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1.  The Genetic Architecture Of Maize Height 
Genetics  2014;196(4):1337-1356.
Height is one of the most heritable and easily measured traits in maize (Zea mays L.). Given a pedigree or estimates of the genomic identity-by-state among related plants, height is also accurately predictable. But, mapping alleles explaining natural variation in maize height remains a formidable challenge. To address this challenge, we measured the plant height, ear height, flowering time, and node counts of plants grown in >64,500 plots across 13 environments. These plots contained >7300 inbreds representing most publically available maize inbreds in the United States and families of the maize Nested Association Mapping (NAM) panel. Joint-linkage mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL), fine mapping in near isogenic lines (NILs), genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP) were performed. The heritability of maize height was estimated to be >90%. Mapping NAM family-nested QTL revealed the largest explained 2.1 ± 0.9% of height variation. The effects of two tropical alleles at this QTL were independently validated by fine mapping in NIL families. Several significant associations found by GWAS colocalized with established height loci, including brassinosteroid-deficient dwarf1, dwarf plant1, and semi-dwarf2. GBLUP explained >80% of height variation in the panels and outperformed bootstrap aggregation of family-nested QTL models in evaluations of prediction accuracy. These results revealed maize height was under strong genetic control and had a highly polygenic genetic architecture. They also showed that multiple models of genetic architecture differing in polygenicity and effect sizes can plausibly explain a population’s variation in maize height, but they may vary in predictive efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3982682  PMID: 24514905
GBLUP; height; maize; plant
2.  Template Switching During Break-Induced Replication Is Promoted by the Mph1 Helicase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics  2014;196(4):1017-1028.
Chromosomal double-strand breaks (DSBs) that have only one end with homology to a donor duplex undergo repair by strand invasion followed by replication to the chromosome terminus (break-induced replication, BIR). Using a transformation-based assay system, it was previously shown that BIR could occur by several rounds of strand invasion, DNA synthesis, and dissociation. Here we describe a modification of the transformation-based assay to facilitate detection of switching between donor templates during BIR by genetic selection in diploid yeast. In addition to the expected recovery of template switch products, we found a high frequency of recombination between chromosome homologs during BIR, suggesting transfer of the DSB from the transforming linear DNA to the donor chromosome, initiating secondary recombination events. The frequency of BIR increased in the mph1Δ mutant, but the percentage of template switch events was significantly decreased, revealing an important role for Mph1 in promoting BIR-associated template switching. In addition, we show that the Mus81, Rad1, and Yen1 structure-selective nucleases act redundantly to facilitate BIR.
PMCID: PMC3982708  PMID: 24496010
placeholder; recombination; replication; Mph1; Pif1; Mus81
3.  Highly Specific and Efficient CRISPR/Cas9-Catalyzed Homology-Directed Repair in Drosophila 
Genetics  2014;196(4):961-971.
We and others recently demonstrated that the readily programmable CRISPR/Cas9 system can be used to edit the Drosophila genome. However, most applications to date have relied on aberrant DNA repair to stochastically generate frameshifting indels and adoption has been limited by a lack of tools for efficient identification of targeted events. Here we report optimized tools and techniques for expanded application of the CRISPR/Cas9 system in Drosophila through homology-directed repair (HDR) with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) donor templates that facilitate complex genome engineering through the precise incorporation of large DNA sequences, including screenable markers. Using these donors, we demonstrate the replacement of a gene with exogenous sequences and the generation of a conditional allele. To optimize efficiency and specificity, we generated transgenic flies that express Cas9 in the germline and directly compared HDR and off-target cleavage rates of different approaches for delivering CRISPR components. We also investigated HDR efficiency in a mutant background previously demonstrated to bias DNA repair toward HDR. Finally, we developed a web-based tool that identifies CRISPR target sites and evaluates their potential for off-target cleavage using empirically rooted rules. Overall, we have found that injection of a dsDNA donor and guide RNA-encoding plasmids into vasa-Cas9 flies yields the highest efficiency HDR and that target sites can be selected to avoid off-target mutations. Efficient and specific CRISPR/Cas9-mediated HDR opens the door to a broad array of complex genome modifications and greatly expands the utility of CRISPR technology for Drosophila research.
PMCID: PMC3982687  PMID: 24478335
CRISPR RNA; Cas9; homologous recombination; genome engineering; Drosophila
4.  Discovery of Supernumerary B Chromosomes in Drosophila melanogaster 
Genetics  2014;196(4):1007-1016.
