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Jonathan Fiorentino, Maria-Elena Torres-Padilla, Antonio Scialdone
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 167-187; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-021920-110200

Abstract:
Cellular heterogeneity is a property of any living system; however, its relationship with cellular fate decision remains an open question. Recent technological advances have enabled valuable insights, especially in complex systems such as the mouse embryo. In this review, we discuss recent studies that characterize cellular heterogeneity at different levels during mouse development, from the two-cell stage up to gastrulation. In addition to key experimental findings, we review mathematical modeling approaches that help researchers interpret these findings. Disentangling the role of heterogeneity in cell fate decision will likely rely on the refined integration of experiments, large-scale omics data, and mathematical modeling, complemented by the use of synthetic embryos and gastruloids as promising in vitro models.
Greg Gibson, Kristine A. Lacek
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 189-211; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022020-022327

Abstract:
Canalization refers to the evolution of populations such that the number of individuals who deviate from the optimum trait, or experience disease, is minimized. In the presence of rapid cultural, environmental, or genetic change, the reverse process of decanalization may contribute to observed increases in disease prevalence. This review starts by defining relevant concepts, drawing distinctions between the canalization of populations and robustness of individuals. It then considers evidence pertaining to three continuous traits and six domains of disease. In each case, existing genetic evidence for genotype-by-environment interactions is insufficient to support a strong inference of decanalization, but we argue that the advent of genome-wide polygenic risk assessment now makes an empirical evaluation of the role of canalization in preventing disease possible. Finally, the contributions of both rare and common variants to congenital abnormality and adult onset disease are considered in light of a new kerplunk model of genetic effects.
Hao Xu, George W. Bassel
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 417-437; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022620-094553

Abstract:
A transition from qualitative to quantitative descriptors of morphology has been facilitated through the growing field of morphometrics, representing the conversion of shapes and patterns into numbers. The analysis of plant form at the macromorphological scale using morphometric approaches quantifies what is commonly referred to as a phenotype. Quantitative phenotypic analysis of individuals with contrasting genotypes in turn provides a means to establish links between genes and shapes. The path from a gene to a morphological phenotype is, however, not direct, with instructive information progressing both across multiple scales of biological complexity and through nonintuitive feedback, such as mechanical signals. In this review, we explore morphometric approaches used to perform whole-plant phenotyping and quantitative approaches in capture processes in the mesoscales, which bridge the gaps between genes and shapes in plants. Quantitative frameworks involving both the computational simulation and the discretization of data into networks provide a putative path to predicting emergent shape from underlying genetic programs.
Tim Van Opijnen, Henry L. Levin
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 337-365; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043838

Abstract:
The goal of genomics and systems biology is to understand how complex systems of factors assemble into pathways and structures that combine to form living organisms. Great advances in understanding biological processes result from determining the function of individual genes, a process that has classically relied on characterizing single mutations. Advances in DNA sequencing has made available the complete set of genetic instructions for an astonishing and growing number of species. To understand the function of this ever-increasing number of genes, a high-throughput method was developed that in a single experiment can measure the function of genes across the genome of an organism. This occurred approximately 10 years ago, when high-throughput DNA sequencing was combined with advances in transposon-mediated mutagenesis in a method termed transposon insertion sequencing (TIS). In the subsequent years, TIS succeeded in addressing fundamental questions regarding the genes of bacteria, many of which have been shown to play central roles in bacterial infections that result in major human diseases. The field of TIS has matured and resulted in studies of hundreds of species that include significant innovations with a number of transposons. Here, we summarize a number of TIS experiments to provide an understanding of the method and explanation of approaches that are instructive when designing a study. Importantly, we emphasize critical aspects of a TIS experiment and highlight the extension and applicability of TIS into nonbacterial species such as yeast.
Ludovic Orlando
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 563-581; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-021920-011805

Abstract:
The domestication of the horse some 5,500 years ago followed those of dogs, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs by ∼2,500–10,000 years. By providing fast transportation and transforming warfare, the horse had an impact on human history with no equivalent in the animal kingdom. Even though the equine sport industry has considerable economic value today, the evolutionary history underlying the emergence of the modern domestic horse remains contentious. In the last decade, novel sequencing technologies have revolutionized our capacity to sequence the complete genome of organisms, including from archaeological remains. Applied to horses, these technologies have provided unprecedented levels of information and have considerably changed models of horse domestication. This review illustrates how ancient DNA, especially ancient genomes, has inspired researchers to rethink the process by which horses were first domesticated and then diversified into a variety of breeds showing a range of traits that are useful to humans.
Julian S. Peters, Nabila Ismail, Anzaan Dippenaar, Shuyi Ma, David R. Sherman, Robin M. Warren, Bavesh D. Kana
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 511-537; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022820-085940

Abstract:
Tuberculosis claims more human lives than any other bacterial infectious disease and represents a clear and present danger to global health as new tools for vaccination, treatment, and interruption of transmission have been slow to emerge. Additionally, tuberculosis presents with notable clinical heterogeneity, which complicates diagnosis, treatment, and the establishment of nonrelapsing cure. How this heterogeneity is driven by the diversity ofclinical isolates of the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, has recently garnered attention. Herein, we review advances in the understanding of how naturally occurring variation in clinical isolates affects transmissibility, pathogenesis, immune modulation, and drug resistance. We also summarize how specific changes in transcriptional responses can modulate infection or disease outcome, together with strain-specific effects on gene essentiality. Further understanding of how this diversity of M. tuberculosis isolates affects disease and treatment outcomes will enable the development of more effective therapeutic options and vaccines for this dreaded disease.
Nadia Singh, Needhi Bhalla
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 265-285; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-030620-102906

