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G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics
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G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics publishes high-quality, valuable findings, regardless of perceived impact. G3 publishes foundational research that generates useful genetic and genomic information such as genome maps, single gene studies, QTL studies, mutant screens and advances in methods and technology, novel mutant collections, genome-wide association studies (GWAS)  including gene expression, SNP, and CNV studies; exome sequences related to a specific disease but lacking functional follow-up, personal exome and genome sequencing case, disease, and population reports, and more.


Conceived by the Genetics Society of America, with its first issue published June 2011, G3 is fully open access. G3 uses a Creative Commons license that allows the most free use of the data, which anyone can download, analyze, mine, and reuse, provided that the authors of the article receive credit. GSA believes that rapid dissemination of useful data is the necessary foundation for analysis that leads to mechanistic insights. It is our hope is that this strategy will spawn new discovery.


Like GENETICS, G3 is fast—with a 31-day turnaround time from submission to first decision—and rapid time-to-publication. And like GENETICS, G3 manuscripts are thoroughly peer-reviewed, with careful decisions made by practicing scientists. Before publication, G3 articles receive a thorough copy-edit, ensuring that articles enjoy maximum clarity and impact.

Thompson Reuters JCR Impact Factor (2014): 3.198
EigenFactor (2014): 0.00978
Cited Half-life (2014): 2.1 years

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What's Inside the Current Issue of G3



Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

ForestPMPlot: A Flexible Tool for Visualizing Heterogeneity Between Studies in Meta-analysis

Kang, E. Y., Park, Y., Li, X., Segre, A. V., Han, B., Eskin, E.

Meta-analysis has become a popular tool for genetic association studies to combine different genetic studies. A key challenge in meta-analysis is heterogeneity, or the differences in effect sizes between studies. Heterogeneity complicates the interpretation of meta-analyses. In this paper, we describe ForestPMPlot, a flexible visualization tool for analyzing studies included in a meta-analysis. The main feature of the tool is visualizing the differences in the effect sizes of the studies to understand why the studies exhibit heterogeneity for a particular phenotype and locus pair under different conditions. We show the application of this tool to interpret a meta-analysis of 17 mouse studies, and to interpret a multi-tissue eQTL study.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Sex Differences in Drosophila Somatic Gene Expression: Variation and Regulation by doublesex

Arbeitman, M. N., New, F. N., Fear, J. M., Howard, T. S., Dalton, J. E., Graze, R. M.

Sex differences in gene expression have been widely studied in Drosophila melanogaster. Sex differences vary across strains, but many molecular studies focus on only a single strain, or on genes that show sexually dimorphic expression in many strains. How extensive variability is and whether this variability occurs among genes regulated by sex determination hierarchy terminal transcription factors is unknown. To address these questions, we examine differences in sexually dimorphic gene expression between two strains in Drosophila adult head tissues. We also examine gene expression in doublesex (dsx) mutant strains to determine which sex-differentially expressed genes are regulated by DSX, and the mode by which DSX regulates expression. We find substantial variation in sex-differential expression. The sets of genes with sexually dimorphic expression in each strain show little overlap. The prevalence of different DSX regulatory modes also varies between the two strains. Neither the patterns of DSX DNA occupancy, nor mode of DSX regulation explain why some genes show consistent sex-differential expression across strains. We find that the genes identified as regulated by DSX in this study are enriched with known sites of DSX DNA occupancy. Finally, we find that sex-differentially expressed genes and genes regulated by DSX are highly enriched on the fourth chromosome. These results provide insights into a more complete pool of potential DSX targets, as well as revealing the molecular flexibility of DSX regulation.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Fine Mapping of the Barley Chromosome 6H Net Form Net Blotch Susceptibility Locus

Richards, J., Chao, S., Friesen, T., Brueggeman, R.

Net form net blotch, caused by the necrotrophic fungal pathogen Pyrenophora teres f. teres, is a destructive foliar disease of barley with the potential to cause significant yield loss in major production regions throughout the world. The complexity of the host–parasite genetic interactions in this pathosystem hinders the deployment of effective resistance in barley cultivars, warranting a deeper understanding of the interactions. Here, we report on the high-resolution mapping of the dominant susceptibility locus near the centromere of chromosome 6H in the barley cultivars Rika and Kombar, which are putatively targeted by necrotrophic effectors from P. teres f. teres isolates 6A and 15A, respectively. Utilization of progeny isolates derived from a cross of P. teres f. teres isolates 6A x 15A harboring single major virulence loci (VK1, VK2, and VR2) allowed for the Mendelization of single inverse gene-for-gene interactions in a high-resolution population consisting of 2976 Rika x Kombar recombinant gametes. Brachypodium distachyon synteny was exploited to develop and saturate the susceptibility region with markers, delimiting it to ~0.24 cM and a partial physical map was constructed. This genetic and physical characterization further resolved the dominant susceptibility locus, designated Spt1 (susceptibility to P. teres f. teres). The high-resolution mapping and cosegregation of the Spt1.R and Spt1.K gene/s indicates tightly linked genes in repulsion or alleles possibly targeted by different necrotrophic effectors. Newly developed barley genomic resources greatly enhance the efficiency of positional cloning efforts in barley, as demonstrated by the Spt1 fine mapping and physical contig identification reported here.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Genomic Prediction of Gene Bank Wheat Landraces

Crossa, J., Jarquin, D., Franco, J., Perez-Rodriguez, P., Burgueno, J., Saint-Pierre, C., Vikram, P., Sansaloni, C., Petroli, C., Akdemir, D., Sneller, C., Reynolds, M., Tattaris, M., Payne, T., Guzman, C., Pena, R. J., Wenzl, P., Singh, S.

This study examines genomic prediction within 8416 Mexican landrace accessions and 2403 Iranian landrace accessions stored in gene banks. The Mexican and Iranian collections were evaluated in separate field trials, including an optimum environment for several traits, and in two separate environments (drought, D and heat, H) for the highly heritable traits, days to heading (DTH), and days to maturity (DTM). Analyses accounting and not accounting for population structure were performed. Genomic prediction models include genotype environment interaction (G E). Two alternative prediction strategies were studied: (1) random cross-validation of the data in 20% training (TRN) and 80% testing (TST) (TRN20-TST80) sets, and (2) two types of core sets, "diversity" and "prediction", including 10% and 20%, respectively, of the total collections. Accounting for population structure decreased prediction accuracy by 15–20% as compared to prediction accuracy obtained when not accounting for population structure. Accounting for population structure gave prediction accuracies for traits evaluated in one environment for TRN20-TST80 that ranged from 0.407 to 0.677 for Mexican landraces, and from 0.166 to 0.662 for Iranian landraces. Prediction accuracy of the 20% diversity core set was similar to accuracies obtained for TRN20-TST80, ranging from 0.412 to 0.654 for Mexican landraces, and from 0.182 to 0.647 for Iranian landraces. The predictive core set gave similar prediction accuracy as the diversity core set for Mexican collections, but slightly lower for Iranian collections. Prediction accuracy when incorporating G E for DTH and DTM for Mexican landraces for TRN20-TST80 was around 0.60, which is greater than without the G E term. For Iranian landraces, accuracies were 0.55 for the G E model with TRN20-TST80. Results show promising prediction accuracies for potential use in germplasm enhancement and rapid introgression of exotic germplasm into elite materials.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

An Improved Genome Assembly of Azadirachta indica A. Juss.

Krishnan, N. M., Jain, P., Gupta, S., Hariharan, A. K., Panda, B.

Neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.), an evergreen tree of the Meliaceae family, is known for its medicinal, cosmetic, pesticidal and insecticidal properties. We had previously sequenced and published the draft genome of a neem plant, using mainly short read sequencing data. In this report, we present an improved genome assembly generated using additional short reads from Illumina and long reads from Pacific Biosciences SMRT sequencer. We assembled short reads and error-corrected long reads using Platanus, an assembler designed to perform well for heterozygous genomes. The updated genome assembly (v2.0) yielded 3- and 3.5-fold increase in N50 and N75, respectively; 2.6-fold decrease in the total number of scaffolds; 1.25-fold increase in the number of valid transcriptome alignments; 13.4-fold less misassembly and 1.85-fold increase in the percentage repeat, over the earlier assembly (v1.0). The current assembly also maps better to the genes known to be involved in the terpenoid biosynthesis pathway. Together, the data represent an improved assembly of the A. indica genome.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

The Drosophila melanogaster Muc68E Mucin Gene Influences Adult Size, Starvation Tolerance, and Cold Recovery

Reis, M., Silva, A. C., Vieira, C. P., Vieira, J.

Mucins have been implicated in many different biological processes, such as protection from mechanical damage, microorganisms, and toxic molecules, as well as providing a luminal scaffold during development. Nevertheless, it is conceivable that mucins have the potential to modulate food absorption as well, and thus contribute to the definition of several important phenotypic traits. Here we show that the Drosophila melanogaster Muc68E gene is 40- to 60-million-yr old, and is present in Drosophila species of the subgenus Sophophora only. The central repeat region of this gene is fast evolving, and shows evidence for repeated expansions/contractions. This and/or frequent gene conversion events lead to the homogenization of its repeats. The amino acid pattern P[ED][ED][ST][ST][ST] is found in the repeat region of Muc68E proteins from all Drosophila species studied, and can occur multiple times within a single conserved repeat block, and thus may have functional significance. Muc68E is a nonessential gene under laboratory conditions, but Muc68E mutant flies are smaller and lighter than controls at birth. However, at 4 d of age, Muc68E mutants are heavier, recover faster from chill-coma, and are more resistant to starvation than control flies, although they have the same percentage of lipids as controls. Mutant flies have enlarged abdominal size 1 d after chill-coma recovery, which is associated with higher lipid content. These results suggest that Muc68E has a role in metabolism modulation, food absorption, and/or feeding patterns in larvae and adults, and under normal and stress conditions. Such biological function is novel for mucin genes.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Degradation Signals for Ubiquitin-Proteasome Dependent Cytosolic Protein Quality Control (CytoQC) in Yeast

Maurer, M. J., Spear, E. D., Yu, A. T., Lee, E. J., Shahzad, S., Michaelis, S.

Cellular protein quality control (PQC) systems selectively target misfolded or otherwise aberrant proteins for degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). How cells discern abnormal from normal proteins remains incompletely understood, but involves in part the recognition between ubiquitin E3 ligases and degradation signals (degrons) that are exposed in misfolded proteins. PQC is compartmentalized in the cell, and a great deal has been learned in recent years about ER-associated degradation (ERAD) and nuclear quality control. In contrast, a comprehensive view of cytosolic quality control (CytoQC) has yet to emerge, and will benefit from the development of a well-defined set of model substrates. In this study, we generated an isogenic "degron library" in Saccharomyces cerevisiae consisting of short sequences appended to the C-terminus of a reporter protein, Ura3. About half of these degron-containing proteins are substrates of the integral membrane E3 ligase Doa10, which also plays a pivotal role in ERAD and some nuclear protein degradation. Notably, some of our degron fusion proteins exhibit dependence on the E3 ligase Ltn1/Rkr1 for degradation, apparently by a mechanism distinct from its known role in ribosomal quality control of translationally paused proteins. Ubr1 and San1, E3 ligases involved in the recognition of some misfolded CytoQC substrates, are largely dispensable for the degradation of our degron-containing proteins. Interestingly, the Hsp70/Hsp40 chaperone/cochaperones Ssa1,2 and Ydj1, are required for the degradation of all constructs tested. Taken together, the comprehensive degron library presented here provides an important resource of isogenic substrates for testing candidate PQC components and identifying new ones.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Copy Number Profiling of Brazilian Astrocytomas

Bidinotto, L. T., Torrieri, R., Mackay, A., Almeida, G. C., Viana-Pereira, M., Cruvinel-Carloni, A., Spina, M. L., Campanella, N. C., Pereira de Menezes, W., Clara, C. A., Becker, A. P., Jones, C., Reis, R. M.

Copy number alterations (CNA) are one of the driving mechanisms of glioma tumorigenesis, and are currently used as important biomarkers in the routine setting. Therefore, we performed CNA profiling of 65 astrocytomas of distinct malignant grades (WHO grade I–IV) of Brazilian origin, using array-CGH and microsatellite instability analysis (MSI), and investigated their correlation with TERT and IDH1 mutational status and clinico-pathological features. Furthermore, in silico analysis using the Oncomine database was performed to validate our findings and extend the findings to gene expression level. We found that the number of genomic alterations increases in accordance with glioma grade. In glioblastomas (GBM), the most common alterations were gene amplifications (PDGFRA, KIT, KDR, EGFR, and MET) and deletions (CDKN2A and PTEN). Log-rank analysis correlated EGFR amplification and/or chr7 gain with better survival of the patients. MSI was observed in 11% of GBMs. A total of 69% of GBMs presented TERT mutation, whereas IDH1 mutation was most frequent in diffuse (85.7%) and anaplastic (100%) astrocytomas. The combination of 1p19q deletion and TERT and IDH1 mutational status separated tumor groups that showed distinct age of diagnosis and outcome. In silico validation pointed to less explored genes that may be worthy of future investigation, such as CDK2, DMRTA1, and MTAP. Herein, using an extensive integrated analysis, we indicated potentially important genes, not extensively studied in gliomas, that could be further explored to assess their biological and clinical impact in astrocytomas.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Histone H1 Limits DNA Methylation in Neurospora crassa

Seymour, M., Ji, L., Santos, A. M., Kamei, M., Sasaki, T., Basenko, E. Y., Schmitz, R. J., Zhang, X., Lewis, Z. A.

Histone H1 variants, known as linker histones, are essential chromatin components in higher eukaryotes, yet compared to the core histones relatively little is known about their in vivo functions. The filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa encodes a single H1 protein that is not essential for viability. To investigate the role of N. crassa H1, we constructed a functional FLAG-tagged H1 fusion protein and performed genomic and molecular analyses. Cell fractionation experiments showed that H1-3XFLAG is a chromatin binding protein. Chromatin-immunoprecipitation combined with sequencing (ChIP-seq) revealed that H1-3XFLAG is globally enriched throughout the genome with a subtle preference for promoters of expressed genes. In mammals, the stoichiometry of H1 impacts nucleosome repeat length. To determine if H1 impacts nucleosome occupancy or nucleosome positioning in N. crassa, we performed micrococcal nuclease digestion in the wild-type and the $$\Delta $$hH1 strain followed by sequencing (MNase-seq). Deletion of hH1 did not significantly impact nucleosome positioning or nucleosome occupancy. Analysis of DNA methylation by whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (MethylC-seq) revealed a modest but global increase in DNA methylation in the $$\Delta $$hH1 mutant. Together, these data suggest that H1 acts as a nonspecific chromatin binding protein that can limit accessibility of the DNA methylation machinery in N. crassa.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Cytotype Regulation Facilitates Repression of Hybrid Dysgenesis by Naturally Occurring KP Elements in Drosophila melanogaster

Simmons, M. J., Grimes, C. D., Czora, C. S.

P elements inserted in the Telomere Associated Sequences (TAS) at the left end of the X chromosome are determiners of cytotype regulation of the entire P family of transposons. This regulation is mediated by Piwi-interacting (pi) RNAs derived from the telomeric P elements (TPs). Because these piRNAs are transmitted maternally, cytotype regulation is manifested as a maternal effect of the TPs. When a TP is combined with a transgenic P element inserted at another locus, this maternal effect is strengthened. However, when certain TPs are combined with transgenes that contain the small P element known as KP, stronger regulation arises from a zygotic effect of the KP element. This zygotic effect is observed with transgenic KP elements that are structurally intact, as well as with KP elements that are fused to an ancillary promoter from the hsp70 gene. Zygotic regulation by a KP element occurs only when a TP was present in the maternal germ line, and it is more pronounced when the TP was also present in the grand-maternal germ line. However, this regulation does not require zygotic expression of the TP. These observations can be explained if maternally transmitted piRNAs from TPs enable a polypeptide encoded by KP elements to repress P element transposition in zygotes that contain a KP element. In nature, repression by the KP polypeptide may therefore be facilitated by cytotype-mediating piRNAs.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Patching Holes in the Chlamydomonas Genome

Tulin, F., Cross, F. R.