B chromosomes are small, heterochromatic chromosomes that are transmitted in a non-Mendelian manner. We have identified a stock of Drosophila melanogaster that recently (within the last decade) acquired an average of 10 B chromosomes per fly. These B chromosomes are transmitted by both males and females and can be maintained for multiple generations in a wild-type genetic background despite the fact that they cause high levels of 4th chromosome meiotic nondisjunction in females. Most curiously, these B chromosomes are mitotically unstable, suggesting either the absence of critical chromosomal sites or the inability of the meiotic or mitotic systems to cope with many additional chromosomes. These B chromosomes also contain centromeres and are primarily composed of the heterochromatic AATAT satellite sequence. Although the AATAT sequence comprises the majority of the 4th chromosome heterochromatin, the B chromosomes lack most, if not all, 4th chromosome euchromatin. Presumably as a consequence of their heterochromatic content, these B chromosomes significantly modify position-effect variegation in two separate reporter systems, acting as enhancers of variegation in one case and suppressors in the other. The identification of B chromosomes in a genetically tractable organism like D. melanogaster will facilitate studies of chromosome evolution and the analysis of the mechanisms by which meiotic and mitotic processes cope with additional chromosomes.
PMCID: PMC3982707  PMID: 24478336
meiosis; supernumerary chromosomes; minichromosomes; mitotic instability
5.  Loss of Caenorhabditis elegans BRCA1 Promotes Genome Stability During Replication in smc-5 Mutants 
Genetics  2014;196(4):985-999.
DNA damage by ultraviolet (UV) light poses a risk for mutagenesis and a potential hindrance for cell cycle progression. Cells cope with UV-induced DNA damage through two general strategies to repair the damaged nucleotides and to promote cell cycle progression in the presence of UV-damaged DNA. Defining the genetic pathways and understanding how they function together to enable effective tolerance to UV remains an important area of research. The structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins form distinct complexes that maintain genome stability during chromosome segregation, homologous recombination, and DNA replication. Using a forward genetic screen, we identified two alleles of smc-5 that exacerbate UV sensitivity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Germ cells of smc-5-defective animals show reduced proliferation, sensitivity to perturbed replication, chromatin bridge formation, and accumulation of RAD-51 foci that indicate the activation of homologous recombination at DNA double-strand breaks. Mutations in the translesion synthesis polymerase polh-1 act synergistically with smc-5 mutations in provoking genome instability after UV-induced DNA damage. In contrast, the DNA damage accumulation and sensitivity of smc-5 mutant strains to replication impediments are suppressed by mutations in the C. elegans BRCA1/BARD1 homologs, brc-1 and brd-1. We propose that SMC-5/6 promotes replication fork stability and facilitates recombination-dependent repair when the BRC-1/BRD-1 complex initiates homologous recombination at stalled replication forks. Our data suggest that BRC-1/BRD-1 can both promote and antagonize genome stability depending on whether homologous recombination is initiated during DNA double-strand break repair or during replication stalling.
PMCID: PMC3982690  PMID: 24424777
SMC5/6; DNA replication; BRCA1; DNA repair; Caenorhabditis elegans
6.  The Nature and Extent of Mutational Pleiotropy in Gene Expression of Male Drosophila serrata 
Genetics  2014;196(3):911-921.
The nature and extent of mutational pleiotropy remain largely unknown, despite the central role that pleiotropy plays in many areas of biology, including human disease, agricultural production, and evolution. Here, we investigate the variation in 11,604 gene expression traits among 41 mutation accumulation (MA) lines of Drosophila serrata. We first confirmed that these expression phenotypes were heritable, detecting genetic variation in 96% of them in an outbred, natural population of D. serrata. Among the MA lines, 3385 (29%) of expression traits were variable, with a mean mutational heritability of 0.0005. In most traits, variation was generated by mutations of relatively small phenotypic effect; putative mutations with effects of greater than one phenotypic standard deviation were observed for only 8% of traits. With most (71%) traits unaffected by any mutation, our data provide no support for universal pleiotropy. We further characterized mutational pleiotropy in the 3385 variable traits, using sets of 5, randomly assigned, traits. Covariance among traits chosen at random with respect to their biological function is expected only if pleiotropy is extensive. Taking an analytical approach in which the variance unique to each trait in the random 5-trait sets was partitioned from variance shared among traits, we detected significant (at 5% false discovery rate) mutational covariance in 21% of sets. This frequency of statistically supported covariance implied that at least some mutations must pleiotropically affect a substantial number of traits (>70; 0.6% of all measured traits).
PMCID: PMC3948815  PMID: 24402375
evolution; pleiotropy; quantitative genetics; transcriptome; variational module
7.  Higher-Order Septin Assembly Is Driven by GTP-Promoted Conformational Changes: Evidence From Unbiased Mutational Analysis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics  2014;196(3):711-727.
