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1.  Construction of cytogenetic map of Gossypium herbaceum chromosome 1 and its integration with genetic maps 
Cytogenetic map can provide not only information of the genome structure, but also can build a solid foundation for genetic research. With the developments of molecular and cytogenetic studies in cotton (Gossypium), the construction of cytogenetic map is becoming more and more imperative.
A cytogenetic map of chromosome 1 (A101) of Gossypium herbaceum (A1) which includes 10 bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones was constructed by using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Meanwhile, comparison and analysis were made for the cytogenetic map of chromosome 1 (A101) of G. herbaceum with four genetic linkage maps of chromosome 1 (Ah01) of G. hirsutum ((AD)1) and one genetic linkage map of chromosome 1 of (A101) G. arboreum (A2). The 10 BAC clones were also used to be localized on G. raimondii (D5) chromosome 1 (D501), and 2 of them showed clear unique hybridized signals. Furthermore, these 2 BAC clones were also shown localized on chromosome 1 of both A sub-genome and D sub-genome of G. hirsutum.
The comparison of the cytogenetic map with genetic linkage maps showed that most of the identified marker-tagged BAC clones appearing same orders in different maps except three markers showing different positions, which might indicate chromosomal segmental rearrangements. The positions of the 2 BAC clones which were localized on Ah01 and Dh01 chromosomes were almost the same as that on A101 and D501 chromosomes. The corresponding anchored SSR markers of these 2 BAC clones were firstly found to be localized on chromosome D501 (Dh01) as they were not seen mapped like this in any genetic map reported.
PMCID: PMC4307992  PMID: 25628758
Cotton; BAC-FISH; Cytogenetic map
2.  Preliminary Study of Quercetin Affecting the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal Axis on Rat Endometriosis Model 
In this study, the endometriosis rats model was randomly divided into 6 groups: model control group, ovariectomized group, Gestrinone group, and quercetin high/medium/low dose group. Rats were killed after 3 weeks of administration. The expression levels of serum FSH and LH were detected by ELISA. The localizations and quantities of ERα, ERβ, and PR were detected by immunohistochemistry and western blot. The results showed that the mechanism of quercetin inhibiting the growth of ectopic endometrium on rat endometriosis model may be through the decreasing of serum FSH and LH levels and then reducing local estrogen content to make the ectopic endometrium atrophy. Quercetin can decrease the expression of ERα, ERβ, and PR in hypothalamus, pituitary, and endometrium, thereby inhibiting estrogen and progesterone binding to their receptors to play the role of antiestrogen and progesterone.
PMCID: PMC4228827  PMID: 25530789
3.  SNP Identification by Transcriptome Sequencing and Candidate Gene-Based Association Analysis for Heat Tolerance in the Bay Scallop Argopecten irradians 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104960.
The northern bay scallop Argopecten irradians irradians (Lamarck) and the southern bay scallop Argopecten irradians concentricus (Say) were introduced into China in the 1980s and 1990s, and are now major aquaculture molluscs in China. Here, we report the transcriptome sequencing of the two subspecies and the subsequent association analysis on candidate gene on the trait of heat tolerance. In total, RNA from six tissues of 67 and 42 individuals of northern and southern bay scallops, respectively, were used and 55.5 and 34.9 million raw reads were generated, respectively. There were 82,267 unigenes produced in total, of which 32,595 were annotated. Altogether, 32,206 and 23,312 high-quality SNPs were identified for northern and southern bay scallops, respectively. For case-control analysis, two intercrossed populations were heat stress treated, and both heat-susceptible and heat-resistant individuals were collected. According to annotation and SNP allele frequency analysis, 476 unigenes were selected, and 399 pairs of primers were designed. Genotyping was conducted using the high-resolution melting method, and Fisher’s exact test was performed for allele frequency comparison between the heat-susceptible and heat-resistant groups. SNP all-53308-760 T/C showed a significant difference in allele frequency between the heat-susceptible and heat-resistant groups. Notably, considerable difference in allele frequency at this locus was also observed between the sequenced natural populations. These results suggest that SNP all-53308-760 T/C may be related to the heat tolerance of the bay scallop. Moreover, quantitative expression analysis revealed that the expression level of all-53308 was negatively correlated with heat tolerance of the bay scallop.
