Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) is a deltaretrovirus closely related to the Human T cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-1). Cattle are the natural host of BLV where it integrates into B-cells, producing a lifelong infection. Most infected animals remain asymptomatic but following a protracted latency period about 5 % develop an aggressive leukemia/lymphoma, mirroring the disease trajectory of HTLV-1. The mechanisms by which these viruses provoke cellular transformation remain opaque. In both viruses little or no transcription is observed from the 5′LTR in tumors, however the proviruses are not transcriptionally silent. In the case of BLV a cluster of RNA polymerase III transcribed microRNAs are highly expressed, while the HTLV-1 antisense transcript HBZ is consistently found in all tumors examined.
Here, using RNA-seq, we demonstrate that the BLV provirus also constitutively expresses antisense transcripts in all leukemic and asymptomatic samples examined. The first transcript (AS1) can be alternately polyadenylated, generating a transcript of ~600 bp (AS1-S) and a less abundant transcript of ~2200 bp (AS1-L). Alternative splicing creates a second transcript of ~400 bp (AS2). The coding potential of AS1-S/L is ambiguous, with a small open reading frame of 264 bp, however the transcripts are primarily retained in the nucleus, hinting at a lncRNA-like role. The AS1-L transcript overlaps the BLV microRNAs and using high throughput sequencing of RNA-ligase-mediated (RLM) 5′RACE, we show that the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) cleaves AS1-L. Furthermore, experiments using altered BLV proviruses with the microRNAs either deleted or inverted point to additional transcriptional interference between the two viral RNA species.
The identification of novel viral antisense transcripts shows the BLV provirus to be far from silent in tumors. Furthermore, the consistent expression of these transcripts in both leukemic and nonmalignant clones points to a vital role in the life cycle of the virus and its tumorigenic potential. Additionally, the cleavage of the AS1-L transcript by the BLV encoded microRNAs and the transcriptional interference between the two viral RNA species suggest a shared role in the regulation of BLV.
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Bovine Leukemia Virus; Deltaretrovirus; Noncoding RNA; Leukemogenesis; High throughput sequencing; RNA-seq; Oxford Nanopore minION
Clostridium sordellii lethal toxin (TcsL) is a powerful virulence factor responsible for severe toxic shock in man and animals. TcsL belongs to the large clostridial glucosylating toxin (LCGT) family which inactivates small GTPases by glucosylation with uridine-diphosphate (UDP)-glucose as a cofactor. Notably, TcsL modifies Rac and Ras GTPases, leading to drastic alteration of the actin cytoskeleton and cell viability. TcsL enters cells via receptor-mediated endocytosis and delivers the N-terminal glucosylating domain (TcsL-cat) into the cytosol. TcsL-cat was found to preferentially bind to phosphatidylserine (PS)-containing membranes and to increase the glucosylation of Rac anchored to the lipid membrane. We have previously reported that the N-terminal four helical bundle structure (1–93 domain) recognizes a broad range of lipids, but that TcsL-cat specifically binds to PS and phosphatidic acid. Here, we show using mutagenesis that the PS binding site is localized on the tip of the four-helix bundle which is rich in positively-charged amino acids. Residues Y14, V15, F17, and R18 on loop 1, between helices 1 and 2, in coordination with R68 from loop 3, between helices 3 and 4, form a pocket which accommodates L-serine. The functional PS-binding site is required for TcsL-cat binding to the plasma membrane and subsequent cytotoxicity. TcsL-cat binding to PS facilitates a high enzymatic activity towards membrane-anchored Ras by about three orders of magnitude as compared to Ras in solution. The PS-binding site is conserved in LCGTs, which likely retain a common mechanism of binding to the membrane for their full activity towards membrane-bound GTPases.
