Donate Today!   Join GSA      

Home | Contact GSA      

2014 Web Spotlights
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics
2014 Web Spotlights
The GSA Reporter
GSA e-News
Genes to Genomes:
the GSA blog
Advertising with GSA
Spotlight on Undergraduate Research








2014 GENETICS Web Spotlight

2013 Web Spotlight


Since 1916, GENETICS has sought to publish significant advances in the field. To be accepted for publication, manuscripts must provide new insights into a biological process or demonstrate novel and creative approaches to an important biological problem or describe development of new resources, methods, technologies, or tools. And the study must be of interest to a wide range of genetics and genomics investigators. The editors of GENETICS seek to attract and publish articles that they believe will have a high impact on the field.


While it has a long and illustrious history, GENETICS has changed: it is not your mentor's journal. The editors make decisions quickly – in around 32 days – without sacrificing the excellence and scholarship for which the journal has long been known. GENETICS is constantly innovating; some of the new and expanded types of content include:

  • YeastBook – a comprehensive compendium of reviews that presents the current state of knowledge of the molecular biology, cellular biology, and genetics of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

  • Educational Primers – tied to a current article in GENETICS, these educational resources lay out the necessary background (i.e., what was the question and why did that question matter?), explain the hypothesis or approach, describe the methodology, guide the reader through the results, and provide a precise summation of the discussion.

  • Genetic Toolbox Reviews – describes practical and intellectual resources available for the study of less commonly used experimental organisms.

  • Reviews

Thompson Reuters JCR Impact Factor (2014): 5.963
EigenFactor (2014): 0.06335
Cited Half-life (2014): >10 years


View the Editorial Board  |  Read GENETICS  Submit your manuscript  |  Contact us



 What's Inside the Current Issue of GENETICS


Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS [Issue Highlights]

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Eric Lander and David Botstein on Mapping Quantitative Traits [Classic]

Churchill, G. A.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Meuwissen et al. on Genomic Selection [Classic]

de Koning, D.-J.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Genetic Time Travel [Commentary]

Krause, J., Paabo, S.

At its core, genetics is a historical discipline. Mutations are passed on from generation to generation and accumulate as a result of chance as well as of selection within and between populations and species. However, until recently, geneticists were confined to the study of present-day genetic variation and could only indirectly make inferences about the historical processes that resulted in the variation in present-day gene pools. This "time trap" has now been overcome thanks to the ability to analyze DNA extracted from ancient remains, and this is about to revolutionize several aspects of genetics.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Biochemical Genetics and Molecular Biology: The Contributions of George Beadle and Edward Tatum [Perspectives]

Strauss, B. S.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Sleep and Development in Genetically Tractable Model Organisms [Review]

Kayser, M. S., Biron, D.

Sleep is widely recognized as essential, but without a clear singular function. Inadequate sleep impairs cognition, metabolism, immune function, and many other processes. Work in genetic model systems has greatly expanded our understanding of basic sleep neurobiology as well as introduced new concepts for why we sleep. Among these is an idea with its roots in human work nearly 50 years old: sleep in early life is crucial for normal brain maturation. Nearly all known species that sleep do so more while immature, and this increased sleep coincides with a period of exuberant synaptogenesis and massive neural circuit remodeling. Adequate sleep also appears critical for normal neurodevelopmental progression. This article describes recent findings regarding molecular and circuit mechanisms of sleep, with a focus on development and the insights garnered from models amenable to detailed genetic analyses.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

The Caenorhabditis elegans Excretory System: A Model for Tubulogenesis, Cell Fate Specification, and Plasticity [Cell and Organelle Biology]

Sundaram, M. V., Buechner, M.

The excretory system of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a superb model of tubular organogenesis involving a minimum of cells. The system consists of just three unicellular tubes (canal, duct, and pore), a secretory gland, and two associated neurons. Just as in more complex organs, cells of the excretory system must first adopt specific identities and then coordinate diverse processes to form tubes of appropriate topology, shape, connectivity, and physiological function. The unicellular topology of excretory tubes, their varied and sometimes complex shapes, and the dynamic reprogramming of cell identity and remodeling of tube connectivity that occur during larval development are particularly fascinating features of this organ. The physiological roles of the excretory system in osmoregulation and other aspects of the animal’s life cycle are only beginning to be explored. The cellular mechanisms and molecular pathways used to build and shape excretory tubes appear similar to those used in both unicellular and multicellular tubes in more complex organs, such as the vertebrate vascular system and kidney, making this simple organ system a useful model for understanding disease processes.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Mechanism and Regulation of Protein Synthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae [Gene Expression and Metabolism]

Dever, T. E., Kinzy, T. G., Pavitt, G. D.

In this review, we provide an overview of protein synthesis in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The mechanism of protein synthesis is well conserved between yeast and other eukaryotes, and molecular genetic studies in budding yeast have provided critical insights into the fundamental process of translation as well as its regulation. The review focuses on the initiation and elongation phases of protein synthesis with descriptions of the roles of translation initiation and elongation factors that assist the ribosome in binding the messenger RNA (mRNA), selecting the start codon, and synthesizing the polypeptide. We also examine mechanisms of translational control highlighting the mRNA cap-binding proteins and the regulation of GCN4 and CPA1 mRNAs.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Persistence of RNAi-Mediated Knockdown in Drosophila Complicates Mosaic Analysis Yet Enables Highly Sensitive Lineage Tracing [Methods, Technology, and Resources]

Bosch, J. A., Sumabat, T. M., Hariharan, I. K.

RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a powerful way of reducing gene function in Drosophila melanogaster tissues. By expressing synthetic short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) using the Gal4/UAS system, knockdown is efficiently achieved in specific tissues or in clones of marked cells. Here we show that knockdown by shRNAs is so potent and persistent that even transient exposure of cells to shRNAs can reduce gene function in their descendants. When using the FLP-out Gal4 method, in some instances we observed unmarked "shadow RNAi" clones adjacent to Gal4-expressing clones, which may have resulted from brief Gal4 expression following recombination but prior to cell division. Similarly, Gal4 driver lines with dynamic expression patterns can generate shadow RNAi cells after their activity has ceased in those cells. Importantly, these effects can lead to erroneous conclusions regarding the cell autonomy of knockdown phenotypes. We have investigated the basis of this phenomenon and suggested experimental designs for eliminating ambiguities in interpretation. We have also exploited the persistence of shRNA-mediated knockdown to design a sensitive lineage-tracing method, i-TRACE, which is capable of detecting even low levels of past reporter expression. Using i-TRACE, we demonstrate transient infidelities in the expression of some cell-identity markers near compartment boundaries in the wing imaginal disc.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Probabilistic Multilocus Haplotype Reconstruction in Outcrossing Tetraploids [Statistical Genetics and Genomics]

Zheng, C., Voorrips, R. E., Jansen, J., Hackett, C. A., Ho, J., Bink, M. C. A. M.

