ResearchPad - phenotypes https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[ICOS signaling promotes a secondary humoral response after re-challenge with <i>Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi</i> AS]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7745 Malaria, which is caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium, remains a major global health problem, as over 400,000 people die from this disease every year. Further understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to protective immunity against this parasite will serve to promote the development of an effective vaccine. Here, we describe the importance of the co-stimulatory molecule ICOS during secondary infection with the rodent parasite Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi AS. We show that ICOS promotes the expansion of memory T cells, their acquisition of a secondary follicular helper T (Tfh) cell phenotype, and their ability to provide help to MBCs after reinfection. While ICOS deficient mice control the initial parasite load after re-challenge, the absence of ICOS leads to higher relapsing parasitemia compared to wild-type mice. We establish that the lack of expansion of effector cells with a Tfh cell phenotype in Icos-/- mice prevents germinal center formation after secondary infection. Thus, we show that ICOS signaling in T cells promotes an effective memory T cell response and suggests that the enhancement of this co-stimulatory pathway during vaccination may enhance protective immunity to blood-stage Plasmodium infection.

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<![CDATA[Parallelism in eco-morphology and gene expression despite variable evolutionary and genomic backgrounds in a Holarctic fish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N4fc7d71e-6de4-4251-8df9-22327ccf5952

Understanding the extent to which ecological divergence is repeatable is essential for predicting responses of biodiversity to environmental change. Here we test the predictability of evolution, from genotype to phenotype, by studying parallel evolution in a salmonid fish, Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus), across eleven replicate sympatric ecotype pairs (benthivorous-planktivorous and planktivorous-piscivorous) and two evolutionary lineages. We found considerable variability in eco-morphological divergence, with several traits related to foraging (eye diameter, pectoral fin length) being highly parallel even across lineages. This suggests repeated and predictable adaptation to environment. Consistent with ancestral genetic variation, hundreds of loci were associated with ecotype divergence within lineages of which eight were shared across lineages. This shared genetic variation was maintained despite variation in evolutionary histories, ranging from postglacial divergence in sympatry (ca. 10-15kya) to pre-glacial divergence (ca. 20-40kya) with postglacial secondary contact. Transcriptome-wide gene expression (44,102 genes) was highly parallel across replicates, involved biological processes characteristic of ecotype morphology and physiology, and revealed parallelism at the level of regulatory networks. This expression divergence was not only plastic but in part genetically controlled by parallel cis-eQTL. Lastly, we found that the magnitude of phenotypic divergence was largely correlated with the genetic differentiation and gene expression divergence. In contrast, the direction of phenotypic change was mostly determined by the interplay of adaptive genetic variation, gene expression, and ecosystem size. Ecosystem size further explained variation in putatively adaptive, ecotype-associated genomic patterns within and across lineages, highlighting the role of environmental variation and stochasticity in parallel evolution. Together, our findings demonstrate the parallel evolution of eco-morphology and gene expression within and across evolutionary lineages, which is controlled by the interplay of environmental stochasticity and evolutionary contingencies, largely overcoming variable evolutionary histories and genomic backgrounds.

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<![CDATA[Mutations on ent-kaurene oxidase 1 encoding gene attenuate its enzyme activity of catalyzing the reaction from ent-kaurene to ent-kaurenoic acid and lead to delayed germination in rice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N3fbe67d9-408b-4f07-a6d8-c659dfb628bd

