ResearchPad - mammalian-genomics https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Genome reconstruction of the non-culturable spinach downy mildew <i>Peronospora effusa</i> by metagenome filtering]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13800 Peronospora effusa (previously known as P. farinosa f. sp. spinaciae, and here referred to as Pfs) is an obligate biotrophic oomycete that causes downy mildew on spinach (Spinacia oleracea). To combat this destructive many disease resistant cultivars have been bred and used. However, new Pfs races rapidly break the employed resistance genes. To get insight into the gene repertoire of Pfs and identify infection-related genes, the genome of the first reference race, Pfs1, was sequenced, assembled, and annotated. Due to the obligate biotrophic nature of this pathogen, material for DNA isolation can only be collected from infected spinach leaves that, however, also contain many other microorganisms. The obtained sequences can, therefore, be considered a metagenome. To filter and obtain Pfs sequences we utilized the CAT tool to taxonomically annotate ORFs residing on long sequences of a genome pre-assembly. This study is the first to show that CAT filtering performs well on eukaryotic contigs. Based on the taxonomy, determined on multiple ORFs, contaminating long sequences and corresponding reads were removed from the metagenome. Filtered reads were re-assembled to provide a clean and improved Pfs genome sequence of 32.4 Mbp consisting of 8,635 scaffolds. Transcript sequencing of a range of infection time points aided the prediction of a total of 13,277 gene models, including 99 RxLR(-like) effector, and 14 putative Crinkler genes. Comparative analysis identified common features in the predicted secretomes of different obligate biotrophic oomycetes, regardless of their phylogenetic distance. Their secretomes are generally smaller, compared to hemi-biotrophic and necrotrophic oomycete species. We observe a reduction in proteins involved in cell wall degradation, in Nep1-like proteins (NLPs), proteins with PAN/apple domains, and host translocated effectors. The genome of Pfs1 will be instrumental in studying downy mildew virulence and for understanding the molecular adaptations by which new isolates break spinach resistance.

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<![CDATA[Functional dynamics of bacterial species in the mouse gut microbiome revealed by metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N74c1e0c6-8f1d-4282-af8e-273065d64236

Background

Microbial communities of the mouse gut have been extensively studied; however, their functional roles and regulation are yet to be elucidated. Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analyses may allow us a comprehensive profiling of bacterial composition and functions of the complex gut microbiota. The present study aimed to investigate the active functions of the microbial communities in the murine cecum by analyzing both metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data on specific bacterial species within the microbial communities, in addition to the whole microbiome.

Results

Bacterial composition of the healthy mouse gut microbiome was profiled using the following three different approaches: 16S rRNA-based profiling based on amplicon and shotgun sequencing data, and genome-based profiling based on shotgun sequencing data. Consistently, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Deferribacteres emerged as the major phyla. Based on NCBI taxonomy, Muribaculaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Deferribacteraceae were the predominant families identified in each phylum. The genes for carbohydrate metabolism were upregulated in Muribaculaceae, while genes for cofactors and vitamin metabolism and amino acid metabolism were upregulated in Deferribacteraceae. The genes for translation were commonly enhanced in all three families. Notably, combined analysis of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing data revealed that the functions of translation and metabolism were largely upregulated in all three families in the mouse gut environment. The ratio of the genes in the metagenome and their expression in the metatranscriptome indicated higher expression of carbohydrate metabolism in Muribaculum, Duncaniella, and Mucispirillum.

Conclusions

We demonstrated a fundamental methodology for linking genomic and transcriptomic datasets to examine functional activities of specific bacterial species in a complicated microbial environment. We investigated the normal flora of the mouse gut using three different approaches and identified Muribaculaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Deferribacteraceae as the predominant families. The functional distribution of these families was reflected in the entire microbiome. By comparing the metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data, we found that the expression rates differed for different functional categories in the mouse gut environment. Application of these methods to track microbial transcription in individuals over time, or before and after administration of a specific stimulus will significantly facilitate future development of diagnostics and treatments.