Abstract:
The single gene, single protein, single function hypothesis is increasingly becoming obsolete. Numerous studies have demonstrated that individual proteins can moonlight, meaning they can have multiple functions based on their cellular or developmental context. In this review, we discuss moonlighting proteins, highlighting the biological pathways where this phenomenon may be particularly relevant. In addition, we combine genetic, cell biological, and evolutionary perspectives so that we can better understand how, when, and why moonlighting proteins may take on multiple roles.
Alejandro Burga, Eyal Ben-David, Leonid Kruglyak
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 387-415; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043659

Abstract:
In life's constant battle for survival, it takes one to kill but two to conquer. Toxin-antitoxin or toxin-antidote (TA) elements are genetic dyads that cheat the laws of inheritance to guarantee their transmission to the next generation. This seemingly simple genetic arrangement—a toxin linked to its antidote—is capable of quickly spreading and persisting in natural populations. TA elements were first discovered in bacterial plasmids in the 1980s and have recently been characterized in fungi, plants, and animals, where they underlie genetic incompatibilities and sterility in crosses between wild isolates. In this review, we provide a unified view of TA elements in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms and highlight their similarities and differences at the evolutionary, genetic, and molecular levels. Finally, we propose several scenarios that could explain the paradox of the evolutionary origin of TA elements and argue that these elements may be key evolutionary players and that the full scope of their roles is only beginning to be uncovered.
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 367-385; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-030220-015007

Abstract:
Pioneer transcription factors have the intrinsic biochemical ability to scan partial DNA sequence motifs that are exposed on the surface of a nucleosome and thus access silent genes that are inaccessible to other transcription factors. Pioneer factors subsequently enable other transcription factors, nucleosome remodeling complexes, and histone modifiers to engage chromatin, thereby initiating the formation of an activating or repressive regulatory sequence. Thus, pioneer factors endow the competence for fate changes in embryonic development, are essential for cellular reprogramming, and rewire gene networks in cancer cells. Recent studies with reconstituted nucleosomes in vitro and chromatin binding in vivo reveal that pioneer factors can directly perturb nucleosome structure and chromatin accessibility in different ways. This review focuses on our current understanding of the mechanisms by which pioneer factors initiate gene network changes and will ultimately contribute to our ability to control cell fates at will.
Jonathan N. Wells, Cédric Feschotte
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 539-561; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-040620-022145

Abstract:
Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile DNA sequences that propagate within genomes. Through diverse invasion strategies, TEs have come to occupy a substantial fraction of nearly all eukaryotic genomes, and they represent a major source of genetic variation and novelty. Here we review the defining features of each major group of eukaryotic TEs and explore their evolutionary origins and relationships. We discuss how the unique biology of different TEs influences their propagation and distribution within and across genomes. Environmental and genetic factors acting at the level of the host species further modulate the activity, diversification, and fate of TEs, producing the dramatic variation in TE content observed across eukaryotes. We argue that cataloging TE diversity and dissecting the idiosyncratic behavior of individual elements are crucial to expanding our comprehension of their impact on the biology of genomes and the evolution of species.
Hadar Medini, Tal Cohen, Dan Mishmar
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 151-166; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-021920-105545

Abstract:
Out of many intracellular bacteria, only the mitochondria and chloroplasts abandoned their independence billions of years ago and became endosymbionts within the host eukaryotic cell. Consequently, one cannot grow eukaryotic cells without their mitochondria, and the mitochondria cannot divide outside of the cell, thus reflecting interdependence. Here, we argue that such interdependence underlies the fundamental role of mitochondrial activities in the emergence of metazoans. Several lines of evidence support our hypothesis: ( a) Differentiation and embryogenesis rely on mitochondrial function; ( b) mitochondrial metabolites are primary precursors for epigenetic modifications (such as methyl and acetyl), which are critical for chromatin remodeling and gene expression, particularly during differentiation and embryogenesis; and ( c) mitonuclear coregulation adapted to accommodate both housekeeping and tissue-dependent metabolic needs. We discuss the evolution of the unique mitochondrial genetic system, mitochondrial metabolites, mitonuclear coregulation, and their critical roles in the emergence of metazoans and in human disorders.
Philip M. Nussenzweig, Luciano A. Marraffini
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 93-120; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022120-112523

Abstract:
Prokaryotes have developed numerous defense strategies to combat the constant threat posed by the diverse genetic parasites that endanger them. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas loci guard their hosts with an adaptive immune system against foreign nucleic acids. Protection starts with an immunization phase, in which short pieces of the invader's genome, known as spacers, are captured and integrated into the CRISPR locus after infection. Next, during the targeting phase, spacers are transcribed into CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) that guide CRISPR-associated (Cas) nucleases to destroy the invader's DNA or RNA. Here we describe the many different molecular mechanisms of CRISPR targeting and how they are interconnected with the immunization phase through a third phase of the CRISPR-Cas immune response: primed spacer acquisition. In this phase, Cas proteins direct the crRNA-guided acquisition of additional spacers to achieve a more rapid and robust immunization of the population.
Benjamin Loppin, Frédéric Berger
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 121-149; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022620-100039