For both plant (e.g., potato) and animal (e.g., salmon) species, unveiling the genetic architecture of complex traits is key to the genetic improvement of polyploids in agriculture. F1 progenies of a biparental cross are often used for quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping in outcrossing polyploids, where haplotype reconstruction by identifying the parental origins of marker alleles is necessary. In this paper, we build a novel and integrated statistical framework for multilocus haplotype reconstruction in a full-sib tetraploid family from biallelic marker dosage data collected from single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays or next-generation sequencing technology given a genetic linkage map. Compared to diploids, in tetraploids, additional complexity needs to be addressed, including double reduction and possible preferential pairing of chromosomes. We divide haplotype reconstruction into two stages: parental linkage phasing for reconstructing the most probable parental haplotypes and ancestral inference for probabilistically reconstructing the offspring haplotypes conditional on the reconstructed parental haplotypes. The simulation studies and the application to real data from potato show that the parental linkage phasing is robust to, and that the subsequent ancestral inference is accurate for, complex chromosome pairing behaviors during meiosis, various marker segregation types, erroneous genetic maps except for long-range disturbances of marker ordering, various amounts of offspring dosage errors (up to ~20%), and various fractions of missing data in parents and offspring dosages.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Promotion of Homologous Recombination by SWS-1 in Complex with RAD-51 Paralogs in Caenorhabditis elegans [Genome Integrity and Transmission]

McClendon, T. B., Sullivan, M. R., Bernstein, K. A., Yanowitz, J. L.

Homologous recombination (HR) repairs cytotoxic DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) with high fidelity. Deficiencies in HR result in genome instability. A key early step in HR is the search for and invasion of a homologous DNA template by a single-stranded RAD-51 nucleoprotein filament. The Shu complex, composed of a SWIM domain-containing protein and its interacting RAD51 paralogs, promotes HR by regulating RAD51 filament dynamics. Despite Shu complex orthologs throughout eukaryotes, our understanding of its function has been most extensively characterized in budding yeast. Evolutionary analysis of the SWIM domain identified Caenorhabditis elegans sws-1 as a putative homolog of the yeast Shu complex member Shu2. Using a CRISPR-induced nonsense allele of sws-1, we show that sws-1 promotes HR in mitotic and meiotic nuclei. sws-1 mutants exhibit sensitivity to DSB-inducing agents and fail to form mitotic RAD-51 foci following treatment with camptothecin. Phenotypic similarities between sws-1 and the two RAD-51 paralogs rfs-1 and rip-1 suggest that they function together. Indeed, we detect direct interaction between SWS-1 and RIP-1 by yeast two-hybrid assay that is mediated by the SWIM domain in SWS-1 and the Walker B motif in RIP-1. Furthermore, RIP-1 bridges an interaction between SWS-1 and RFS-1, suggesting that RIP-1 facilitates complex formation with SWS-1 and RFS-1. We propose that SWS-1, RIP-1, and RFS-1 compose a C. elegans Shu complex. Our work provides a new model for studying Shu complex disruption in the context of a multicellular organism that has important implications as to why mutations in the human RAD51 paralogs are associated with genome instability.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

MTE1 Functions with MPH1 in Double-Strand Break Repair [Genome Integrity and Transmission]

Yimit, A., Kim, T., Anand, R. P., Meister, S., Ou, J., Haber, J. E., Zhang, Z., Brown, G. W.

Double-strand DNA breaks occur upon exposure of cells to ionizing radiation and certain chemical agents or indirectly through replication fork collapse at DNA damage sites. If left unrepaired, double-strand breaks can cause genome instability and cell death, and their repair can result in loss of heterozygosity. In response to DNA damage, proteins involved in double-strand break repair by homologous recombination relocalize into discrete nuclear foci. We identified 29 proteins that colocalize with recombination repair protein Rad52 in response to DNA damage. Of particular interest, Ygr042w/Mte1, a protein of unknown function, showed robust colocalization with Rad52. Mte1 foci fail to form when the DNA helicase gene MPH1 is absent. Mte1 and Mph1 form a complex and are recruited to double-strand breaks in vivo in a mutually dependent manner. MTE1 is important for resolution of Rad52 foci during double-strand break repair and for suppressing break-induced replication. Together our data indicate that Mte1 functions with Mph1 in double-strand break repair.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Whole-Genome Analysis of Individual Meiotic Events in Drosophila melanogaster Reveals That Noncrossover Gene Conversions Are Insensitive to Interference and the Centromere Effect [Genome Integrity and Transmission]

Miller, D. E., Smith, C. B., Kazemi, N. Y., Cockrell, A. J., Arvanitakas, A. V., Blumenstiel, J. P., Jaspersen, S. L., Hawley, R. S.

A century of genetic analysis has revealed that multiple mechanisms control the distribution of meiotic crossover events. In Drosophila melanogaster, two significant positional controls are interference and the strongly polar centromere effect. Here, we assess the factors controlling the distribution of crossovers (COs) and noncrossover gene conversions (NCOs) along all five major chromosome arms in 196 single meiotic divisions to generate a more detailed understanding of these controls on a genome-wide scale. Analyzing the outcomes of single meiotic events allows us to distinguish among different classes of meiotic recombination. In so doing, we identified 291 NCOs spread uniformly among the five major chromosome arms and 541 COs (including 52 double crossovers and one triple crossover). We find that unlike COs, NCOs are insensitive to the centromere effect and do not demonstrate interference. Although the positions of COs appear to be determined predominately by the long-range influences of interference and the centromere effect, each chromosome may display a different pattern of sensitivity to interference, suggesting that interference may not be a uniform global property. In addition, unbiased sequencing of a large number of individuals allows us to describe the formation of de novo copy number variants, the majority of which appear to be mediated by unequal crossing over between transposable elements. This work has multiple implications for our understanding of how meiotic recombination is regulated to ensure proper chromosome segregation and maintain genome stability.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Heterochromatin-Associated Proteins HP1a and Piwi Collaborate to Maintain the Association of Achiasmate Homologs in Drosophila Oocytes [Genome Integrity and Transmission]

Giauque, C. C., Bickel, S. E.

Accurate segregation of homologous chromosomes during meiosis depends on their ability to remain physically connected throughout prophase I. For homologs that achieve a crossover, sister chromatid cohesion distal to the chiasma keeps them attached until anaphase I. However, in Drosophila melanogaster wild-type oocytes, chromosome 4 never recombines, and the X chromosome fails to cross over in 6–10% of oocytes. Proper segregation of these achiasmate homologs relies on their pericentric heterochromatin-mediated association, but the mechanism(s) underlying this attachment remains poorly understood. Using an inducible RNA interference (RNAi) strategy combined with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to monitor centromere proximal association of the achiasmate FM7a/X homolog pair, we asked whether specific heterochromatin-associated proteins are required for the association and proper segregation of achiasmate homologs in Drosophila oocytes. When we knock down HP1a, H3K9 methytransferases, or the HP1a binding partner Piwi during mid-prophase, we observe significant disruption of pericentric heterochromatin-mediated association of FM7a/X homologs. Furthermore, for both HP1a and Piwi knockdown oocytes, transgenic coexpression of the corresponding wild-type protein is able to rescue RNAi-induced defects, but expression of a mutant protein with a single amino acid change that disrupts the HP1a-Piwi interaction is unable to do so. We show that Piwi is stably bound to numerous sites along the meiotic chromosomes, including centromere proximal regions. In addition, reduction of HP1a or Piwi during meiotic prophase induces a significant increase in FM7a/X segregation errors. We present a speculative model outlining how HP1a and Piwi could collaborate to keep achiasmate chromosomes associated in a homology-dependent manner.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Comprehensive Analysis of the SUL1 Promoter of Saccharomyces cerevisiae [Gene Expression]

Rich, M. S., Payen, C., Rubin, A. F., Ong, G. T., Sanchez, M. R., Yachie, N., Dunham, M. J., Fields, S.