Septin proteins bind GTP and heterooligomerize into filaments with conserved functions across a wide range of eukaryotes. Most septins hydrolyze GTP, altering the oligomerization interfaces; yet mutations designed to abolish nucleotide binding or hydrolysis by yeast septins perturb function only at high temperatures. Here, we apply an unbiased mutational approach to this problem. Mutations causing defects at high temperature mapped exclusively to the oligomerization interface encompassing the GTP-binding pocket, or to the pocket itself. Strikingly, cold-sensitive defects arise when certain of these same mutations are coexpressed with a wild-type allele, suggestive of a novel mode of dominance involving incompatibility between mutant and wild-type molecules at the septin–septin interfaces that mediate filament polymerization. A different cold-sensitive mutant harbors a substitution in an unstudied but highly conserved region of the septin Cdc12. A homologous domain in the small GTPase Ran allosterically regulates GTP-binding domain conformations, pointing to a possible new functional domain in some septins. Finally, we identify a mutation in septin Cdc3 that restores the high-temperature assembly competence of a mutant allele of septin Cdc10, likely by adopting a conformation more compatible with nucleotide-free Cdc10. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that GTP binding and hydrolysis promote, but are not required for, one-time events—presumably oligomerization-associated conformational changes—during assembly of the building blocks of septin filaments. Restrictive temperatures impose conformational constraints on mutant septin proteins, preventing new assembly and in certain cases destabilizing existing assemblies. These insights from yeast relate directly to disease-causing mutations in human septins.
PMCID: PMC3948802  PMID: 24398420
temperature-sensitive mutants; yeast forward genetics; higher-order cytoskeletal assembly; allosteric regulation; ligand binding
8.  A Bayesian MCMC Approach to Assess the Complete Distribution of Fitness Effects of New Mutations: Uncovering the Potential for Adaptive Walks in Challenging Environments 
Genetics  2014;196(3):841-852.
The role of adaptation in the evolutionary process has been contentious for decades. At the heart of the century-old debate between neutralists and selectionists lies the distribution of fitness effects (DFE)—that is, the selective effect of all mutations. Attempts to describe the DFE have been varied, occupying theoreticians and experimentalists alike. New high-throughput techniques stand to make important contributions to empirical efforts to characterize the DFE, but the usefulness of such approaches depends on the availability of robust statistical methods for their interpretation. We here present and discuss a Bayesian MCMC approach to estimate fitness from deep sequencing data and use it to assess the DFE for the same 560 point mutations in a coding region of Hsp90 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae across six different environmental conditions. Using these estimates, we compare the differences in the DFEs resulting from mutations covering one-, two-, and three-nucleotide steps from the wild type—showing that multiple-step mutations harbor more potential for adaptation in challenging environments, but also tend to be more deleterious in the standard environment. All observations are discussed in the light of expectations arising from Fisher’s geometric model.
PMCID: PMC3948810  PMID: 24398421
adaptation; experimental evolution; Fisher’s geometric model (FGM); adaptive walk; distribution of fitness effects
9.  In Memoriam Fred Sherman—The First Yeast Molecular Biologist 
Genetics  2014;196(1):363-364.
PMCID: PMC3872197
10.  Chromosome Segregation in Budding Yeast: Sister Chromatid Cohesion and Related Mechanisms 
Genetics  2014;196(1):31-63.
Studies on budding yeast have exposed the highly conserved mechanisms by which duplicated chromosomes are evenly distributed to daughter cells at the metaphase–anaphase transition. The establishment of proteinaceous bridges between sister chromatids, a function provided by a ring-shaped complex known as cohesin, is central to accurate segregation. It is the destruction of this cohesin that triggers the segregation of chromosomes following their proper attachment to microtubules. Since it is irreversible, this process must be tightly controlled and driven to completion. Furthermore, during meiosis, modifications must be put in place to allow the segregation of maternal and paternal chromosomes in the first division for gamete formation. Here, I review the pioneering work from budding yeast that has led to a molecular understanding of the establishment and destruction of cohesion.
PMCID: PMC3872193  PMID: 24395824
Keyords placeholder; Mitosis; Meiosis; Chromosome; Cohesin; Segregation
11.  An Evaluation of High-Throughput Approaches to QTL Mapping in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics  2013;196(3):853-865.