Clostridium sordellii; Clostridium difficile; large clostridial glucosylating toxin; C. sordellii lethal toxin; phosphatidylserine; Ras
The callipyge phenotype is an ovine muscular hypertrophy characterized by polar overdominance: only heterozygous +Mat/CLPGPat animals receiving the CLPG mutation from their father express the phenotype. +Mat/CLPGPat animals are characterized by postnatal, ectopic expression of Delta-like 1 homologue (DLK1) and Paternally expressed gene 11/Retrotransposon-like 1 (PEG11/RTL1) proteins in skeletal muscle. We showed previously in transgenic mice that ectopic expression of DLK1 alone induces a muscular hypertrophy, hence demonstrating a role for DLK1 in determining the callipyge hypertrophy. We herein describe newly generated transgenic mice that ectopically express PEG11 in skeletal muscle, and show that they also exhibit a muscular hypertrophy phenotype. Our data suggest that both DLK1 and PEG11 act together in causing the muscular hypertrophy of callipyge sheep.
Cattle populations are characterized by regular outburst of genetic defects as a result of the extensive use of elite sires. The causative genes and mutations can nowadays be rapidly identified by means of genome-wide association studies combined with next generation DNA sequencing, provided that the causative mutations are conventional loss-of-function variants. We show in this work how the combined use of next generation DNA and RNA sequencing allows for the rapid identification of otherwise difficult to identify splice-site variants.
We report the use of haplotype-based association mapping to identify a locus on bovine chromosome 10 that underlies autosomal recessive arthrogryposis in Belgian Blue Cattle. We identify 31 candidate mutations by resequencing the genome of four cases and 15 controls at ~10-fold depth. By analyzing RNA-Seq data from a carrier fetus, we observe skipping of the second exon of the PIGH gene, which we confirm by RT-PCR to be fully penetrant in tissues from affected calves. We identify - amongst the 31 candidate variants - a C-to-G transversion in the first intron of the PIGH gene (c211-10C > G) that is predicted to affect its acceptor splice-site. The resulting PIGH protein is likely to be non-functional as it lacks essential domains, and hence to cause arthrogryposis.
This work illustrates how the growing arsenal of genome exploration tools continues to accelerate the identification of an even broader range of disease causing mutations, therefore improving the management and control of genetic defects in livestock.
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Arthrogryposis syndrome; PIGH gene; Splice-site mutation; Glycosylphosphatidyl inositol deficiency; Belgian Blue Cattle breed
Polar overdominance at the ovine callipyge (CLPG) locus involves the post-transcriptional trans-inhibition of DLK1 in skeletal muscle of CLPG/CLPG sheep. The abundant maternally expressed microRNAs (miRNAs) mapping to the imprinted DLK1-GTL2 domain are prime candidate mediators of this trans-effect.
We have tested the affinity of 121 miRNAs processed from this locus for DLK1 by co-transfecting COS1 cells with a vector expressing the full-length ovine DLK1 with corresponding mimic miRNAs. None of the tested miRNAs was able to down regulate DLK1 to the extent observed in vivo.
This suggests that other factors, with or without these miRNAs, are involved in mediating the observed trans-effect.
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Callipyge; Muscle development; Polar overdominance; DLK1; MicroRNA; Trans-effect; Post-transcriptional gene regulation; Reporter assay
Belgian Blue cattle are famous for their exceptional muscular development or “double-muscling”. This defining feature emerged following the fixation of a loss-of-function variant in the myostatin gene in the eighties. Since then, sustained selection has further increased muscle mass of Belgian Blue animals to a comparable extent. In the present paper, we study the genetic determinants of this second wave of muscle growth.
A scan for selective sweeps did not reveal the recent fixation of another allele with major effect on muscularity. However, a genome-wide association study identified two genome-wide significant and three suggestive quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting specific muscle groups and jointly explaining 8-21% of the heritability. The top two QTL are caused by presumably recent mutations on unique haplotypes that have rapidly risen in frequency in the population. While one appears on its way to fixation, the ascent of the other is compromised as the likely underlying MRC2 mutation causes crooked tail syndrome in homozygotes. Genomic prediction models indicate that the residual additive variance is largely polygenic.
Contrary to complex traits in humans which have a near-exclusive polygenic architecture, muscle mass in beef cattle (as other production traits under directional selection), appears to be controlled by (i) a handful of recent mutations with large effect that rapidly sweep through the population, and (ii) a large number of presumably older variants with very small effects that rise slowly in the population (polygenic adaptation).