In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, beneficial mutations selected during sulfate-limited growth are typically amplifications of the SUL1 gene, which encodes the high-affinity sulfate transporter, resulting in fitness increases of >35% . Cis-regulatory mutations have not been observed at this locus; however, it is not clear whether this absence is due to a low mutation rate such that these mutations do not arise, or they arise but have limited fitness effects relative to those of amplification. To address this question directly, we assayed the fitness effects of nearly all possible point mutations in a 493-base segment of the gene’s promoter through mutagenesis and selection. While most mutations were either neutral or detrimental during sulfate-limited growth, eight mutations increased fitness >5% and as much as 9.4%. Combinations of these beneficial mutations increased fitness only up to 11%. Thus, in the case of SUL1, promoter mutations could not induce a fitness increase similar to that of gene amplification. Using these data, we identified functionally important regions of the SUL1 promoter and analyzed three sites that correspond to potential binding sites for the transcription factors Met32 and Cbf1. Mutations that create new Met32- or Cbf1-binding sites also increased fitness. Some mutations in the untranslated region of the SUL1 transcript decreased fitness, likely due to the formation of inhibitory upstream open reading frames. Our methodology—saturation mutagenesis, chemostat selection, and DNA sequencing to track variants—should be a broadly applicable approach.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

The Capacity to Act in Trans Varies Among Drosophila Enhancers [Gene Expression]

Blick, A. J., Mayer-Hirshfeld, I., Malibiran, B. R., Cooper, M. A., Martino, P. A., Johnson, J. E., Bateman, J. R.

The interphase nucleus is organized such that genomic segments interact in cis, on the same chromosome, and in trans, between different chromosomes. In Drosophila and other Dipterans, extensive interactions are observed between homologous chromosomes, which can permit enhancers and promoters to communicate in trans. Enhancer action in trans has been observed for a handful of genes in Drosophila, but it is as yet unclear whether this is a general property of all enhancers or specific to a few. Here, we test a collection of well-characterized enhancers for the capacity to act in trans. Specifically, we tested 18 enhancers that are active in either the eye or wing disc of third instar Drosophila larvae and, using two different assays, found evidence that each enhancer can act in trans. However, the degree to which trans-action was supported varied greatly between enhancers. Quantitative analysis of enhancer activity supports a model wherein an enhancer’s strength of transcriptional activation is a major determinant of its ability to act in trans, but that additional factors may also contribute to an enhancer’s trans-activity. In sum, our data suggest that a capacity to activate a promoter on a paired chromosome is common among Drosophila enhancers.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Integration of Orthogonal Signaling by the Notch and Dpp Pathways in Drosophila [Gene Expression]

Stroebele, E., Erives, A.

The transcription factor Suppressor of Hairless and its coactivator, the Notch intracellular domain, are polyglutamine (pQ)-rich factors that target enhancer elements and interact with other locally bound pQ-rich factors. To understand the functional repertoire of such enhancers, we identify conserved regulatory belts with binding sites for the pQ-rich effectors of both Notch and BMP/Dpp signaling, and the pQ-deficient tissue selectors Apterous (Ap), Scalloped (Sd), and Vestigial (Vg). We find that the densest such binding site cluster in the genome is located in the BMP-inducible nab locus, a homolog of the vertebrate transcriptional cofactors NAB1/NAB2. We report three major findings. First, we find that this nab regulatory belt is a novel enhancer driving dorsal wing margin expression in regions of peak phosphorylated Mad in wing imaginal discs. Second, we show that Ap is developmentally required to license the nab dorsal wing margin enhancer (DWME) to read out Notch and Dpp signaling in the dorsal compartment. Third, we find that the nab DWME is embedded in a complex of intronic enhancers, including a wing quadrant enhancer, a proximal wing disc enhancer, and a larval brain enhancer. This enhancer complex coordinates global nab expression via both tissue-specific activation and interenhancer silencing. We suggest that DWME integration of BMP signaling maintains nab expression in proliferating margin descendants that have divided away from Notch–Delta boundary signaling. As such, uniform expression of genes like nab and vestigial in proliferating compartments would typically require both boundary and nonboundary lineage-specific enhancers.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Iron Overload Coordinately Promotes Ferritin Expression and Fat Accumulation in Caenorhabditis elegans [Gene Expression]

Wang, H., Jiang, X., Wu, J., Zhang, L., Huang, J., Zhang, Y., Zou, X., Liang, B.

The trace element iron is crucial for living organisms, since it plays essential roles in numerous cellular functions. Systemic iron overload and the elevated level of ferritin, a ubiquitous intracellular protein that stores and releases iron to maintain the iron homeostasis in cells, has long been epidemiologically associated with obesity and obesity-related diseases. However, the underlying mechanisms of this association remain unclear. Here, using Caenorhabditis elegans, we show that iron overload induces the expression of sgk-1, encoding the serum and glucocorticoid-inducible kinase, to promote the level of ferritin and fat accumulation. Mutation of cyp-23A1, encoding a homolog of human cytochrome P450 CYP7B1 that is related to neonatal hemochromatosis, further enhances the elevated expression of ftn-1, sgk-1, and fat accumulation. sgk-1 positively regulates the expression of acs-20 and vit-2, genes encoding homologs of the mammalian FATP1/4 fatty acid transport proteins and yolk lipoproteins, respectively, to facilitate lipid uptake and translocation for storage under iron overload. This study reveals a completely novel pathway in which sgk-1 plays a central role to synergistically regulate iron and lipid homeostasis, offering not only experimental evidence supporting a previously unverified link between iron and obesity, but also novel insights into the pathogenesis of iron and obesity-related human metabolic diseases.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Multitasking of the piRNA Silencing Machinery: Targeting Transposable Elements and Foreign Genes in the Bdelloid Rotifer Adineta vaga [Gene Expression]

Rodriguez, F., Arkhipova, I. R.