The Chlamydomonas genome has been sequenced, assembled, and annotated to produce a rich resource for genetics and molecular biology in this well-studied model organism. However, the current reference genome contains ~1000 blocks of unknown sequence (‘N-islands’), which are frequently placed in introns of annotated gene models. We developed a strategy to search for previously unknown exons hidden within such blocks, and determine the sequence, and exon/intron boundaries, of such exons. These methods are based on assembly and alignment of short cDNA and genomic DNA reads, completely independent of prior reference assembly or annotation. Our evidence indicates that a substantial proportion of the annotated intronic N-islands contain hidden exons. For most of these, our algorithm recovers full exonic sequence with associated splice junctions and exon-adjacent intronic sequence. These new exons represent de novo sequence generally present nowhere in the assembled genome, and the added sequence improves evolutionary conservation of the predicted encoded peptides.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Placental Hypomethylation Is More Pronounced in Genomic Loci Devoid of Retroelements

Chatterjee, A., Macaulay, E. C., Rodger, E. J., Stockwell, P. A., Parry, M. F., Roberts, H. E., Slatter, T. L., Hung, N. A., Devenish, C. J., Morison, I. M.

The human placenta is hypomethylated compared to somatic tissues. However, the degree and specificity of placental hypomethylation across the genome is unclear. We assessed genome-wide methylation of the human placenta and compared it to that of the neutrophil, a representative homogeneous somatic cell. We observed global hypomethylation in placenta (relative reduction of 22%) compared to neutrophils. Placental hypomethylation was pronounced in intergenic regions and gene bodies, while the unmethylated state of the promoter remained conserved in both tissues. For every class of repeat elements, the placenta showed lower methylation but the degree of hypomethylation differed substantially between these classes. However, some retroelements, especially the evolutionarily younger Alu elements, retained high levels of placental methylation. Surprisingly, nonretrotransposon-containing sequences showed a greater degree of placental hypomethylation than retrotransposons in every genomic element (intergenic, introns, and exons) except promoters. The differentially methylated fragments (DMFs) in placenta and neutrophils were enriched in gene-poor and CpG-poor regions. The placentally hypomethylated DMFs were enriched in genomic regions that are usually inactive, whereas hypermethylated DMFs were enriched in active regions. Hypomethylation of the human placenta is not specific to retroelements, indicating that the evolutionary advantages of placental hypomethylation go beyond those provided by expression of retrotransposons and retrogenes.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:24 AM

Fluorescent Beads Are a Versatile Tool for Staging Caenorhabditis elegans in Different Life Histories

Nika, L., Gibson, T., Konkus, R., Karp, X.

Precise staging of Caenorhabditis elegans is essential for developmental studies in different environmental conditions. In favorable conditions, larvae develop continuously through four larval stages separated by molting periods. Distinguishing molting from intermolt larvae has been achieved using transgenes with molting reporters, therefore requiring strain constructions, or careful observation of individuals for pharyngeal pumping or behavioral quiescence. In unfavorable conditions, larvae can enter the stress-resistant and developmentally arrested dauer larva stage. Identifying dauer larvae has been based on their ability to withstand detergent selection, precluding identification of recovering animals or of mutants with defects in dauer morphogenesis. Here, we describe a simple method to distinguish molting larvae or dauer larvae from intermolt larvae that bypasses the limitations of current methods. Fluorescent latex beads are mixed with the bacterial food source and ingested by intermolt larvae and adults. Molting and dauer larvae do not feed, and therefore lack beads in their digestive tract. The presence of beads can be determined using a dissecting microscope at magnifications as low as 100 x, or by using a wormsorter for high-throughput experiments. We find that continuously developing bead-lacking larvae display hallmarks of molting, including expression of the mlt-10::gfp molting marker and a lack of pharyngeal pumping. Furthermore, wild-type and mutant dauer larvae produced by any of three common methods are accurately identified by a lack of beads. Importantly, this method is effective in SDS-sensitive mutant backgrounds and can identify recovering dauer larvae, a stage for which there is no other method of positive selection.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Using Genotyping by Sequencing to Map Two Novel Anthracnose Resistance Loci in Sorghum bicolor

J. Felderhoff, T., M. McIntyre, L., Saballos, A., Vermerris, W.

Colletotrichum sublineola is an aggressive fungal pathogen that causes anthracnose in sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench]. The obvious symptoms of anthracnose are leaf blight and stem rot. Sorghum, the fifth most widely grown cereal crop in the world, can be highly susceptible to the disease, most notably in hot and humid environments. In the southeastern United States the acreage of sorghum has been increasing steadily in recent years, spurred by growing interest in producing biofuels, bio-based products, and animal feed. Resistance to anthracnose is, therefore, of paramount importance for successful sorghum production in this region. To identify anthracnose resistance loci present in the highly resistant cultivar ‘Bk7’, a biparental mapping population of F3:4 and F4:5 sorghum lines was generated by crossing ‘Bk7’ with the susceptible inbred ‘Early Hegari-Sart’. Lines were phenotyped in three environments and in two different years following natural infection. The population was genotyped by sequencing. Following a stringent custom filtering protocol, totals of 5186 and 2759 informative SNP markers were identified in the two populations. Segregation data and association analysis identified resistance loci on chromosomes 7 and 9, with the resistance alleles derived from ‘Bk7’. Both loci contain multiple classes of defense-related genes based on sequence similarity and gene ontologies. Genetic analysis following an independent selection experiment of lines derived from a cross between ‘Bk7’ and sweet sorghum ‘Mer81-4’ narrowed the resistance locus on chromosome 9 substantially, validating this QTL. As observed in other species, sorghum appears to have regions of clustered resistance genes. Further characterization of these regions will facilitate the development of novel germplasm with resistance to anthracnose and other diseases.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Partial Functional Diversification of Drosophila melanogaster Septin Genes Sep2 and Sep5

ONeill, R. S., Clark, D. V.

The septin family of hetero-oligomeric complex-forming proteins can be divided into subgroups, and subgroup members are interchangeable at specific positions in the septin complex. Drosophila melanogaster has five septin genes, including the two SEPT6 subgroup members Sep2 and Sep5. We previously found that Sep2 has a unique function in oogenesis, which is not performed by Sep5. Here, we find that Sep2 is uniquely required for follicle cell encapsulation of female germline cysts, and that Sep2 and Sep5 are redundant for follicle cell proliferation. The five D. melanogaster septins localize similarly in oogenesis, including as rings flanking the germline ring canals. Pnut fails to localize in Sep5; Sep2 double mutant follicle cells, indicating that septin complexes fail to form in the absence of both Sep2 and Sep5. We also find that mutations in septins enhance the mutant phenotype of bazooka, a key component in the establishment of cell polarity, suggesting a link between septin function and cell polarity. Overall, this work suggests that Sep5 has undergone partial loss of ancestral protein function, and demonstrates redundant and unique functions of septins.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Third Chromosome Balancer Inversions Disrupt Protein-Coding Genes and Influence Distal Recombination Events in Drosophila melanogaster

Miller, D. E., Cook, K. R., Arvanitakis, A. V., Hawley, R. S.