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<![CDATA[Generation of targeted homozygosity in the genome of human induced pluripotent stem cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nc0b5af8d-f419-410c-9036-89fcaed1eba6

When loss of heterozygosity (LOH) is correlated with loss or gain of a disease phenotype, it is often necessary to identify which gene or genes are involved. Here, we developed a region-specific LOH-inducing system based on mitotic crossover in human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). We first tested our system on chromosome 19. To detect homozygous clones generated by LOH, a positive selection cassette was inserted at the AASV1 locus of chromosome 19. LOHs were generated by the combination of allele-specific double-stranded DNA breaks introduced by CRISPR/Cas9 and suppression of Bloom syndrome (BLM) gene expression by the Tet-Off system. The BLM protein inhibitor ML216 exhibited a similar crossover efficiency and distribution of crossover sites. We next applied this system to the short arm of chromosome 6, where human leukocyte antigen (HLA) loci are located. Genotyping and flow cytometric analysis demonstrated that LOHs associated with chromosomal crossover occurred at the expected positions. Although careful examination of HLA-homozygous hiPSCs generated from parental cells is needed for cancer predisposition and effectiveness of differentiation, they may help to mitigate the current shortcoming of hiPSC-based transplantation related to the immunological differences between the donor and host.

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<![CDATA[Swift Large-scale Examination of Directed Genome Editing]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823fad5eed0c484639487

In the era of CRISPR gene editing and genetic screening, there is an increasing demand for quick and reliable nucleic acid extraction pipelines for rapid genotyping of large and diverse sample sets. Despite continuous improvements of current workflows, the handling-time and material costs per sample remain major limiting factors. Here we present a robust method for low-cost DIY-pipet tips addressing these needs; i.e. using a cellulose filter disc inserted into a regular pipet tip. These filter-in-tips allow for a rapid, stand-alone four-step genotyping workflow by simply binding the DNA contained in the primary lysate to the cellulose filter, washing it in water and eluting it directly into the buffer for the downstream application (e.g. PCR). This drastically cuts down processing time to maximum 30 seconds per sample, with the potential for parallelizing and automation. We show the ease and sensitivity of our procedure by genotyping genetically modified medaka (Oryzias latipes) and zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos (targeted by CRISPR/Cas9 knock-out and knock-in) in a 96-well plate format. The robust isolation and detection of multiple alleles of various abundancies in a mosaic genetic background allows phenotype-genotype correlation already in the injected generation, demonstrating the reliability and sensitivity of the protocol. Our method is applicable across kingdoms to samples ranging from cells to tissues i. e. plant seedlings, adult flies, mouse cell culture and tissue as well as adult fish fin-clips.

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<![CDATA[Apollo: Democratizing genome annotation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648d41d5eed0c484c823a0

Genome annotation is the process of identifying the location and function of a genome's encoded features. Improving the biological accuracy of annotation is a complex and iterative process requiring researchers to review and incorporate multiple sources of information such as transcriptome alignments, predictive models based on sequence profiles, and comparisons to features found in related organisms. Because rapidly decreasing costs are enabling an ever-growing number of scientists to incorporate sequencing as a routine laboratory technique, there is widespread demand for tools that can assist in the deliberative analytical review of genomic information. To this end, we present Apollo, an open source software package that enables researchers to efficiently inspect and refine the precise structure and role of genomic features in a graphical browser-based platform. Some of Apollo’s newer user interface features include support for real-time collaboration, allowing distributed users to simultaneously edit the same encoded features while also instantly seeing the updates made by other researchers on the same region in a manner similar to Google Docs. Its technical architecture enables Apollo to be integrated into multiple existing genomic analysis pipelines and heterogeneous laboratory workflow platforms. Finally, we consider the implications that Apollo and related applications may have on how the results of genome research are published and made accessible.