Dissecting the molecular basis of quantitative traits is a significant challenge and is essential for understanding complex diseases. Even in model organisms, precisely determining causative genes and their interactions has remained elusive, due in part to difficulty in narrowing intervals to single genes and in detecting epistasis or linked quantitative trait loci. These difficulties are exacerbated by limitations in experimental design, such as low numbers of analyzed individuals or of polymorphisms between parental genomes. We address these challenges by applying three independent high-throughput approaches for QTL mapping to map the genetic variants underlying 11 phenotypes in two genetically distant Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains, namely (1) individual analysis of >700 meiotic segregants, (2) bulk segregant analysis, and (3) reciprocal hemizygosity scanning, a new genome-wide method that we developed. We reveal differences in the performance of each approach and, by combining them, identify eight polymorphic genes that affect eight different phenotypes: colony shape, flocculation, growth on two nonfermentable carbon sources, and resistance to two drugs, salt, and high temperature. Our results demonstrate the power of individual segregant analysis to dissect QTL and address the underestimated contribution of interactions between variants. We also reveal confounding factors like mutations and aneuploidy in pooled approaches, providing valuable lessons for future designs of complex trait mapping studies.
PMCID: PMC3948811  PMID: 24374355
QTL mapping; bulk segregant analysis; individual segregant analysis; next generation sequencing; yeast; reciprocal hemizygosity scanning
12.  Genome Destabilizing Mutator Alleles Drive Specific Mutational Trajectories in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics  2013;196(2):403-412.
In addition to environmental factors and intrinsic variations in base substitution rates, specific genome-destabilizing mutations can shape the mutational trajectory of genomes. How specific alleles influence the nature and position of accumulated mutations in a genomic context is largely unknown. Understanding the impact of genome-destabilizing alleles is particularly relevant to cancer genomes where biased mutational signatures are identifiable. We first created a more complete picture of cellular pathways that impact mutation rate using a primary screen to identify essential Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene mutations that cause mutator phenotypes. Drawing primarily on new alleles identified in this resource, we measure the impact of diverse mutator alleles on mutation patterns directly by whole-genome sequencing of 68 mutation-accumulation strains derived from wild-type and 11 parental mutator genotypes. The accumulated mutations differ across mutator strains, displaying base-substitution biases, allele-specific mutation hotspots, and break-associated mutation clustering. For example, in mutants of POLα and the Cdc13–Stn1–Ten1 complex, we find a distinct subtelomeric bias for mutations that we show is independent of the target sequence. Together our data suggest that specific genome-instability mutations are sufficient to drive discrete mutational signatures, some of which share properties with mutation patterns seen in tumors. Thus, in a population of cells, genome-instability mutations could influence clonal evolution by establishing discrete mutational trajectories for genomes.
PMCID: PMC3914614  PMID: 24336748
mutator; genome instability; mutation signature; high-throughput sequencing; yeast genome
13.  Intergenic Transcriptional Interference Is Blocked by RNA Polymerase III Transcription Factor TFIIIB in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genetics  2013;196(2):427-438.
The major function of eukaryotic RNA polymerase III is to transcribe transfer RNA, 5S ribosomal RNA, and other small non-protein-coding RNA molecules. Assembly of the RNA polymerase III complex on chromosomal DNA requires the sequential binding of transcription factor complexes TFIIIC and TFIIIB. Recent evidence has suggested that in addition to producing RNA transcripts, chromatin-assembled RNA polymerase III complexes may mediate additional nuclear functions that include chromatin boundary, nucleosome phasing, and general genome organization activities. This study provides evidence of another such “extratranscriptional” activity of assembled RNA polymerase III complexes, which is the ability to block progression of intergenic RNA polymerase II transcription. We demonstrate that the RNA polymerase III complex bound to the tRNA gene upstream of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ATG31 gene protects the ATG31 promoter against readthrough transcriptional interference from the upstream noncoding intergenic SUT467 transcription unit. This protection is predominately mediated by binding of the TFIIIB complex. When TFIIIB binding to this tRNA gene is weakened, an extended SUT467–ATG31 readthrough transcript is produced, resulting in compromised ATG31 translation. Since the ATG31 gene product is required for autophagy, strains expressing the readthrough transcript exhibit defective autophagy induction and reduced fitness under autophagy-inducing nitrogen starvation conditions. Given the recent discovery of widespread pervasive transcription in all forms of life, protection of neighboring genes from intergenic transcriptional interference may be a key extratranscriptional function of assembled RNA polymerase III complexes and possibly other DNA binding proteins.
PMCID: PMC3914616  PMID: 24336746
RNA polymerase III; TFIIIB; TFIIIC; extratranscriptional effects; noncoding transcription
14.  An Age-of-Allele Test of Neutrality for Transposable Element Insertions 
Genetics  2013;196(2):523-538.