RNA-mediated silencing processes play a key role in silencing of transposable elements, especially in the germ line, where piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are responsible for suppressing transposon mobility and maintaining genome integrity. We previously reported that the genome of Adineta vaga, the first sequenced representative of the phylum Rotifera (class Bdelloidea), is characterized by massive levels of horizontal gene transfer, by unusually low transposon content, and by highly diversified RNA-mediated silencing machinery. Here, we investigate genome-wide distribution of pi-like small RNAs, which in A. vaga are 25–31 nucleotides in length and have a strong 5'-uridine bias, while lacking ping-pong amplification signatures. In agreement with expectations, 71% of mapped reads corresponded to annotated transposons, with 93% of these reads being in the antisense orientation. Unexpectedly, a significant fraction of piRNAs originate from predicted coding regions corresponding to genes of putatively foreign origin. The distribution of piRNAs across foreign genes is not biased toward 3'-UTRs, instead resembling transposons in uniform distribution pattern throughout the gene body, and in predominantly antisense orientation. We also find that genes with small RNA coverage, including a number of genes of metazoan origin, are characterized by higher occurrence of telomeric repeats in the surrounding genomic regions, and by higher density of transposons in the vicinity, which have the potential to promote antisense transcription. Our findings highlight the complex interplay between RNA-based silencing processes and acquisition of genes at the genome periphery, which can result either in their loss or eventual domestication and integration into the host genome.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Wnt/Wingless Pathway Activation Is Promoted by a Critical Threshold of Axin Maintained by the Tumor Suppressor APC and the ADP-Ribose Polymerase Tankyrase [Cellular Genetics]

Wang, Z., Tacchelly-Benites, O., Yang, E., Thorne, C. A., Nojima, H., Lee, E., Ahmed, Y.

Wnt/β-catenin signal transduction directs metazoan development and is deregulated in numerous human congenital disorders and cancers. In the absence of Wnt stimulation, a multiprotein "destruction complex," assembled by the scaffold protein Axin, targets the key transcriptional activator β-catenin for proteolysis. Axin is maintained at very low levels that limit destruction complex activity, a property that is currently being exploited in the development of novel therapeutics for Wnt-driven cancers. Here, we use an in vivo approach in Drosophila to determine how tightly basal Axin levels must be controlled for Wnt/Wingless pathway activation, and how Axin stability is regulated. We find that for nearly all Wingless-driven developmental processes, a three- to fourfold increase in Axin is insufficient to inhibit signaling, setting a lower-limit for the threshold level of Axin in the majority of in vivo contexts. Further, we find that both the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and the ADP-ribose polymerase Tankyrase (Tnks) have evolutionarily conserved roles in maintaining basal Axin levels below this in vivo threshold, and we define separable domains in Axin that are important for APC- or Tnks-dependent destabilization. Together, these findings reveal that both APC and Tnks maintain basal Axin levels below a critical in vivo threshold to promote robust pathway activation following Wnt stimulation.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Host Mitochondrial Association Evolved in the Human Parasite Toxoplasma gondii via Neofunctionalization of a Gene Duplicate [Cellular Genetics]

Adomako-Ankomah, Y., English, E. D., Danielson, J. J., Pernas, L. F., Parker, M. L., Boulanger, M. J., Dubey, J. P., Boyle, J. P.

In Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular parasite of humans and other animals, host mitochondrial association (HMA) is driven by a gene family that encodes multiple mitochondrial association factor 1 (MAF1) proteins. However, the importance of MAF1 gene duplication in the evolution of HMA is not understood, nor is the impact of HMA on parasite biology. Here we used within- and between-species comparative analysis to determine that the MAF1 locus is duplicated in T. gondii and its nearest extant relative Hammondia hammondi, but not another close relative, Neospora caninum. Using cross-species complementation, we determined that the MAF1 locus harbors multiple distinct paralogs that differ in their ability to mediate HMA, and that only T. gondii and H. hammondi harbor HMA+ paralogs. Additionally, we found that exogenous expression of an HMA+ paralog in T. gondii strains that do not normally exhibit HMA provides a competitive advantage over their wild-type counterparts during a mouse infection. These data indicate that HMA likely evolved by neofunctionalization of a duplicate MAF1 copy in the common ancestor of T. gondii and H. hammondi, and that the neofunctionalized gene duplicate is selectively advantageous.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Differential Phosphorylation Provides a Switch to Control How {alpha}-Arrestin Rod1 Down-regulates Mating Pheromone Response in Saccharomyces cerevisiae [Cellular Genetics]

Alvaro, C. G., Aindow, A., Thorner, J.

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are integral membrane proteins that initiate stimulus-dependent activation of cognate heterotrimeric G-proteins, triggering ensuing downstream cellular responses. Tight regulation of GPCR-evoked pathways is required because prolonged stimulation can be detrimental to an organism. Ste2, a GPCR in Saccharomyces cerevisiae that mediates response of MATa haploids to the peptide mating pheromone α-factor, is down-regulated by both constitutive and agonist-induced endocytosis. Efficient agonist-stimulated internalization of Ste2 requires its association with an adaptor protein, the α-arrestin Rod1/Art4, which recruits the HECT-domain ubiquitin ligase Rsp5, allowing for ubiquitinylation of the C-terminal tail of the receptor and its engagement by the clathrin-dependent endocytic machinery. We previously showed that dephosphorylation of Rod1 by calcineurin (phosphoprotein phosphatase 2B) is required for optimal Rod1 function in Ste2 down-regulation. We show here that negative regulation of Rod1 by phosphorylation is mediated by two distinct stress-activated protein kinases, Snf1/AMPK and Ypk1/SGK1, and demonstrate both in vitro and in vivo that this phospho-regulation impedes the ability of Rod1 to promote mating pathway desensitization. These studies also revealed that, in the absence of its phosphorylation, Rod1 can promote adaptation independently of Rsp5-mediated receptor ubiquitinylation, consistent with recent evidence that α-arrestins can contribute to cargo recognition by both clathrin-dependent and clathrin-independent mechanisms. However, in cells lacking a component (formin Bni1) required for clathrin-independent entry, Rod1 derivatives that are largely unphosphorylated and unable to associate with Rsp5 still promote efficient adaptation, indicating a third mechanism by which this α-arrestin promotes desensitization of the pheromone-response pathway.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Chemotropism and Cell Fusion in Neurospora crassa Relies on the Formation of Distinct Protein Complexes by HAM-5 and a Novel Protein HAM-14 [Cellular Genetics]

Jonkers, W., Fischer, M. S., Do, H. P., Starr, T. L., Glass, N. L.

