Frontiers in Genetics

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ISSN / EISSN : 1664-8021 / 1664-8021
Current Publisher: Frontiers Media SA (10.3389)
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Shenglan Cai, Xingwang Hu, Ruochan Chen,
Published: 11 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.657051

Abstract:
Background Enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) are intergenic long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that participate in the progression of malignancies by targeting tumor-related genes and immune checkpoints. However, the potential role of eRNAs in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is unclear. In this study, we aimed to construct an immune-related eRNA prognostic model that could be used to prospectively assess the prognosis of patients with HCC. Methods Gene expression profiles of patients with HCC were downloaded from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). The eRNAs co-expressed from immune genes were identified as immune-related eRNAs. Cox regression analyses were applied in a training cohort to construct an immune-related eRNA signature (IReRS), that was subsequently used to analyze a testing cohort and combination of the two cohorts. Kaplan-Meier and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to validate the predictive effect in the three cohorts. Gene Set Enrishment Analysis (GSEA) computation was used to identify an IReRS-related signaling pathway. A web-based cell type identification by estimating relative subsets of RNA transcripts (CIBERSORT) computation was used to evaluate the relationship between the IReRS and infiltrating immune cells. Results A total of sixty-four immune-related eRNAs (IReRNAs) was identified in HCC, and 14 IReRNAs were associated with overall survival (OS). Five IReRNAs were used for constructing an immune-related eRNA signature (IReRS), which was shown to correlate with poor survival and to be an independent prognostic biomarker for HCC. The GSEA results showed that the IReRS was correlated to cancer-related and immune-related pathways. Moreover, we found that IReRS was correlated to infiltrating immune cells, including CD8+ T cells and M0 macrophages. Finally, differential expressions of the five risk IReRNAs in tumor tissues vs. adjacent normal tissues and their prognostic values were verified, in which the AL445524.1 may function as an oncogene that affects prognosis partly by regulating CD4-CLTA4 related genes. Conclusion Our results suggest that the IReRS could serve as a biomarker for predicting prognosis in patients with HCC. Additionally, it may be correlated to the tumor immune microenvironment and could also be used as a biomarker in immunotherapy for HCC.
Bingzhou Guo, Hongliang Zhang, Jinliang Wang, Rilige Wu, Junyan Zhang, Qiqin Zhang, Lu Xu, Ming Shen, Zhibo Zhang, Fangyan Gu, et al.
Published: 11 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.656114

Abstract:
Background N6-methyladenosine (m6A) RNA modification is vital for cancers because methylation can alter gene expression and even affect some functional modification. Our study aimed to analyze m6A RNA methylation regulators and m6A-related genes to understand the prognosis of early lung adenocarcinoma. Methods The relevant datasets were utilized to analyze 21 m6A RNA methylation regulators and 5,486 m6A-related genes in m6Avar. Univariate Cox regression analysis, random survival forest analysis, Kaplan–Meier analysis, Chi-square analysis, and multivariate cox analysis were carried out on the datasets, and a risk prognostic model based on three feature genes was constructed. Results Respectively, we treated GSE31210 (n = 226) as the training set, GSE50081 (n = 128) and TCGA data (n = 400) as the test set. By performing univariable cox regression analysis and random survival forest algorithm in the training group, 218 genes were significant and three prognosis-related genes (ZCRB1, ADH1C, and YTHDC2) were screened out, which could divide LUAD patients into low and high-risk group (P < 0.0001). The predictive efficacy of the model was confirmed in the test group GSE50081 (P = 0.0018) and the TCGA datasets (P = 0.014). Multivariable cox manifested that the three-gene signature was an independent risk factor in LUAD. Furthermore, genes in the signature were also externally validated using the online database. Moreover, YTHDC2 was the important gene in the risk score model and played a vital role in readers of m6A methylation. Conclusion The findings of this study suggested that associated with m6A RNA methylation regulators and m6A-related genes, the three-gene signature was a reliable prognostic indicator for LUAD patients, indicating a clinical application prospect to serve as a potential therapeutic target.
Fengdan Xu, Shulin Chen, Xiwen Yang, Sumei Zhou, Junsen Wang, Ziliang Zhang, Yuan Huang, Miao Song, Jun Zhang, Kehui Zhan, et al.
Published: 10 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.646712