How natural selection acts to limit the proliferation of transposable elements (TEs) in genomes has been of interest to evolutionary biologists for many years. To describe TE dynamics in populations, previous studies have used models of transposition–selection equilibrium that assume a constant rate of transposition. However, since TE invasions are known to happen in bursts through time, this assumption may not be reasonable. Here we propose a test of neutrality for TE insertions that does not rely on the assumption of a constant transposition rate. We consider the case of TE insertions that have been ascertained from a single haploid reference genome sequence. By conditioning on the age of an individual TE insertion allele (inferred by the number of unique substitutions that have occurred within the particular TE sequence since insertion), we determine the probability distribution of the insertion allele frequency in a population sample under neutrality. Taking models of varying population size into account, we then evaluate predictions of our model against allele frequency data from 190 retrotransposon insertions sampled from North American and African populations of Drosophila melanogaster. Using this nonequilibrium neutral model, we are able to explain ∼80% of the variance in TE insertion allele frequencies based on age alone. Controlling for both nonequilibrium dynamics of transposition and host demography, we provide evidence for negative selection acting against most TEs as well as for positive selection acting on a small subset of TEs. Our work establishes a new framework for the analysis of the evolutionary forces governing large insertion mutations like TEs, gene duplications, or other copy number variants.
PMCID: PMC3914624  PMID: 24336751
transposable elements (TEs); test of neutrality; Drosophila melanogaster; genome evolution; population genomics
15.  SMG-ly Knocking Out Gene Expression in Specific Cells: An Educational Primer for Use with “A Novel Strategy for Cell-Autonomous Gene Knockdown in Caenorhabditis elegans Defines a Cell-Specific Function for the G-Protein Subunit GOA-1” 
Genetics  2013;195(4):1201-1207.
A recent article by Maher et al. in GENETICS introduces an alternative approach to cell-type-specific gene knockdown in Caenorhabditis elegans, using nonsense-mediated decay. This strategy has the potential to be applicable to other organisms (this strategy requires that animals can survive without nonsense-mediated decay—not all can). This Primer article provides a guide and resource for educators and students by describing different gene knockdown methodologies, by assisting with the technically difficult portions of the Maher et al. article, and by providing conceptual questions relating to the article.
Related article in GENETICS: Maher, K. N., A. Swaminathan, P. Patel, and D. L. Chase, 2013 A novel strategy for cell-autonomous gene knockdown in Caenorhabditis elegans defines a cell-specific function for the G-protein subunit GOA-1. Genetics 194: 363–373.
PMCID: PMC3832266  PMID: 24302743
cell-specific gene expression; nonsense-mediated decay (NMD); education
16.  Genetic Complexity in a Drosophila Model of Diabetes-Associated Misfolded Human Proinsulin 
Genetics  2013;196(2):539-555.
Drosophila melanogaster has been widely used as a model of human Mendelian disease, but its value in modeling complex disease has received little attention. Fly models of complex disease would enable high-resolution mapping of disease-modifying loci and the identification of novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, we describe a fly model of permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus and explore the complexity of this model. The approach involves the transgenic expression of a misfolded mutant of human preproinsulin, hINSC96Y, which is a cause of permanent neonatal diabetes. When expressed in fly imaginal discs, hINSC96Y causes a reduction of adult structures, including the eye, wing, and notum. Eye imaginal discs exhibit defects in both the structure and the arrangement of ommatidia. In the wing, expression of hINSC96Y leads to ectopic expression of veins and mechano-sensory organs, indicating disruption of wild-type signaling processes regulating cell fates. These readily measurable “disease” phenotypes are sensitive to temperature, gene dose, and sex. Mutant (but not wild-type) proinsulin expression in the eye imaginal disc induces IRE1-mediated XBP1 alternative splicing, a signal for endoplasmic reticulum stress response activation, and produces global change in gene expression. Mutant hINS transgene tester strains, when crossed to stocks from the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, produce F1 adults with a continuous range of disease phenotypes and large broad-sense heritability. Surprisingly, the severity of mutant hINS-induced disease in the eye is not correlated with that in the notum in these crosses, nor with eye reduction phenotypes caused by the expression of two dominant eye mutants acting in two different eye development pathways, Drop (Dr) or Lobe (L), when crossed into the same genetic backgrounds. The tissue specificity of genetic variability for mutant hINS-induced disease has, therefore, its own distinct signature. The genetic dominance of disease-specific phenotypic variability in our model of misfolded human proinsulin makes this approach amenable to genome-wide association study in a simple F1 screen of natural variation.
PMCID: PMC3914625  PMID: 24281154
mutant insulin; diabetes; misfolded protein; Drosophila; complex disease
17.  Effect of Genetic Variation in a Drosophila Model of Diabetes-Associated Misfolded Human Proinsulin 
Genetics  2013;196(2):557-567.
