findings suggest that instead of a causative gene, NOP53 is likely a low-penetrant gene implicated in FNMTC, possibly a modifier. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thyroid Cancer: Genetics and Targeted Therapies)
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Open AccessArticle
Early Diagnosis in Prader–Willi Syndrome Reduces Obesity and Associated Co-Morbidities
Genes 2019, 10(11), 898; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110898 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is an imprinting genetic disorder characterized by lack of expression of genes on the paternal chromosome 15q11–q13 region. Growth hormone (GH) replacement positively influences stature and body composition in PWS. Our hypothesis was that early diagnosis delays onset of obesity [...] Read more.
Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is an imprinting genetic disorder characterized by lack of expression of genes on the paternal chromosome 15q11–q13 region. Growth hormone (GH) replacement positively influences stature and body composition in PWS. Our hypothesis was that early diagnosis delays onset of obesity in PWS. We studied 352 subjects with PWS, recruited from the NIH Rare Disease Clinical Research Network, to determine if age at diagnosis, ethnicity, gender, and PWS molecular class influenced the age they first become heavy, as determined by their primary care providers, and the age they first developed an increased appetite and began seeking food. The median ages that children with PWS became heavy were 10 years, 6 years and 4 years for age at diagnosis < 1 year, between 1 and 3 years, and greater than 3 years of age, respectively. The age of diagnosis and ethnicity were significant factors influencing when PWS children first became heavy (p < 0.01), however gender and the PWS molecular class had no influence. Early diagnosis delayed the onset of becoming heavy in individuals with PWS, permitting early GH and other treatment, thus reducing the risk of obesity-associated co-morbidities. Non-white individuals had an earlier onset of becoming heavy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Prader-Willi syndrome)
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Open AccessReview
Tyrosyl-DNA Phosphodiesterase I N-Terminal Domain Modifications and Interactions Regulate Cellular Function
Genes 2019, 10(11), 897; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110897 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
The conserved eukaryotic DNA repair enzyme Tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase I (Tdp1) removes a diverse array of adducts from the end of DNA strand breaks. Tdp1 specifically catalyzes the hydrolysis of phosphodiester linked DNA-adducts. These DNA lesions range from damaged nucleotides to peptide-DNA adducts to [...] Read more.
The conserved eukaryotic DNA repair enzyme Tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase I (Tdp1) removes a diverse array of adducts from the end of DNA strand breaks. Tdp1 specifically catalyzes the hydrolysis of phosphodiester linked DNA-adducts. These DNA lesions range from damaged nucleotides to peptide-DNA adducts to protein-DNA covalent complexes and are products of endogenously or exogenously induced insults or simply failed reaction products. These adducts include DNA inserted ribonucleotides and non-conventional nucleotides, as well as covalent reaction intermediates of DNA topoisomerases with DNA and a Tdp1-DNA adduct in trans. This implies that Tdp1 plays a role in maintaining genome stability and cellular homeostasis. Dysregulation of Tdp1 protein levels or catalysis shifts the equilibrium to genome instability and is associated with driving human pathologies such as cancer and neurodegeneration. In this review, we highlight the function of the N-terminal domain of Tdp1. This domain is understudied, structurally unresolved, and the least conserved in amino acid sequence and length compared to the rest of the enzyme. However, over time it emerged that the N-terminal domain was post-translationally modified by, among others, phosphorylation, SUMOylation, and Ubiquitinoylation, which regulate Tdp1 protein interactions with other DNA repair associated proteins, cellular localization, and Tdp1 protein stability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Topoisomerases in Biology and Medicine)
Open AccessEditorial
Special Issue: Repetitive DNA Sequences
Genes 2019, 10(11), 896; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110896 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Repetitive DNAs are ubiquitous in eukaryotic genomes and, in many species, comprise the bulk of the genome. Repeats include transposable elements that can self-mobilize and disperse around the genome and tandemly-repeated satellite DNAs that increase in copy number due to replication slippage and [...] Read more.