Abstract:
Nucleosome dynamics and properties are central to all forms of genomic activities. Among the core histones, H3 variants play a pivotal role in modulating nucleosome structure and function. Here, we focus on the impact of H3 variants on various facets of development. The deposition of the replicative H3 variant following DNA replication is essential for the transmission of the epigenomic information encoded in posttranscriptional modifications. Through this process, replicative H3 maintains cell fate while, in contrast, the replacement H3.3 variant opposes cell differentiation during early embryogenesis. In later steps of development, H3.3 and specialized H3 variants are emerging as new, important regulators of terminal cell differentiation, including neurons and gametes. The specific pathways that regulate the dynamics of the deposition of H3.3 are paramount during reprogramming events that drive zygotic activation and the initiation of a new cycle of development.
, Geoffry N. De Iuliis, Brett Nixon
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 1-24; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043617

Abstract:
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are generally characterized by excellent DNA surveillance and repair, resulting in one of the lowest spontaneous mutation rates in the body. However, the barriers to mutagenesis can be overwhelmed under two sets of circumstances. First, replication errors may generate age-dependent mutations that provide the mutant cells with a selective advantage, leading to the clonal expansions responsible for dominant genetic diseases such as Apert syndrome and achondroplasia. The second mechanism centers on the vulnerability of the male germline to oxidative stress and the induction of oxidative DNA damage in spermatozoa. Defective repair of such oxidative damage in the fertilized oocyte results in the creation of mutations in the zygote that can influence the health and well-being of the offspring. A particular hot spot for such oxidative attack on chromosome 15 has been found to align with several mutations responsible for paternally mediated disease, including cancer, psychiatric disorders, and infertility.
Braulio Bonilla, Sarah R. Hengel, McKenzie K. Grundy,
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 25-46; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-021920-092410

Abstract:
Accurate DNA repair and replication are critical for genomic stability and cancer prevention. RAD51 and its gene family are key regulators of DNA fidelity through diverse roles in double-strand break repair, replication stress, and meiosis. RAD51 is an ATPase that forms a nucleoprotein filament on single-stranded DNA. RAD51 has the function of finding and invading homologous DNA sequences to enable accurate and timely DNA repair. Its paralogs, which arose from ancient gene duplications of RAD51, have evolved to regulate and promote RAD51 function. Underscoring its importance, misregulation of RAD51, and its paralogs, is associated with diseases such as cancer and Fanconi anemia. In this review, we focus on the mammalian RAD51 structure and function and highlight the use of model systems to enable mechanistic understanding of RAD51 cellular roles. We also discuss how misregulation of the RAD51 gene family members contributes to disease and consider new approaches to pharmacologically inhibit RAD51.
Zhangli Su, Briana Wilson, Pankaj Kumar, Anindya Dutta
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 47-69; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022620-101840

Abstract:
As one of the most abundant and conserved RNA species, transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are well known for their role in reading the codons on messenger RNAs and translating them into proteins. In this review, we discuss the noncanonical functions of tRNAs. These include tRNAs as precursors to novel small RNA molecules derived from tRNAs, also called tRNA-derived fragments, that are abundant across species and have diverse functions in different biological processes, including regulating protein translation, Argonaute-dependent gene silencing, and more. Furthermore, the role of tRNAs in biosynthesis and other regulatory pathways, including nutrient sensing, splicing, transcription, retroelement regulation, immune response, and apoptosis, is reviewed. Genome organization and sequence variation of tRNA genes are also discussed in light of their noncanonical functions. Lastly, we discuss the recent applications of tRNAs in genome editing and microbiome sequencing.
Christopher M. Jakobson, Daniel F. Jarosz
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 439-464; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-021920-102037

Abstract:
The complexity of heredity has been appreciated for decades: Many traits are controlled not by a single genetic locus but instead by polymorphisms throughout the genome. The importance of complex traits in biology and medicine has motivated diverse approaches to understanding their detailed genetic bases. Here, we focus on recent systematic studies, many in budding yeast, which have revealed that large numbers of all kinds of molecular variation, from noncoding to synonymous variants, can make significant contributions to phenotype. Variants can affect different traits in opposing directions, and their contributions can be modified by both the environment and the epigenetic state of the cell. The integration of prospective (synthesizing and analyzing variants) and retrospective (examining standing variation) approaches promises to reveal how natural selection shapes quantitative traits. Only by comprehensively understanding nature's genetic tool kit can we predict how phenotypes arise from the complex ensembles of genetic variants in living organisms.
Jeremy Thorpe, IkeOluwa A. Osei-Owusu, Bracha Erlanger Avigdor, Rossella Tupler, Jonathan Pevsner
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 487-510; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-041720-093403

Abstract:
Mosaicism refers to the occurrence of two or more genomes in an individual derived from a single zygote. Germline mosaicism is a mutation that is limited to the gonads and can be transmitted to offspring. Somatic mosaicism is a postzygotic mutation that occurs in the soma, and it may occur at any developmental stage or in adult tissues. Mosaic variation may be classified in six ways: ( a) germline or somatic origin, ( b) class of DNA mutation (ranging in scale from single base pairs to multiple chromosomes), ( c) developmental context, ( d) body location(s), ( e) functional consequence (including deleterious, neutral, or advantageous), and ( f) additional sources of mosaicism, including mitochondrial heteroplasmy, exogenous DNA sources such as vectors, and epigenetic changes such as imprinting and X-chromosome inactivation. Technological advances, including single-cell and other next-generation sequencing, have facilitated improved sensitivity and specificity to detect mosaicism in a variety of biological contexts.
Bjarki Eldon
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 213-236; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-021920-095932