The identification and validation of gene–gene interactions is a major challenge in human studies. Here, we explore an approach for studying epistasis in humans using a Drosophila melanogaster model of neonatal diabetes mellitus. Expression of the mutant preproinsulin (hINSC96Y) in the eye imaginal disc mimics the human disease: it activates conserved stress-response pathways and leads to cell death (reduction in eye area). Dominant-acting variants in wild-derived inbred lines from the Drosophila Genetics Reference Panel produce a continuous, highly heritable distribution of eye-degeneration phenotypes in a hINSC96Y background. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 154 sequenced lines identified a sharp peak on chromosome 3L, which mapped to a 400-bp linkage block within an intron of the gene sulfateless (sfl). RNAi knockdown of sfl enhanced the eye-degeneration phenotype in a mutant-hINS-dependent manner. RNAi against two additional genes in the heparan sulfate (HS) biosynthetic pathway (ttv and botv), in which sfl acts, also modified the eye phenotype in a hINSC96Y-dependent manner, strongly suggesting a novel link between HS-modified proteins and cellular responses to misfolded proteins. Finally, we evaluated allele-specific expression difference between the two major sfl-intronic haplotypes in heterozygtes. The results showed significant heterogeneity in marker-associated gene expression, thereby leaving the causal mutation(s) and its mechanism unidentified. In conclusion, the ability to create a model of human genetic disease, map a QTL by GWAS to a specific gene, and validate its contribution to disease with available genetic resources and the potential to experimentally link the variant to a molecular mechanism demonstrate the many advantages Drosophila holds in determining the genetic underpinnings of human disease.
PMCID: PMC3914626  PMID: 24281155
mutant insulin; Drosophila; genome-wide association study; heparan sulfate proteoglycan; sulfateless
18.  Genetic Variation for Life History Sensitivity to Seasonal Warming in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Genetics  2013;196(2):569-577.
Climate change has altered life history events in many plant species; however, little is known about genetic variation underlying seasonal thermal response. In this study, we simulated current and three future warming climates and measured flowering time across a globally diverse set of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. We found that increased diurnal and seasonal temperature (1°–3°) decreased flowering time in two fall cohorts. The early fall cohort was unique in that both rapid cycling and overwintering life history strategies were revealed; the proportion of rapid cycling plants increased by 3–7% for each 1° temperature increase. We performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify the underlying genetic basis of thermal sensitivity. GWAS identified five main-effect quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling flowering time and another five QTL with thermal sensitivity. Candidate genes include known flowering loci; a cochaperone that interacts with heat-shock protein 90; and a flowering hormone, gibberellic acid, a biosynthetic enzyme. The identified genetic architecture allowed accurate prediction of flowering phenotypes (R2 > 0.95) that has application for genomic selection of adaptive genotypes for future environments. This work may serve as a reference for breeding and conservation genetic studies under changing environments.
PMCID: PMC3914627  PMID: 24281156
Arabidopsis; genome-wide association studies (GWAS); flowering time; growing season; climate change
19.  Genetics of Adverse Reactions to Haloperidol in a Mouse Diallel: A Drug–Placebo Experiment and Bayesian Causal Analysis 
Genetics  2013;196(1):321-347.
Haloperidol is an efficacious antipsychotic drug that has serious, unpredictable motor side effects that limit its utility and cause noncompliance in many patients. Using a drug–placebo diallel of the eight founder strains of the Collaborative Cross and their F1 hybrids, we characterized aggregate effects of genetics, sex, parent of origin, and their combinations on haloperidol response. Treating matched pairs of both sexes with drug or placebo, we measured changes in the following: open field activity, inclined screen rigidity, orofacial movements, prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle response, plasma and brain drug level measurements, and body weight. To understand the genetic architecture of haloperidol response we introduce new statistical methodology linking heritable variation with causal effect of drug treatment. Our new estimators, “difference of models” and “multiple-impute matched pairs”, are motivated by the Neyman–Rubin potential outcomes framework and extend our existing Bayesian hierarchical model for the diallel (Lenarcic et al. 2012). Drug-induced rigidity after chronic treatment was affected by mainly additive genetics and parent-of-origin effects (accounting for 28% and 14.8% of the variance), with NZO/HILtJ and 129S1/SvlmJ contributions tending to increase this side effect. Locomotor activity after acute treatment, by contrast, was more affected by strain-specific inbreeding (12.8%). In addition to drug response phenotypes, we examined diallel effects on behavior before treatment and found not only effects of additive genetics (10.2–53.2%) but also strong effects of epistasis (10.64–25.2%). In particular: prepulse inhibition showed additivity and epistasis in about equal proportions (26.1% and 23.7%); there was evidence of nonreciprocal epistasis in pretreatment activity and rigidity; and we estimated a range of effects on body weight that replicate those found in our previous work. Our results provide the first quantitative description of the genetic architecture of haloperidol response in mice and indicate that additive, dominance-like inbreeding and parent-of-origin effects contribute strongly to treatment effect heterogeneity for this drug.