PMCID: PMC4133247  PMID: 25121601
4.  Baseline HBsAg predicts response to pegylated interferon-α2b in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B patients 
AIM: To evaluate the predictive effect of baseline hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) on response to pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN)-α2b in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients.
METHODS: This retrospective analysis compared the treatment efficacy of PEG-IFN-α2b alone in 55 HBeAg-positive CHB patients with different baseline HBsAg levels. Serum HBV DNA load was measured at baseline, and at 12, 24 and 48 wk of therapy. Virological response was defined as HBV DNA < 1000 IU/mL. Serum HBsAg titers were quantitatively assayed at baseline, and at 12 and 24 wk.
RESULTS: Eighteen patients had baseline HBsAg > 20 000 IU/mL, 26 patients had 1500-20000 IU/mL, and 11 patients had < 1500 IU/mL. Three (16.7%), 11 (42.3%) and seven (63.6%) patients in each group achieved a virological response at week 48, with a significant difference between groups with baseline HBsAg levels > 20000 or < 20000 IU/mL (P = 0.02). Thirteen patients had an HBsAg decline > 0.5 log10 and 30 patients < 0.5 log10 at week 12; and 6 (46.2%) and 10 (33.3%) in each group achieved virological response at week 48, with no significant difference between the two groups (P = 0.502). Eighteen patients had an HBsAg decline > 1.0 log10 and 30 patients < 1.0 log10 at week 24, and 8 (44.4%) and 11 (36.7%) achieved a virological response at week 48, with no significant difference between the two groups (P = 0.762). None of the 16 patients with HBsAg > 20000 IU/mL at week 24 achieved a virological response at week 48.
CONCLUSION: Baseline HBsAg level in combination with HBV DNA may become an effective predictor for guiding optimal therapy with PEG-IFN-α2b against HBeAg-positive CHB.
PMCID: PMC4081692  PMID: 25009392
Chronic hepatitis B; Hepatitis B surface antigen; Baseline; Virological response; Pegylated interferon-α2b
5.  Non-Selective Cation Channels Mediate Chloroquine-Induced Relaxation in Precontracted Mouse Airway Smooth Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101578.
Bitter tastants can induce relaxation in precontracted airway smooth muscle by activating big-conductance potassium channels (BKs) or by inactivating voltage-dependent L-type Ca2+ channels (VDLCCs). In this study, a new pathway for bitter tastant-induced relaxation was defined and investigated. We found nifedipine-insensitive and bitter tastant chloroquine-sensitive relaxation in epithelium-denuded mouse tracheal rings (TRs) precontracted with acetylcholine (ACH). In the presence of nifedipine (10 µM), ACH induced cytosolic Ca2+ elevation and cell shortening in single airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs), and these changes were inhibited by chloroquine. In TRs, ACH triggered a transient contraction under Ca2+-free conditions, and, following a restoration of Ca2+, a strong contraction occurred, which was inhibited by chloroquine. Moreover, the ACH-activated whole-cell and single channel currents of non-selective cation channels (NSCCs) were blocked by chloroquine. Pyrazole 3 (Pyr3), an inhibitor of transient receptor potential C3 (TRPC3) channels, partially inhibited ACH-induced contraction, intracellular Ca2+ elevation, and NSCC currents. These results demonstrate that NSCCs play a role in bitter tastant-induced relaxation in precontracted airway smooth muscle.
PMCID: PMC4081631  PMID: 24992312
6.  Characterization and Mutational Analysis of Omega-Class GST (GSTO1) from Apis cerana cerana, a Gene Involved in Response to Oxidative Stress 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93100.