Rice seed germination is a critical step that determines its entire life circle, with seeds failing to germinate or pre-harvest sprouting both reduce grain yield. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying this complex biological event remain unclear. Previously, gibberellin has been shown to promote seed germination. In this study, a delayed seed germination rice mutant was obtained through screening of the EMS induced mutants. Besides of delayed germination, it also shows semi-dwarfism phenotype, which could be recovered by exogenous GA. Through re-sequencing on the mutant, wild-type and their F2 populations, we identified two continuous mutated sites on ent-kaurene oxidase 1 (OsKO1) gene, which result in the conversion from Thr to Met in the cytochrome P450 domain. Genetic complementary analysis and enzyme assay verified that the mutations in OsKO1 gene block the biosynthesis of GA and result in the defect phenotypes. Further analyses proved that OsKO1 could catalyze the reaction from ent-kaurene into ent-kaurenoic acid in GA biosynthesis mainly at seed germination and seedling stages, and the mutations decrease its activity to catalyze the step from ent-kaurenol to ent-kaurenoic acid in this reaction. Transcriptomic and proteomic data indicate that the defect on GA biosynthesis decreases its ability to mobilize starch and attenuate ABA signaling, therefore delay the germination process. The results provide some new insights into both GA biosynthesis and seed germination regulatory pathway in rice.

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<![CDATA[Genome-wide haplotype-based association analysis of key traits of plant lodging and architecture of maize identifies major determinants for leaf angle: hapLA4]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89773ed5eed0c4847d27e7

Traits related to plant lodging and architecture are important determinants of plant productivity in intensive maize cultivation systems. Motivated by the identification of genomic associations with the leaf angle, plant height (PH), ear height (EH) and the EH/PH ratio, we characterized approximately 7,800 haplotypes from a set of high-quality single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), in an association panel consisting of tropical maize inbred lines. The proportion of the phenotypic variations explained by the individual SNPs varied between 7%, for the SNP S1_285330124 (located on chromosome 9 and associated with the EH/PH ratio), and 22%, for the SNP S1_317085830 (located on chromosome 6 and associated with the leaf angle). A total of 40 haplotype blocks were significantly associated with the traits of interest, explaining up to 29% of the phenotypic variation for the leaf angle, corresponding to the haplotype hapLA4.04, which was stable over two growing seasons. Overall, the associations for PH, EH and the EH/PH ratio were environment-specific, which was confirmed by performing a model comparison analysis using the information criteria of Akaike and Schwarz. In addition, five stable haplotypes (83%) and 15 SNPs (75%) were identified for the leaf angle. Finally, approximately 62% of the associated haplotypes (25/40) did not contain SNPs detected in the association study using individual SNP markers. This result confirms the advantage of haplotype-based genome-wide association studies for examining genomic regions that control the determining traits for architecture and lodging in maize plants.

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<![CDATA[Scrutinizing assortative mating in birds]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c784fead5eed0c4840078f1

It is often claimed that pair bonds preferentially form between individuals that resemble one another. Such assortative mating appears to be widespread throughout the animal kingdom. Yet it is unclear whether the apparent ubiquity of assortative mating arises primarily from mate choice (“like attracts like”), which can be constrained by same-sex competition for mates; from spatial or temporal separation; or from observer, reporting, publication, or search bias. Here, based on a conventional literature search, we find compelling meta-analytical evidence for size-assortative mating in birds (r = 0.178, 95% CI 0.142–0.215, 83 species, 35,591 pairs). However, our analyses reveal that this effect vanishes gradually with increased control of confounding factors. Specifically, the effect size decreased by 42% when we used previously unpublished data from nine long-term field studies, i.e., data free of reporting and publication bias (r = 0.103, 95% CI 0.074–0.132, eight species, 16,611 pairs). Moreover, in those data, assortative mating effectively disappeared when both partners were measured by independent observers or separately in space and time (mean r = 0.018, 95% CI −0.016–0.057). Likewise, we also found no evidence for assortative mating in a direct experimental test for mutual mate choice in captive populations of Zebra finches (r = −0.020, 95% CI −0.148–0.107, 1,414 pairs). These results highlight the importance of unpublished data in generating unbiased meta-analytical conclusions and suggest that the apparent ubiquity of assortative mating reported in the literature is overestimated and may not be driven by mate choice or mating competition for preferred mates.