In filamentous fungi, communication is essential for the formation of an interconnected, multinucleate, syncytial network, which is constructed via hyphal fusion or fusion of germinated asexual spores (germlings). Anastomosis in filamentous fungi is comparable to other somatic cell fusion events resulting in syncytia, including myoblast fusion during muscle differentiation, macrophage fusion, and fusion of trophoblasts during placental development. In Neurospora crassa, fusion of genetically identical germlings is a highly dynamic and regulated process that requires components of a MAP kinase signal transduction pathway. The kinase pathway components (NRC-1, MEK-2 and MAK-2) and the scaffold protein HAM-5 are recruited to hyphae and germling tips undergoing chemotropic interactions. The MAK-2/HAM-5 protein complex shows dynamic oscillation to hyphae/germling tips during chemotropic interactions, and which is out-of-phase to the dynamic localization of SOFT, which is a scaffold protein for components of the cell wall integrity MAP kinase pathway. In this study, we functionally characterize HAM-5 by generating ham-5 truncation constructs and show that the N-terminal half of HAM-5 was essential for function. This region is required for MAK-2 and MEK-2 interaction and for correct cellular localization of HAM-5 to "fusion puncta." The localization of HAM-5 to puncta was not perturbed in 21 different fusion mutants, nor did these puncta colocalize with components of the secretory pathway. We also identified HAM-14 as a novel member of the HAM-5/MAK-2 pathway by mining MAK-2 phosphoproteomics data. HAM-14 was essential for germling fusion, but not for hyphal fusion. Colocalization and coimmunoprecipitation data indicate that HAM-14 interacts with MAK-2 and MEK-2 and may be involved in recruiting MAK-2 (and MEK-2) to complexes containing HAM-5.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Diverse Regulation of the CreA Carbon Catabolite Repressor in Aspergillus nidulans [Cellular Genetics]

Ries, L. N. A., Beattie, S. R., Espeso, E. A., Cramer, R. A., Goldman, G. H.

Carbon catabolite repression (CCR) is a process that selects the energetically most favorable carbon source in an environment. CCR represses the use of less favorable carbon sources when a better source is available. Glucose is the preferential carbon source for most microorganisms because it is rapidly metabolized, generating quick energy for growth. In the filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans, CCR is mediated by the transcription factor CreA, a C2H2 finger domain DNA-binding protein. The aim of this work was to investigate the regulation of CreA and characterize its functionally distinct protein domains. CreA depends in part on de novo protein synthesis and is regulated in part by ubiquitination. CreC, the scaffold protein in the CreB-CreC deubiquitination (DUB) complex, is essential for CreA function and stability. Deletion of select protein domains in CreA resulted in persistent nuclear localization and target gene repression. A region in CreA conserved between Aspergillus spp. and Trichoderma reesei was identified as essential for growth on various carbon, nitrogen, and lipid sources. In addition, a role of CreA in amino acid transport and nitrogen assimilation was observed. Taken together, these results indicate previously unidentified functions of this important transcription factor. These novel functions serve as a basis for additional research in fungal carbon metabolism with the potential aim to improve fungal industrial applications.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

DNA Replication Stress Phosphoproteome Profiles Reveal Novel Functional Phosphorylation Sites on Xrs2 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae [Cellular Genetics]

Huang, D., Piening, B. D., Kennedy, J. J., Lin, C., Jones-Weinert, C. W., Yan, P., Paulovich, A. G.

In response to replication stress, a phospho-signaling cascade is activated and required for coordination of DNA repair and replication of damaged templates (intra-S-phase checkpoint) . How phospho-signaling coordinates the DNA replication stress response is largely unknown. We employed state-of-the-art liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) approaches to generate high-coverage and quantitative proteomic and phospho-proteomic profiles during replication stress in yeast, induced by continuous exposure to the DNA alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) . We identified 32,057 unique peptides representing the products of 4296 genes and 22,061 unique phosphopeptides representing the products of 3183 genes. A total of 542 phosphopeptides (mapping to 339 genes) demonstrated an abundance change of greater than or equal to twofold in response to MMS. The screen enabled detection of nearly all of the proteins known to be involved in the DNA damage response, as well as many novel MMS-induced phosphorylations. We assessed the functional importance of a subset of key phosphosites by engineering a panel of phosphosite mutants in which an amino acid substitution prevents phosphorylation. In total, we successfully mutated 15 MMS-responsive phosphorylation sites in seven representative genes including APN1 (base excision repair); CTF4 and TOF1 (checkpoint and sister-chromatid cohesion); MPH1 (resolution of homologous recombination intermediates); RAD50 and XRS2 (MRX complex); and RAD18 (PRR). All of these phosphorylation site mutants exhibited MMS sensitivity, indicating an important role in protecting cells from DNA damage. In particular, we identified MMS-induced phosphorylation sites on Xrs2 that are required for MMS resistance in the absence of the MRX activator, Sae2, and that affect telomere maintenance.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

{sigma}2-Adaptin Facilitates Basal Synaptic Transmission and Is Required for Regenerating Endo-Exo Cycling Pool Under High-Frequency Nerve Stimulation in Drosophila [Developmental and Behavioral Genetics]

Choudhury, S. D., Mushtaq, Z., Reddy-Alla, S., Balakrishnan, S. S., Thakur, R. S., Krishnan, K. S., Raghu, P., Ramaswami, M., Kumar, V.

The functional requirement of adapter protein 2 (AP2) complex in synaptic membrane retrieval by clathrin-mediated endocytosis is not fully understood. Here we isolated and functionally characterized a mutation that dramatically altered synaptic development. Based on the aberrant neuromuscular junction (NMJ) synapse, we named this mutation angur (a Hindi word meaning "grapes"). Loss-of-function alleles of angur show more than twofold overgrowth in bouton numbers and a dramatic decrease in bouton size. We mapped the angur mutation to 2-adaptin, the smallest subunit of the AP2 complex. Reducing the neuronal level of any of the subunits of the AP2 complex or disrupting AP2 complex assembly in neurons phenocopied the 2-adaptin mutation. Genetic perturbation of 2-adaptin in neurons leads to a reversible temperature-sensitive paralysis at 38°. Electrophysiological analysis of the mutants revealed reduced evoked junction potentials and quantal content. Interestingly, high-frequency nerve stimulation caused prolonged synaptic fatigue at the NMJs. The synaptic levels of subunits of the AP2 complex and clathrin, but not other endocytic proteins, were reduced in the mutants. Moreover, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)/transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling was altered in these mutants and was restored by normalizing 2-adaptin in neurons. Thus, our data suggest that (1) while 2-adaptin facilitates synaptic vesicle (SV) recycling for basal synaptic transmission, its activity is also required for regenerating SVs during high-frequency nerve stimulation, and (2) 2-adaptin regulates NMJ morphology by attenuating TGFβ signaling.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

TRX-1 Regulates SKN-1 Nuclear Localization Cell Non-autonomously in Caenorhabditis elegans [Developmental and Behavioral Genetics]

McCallum, K. C., Liu, B., Fierro-Gonzalez, J. C., Swoboda, P., Arur, S., Miranda-Vizuete, A., Garsin, D. A.