Abstract:
Natural highly fecund populations abound. These range from viruses to gadids. Many highly fecund populations are economically important. Highly fecund populations provide an important contrast to the low-fecundity organisms that have traditionally been applied in evolutionary studies. A key question regarding high fecundity is whether large numbers of offspring are produced on a regular basis, by few individuals each time, in a sweepstakes mode of reproduction. Such reproduction characteristics are not incorporated into the classical Wright–Fisher model, the standard reference model of population genetics, or similar types of models, in which each individual can produce only small numbers of offspring relative to the population size. The expected genomic footprints of population genetic models of sweepstakes reproduction are very different from those of the Wright–Fisher model. A key, immediate issue involves identifying the footprints of sweepstakes reproduction in genomic data. Whole-genome sequencing data can be used to distinguish the patterns made by sweepstakes reproduction from the patterns made by population growth in a population evolving according to the Wright–Fisher model (or similar models). If the hypothesis of sweepstakes reproduction cannot be rejected, then models of sweepstakes reproduction and associated multiple-merger coalescents will become at least as relevant as the Wright–Fisher model (or similar models) and the Kingman coalescent, the cornerstones of mathematical population genetics, in further discussions of evolutionary genomics of highly fecund populations.
Sebastian Soyk, , Zachary B. Lippman
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 287-307; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-050720-122916

Abstract:
Uncovering the genes, variants, and interactions underlying crop diversity is a frontier in plant genetics. Phenotypic variation often does not reflect the cumulative effect of individual gene mutations. This deviation is due to epistasis, in which interactions between alleles are often unpredictable and quantitative in effect. Recent advances in genomics and genome-editing technologies are elevating the study of epistasis in crops. Using the traits and developmental pathways that were major targets in domestication and breeding, we highlight how epistasis is central in guiding the behavior of the genetic variation that shapes quantitative trait variation. We outline new strategies that illuminate how quantitative epistasis from modified gene dosage defines background dependencies. Advancing our understanding of epistasis in crops can reveal new principles and approaches to engineering targeted improvements in agriculture.
Thomas E. Dever, Ivaylo P. Ivanov, Matthew S. Sachs
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 237-264; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043822

Abstract:
Cells utilize transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms to alter gene expression in response to environmental cues. Gene-specific controls, including changing the translation of specific messenger RNAs (mRNAs), provide a rapid means to respond precisely to different conditions. Upstream open reading frames (uORFs) are known to control the translation of mRNAs. Recent studies in bacteria and eukaryotes have revealed the functions of evolutionarily conserved uORF-encoded peptides. Some of these uORF-encoded nascent peptides enable responses to specific metabolites to modulate the translation of their mRNAs by stalling ribosomes and through ribosome stalling may also modulate the level of their mRNAs. In this review, we highlight several examples of conserved uORF nascent peptides that stall ribosomes to regulate gene expression in response to specific metabolites in bacteria, fungi, mammals, and plants.
Erin K. Borchardt, Nicole M. Martinez, Wendy V. Gilbert
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 309-336; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043830

Abstract:
Recent advances in pseudouridine detection reveal a complex pseudouridine landscape that includes messenger RNA and diverse classes of noncoding RNA in human cells. The known molecular functions of pseudouridine, which include stabilizing RNA conformations and destabilizing interactions with varied RNA-binding proteins, suggest that RNA pseudouridylation could have widespread effects on RNA metabolism and gene expression. Here, we emphasize how much remains to be learned about the RNA targets of human pseudouridine synthases, their basis for recognizing distinct RNA sequences, and the mechanisms responsible for regulated RNA pseudouridylation. We also examine the roles of noncoding RNA pseudouridylation in splicing and translation and point out the potential effects of mRNA pseudouridylation on protein production, including in the context of therapeutic mRNAs.
Nahid Punjani, Dolores J. Lamb
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 465-486; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022020-023434

Abstract:
Male factor infertility is a common problem. Evidence is emerging regarding the spectrum of systemic disease and illness harbored by infertile men who otherwise appear healthy. In this review, we present evidence that infertile men have poor overall health and increased morbidity and mortality, increased rates of both genitourinary and non-genitourinary malignancy, and greater risks of systemic disease. The review also highlights numerous genetic conditions associated with male infertility as well as emerging translational evidence of genitourinary birth defects and their impact on male infertility. Finally, parallels to the overall health of infertile women are presented. This review highlights the importance of a comprehensive health evaluation of men who present for an infertility assessment.
Published: 23 November 2020
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 54, pp 71-92; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-030620-093031

Abstract:
Model organisms are extensively used in research as accessible and convenient systems for studying a particular area or question in biology. Traditionally, only a limited number of organisms have been studied in detail, but modern genomic tools are enabling researchers to extend beyond the set of classical model organisms to include novel species from less-studied phylogenetic groups. This review focuses on model species for an important group of multicellular organisms, the brown algae. The development of genetic and genomic tools for the filamentous brown alga Ectocarpus has led to it emerging as a general model system for this group, but additional models, such as Fucus or Dictyota dichotoma, remain of interest for specific biological questions. In addition, Saccharina japonica has emerged as a model system to directly address applied questions related to algal aquaculture. We discuss the past, present, and future of brown algal model organisms in relation to the opportunities and challenges in brown algal research.
, David M. Parichy
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 505-530; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043741