Repetitive DNAs are ubiquitous in eukaryotic genomes and, in many species, comprise the bulk of the genome. Repeats include transposable elements that can self-mobilize and disperse around the genome and tandemly-repeated satellite DNAs that increase in copy number due to replication slippage and unequal crossing over. Despite their abundance, repetitive DNAs are often ignored in genomic studies due to technical challenges in identifying, assembling, and quantifying them. New technologies and methods are now allowing unprecedented power to analyze repetitive DNAs across diverse taxa. Repetitive DNAs are of particular interest because they can represent distinct modes of genome evolution. Some repetitive DNAs form essential genome structures, such as telomeres and centromeres, that are required for proper chromosome maintenance and segregation, while others form piRNA clusters that regulate transposable elements; thus, these elements are expected to evolve under purifying selection. In contrast, other repeats evolve selfishly and cause genetic conflicts with their host species that drive adaptive evolution of host defense systems. However, the majority of repeats likely accumulate in eukaryotes in the absence of selection due to mechanisms of transposition and unequal crossing over. However, even these “neutral” repeats may indirectly influence genome evolution as they reach high abundance. In this Special Issue, the contributing authors explore these questions from a range of perspectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Repetitive DNA Sequences)
Open AccessReview
Repression of Inappropriate Gene Expression in the Vertebrate Embryonic Ectoderm
Genes 2019, 10(11), 895; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110895 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
During vertebrate embryogenesis, precise regulation of gene expression is crucial for proper cell fate determination. Much of what we know about vertebrate development has been gleaned from experiments performed on embryos of the amphibian Xenopus laevis; this review will focus primarily on [...] Read more.
During vertebrate embryogenesis, precise regulation of gene expression is crucial for proper cell fate determination. Much of what we know about vertebrate development has been gleaned from experiments performed on embryos of the amphibian Xenopus laevis; this review will focus primarily on studies of this model organism. An early critical step during vertebrate development is the formation of the three primary germ layers—ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm—which emerge during the process of gastrulation. While much attention has been focused on the induction of mesoderm and endoderm, it has become clear that differentiation of the ectoderm involves more than the simple absence of inductive cues; rather, it additionally requires the inhibition of mesendoderm-promoting genes. This review aims to summarize our current understanding of the various inhibitors of inappropriate gene expression in the presumptive ectoderm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Transcriptional Regulation of Early Embryogenesis)
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Open AccessArticle
Evolution of Codon Usage Bias in Diatoms
Genes 2019, 10(11), 894; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110894 - 06 Nov 2019
Abstract
Codon usage bias (CUB)—preferential use of one of the synonymous codons, has been described in a wide range of organisms from bacteria to mammals, but it has not yet been studied in marine phytoplankton. CUB is thought to be caused by weak selection [...] Read more.
Codon usage bias (CUB)—preferential use of one of the synonymous codons, has been described in a wide range of organisms from bacteria to mammals, but it has not yet been studied in marine phytoplankton. CUB is thought to be caused by weak selection for translational accuracy and efficiency. Weak selection can overpower genetic drift only in species with large effective population sizes, such as Drosophila that has relatively strong CUB, while organisms with smaller population sizes (e.g., mammals) have weak CUB. Marine plankton species tend to have extremely large populations, suggesting that CUB should be very strong. Here we test this prediction and describe the patterns of codon usage in a wide range of diatom species belonging to 35 genera from 4 classes. We report that most of the diatom species studied have surprisingly modest CUB (mean Effective Number of Codons, ENC = 56), with some exceptions showing stronger codon bias (ENC = 44). Modest codon bias in most studied diatom species may reflect extreme disparity between astronomically large census and modest effective population size (Ne), with fluctuations in population size and linked selection limiting long-term Ne and rendering selection for optimal codons less efficient. For example, genetic diversity (pi ~0.02 at silent sites) in Skeletonema marinoi corresponds to Ne of about 10 million individuals, which is likely many orders of magnitude lower than its census size. Still, Ne ~107 should be large enough to make selection for optimal codons efficient. Thus, we propose that an alternative process—frequent changes of preferred codons, may be a more plausible reason for low CUB despite highly efficient selection for preferred codons in diatom populations. The shifts in the set of optimal codons should result in the changes of the direction of selection for codon usage, so the actual codon usage never catches up with the moving target of the optimal set of codons and the species never develop strong CUB. Indeed, we detected strong shifts in preferential codon usage within some diatom genera, with switches between preferentially GC-rich and AT-rich 3rd codon positions (GC3). For example, GC3 ranges from 0.6 to 1 in most Chaetoceros species, while for Chaetoceros dichaeta GC3 = 0.1. Both variation in selection intensity and mutation spectrum may drive such shifts in codon usage and limit the observed CUB. Our study represents the first genome-wide analysis of CUB in diatoms and the first such analysis for a major phytoplankton group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Phytoplankton)
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