Abstract:
Plant roots are critical for water and nutrient acquisition, environmental adaptation, and yield formation. Herein, 196 wheat accessions from the Huang-Huai Wheat Region of China were collected to investigate six root traits at seedling stage under three growing environments [indoor hydroponic culture (IHC), outdoor hydroponic culture (OHC), and outdoor pot culture (OPC)] and the root dry weight (RDW) under OPC at four growth stages and four yield traits in four environments. Additionally, a genome-wide association study was performed with a Wheat 660K SNP Array. The results showed that the root traits varied most under OPC, followed by those under both OHC and IHC, and root elongation under hydroponic culture was faster than that under pot culture. Root traits under OHC might help predict those under OPC. Moreover, root traits were significantly negatively correlated with grain yield (GY) and grains per spike (GPS), positively correlated with thousand-kernel weight (TKW), and weakly correlated with number of spikes per area (SPA). Twelve stable chromosomal regions associated with the root traits were detected on chromosomes 1D, 2A, 4A, 4B, 5B, 6D, and unmapped markers. Among them, a stable chromosomal interval from 737.85 to 742.00 Mb on chromosome 4A, which regulated total root length (TRL), was identified under three growing environments. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) blocks were used to identify 27 genes related to root development. Three genes TraesCS4A02G484200, TraesCS4A02G484800, TraesCS4A02G493800, and TraesCS4A02G493900, are involved in cell elongation and differentiation and expressed at high levels in root tissues. Another vital co-localization interval on chromosome 5B (397.72–410.88 Mb) was associated with not only RDW under OHC and OPC but also TKW.
Serena Dato, Paolina Crocco, Nicola Rambaldi Migliore,
Published: 10 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.689824

Abstract:
Background Aging is a complex phenotype influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although many studies addressed its cellular and physiological age-related changes, the molecular causes of aging remain undetermined. Considering the biological complexity and heterogeneity of the aging process, it is now clear that full understanding of mechanisms underlying aging can only be achieved through the integration of different data types and sources, and with new computational methods capable to achieve such integration. Recent Advances In this review, we show that an omics vision of the age-dependent changes occurring as the individual ages can provide researchers with new opportunities to understand the mechanisms of aging. Combining results from single-cell analysis with systems biology tools would allow building interaction networks and investigate how these networks are perturbed during aging and disease. The development of high-throughput technologies such as next-generation sequencing, proteomics, metabolomics, able to investigate different biological markers and to monitor them simultaneously during the aging process with high accuracy and specificity, represents a unique opportunity offered to biogerontologists today. Critical Issues Although the capacity to produce big data drastically increased over the years, integration, interpretation and sharing of high-throughput data remain major challenges. In this paper we present a survey of the emerging omics approaches in aging research and provide a large collection of datasets and databases as a useful resource for the scientific community to identify causes of aging. We discuss their peculiarities, emphasizing the need for the development of methods focused on the integration of different data types. Future Directions We critically review the contribution of bioinformatics into the omics of aging research, and we propose a few recommendations to boost collaborations and produce new insights. We believe that significant advancements can be achieved by following major developments in bioinformatics, investing in diversity, data sharing and community-driven portable bioinformatics methods. We also argue in favor of more engagement and participation, and we highlight the benefits of new collaborations along these lines. This review aims at being a useful resource for many researchers in the field, and a call for new partnerships in aging research.
Hao Fang, Ling Kang, Zaheer Abbas, Lirong Hu, Yumei Chen, Xiao Tan, ,
Published: 10 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.662080