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<![CDATA[Analysis of genetic control and QTL mapping of essential wheat grain quality traits in a recombinant inbred population]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897730d5eed0c4847d2663

Wheat cultivars are genetically crossed to improve end-use quality for traits as per demands of baking industry and broad consumer preferences. The processing and baking qualities of bread wheat are influenced by a variety of genetic make-ups, environmental factors and their interactions. Two wheat cultivars, WL711 and C306, derived recombinant inbred lines (RILs) with a population of 206, were used for phenotyping of quality-related traits. The genetic analysis of quality traits showed considerable variation for measurable quality traits, with normal distribution and transgressive segregation across the years. From the 206 RILs, few RILs were found to be superior to those of the parental cultivars for key quality traits, indicating their potential use for the improvement of end-use quality and suggesting the probability of finding new alleles and allelic combinations from the RIL population. Mapping analysis identified 38 putative QTLs for 13 quality-related traits, with QTLs explaining 7.9–16.8% phenotypic variation spanning over 14 chromosomes, i.e., 1A, 1B, 1D, 2A, 2D, 3B, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5D, 6A, 7A and 7B. In-silico analysis based on homology to the annotated wheat genes present in database, identified six putative candidate genes within QTL for total grain protein content, qGPC.1B.1 region. Major QTL regions for other quality traits such as TKW have been identified on 1B, 2A, and 7A chromosomes in the studied RIL population. This study revealed the importance of the combination of stable QTLs with region-specific QTLs for better phenotyping, and the QTLs presented in our study will be useful for the improvement of wheat grain and bread-making quality.

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<![CDATA[Endothelin receptor Aa regulates proliferation and differentiation of Erb-dependent pigment progenitors in zebrafish]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c803c68d5eed0c484ad88f6

Skin pigment patterns are important, being under strong selection for multiple roles including camouflage and UV protection. Pigment cells underlying these patterns form from adult pigment stem cells (APSCs). In zebrafish, APSCs derive from embryonic neural crest cells, but sit dormant until activated to produce pigment cells during metamorphosis. The APSCs are set-aside in an ErbB signaling dependent manner, but the mechanism maintaining quiescence until metamorphosis remains unknown. Mutants for a pigment pattern gene, parade, exhibit ectopic pigment cells localised to the ventral trunk, but also supernumerary cells restricted to the Ventral Stripe. Contrary to expectations, these melanocytes and iridophores are discrete cells, but closely apposed. We show that parade encodes Endothelin receptor Aa, expressed in the blood vessels, most prominently in the medial blood vessels, consistent with the ventral trunk phenotype. We provide evidence that neuronal fates are not affected in parade mutants, arguing against transdifferentiation of sympathetic neurons to pigment cells. We show that inhibition of BMP signaling prevents specification of sympathetic neurons, indicating conservation of this molecular mechanism with chick and mouse. However, inhibition of sympathetic neuron differentiation does not enhance the parade phenotype. Instead, we pinpoint ventral trunk-restricted proliferation of neural crest cells as an early feature of the parade phenotype. Importantly, using a chemical genetic screen for rescue of the ectopic pigment cell phenotype of parade mutants (whilst leaving the embryonic pattern untouched), we identify ErbB inhibitors as a key hit. The time-window of sensitivity to these inhibitors mirrors precisely the window defined previously as crucial for the setting aside of APSCs in the embryo, strongly implicating adult pigment stem cells as the source of the ectopic pigment cells. We propose that a novel population of APSCs exists in association with medial blood vessels, and that their quiescence is dependent upon Endothelin-dependent factors expressed by the blood vessels.