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<![CDATA[Transvection-like interchromosomal interaction is not observed at the transcriptional level when tested in the Rosa26 locus in mouse]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6f1494d5eed0c48467a353

Long-range associations between enhancers and their target gene promoters have been shown to play critical roles in executing genome function. Recent variations of chromosome capture technology have revealed a comprehensive view of intra- and interchromosomal contacts between specific genomic sites. The locus control region of the β-globin genes (β-LCR) is a super-enhancer that is capable of activating all of the β-like globin genes within the locus in cis through physical interaction by forming DNA loops. CTCF helps to mediate loop formation between LCR-HS5 and 3’HS1 in the human β-globin locus, in this way thought to contribute to the formation of a “chromatin hub”. The β-globin locus is also in close physical proximity to other erythrocyte-specific genes located long distances away on the same chromosome. In this case, erythrocyte-specific genes gather together at a shared “transcription factory” for co-transcription. Theoretically, enhancers could also activate target gene promoters at the identical loci, yet on different chromosomes in trans, a phenomenon originally described as transvection in Drosophilla. Although close physical proximity has been reported for the β-LCR and the β-like globin genes when integrated at the mouse homologous loci in trans, their structural and functional interactions were found to be rare, possibly because of a lack of suitable regulatory elements that might facilitate such trans interactions. Therefore, we re-evaluated presumptive transvection-like enhancer-promoter communication by introducing CTCF binding sites and erythrocyte-specific transcription units into both LCR-enhancer and β-promoter alleles, each inserted into the mouse ROSA26 locus on separate chromosomes. Following cross-mating of mice to place the two mutant loci at the identical chromosomal position and into active chromation in trans, their transcriptional output was evaluated. The results demonstrate that there was no significant functional association between the LCR and the β-globin gene in trans even in this idealized experimental context.

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<![CDATA[Discovery of gene regulatory elements through a new bioinformatics analysis of haploid genetic screens]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fef9d5eed0c48413586a

The systematic identification of regulatory elements that control gene expression remains a challenge. Genetic screens that use untargeted mutagenesis have the potential to identify protein-coding genes, non-coding RNAs and regulatory elements, but their analysis has mainly focused on identifying the former two. To identify regulatory elements, we conducted a new bioinformatics analysis of insertional mutagenesis screens interrogating WNT signaling in haploid human cells. We searched for specific patterns of retroviral gene trap integrations (used as mutagens in haploid screens) in short genomic intervals overlapping with introns and regions upstream of genes. We uncovered atypical patterns of gene trap insertions that were not predicted to disrupt coding sequences, but caused changes in the expression of two key regulators of WNT signaling, suggesting the presence of cis-regulatory elements. Our methodology extends the scope of haploid genetic screens by enabling the identification of regulatory elements that control gene expression.

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<![CDATA[The molecular biology and HPV drug responsiveness of cynomolgus macaque papillomaviruses support their use in the development of a relevant in vivo model for antiviral drug testing]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c57e6c2d5eed0c484ef3d31

Due to the extreme tissue and species restriction of the papillomaviruses (PVs), there is a great need for animal models that accurately mimic PV infection in humans for testing therapeutic strategies against human papillomaviruses (HPVs). In this study, we present data that demonstrate that in terms of gene expression during initial viral DNA amplification, Macaca fascicularis PV (MfPV) types 5 and 8 appear to be similar to mucosal oncogenic HPVs, while MfPV1 (isolated from skin) resembles most high-risk cutaneous beta HPVs (HPV5). Similarities were also observed in replication properties during the initial amplification phase of the MfPV genomes. We demonstrate that high-risk mucosal HPV-specific inhibitors target the transient replication of the MfPV8 genomes, which indicates that similar pathways are used by the high-risk HPVs and MfPVs during their genome replication. Taking all into account, we propose that Macaca fascicularis may serve as a highly relevant model for preclinical tests designed to evaluate therapeutic strategies against HPV-associated lesions.