The Caenorhabditis elegans oxidative stress response transcription factor, SKN-1, is essential for the maintenance of redox homeostasis and is a functional ortholog of the Nrf family of transcription factors. The numerous levels of regulation that govern these transcription factors underscore their importance. Here, we add a thioredoxin, encoded by trx-1, to the expansive list of SKN-1 regulators. We report that loss of trx-1 promotes nuclear localization of intestinal SKN-1 in a redox-independent, cell non-autonomous fashion from the ASJ neurons. Furthermore, this regulation is not general to the thioredoxin family, as two other C. elegans thioredoxins, TRX-2 and TRX-3, do not play a role in this process. Moreover, TRX-1-dependent regulation requires signaling from the p38 MAPK-signaling pathway. However, while TRX-1 regulates SKN-1 nuclear localization, classical SKN-1 transcriptional activity associated with stress response remains largely unaffected. Interestingly, RNA-Seq analysis revealed that loss of trx-1 elicits a general, organism-wide down-regulation of several classes of genes; those encoding for collagens and lipid transport being most prevalent. Together, these results uncover a novel role for a thioredoxin in regulating intestinal SKN-1 nuclear localization in a cell non-autonomous manner, thereby contributing to the understanding of the processes involved in maintaining redox homeostasis throughout an organism.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

A Pathway Analysis of Melanin Patterning in a Hemimetabolous Insect [Developmental and Behavioral Genetics]

Liu, J., Lemonds, T. R., Marden, J. H., Popadić, A.

Diversity in insect pigmentation, encompassing a wide range of colors and spatial patterns, is among the most noticeable features distinguishing species, individuals, and body regions within individuals. In holometabolous species, a significant portion of such diversity can be attributed to the melanin synthesis genes, but this has not been formally assessed in more basal insect lineages. Here we provide a comprehensive analysis of how a set of melanin genes (ebony, black, aaNAT, yellow, and tan) contributes to the pigmentation pattern in a hemipteran, Oncopeltus fasciatus. For all five genes, RNA interference depletion caused alteration of black patterning in a region-specific fashion. Furthermore, the presence of distinct nonblack regions in forewings and hindwings coincides with the expression of ebony and aaNAT in these appendages. These findings suggest that the region-specific phenotypes arise from regional employment of various combinations of the melanin genes. Based on this insight, we suggest that melanin genes are used in two distinct ways: a "painting" mode, using predominantly melanin-promoting factors in areas that generally lack black coloration, and, alternatively, an "erasing" mode, using mainly melanin-suppressing factors in regions where black is the dominant pigment. Different combinations of these strategies may account for the vast diversity of melanin patterns observed in insects.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Multiple Roles for Egalitarian in Polarization of the Drosophila Egg Chamber [Developmental and Behavioral Genetics]

Sanghavi, P., Liu, G., Veeranan-Karmegam, R., Navarro, C., Gonsalvez, G. B.

The Drosophila egg chamber provides a useful model for examining mechanisms by which cell fates are specified and maintained in the context of a complex tissue. The egg chamber is also an excellent model for understanding the mechanism by which cytoskeletal filaments are organized and the critical interplay between cytoskeletal organization, polarity establishment, and cell fate specification. Previous work has shown that Egalitarian (Egl) is required for specification and maintenance of oocyte fate. Mutants in egl either completely fail to specify an oocyte, or if specified, the oocyte eventually reverts back to nurse cell fate. Due to this very early role for Egl in egg chamber maturation, it is unclear whether later stages of egg chamber development also require Egl function. In this report, we have depleted Egl at specific stages of egg chamber development. We demonstrate that in early-stage egg chambers, Egl has an additional role in organization of oocyte microtubules. In the absence of Egl function, oocyte microtubules completely fail to reorganize. As such, the localization of microtubule motors and their cargo is disrupted. In addition, Egl also appears to function in regulating the translation of critical polarity determining messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Finally, we demonstrate that in midstage egg chambers, Egl does not appear to be required for microtubule organization, but rather for the correct spatial localization of oskar, bicoid, and gurken mRNAs.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Uncovering Adaptation from Sequence Data: Lessons from Genome Resequencing of Four Cattle Breeds [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Boitard, S., Boussaha, M., Capitan, A., Rocha, D., Servin, B.

Detecting the molecular basis of adaptation is one of the major questions in population genetics. With the advance in sequencing technologies, nearly complete interrogation of genome-wide polymorphisms in multiple populations is becoming feasible in some species, with the expectation that it will extend quickly to new ones. Here, we investigate the advantages of sequencing for the detection of adaptive loci in multiple populations, exploiting a recently published data set in cattle (Bos taurus). We used two different approaches to detect statistically significant signals of positive selection: a within-population approach aimed at identifying hard selective sweeps and a population-differentiation approach that can capture other selection events such as soft or incomplete sweeps. We show that the two methods are complementary in that they indeed capture different kinds of selection signatures. Our study confirmed some of the well-known adaptive loci in cattle (e.g., MC1R, KIT, GHR, PLAG1, NCAPG/LCORL) and detected some new ones (e.g., ARL15, PRLR, CYP19A1, PPM1L). Compared to genome scans based on medium- or high-density SNP data, we found that sequencing offered an increased detection power and a higher resolution in the localization of selection signatures. In several cases, we could even pinpoint the underlying causal adaptive mutation or at least a very small number of possible candidates (e.g., MC1R, PLAG1). Our results on these candidates suggest that a vast majority of adaptive mutations are likely to be regulatory rather than protein-coding variants.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

When Is Selection Effective? [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Gravel, S.

Deleterious alleles can reach high frequency in small populations because of random fluctuations in allele frequency. This may lead, over time, to reduced average fitness. In this sense, selection is more "effective" in larger populations. Recent studies have considered whether the different demographic histories across human populations have resulted in differences in the number, distribution, and severity of deleterious variants, leading to an animated debate. This article first seeks to clarify some terms of the debate by identifying differences in definitions and assumptions used in recent studies. We argue that variants of Morton, Crow, and Muller’s "total mutational damage" provide the soundest and most practical basis for such comparisons. Using simulations, analytical calculations, and 1000 Genomes Project data, we provide an intuitive and quantitative explanation for the observed similarity in genetic load across populations. We show that recent demography has likely modulated the effect of selection and still affects it, but the net result of the accumulated differences is small. Direct observation of differential efficacy of selection for specific allele classes is nevertheless possible with contemporary data sets. By contrast, identifying average genome-wide differences in the efficacy of selection across populations will require many modeling assumptions and is unlikely to provide much biological insight about human populations.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Mitonuclear Epistasis for Development Time and Its Modification by Diet in Drosophila [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Mossman, J. A., Biancani, L. M., Zhu, C.-T., Rand, D. M.