Abstract:
The objectives of the present study were to identify key genes and biological pathways associated with thermal stress in Chinese Holstein dairy cattle. Hence, we constructed a cell-model, applied various molecular biology experimental techniques and bioinformatics analysis. A total of 55 candidate genes were screened from published literature and the IPA database to examine its regulation under cold (25°C) or heat (42°C) stress in PBMCs. We identified 29 (3 up-regulated and 26 down-regulated) and 41 (15 up-regulated and 26 down-regulated) significantly differentially expressed genes (DEGs) (fold change ≥ 1.2-fold and P < 0.05) after cold and heat stress treatments, respectively. Furthermore, bioinformatics analyses confirmed that major biological processes and pathways associated with thermal stress include protein folding and refolding, protein phosphorylation, transcription factor binding, immune effector process, negative regulation of cell proliferation, autophagy, apoptosis, protein processing in endoplasmic reticulum, estrogen signaling pathway, pathways related to cancer, PI3K- Akt signaling pathway, and MAPK signaling pathway. Based on validation at the cellular and individual levels, the mRNA expression of the HIF1A gene showed upregulation during cold stress and the EIF2A, HSPA1A, HSP90AA1, and HSF1 genes showed downregulation after heat exposure. The RT-qPCR and western blot results revealed that the HIF1A after cold stress and the EIF2A, HSPA1A, HSP90AA1, and HSF1 after heat stress had consistent trend changes at the cellular transcription and translation levels, suggesting as key genes associated with thermal stress response in Holstein dairy cattle. The cellular model established in this study with PBMCs provides a suitable platform to improve our understanding of thermal stress in dairy cattle. Moreover, this study provides an opportunity to develop simultaneously both high-yielding and thermotolerant Chinese Holstein cattle through marker-assisted selection.
Alexander Diamandas, Mikhail R. Razon, Sandra Ramirez-Arcos,
Published: 10 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.667062

Abstract:
Bacterial contamination of platelet concentrates (PCs) can occur during blood donation or PC processing, necessitating routine screening to identify contaminated products in efforts to prevent adverse transfusion reactions in recipient patients. Serratia marcescens is a common bacterial contaminant, and its resilient nature coupled with genetic promiscuity imbue this environmental bacterium with resistance to disinfectants and antibiotics enhancing bacterial virulence. In this study, we aim to understand adaptive survival mechanisms through genetic characterization of two S. marcescens strains, CBS11 and CBS12, isolated from PCs by Canadian Blood Services. Genomic analyses of the two strains indicated that CBS11 has one chromosome and one plasmid (pAM01), whereas CBS12 has no plasmids. Phylogenetic analyses show that CBS11 and CBS12 are non-clonal strains, with CBS11 clustering closely with clinical strain CAV1492 and less so with environmental strain PWN146, and CBS12 clustering with a clinical strain AR_0027. Interestingly, pAM01 was most closely related to PWN146p1, a plasmid found in S. marcescens PWN146 strain associated with pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. Lastly, the genomic diversity of CBS11 and CBS12 was not reflected in the antibiotic resistance profiles as they were remarkably similar to one another, but was reflected in the virulence phenotypes assessed in the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode infection model, with CBS11 being more virulent then CBS12. Taken together, we suggest that S. marcescens environmental isolates that feature evolutionary diverse genomics are better equipped to adapt and thrive in varied environments, such as that of PCs, and therefore is as much of a concern as multi-drug resistance for human infection potential.
Published: 10 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.679029

Abstract:
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection remains one of the most severe problems for humanity, particularly due to the development of HIV resistance. To evaluate an association between viral sequence data and drug combinations and to estimate an effect of a particular drug combination on the treatment results, collection of the most representative drug combinations used to cure HIV and the biological data on amino acid sequences of HIV proteins is essential. We have created a new, freely available web database containing 1,651 amino acid sequences of HIV structural proteins [reverse transcriptase (RT), protease (PR), integrase (IN), and envelope protein (ENV)], treatment history information, and CD4+ cell count and viral load data available by the user’s query. Additionally, the biological data on new HIV sequences and treatment data can be stored in the database by any user followed by an expert’s verification. The database is available on the web at http://www.way2drug.com/rhivdb.
Yixin Gao, Jinhui Zhang, Huashuo Zhao, Fengjun Guan, Ping Zeng
Published: 9 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.651332