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<![CDATA[Using topic modeling via non-negative matrix factorization to identify relationships between genetic variants and disease phenotypes: A case study of Lipoprotein(a) (LPA)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9d5d5eed0c48452a2b4

Genome-wide and phenome-wide association studies are commonly used to identify important relationships between genetic variants and phenotypes. Most studies have treated diseases as independent variables and suffered from the burden of multiple adjustment due to the large number of genetic variants and disease phenotypes. In this study, we used topic modeling via non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) for identifying associations between disease phenotypes and genetic variants. Topic modeling is an unsupervised machine learning approach that can be used to learn patterns from electronic health record data. We chose the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs10455872 in LPA as the predictor since it has been shown to be associated with increased risk of hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Using data of 12,759 individuals with electronic health records (EHR) and linked DNA samples at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we trained a topic model using NMF from 1,853 distinct phenotypes and identified six topics. We tested their associations with rs10455872 in LPA. Topics enriched for CVD and hyperlipidemia had positive correlations with rs10455872 (P < 0.001), replicating a previous finding. We also identified a negative correlation between LPA and a topic enriched for lung cancer (P < 0.001) which was not previously identified via phenome-wide scanning. We were able to replicate the top finding in a separate dataset. Our results demonstrate the applicability of topic modeling in exploring the relationship between genetic variants and clinical diseases.

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<![CDATA[Transcription-driven chromatin repression of Intragenic transcription start sites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df308d5eed0c484580b95

Progression of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) transcription relies on the appropriately positioned activities of elongation factors. The resulting profile of factors and chromatin signatures along transcription units provides a “positional information system” for transcribing RNAPII. Here, we investigate a chromatin-based mechanism that suppresses intragenic initiation of RNAPII transcription. We demonstrate that RNAPII transcription across gene promoters represses their function in plants. This repression is characterized by reduced promoter-specific molecular signatures and increased molecular signatures associated with RNAPII elongation. The conserved FACT histone chaperone complex is required for this repression mechanism. Genome-wide Transcription Start Site (TSS) mapping reveals thousands of discrete intragenic TSS positions in fact mutants, including downstream promoters that initiate alternative transcript isoforms. We find that histone H3 lysine 4 mono-methylation (H3K4me1), an Arabidopsis RNAPII elongation signature, is enriched at FACT-repressed intragenic TSSs. Our analyses suggest that FACT is required to repress intragenic TSSs at positions that are in part characterized by elevated H3K4me1 levels. In sum, conserved and plant-specific chromatin features correlate with the co-transcriptional repression of intragenic TSSs. Our insights into TSS repression by RNAPII transcription promise to inform the regulation of alternative transcript isoforms and the characterization of gene regulation through the act of pervasive transcription across eukaryotic genomes.

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<![CDATA[Searching for the causal effects of body mass index in over 300 000 participants in UK Biobank, using Mendelian randomization]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df305d5eed0c484580b50

Mendelian randomization (MR) has been used to estimate the causal effect of body mass index (BMI) on particular traits thought to be affected by BMI. However, BMI may also be a modifiable, causal risk factor for outcomes where there is no prior reason to suggest that a causal effect exists. We performed a MR phenome-wide association study (MR-pheWAS) to search for the causal effects of BMI in UK Biobank (n = 334 968), using the PHESANT open-source phenome scan tool. A subset of identified associations were followed up with a formal two-stage instrumental variable analysis in UK Biobank, to estimate the causal effect of BMI on these phenotypes. Of the 22 922 tests performed, our MR-pheWAS identified 587 associations below a stringent P value threshold corresponding to a 5% estimated false discovery rate. These included many previously identified causal effects, for instance, an adverse effect of higher BMI on risk of diabetes and hypertension. We also identified several novel effects, including protective effects of higher BMI on a set of psychosocial traits, identified initially in our preliminary MR-pheWAS in circa 115,000 UK Biobank participants and replicated in a different subset of circa 223,000 UK Biobank participants. Our comprehensive MR-pheWAS identified potential causal effects of BMI on a large and diverse set of phenotypes. This included both previously identified causal effects, and novel effects such as a protective effect of higher BMI on feelings of nervousness.