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<![CDATA[The reemergence of human rabies and emergence of an Indian subcontinent lineage in Tibet, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c46652fd5eed0c484517e13

Coordinated surveillance, vaccination and public information efforts have brought the Chinese rabies epizootic under control, but significant numbers of fatalities are still reported annually with some cases occurring in previously rabies free regions. Tibet has remained virtually rabies free for 16 years, but since 2015 one human rabies case has been reported each year. To better understand the origins of these cases, we sequenced three human samples and an additional sample isolated from a dog in 2012. Three genomes were sequenced from brain samples: human case 1 (reported in 2015), human case 3 (2017), and the 2012 dog case. For human case 2 (2016), the rabies N gene was sequenced from a limited saliva sample. Phylogenetic analysis shows that Case 1 (CXZ1501H) and the dog case (CXZ1201D) belong to China IV lineage (equivalent to Arctic-like-2 in global rabies), suggesting an association with a wildlife spillover event. However, Case 2 (CXZ1601H) is placed within the dominant lineage China I, and was most similar with recent strains from neighboring Yunnan province, indicating the current epizootic has finally reached Tibet. Most surprisingly however, was the finding that Case 3 (CXZ1704H) is distinct from other Chinese isolates. This isolate is placed in the Indian Subcontinent clade, similar to recent Nepal strains, indicating that cross-border transmission is a new source for rabies infections. Thus, the complex mixture of the rabies epizootic in Tibet represents a major new challenge for Tibet and national rabies control.

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<![CDATA[Whole-genome sequence of the bovine blood fluke Schistosoma bovis supports interspecific hybridization with S. haematobium]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c52186ad5eed0c4847981f8

Mesenteric infection by the parasitic blood fluke Schistosoma bovis is a common veterinary problem in Africa and the Middle East and occasionally in the Mediterranean Region. The species also has the ability to form interspecific hybrids with the human parasite S. haematobium with natural hybridisation observed in West Africa, presenting possible zoonotic transmission. Additionally, this exchange of alleles between species may dramatically influence disease dynamics and parasite evolution. We have generated a 374 Mb assembly of the S. bovis genome using Illumina and PacBio-based technologies. Despite infecting different hosts and organs, the genome sequences of S. bovis and S. haematobium appeared strikingly similar with 97% sequence identity. The two species share 98% of protein-coding genes, with an average sequence identity of 97.3% at the amino acid level. Genome comparison identified large continuous parts of the genome (up to several 100 kb) showing almost 100% sequence identity between S. bovis and S. haematobium. It is unlikely that this is a result of genome conservation and provides further evidence of natural interspecific hybridization between S. bovis and S. haematobium. Our results suggest that foreign DNA obtained by interspecific hybridization was maintained in the population through multiple meiosis cycles and that hybrids were sexually reproductive, producing viable offspring. The S. bovis genome assembly forms a highly valuable resource for studying schistosome evolution and exploring genetic regions that are associated with species-specific phenotypic traits.

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<![CDATA[SNP variable selection by generalized graph domination]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c536b67d5eed0c484a48932

Background

High-throughput sequencing technology has revolutionized both medical and biological research by generating exceedingly large numbers of genetic variants. The resulting datasets share a number of common characteristics that might lead to poor generalization capacity. Concerns include noise accumulated due to the large number of predictors, sparse information regarding the pn problem, and overfitting and model mis-identification resulting from spurious collinearity. Additionally, complex correlation patterns are present among variables. As a consequence, reliable variable selection techniques play a pivotal role in predictive analysis, generalization capability, and robustness in clustering, as well as interpretability of the derived models.