The Omega-class of GSTs (GSTOs) is a class of cytosolic GSTs that have specific structural and functional characteristics that differ from those of other GST groups. In this study, we demonstrated the involvement of the GSTO1 gene from A. cerana cerana in the oxidative stress response and further investigated the effects of three cysteine residues of GSTO1 protein on this response. Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) showed that AccGSTO1 was highly expressed in larvae and foragers, primarily in the midgut, epidermis, and flight muscles. The AccGSTO1 mRNA was significantly induced by cold and heat at 1 h and 3 h. The TBA (2-Thiobarbituric acid) method indicated that cold or heat resulted in MDA accumulation, but silencing of AccGSTO1 by RNAi in honeybees increased the concentration of MDA. RNAi also increased the temperature sensitivity of honeybees and markedly reduced their survival. Disc diffusion assay indicated that overexpression of AccGSTO1 in E. coli caused the resistance to long-term oxidative stress. Furthermore, AccGSTO1 was active in an in vitro DNA protection assay. Mutations in Cys-28, Cys-70, and Cys-124 affected the catalytic activity and antioxidant activity of AccGSTO1. The predicted three-dimensional structure of AccGSTO1 was also influenced by the replacement of these cysteine residues. These findings suggest that AccGSTO1 plays a protective role in the response to oxidative stress.
PMCID: PMC3965517  PMID: 24667966
7.  Telomere Recombination Preferentially Occurs at Short Telomeres in Telomerase-Null Type II Survivors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90644.
In telomerase negative yeast cells, Rad52-dependent recombination is activated to maintain telomeres. This recombination-mediated telomere elongation usually involves two independent pathways, type I and type II, and leads to generation of type I and type II survivors. It remains elusive whether the recombination-mediated telomere elongation prefers to take place on shorter or longer telomeres. In this study, we exploited the de novo telomere addition system to examine the telomere recombination event in telomerase negative cells. We show that recombination preferentially occurs on shorter rather than longer telomeres in both pre-survivors and established type II survivors. In type II survivors, the short VII–L telomeres could invade either terminal TG1–3 sequence or short tracts of TG1–3 sequence in subtelomeric Y′-X and Y′-Y′ junction to initiate recombination. Unexpectedly, short VII–L telomere recombination still takes place in type II survivors lacking either Rad50 or Rad59, which are required for type II survivor generation in senescing telomerase-null cells. Our results support the notion that Rad50 and Rad59 are not essential for the maintenance of type II survivors once established.
PMCID: PMC3940914  PMID: 24594632
9.  Evaluating audio computer assisted self-interviews in urban south African communities: evidence for good suitability and reduced social desirability bias of a cross-sectional survey on sexual behaviour 
Efficient HIV prevention requires accurate identification of individuals with risky sexual behaviour. However, self-reported data from sexual behaviour surveys are prone to social desirability bias (SDB). Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing (ACASI) has been suggested as an alternative to face-to-face interviewing (FTFI), because it may promote interview privacy and reduce SDB. However, little is known about the suitability and accuracy of ACASI in urban communities with high HIV prevalence in South Africa. To test this, we conducted a sexual behaviour survey in Cape Town, South Africa, using ACASI methods.
Participants (n = 878) answered questions about their sexual relationships on a touch screen computer in a private mobile office. We included questions at the end of the ACASI survey that were used to assess participants’ perceived ease of use, privacy, and truthfulness. Univariate logistic regression models, supported by multivariate models, were applied to identify groups of people who had adverse interviewing experiences. Further, we constructed male–female ratios of self-reported sexual behaviours as indicators of SDB. We used these indicators to compare SDB in our survey and in recent FTFI-based Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs) from Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.
Most participants found our methods easy to use (85.9%), perceived privacy (96.3%) and preferred ACASI to other modes of inquiry (82.5%) when reporting on sexual behaviours. Unemployed participants and those in the 40–70 year old age group were the least likely to find our methods easy to use (OR 0.69; 95% CI: 0.47–1.01 and OR 0.37; 95% CI: 0.23–0.58, respectively). In our survey, the male–female ratio for reporting >2 sexual partners in the past year, a concurrent relationship in the past year, and > 2 sexual partners in a lifetime was 3.4, 2.6, and 1.2, respectively— far lower than the ratios observed in the Demographic and Health Surveys.
Our analysis suggests that most participants in our survey found the ACASI modality to be acceptable, private, and user-friendly. Moreover, our results indicate lower SDB than in FTFI techniques. Targeting older and unemployed participants for ACASI training prior to taking the survey may help to improve their perception of ease and privacy.