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<![CDATA[Mediterranean and Northern Iberian gene pools of wild Castanea sativa Mill. are two differentiated ecotypes originated under natural divergent selection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c75c1d5eed0c4843d00f3

Nine wild Iberian provenances of Castanea sativa Mill. grouped in two gene pools, North Iberian Peninsula and Mediterranean, were evaluated for several adaptive traits in two provenance–progeny trials with the aim of evaluating the role of natural selection in shaping adaptive variation and increasing our understanding of the genetic structure of this species, as well as reporting complete information on the genetic variation among and within the studied populations. An annual growth rhythm experiment was evaluated during the first 3 years after establishment for phenology, growth, stem form and survival, and a periodic drought-stress experiment was evaluated for dry weight, growth, survival and other related drought traits in both well-watered and drought-stress treatments. The high genetic variability reported in both trials is largely due to the genetic variation among populations. The significant differences reported between quantitative genetic and neutral marker differentiation indicated the local adaptation of these populations through directional selection, mainly for phenology, growth and biomass allocation. A clinal variation among populations was determined through correlations of phenology with latitude and xerothermic index of the provenances, showing that central and southern Mediterranean populations had earlier phenology than northern populations and that drought played a relevant role in this differentiation. The significant correlation between phenological traits and the ancestry values in the Mediterranean gene pool supported the different pattern of behavior between both gene pools and also indicated the existence of two ecotypes: xeric and mesophytic ecotypes, corresponding to Mediterranean and North Iberian gene pools, respectively. The results obtained in the drought-stress experiment confirmed that, in general terms, xeric populations showed a greater adaptability to drought, with more developed root systems and higher survival than northern populations. Moreover, the genetic variability observed within populations indicated the potential response capacity of Iberian C. sativa populations to undergo fast adaptive evolution.

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<![CDATA[The Drosophila fussel gene is required for bitter gustatory neuron differentiation acting within an Rpd3 dependent chromatin modifying complex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c65dcafd5eed0c484dec036

Members of the Ski/Sno protein family are classified as proto-oncogenes and act as negative regulators of the TGF-ß/BMP-pathways in vertebrates and invertebrates. A newly identified member of this protein family is fussel (fuss), the Drosophila homologue of the human functional Smad suppressing elements (fussel-15 and fussel-18). We and others have shown that Fuss interacts with SMAD4 and that overexpression leads to a strong inhibition of Dpp signaling. However, to be able to characterize the endogenous Fuss function in Drosophila melanogaster, we have generated a number of state of the art tools including anti-Fuss antibodies, specific fuss-Gal4 lines and fuss mutant fly lines via the CRISPR/Cas9 system. Fuss is a predominantly nuclear, postmitotic protein, mainly expressed in interneurons and fuss mutants are fully viable without any obvious developmental phenotype. To identify potential target genes or cells affected in fuss mutants, we conducted targeted DamID experiments in adult flies, which revealed the function of fuss in bitter gustatory neurons. We fully characterized fuss expression in the adult proboscis and by using food choice assays we were able to show that fuss mutants display defects in detecting bitter compounds. This correlated with a reduction of gustatory receptor gene expression (Gr33a, Gr66a, Gr93a) providing a molecular link to the behavioral phenotype. In addition, Fuss interacts with Rpd3, and downregulation of rpd3 in gustatory neurons phenocopies the loss of Fuss expression. Surprisingly, there is no colocalization of Fuss with phosphorylated Mad in the larval central nervous system, excluding a direct involvement of Fuss in Dpp/BMP signaling. Here we provide a first and exciting link of Fuss function in gustatory bitter neurons. Although gustatory receptors have been well characterized, little is known regarding the differentiation and maturation of gustatory neurons. This work therefore reveals Fuss as a pivotal element for the proper differentiation of bitter gustatory neurons acting within a chromatin modifying complex.