Balancer chromosomes are multiply inverted chromosomes that suppress meiotic crossing over and prevent the recovery of crossover products. Balancers are commonly used in Drosophila melanogaster to maintain deleterious alleles and in stock construction. They exist for all three major chromosomes, yet the molecular location of the breakpoints and the exact nature of many of the mutations carried by the second and third chromosome balancers has not been available. Here, we precisely locate eight of 10 of the breakpoints on the third chromosome balancer TM3, six of eight on TM6, and nine of 11 breakpoints on TM6B. We find that one of the inversion breakpoints on TM3 bisects the highly conserved tumor suppressor gene p53—a finding that may have important consequences for a wide range of studies in Drosophila. We also identify evidence of single and double crossovers between several TM3 and TM6B balancers and their normal-sequence homologs that have created genetic diversity among these chromosomes. Overall, this work demonstrates the practical importance of precisely identifying the position of inversion breakpoints of balancer chromosomes and characterizing the mutant alleles carried by them.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Whole-Genome Sequencing Reveals Genetic Variation in the Asian House Rat

Teng, H., Zhang, Y., Shi, C., Mao, F., Hou, L., Guo, H., Sun, Z., Zhang, J.

Whole-genome sequencing of wild-derived rat species can provide novel genomic resources, which may help decipher the genetics underlying complex phenotypes. As a notorious pest, reservoir of human pathogens, and colonizer, the Asian house rat, Rattus tanezumi, is successfully adapted to its habitat. However, little is known regarding genetic variation in this species. In this study, we identified over 41,000,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, plus insertions and deletions, through whole-genome sequencing and bioinformatics analyses. Moreover, we identified over 12,000 structural variants, including 143 chromosomal inversions. Further functional analyses revealed several fixed nonsense mutations associated with infection and immunity-related adaptations, and a number of fixed missense mutations that may be related to anticoagulant resistance. A genome-wide scan for loci under selection identified various genes related to neural activity. Our whole-genome sequencing data provide a genomic resource for future genetic studies of the Asian house rat species and have the potential to facilitate understanding of the molecular adaptations of rats to their ecological niches.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Identifying Genetic Signatures of Natural Selection Using Pooled Population Sequencing in Picea abies

Chen, J., Kallman, T., Ma, X.-F., Zaina, G., Morgante, M., Lascoux, M.

The joint inference of selection and past demography remain a costly and demanding task. We used next generation sequencing of two pools of 48 Norway spruce mother trees, one corresponding to the Fennoscandian domain, and the other to the Alpine domain, to assess nucleotide polymorphism at 88 nuclear genes. These genes are candidate genes for phenological traits, and most belong to the photoperiod pathway. Estimates of population genetic summary statistics from the pooled data are similar to previous estimates, suggesting that pooled sequencing is reliable. The nonsynonymous SNPs tended to have both lower frequency differences and lower FST values between the two domains than silent ones. These results suggest the presence of purifying selection. The divergence between the two domains based on synonymous changes was around 5 million yr, a time similar to a recent phylogenetic estimate of 6 million yr, but much larger than earlier estimates based on isozymes. Two approaches, one of them novel and that considers both FST and difference in allele frequencies between the two domains, were used to identify SNPs potentially under diversifying selection. SNPs from around 20 genes were detected, including genes previously identified as main target for selection, such as PaPRR3 and PaGI.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Identification of Novel Regulators of the JAK/STAT Signaling Pathway that Control Border Cell Migration in the Drosophila Ovary

Saadin, A., Starz-Gaiano, M.

The Janus Kinase/Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (JAK/STAT) signaling pathway is an essential regulator of cell migration both in mammals and fruit flies. Cell migration is required for normal embryonic development and immune response but can also lead to detrimental outcomes, such as tumor metastasis. A cluster of cells termed "border cells" in the Drosophila ovary provides an excellent example of a collective cell migration, in which two different cell types coordinate their movements. Border cells arise within the follicular epithelium and are required to invade the neighboring cells and migrate to the oocyte to contribute to a fertilizable egg. Multiple components of the STAT signaling pathway are required during border cell specification and migration; however, the functions and identities of other potential regulators of the pathway during these processes are not yet known. To find new components of the pathway that govern cell invasiveness, we knocked down 48 predicted STAT modulators using RNAi expression in follicle cells, and assayed defective cell movement. We have shown that seven of these regulators are involved in either border cell specification or migration. Examination of the epistatic relationship between candidate genes and Stat92E reveals that the products of two genes, Protein tyrosine phosphatase 61F (Ptp61F) and brahma (brm), interact with Stat92E during both border cell specification and migration.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Evolution, Expression, and Function of Nonneuronal Ligand-Gated Chloride Channels in Drosophila melanogaster

Remnant, E. J., Williams, A., Lumb, C., Yang, Y. T., Chan, J., Duchene, S., Daborn, P. J., Batterham, P., Perry, T.

Ligand-gated chloride channels have established roles in inhibitory neurotransmission in the nervous systems of vertebrates and invertebrates. Paradoxically, expression databases in Drosophila melanogaster have revealed that three uncharacterized ligand-gated chloride channel subunits, CG7589, CG6927, and CG11340, are highly expressed in nonneuronal tissues. Furthermore, subunit copy number varies between insects, with some orders containing one ortholog, whereas other lineages exhibit copy number increases. Here, we show that the Dipteran lineage has undergone two gene duplications followed by expression-based functional differentiation. We used promoter-GFP expression analysis, RNA-sequencing, and in situ hybridization to examine cell type and tissue-specific localization of the three D. melanogaster subunits. CG6927 is expressed in the nurse cells of the ovaries. CG7589 is expressed in multiple tissues including the salivary gland, ejaculatory duct, malpighian tubules, and early midgut. CG11340 is found in malpighian tubules and the copper cell region of the midgut. Overexpression of CG11340 increased sensitivity to dietary copper, and RNAi and ends-out knockout of CG11340 resulted in copper tolerance, providing evidence for a specific nonneuronal role for this subunit in D. melanogaster. Ligand-gated chloride channels are important insecticide targets and here we highlight copy number and functional divergence in insect lineages, raising the potential that order-specific receptors could be isolated within an effective class of insecticide targets.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Homeobox Is Pivotal for OsWUS Controlling Tiller Development and Female Fertility in Rice

Mjomba, F. M., Zheng, Y., Liu, H., Tang, W., Hong, Z., Wang, F., Wu, W.

OsWUS has recently been shown to be a transcription factor gene critical for tiller development and fertility in rice. The OsWUS protein consists of three conserved structural domains, but their biological functions are still unclear. We discovered a new rice mutant resulting from tissue culture, which hardly produced tillers and exhibited complete female sterility. The male and female floral organs of the mutant were morphologically indistinguishable from those of the wild type. We named the mutant srt1 for completely sterile and reduced tillering 1. Map-based cloning revealed that the mutant phenotypes were caused by a mutation in OsWUS. Compared with the two previously reported null allelic mutants of OsWUS (tab1-1 and moc3-1), which could produce partial N-terminal peptides of OsWUS, the srt1 protein contained a deletion of only seven amino acids within the conserved homeobox domain of OsWUS. However, the mutant phenotypes (monoculm and female sterility) displayed in srt1 were as typical and severe as those in tab1-1 and moc3-1. This indicates that the homeobox domain of SRT1 is essential for the regulation of tillering and sterility in rice. In addition, srt1 showed an opposite effect on panicle development to that of the two null allelic mutants, implying that the srt1 protein might still have partial or even new functions on panicle development. The results of this study suggest that the homeobox domain is pivotal for OsWUS function.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Functional Genetic Screen to Identify Interneurons Governing Behaviorally Distinct Aspects of Drosophila Larval Motor Programs

Clark, M. Q., McCumsey, S. J., Lopez-Darwin, S., Heckscher, E. S., Doe, C. Q.

