Stripe rust of wheat, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, continues to cause severe damage worldwide. Durable resistance is necessary for sustainable control of the disease. High-temperature adult-plant (HTAP) resistance, which expresses when the weather becomes warm and plants grow older, has been demonstrated to be durable. We conducted numerous studies to understand the molecular mechanisms of different types of stripe rust resistance using a transcriptomics approach. Through comparing gene expression patterns with race-specific, all-stage resistance controlled by various genes, we found that a greater diversity of genes is involved in HTAP resistance than in all-stage resistance. The genes involved in HTAP resistance are induced more slowly and their expression induction is less dramatic than genes involved in all-stage resistance. The high diversity of genes and less dramatic induction may explain durability and the incomplete expression level of HTAP resistance. Identification of transcripts may be helpful in identifying resistance controlled by different genes and in selecting better combinations of genes to combine for achieving adequate and durable resistance.
Durable resistance; Genechips; Gene expression; Microarray; Puccinia striiformis; Yellow rust.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) comprise a recently discovered class of small, non-coding RNA molecules of 21-25 nucleotides in length that regulate the gene expression by base-pairing with the transcripts of their targets i.e. protein-coding genes, leading to down-regulation or repression of the target genes. However, target gene activation has also been described. miRNAs are involved in diverse regulatory pathways, including control of developmental timing, apoptosis, cell proliferation, cell differentiation, modulation of immune response to macrophages, and organ development and are associated with many diseases, such as cancer. Computational prediction of miRNA targets is much more challenging in animals than in plants, because animal miRNAs often perform imperfect base-pairing with their target sites, unlike plant miRNAs which almost always bind their targets with near perfect complementarity. In the past years, a large number of target prediction programs and databases on experimentally validated information have been developed for animal miRNAs to fulfil the need of experimental scientists conducting miRNA research. In this review we first succinctly describe the prediction criteria (rules or principles) adapted by prediction algorithms to generate possible miRNA binding site interactions and introduce most relevant algorithms, and databases. We then summarize their applications with the help of some previously published studies. We further provide experimentally validated functional binding sites outside 3’-UTR region of target mRNAs and the resources which offer such predictions. Finally, the issue of experimental validation of miRNA binding sites will be briefly discussed.
microRNAs; miRWalk; Target prediction; Promoter; CDS; UTR; Prediction algorithm; Database.
Over the two past decades, a significant number of studies have observed animal growth traits to examine animal genetic mechanisms due to their ease of measurement and high heritability. Chicken which has a significant impact on fundamental biology is a major source of protein worldwide, making it an ideal model for examining animal growth trait development. The genetic mechanisms of chicken growth traits have been studied using quantitative trait loci mapping through genome-scan and candidate gene approaches, genome-wide association studies (GWAS), comparative genomic strategies, microRNA (miRNA) regulation of growth development analysis, and epigenomic analysis. This review focuses on chicken GWAS and miRNA regulation of growth traits. Several recently published GWAS reports showed that most genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms are located on chromosomes 1 and 4 in chickens. Chicken growth, particularly skeletal muscle growth and development, is greatly regulated by miRNA. Using dwarf and normal chickens, let-7b was found to be involved in determining chicken dwarf phenotypes by regulating growth hormone receptor gene expression.
Chicken; Genome-wide association study (GWAS); Growth traits; microRNA (miRNA) regulation; Quantitative trait loci (QTL); Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
Late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. LOAD has a complex and largely unknown etiology with strong genetic determinants. Genetics of LOAD is known to involve several genetic risk factors among which the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene seems to be the major recognized genetic determinant. Recent efforts have been made to identify other genetic factors involved in the pathophysiology of LOAD such as genes associated with a deficit of neurotrophic factors in the AD brain. Genetic variations of neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and transforming-growth-factor-β1 (TGF-β1) are known to increase the risk to develop LOAD and have also been related to depression susceptibility in LOAD. Transforming-Growth-Factor-β1 (TGF-β1) is a neurotrophic factor that exerts neuroprotective effects against ß-amyloid-induced neurodegeneration. Recent evidence suggests that a specific impairment in the signaling of TGF-β is an early event in the pathogenesis of AD. TGF-β1 protein levels are predominantly under genetic control, and the TGF-β1 gene, located on chromosome 19q13.1–3, con-tains several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) upstream and in the transcript region, such as the SNP at codon +10 (T/C) and +25 (G/C), which is known to influence the level of expression of TGF-β1. In the present review, we summarize the current literature on genetic risk factors for LOAD, focusing on the role of the TGF-β1 gene, finally discussing the possible implications of these genetic studies for the selection of patients eligible for neuroprotective strategies in AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; Depression; Drugs; Genetic polymorphism; Risk factor; Transforming-growth-factor-β1.