Methods and findings

K-dominating set, a parameterized graph-theoretic generalization model, was used to model SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) data as a similarity network and searched for representative SNP variables. In particular, each SNP was represented as a vertex in the graph, (dis)similarity measures such as correlation coefficients or pairwise linkage disequilibrium were estimated to describe the relationship between each pair of SNPs; a pair of vertices are adjacent, i.e. joined by an edge, if the pairwise similarity measure exceeds a user-specified threshold. A minimum k-dominating set in the SNP graph was then made as the smallest subset such that every SNP that is excluded from the subset has at least k neighbors in the selected ones. The strength of k-dominating set selection in identifying independent variables, and in culling representative variables that are highly correlated with others, was demonstrated by a simulated dataset. The advantages of k-dominating set variable selection were also illustrated in two applications: pedigree reconstruction using SNP profiles of 1,372 Douglas-fir trees, and species delineation for 226 grasshopper mouse samples. A C++ source code that implements SNP-SELECT and uses Gurobi optimization solver for the k-dominating set variable selection is available (https://github.com/transgenomicsosu/SNP-SELECT).

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<![CDATA[Intronic CNVs and gene expression variation in human populations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c536a00d5eed0c484a46c63

Introns can be extraordinarily large and they account for the majority of the DNA sequence in human genes. However, little is known about their population patterns of structural variation and their functional implication. By combining the most extensive maps of CNVs in human populations, we have found that intronic losses are the most frequent copy number variants (CNVs) in protein-coding genes in human, with 12,986 intronic deletions, affecting 4,147 genes (including 1,154 essential genes and 1,638 disease-related genes). This intronic length variation results in dozens of genes showing extreme population variability in size, with 40 genes with 10 or more different sizes and up to 150 allelic sizes. Intronic losses are frequent in evolutionarily ancient genes that are highly conserved at the protein sequence level. This result contrasts with losses overlapping exons, which are observed less often than expected by chance and almost exclusively affect primate-specific genes. An integrated analysis of CNVs and RNA-seq data showed that intronic loss can be associated with significant differences in gene expression levels in the population (CNV-eQTLs). These intronic CNV-eQTLs regions are enriched for intronic enhancers and can be associated with expression differences of other genes showing long distance intron-promoter 3D interactions. Our data suggests that intronic structural variation of protein-coding genes makes an important contribution to the variability of gene expression and splicing in human populations.

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<![CDATA[Metagenomic profiling of ticks: Identification of novel rickettsial genomes and detection of tick-borne canine parvovirus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c466531d5eed0c484517eb1

Background

Across the world, ticks act as vectors of human and animal pathogens. Ticks rely on bacterial endosymbionts, which often share close and complex evolutionary links with tick-borne pathogens. As the prevalence, diversity and virulence potential of tick-borne agents remain poorly understood, there is a pressing need for microbial surveillance of ticks as potential disease vectors.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We developed a two-stage protocol that includes 16S-amplicon screening of pooled samples of hard ticks collected from dogs, sheep and camels in Palestine, followed by shotgun metagenomics on individual ticks to detect and characterise tick-borne pathogens and endosymbionts. Two ticks isolated from sheep yielded an abundance of reads from the genus Rickettsia, which were assembled into draft genomes. One of the resulting genomes was highly similar to Rickettsia massiliae strain MTU5. Analysis of signature genes showed that the other represents the first genome sequence of the potential pathogen Candidatus Rickettsia barbariae. Ticks from a dog and a sheep yielded draft genome sequences of Coxiella strains. A sheep tick yielded sequences from the sheep pathogen Anaplasma ovis, while Hyalomma ticks from camels yielded sequences belonging to Francisella-like endosymbionts. From the metagenome of a dog tick from Jericho, we generated a genome sequence of a canine parvovirus.

Significance

Here, we have shown how a cost-effective two-stage protocol can be used to detect and characterise tick-borne pathogens and endosymbionts. In recovering genome sequences from an unexpected pathogen (canine parvovirus) and a previously unsequenced pathogen (Candidatus Rickettsia barbariae), we demonstrate the open-ended nature of metagenomics. We also provide evidence that ticks can carry canine parvovirus, raising the possibility that ticks might contribute to the spread of this troublesome virus.