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Selective sweeps; Muscular development; Association studies; Cattle; Polygenic architecture; Genetic architecture; Complex traits
In dairy cattle, the widespread use of artificial insemination has resulted in increased selection intensity, which has led to spectacular increase in productivity. However, cow fertility has concomitantly severely declined. It is generally assumed that this reduction is primarily due to the negative energy balance of high-producing cows at the peak of lactation. We herein describe the fine-mapping of a major fertility QTL in Nordic Red cattle, and identify a 660-kb deletion encompassing four genes as the causative variant. We show that the deletion is a recessive embryonically lethal mutation. This probably results from the loss of RNASEH2B, which is known to cause embryonic death in mice. Despite its dramatic effect on fertility, 13%, 23% and 32% of the animals carry the deletion in Danish, Swedish and Finnish Red Cattle, respectively. To explain this, we searched for favorable effects on other traits and found that the deletion has strong positive effects on milk yield. This study demonstrates that embryonic lethal mutations account for a non-negligible fraction of the decline in fertility of domestic cattle, and that associated positive effects on milk yield may account for part of the negative genetic correlation. Our study adds to the evidence that structural variants contribute to animal phenotypic variation, and that balancing selection might be more common in livestock species than previously appreciated.
We report the identification of a large deletion encompassing four genes and the demonstration of its negative effect on fertility in Nordic Red dairy cattle. We show that this deletion is recessively lethal (homozygous embryos die) and therefore, when carrier cows are mated to carrier bulls, there is a high risk of embryonic mortality. As a result, chances of insemination failure are higher for such matings. Surprisingly, despite its negative effect, the deletion is frequent in Nordic Red cattle. We show that this high frequency may be a consequence of the fact that the deletion is associated with increased milk production and therefore selected for. Due to increased levels of inbreeding resulting from the widespread use of artificial insemination, such recessive lethal alleles may account for a non-negligible fraction of the reduction in fertility observed in cattle.
A genome-wide linkage scan was conducted in a Northern-European multigenerational pedigree with nine of 40 related members affected with concomitant strabismus. Twenty-seven members of the pedigree including all affected individuals were genotyped using a SNP array interrogating > 300,000 common SNPs. We conducted parametric and non-parametric linkage analyses assuming segregation of an autosomal dominant mutation, yet allowing for incomplete penetrance and phenocopies. We detected two chromosome regions with near-suggestive evidence for linkage, respectively on chromosomes 8 and 18. The chromosome 8 linkage implied a penetrance of 0.80 and a rate of phenocopy of 0.11, while the chromosome 18 linkage implied a penetrance of 0.64 and a rate of phenocopy of 0. Our analysis excludes a simple genetic determinism of strabismus in this pedigree.
Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), the two common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), affect over 2.5 million people of European ancestry with rising prevalence in other populations1. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and subsequent meta-analyses of CD and UC2,3 as separate phenotypes implicated previously unsuspected mechanisms, such as autophagy4, in pathogenesis and showed that some IBD loci are shared with other inflammatory diseases5. Here we expand knowledge of relevant pathways by undertaking a meta-analysis of CD and UC genome-wide association scans, with validation of significant findings in more than 75,000 cases and controls. We identify 71 new associations, for a total of 163 IBD loci that meet genome-wide significance thresholds. Most loci contribute to both phenotypes, and both directional and balancing selection effects are evident. Many IBD loci are also implicated in other immune-mediated disorders, most notably with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis. We also observe striking overlap between susceptibility loci for IBD and mycobacterial infection. Gene co-expression network analysis emphasizes this relationship, with pathways shared between host responses to mycobacteria and those predisposing to IBD.