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<![CDATA[Role of SpaO in the assembly of the sorting platform of a Salmonella type III secretion system]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c486d5eed0c4845e8885

Many bacterial pathogens and symbionts use type III secretion machines to interact with their hosts by injecting bacterial effector proteins into host target cells. A central component of this complex machine is the cytoplasmic sorting platform, which orchestrates the engagement and preparation of type III secreted proteins for their delivery to the needle complex, the substructure of the type III secretion system that mediates their passage through the bacterial envelope. The sorting platform is thought to be a dynamic structure whose components alternate between assembled and disassembled states. However, how this dynamic behavior is controlled is not understood. In S. Typhimurium a core component of the sorting platform is SpaO, which is synthesized in two tandemly translated products, a full length (SpaOL) and a short form (SpaOS) composed of the C-terminal 101 amino acids. Here we show that in the absence of SpaOS the assembly of the needle substructure of the needle complex, which requires a functional sorting platform, can still occur although with reduced efficiency. Consistent with this observation, in the absence of SpaOS secretion of effectors proteins, which requires a fully assembled injectisome, is only slightly compromised. In the absence of SpaOS we detect a significant number of fully assembled needle complexes that are not associated with fully assembled sorting platforms. We also find that although binding of SpaOL to SpaOS can be detected in the absence of other components of the sorting platform, this interaction is not detected in the context of a fully assembled sorting platform suggesting that SpaOS may not be a core structural component of the sorting platform. Consistent with this observation we find that SpaOS and OrgB, a component of the sorting platform, share the same binding surface on SpaOL. We conclude that SpaOS regulates the assembly of the sorting platform during type III secretion.

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<![CDATA[Multiple roles of the non-structural protein 3 (nsP3) alphavirus unique domain (AUD) during Chikungunya virus genome replication and transcription]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c49ed5eed0c4845e8a43

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a re-emerging Alphavirus causing fever, joint pain, skin rash, arthralgia, and occasionally death. Antiviral therapies and/or effective vaccines are urgently required. CHIKV biology is poorly understood, in particular the functions of the non-structural protein 3 (nsP3). Here we present the results of a mutagenic analysis of the alphavirus unique domain (AUD) of nsP3. Informed by the structure of the Sindbis virus AUD and an alignment of amino acid sequences of multiple alphaviruses, a series of mutations in the AUD were generated in a CHIKV sub-genomic replicon. This analysis revealed an essential role for the AUD in CHIKV RNA replication, with mutants exhibiting species- and cell-type specific phenotypes. To test if the AUD played a role in other stages of the virus lifecycle, the mutants were analysed in the context of infectious CHIKV. This analysis indicated that the AUD was also required for virus assembly. In particular, one mutant (P247A/V248A) exhibited a dramatic reduction in production of infectious virus. This phenotype was shown to be due to a block in transcription of the subgenomic RNA leading to reduced synthesis of the structural proteins and a concomitant reduction in virus production. This phenotype could be further explained by both a reduction in the binding of the P247A/V248A mutant nsP3 to viral genomic RNA in vivo, and the reduced affinity of the mutant AUD for the subgenomic promoter RNA in vitro. We propose that the AUD is a pleiotropic protein domain, with multiple functions during CHIKV RNA synthesis.

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<![CDATA[Lysine 27 of replication-independent histone H3.3 is required for Polycomb target gene silencing but not for gene activation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52c1d5eed0c4842bcf85

Proper determination of cell fates depends on epigenetic information that is used to preserve memory of decisions made earlier in development. Post-translational modification of histone residues is thought to be a central means by which epigenetic information is propagated. In particular, modifications of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27) are strongly correlated with both gene activation and gene repression. H3K27 acetylation is found at sites of active transcription, whereas H3K27 methylation is found at loci silenced by Polycomb group proteins. The histones bearing these modifications are encoded by the replication-dependent H3 genes as well as the replication-independent H3.3 genes. Owing to differential rates of nucleosome turnover, H3K27 acetylation is enriched on replication-independent H3.3 histones at active gene loci, and H3K27 methylation is enriched on replication-dependent H3 histones across silenced gene loci. Previously, we found that modification of replication-dependent H3K27 is required for Polycomb target gene silencing, but it is not required for gene activation. However, the contribution of replication-independent H3.3K27 to these functions is unknown. Here, we used CRISPR/Cas9 to mutate the endogenous replication-independent H3.3K27 to a non-modifiable residue. Surprisingly, we find that H3.3K27 is also required for Polycomb target gene silencing despite the association of H3.3 with active transcription. However, the requirement for H3.3K27 comes at a later stage of development than that found for replication-dependent H3K27, suggesting a greater reliance on replication-independent H3.3K27 in post-mitotic cells. Notably, we find no evidence of global transcriptional defects in H3.3K27 mutants, despite the strong correlation between H3.3K27 acetylation and active transcription.