PMCID: PMC3568408  PMID: 23368888
ACASI; Sexual behaviour; Social desirability bias; Self-reported data; Gender; South Africa
10.  Telomerase-Null Survivor Screening Identifies Novel Telomere Recombination Regulators 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003208.
Telomeres are protein–DNA structures found at the ends of linear chromosomes and are crucial for genome integrity. Telomeric DNA length is primarily maintained by the enzyme telomerase. Cells lacking telomerase will undergo senescence when telomeres become critically short. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a very small percentage of cells lacking telomerase can remain viable by lengthening telomeres via two distinct homologous recombination pathways. These “survivor” cells are classified as either Type I or Type II, with each class of survivor possessing distinct telomeric DNA structures and genetic requirements. To elucidate the regulatory pathways contributing to survivor generation, we knocked out the telomerase RNA gene TLC1 in 280 telomere-length-maintenance (TLM) gene mutants and examined telomere structures in post-senescent survivors. We uncovered new functional roles for 10 genes that affect the emerging ratio of Type I versus Type II survivors and 22 genes that are required for Type II survivor generation. We further verified that Pif1 helicase was required for Type I recombination and that the INO80 chromatin remodeling complex greatly affected the emerging frequency of Type I survivors. Finally, we found the Rad6-mediated ubiquitination pathway and the KEOPS complex were required for Type II recombination. Our data provide an independent line of evidence supporting the idea that these genes play important roles in telomere dynamics.
Author Summary
Homologous recombination is a means for an organism or a cell to repair damaged DNA in its genome. Eukaryotic chromosomes have a linear configuration with two ends that are special DNA–protein structures called telomeres. Telomeres can be recognized by the cell as DNA double-strand breaks and subjected to repair by homologous recombination. In the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, cells that lack the enzyme telomerase, which is the primary factor responsible for telomeric DNA elongation, are able to escape senescence and cell death when telomeres undergo repair via homologous recombination. In this study, we have performed genetic screens to identify genes that affect telomeric DNA recombination. By examining the telomere structures in 280 mutants, each of which lacks both a telomere-length-maintenance gene and telomerase RNA gene, we identified 32 genes that were not previously known to be involved in telomere recombination. These genes have functions in a variety of cellular processes, and our work provides new insights into the regulation of telomere recombination in the absence of telomerase.
PMCID: PMC3547846  PMID: 23390378
11.  Structure-based discovery of highly selective phosphodiesterase-9A inhibitors and implications for inhibitor design 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2012;55(19):8549-8558.
A new series of phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9) inhibitors that contain a scaffold of 6-amino-pyrazolopyrimidinone have been discovered by a combination of structure-based design and computational docking. This procedure significantly saved load of chemical synthesis and is an effective method for the discovery of inhibitors. The best compound 28 has an IC50 of 21 nM and 3.3 µM respectively for PDE9 and PDE5, and about three orders of magnitude of selectivity against other PDE families. The crystal structure of the PDE9 catalytic domain in complex with 28 has been determined and shows a hydrogen bond between 28 and Tyr424. This hydrogen bond may account for the 860-fold selectivity of 28 against PDE1B, in comparison with about 30-fold selectivity of BAY73-6691. Thus, our studies suggest that Tyr424, a unique residue of PDE8 and PDE9, is a potential target for improvement of selectivity of PDE9 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3469756  PMID: 22985069
12.  Biomarkers in an Animal Model for Revealing Neural, Hematologic, and Behavioral Correlates of PTSD 
Identification of biomarkers representing the evolution of the pathophysiology of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is vitally important, not only for objective diagnosis but also for the evaluation of therapeutic efficacy and resilience to trauma. Ongoing research is directed at identifying molecular biomarkers for PTSD, including traumatic stress induced proteins, transcriptomes, genomic variances and genetic modulators, using biologic samples from subjects' blood, saliva, urine, and postmortem brain tissues. However, the correlation of these biomarker molecules in peripheral or postmortem samples to altered brain functions associated with psychiatric symptoms in PTSD remains unresolved. Here, we present an animal model of PTSD in which both peripheral blood and central brain biomarkers, as well as behavioral phenotype, can be collected and measured, thus providing the needed correlation of the central biomarkers of PTSD, which are mechanistic and pathognomonic but cannot be collected from people, with the peripheral biomarkers and behavioral phenotypes, which can.