The prominence of the human mismatch repair (MMR) pathway is clearly reflected by the causal link between MMR gene mutations and the occurrence of Lynch syndrome (or HNPCC). The MMR family of proteins also carries out a plethora of diverse cellular functions beyond its primary role in MMR and homologous recombination. In fact, members of the MMR family of proteins are being increasingly recognized as critical mediators between DNA damage repair and cell survival. Thus, a better functional understanding of MMR proteins will undoubtedly aid the development of strategies to effectively enhance apoptotic signaling in response to DNA damage induced by anti-cancer therapeutics. Among the five known human MutS homologs, hMSH4 and hMSH5 form a unique heterocomplex. However, the expression profiles of the two genes are not correlated in a number of cell types, suggesting that they may function independently as well. Consistent with this, these two proteins are promiscuous and thought to play distinct roles through interacting with different binding partners. Here, we describe the gene and protein structures of eukaryotic MSH4 and MSH5 with a particular emphasis on their human homologues, and we discuss recent findings of the roles of these two genes in DNA damage response and repair. Finally, we delineate the potential links of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci of these two genes with several human diseases.
DNA damage response; Double-strand break (DSB); DNA mismatch repair (MMR); Homologous recombination (HR); MSH4; MSH5; MutS homologues; Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
Until recently, understanding the regulatory behavior of cells has been pursued through independent analysis of the transcriptome or the proteome. Based on the central dogma, it was generally assumed that there exist a direct correspondence between mRNA transcripts and generated protein expressions. However, recent studies have shown that the correlation between mRNA and Protein expressions can be low due to various factors such as different half lives and post transcription machinery. Thus, a joint analysis of the transcriptomic and proteomic data can provide useful insights that may not be deciphered from individual analysis of mRNA or protein expressions. This article reviews the existing major approaches for joint analysis of transcriptomic and proteomic data. We categorize the different approaches into eight main categories based on the initial algorithm and final analysis goal. We further present analogies with other domains and discuss the existing research problems in this area.
Integrated omics; Data fusion approaches; Transcriptome; Proteome; Joint modeling; Combined analysis review.
New organisms and biological systems designed to satisfy human needs are among the aims of synthetic genomics and synthetic biology. Synthetic biology seeks to model and construct biological components, functions and organisms that do not exist in nature or to redesign existing biological systems to perform new functions. Synthetic genomics, on the other hand, encompasses technologies for the generation of chemically-synthesized whole genomes or larger parts of genomes, allowing to simultaneously engineer a myriad of changes to the genetic material of organisms. Engineering complex functions or new organisms in synthetic biology are thus progressively becoming dependent on and converging with synthetic genomics. While applications from both areas have been predicted to offer great benefits by making possible new drugs, renewable chemicals or clean energy, they have also given rise to concerns about new safety, environmental and socio-economic risks – stirring an increasingly polarizing debate. Here we intend to provide an overview on recent progress in biomedical and biotechnological applications of synthetic genomics and synthetic biology as well as on arguments and evidence related to their possible benefits, risks and governance implications.
Applications; Benefits; Biofuels; Biomedicine; Environment; Risks; Synthetic genomics; Synthetic biology.
Kallmann Syndrome is a heritable disorder characterized by congenital anosmia, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and, less frequently, by other symptoms. The X-linked form of this syndrome is caused by mutations affecting the KAL1 gene that codes for the extracellular protein anosmin-1. Investigation of KAL1 function in mice has been hampered by the fact that the murine ortholog has not been identified. Thus studies performed in other animal models have contributed significantly to an understanding of the function of KAL1. In this review, the main results obtained using the two invertebrate models, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, are illustrated and the contribution provided by them to the elucidation of the molecular pathogenesis of Kallmann Syndrome is discussed in detail. Structure-function dissection studies performed in these two animal models have shown how the different domains of anosmin-1 carry out specific functions, also suggesting a novel intramolecular regulation mechanism among the different domains of the protein. The model that emerges is one in which anosmin-1 plays different roles in different tissues, interacting with different components of the extracellular matrix. We also describe how the genetic approach in C. elegans has allowed the discovery of the genes involved in KAL1-heparan sulfate proteoglycans interactions and the identification of HS6ST1 as a new disease gene.