Drosophila larval crawling is an attractive system to study rhythmic motor output at the level of animal behavior. Larval crawling consists of waves of muscle contractions generating forward or reverse locomotion. In addition, larvae undergo additional behaviors, including head casts, turning, and feeding. It is likely that some neurons (e.g., motor neurons) are used in all these behaviors, but the identity (or even existence) of neurons dedicated to specific aspects of behavior is unclear. To identify neurons that regulate specific aspects of larval locomotion, we performed a genetic screen to identify neurons that, when activated, could elicit distinct motor programs. We used 165 Janelia CRM-Gal4 lines—chosen for sparse neuronal expression—to ectopically express the warmth-inducible neuronal activator TrpA1, and screened for locomotor defects. The primary screen measured forward locomotion velocity, and we identified 63 lines that had locomotion velocities significantly slower than controls following TrpA1 activation (28°). A secondary screen was performed on these lines, revealing multiple discrete behavioral phenotypes, including slow forward locomotion, excessive reverse locomotion, excessive turning, excessive feeding, immobile, rigid paralysis, and delayed paralysis. While many of the Gal4 lines had motor, sensory, or muscle expression that may account for some or all of the phenotype, some lines showed specific expression in a sparse pattern of interneurons. Our results show that distinct motor programs utilize distinct subsets of interneurons, and provide an entry point for characterizing interneurons governing different elements of the larval motor program.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Budding Yeast SLX4 Contributes to the Appropriate Distribution of Crossovers and Meiotic Double-Strand Break Formation on Bivalents During Meiosis

Higashide, M., Shinohara, M.

The number and distribution of meiosis crossover (CO) events on each bivalent are strictly controlled by multiple mechanisms to assure proper chromosome segregation during the first meiotic division. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Slx4 is a multi-functional scaffold protein for structure-selective endonucleases, such as Slx1 and Rad1 (which are involved in DNA damage repair), and is also a negative regulator of the Rad9-dependent signaling pathway with Rtt107. Slx4 has been believed to play only a minor role in meiotic recombination. Here, we report that Slx4 is involved in proper intrachromosomal distribution of meiotic CO formation, especially in regions near centromeres. We observed an increase in uncontrolled CO formation only in a region near the centromere in the slx4 mutant. Interestingly, this phenomenon was not observed in the slx1, rad1, or rtt107 mutants. In addition, we observed a reduced number of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and altered meiotic DSB distribution on chromosomes in the slx4 mutant. This suggests that the multi-functional Slx4 is required for proper CO formation and meiotic DSB formation.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Exhaustive Genome-Wide Search for SNP-SNP Interactions Across 10 Human Diseases

Murk, W., DeWan, A. T.

The identification of statistical SNP-SNP interactions may help explain the genetic etiology of many human diseases, but exhaustive genome-wide searches for these interactions have been difficult, due to a lack of power in most datasets. We aimed to use data from the Resource for Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) study to search for SNP-SNP interactions associated with 10 common diseases. FastEpistasis and BOOST were used to evaluate all pairwise interactions among approximately N = 300,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with minor allele frequency (MAF) ≥ 0.15, for the dichotomous outcomes of allergic rhinitis, asthma, cardiac disease, depression, dermatophytosis, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hemorrhoids, hypertensive disease, and osteoarthritis. A total of N = 45,171 subjects were included after quality control steps were applied. These data were divided into discovery and replication subsets; the discovery subset had > 80% power, under selected models, to detect genome-wide significant interactions (P < 10–12). Interactions were also evaluated for enrichment in particular SNP features, including functionality, prior disease relevancy, and marginal effects. No interaction in any disease was significant in both the discovery and replication subsets. Enrichment analysis suggested that, for some outcomes, interactions involving SNPs with marginal effects were more likely to be nominally replicated, compared to interactions without marginal effects. If SNP-SNP interactions play a role in the etiology of the studied conditions, they likely have weak effect sizes, involve lower-frequency variants, and/or involve complex models of interaction that are not captured well by the methods that were utilized.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Insertion of loxP Sites in the Mouse Dock7 Gene Provides an Effective Alternative to Use of Targeted Embryonic Stem Cells

Bishop, K. A., Harrington, A., Kouranova, E., Weinstein, E. J., Rosen, C. J., Cui, X., Liaw, L.

Targeted gene mutation in the mouse is a primary strategy to understand gene function and relation to phenotype. The Knockout Mouse Project (KOMP) had an initial goal to develop a public resource of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell clones that carry null mutations in all genes. Indeed, many useful novel mouse models have been generated from publically accessible targeted mouse ES cell lines. However, there are limitations, including incorrect targeting or cassette structure, and difficulties with germline transmission of the allele from chimeric mice. In our experience, using a small sample of targeted ES cell clones, we were successful ~50% of the time in generating germline transmission of a correctly targeted allele. With the advent of CRISPR/Cas9 as a mouse genome modification tool, we assessed the efficiency of creating a conditional targeted allele in one gene, dedicator of cytokinesis 7 (Dock7), for which we were unsuccessful in generating a null allele using a KOMP targeted ES cell clone. The strategy was to insert loxP sites to flank either exons 3 and 4, or exons 3 through 7. By coinjecting Cas9 mRNA, validated sgRNAs, and oligonucleotide donors into fertilized eggs from C57BL/6J mice, we obtained a variety of alleles, including mice homozygous for the null alleles mediated by nonhomologous end joining, alleles with one of the two desired loxP sites, and correctly targeted alleles with both loxP sites. We also found frequent mutations in the inserted loxP sequence, which is partly attributable to the heterogeneity in the original oligonucleotide preparation.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Fitness Effects of Spontaneous Mutations in Picoeukaryotic Marine Green Algae

Krasovec, M., Eyre-Walker, A., Grimsley, N., Salmeron, C., Pecqueur, D., Piganeau, G., Sanchez-Ferandin, S.

Estimates of the fitness effects of spontaneous mutations are important for understanding the adaptive potential of species. Here, we present the results of mutation accumulation experiments over 265–512 sequential generations in four species of marine unicellular green algae, Ostreococcus tauri RCC4221, Ostreococcus mediterraneus RCC2590, Micromonas pusilla RCC299, and Bathycoccus prasinos RCC1105. Cell division rates, taken as a proxy for fitness, systematically decline over the course of the experiment in O. tauri, but not in the three other species where the MA experiments were carried out over a smaller number of generations. However, evidence of mutation accumulation in 24 MA lines arises when they are exposed to stressful conditions, such as changes in osmolarity or exposure to herbicides. The selection coefficients, estimated from the number of cell divisions/day, varies significantly between the different environmental conditions tested in MA lines, providing evidence for advantageous and deleterious effects of spontaneous mutations. This suggests a common environmental dependence of the fitness effects of mutations and allows the minimum mutation/genome/generation rates to be inferred at 0.0037 in these species.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Analysis of Plasminogen Genetic Variants in Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Sadovnick, A. D., Traboulsee, A. L., Bernales, C. Q., Ross, J. P., Forwell, A. L., Yee, I. M., Guillot-Noel, L., Fontaine, B., Cournu-Rebeix, I., Alcina, A., Fedetz, M., Izquierdo, G., Matesanz, F., Hilven, K., Dubois, B., Goris, A., Astobiza, I., Alloza, I., Antiguedad, A., Vandenbroeck, K., Akkad, D. A., Aktas, O., Blaschke, P., Buttmann, M., Chan, A., Epplen, J. T., Gerdes, L.-A., Kroner, A., Kubisch, C., Kumpfel, T., Lohse, P., Rieckmann, P., Zettl, U. K., Zipp, F., Bertram, L., Lill, C. M., Fernandez, O., Urbaneja, P., Leyva, L., Alvarez-Cermeno, J. C., Arroyo, R., Garagorri, A. M., Garcia-Martinez, A., Villar, L. M., Urcelay, E., Malhotra, S., Montalban, X., Comabella, M., Berger, T., Fazekas, F., Reindl, M., Schmied, M. C., Zimprich, A., Vilarino-Guell, C.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a prevalent neurological disease of complex etiology. Here, we describe the characterization of a multi-incident MS family that nominated a rare missense variant (p.G420D) in plasminogen (PLG) as a putative genetic risk factor for MS. Genotyping of PLG p.G420D (rs139071351) in 2160 MS patients, and 886 controls from Canada, identified 10 additional probands, two sporadic patients and one control with the variant. Segregation in families harboring the rs139071351 variant, identified p.G420D in 26 out of 30 family members diagnosed with MS, 14 unaffected parents, and 12 out of 30 family members not diagnosed with disease. Despite considerably reduced penetrance, linkage analysis supports cosegregation of PLG p.G420D and disease. Genotyping of PLG p.G420D in 14446 patients, and 8797 controls from Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, and Austria failed to identify significant association with disease (P = 0.117), despite an overall higher prevalence in patients (OR = 1.32; 95% CI = 0.93–1.87). To assess whether additional rare variants have an effect on MS risk, we sequenced PLG in 293 probands, and genotyped all rare variants in cases and controls. This analysis identified nine rare missense variants, and although three of them were exclusively observed in MS patients, segregation does not support pathogenicity. PLG is a plausible biological candidate for MS owing to its involvement in immune system response, blood-brain barrier permeability, and myelin degradation. Moreover, components of its activation cascade have been shown to present increased activity or expression in MS patients compared to controls; further studies are needed to clarify whether PLG is involved in MS susceptibility.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Transcriptomic Analysis Identifies Candidate Genes Related to Intramuscular Fat Deposition and Fatty Acid Composition in the Breast Muscle of Squabs (Columba)