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<![CDATA[Mutation in DDM1 inhibits the homology directed repair of double strand breaks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6b26a4d5eed0c484289dd2

In all organisms, DNA damage must be repaired quickly and properly, as it can be lethal for cells. Because eukaryotic DNA is packaged into nucleosomes, the structural units of chromatin, chromatin modification is necessary during DNA damage repair and is achieved by histone modification and chromatin remodeling. Chromatin remodeling proteins therefore play important roles in the DNA damage response (DDR) by modifying the accessibility of DNA damage sites. Here, we show that mutation in a SWI2/SNF2 chromatin remodeling protein (DDM1) causes hypersensitivity in the DNA damage response via defects in single-strand annealing (SSA) repair of double-strand breaks (DSBs) as well as in the initial steps of homologous recombination (HR) repair. ddm1 mutants such as ddm1-1 and ddm1-2 exhibited increased root cell death and higher DSB frequency compared to the wild type after gamma irradiation. Although the DDM1 mutation did not affect the expression of most DDR genes, it did cause substantial decrease in the frequency of SSA as well as partial inhibition in the γ-H2AX and Rad51 induction, the initial steps of HR. Furthermore, global chromatin structure seemed to be affected by DDM1 mutations. These results suggest that DDM1 is involved in the homology directed repair such as SSA and HR, probably by modifying chromatin structure.

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<![CDATA[Genetic and phenotypic diversity in 2000 years old maize (Zea mays L.) samples from the Tarapacá region, Atacama Desert, Chile]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b52eed5eed0c4842bd2a7

The evolution of maize (Zea mays L.) is highly controversial given the discrepancies related to the phenotypic and genetic changes suffered by the species, the incidence of human groups and the times in which these changes occurred. Also, morphological and genetic traits of crops are difficult to evaluate in the absence of fossils macro-botanical remains. In contrast in the Tarapacá region (18–21° S), Atacama Desert of Chile, prehispanic settlements (ca. 2500–400 yr BP) displayed extensive maize agriculture. The presence of archaeological macro-botanical remains of maize provided a unique opportunity to study the evolution of this crop, covering a temporal sequence of at least 2000 years. Thus, in this study, we ask how the morphological and genetic diversity of maize has varied since its introduction during prehispanic times in the Tarapacá region. To answer this, we measured and compared morphological traits of size and shape between archaeological cobs and kernels and 95 ears from landraces. To established genetic diversity eight microsatellite markers (SSR) were analyzed in archaeological and modern kernels. Genetic diversity was estimated by allelic frequency rates, the average number of alleles per locus, observed heterozygosity (Ho) and expected heterozygosity (He). Differences between populations and genetic structure were estimated by fixation index FST and STRUCTURE analysis. Our results indicate significant phenotypic differences and genetic distance between archaeological maize and landraces. This result is suggestive of an introduction of new varieties or drastic selective changes in modern times in Tarapacá. Additionally, archaeological maize shows a low genetic diversity and a progressive increase in the size of ears and kernels. These results suggest a human selection during prehispanic times and establish that prehispanic farmers played an important role in maize development. They also provide new clues for understanding the evolutionary history of maize in hyperarid conditions.