CeKal-1; DmKal-1; Morphogenesis; Axon branching; Animal models; Extracellular matrix.
Autosomal dominant hypercholesterolemia (ADH) is characterized by an isolated elevation of plasmatic low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which predisposes to premature coronary artery disease (CAD) and early death. ADH is largely due to mutations in the low-density lipoprotein receptor gene (LDLR), the apolipoprotein B-100 gene (APOB), or the proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9). Early diagnosis and initiation of treatment can modify the disease progression and its outcomes. Therefore, cascade screening protocol with a combination of plasmatic lipid measurements and DNA testing is used to identify relatives of index cases with a clinical diagnosis of ADH. In Tunisia, an attenuated phenotypic expression of ADH was previously reported, indicating that the establishment of a special screening protocol is necessary for this population.
Autosomal dominant hypercholesterolemia; Screening protocol; Molecular default.
Recently, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have led to the discovery of hundreds of susceptibility loci that are associated with complex metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and hyperthyroidism. The majority of the susceptibility loci are common across different races or populations; while some of them show ethnicity-specific distribution. Though the abundant novel susceptibility loci identified by GWAS have provided insight into biology through the discovery of new genes or pathways that were previously not known, most of them are in introns and the associated variants cumulatively explain only a small fraction of total heritability. Here we reviewed the genetic studies on the metabolic disorders, mainly type 2 diabetes and hyperthyroidism, including candidate genes-based findings and more recently the GWAS discovery; we also included the clinical relevance of these novel loci and the gene-environmental interactions. Finally, we discussed the future direction about the genetic study on the exploring of the pathogenesis of the metabolic diseases.
Genome wide association study; Gene-environmental interaction; Hyperthyroidism; Risk prediction; Type 2 diabetes.
Alternative splicing contributes to the complexity of proteome by producing multiple mRNAs from a single gene. Affymetrix exon arrays and experiments in vivo or in vitro demonstrated that alternative splicing was regulated by mechanical stress. Expression of mechano-growth factor (MGF) which is the splicing isoform of insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) splicing variants such as VEGF121, VEGF165, VEGF206, VEGF189, VEGF165 and VEGF145 are regulated by mechanical stress. However, the mechanism of this process is not yet clear. Increasing evidences showed that the possible mechanism is related to Ca2+ signal pathway and phosphorylation signal pathway. This review proposes possible mechanisms of mechanical splicing regulation. This will contribute to the biomechanical study of alternative splicing.
Mechanical stress; Alternative splicing; Regulation mechanism; Splicing isoform; Ion channel; Signaling pathway.
The ascidian (sea squirt) C. intestinalis has become an important model organism for the study of cis-regulation. This is largely due to the technology that has been developed for assessing cis-regulatory activity through the use of transient reporter transgenes introduced into fertilized eggs. This technique allows the rapid and inexpensive testing of endogenous or altered DNA for regulatory activity in vivo. This review examines evidence that C. intestinalis
cis-regulatory elements are located more closely to coding regions than in other model organisms. I go on to compare the organization of cis-regulatory elements and conserved non-coding sequences in Ciona, mammals, and other deuterostomes for three representative C.intestinalis genes, Pax6, FoxAa, and the DlxA-B cluster, along with homologs in the other species. These comparisons point out some of the similarities and differences between cis-regulatory elements and their study in the various model organisms. Finally, I provide illustrations of how C. intestinalis lends itself to detailed study of the structure of cis-regulatory elements, which have led, and promise to continue to lead, to important insights into the fundamentals of transcriptional regulation.
Chordate; tunicate; amphioxus; transgenics; reporter; transcription; promoters; enhancers.
Cellular gene expression is governed by a complex, multi-faceted network of regulatory interactions. In the last decade, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as critical components of this network. miRNAs are small, non-coding RNA molecules that serve as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Although there has been substantive progress in our understanding of miRNA-mediated gene regulation, the mechanisms that control the expression of the miRNAs themselves are less well understood. Identifying the factors that control miRNA expression will be critical for further characterizing miRNA function in normal physiology and pathobiology. We describe recent progress in the efforts to map genomic regions that control miRNA transcription (such as promoters). In particular, we highlight the utility of large-scale “-omic” data, such as those made available by the ENCODE and the NIH Roadmap Epigenomics consortiums, for the discovery of transcriptional control elements that govern miRNA expression. Finally, we discuss how integrative analysis of complementary genetic datasets, such as the NHGRI Genome Wide Association Studies Catalog, can predict novel roles for transcriptional mis-regulation of miRNAs in complex disease etiology.