Abstract:
Vertebrate pigment patterns are diverse and fascinating adult traits that allow animals to recognize conspecifics, attract mates, and avoid predators. Pigment patterns in fish are among the most amenable traits for studying the cellular basis of adult form, as the cells that produce diverse patterns are readily visible in the skin during development. The genetic basis of pigment pattern development has been most studied in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. Zebrafish adults have alternating dark and light horizontal stripes, resulting from the precise arrangement of three main classes of pigment cells: black melanophores, yellow xanthophores, and iridescent iridophores. The coordination of adult pigment cell lineage specification and differentiation with specific cellular interactions and morphogenetic behaviors is necessary for stripe development. Besides providing a nice example of pattern formation responsible for an adult trait of zebrafish, stripe-forming mechanisms also provide a conceptual framework for posing testable hypotheses about pattern diversification more broadly. Here, we summarize what is known about lineages and molecular interactions required for pattern formation in zebrafish, we review some of what is known about pattern diversification in Danio, and we speculate on how patterns in more distant teleosts may have evolved to produce a stunningly diverse array of patterns in nature.
, Mariah McIntosh
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 347-372; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043905

Abstract:
The rule of Mendelian inheritance is remarkably robust, but deviations from the equal transmission of alternative alleles at a locus [a.k.a. transmission ratio distortion (TRD)] are also commonly observed in genetic mapping populations. Such TRD reveals locus-specific selection acting at some point between the diploid heterozygous parents and progeny genotyping and therefore can provide novel insight into otherwise-hidden genetic and evolutionary processes. Most of the classic selfish genetic elements were discovered through their biasing of transmission, but many unselfish evolutionary and developmental processes can also generate TRD. In this review, we describe methodologies for detecting TRD in mapping populations, detail the arenas and genetic interactions that shape TRD during plant and animal reproduction, and summarize patterns of TRD from across the genetic mapping literature. Finally, we point to new experimental approaches that can accelerate both detection of TRD and characterization of the underlying genetic mechanisms.
, Sarah Lloyd,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 117-147; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120213-092352

Abstract:
Mammalian prion diseases are a group of neurodegenerative conditions caused by infection of the central nervous system with proteinaceous agents called prions, including sporadic, variant, and iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; kuru; inherited prion disease; sheep scrapie; bovine spongiform encephalopathy; and chronic wasting disease. Prions are composed of misfolded and multimeric forms of the normal cellular prion protein (PrP). Prion diseases require host expression of the prion protein gene ( PRNP) and a range of other cellular functions to support their propagation and toxicity. Inherited forms of prion disease are caused by mutation of PRNP, whereas acquired and sporadically occurring mammalian prion diseases are controlled by powerful genetic risk and modifying factors. Whereas some PrP amino acid variants cause the disease, others confer protection, dramatically altered incubation times, or changes in the clinical phenotype. Multiple mechanisms, including interference with homotypic protein interactions and the selection of the permissible prion strains in a host, play a role. Several non- PRNP factors have now been uncovered that provide insights into pathways of disease susceptibility or neurotoxicity.
Marco D'ario,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 45-65; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043602

Abstract:
The genetic control of the characteristic cell sizes of different species and tissues is a long-standing enigma. Plants are convenient for studying this question in a multicellular context, as their cells do not move and are easily tracked and measured from organ initiation in the meristems to subsequent morphogenesis and differentiation. In this article, we discuss cell size control in plants compared with other organisms. As seen from yeast cells to mammalian cells, size homeostasis is maintained cell autonomously in the shoot meristem. In developing organs, vacuolization contributes to cell size heterogeneity and may resolve conflicts between growth control at the cellular and organ levels. Molecular mechanisms for cell size control have implications for how cell size responds to changes in ploidy, which are particularly important in plant development and evolution. We also discuss comparatively the functional consequences of cell size and their potential repercussions at higher scales, including genome evolution.
, Brad A. Friedman, Borislav Dejanovic,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 263-288; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043515

Abstract:
Advances in human genetics have implicated a growing number of genes in neurodegenerative diseases, providing insight into pathological processes. For Alzheimer disease in particular, genome-wide association studies and gene expression studies have emphasized the pathogenic contributions from microglial cells and motivated studies of microglial function/dysfunction. Here, we summarize recent genetic evidence for microglial involvement in neurodegenerative disease with a focus on Alzheimer disease, for which the evidence is most compelling. To provide context for these genetic discoveries, we discuss how microglia influence brain development and homeostasis, how microglial characteristics change in disease, and which microglial activities likely influence the course of neurodegeneration. In all, we aim to synthesize varied aspects of microglial biology and highlight microglia as possible targets for therapeutic interventions in neurodegenerative disease.
Stanislau Yatskevich, James Rhodes,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 445-482; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043633

Abstract:
Structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) complexes are key organizers of chromosome architecture in all kingdoms of life. Despite seemingly divergent functions, such as chromosome segregation, chromosome maintenance, sister chromatid cohesion, and mitotic chromosome compaction, it appears that these complexes function via highly conserved mechanisms and that they represent a novel class of DNA translocases.
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 1-18; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043708

Abstract:
In Drosophila development, the axes of the egg and future embryo are established during oogenesis. To learn about the underlying genetic and molecular pathways that lead to axis formation, I conducted a large-scale genetic screen at the beginning of my independent career. This led to the eventual understanding that both anterior-posterior and dorsal-ventral pattern information is transmitted from the oocyte to the surrounding follicle cells and in turn from the follicle cells back to the oocyte. How I came to conduct this screen and what further insights were gained by studying the mutants isolated in the screen are the topics of this autobiographical article.
David T.W. Jones, Pratiti Bandopadhayay,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 483-503; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120417-031642