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<![CDATA[Abrogation of Stem Loop Binding Protein (Slbp) function leads to a failure of cells to transition from proliferation to differentiation, retinal coloboma and midline axon guidance deficits]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59feb3d5eed0c48413530b

Through forward genetic screening for mutations affecting visual system development, we identified prominent coloboma and cell-autonomous retinal neuron differentiation, lamination and retinal axon projection defects in eisspalte (ele) mutant zebrafish. Additional axonal deficits were present, most notably at midline axon commissures. Genetic mapping and cloning of the ele mutation showed that the affected gene is slbp, which encodes a conserved RNA stem-loop binding protein involved in replication dependent histone mRNA metabolism. Cells throughout the central nervous system remained in the cell cycle in ele mutant embryos at stages when, and locations where, post-mitotic cells have differentiated in wild-type siblings. Indeed, RNAseq analysis showed down-regulation of many genes associated with neuronal differentiation. This was coincident with changes in the levels and spatial localisation of expression of various genes implicated, for instance, in axon guidance, that likely underlie specific ele phenotypes. These results suggest that many of the cell and tissue specific phenotypes in ele mutant embryos are secondary to altered expression of modules of developmental regulatory genes that characterise, or promote transitions in, cell state and require the correct function of Slbp-dependent histone and chromatin regulatory genes.

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<![CDATA[Integrating predicted transcriptome from multiple tissues improves association detection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c43bd5eed0c4845e8359

Integration of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) studies is needed to improve our understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying GWAS hits, and our ability to identify therapeutic targets. Gene-level association methods such as PrediXcan can prioritize candidate targets. However, limited eQTL sample sizes and absence of relevant developmental and disease context restrict our ability to detect associations. Here we propose an efficient statistical method (MultiXcan) that leverages the substantial sharing of eQTLs across tissues and contexts to improve our ability to identify potential target genes. MultiXcan integrates evidence across multiple panels using multivariate regression, which naturally takes into account the correlation structure. We apply our method to simulated and real traits from the UK Biobank and show that, in realistic settings, we can detect a larger set of significantly associated genes than using each panel separately. To improve applicability, we developed a summary result-based extension called S-MultiXcan, which we show yields highly concordant results with the individual level version when LD is well matched. Our multivariate model-based approach allowed us to use the individual level results as a gold standard to calibrate and develop a robust implementation of the summary-based extension. Results from our analysis as well as software and necessary resources to apply our method are publicly available.

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<![CDATA[The ezh2(sa1199) mutant zebrafish display no distinct phenotype]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c536c14d5eed0c484a498f7

Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are essential regulators of epigenetic gene silencing and development. The PcG protein enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (Ezh2) is a key component of the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 and is responsible for placing the histone H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) repressive mark on the genome through its methyltransferase domain. Ezh2 is highly conserved in vertebrates. We studied the role of ezh2 during development of zebrafish with the use of a mutant allele (ezh2(sa1199), R18STOP), which has a stop mutation in the second exon of the ezh2 gene. Two versions of the same line were used during this study. The first and original version of zygotic ezh2(sa1199) mutants unexpectedly retained ezh2 expression in brain, gut, branchial arches, and eyes at 3 days post-fertilization (dpf), as revealed by in-situ hybridization. Moreover, the expression pattern in homozygous mutants was identical to that of wild types, indicating that mutant ezh2 mRNA is not subject to nonsense mediated decay (NMD) as predicted. Both wild type and ezh2 mutant embryos presented edemas at 2 and 3 dpf. The line was renewed by selective breeding to counter select the non-specific phenotypes and survival was assessed. In contrast to earlier studies on ezh2 mutant zebrafish, ezh2(sa1199) mutants survived until adulthood. Interestingly, the ezh2 mRNA and Ezh2 protein were present during adulthood (70 dpf) in both wild type and ezh2(sa1199) mutant zebrafish. We conclude that the ezh2(sa1199) allele does not exhibit an ezh2 loss-of-function phenotype.

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