The aim of this study was to determine a genetic basis for IgA concentration in milk of Bos taurus. We used a Holstein-Friesian x Jersey F2 crossbred pedigree to undertake a genome-wide search for QTL influencing IgA concentration and yield in colostrum and milk. We identified a single genome-wide significant QTL on chromosome 16, maximising at 4.8 Mbp. The polymeric immunoglobulin receptor gene (PIGR) was within the confidence interval of the QTL. In addition, mRNA expression analysis revealed a liver PIGR expression QTL mapping to the same locus as the IgA quantitative trait locus. Sequencing and subsequent genotyping of the PIGR gene revealed three divergent haplotypes that explained the variance of both the IgA QTL and the PIGR expression QTL. Genetic selection based on these markers will facilitate the production of bovine herds producing milk with higher concentrations of IgA.
Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is an inherited disorder characterized by recurrent infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract, reduced fertility in males and situs inversus in about 50% of affected individuals (Kartagener syndrome). It is caused by motility defects in the respiratory cilia that are responsible for airway clearance, the flagella that propel sperm cells and the nodal monocilia that determine left-right asymmetry1. Recessive mutations that cause PCD have been identified in genes encoding components of the outer dynein arms, radial spokes and cytoplasmic pre-assembly factors of axonemal dyneins, but these mutations account for only about 50% of cases of PCD. We exploited the unique properties of dog populations to positionally clone a new PCD gene, CCDC39. We found that loss-of-function mutations in the human ortholog underlie a substantial fraction of PCD cases with axonemal disorganization and abnormal ciliary beating. Functional analyses indicated that CCDC39 localizes to ciliary axonemes and is essential for assembly of inner dynein arms and the dynein regulatory complex.
Fertility is one of the most important traits in dairy cattle, and has been steadily declining over the last decades. We herein use state-of-the-art genomic tools, including high-throughput SNP genotyping and next-generation sequencing, to identify a 3.3 Kb deletion in the FANCI gene causing the brachyspina syndrome (BS), a rare recessive genetic defect in Holstein dairy cattle. We determine that despite the very low incidence of BS (<1/100,000), carrier frequency is as high as 7.4% in the Holstein breed. We demonstrate that this apparent discrepancy is likely due to the fact that a large proportion of homozygous mutant calves die during pregnancy. We postulate that several other embryonic lethals may segregate in livestock and significantly compromise fertility, and propose a genotype-driven screening strategy to detect the corresponding deleterious mutations.
Genome-wide association studies have identified numerous loci demonstrating genome-wide significant association with Crohn's disease. However, when many single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have weak-to-moderate disease risks, genetic risk prediction models based only on those markers that pass the most stringent statistical significance testing threshold may be suboptimal. Haplotype-based predictive models may provide advantages over single-SNP approaches by facilitating detection of associations driven by cis-interactions among nearby SNPs. In addition, these approaches may be helpful in assaying non-genotyped, rare causal variants. In this study, we investigated the use of two-marker haplotypes for risk prediction in Crohn's disease and show that it leads to improved prediction accuracy compared with single-point analyses. With large numbers of predictors, traditional classification methods such as logistic regression and support vector machine approaches may be suboptimal. An alternative approach is to apply the risk-score method calculated as the number of risk haplotypes an individual carries, both within and across loci. We used the area under the curve (AUC) of the receiver operating curve to assess the performance of prediction models in large-scale genetic data, and observed that the prediction performance in the validation cohort continues to improve as thousands of haplotypes are included in the model, with the AUC reaching its plateau at 0.72 at ∼7000 haplotypes, and begins to gradually decline after that point. In contrast, using the SNP as predictors, we only obtained maximum AUC of 0.65. Validation studies in independent cohorts further support improved prediction capacity with multi-marker, as opposed to single marker analyses.
We report association mapping of a locus on bovine chromosome 3 that underlies a Mendelian form of stunted growth in Belgian Blue Cattle (BBC). By resequencing positional candidates, we identify the causative c124-2A>G splice variant in intron 1 of the RNF11 gene, for which all affected animals are homozygous. We make the remarkable observation that 26% of healthy Belgian Blue animals carry the corresponding variant. We demonstrate in a prospective study design that approximately one third of homozygous mutants die prematurely with major inflammatory lesions, hence explaining the rarity of growth-stunted animals despite the high frequency of carriers. We provide preliminary evidence that heterozygous advantage for an as of yet unidentified phenotype may have caused a selective sweep accounting for the high frequency of the RNF11 c124-2A>G mutation in Belgian Blue Cattle.