Abstract:
The human brain contains a vast number of cells and shows extraordinary cellular diversity to facilitate the many cognitive and automatic commands governing our bodily functions. This complexity arises partly from large-scale structural variations in the genome, evolutionary processes to increase brain size, function, and cognition. Not surprisingly given recent technical advances, low-grade gliomas (LGGs), which arise from the glia (the most abundant cell type in the brain), have undergone a recent revolution in their classification and therapy, especially in the pediatric setting. Next-generation sequencing has uncovered previously unappreciated diverse LGG entities, unraveling genetic subgroups and multiple molecular alterations and altered pathways, including many amenable to therapeutic targeting. In this article we review these novel entities, in which oncogenic processes show striking age-related neuroanatomical specificity (highlighting their close interplay with development); the opportunities they provide for targeted therapies, some of which are already practiced at the bedside; and the challenges of implementing molecular pathology in the clinic.
, Melanie Blokesch
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 217-237; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043641

Abstract:
Transformation is a widespread mechanism of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria. DNA uptake to the periplasmic compartment requires a DNA-uptake pilus and the DNA-binding protein ComEA. In the gram-negative bacteria, DNA is first pulled toward the outer membrane by retraction of the pilus and then taken up by binding to periplasmic ComEA, acting as a Brownian ratchet to prevent backward diffusion. A similar mechanism probably operates in the gram-positive bacteria as well, but these systems have been less well characterized. Transport, defined as movement of a single strand of transforming DNA to the cytosol, requires the channel protein ComEC. Although less is understood about this process, it may be driven by proton symport. In this review we also describe various phenomena that are coordinated with the expression of competence for transformation, such as fratricide, the kin-discriminatory killing of neighboring cells, and competence-mediated growth arrest.
Elizabeth M. Duncan,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 327-346; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043733

Abstract:
Regeneration is a remarkable phenomenon that has been the subject of awe and bafflement for hundreds of years. Although regeneration competence is found in highly divergent organisms throughout the animal kingdom, recent advances in tools used for molecular and genomic characterization have uncovered common genes, molecular mechanisms, and genomic features in regenerating animals. In this review we focus on what is known about how genome regulation modulates cellular potency during regeneration. We discuss this regulation in the context of complex tissue regeneration in animals, from Hydra to humans, with reference to ex vivo–cultured cell models of pluripotency when appropriate. We emphasize the importance of a detailed molecular understanding of both the mechanisms that regulate genomic output and the functional assays that assess the biological relevance of such molecular characterizations.
Sheng Sun, , Márcia David-Palma, Shelby Priest, Joseph Heitman
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 417-444; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120116-024755

Abstract:
Cryptococcus species utilize a variety of sexual reproduction mechanisms, which generate genetic diversity, purge deleterious mutations, and contribute to their ability to occupy myriad environmental niches and exhibit a range of pathogenic potential. The bisexual and unisexual cycles of pathogenic Cryptococcus species are stimulated by properties associated with their environmental niches and proceed through well-characterized signaling pathways and corresponding morphological changes. Genes governing mating are encoded by the mating-type ( MAT) loci and influence pathogenesis, population dynamics, and lineage divergence in Cryptococcus. MAT has undergone significant evolutionary changes within the Cryptococcus genus, including transition from the ancestral tetrapolar state in nonpathogenic species to a bipolar mating system in pathogenic species, as well as several internal reconfigurations. Owing to the variety of established sexual reproduction mechanisms and the robust characterization of the evolution of mating and MAT in this genus, Cryptococcus species provide key insights into the evolution of sexual reproduction.
, David Wang
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 313-326; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043756

Abstract:
Caenorhabditis elegans has long been a laboratory model organism with no known natural pathogens. In the past ten years, however, natural viruses have been isolated from wild-caught C. elegans (Orsay virus) and its relative Caenorhabditis briggsae (Santeuil virus, Le Blanc virus, and Melnik virus). All are RNA positive-sense viruses related to Nodaviridae; they infect intestinal cells and are horizontally transmitted. The Orsay virus capsid structure has been determined and the virus can be reconstituted by transgenesis of the host. Recent use of the Orsay virus has enabled researchers to identify evolutionarily conserved proviral and antiviral genes that function in nematodes and mammals. These pathways include endocytosis through SID-3 and WASP; a uridylyltransferase that destabilizes viral RNAs by uridylation of their 3′ end; ubiquitin protein modifications and turnover; and the RNA interference pathway, which recognizes and degrades viral RNA.
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 171-194; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043527

Abstract:
We have made rapid progress in recent years in identifying the genetic causes of many human diseases. However, despite this recent progress, our mechanistic understanding of these diseases is often incomplete. This is a problem because it limits our ability to develop effective disease treatments. To overcome this limitation, we need new concepts to describe and comprehend the complex mechanisms underlying human diseases. Condensate formation by phase separation emerges as a new principle to explain the organization of living cells. In this review, we present emerging evidence that aberrant forms of condensates are associated with many human diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and infectious diseases. We examine disease mechanisms driven by aberrant condensates, and we point out opportunities for therapeutic interventions. We conclude that phase separation provides a useful new framework to understand and fight some of the most severe human diseases.
Donghoon Lee,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 67-91; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120116-024603