Our animal model of PTSD employs restraint and tail shocks repeated for three continuous days - the inescapable tail-shock model (ITS) in rats. This ITS model mimics the pathophysiology of PTSD 17, 7, 4, 10. We and others have verified that the ITS model induces behavioral and neurobiological alterations similar to those found in PTSD subjects 17, 7, 10, 9. Specifically, these stressed rats exhibit (1) a delayed and exaggerated startle response appearing several days after stressor cessation, which given the compressed time scale of the rat's life compared to a humans, corresponds to the one to three months delay of symptoms in PTSD patients (DSM-IV-TR PTSD Criterian D/E 13), (2) enhanced plasma corticosterone (CORT) for several days, indicating compromise of the hypothalamopituitary axis (HPA), and (3) retarded body weight gain after stressor cessation, indicating dysfunction of metabolic regulation.
The experimental paradigms employed for this model are: (1) a learned helplessness paradigm in the rat assayed by measurement of acoustic startle response (ASR) and a charting of body mass; (2) microdissection of the rat brain into regions and nuclei; (3) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for blood levels of CORT; (4) a gene expression microarray plus related bioinformatics tools 18. This microarray, dubbed rMNChip, focuses on mitochondrial and mitochondria-related nuclear genes in the rat so as to specifically address the neuronal bioenergetics hypothesized to be involved in PTSD.
PMCID: PMC3490307  PMID: 23093202
Medicine; Issue 68; Genetics; Physiology; Neuroscience; Immunology; PTSD; biomarker; stress; fear; startle; corticosterone; animal model; RNA; RT-PCR; gene chip; cDNA microarray; oligonucleotide microarray; amygdala; prefrontal cortex; hippocampus; cingulate cortex; hypothalamus; white blood cell
13.  HIV Treatment as Prevention: Optimising the Impact of Expanded HIV Treatment Programmes 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001258.
Until now, decisions about how to allocate ART have largely been based on maximising the therapeutic benefit of ART for patients. Since the results of the HPTN 052 study showed efficacy of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in preventing HIV transmission, there has been increased interest in the benefits of ART not only as treatment, but also in prevention. Resources for expanding ART in the short term may be limited, so the question is how to generate the most prevention benefit from realistic potential increases in the availability of ART. Although not a formal systematic review, here we review different ways in which access to ART could be expanded by prioritising access to particular groups based on clinical or behavioural factors. For each group we consider (i) the clinical and epidemiological benefits, (ii) the potential feasibility, acceptability, and equity, and (iii) the affordability and cost-effectiveness of prioritising ART access for that group. In re-evaluating the allocation of ART in light of the new data about ART preventing transmission, the goal should be to create policies that maximise epidemiological and clinical benefit while still being feasible, affordable, acceptable, and equitable.
PMCID: PMC3393661  PMID: 22802738
14.  Cotton GhMKK5 affects disease resistance, induces HR-like cell death, and reduces the tolerance to salt and drought stress in transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana  
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(10):3935-3951.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are involved in various processes from plant growth and development to biotic and abiotic stress responses. MAPK kinases (MAPKKs), which link MAPKs and MAPKK kinases (MAPKKKs), play crucial roles in MAPK cascades to mediate a variety of stress responses in plants. However, few MAPKKs have been functionally characterized in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). In this study, a novel gene, GhMKK5, from cotton belonging to the group C MAPKKs was isolated and characterized. The expression of GhMKK5 can be induced by pathogen infection, abiotic stresses, and multiple defence-related signal molecules. The overexpression of GhMKK5 in Nicotiana benthamiana enhanced the plants’ resistance to the bacterial pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum by elevating the expression of pathogen resistance (PR) genes, including PR1a, PR2, PR4, PR5, and NPR1, but increased the plants’ sensitivity to the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora parasitica var. nicotianae Tucker. Importantly, GhMKK5-overexpressing plants displayed markedly elevated expression of reactive oxygen species-related and cell death marker genes, such as NtRbohA and NtCDM, and resulted in hypersensitive response (HR)-like cell death characterized by the accumulation of H2O2. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that GhMKK5 overexpression in plants reduced their tolerance to salt and drought stresses, as determined by statistical analysis of seed germination, root length, leaf water loss, and survival rate. Drought obviously accelerated the cell death phenomenon in GhMKK5-overexpressing plants. These results suggest that GhMKK5 may play an important role in pathogen infection and the regulation of the salt and drought stress responses in plants.