Mitochondrial (mtDNA) and nuclear genes have to operate in a coordinated manner to maintain organismal function, and the regulation of this homeostasis presents a substantial source of potential epistatic (G x G) interactions. How these interactions shape the fitness landscape is poorly understood. Here we developed a novel mitonuclear epistasis model, using selected strains of the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP) and mitochondrial genomes from within Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans to test the hypothesis that mtDNA x nDNA interactions influence fitness. In total we built 72 genotypes (12 nuclear backgrounds x 6 mtDNA haplotypes, with 3 from each species) to dissect the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Each genotype was assayed on four food environments. We found considerable variation in several phenotypes, including development time and egg-to-adult viability, and this variation was partitioned into genetic (G), environmental (E), and higher-order (G x G, G x E, and G x G x E) components. Food type had a significant impact on development time and also modified mitonuclear epistases, evidencing a broad spectrum of G x G x E across these genotypes. Nuclear background effects were substantial, followed by mtDNA effects and their G x G interaction. The species of mtDNA haplotype had negligible effects on phenotypic variation and there was no evidence that mtDNA variation has different effects on male and female fitness traits. Our results demonstrate that mitonuclear epistases are context dependent, suggesting the selective pressure acting on mitonuclear genotypes may vary with food environment in a genotype-specific manner.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Genetic Diversity on the Human X Chromosome Does Not Support a Strict Pseudoautosomal Boundary [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Cotter, D. J., Brotman, S. M., Wilson Sayres, M. A.

Unlike the autosomes, recombination between the X chromosome and the Y chromosome is often thought to be constrained to two small pseudoautosomal regions (PARs) at the tips of each sex chromosome. PAR1 spans the first 2.7 Mb of the proximal arm of the human sex chromosomes, whereas the much smaller PAR2 encompasses the distal 320 kb of the long arm of each sex chromosome. In addition to PAR1 and PAR2, there is a human-specific X-transposed region that was duplicated from the X to the Y chromosome. The X-transposed region is often not excluded from X-specific analyses, unlike the PARs, because it is not thought to routinely recombine. Genetic diversity is expected to be higher in recombining regions than in nonrecombining regions because recombination reduces the effect of linked selection. In this study, we investigated patterns of genetic diversity in noncoding regions across the entire X chromosome of a global sample of 26 unrelated genetic females. We found that genetic diversity in PAR1 is significantly greater than in the nonrecombining regions (nonPARs). However, rather than an abrupt drop in diversity at the pseudoautosomal boundary, there is a gradual reduction in diversity from the recombining through the nonrecombining regions, suggesting that recombination between the human sex chromosomes spans across the currently defined pseudoautosomal boundary. A consequence of recombination spanning this boundary potentially includes increasing the rate of sex-linked disorders (e.g., de la Chapelle) and sex chromosome aneuploidies. In contrast, diversity in PAR2 is not significantly elevated compared to the nonPARs, suggesting that recombination is not obligatory in PAR2. Finally, diversity in the X-transposed region is higher than in the surrounding nonPARs, providing evidence that recombination may occur with some frequency between the X and Y chromosomes in the X-transposed region.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Bayesian Inference of Natural Selection from Allele Frequency Time Series [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Schraiber, J. G., Evans, S. N., Slatkin, M.

The advent of accessible ancient DNA technology now allows the direct ascertainment of allele frequencies in ancestral populations, thereby enabling the use of allele frequency time series to detect and estimate natural selection. Such direct observations of allele frequency dynamics are expected to be more powerful than inferences made using patterns of linked neutral variation obtained from modern individuals. We developed a Bayesian method to make use of allele frequency time series data and infer the parameters of general diploid selection, along with allele age, in nonequilibrium populations. We introduce a novel path augmentation approach, in which we use Markov chain Monte Carlo to integrate over the space of allele frequency trajectories consistent with the observed data. Using simulations, we show that this approach has good power to estimate selection coefficients and allele age. Moreover, when applying our approach to data on horse coat color, we find that ignoring a relevant demographic history can significantly bias the results of inference. Our approach is made available in a C++ software package.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Triallelic Population Genomics for Inferring Correlated Fitness Effects of Same Site Nonsynonymous Mutations [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Ragsdale, A. P., Coffman, A. J., Hsieh, P., Struck, T. J., Gutenkunst, R. N.

The distribution of mutational effects on fitness is central to evolutionary genetics. Typical univariate distributions, however, cannot model the effects of multiple mutations at the same site, so we introduce a model in which mutations at the same site have correlated fitness effects. To infer the strength of that correlation, we developed a diffusion approximation to the triallelic frequency spectrum, which we applied to data from Drosophila melanogaster. We found a moderate positive correlation between the fitness effects of nonsynonymous mutations at the same codon, suggesting that both mutation identity and location are important for determining fitness effects in proteins. We validated our approach by comparing it to biochemical mutational scanning experiments, finding strong quantitative agreement, even between different organisms. We also found that the correlation of mutational fitness effects was not affected by protein solvent exposure or structural disorder. Together, our results suggest that the correlation of fitness effects at the same site is a previously overlooked yet fundamental property of protein evolution.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Natural Selection and Genetic Diversity in the Butterfly Heliconius melpomene [Population and Evolutionary Genetics]

Martin, S. H., Most, M., Palmer, W. J., Salazar, C., McMillan, W. O., Jiggins, F. M., Jiggins, C. D.

A combination of selective and neutral evolutionary forces shape patterns of genetic diversity in nature. Among the insects, most previous analyses of the roles of drift and selection in shaping variation across the genome have focused on the genus Drosophila. A more complete understanding of these forces will come from analyzing other taxa that differ in population demography and other aspects of biology. We have analyzed diversity and signatures of selection in the neotropical Heliconius butterflies using resequenced genomes from 58 wild-caught individuals of Heliconius melpomene and another 21 resequenced genomes representing 11 related species. By comparing intraspecific diversity and interspecific divergence, we estimate that 31% of amino acid substitutions between Heliconius species are adaptive. Diversity at putatively neutral sites is negatively correlated with the local density of coding sites as well as nonsynonymous substitutions and positively correlated with recombination rate, indicating widespread linked selection. This process also manifests in significantly reduced diversity on longer chromosomes, consistent with lower recombination rates. Although hitchhiking around beneficial nonsynonymous mutations has significantly shaped genetic variation in H. melpomene, evidence for strong selective sweeps is limited overall. We did however identify two regions where distinct haplotypes have swept in different populations, leading to increased population differentiation. On the whole, our study suggests that positive selection is less pervasive in these butterflies as compared to fruit flies, a fact that curiously results in very similar levels of neutral diversity in these very different insects.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Needles: Toward Large-Scale Genomic Prediction with Marker-by-Environment Interaction [Genomic Selection]

De Coninck, A., De Baets, B., Kourounis, D., Verbosio, F., Schenk, O., Maenhout, S., Fostier, J.

Genomic prediction relies on genotypic marker information to predict the agronomic performance of future hybrid breeds based on trial records. Because the effect of markers may vary substantially under the influence of different environmental conditions, marker-by-environment interaction effects have to be taken into account. However, this may lead to a dramatic increase in the computational resources needed for analyzing large-scale trial data. A high-performance computing solution, called Needles, is presented for handling such data sets. Needles is tailored to the particular properties of the underlying algebraic framework by exploiting a sparse matrix formalism where suited and by utilizing distributed computing techniques to enable the use of a dedicated computing cluster. It is demonstrated that large-scale analyses can be performed within reasonable time frames with this framework. Moreover, by analyzing simulated trial data, it is shown that the effects of markers with a high environmental interaction can be predicted more accurately when more records per environment are available in the training data. The availability of such data and their analysis with Needles also may lead to the discovery of highly contributing QTL in specific environmental conditions. Such a framework thus opens the path for plant breeders to select crops based on these QTL, resulting in hybrid lines with optimized agronomic performance in specific environmental conditions.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

A Novel Candidate Gene for Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination in the Common Snapping Turtle [Genetics Of Sex]

Schroeder, A. L., Metzger, K. J., Miller, A., Rhen, T.

Temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) was described nearly 50 years ago. Researchers have since identified many genes that display differential expression at male- vs. female-producing temperatures. Yet, it is unclear whether these genes (1) are involved in sex determination per se, (2) are downstream effectors involved in differentiation of ovaries and testes, or (3) are thermo-sensitive but unrelated to gonad development. Here we present multiple lines of evidence linking CIRBP to sex determination in the snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina. We demonstrate significant associations between a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (c63A > C) in CIRBP, transcript levels in embryonic gonads during specification of gonad fate, and sex in hatchlings from a thermal regime that produces mixed sex ratios. The A allele was induced in embryos exposed to a female-producing temperature, while expression of the C allele did not differ between female- and male-producing temperatures. In accord with this pattern of temperature-dependent, allele-specific expression, AA homozygotes were more likely to develop ovaries than AC heterozygotes, which, in turn, were more likely to develop ovaries than CC homozygotes. Multiple regression using SNPs in CIRBP and adjacent loci suggests that c63A > C may be the causal variant or closely linked to it. Differences in CIRBP allele frequencies among turtles from northern Minnesota, southern Minnesota, and Texas reflect small and large-scale latitudinal differences in TSD pattern. Finally, analysis of CIRBP protein localization reveals that CIRBP is in a position to mediate temperature effects on the developing gonads. Together, these studies strongly suggest that CIRBP is involved in determining the fate of the bipotential gonad.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

The Dimensionality of Genomic Information and Its Effect on Genomic Prediction [Genomic Selection]

Pocrnic, I., Lourenco, D. A. L., Masuda, Y., Legarra, A., Misztal, I.

The genomic relationship matrix (GRM) can be inverted by the algorithm for proven and young (APY) based on recursion on a random subset of animals. While a regular inverse has a cubic cost, the cost of the APY inverse can be close to linear. Theory for the APY assumes that the optimal size of the subset (maximizing accuracy of genomic predictions) is due to a limited dimensionality of the GRM, which is a function of the effective population size (Ne). The objective of this study was to evaluate these assumptions by simulation. Six populations were simulated with approximate effective population size (Ne) from 20 to 200. Each population consisted of 10 nonoverlapping generations, with 25,000 animals per generation and phenotypes available for generations 1–9. The last 3 generations were fully genotyped assuming genome length L = 30. The GRM was constructed for each population and analyzed for distribution of eigenvalues. Genomic estimated breeding values (GEBV) were computed by single-step GBLUP, using either a direct or an APY inverse of GRM. The sizes of the subset in APY were set to the number of the largest eigenvalues explaining x% of variation (EIGx, x = 90, 95, 98, 99) in GRM. Accuracies of GEBV for the last generation with the APY inverse peaked at EIG98 and were slightly lower with EIG95, EIG99, or the direct inverse. Most information in the GRM is contained in ~NeL largest eigenvalues, with no information beyond 4NeL. Genomic predictions with the APY inverse of the GRM are more accurate than by the regular inverse.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Conserved Genetic Architecture Underlying Individual Recombination Rate Variation in a Wild Population of Soay Sheep (Ovis aries) [Genetics of Complex Traits]

Johnston, S. E., Berenos, C., Slate, J., Pemberton, J. M.

Meiotic recombination breaks down linkage disequilibrium (LD) and forms new haplotypes, meaning that it is an important driver of diversity in eukaryotic genomes. Understanding the causes of variation in recombination rate is important in interpreting and predicting evolutionary phenomena and in understanding the potential of a population to respond to selection. However, despite attention in model systems, there remains little data on how recombination rate varies at the individual level in natural populations. Here we used extensive pedigree and high-density SNP information in a wild population of Soay sheep (Ovis aries) to investigate the genetic architecture of individual autosomal recombination rates. Individual rates were high relative to other mammal systems and were higher in males than in females (autosomal map lengths of 3748 and 2860 cM, respectively). The heritability of autosomal recombination rate was low but significant in both sexes (h2 = 0.16 and 0.12 in females and males, respectively). In females, 46.7% of the heritable variation was explained by a subtelomeric region on chromosome 6; a genome-wide association study showed the strongest associations at locus RNF212, with further associations observed at a nearby ~374-kb region of complete LD containing three additional candidate loci, CPLX1, GAK, and PCGF3. A second region on chromosome 7 containing REC8 and RNF212B explained 26.2% of the heritable variation in recombination rate in both sexes. Comparative analyses with 40 other sheep breeds showed that haplotypes associated with recombination rates are both old and globally distributed. Both regions have been implicated in rate variation in mice, cattle, and humans, suggesting a common genetic architecture of recombination rate variation in mammals.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

A Pharmacogenetic Discovery: Cystamine Protects Against Haloperidol-Induced Toxicity and Ischemic Brain Injury [Genome and Systems Biology]

Zhang, H., Zheng, M., Wu, M., Xu, D., Nishimura, T., Nishimura, Y., Giffard, R., Xiong, X., Xu, L. J., Clark, J. D., Sahbaie, P., Dill, D. L., Peltz, G.

Haloperidol is an effective antipsychotic agent, but it causes Parkinsonian-like extrapyramidal symptoms in the majority of treated subjects. To address this treatment-limiting toxicity, we analyzed a murine genetic model of haloperidol-induced toxicity (HIT). Analysis of a panel of consomic strains indicated that a genetic factor on chromosome 10 had a significant effect on susceptibility to HIT. We analyzed a whole-genome SNP database to identify allelic variants that were uniquely present on chromosome 10 in the strain that was previously shown to exhibit the highest level of susceptibility to HIT. This analysis implicated allelic variation within pantetheinase genes (Vnn1 and Vnn3), which we propose impaired the biosynthesis of cysteamine, could affect susceptibility to HIT. We demonstrate that administration of cystamine, which is rapidly metabolized to cysteamine, could completely prevent HIT in the murine model. Many of the haloperidol-induced gene expression changes in the striatum of the susceptible strain were reversed by cystamine coadministration. Since cystamine administration has previously been shown to have other neuroprotective actions, we investigated whether cystamine administration could have a broader neuroprotective effect. Cystamine administration caused a 23% reduction in infarct volume after experimentally induced cerebral ischemia. Characterization of this novel pharmacogenetic factor for HIT has identified a new approach for preventing the treatment-limiting toxicity of an antipsychotic agent, which could also be used to reduce the extent of brain damage after stroke.

Thursday, May 5 2016 08:32:16 AM

Corrigendum [Corrigendum]