Abstract:
Background In two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) studies, sex instrumental heterogeneity is an important problem needed to address carefully, which however is often overlooked and may lead to misleading causal inference. Methods We first employed cross-trait linkage disequilibrium score regression (LDSC), Pearson’s correlation analysis, and the Cochran’s Q test to examine sex genetic similarity and heterogeneity in instrumental variables (IVs) of exposures. Simulation was further performed to explore the influence of sex instrumental heterogeneity on causal effect estimation in sex-specific two-sample MR analyses. Furthermore, we chose breast/prostate cancer as outcome and four anthropometric traits as exposures as an illustrative example to illustrate the importance of taking sex heterogeneity of instruments into account in MR studies. Results The simulation definitively demonstrated that sex-combined IVs can lead to biased causal effect estimates in sex-specific two-sample MR studies. In our real applications, both LDSC and Pearson’s correlation analyses showed high genetic correlation between sex-combined and sex-specific IVs of the four anthropometric traits, while nearly all the correlation coefficients were larger than zero but less than one. The Cochran’s Q test also displayed sex heterogeneity for some instruments. When applying sex-specific instruments, significant discrepancies in the magnitude of estimated causal effects were detected for body mass index (BMI) on breast cancer (P = 1.63E-6), for hip circumference (HIP) on breast cancer (P = 1.25E-20), and for waist circumference (WC) on prostate cancer (P = 0.007) compared with those generated with sex-combined instruments. Conclusion Our study reveals that the sex instrumental heterogeneity has non-ignorable impact on sex-specific two-sample MR studies and the causal effects of anthropometric traits on breast/prostate cancer would be biased if sex-combined IVs are incorrectly employed.
, Anshuman Panda, Kristen Birudaraju, James Van Gurp, Amitabh Chak, Kiron M. Das, Parisa Javidian, Hana Aviv
Published: 9 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.674741

Abstract:
Barrett’s esophagus (BE) is a premalignant metaplasia in patients with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). BE can progress to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) with less than 15% 5-year survival. Chromosomal aneuploidy, deletions, and duplication are early events in BE progression to EA, but reliable diagnostic assays to detect chromosomal markers in premalignant stages of EA arising from BE are lacking. Previously, we investigated chromosomal changes in an in vitro model of acid and bile exposure-induced Barrett’s epithelial carcinogenesis (BEC). In addition to detecting changes already known to occur in BE and EA, we also reported a novel recurring chromosomal translocation t(10:16) in the BE cells at an earlier time point before they undergo malignant transformation. In this study, we refine the chromosomal event with the help of fluorescence microscopy techniques as a three-way translocation between chromosomes 2, 10, and 16, t(2:10;16) (p22;q22;q22). We also designed an exclusive fluorescent in situ hybridization for esophageal adenocarcinoma (FISH-EA) assay that detects these chromosomal breakpoints and fusions. We validate the feasibility of the FISH-EA assay to objectively detect these chromosome events in primary tissues by confirming the presence of one of the fusions in paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed human EA tumors. Clinical validation in a larger cohort of BE progressors and non-progressors will confirm the specificity and sensitivity of the FISH-EA assay in identifying malignant potential in the early stages of EA.
Guo-Jiang Zhao, Zonglong Wu, Liyuan Ge, Feilong Yang, Kai Hong, Shudong Zhang,
Published: 9 June 2021
Frontiers in Genetics, Volume 12; doi:10.3389/fgene.2021.650416

Abstract:
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is one of the most common tumors in the urinary system. Ferroptosis plays a vital role in ccRCC development and progression. We did an update of ferroptosis-related multigene expression signature for individualized prognosis prediction in patients with ccRCC. Differentially expressed ferroptosis-related genes in ccRCC and normal samples were screened using The Cancer Genome Atlas. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses and machine learning methods were employed to identify optimal prognosis-related genes. CARS1, CD44, FANCD2, HMGCR, NCOA4, SLC7A11, and ACACA were selected to establish a prognostic risk score model. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analyses revealed that these genes were mainly enriched in immune-related pathways; single-sample Gene Set Enrichment Analysis revealed several immune cells potentially related to ferroptosis. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis demonstrated that patients with high-risk scores had significantly poor overall survival (log-rank P = 7.815 × 10–11). The ferroptosis signature was identified as an independent prognostic factor. Finally, a prognostic nomogram, including the ferroptosis signature, age, histological grade, and stage status, was constructed. Analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas-based calibration plots, C-index, and decision curve indicated the excellent predictive performance of the nomogram. The ferroptosis-related seven-gene risk score model is useful as a prognostic biomarker and suggests therapeutic targets for ccRCC. The prognostic nomogram may assist in individualized survival prediction and improve treatment strategies.
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