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1.  Meiotic silencing and the epigenetics of sex 
The sensing of accurate homologous recognition and pairing between discreet chromosomal regions and/or entire chromosomes entering meiosis is an essential step in ensuring correct alignment for recombination. A component of this is the recognition of heterology, which is required to prevent recombination at ectopic sites and between non-homologous chromosomes. It has been observed that a number of diverged organisms add an additional layer to this process: regions or chromosomes without a homologous counterpart are targeted for silencing during meiotic prophase I. This phenomenon was originally described in filamentous fungi, but has since been observed in nematodes and mammals. In this review we will generally group these phenomena under the title of meiotic silencing, and describe what is known about the process in the organisms in which it is observed. We will additionally propose that the functions of meiotic silencing originate in genome defense, and discuss its potential contributions to genome evolution and speciation.
PMCID: PMC4090689  PMID: 17674151
chromosome homology; meiosis; meiotic silencing; prophase 1; recombination; trans-sensing
2.  Plant SET Domain-containing Proteins: Structure, Function and Regulation 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2007;1769(5-6):316-329.
Modification of the histone proteins that form the core around which chromosomal DNA is looped has profound epigenetic effects on the accessibility of the associated DNA for transcription, replication and repair. The SET domain is now recognized as generally having methyltransferase activity targeted to specific lysine residues of histone H3 or H4. There is considerable sequence conservation within the SET domain and within its flanking regions. Previous reviews have shown that SET proteins from Arabidopsis and maize fall into five classes according to their sequence and domain architectures. These classes generally reflect specificity for a particular substrate. SET proteins from rice were found to fall into similar groupings, strengthening the merit of the approach taken. Two additional classes, VI and VII, were established that include proteins with truncated/interrupted SET domains. Diverse mechanisms are involved in shaping the function and regulation of SET proteins. These include protein-protein interactions through both intra- and inter- molecular associations that are important in plant developmental processes, such as flowering time control and embryogenesis. Alternative splicing that can result in the generation of two to several different transcript isoforms is now known to be widespread. An exciting and tantalizing question is whether, or how, this alternative splicing affects gene function. For example, it is conceivable that one isoform may debilitate methyltransferase function whereas the other may enhance it, providing an opportunity for differential regulation. The review concludes with the speculation that modulation of SET protein function is mediated by antisense or sense-antisense RNA.
PMCID: PMC2794661  PMID: 17512990
Arabidopsis SET genes; alternative splicing; epigenetics; histone methylation; rice SET genes; SET domain classes
3.  A Cytosine Methyltransferase Homologue Is Essential for Sexual Development in Aspergillus nidulans 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2531.
The genome defense processes RIP (repeat-induced point mutation) in the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, and MIP (methylation induced premeiotically) in the fungus Ascobolus immersus depend on proteins with DNA methyltransferase (DMT) domains. Nevertheless, these proteins, RID and Masc1, respectively, have not been demonstrated to have DMT activity. We discovered a close homologue in Aspergillus nidulans, a fungus thought to have no methylation and no genome defense system comparable to RIP or MIP.
Principal Findings
We report the cloning and characterization of the DNA methyltransferase homologue A (dmtA) gene from Aspergillus nidulans. We found that the dmtA locus encodes both a sense (dmtA) and an anti-sense transcript (tmdA). Both transcripts are expressed in vegetative, conidial and sexual tissues. We determined that dmtA, but not tmdA, is required for early sexual development and formation of viable ascospores. We also tested if DNA methylation accumulated in any of the dmtA/tmdA mutants we constructed, and found that in both asexual and sexual tissues, these mutants, just like wild-type strains, appear devoid of DNA methylation.
Our results demonstrate that a DMT homologue closely related to proteins implicated in RIP and MIP has an essential developmental function in a fungus that appears to lack both DNA methylation and RIP or MIP. It remains formally possible that DmtA is a bona fide DMT, responsible for trace, undetected DNA methylation that is restricted to a few cells or transient but our work supports the idea that the DMT domain present in the RID/Masc1/DmtA family has a previously undescribed function.
PMCID: PMC2432034  PMID: 18575630
4.  Lessons from the Genome Sequence of Neurospora crassa: Tracing the Path from Genomic Blueprint to Multicellular Organism 
We present an analysis of over 1,100 of the ∼10,000 predicted proteins encoded by the genome sequence of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. Seven major areas of Neurospora genomics and biology are covered. First, the basic features of the genome, including the automated assembly, gene calls, and global gene analyses are summarized. The second section covers components of the centromere and kinetochore complexes, chromatin assembly and modification, and transcription and translation initiation factors. The third area discusses genome defense mechanisms, including repeat induced point mutation, quelling and meiotic silencing, and DNA repair and recombination. In the fourth section, topics relevant to metabolism and transport include extracellular digestion; membrane transporters; aspects of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and lipid metabolism; the mitochondrion and energy metabolism; the proteasome; and protein glycosylation, secretion, and endocytosis. Environmental sensing is the focus of the fifth section with a treatment of two-component systems; GTP-binding proteins; mitogen-activated protein, p21-activated, and germinal center kinases; calcium signaling; protein phosphatases; photobiology; circadian rhythms; and heat shock and stress responses. The sixth area of analysis is growth and development; it encompasses cell wall synthesis, proteins important for hyphal polarity, cytoskeletal components, the cyclin/cyclin-dependent kinase machinery, macroconidiation, meiosis, and the sexual cycle. The seventh section covers topics relevant to animal and plant pathogenesis and human disease. The results demonstrate that a large proportion of Neurospora genes do not have homologues in the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The group of unshared genes includes potential new targets for antifungals as well as loci implicated in human and plant physiology and disease.
PMCID: PMC362109  PMID: 15007097

Results 1-4 (4)