Abstract:
Cell–cell fusion is indispensable for creating life and building syncytial tissues and organs. Ever since the discovery of cell–cell fusion, how cells join together to form zygotes and multinucleated syncytia has remained a fundamental question in cell and developmental biology. In the past two decades, Drosophila myoblast fusion has been used as a powerful genetic model to unravel mechanisms underlying cell–cell fusion in vivo. Many evolutionarily conserved fusion-promoting factors have been identified and so has a surprising and conserved cellular mechanism. In this review, we revisit key findings in Drosophila myoblast fusion and highlight the critical roles of cellular invasion and resistance in driving cell membrane fusion.
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 93-116; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043609

Abstract:
Wolbachia is an endosymbiotic Alphaproteobacteria that can suppress insect-borne diseases through decreasing host virus transmission (population replacement) or through decreasing host population density (population suppression). We contrast natural Wolbachia infections in insect populations with Wolbachia transinfections in mosquitoes to gain insights into factors potentially affecting the long-term success of Wolbachia releases. Natural Wolbachia infections can spread rapidly, whereas the slow spread of transinfections is governed by deleterious effects on host fitness and demographic factors. Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI) generated by Wolbachia is central to both population replacement and suppression programs, but CI in nature can be variable and evolve, as can Wolbachia fitness effects and virus blocking. Wolbachia spread is also influenced by environmental factors that decrease Wolbachia titer and reduce maternal Wolbachia transmission frequency. More information is needed on the interactions between Wolbachia and host nuclear/mitochondrial genomes, the interaction between invasion success and local ecological factors, and the long-term stability of Wolbachia-mediated virus blocking.
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 149-170; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120417-031415

Abstract:
Fungi see light of different colors by using photoreceptors such as the White Collar proteins and cryptochromes for blue light, opsins for green light, and phytochromes for red light. Light regulates fungal development, promotes the accumulation of protective pigments and proteins, and regulates tropic growth. The White Collar complex (WCC) is a photoreceptor and a transcription factor that is responsible for regulating transcription after exposure to blue light. In Neurospora crassa, light promotes the interaction of WCCs and their binding to the promoters to activate transcription. In Aspergillus nidulans, the WCC and the phytochrome interact to coordinate gene transcription and other responses, but the contribution of these photoreceptors to fungal photobiology varies across fungal species. Ultimately, the effect of light on fungal biology is the result of the coordinated transcriptional regulation and activation of signal transduction pathways.
, Allison J. Miller, Danelle K. Seymour
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 195-215; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043545

Abstract:
Plant genomes interact when genetically distinct individuals join, or are joined, together. Individuals can fuse in three contexts: artificial grafts, natural grafts, and host–parasite interactions. Artificial grafts have been studied for decades and are important platforms for studying the movement of RNA, DNA, and protein. Yet several mysteries about artificial grafts remain, including the factors that contribute to graft incompatibility, the prevalence of genetic and epigenetic modifications caused by exchanges between graft partners, and the long-term effects of these modifications on phenotype. Host–parasite interactions also lead to the exchange of materials, and RNA exchange actively contributes to an ongoing arms race between parasite virulence and host resistance. Little is known about natural grafts except that they can be frequent and may provide opportunities for evolutionary innovation through genome exchange. In this review, we survey our current understanding about these three mechanisms of contact, the genomic interactions that result, and the potential evolutionary implications.
Ina Anreiter,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 373-392; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043536

Abstract:
The Drosophila melanogaster foraging ( for) gene is a well-established example of a gene with major effects on behavior and natural variation. This gene is best known for underlying the behavioral strategies of rover and sitter foraging larvae, having been mapped and named for this phenotype. Nevertheless, in the last three decades an extensive array of studies describing for’s role as a modifier of behavior in a wide range of phenotypes, in both Drosophila and other organisms, has emerged. Furthermore, recent work reveals new insights into the genetic and molecular underpinnings of how for affects these phenotypes. In this article, we discuss the history of the for gene and its role in natural variation in behavior, plasticity, and behavioral pleiotropy, with special attention to recent findings on the molecular structure and transcriptional regulation of this gene.
Bianca Bana,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 239-261; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043650

Abstract:
Aging is a natural process of organismal decay that underpins the development of myriad diseases and disorders. Extensive efforts have been made to understand the biology of aging and its regulation, but most studies focus solely on the host organism. Considering the pivotal role of the microbiota in host health and metabolism, we propose viewing the host and its microbiota as a single biological entity whose aging phenotype is influenced by the complex interplay between host and bacterial genetics. In this review we present how the microbiota changes as the host ages, but also how the intricate relationship between host and indigenous bacteria impacts organismal aging and life span. In addition, we highlight other microbiota-dependent mechanisms that potentially regulate aging, and present experimental animal models for addressing these questions. Importantly, we propose microbiome dysbiosis as an additional hallmark and biomarker of aging.
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 393-416; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043717

Abstract:
Nearly half of the human genome consists of endogenous retroelements (EREs) and their genetic remnants, a small fraction of which carry the potential to propagate in the host genome, posing a threat to genome integrity and cell/organismal survival. The largest family of transcription factors in tetrapods, the Krüppel-associated box domain zinc finger proteins (KRAB-ZFPs), binds to specific EREs and represses their transcription. Since their first appearance over 400 million years ago, KRAB-ZFPs have undergone dramatic expansion and diversification in mammals, correlating with the invasions of new EREs. In this article we review our current understanding of the structure, function, and evolution of KRAB-ZFPs and discuss growing evidence that the arms race between KRAB-ZFPs and the EREs they target is a major driving force for the evolution of new traits in mammals, often accompanied by domestication of EREs themselves.
, Bret A. Payseur
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 19-44; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-040119-093957