PMCID: PMC3872195  PMID: 24240528
iallel; MCMC; Collaborative Cross; inbred strains; haloperidol; causal modeling; treatment effect heterogeneity; pharmacogenetics
20.  Editorial Principles and Practices of GENETICS: A Peer-Edited Journal of the Genetics Society of America 
Genetics  2012;192(3):761-762.
PMCID: PMC3489934  PMID: 23135323
21.  The Am-tra2 Gene Is an Essential Regulator of Female Splice Regulation at Two Levels of the Sex Determination Hierarchy of the Honeybee 
Genetics  2012;192(3):1015-1026.
Heteroallelic and homo- or hemiallelic Complementary sex determiner (Csd) proteins determine sexual fate in the honeybee (Apis mellifera) by controlling the alternative splicing of the downstream gene fem (feminizer). Thus far, we have little understanding of how heteroallelic Csd proteins mediate the splicing of female fem messenger RNAs (mRNAs) or how Fem proteins direct the splicing of honeybee dsx (Am-dsx) pre-mRNAs. Here, we report that Am-tra2, which is an ortholog of Drosophila melanogaster tra2, is an essential component of female splicing of the fem and Am-dsx transcripts in the honeybee. The Am-tra2 transcripts are alternatively (but non-sex-specifically) spliced, and they are translated into six protein isoforms that all share the basic RNA-binding domain/RS (arginine/serine) domain structure. Knockdown studies showed that the Am-tra2 gene is required to splice fem mRNAs into the productive female and nonproductive male forms. We suggest that the Am-Tra2 proteins are essential regulators of fem pre-mRNA splicing that, together with heteroallelic Csd proteins and/or Fem proteins, implement the female pathway. In males, the Am-Tra2 proteins may enhance the switch of fem transcripts into the nonproductive male form when heteroallelic Csd proteins are absent. This dual function of Am-Tra2 proteins possibly enhances and stabilizes the binary decision process of male/female splicing. Our knockdown studies also imply that the Am-Tra2 protein is an essential regulator for Am-dsx female splice regulation, suggesting an ancestral role in holometabolous insects. We also provide evidence that the Am-tra2 gene has an essential function in honeybee embryogenesis that is unrelated to sex determination.
PMCID: PMC3522149  PMID: 22942126
sex determination; insects; evolution of genetic pathways; Apis mellifera
22.  A Novel Approach for Choosing Summary Statistics in Approximate Bayesian Computation 
Genetics  2012;192(3):1027-1047.
The choice of summary statistics is a crucial step in approximate Bayesian computation (ABC). Since statistics are often not sufficient, this choice involves a trade-off between loss of information and reduction of dimensionality. The latter may increase the efficiency of ABC. Here, we propose an approach for choosing summary statistics based on boosting, a technique from the machine-learning literature. We consider different types of boosting and compare them to partial least-squares regression as an alternative. To mitigate the lack of sufficiency, we also propose an approach for choosing summary statistics locally, in the putative neighborhood of the true parameter value. We study a demographic model motivated by the reintroduction of Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) into the Swiss Alps. The parameters of interest are the mean and standard deviation across microsatellites of the scaled ancestral mutation rate (θanc = 4Neu) and the proportion of males obtaining access to matings per breeding season (ω). By simulation, we assess the properties of the posterior distribution obtained with the various methods. According to our criteria, ABC with summary statistics chosen locally via boosting with the L2-loss performs best. Applying that method to the ibex data, we estimate θ^anc≈1.288 and find that most of the variation across loci of the ancestral mutation rate u is between 7.7 × 10−4 and 3.5 × 10−3 per locus per generation. The proportion of males with access to matings is estimated as ω^≈0.21, which is in good agreement with recent independent estimates.
PMCID: PMC3522150  PMID: 22960215
choice of summary statistics; approximate Bayesian computation (ABC); Alpine ibex; mutation rate; mating skew
23.  Restoration of Topoisomerase 2 Function by Complementation of Defective Monomers in Drosophila 
Genetics  2012;192(3):843-856.