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<![CDATA[Prophage induction, but not production of phage particles, is required for lethal disease in a microbiome-replete murine model of enterohemorrhagic E. coli infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f78ad5eed0c48438634b

Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) colonize intestinal epithelium by generating characteristic attaching and effacing (AE) lesions. They are lysogenized by prophage that encode Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2), which is responsible for severe clinical manifestations. As a lysogen, prophage genes leading to lytic growth and stx2 expression are repressed, whereas induction of the bacterial SOS response in response to DNA damage leads to lytic phage growth and Stx2 production both in vitro and in germ-free or streptomycin-treated mice. Some commensal bacteria diminish prophage induction and concomitant Stx2 production in vitro, whereas it has been proposed that phage-susceptible commensals may amplify Stx2 production by facilitating successive cycles of infection in vivo. We tested the role of phage induction in both Stx production and lethal disease in microbiome-replete mice, using our mouse model encompassing the murine pathogen Citrobacter rodentium lysogenized with the Stx2-encoding phage Φstx2dact. This strain generates EHEC-like AE lesions on the murine intestine and causes lethal Stx-mediated disease. We found that lethal mouse infection did not require that Φstx2dact infect or lysogenize commensal bacteria. In addition, we detected circularized phage genomes, potentially in the early stage of replication, in feces of infected mice, confirming that prophage induction occurs during infection of microbiota-replete mice. Further, C. rodentiumstx2dact) mutants that do not respond to DNA damage or express stx produced neither high levels of Stx2 in vitro or lethal infection in vivo, confirming that SOS induction and concomitant expression of phage-encoded stx genes are required for disease. In contrast, C. rodentiumstx2dact) mutants incapable of prophage genome excision or of packaging phage genomes retained the ability to produce Stx in vitro, as well as to cause lethal disease in mice. Thus, in a microbiome-replete EHEC infection model, lytic induction of Stx-encoding prophage is essential for lethal disease, but actual phage production is not.

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<![CDATA[Genome-wide maps of distal gene regulatory enhancers active in the human placenta]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c2e7fefd5eed0c48451c4e4

Placental dysfunction is implicated in many pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia and preterm birth (PTB). While both these syndromes are influenced by environmental risk factors, they also have a substantial genetic component that is not well understood. Precisely controlled gene expression during development is crucial to proper placental function and often mediated through gene regulatory enhancers. However, we lack accurate maps of placental enhancer activity due to the challenges of assaying the placenta and the difficulty of comprehensively identifying enhancers. To address the gap in our knowledge of gene regulatory elements in the placenta, we used a two-step machine learning pipeline to synthesize existing functional genomics studies, transcription factor (TF) binding patterns, and evolutionary information to predict placental enhancers. The trained classifiers accurately distinguish enhancers from the genomic background and placental enhancers from enhancers active in other tissues. Genomic features collected from tissues and cell lines involved in pregnancy are the most predictive of placental regulatory activity. Applying the classifiers genome-wide enabled us to create a map of 33,010 predicted placental enhancers, including 4,562 high-confidence enhancer predictions. The genome-wide placental enhancers are significantly enriched nearby genes associated with placental development and birth disorders and for SNPs associated with gestational age. These genome-wide predicted placental enhancers provide candidate regions for further testing in vitro, will assist in guiding future studies of genetic associations with pregnancy phenotypes, and aid interpretation of potential mechanisms of action for variants found through genetic studies.