Ye, M., Zhou, B., Wei, S., Ding, M., Lu, X., Shi, X., Ding, J., Yang, S., Wei, W.

Despite the fact that squab is consumed throughout the world because of its high nutritional value and appreciated sensory attributes, aspects related to its characterization, and in particular genetic issues, have rarely been studied. In this study, meat traits in terms of pH, water-holding capacity, intramuscular fat content, and fatty acid profile of the breast muscle of squabs from two meat pigeon breeds were determined. Breed-specific differences were detected in fat-related traits of intramuscular fat content and fatty acid composition. RNA-Sequencing was applied to compare the transcriptomes of muscle and liver tissues between squabs of two breeds to identify candidate genes associated with the differences in the capacity of fat deposition. A total of 27 differentially expressed genes assigned to pathways of lipid metabolism were identified, of which, six genes belonged to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor signaling pathway along with four other genes. Our results confirmed in part previous reports in livestock and provided also a number of genes which had not been related to fat deposition so far. These genes can serve as a basis for further investigations to screen markers closely associated with intramuscular fat content and fatty acid composition in squabs. The data from this study were deposited in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)’s Sequence Read Archive under the accession numbers SRX1680021 and SRX1680022. This is the first transcriptome analysis of the muscle and liver tissue in Columba using next generation sequencing technology. Data provided here are of potential value to dissect functional genes influencing fat deposition in squabs.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Dynamics of a Novel Highly Repetitive CACTA Family in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Gao, D., Zhao, D., Abernathy, B., Iwata-Otsubo, A., Herrera-Estrella, A., Jiang, N., Jackson, S. A.

Transposons are ubiquitous genomic components that play pivotal roles in plant gene and genome evolution. We analyzed two genome sequences of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and identified a new CACTA transposon family named pvCACTA1. The family is extremely abundant, as more than 12,000 pvCACTA1 elements were found. To our knowledge, this is the most abundant CACTA family reported thus far. The computational and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses indicated that the pvCACTA1 elements were concentrated in terminal regions of chromosomes and frequently generated AT-rich 3 bp target site duplications (TSD, WWW, W is A or T). Comparative analysis of the common bean genomes from two domesticated genetic pools revealed that new insertions or excisions of pvCACTA1 elements occurred after the divergence of the two common beans, and some of the polymorphic elements likely resulted in variation in gene sequences. pvCACTA1 elements were detected in related species but not outside the Phaseolus genus. We calculated the molecular evolutionary rate of pvCACTA1 transposons using orthologous elements that indicated that most transposition events likely occurred before the divergence of the two gene pools. These results reveal unique features and evolution of this new transposon family in the common bean genome.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Improved Placement of Multi-mapping Small RNAs

Johnson, N. R., Yeoh, J. M., Coruh, C., Axtell, M. J.

High-throughput sequencing of small RNAs (sRNA-seq) is a popular method used to discover and annotate microRNAs (miRNAs), endogenous short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), and Piwi-associated RNAs (piRNAs). One of the key steps in sRNA-seq data analysis is alignment to a reference genome. sRNA-seq libraries often have a high proportion of reads that align to multiple genomic locations, which makes determining their true origins difficult. Commonly used sRNA-seq alignment methods result in either very low precision (choosing an alignment at random), or sensitivity (ignoring multi-mapping reads). Here, we describe and test an sRNA-seq alignment strategy that uses local genomic context to guide decisions on proper placements of multi-mapped sRNA-seq reads. Tests using simulated sRNA-seq data demonstrated that this local-weighting method outperforms other alignment strategies using three different plant genomes. Experimental analyses with real sRNA-seq data also indicate superior performance of local-weighting methods for both plant miRNAs and heterochromatic siRNAs. The local-weighting methods we have developed are implemented as part of the sRNA-seq analysis program ShortStack, which is freely available under a general public license. Improved genome alignments of sRNA-seq data should increase the quality of downstream analyses and genome annotation efforts.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Comparative Genomics of a Parthenogenesis-Inducing Wolbachia Symbiont

Lindsey, A. R. I., Werren, J. H., Richards, S., Stouthamer, R.

Wolbachia is an intracellular symbiont of invertebrates responsible for inducing a wide variety of phenotypes in its host. These host-Wolbachia relationships span the continuum from reproductive parasitism to obligate mutualism, and provide a unique system to study genomic changes associated with the evolution of symbiosis. We present the genome sequence from a parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia strain (wTpre) infecting the minute parasitoid wasp Trichogramma pretiosum. The wTpre genome is the most complete parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia genome available to date. We used comparative genomics across 16 Wolbachia strains, representing five supergroups, to identify a core Wolbachia genome of 496 sets of orthologous genes. Only 14 of these sets are unique to Wolbachia when compared to other bacteria from the Rickettsiales. We show that the B supergroup of Wolbachia, of which wTpre is a member, contains a significantly higher number of ankyrin repeat-containing genes than other supergroups. In the wTpre genome, there is evidence for truncation of the protein coding sequences in 20% of ORFs, mostly as a result of frameshift mutations. The wTpre strain represents a conversion from cytoplasmic incompatibility to a parthenogenesis-inducing lifestyle, and is required for reproduction in the Trichogramma host it infects. We hypothesize that the large number of coding frame truncations has accompanied the change in reproductive mode of the wTpre strain.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

UBR-5, a Conserved HECT-Type E3 Ubiquitin Ligase, Negatively Regulates Notch-Type Signaling in Caenorhabditis elegans

Safdar, K., Gu, A., Xu, X., Au, V., Taylor, J., Flibotte, S., Moerman, D. G., Maine, E. M.