Chromatin; complex disease; epigenome; genomics; microRNA; nascent RNA; promoter; transcription.
T-lymphocytes play a central role in the effector and regulatory mechanisms of the adaptive immune response. Upon exiting the thymus they begin to undergo a series of phenotypic and functional changes that continue throughout the lifetime and being most pronounced in the elderly. The reason postulated for this is that the dynamic processes of repeated interaction with cognate antigens lead to multiple division cycles involving a high degree of cell differentiation, senescence, restriction of the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire, and cell cycle arrest. This cell cycle arrest is associated with the loss of telomere sequences from the ends of chromosomes. Telomere length is reduced at each cell cycle, and critically short telomeres recruit components of the DNA repair machinery and trigger replicative senescence or apoptosis. Repetitively stimulated T-cells become refractory to telomerase induction, suffer telomere erosion and enter replicative senescence. The latter is characterized by the accumulation of highly differentiated T-cells with new acquired functional capabilities, which can be caused by aberrant expression of genes normally suppressed by epigenetic mechanisms in CD4+ or CD8+ T-cells. Age-dependent demethylation and overexpression of genes normally suppressed by DNA methylation have been demonstrated in senescent subsets of T-lymphocytes. Thus, T-cells, principally CD4+CD28null T-cells, aberrantly express genes, including those of the KIR gene family and cytotoxic proteins such as perforin, and overexpress CD70, IFN-γ, LFA-1 and others. In summary, owing to a lifetime of exposure to and proliferation against a variety of pathogens, highly differentiated T-cells suffer molecular modifications that alter their cellular homeostasis mechanisms.
Differentiation; Epigenetic regulation; Immunosenescence; T-cell signalling; Telomere shortening; Thymic involution; T-lymphocytes.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells are characterized by the expression of an extensive and interconnected network of pluripotency factors which are downregulated in specialized cells. Epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation and histone modifications, are also important in maintaining this pluripotency program in ES cells and in guiding correct differentiation of the developing embryo. Methylation of the cytosine base of DNA blocks gene expression in all cell types and further modifications of methylated cytosine have recently been discovered. These new modifications, putative intermediates in a pathway to erase DNA methylation marks, are catalyzed by the ten-eleven translocation (Tet) proteins, specifically by Tet1 and Tet2 in ES cells. Surprisingly, Tet1 shows repressive along with active effects on gene expression depending on its distribution throughout the genome and co-localization with Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2). PRC2 di- and tri-methylates lysine 27 of histone 3 (H3K27me2/3 activity), marking genes for repression. In ES cells, almost all gene loci containing the repressive H3K27me3 modification also bear the active H3K4me3 modification, creating “bivalent domains” which mark important developmental regulators for timely activation. Incorporation of Tet1 into the bivalent domain paradigm is a new and exciting development in the epigenetics field, and the ramifications of this novel crosstalk between DNA and histone modifications need to be further investigated. This knowledge would aid reprogramming of specialized cells back into pluripotent stem cells and advance understanding of epigenetic perturbations in cancer.
Tet; ES cells; Polycomb repressive complex; DNA modification; Histone modification; Epigenetics; 5mC; 5hmC.
Collective and directed cell movements are crucial for diverse developmental processes in the animal kingdom, but they are also involved in wound repair and disease. During these processes groups of cells are oriented within the tissue plane, which is referred to as planar cell polarity (PCP). This requires a tight regulation that is in part conducted by the PCP pathway. Although this pathway was initially characterized in flies, subsequent studies in vertebrates revealed a set of conserved core factors but also effector molecules and signal modulators, which build the fundamental PCP machinery. The PCP pathway in Drosophila regulates several developmental processes involving collective cell movements such as border cell migration during oogenesis, ommatidial rotation during eye development, and embryonic dorsal closure. During vertebrate embryogenesis, PCP signaling also controls collective and directed cell movements including convergent extension during gastrulation, neural tube closure, neural crest cell migration, or heart morphogenesis. Similarly, PCP signaling is linked to processes such as wound repair, and cancer invasion and metastasis in adults. As a consequence, disruption of PCP signaling leads to pathological conditions. In this review, we will summarize recent findings about the role of PCP signaling in collective cell movements in flies and vertebrates. In addition, we will focus on how studies in Drosophila have been relevant to our understanding of the PCP molecular machinery and will describe several developmental defects and human disorders in which PCP signaling is compromised. Therefore, new discoveries about the contribution of this pathway to collective cell movements could provide new potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets for these disorders.