Recessive defects in livestock are common, and this is considered to result from the contraction of the effective population size that accompanies intense selection for desired traits, especially when relying heavily on artificial insemination (as males may concomitantly have a very large number of offspring). The costs of recessive defects are assumed to correspond to the loss of the affected animals. By performing a molecular genetic analysis of stunted growth in Belgian Blue Cattle (BBC), we highlight (i) that the economic impact of recessive defects may outweigh the only loss of affected animals and (ii) that some genetic defects are common for reasons other than inbreeding. We first demonstrate that a splice site variant in the RING finger protein 11 (RNF11) gene accounts for ∼40% of cases of stunted growth in BBC. We then show that a large proportion of animals that are homozygous for the corresponding RNF11 mutation die at a young age due to compromised resistance to pathogens. We finally demonstrate that carriers of the mutation benefit from a selective advantage of unidentified origin that accounts for its high frequency in BBC.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and candidate gene studies in ulcerative colitis (UC) have identified 18 susceptibility loci. We conducted a meta-analysis of 6 UC GWAS, comprising 6,687 cases and 19,718 controls, and followed-up the top association signals in 9,628 cases and 12,917 controls. We identified 29 additional risk loci (P<5×10-8), increasing the number of UC associated loci to 47. After annotating associated regions using GRAIL, eQTL data and correlations with non-synonymous SNPs, we identified many candidate genes providing potentially important insights into disease pathogenesis, including IL1R2, IL8RA/B, IL7R, IL12B, DAP, PRDM1, JAK2, IRF5, GNA12 and LSP1. The total number of confirmed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) risk loci is now 99, including a minimum of 28 shared association signals between Crohn’s disease (CD) and UC.
A multicenter genome-wide association scan for Crohn's Disease (CD) has recently reported 40 CD susceptibility loci, including 29 novel ones (19 significant and 10 putative). To gain insight into the genetic overlap between CD and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), these markers were tested for association in AS patients.
Two previously established associations, namely with the MHC and IL23R loci, were confirmed. In addition, rs2872507, which maps to a locus associated with asthma and influences the expression of the ORMDL3 gene in lymphoblastoid cells, showed a significant association with AS (p = 0.03). In gut biopsies of AS and CD patients, ORMDL3 expression was not significantly different from controls and no correlation was found with the rs2872507 genotype (Spearman's rho: −0.067). The distribution of p-values for the remaining 36 SNPs was significantly skewed towards low p-values unless the top 5 ranked SNPs (ORMDL3, NKX2–3, PTPN2, ICOSLG and MST1) were excluded from the analysis.
Association analysis using risk variants for CD led to the identification of a new risk variant associated with AS (ORMDL3), underscoring a role for ER stress in AS. In addition, two known and five potentially relevant associations were detected, contributing to common susceptibility of CD and AS.
The Patrocles database (http://www.patrocles.org/) compiles DNA sequence polymorphisms (DSPs) that are predicted to perturb miRNA-mediated gene regulation. Distinctive features include: (i) the coverage of seven vertebrate species in its present release, aiming for more when information becomes available, (ii) the coverage of the three compartments involved in the silencing process (i.e. targets, miRNA precursors and silencing machinery), (iii) contextual information that enables users to prioritize candidate ‘Patrocles DSPs’, including graphical information on miRNA-target coexpression and eQTL effect of genotype on target expression levels, (iv) the inclusion of Copy Number Variants and eQTL information that affect miRNA precursors as well as genes encoding components of the silencing machinery and (v) a tool (Patrocles finder) that allows the user to determine whether her favorite DSP may perturb miRNA-mediated gene regulation of custom target sequences. To support the biological relevance of Patrocles' content, we searched for signatures of selection acting on ‘Patrocles single nucleotide polymorphisms (pSNPs)’ in human and mice. As expected, we found a strong signature of purifying selection against not only SNPs that destroy conserved target sites but also against SNPs that create novel, illegitimate target sites, which is reminiscent of the Texel mutation in sheep.