Notch-type signaling mediates cell–cell interactions important for animal development. In humans, reduced or inappropriate Notch signaling activity is associated with various developmental defects and disease states, including cancers. Caenorhabditis elegans expresses two Notch-type receptors, GLP-1 and LIN-12. GLP-1 mediates several cell-signaling events in the embryo and promotes germline proliferation in the developing and adult gonad. LIN-12 acts redundantly with GLP-1 in certain inductive events in the embryo and mediates several cell–cell interactions during larval development. Recovery of genetic suppressors and enhancers of glp-1 or lin-12 loss- or gain-of-function mutations has identified numerous regulators of GLP-1 and LIN-12 signaling activity. Here, we report the molecular identification of sog-1, a gene identified in screens for recessive suppressors of conditional glp-1 loss-of-function mutations. The sog-1 gene encodes UBR-5, the sole C. elegans member of the UBR5/Hyd family of HECT-type E3 ubiquitin ligases. Molecular and genetic analyses indicate that the loss of ubr-5 function suppresses defects caused by reduced signaling via GLP-1 or LIN-12. In contrast, ubr-5 mutations do not suppress embryonic or larval lethality associated with mutations in a downstream transcription factor, LAG-1. In the gonad, ubr-5 acts in the receiving cells (germ cells) to limit GLP-1 signaling activity. SEL-10 is the F-box component of SCFSEL-10 E3 ubiquitin–ligase complex that promotes turnover of Notch intracellular domain. UBR-5 acts redundantly with SEL-10 to limit Notch signaling in certain tissues. We hypothesize that UBR-5 activity limits Notch-type signaling by promoting turnover of receptor or limiting its interaction with pathway components.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Fruiting Body Formation in Volvariella volvacea Can Occur Independently of Its MAT-A-Controlled Bipolar Mating System, Enabling Homothallic and Heterothallic Life Cycles

Chen, B., van Peer, A. F., Yan, J., Li, X., Xie, B., Miao, J., Huang, Q., Zhang, L., Wang, W., Fu, J., Zhang, X., Zhang, X., Hu, F., Kong, Q., Sun, X., Zou, F., Zhang, H., Li, S., Xie, B.

Volvariella volvacea is an important crop in Southeast Asia, but erratic fruiting presents a serious challenge for its production and breeding. Efforts to explain inconsistent fruiting have been complicated by the multinucleate nature, typical lack of clamp connections, and an incompletely identified sexual reproductive system. In this study, we addressed the life cycle of V. volvacea using whole genome sequencing, cloning of MAT loci, karyotyping of spores, and fruiting assays. Microscopy analysis of spores had previously indicated the possible coexistence of heterothallic and homothallic life cycles. Our analysis of the MAT loci showed that only MAT-A, and not MAT-B, controlled heterokaryotization. Thus, the heterothallic life cycle was bipolar. Karyotyping of single spore isolates (SSIs) using molecular markers supported the existence of heterokaryotic spores. However, most SSIs were clearly not heterokaryotic, yet contained structural variation (SV) markers relating to both alleles of both parents. Heterokaryons from crossed, self-sterile homokaryons could produce fruiting bodies, agreeing with bipolar heterothallism. Meanwhile, some SSIs with two different MAT-A loci also produced fruiting bodies, which supported secondary homothallism. Next, SSIs that clearly contained only one MAT-A locus (homothallism) were also able to fruit, demonstrating that self-fertile SSIs were not, per definition, secondary homothallic, and that a third life cycle or genetic mechanism must exist. Finally, recombination between SV markers was normal, yet 10 out of 24 SV markers showed 1:2 or 1:3 distributions in the spores, and large numbers of SSIs contained doubled SV markers. This indicated selfish genes, and possibly partial aneuploidy.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

mCAL: A New Approach for Versatile Multiplex Action of Cas9 Using One sgRNA and Loci Flanked by a Programmed Target Sequence

Finnigan, G. C., Thorner, J.

Genome editing exploiting CRISPR/Cas9 has been adopted widely in academia and in the biotechnology industry to manipulate DNA sequences in diverse organisms. Molecular engineering of Cas9 itself and its guide RNA, and the strategies for using them, have increased efficiency, optimized specificity, reduced inappropriate off-target effects, and introduced modifications for performing other functions (transcriptional regulation, high-resolution imaging, protein recruitment, and high-throughput screening). Moreover, Cas9 has the ability to multiplex, i.e., to act at different genomic targets within the same nucleus. Currently, however, introducing concurrent changes at multiple loci involves: (i) identification of appropriate genomic sites, especially the availability of suitable PAM sequences; (ii) the design, construction, and expression of multiple sgRNA directed against those sites; (iii) potential difficulties in altering essential genes; and (iv) lingering concerns about "off-target" effects. We have devised a new approach that circumvents these drawbacks, as we demonstrate here using the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. First, any gene(s) of interest are flanked upstream and downstream with a single unique target sequence that does not normally exist in the genome. Thereafter, expression of one sgRNA and cotransformation with appropriate PCR fragments permits concomitant Cas9-mediated alteration of multiple genes (both essential and nonessential). The system we developed also allows for maintenance of the integrated, inducible Cas9-expression cassette or its simultaneous scarless excision. Our scheme—dubbed mCAL for "Multiplexing of Cas9 at Artificial Loci"—can be applied to any organism in which the CRISPR/Cas9 methodology is currently being utilized. In principle, it can be applied to install synthetic sequences into the genome, to generate genomic libraries, and to program strains or cell lines so that they can be conveniently (and repeatedly) manipulated at multiple loci with extremely high efficiency.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

The Rate and Spectrum of Spontaneous Mutations in Mycobacterium smegmatis, a Bacterium Naturally Devoid of the Postreplicative Mismatch Repair Pathway

Kucukyildirim, S., Long, H., Sung, W., Miller, S. F., Doak, T. G., Lynch, M.

Mycobacterium smegmatis is a bacterium that is naturally devoid of known postreplicative DNA mismatch repair (MMR) homologs, mutS and mutL, providing an opportunity to investigate how the mutation rate and spectrum has evolved in the absence of a highly conserved primary repair pathway. Mutation accumulation experiments of M. smegmatis yielded a base-substitution mutation rate of 5.27 10–10 per site per generation, or 0.0036 per genome per generation, which is surprisingly similar to the mutation rate in MMR-functional unicellular organisms. Transitions were found more frequently than transversions, with the A:T->G:C transition rate significantly higher than the G:C->A:T transition rate, opposite to what is observed in most studied bacteria. We also found that the transition-mutation rate of M. smegmatis is significantly lower than that of other naturally MMR-devoid or MMR-knockout organisms. Two possible candidates that could be responsible for maintaining high DNA fidelity in this MMR-deficient organism are the ancestral-like DNA polymerase DnaE1, which contains a highly efficient DNA proofreading histidinol phosphatase (PHP) domain, and/or the existence of a uracil-DNA glycosylase B (UdgB) homolog that might protect the GC-rich M. smegmatis genome against DNA damage arising from oxidation or deamination. Our results suggest that M. smegmatis has a noncanonical Dam (DNA adenine methylase) methylation system, with target motifs differing from those previously reported. The mutation features of M. smegmatis provide further evidence that genomes harbor alternative routes for improving replication fidelity, even in the absence of major repair pathways.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Altered Function of the DnaJ Family Cochaperone DNJ-17 Modulates Locomotor Circuit Activity in a Caenorhabditis elegans Seizure Model

Takayanagi-Kiya, S., Jin, Y.

The highly conserved cochaperone DnaJ/Hsp40 family proteins are known to interact with molecular chaperone Hsp70, and can regulate many cellular processes including protein folding, translocation, and degradation. In studies of Caenorhabditis elegans locomotion mutants, we identified a gain-of-function (gf) mutation in dnj-17 closely linked to the widely used e156 null allele of C. elegans GAD (glutamic acid decarboxylase) unc-25. dnj-17 encodes a DnaJ protein orthologous to human DNAJA5. In C. elegans DNJ-17 is a cytosolic protein and is broadly expressed in many tissues. dnj-17(gf) causes a single amino acid substitution in a conserved domain, and behaves as a hypermorphic mutation. The effect of this dnj-17(gf) is most prominent in mutants lacking GABA synaptic transmission. In a seizure model caused by a mutation in the ionotropic acetylcholine receptor acr-2(gf), dnj-17(gf) exacerbates the convulsion phenotype in conjunction with absence of GABA. Null mutants of dnj-17 show mild resistance to aldicarb, while dnj-17(gf) is hypersensitive. These results highlight the importance of DnaJ proteins in regulation of C. elegans locomotor circuit, and provide insights into the in vivo roles of DnaJ proteins in humans.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Construction and Annotation of a High Density SNP Linkage Map of the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Genome

Tsai, H. Y., Robledo, D., Lowe, N. R., Bekaert, M., Taggart, J. B., Bron, J. E., Houston, R. D.

