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1.  Meiotic Recombination Initiation in and around Retrotransposable Elements in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003732.
Meiotic recombination is initiated by large numbers of developmentally programmed DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), ranging from dozens to hundreds per cell depending on the organism. DSBs formed in single-copy sequences provoke recombination between allelic positions on homologous chromosomes, but DSBs can also form in and near repetitive elements such as retrotransposons. When they do, they create a risk for deleterious genome rearrangements in the germ line via recombination between non-allelic repeats. A prior study in budding yeast demonstrated that insertion of a Ty retrotransposon into a DSB hotspot can suppress meiotic break formation, but properties of Ty elements in their most common physiological contexts have not been addressed. Here we compile a comprehensive, high resolution map of all Ty elements in the rapidly and efficiently sporulating S. cerevisiae strain SK1 and examine DSB formation in and near these endogenous retrotransposable elements. SK1 has 30 Tys, all but one distinct from the 50 Tys in S288C, the source strain for the yeast reference genome. From whole-genome DSB maps and direct molecular assays, we find that DSB levels and chromatin structure within and near Tys vary widely between different elements and that local DSB suppression is not a universal feature of Ty presence. Surprisingly, deletion of two Ty elements weakened adjacent DSB hotspots, revealing that at least some Ty insertions promote rather than suppress nearby DSB formation. Given high strain-to-strain variability in Ty location and the high aggregate burden of Ty-proximal DSBs, we propose that meiotic recombination is an important component of host-Ty interactions and that Tys play critical roles in genome instability and evolution in both inbred and outcrossed sexual cycles.
Author Summary
Meiosis is the cell division that generates gametes for sexual reproduction. During meiosis, homologous recombination occurs frequently, initiated by DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) made by Spo11. Meiotic recombination usually occurs between sequences at allelic positions on homologous chromosomes, but a DSB within a repetitive element (e.g., a retrotransposon) can provoke recombination between non-allelic sequences instead. This can create genomic havoc in the form of gross chromosomal rearrangements, which underlie many recurrent human mutations. It has been thought that cells minimize this risk by disfavoring DSB formation in repetitive elements, partly based on studies showing that presence of a Ty element (a yeast retrotransposon) can suppress nearby DSB activity. Whether this is a general feature of Tys has not been evaluated, however. Here, we generated a comprehensive map of Tys in the rapidly sporulating SK1 strain and examined DSB formation in and around all of these endogenous Ty elements. Remarkably, most natural Ty elements do not appear to suppress DSB formation nearby, and at least some of them increase local DSBs. These findings have implications for understanding the relationship between host and transposon, and for understanding the impact of retrotransposons on genome stability and evolution during sexual reproduction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003732
PMCID: PMC3757047  PMID: 24009525
2.  Scale matters 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(8):1496-1503.
During meiosis in many organisms, homologous chromosomes engage in numerous recombination events initiated by DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) formed by the Spo11 protein. DSBs are distributed nonrandomly, which governs how recombination influences inheritance and genome evolution. The chromosomal features that shape DSB distribution are not well understood. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, trimethylation of lysine 4 of histone H3 (H3K4me3) has been suggested to play a causal role in targeting Spo11 activity to small regions of preferred DSB formation called hotspots. The link between H3K4me3 and DSBs is supported in part by a genome-wide spatial correlation between the two. However, this correlation has only been evaluated using relatively low-resolution maps of DSBs, H3K4me3 or both. These maps illuminate chromosomal features that influence DSB distributions on a large scale (several kb and greater) but do not adequately resolve features, such as chromatin structure, that act on finer scales (kb and shorter). Using recent nucleotide-resolution maps of DSBs and meiotic chromatin structure, we find that the previously described spatial correlation between H3K4me3 and DSB hotspots is principally attributable to coincident localization of both to gene promoters. Once proximity to the nucleosome-depleted regions in promoters is accounted for, H3K4me3 status has only modest predictive power for determining DSB frequency or location. This analysis provides a cautionary tale about the importance of scale in genome-wide analyses of DSB and recombination patterns.
doi:10.4161/cc.19733
PMCID: PMC3341227  PMID: 22433953
chromatin structure; double-strand breaks; H3K4 trimethylation; meiosis; recombination; Set1; Spo11
3.  A hierarchical combination of factors shapes the genome-wide topography of yeast meiotic recombination initiation 
Cell  2011;144(5):719-731.