PMCID: PMC3388830  PMID: 22442420
Abiotic stress tolerance; cell death; cotton; disease resistance; mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase
15.  The RNA Exosome Targets the AID Cytidine Deaminase to Both Strands of Transcribed Duplex DNA Substrates 
Cell  2011;144(3):353-363.
Activation Induced cytidine Deaminase (AID) initiates Immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain (IgH) class switch recombination (CSR) and Ig variable region somatic hypermutation (SHM) in B lymphocytes by deaminating cytidines on template and non-template strands of transcribed DNA substrates. However, the mechanism of AID access to the template DNA strand, particularly when hybridized to a nascent RNA transcript, has been an enigma. We now implicate the RNA exosome, a cellular RNA processing/degradation complex, in targeting AID to both DNA strands. In B-lineage cells activated for CSR, the RNA exosome associates with AID, accumulates on IgH switch regions in an AID-dependent fashion, and is required for optimal CSR. Moreover, both the cellular RNA exosome complex and a recombinant RNA exosome core complex impart robust AID- and transcription-dependent DNA deamination of both strands of transcribed SHM substrates in vitro. Our findings reveal a role for non-coding RNA surveillance machinery in generating antibody diversity.
PMCID: PMC3065114  PMID: 21255825
16.  SWR1 Complex Poises Heterochromatin Boundaries for Antisilencing Activity Propagation ▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(10):2391-2400.
In eukaryotes, chromosomal processes are usually modulated through chromatin-modifying complexes that are dynamically targeted to specific regions of chromatin. In this study, we show that the chromatin-remodeling complex SWR1 (SWR1-C) uses a distinct strategy to regulate heterochromatin spreading. Swr1 binds in a stable manner near heterochromatin to prepare specific chromosomal regions for H2A.Z deposition, which can be triggered by NuA4-mediated acetylation of histone H4. We also demonstrate through experiments with Swc4, a module shared by NuA4 and SWR1-C, that the coupled actions of NuA4 and SWR1-C lead to the efficient incorporation of H2A.Z into chromatin and thereby synergize heterochromatin boundary activity. Our results support a model where SWR1-C resides at the heterochromatin boundary to maintain and amplify antisilencing activity of histone H4 acetylation through incorporating H2A.Z into chromatin.
PMCID: PMC2863710  PMID: 20308321
17.  Telomere Recombination Accelerates Cellular Aging in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000535.
Telomeres are nucleoprotein structures located at the linear ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomere integrity is required for cell proliferation and survival. Although the vast majority of eukaryotic species use telomerase as a primary means for telomere maintenance, a few species can use recombination or retrotransposon-mediated maintenance pathways. Since Saccharomyces cerevisiae can use both telomerase and recombination to replicate telomeres, budding yeast provides a useful system with which to examine the evolutionary advantages of telomerase and recombination in preserving an organism or cell under natural selection. In this study, we examined the life span in telomerase-null, post-senescent type II survivors that have employed homologous recombination to replicate their telomeres. Type II recombination survivors stably maintained chromosomal integrity but exhibited a significantly reduced replicative life span. Normal patterns of cell morphology at the end of a replicative life span and aging-dependent sterility were observed in telomerase-null type II survivors, suggesting the type II survivors aged prematurely in a manner that is phenotypically consistent with that of wild-type senescent cells. The shortened life span of type II survivors was extended by calorie restriction or TOR1 deletion, but not by Fob1p inactivation or Sir2p over-expression. Intriguingly, rDNA recombination was decreased in type II survivors, indicating that the premature aging of type II survivors was not caused by an increase in extra-chromosomal rDNA circle accumulation. Reintroduction of telomerase activity immediately restored the replicative life span of type II survivors despite their heterogeneous telomeres. These results suggest that telomere recombination accelerates cellular aging in telomerase-null type II survivors and that telomerase is likely a superior telomere maintenance pathway in sustaining yeast replicative life span.