High density linkage maps are useful tools for fine-scale mapping of quantitative trait loci, and characterization of the recombination landscape of a species’ genome. Genomic resources for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) include a well-assembled reference genome, and high density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. Our aim was to create a high density linkage map, and to align it with the reference genome assembly. Over 96,000 SNPs were mapped and ordered on the 29 salmon linkage groups using a pedigreed population comprising 622 fish from 60 nuclear families, all genotyped with the ‘ssalar01’ high density SNP array. The number of SNPs per group showed a high positive correlation with physical chromosome length (r = 0.95). While the order of markers on the genetic and physical maps was generally consistent, areas of discrepancy were identified. Approximately 6.5% of the previously unmapped reference genome sequence was assigned to chromosomes using the linkage map. Male recombination rate was lower than females across the vast majority of the genome, but with a notable peak in subtelomeric regions. Finally, using RNA-Seq data to annotate the reference genome, the mapped SNPs were categorized according to their predicted function, including annotation of ~2500 putative nonsynonymous variants. The highest density SNP linkage map for any salmonid species has been created, annotated, and integrated with the Atlantic salmon reference genome assembly. This map highlights the marked heterochiasmy of salmon, and provides a useful resource for salmonid genetics and genomics research.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Transcriptomic Analysis of Differentially Expressed Genes During Larval Development of Rapana venosa by Digital Gene Expression Profiling

Song, H., Yu, Z.-L., Sun, L.-N., Xue, D.-X., Zhang, T., Wang, H.-Y.

During the life cycle of shellfish, larval development, especially metamorphosis, has a vital influence on the dynamics, distribution, and recruitment of natural populations, as well as seed breeding. Rapana venosa, a carnivorous gastropod, is an important commercial shellfish in China, and is an ecological invader in the United States, Argentina, and France. However, information about the mechanism of its early development is still limited, because research in this area has long suffered from a lack of genomic resources. In this study, 15 digital gene expression (DGE) libraries from five developmental stages of R. venosa were constructed and sequenced on the IIIumina Hi-Sequation 2500 platform. Bioinformaticsanalysis identified numerous differentially and specifically expressed genes, which revealed that genes associated with growth, nervous system, digestive system, immune system, and apoptosis participate in important developmental processes. The functional analysis of differentially expressed genes was further implemented by gene ontology, and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes enrichment. DGE profiling provided a general picture of the transcriptomic activities during the early development of R. venosa, which may provide interesting hints for further study. Our data represent the first comparative transcriptomic information available for the early development of R. venosa, which is a prerequisite for a better understanding of the physiological traits controlling development.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

An Improved Binary Vector and Escherichia coli Strain for Agrobacterium tumefaciens-Mediated Plant Transformation

Watson, M. R., Lin, Y.-f., Hollwey, E., Dodds, R. E., Meyer, P., McDowall, K. J.

The plasmid vector pGreenII is widely used to produce plant transformants via a process that involves propagation in Escherichia coli. However, we show here that pGreenII-based constructs can be unstable in E. coli as a consequence of them hampering cell division and promoting cell death. In addition, we describe a new version of pGreenII that does not cause these effects, thereby removing the selective pressure for mutation, and a new strain of E. coli that better tolerates existing pGreenII-based constructs without reducing plasmid yield. The adoption of the new derivative of pGreenII and the E. coli strain, which we have named pViridis and MW906, respectively, should help to ensure the integrity of genes destined for study in plants while they are propagated and manipulated in E. coli. The mechanism by which pGreenII perturbs E. coli growth appears to be dysregulation within the ColE1 origin of replication.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Genetic Mapping of Millions of SNPs in Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) via Whole-Genome Resequencing

Bowers, J. E., Pearl, S. A., Burke, J. M.

Accurate assembly of complete genomes is facilitated by very high density genetic maps. We performed low-coverage, whole-genome shotgun sequencing on 96 F6 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) of a cross between safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) and its wild progenitor (C. palaestinus Eig). We also produced a draft genome assembly of C. tinctorius covering 866 million bp (~two-thirds) of the expected 1.35 Gbp genome after sequencing a single, short insert library to ~21 x depth. Sequence reads from the RILs were mapped to this genome assembly to facilitate SNP identification, and the resulting polymorphisms were used to construct a genetic map. The resulting map included 2,008,196 genetically located SNPs in 1178 unique positions. A total of 57,270 scaffolds, each containing five or more mapped SNPs, were anchored to the map. This resulted in the assignment of sequence covering 14% of the expected genome length to a genetic position. Comparison of this safflower map to genetic maps of sunflower and lettuce revealed numerous chromosomal rearrangements, and the resulting patterns were consistent with a whole-genome duplication event in the lineage leading to sunflower. This sequence-based genetic map provides a powerful tool for the assembly of a low-cost draft genome of safflower, and the same general approach is expected to work for other species.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Large Deletions at the SHOX Locus in the Pseudoautosomal Region Are Associated with Skeletal Atavism in Shetland Ponies

Rafati, N., Andersson, L. S., Mikko, S., Feng, C., Raudsepp, T., Pettersson, J., Janecka, J., Wattle, O., Ameur, A., Thyreen, G., Eberth, J., Huddleston, J., Malig, M., Bailey, E., Eichler, E. E., Dalin, G., Chowdary, B., Andersson, L., Lindgren, G., Rubin, C.-J.

Skeletal atavism in Shetland ponies is a heritable disorder characterized by abnormal growth of the ulna and fibula that extend the carpal and tarsal joints, respectively. This causes abnormal skeletal structure and impaired movements, and affected foals are usually killed. In order to identify the causal mutation we subjected six confirmed Swedish cases and a DNA pool consisting of 21 control individuals to whole genome resequencing. We screened for polymorphisms where the cases and the control pool were fixed for opposite alleles and observed this signature for only 25 SNPs, most of which were scattered on genome assembly unassigned scaffolds. Read depth analysis at these loci revealed homozygosity or compound heterozygosity for two partially overlapping large deletions in the pseudoautosomal region (PAR) of chromosome X/Y in cases but not in the control pool. One of these deletions removes the entire coding region of the SHOX gene and both deletions remove parts of the CRLF2 gene located downstream of SHOX. The horse reference assembly of the PAR is highly fragmented, and in order to characterize this region we sequenced bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones by single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing technology. This considerably improved the assembly and enabled size estimations of the two deletions to 160–180 kb and 60–80 kb, respectively. Complete association between the presence of these deletions and disease status was verified in eight other affected horses. The result of the present study is consistent with previous studies in humans showing crucial importance of SHOX for normal skeletal development.

Thursday, July 7 2016 08:45:25 AM

Cilia-Associated Genes Play Differing Roles in Aminoglycoside-Induced Hair Cell Death in Zebrafish

Stawicki, T. M., Hernandez, L., Esterberg, R., Linbo, T., Owens, K. N., Shah, A. N., Thapa, N., Roberts, B., Moens, C. B., Rubel, E. W., Raible, D. W.

Hair cells possess a single primary cilium, called the kinocilium, early in development. While the kinocilium is lost in auditory hair cells of most species it is maintained in vestibular hair cells. It has generally been believed that the primary role of the kinocilium and cilia-associated genes in hair cells is in the establishment of the polarity of actin-based stereocilia, the hair cell mechanotransduction apparatus. Through genetic screening and testing of candidate genes in zebrafish (Danio rerio) we have found that mutations in multiple cilia genes implicated in intraflagellar transport (dync2h1, wdr35, ift88, and traf3ip), and the ciliary transition zone (cc2d2a, mks1, and cep290) lead to resistance to aminoglycoside-induced hair cell death. These genes appear to have differing roles in hair cells, as mutations in intraflagellar transport genes, but not transition zone genes, lead to defects in kinocilia formation and processes dependent upon hair cell mechanotransduction activity. These mutants highlight a novel role of cilia-associated genes in hair cells, and provide powerful tools for further study.