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<![CDATA[Whole genome variant association across 100 dogs identifies a frame shift mutation in DISHEVELLED 2 which contributes to Robinow-like syndrome in Bulldogs and related screw tail dog breeds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf03d5eed0c484913d1e

Domestic dog breeds exhibit remarkable morphological variations that result from centuries of artificial selection and breeding. Identifying the genetic changes that contribute to these variations could provide critical insights into the molecular basis of tissue and organismal morphogenesis. Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Boston Terriers share many morphological and disease-predisposition traits, including brachycephalic skull morphology, widely set eyes and short stature. Unlike other brachycephalic dogs, these breeds also exhibit vertebral malformations that result in a truncated, kinked tail (screw tail). Whole genome sequencing of 100 dogs from 21 breeds identified 12.4 million bi-allelic variants that met inclusion criteria. Whole Genome Association of these variants with the breed defining phenotype of screw tail was performed using 10 cases and 84 controls and identified a frameshift mutation in the WNT pathway gene DISHEVELLED 2 (DVL2) (Chr5: 32195043_32195044del, p = 4.37 X 10−37) as the most strongly associated variant in the canine genome. This DVL2 variant was fixed in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs and had a high allele frequency (0.94) in Boston Terriers. The DVL2 variant segregated with thoracic and caudal vertebral column malformations in a recessive manner with incomplete and variable penetrance for thoracic vertebral malformations between different breeds. Importantly, analogous frameshift mutations in the human DVL1 and DVL3 genes cause Robinow syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by similar craniofacial, limb and vertebral malformations. Analysis of the canine DVL2 variant protein showed that its ability to undergo WNT-induced phosphorylation is reduced, suggesting that altered WNT signaling may contribute to the Robinow-like syndrome in the screwtail breeds.

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<![CDATA[Heterochromatin delays CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis but does not influence the outcome of mutagenic DNA repair]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1ab83fd5eed0c48402748f

Genome editing occurs in the context of chromatin, which is heterogeneous in structure and function across the genome. Chromatin heterogeneity is thought to affect genome editing efficiency, but this has been challenging to quantify due to the presence of confounding variables. Here, we develop a method that exploits the allele-specific chromatin status of imprinted genes in order to address this problem in cycling mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). Because maternal and paternal alleles of imprinted genes have identical DNA sequence and are situated in the same nucleus, allele-specific differences in the frequency and spectrum of mutations induced by CRISPR-Cas9 can be unequivocally attributed to epigenetic mechanisms. We found that heterochromatin can impede mutagenesis, but to a degree that depends on other key experimental parameters. Mutagenesis was impeded by up to 7-fold when Cas9 exposure was brief and when intracellular Cas9 expression was low. In contrast, the outcome of mutagenic DNA repair was unaffected by chromatin state, with similar efficiencies of homology-directed repair (HDR) and deletion spectra on maternal and paternal chromosomes. Combined, our data show that heterochromatin imposes a permeable barrier that influences the kinetics, but not the endpoint, of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing and suggest that therapeutic applications involving low-level Cas9 exposure will be particularly affected by chromatin status.

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<![CDATA[Reply to “Far away from the lamppost”]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c196692d5eed0c484b5244e

In this Formal Comment, the authors of the recent publication "Large-scale investigation of the reasons why potentially important genes are ignored" maintain that it can be read as an opportunity to explore the unknown.

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<![CDATA[Far away from the lamppost]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c196694d5eed0c484b524af

This Formal Comment responds to a recent Meta-Research Article by identifying initiatives that are already in place for funding risky exploratory research that illuminate mysteries of the dark genome.

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<![CDATA[Long-distance communication: Looping of human papillomavirus genomes regulates expression of viral oncogenes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c06f060d5eed0c484c6d84e

High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a major cause of cancers. HPVs infect epithelial cells, and viral oncogenes disrupt several cellular processes, including cell division, differentiation, and apoptosis. Expression of these oncogenes is relatively low in undifferentiated epithelial cells but increases in differentiating cells by unknown mechanisms. In a new study, Parish and colleagues unveil how two cellular proteins, CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) and Yin Yang 1 (YY1), mediate looping of the HPV18 genome, which regulates expression of viral oncogenes in both dividing and differentiating epithelial cells.

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