Abstract:
Through recombination, genes are freed to evolve more independently of one another, unleashing genetic variance hidden in the linkage disequilibrium that accumulates through selection combined with drift. Yet crossover numbers are evolutionarily constrained, with at least one and not many more than one crossover per bivalent in most taxa. Crossover interference, whereby a crossover reduces the probability of a neighboring crossover, contributes to this homogeneity. The mechanisms by which interference is achieved and crossovers are regulated are a major current subject of inquiry, facilitated by novel methods to visualize crossovers and to pinpoint recombination events. Here, we review patterns of crossover interference and the models built to describe this process. We then discuss the selective forces that have likely shaped interference and the regulation of crossover numbers.
Natasha E. Weiser,
Published: 3 December 2019
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 53, pp 289-311; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-112618-043505

Abstract:
In animals, small noncoding RNAs that are expressed in the germline and transmitted to progeny control gene expression to promote fertility. Germline-expressed small RNAs, including endogenous small interfering RNAs (endo-siRNAs) and Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), drive the repression of deleterious transcripts such as transposons, repetitive elements, and pseudogenes. Recent studies have highlighted an important role for small RNAs in transgenerational epigenetic inheritance via regulation of heritable chromatin marks; therefore, small RNAs are thought to convey an epigenetic memory of genomic self and nonself elements. Small RNA pathways are highly conserved in metazoans and have been best described for the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. In this review, we describe the biogenesis, regulation, and function of C. elegans endo-siRNAs and piRNAs, along with recent insights into how these distinct pathways are integrated to collectively regulate germline gene expression, transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, and ultimately, animal fertility.
Thomas Prossliner, , Michael Askvad Sørensen,
Published: 23 November 2018
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 52, pp 321-348; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120215-035130

Abstract:
Protein synthesis consumes a large fraction of available resources in the cell. When bacteria encounter unfavorable conditions and cease to grow, specialized mechanisms are in place to ensure the overall reduction of costly protein synthesis while maintaining a basal level of translation. A number of ribosome-associated factors are involved in this regulation; some confer an inactive, hibernating state of the ribosome in the form of 70S monomers (RaiA; this and the following are based on Escherichia coli nomenclature) or 100S dimers (RMF and HPF homologs), and others inhibit translation at different stages in the translation cycle (RsfS, YqjD and paralogs, SRA, and EttA). Stationary phase cells therefore exhibit a complex array of different ribosome subpopulations that adjusts the translational capacity of the cell to the encountered conditions and ensures efficient reactivation of translation when conditions improve. Here, we review the current state of research regarding stationary phase-specific translation factors, in particular ribosome hibernation factors and other forms of translational regulation in response to stress conditions.
Published: 23 November 2018
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 52, pp 43-63; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120417-031559

Abstract:
Neural crest cells are a transient embryonic cell population that migrate collectively to various locations throughout the embryo to contribute a number of cell types to several organs. After induction, the neural crest delaminates and undergoes an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition before migrating through intricate yet characteristic paths. The neural crest exhibits a variety of migratory behaviors ranging from sheet-like mass migration in the cephalic regions to chain migration in the trunk. During their journey, neural crest cells rely on a range of signals both from their environment and within the migrating population for navigating through the embryo as a collective. Here we review these interactions and mechanisms, including chemotactic cues of neural crest cells’ migration.
Published: 23 November 2018
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 52, pp 489-510; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-120116-024456

Abstract:
Eusocial insects live in societies in which distinct family members serve specific roles in maintaining the colony and advancing the reproductive ability of a few select individuals. Given the genetic similarity of all colony members, the diversity of morphologies and behaviors is surprising. Social communication relies on pheromones and olfaction, as shown by mutants of orco, the universal odorant receptor coreceptor, and through electrophysiological analysis of neuronal responses to pheromones. Additionally, neurohormonal factors and epigenetic regulators play a key role in caste-specific behavior, such as foraging and caste switching. These studies start to allow an understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying social behavior and provide a technological foundation for future studies of eusocial insects. In this review, we highlight recent findings in eusocial insects that advance our understanding of genetic and epigenetic regulations of social behavior and provide perspectives on future studies using cutting-edge technologies.
Published: 23 November 2018
Annual Review of Genetics, Volume 52, pp 223-247; doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-032918-021921

Abstract:
For more than a decade, it has been known that mammalian cells use shelterin to protect chromosome ends. Much progress has been made on the mechanism by which shelterin prevents telomeres from inadvertently activating DNA damage signaling and double-strand break (DSB) repair pathways. Shelterin averts activation of three DNA damage response enzymes [the ataxia-telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) and ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) kinases and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1)], blocks three DSB repair pathways [classical nonhomologous end joining (c-NHEJ), alternative (alt)-NHEJ, and homology-directed repair (HDR)], and prevents hyper-resection at telomeres. For several of these functions, mechanistic insights have emerged. In addition, much has been learned about how shelterin maintains the telomeric 3′ overhang, forms and protects the t-loop structure, and promotes replication through telomeres. These studies revealed that shelterin is compartmentalized, with individual subunits dedicated to distinct aspects of the end-protection problem. This review focuses on the current knowledge of shelterin-mediated telomere protection, highlights differences between human and mouse shelterin, and discusses some of the questions that remain.
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