Author Summary
Telomeres are the specialized structures at the ends of eukaryotic linear chromosomes. The simple guanine-rich DNA repeats at telomeres and their associated proteins are important for chromosome stability. Most eukaryotic species have evolved an enzyme named telomerase to replicate their telomeric DNA. Telomerase usually contains a protein catalytic subunit and a RNA template subunit. A few eukaryotic species can use either telomere recombination or retrotransposon-mediated transposition to accomplish telomere elongation. Interestingly, the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae can use both telomerase and recombination to replicate telomeres. In this study, we utilize this unique eukaryotic model system to compare the efficiency of these two mechanisms in the maintenance of cellular function and life span. Telomerase-null cells that used recombination to elongate telomeres were able to maintain relatively stable chromosomes; however, they exhibited a shortened replicative life span which may represent a novel aging pathway. Reintroduction of telomerase inhibited telomere recombination and restored the replicative life span of these cells, implying that telomerase is superior to telomere recombination in the regulation of yeast replicative life span.
PMCID: PMC2694356  PMID: 19557187
18.  Saccharomyces cerevisiae Est3p dimerizes in vitro and dimerization contributes to efficient telomere replication in vivo 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(2):407-416.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae at least five genes, EST1, EST2, EST3, TLC1 and CDC13, are required for telomerase activity in vivo. The telomerase catalytic subunit Est2p and telomerase RNA subunit Tlc1 constitute the telomerase core enzyme. Est1p and Est3p are the other subunits of telomerase holoenzyme. In order to dissect the function of Est3p in telomere replication, we over-expressed and purified recombinant wild-type and mutant Est3 proteins. The wild-type protein, as well as the K71A, E104A and T115A mutants were able to dimerize in vitro, while the Est3p-D49A, -K68A or -D166A mutant showed reduced ability to dimerize. Mutations in Est3p that decreased dimerization also appeared to cause telomere shortening in vivo. Double point mutation of Est3p-D49A-K68A and single point mutation of Est3p-K68A showed similar telomere shortening, suggesting that the K68 residue might be more important for telomerase activity. The ectopic co-expression of K71A or T115A mutant with wild-type Est3p using centromere plasmids caused telomere shortening, while co-expression of the D49A, K68A, D86A or F103A mutants with wild-type Est3p had no effect on telomere length regulation. These data suggested that dimerization is important for Est3p function in vivo.
PMCID: PMC1331985  PMID: 16418502
19.  Candida albicans, a distinctive fungal model for cellular aging study 
Aging Cell  2008;7(5):746-757.
The unicellular eukaryotic organisms represent the popular model systems to understand aging in eukaryotes. Candida albicans, a polymorphic fungus, appears to be another distinctive unicellular aging model in addition to the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The two types of Candida cells, yeast (blastospore) form and hyphal (filamentous) form, have similar replicative lifespan. Taking the advantage of morphologic changes, we are able to obtain cells of different ages. Old Candida cells tend to accumulate glycogen and oxidatively damaged proteins. Deletion of the SIR2 gene causes a decrease of lifespan, while insertion of an extra copy of SIR2 extends lifespan, indicating that like in S. cerevisiae, Sir2 regulates cellular aging in C. albicans. Interestingly, Sir2 deletion does not result in the accumulation of extra-chromosomal rDNA molecules, but influences the retention of oxidized proteins in mother cells, suggesting that the extra-chromosomal rDNA molecules may not be associated with cellular aging in C. albicans. This novel aging model, which allows efficient large-scale isolation of old cells, may facilitate biochemical characterizations and genomics/proteomics studies of cellular aging, and help to verify the aging pathways observed in other organisms including S. cerevisiae.
PMCID: PMC2773528  PMID: 18691183
aging; Candida albicans; extra-chromosomal rDNA molecules; model; old cell preparation; SIR2

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