Phylogenetic studies of the emergence and spread of natural recombinants in herpesviruses infecting humans and animals have been reported recently. However, despite an ever-increasing amount of evidence of recombination in herpesvirus history, the recombination process and the consequences on the genetic diversity of the progeny remain poorly characterized. We addressed this issue by using multiple single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) differentiating the two subtypes of an alphaherpesvirus, bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1). Analysis of a large sample of progeny virions obtained in a single growth cycle of coinfected BoHV-1 strains provided a prospective investigation of the recombination dynamics by using SNPs as recombination markers. We found that the simultaneous infection with two closely related herpesviruses results in a highly diversified recombination mosaic. From the analysis of multiple recombinants arising in the progeny, we provide the first evidence of genetic interference influencing the recombination process in herpesviruses. In addition, we report striking differences in the levels of recombination frequency observed along the BoHV-1 genome. With particular emphasis on the genetic structure of a progeny virus population rising in vitro, our data show to which extent recombination participates to the genetic diversification of herpesviruses.
We herein describe the positional identification of a 2-bp deletion in the open reading frame of the MRC2 receptor causing the recessive Crooked Tail Syndrome in cattle. The resulting frame-shift reveals a premature stop codon that causes nonsense-mediated decay of the mutant messenger RNA, and the virtual absence of functional Endo180 protein in affected animals. Cases exhibit skeletal anomalies thought to result from impaired extracellular matrix remodeling during ossification, and as of yet unexplained muscular symptoms. We demonstrate that carrier status is very significantly associated with desired characteristics in the general population, including enhanced muscular development, and that the resulting heterozygote advantage caused a selective sweep which explains the unexpectedly high frequency (25%) of carriers in the Belgian Blue Cattle Breed.
Livestock are being subject to intense artificial selection aimed at ever-increasing, sometimes extreme, production phenotypes. This is well-illustrated by the exceptional muscular hypertrophy characterizing the “double-muscled” Belgian Blue Cattle Breed (BBCB). We herein identify a loss-of-function mutation of the bovine MRC2 gene that increases muscle mass in heterozygotes, yet causes skeletal and muscular malformations known as Crooked Tail Syndrome (CTS) in homozygotes. As a result of the “heterozygote advantage”, the MRC2 c.2904_2905delAG mutation has swept through the BBCB population, resulting in as many as 25% carrier animals and causing a sudden burst of CTS cases. These findings highlight one of the risks associated with pushing domestic animals to their physiological limits by intense artificial selection.
Several new risk factors for Crohn's disease have been identified in recent genome-wide association studies. To advance gene discovery further we have combined the data from three studies (a total of 3,230 cases and 4,829 controls) and performed replication in 3,664 independent cases with a mixture of population-based and family-based controls. The results strongly confirm 11 previously reported loci and provide genome-wide significant evidence for 21 new loci, including the regions containing STAT3, JAK2, ICOSLG, CDKAL1, and ITLN1. The expanded molecular understanding of the basis of disease offers promise for informed therapeutic development.
Parasitic gastroenteritis caused by nematodes is only second to mastitis in terms of health costs to dairy farmers in developed countries. Sustainable control strategies complementing anthelmintics are desired, including selective breeding for enhanced resistance.
Results and Conclusion
To quantify and characterize the genetic contribution to variation in resistance to gastro-intestinal parasites, we measured the heritability of faecal egg and larval counts in the Dutch Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle population. The heritability of faecal egg counts ranged from 7 to 21% and was generally higher than for larval counts. We performed a whole genome scan in 12 paternal half-daughter groups for a total of 768 cows, corresponding to the ~10% most and least infected daughters within each family (selective genotyping). Two genome-wide significant QTL were identified in an across-family analysis, respectively on chromosomes 9 and 19, coinciding with previous findings in orthologous chromosomal regions in sheep. We identified six more suggestive QTL by within-family analysis. An additional 73 informative SNPs were genotyped on chromosome 19 and the ensuing high density map used in a variance component approach to simultaneously exploit linkage and linkage disequilibrium in an initial inconclusive attempt to refine the QTL map position.