Recent Advances in Molecular Genetics Technologies: A Themed Issue Honouring Professor Werner Arber on the Occasion of his 90th Birthday

A special issue of Genes (ISSN 2073-4425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2020) | Viewed by 7134

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Evotec International GmbH, Marie-Curie-Straße 7, D-37079 Göttingen, Germany
Interests: mouse models; recombineering technology; CRISPR/Cas9 technology; Cas9-screens; dCas9-imaging; general regulation of transcription and epigenesis
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Professor Werner Arber is a pioneer in the field of molecular genetics, exchange of genetic information and recombinant DNA technologies. Together with his colleagues Daniel Nathans and Hamilton Smith, he was awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1978 for his contribution to “the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application to problems of molecular genetics”. In his studies, Arber discovered DNA-cleaving enzymes as a factor restricting horizontal gene transfer from bacteria to bacteria. He postulated that these restriction enzymes bind to DNA at specific sites containing recurring structural elements made up of specific basepair sequences, and as such established the foundation of modern molecular biology and recombinant DNA.

Werner Arber studied chemistry and physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich and received his doctorate in 1958 from the University of Geneva. He worked on bacteriophages and defective lambda prophage mutants and continued his studies while joining the University of Southern California. Werner had the opportunity to spend time in the laboratories of Gunther Stent, Joshua and Esther Lederberg and Salvador Luria and became interested in the then emerging field of phage genetics. In the following years, he established his own lab in Geneva in 1959 and the University of Geneva promoted him to Extraordinary Professor for Molecular Genetics in 1965. It was then that he made his fundamental discoveries on genetic restriction and modification as bacterial defence mechanisms to encounter phage infections. In 1971, after spending a year as a visiting professor in the Department of Molecular Biology of the University of California in Berkeley, Arber moved to the University of Basel where he is an emeritus professor. 

Genes is highly pleased to host a Special Issue honouring Prof. Werner Arber on the occasion of his 90th birthday for his outstanding achievements in the field of molecular genetics. We encourage colleagues to submit outstanding papers in the broader field of molecular genetics technologies, highlighting and embracing the impact that the initial finding of restriction endonucleases has brought about, and to report on new developments and technical applications. In his speech on acceptance of the Nobel prize in 1978, Professor Arber made the statement that he “tried to show that the deeper we penetrate in the studies of genetic exchange the more we discover a multitude of mechanisms either acting as promotors of exchange or acting to set limits to it, and some do both.” I believe that this is an even more important and relevant point than ever, with the field still rapidly evolving more than 40 years later. We would like this issue to be a collection of original articles and reviews on what researchers today consider to be the most recent advances in the world of molecular genetics.

Dr. Philip Hublitz
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • molecular cloning and recombinant DNA
  • molecular genetics
  • genetic exchange and recombination
  • horizontal gene transfer
  • mobile genetic elements
  • molecular drivers of evolution
  • bacteriophages
  • genome engineering
  • genetic exchange
  • genetic restriction.

Published Papers (2 papers)

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25 pages, 6031 KiB  
Review
Schizosaccharomyces pombe Assays to Study Mitotic Recombination Outcomes
by Hannah M. Hylton, Bailey E. Lucas and Ruben C. Petreaca
Genes 2020, 11(1), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes11010079 - 10 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4111
Abstract
The fission yeast—Schizosaccharomyces pombe—has emerged as a powerful tractable system for studying DNA damage repair. Over the last few decades, several powerful in vivo genetic assays have been developed to study outcomes of mitotic recombination, the major repair mechanism of DNA [...] Read more.
The fission yeast—Schizosaccharomyces pombe—has emerged as a powerful tractable system for studying DNA damage repair. Over the last few decades, several powerful in vivo genetic assays have been developed to study outcomes of mitotic recombination, the major repair mechanism of DNA double strand breaks and stalled or collapsed DNA replication forks. These assays have significantly increased our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the DNA damage response pathways. Here, we review the assays that have been developed in fission yeast to study mitotic recombination. Full article
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4 pages, 150 KiB  
Commentary
Self-Organization of the Biological Evolution
by Werner Arber
Genes 2019, 10(11), 854; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10110854 - 28 Oct 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1746
Abstract
We report here experiments carried out with nonpathogenic Escherichia coli bacterial strains and their phages. This research yielded interesting insights into their activities, occasionally producing genetic variants of different types. In order to not interfere with the genetic stability of the parental strains [...] Read more.
We report here experiments carried out with nonpathogenic Escherichia coli bacterial strains and their phages. This research yielded interesting insights into their activities, occasionally producing genetic variants of different types. In order to not interfere with the genetic stability of the parental strains involved, we found that the bacteria are genetically equipped to only rarely produce a genetic variant, which may occur by a number of different approaches. On the one hand, the genes of relevance for the production of specific genetic variants are relatively rarely expressed. On the other hand, other gene products act as moderators of the frequencies that produce genetic variants. We call the genes producing genetic variants and those moderating the frequencies of genetic variation “evolution genes”. Their products are generally not required for daily bacterial life. We can, therefore, conclude that the bacterial genome has a duality. Some of the bacterial enzymes involved in biological evolution have become useful tools (e.g., restriction endonucleases) for molecular genetic research involving the genetic set-up of any living organism. Full article
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