Type II topoisomerases are essential ATP-dependent homodimeric enzymes required for transcription, replication, and chromosome segregation. These proteins alter DNA topology by generating transient enzyme-linked double-strand breaks for passage of one DNA strand through another. The central role of type II topoisomerases in DNA metabolism has made these enzymes targets for anticancer drugs. Here, we describe a genetic screen that generated novel alleles of Drosophila Topoisomerase 2 (Top2). Fifteen alleles were obtained, resulting from nonsense and missense mutations. Among these, 14 demonstrated recessive lethality, with one displaying temperature-sensitive lethality. Several newly generated missense alleles carry amino acid substitutions in conserved residues within the ATPase, Topoisomerase/Primase, and Winged helix domains, including four that encode proteins with alterations in residues associated with resistance to cancer chemotherapeutics. Animals lacking zygotic Top2 function can survive to pupation and display reduced cell division and altered polytene chromosome structure. Inter se crosses between six strains carrying Top2 missense alleles generated morphologically normal trans-heterozygous adults, which showed delayed development and were female sterile. Complementation occurred between alleles encoding Top2 proteins with amino acid substitutions in the same functional domain and between alleles encoding proteins with substitutions in different functional domains. Two complementing alleles encode proteins with amino acid substitutions associated with drug resistance. These observations suggest that dimerization of mutant Top2 monomers can restore enzymatic function. Our studies establish the first series of Top2 alleles in a multicellular organism. Future analyses of these alleles will enhance our knowledge about the contributions made by type II topoisomerases to development.
PMCID: PMC3522162  PMID: 22923380
Topoisomerase 2 (Top2); Drosophila; ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) mutagenesis; interallelic complementation
24.  SACY-1 DEAD-Box Helicase Links the Somatic Control of Oocyte Meiotic Maturation to the Sperm-to-Oocyte Switch and Gamete Maintenance in Caenorhabditis elegans 
Genetics  2012;192(3):905-928.
In sexually reproducing animals, oocytes arrest at diplotene or diakinesis and resume meiosis (meiotic maturation) in response to hormones. In Caenorhabditis elegans, major sperm protein triggers meiotic resumption through a mechanism involving somatic Gαs–adenylate cyclase signaling and soma-to-germline gap-junctional communication. Using genetic mosaic analysis, we show that the major effector of Gαs–adenylate cyclase signaling, protein kinase A (PKA), is required in gonadal sheath cells for oocyte meiotic maturation and dispensable in the germ line. This result rules out a model in which cyclic nucleotides must transit through sheath-oocyte gap junctions to activate PKA in the germ line, as proposed in vertebrate systems. We conducted a genetic screen to identify regulators of oocyte meiotic maturation functioning downstream of Gαs–adenylate cyclase–PKA signaling. We molecularly identified 10 regulatory loci, which include essential and nonessential factors. sacy-1, which encodes a highly conserved DEAD-box helicase, is an essential germline factor that negatively regulates meiotic maturation. SACY-1 is a multifunctional protein that establishes a mechanistic link connecting the somatic control of meiotic maturation to germline sex determination and gamete maintenance. Modulatory factors include multiple subunits of a CoREST-like complex and the TWK-1 two-pore potassium channel. These factors are not absolutely required for meiotic maturation or its negative regulation in the absence of sperm, but function cumulatively to enable somatic control of meiotic maturation. This work provides insights into the genetic control of meiotic maturation signaling in C. elegans, and the conserved factors identified here might inform analysis in other systems through either homology or analogy.
PMCID: PMC3522166  PMID: 22887816
oocyte meiotic maturation; adenylate cyclase signaling; protein kinase A; DEAD-box helicase; MSP signaling
25.  Pathways of Genetic Adaptation: Multistep Origin of Mutants Under Selection Without Induced Mutagenesis in Salmonella enterica 
Genetics  2012;192(3):987-999.
In several bacterial systems, mutant cell populations plated on growth-restricting medium give rise to revertant colonies that accumulate over several days. One model suggests that nongrowing parent cells mutagenize their own genome and thereby create beneficial mutations (stress-induced mutagenesis). By this model, the first-order induction of new mutations in a nongrowing parent cell population leads to the delayed accumulation of visible colonies. In an alternative model (selection only), selective conditions allow preexisting small-effect mutants to initiate clones that grow and give rise to faster-growing mutants. By the selection-only model, the delay in appearance of revertant colonies reflects (1) the time required for initial clones to reach a size sufficient to allow the second mutation plus (2) the time required for growth of the improved subclone. We previously characterized a system in which revertant colonies accumulate slowly and contain cells with two mutations, one formed before plating and one after. This left open the question of whether mutation rates increase under selection. Here we measure the unselected formation rate and the growth contribution of each mutant type. When these parameters are used in a graphic model of revertant colony development, they demonstrate that no increase in mutation rate is required to explain the number and delayed appearance of two of the revertant types.
PMCID: PMC3522171  PMID: 22887815
adaptation; adaptive mutation; mutation under selection; selection

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