Collective cell movements; Development; Drosophila; Disease; Morphogenesis; Planar cell polarity.
With the aid of novel and powerful molecular biology techniques, recent years have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of studies reporting the involvement of complex structural variants in several genomic disorders. In fact, with the discovery of Copy Number Variants (CNVs) and other forms of unbalanced structural variation, much attention has been directed to the detection and characterization of such rearrangements, as well as the identification of the mechanisms involved in their formation. However, it has long been appreciated that chromosomes can undergo other forms of structural changes - balanced rearrangements - that do not involve quantitative variation of genetic material. Indeed, a particular subtype of balanced rearrangement – inversions – was recently found to be far more common than had been predicted from traditional cytogenetics. Chromosomal inversions alter the orientation of a specific genomic sequence and, unless involving breaks in coding or regulatory regions (and, disregarding complex trans effects, in their close vicinity), appear to be phenotypically silent. Such a surprising finding, which is difficult to reconcile with the classical interpretation of inversions as a mechanism causing subfertility (and ultimately reproductive isolation), motivated a new series of theoretical and empirical studies dedicated to understand their role in human genome evolution and to explore their possible association to complex genetic disorders. With this review, we attempt to describe the latest methodological improvements to inversions detection at a genome wide level, while exploring some of the possible implications of inversion rearrangements on the evolution of the human genome.
Chromosomal inversions; Genome architecture; Demographic history; Human evolution; Non-allelic homologous recombination; Segmental duplications.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs), a large group of proteins which recognize various pathogen-associated molecular patterns, are critical for the normal function of the innate immune system. Following their discovery many single nucleotide polymorphisms within TLRs and components of their signaling machinery have been discovered and subsequently implicated in a wide range of human diseases including atherosclerosis, sepsis, asthma, and immunodeficiency. This review discusses the effect of genetic variation on TLR function and how they may precipitate disease.
Atherosclerosis; Genetic association studies; Inflammation; Innate immunity; Single nucleotide polymorphisms; Toll-like receptors.
A genetic component in the susceptibility to multiple sclerosis (MS) has long been known, and the first and major genetic risk factor, the HLA region, was identified in the 1970’s. However, only with the advent of genome-wide association studies in the past five years did the list of risk factors for MS grow from 1 to over 50. In this review, we summarize the search for MS risk genes and the latest results. Comparison with data from other autoimmune and neurological diseases and from animal models indicates parallels and differences between diseases. We discuss how these translate into an improved understanding of disease mechanisms, and address current challenges such as genotype-phenotype correlations, functional mechanisms of risk variants and the missing heritability.
Multiple sclerosis; Genetics; Genome-wide association; Risk; Linkage; Single nucleotide polymorphism.
Whole-genome studies involving a phenotype of interest are increasingly prevalent, in part due to a dramatic increase in speed at which many high throughput technologies can be performed coupled to simultaneous decreases in cost. This type of genome-scale methodology has been applied to the phenotype of lifespan, as well as to whole-transcriptome changes during the aging process or in mutants affecting aging. The value of high throughput discovery-based science in this field is clearly evident, but will it yield a true systems-level understanding of the aging process? Here we review some of this work to date, focusing on recent findings and the unanswered puzzles to which they point. In this context, we also discuss recent technological advances and some of the likely future directions that they portend.
Aging; Genomic; High-throughput; Lifespan; Whole-genome; Yeast; C. elegans.
Progress in aging research has identified genetic and environmental factors that regulate longevity across species. The nematode worm Caenorhabditis
elegans is a genetically tractable model system that has been widely used to investigate the molecular mechanisms of aging, and the development of RNA interference (RNAi) technology has provided a powerful tool for performing large-scale genetic screens in this organism. Genome-wide screens have identified hundreds of genes that influence lifespan, many of which fall into distinct functional classes and pathways. The purpose of this review is to summarize the results of large-scale RNAi longevity screens in C. elegans, and to provide an in-depth comparison and analysis of their methodology and most significant findings.
Dietary restriction; FOXO; Genomic; Longevity; IGF-1; Insulin; Mitochondria.