Summary
The nonrandom distribution of meiotic recombination shapes patterns of inheritance and genome evolution, but chromosomal features governing this distribution are poorly understood. Formation of the DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that initiate recombination results in accumulation of Spo11 protein covalently bound to small DNA fragments. We show here that sequencing these fragments provides a genome-wide DSB map of unprecedented resolution and sensitivity. We use this map to explore the influence of large-scale chromosome structures, chromatin, transcription factors, and local sequence composition on DSB distributions. Our analysis supports the view that the recombination terrain is molded by combinatorial and hierarchical interaction of factors that work on widely different size scales. Mechanistic aspects of DSB formation and early processing steps are also uncovered. This map illuminates the occurrence of DSBs in repetitive DNA elements, repair of which can lead to chromosomal rearrangements. We discuss implications for evolutionary dynamics of recombination hotspots.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2011.02.009
PMCID: PMC3063416  PMID: 21376234
4.  Use of weighted reference panels based on empirical estimates of ancestry for capturing untyped variation 
Human genetics  2009;125(3):295-303.
Many association methods use a subset of genotyped single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to capture or infer genotypes at other untyped SNPs. We and others previously showed that tag SNPs selected to capture common variation using data from The International HapMap Consortium (Nature 437:1299–1320, 2005), The International HapMap Consortium (Nature 449:851–861, 2007) could also capture variation in populations of similar ancestry to HapMap reference populations (de Bakker et al. in Nat Genet 38:1298–1303, 2006; González-Neira et al. in Genome Res 16:323–330, 2006; Montpetit et al. in PLoS Genet 2:282–290, 2006; Mueller et al. in Am J Hum Genet 76:387–398, 2005). To capture variation in admixed populations or populations less similar to HapMap panels, a “cosmopolitan approach,” in which all samples from HapMap are used as a single reference panel, was proposed. Here we refine this suggestion and show that use of a “weighted reference panel,” constructed based on empirical estimates of ancestry in the target population (relative to available reference panels), is more efficient than the cosmopolitan approach. Weighted reference panels capture, on average, only slightly fewer common variants (minor allele frequency > 5%) than the cosmopolitan approach (mean r2 = 0.977 vs. 0.989, 94.5% variation captured vs. 96.8% at r2 > 0.8), across the five populations of the Multiethnic Cohort, but entail approximately 25% fewer tag SNPs per panel (average 538 vs. 718). These results extend a recent study in two Indian populations (Pemberton et al. in Ann Hum Genet 72:535–546, 2008). Weighted reference panels are potentially useful for both the selection of tag SNPs in diverse populations and perhaps in the design of reference panels for imputation of untyped genotypes in genome-wide association studies in admixed populations.
doi:10.1007/s00439-009-0627-8
PMCID: PMC3126674  PMID: 19184111
5.  Concept, Design and Implementation of a Cardiovascular Gene-Centric 50 K SNP Array for Large-Scale Genomic Association Studies 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3583.
A wealth of genetic associations for cardiovascular and metabolic phenotypes in humans has been accumulating over the last decade, in particular a large number of loci derived from recent genome wide association studies (GWAS). True complex disease-associated loci often exert modest effects, so their delineation currently requires integration of diverse phenotypic data from large studies to ensure robust meta-analyses. We have designed a gene-centric 50 K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array to assess potentially relevant loci across a range of cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory syndromes. The array utilizes a “cosmopolitan” tagging approach to capture the genetic diversity across ∼2,000 loci in populations represented in the HapMap and SeattleSNPs projects. The array content is informed by GWAS of vascular and inflammatory disease, expression quantitative trait loci implicated in atherosclerosis, pathway based approaches and comprehensive literature searching. The custom flexibility of the array platform facilitated interrogation of loci at differing stringencies, according to a gene prioritization strategy that allows saturation of high priority loci with a greater density of markers than the existing GWAS tools, particularly in African HapMap samples. We also demonstrate that the IBC array can be used to complement GWAS, increasing coverage in high priority CVD-related loci across all major HapMap populations. DNA from over 200,000 extensively phenotyped individuals will be genotyped with this array with a significant portion of the generated data being released into the academic domain facilitating in silico replication attempts, analyses of rare variants and cross-cohort meta-analyses in diverse populations. These datasets will also facilitate more robust secondary analyses, such as explorations with alternative genetic models, epistasis and gene-environment interactions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003583
PMCID: PMC2571995  PMID: 18974833

Results 1-5 (5)