ISSN / EISSN : 1553-7390 / 1553-7404
Published by: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 9,694
Latest articles in this journal
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009807
Repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination (HR) requires that the 5’-terminated DNA strands are resected to generate single-stranded DNA overhangs. This process is initiated by a short-range resection catalyzed by the MRX (Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2) complex, which is followed by a long-range step involving the nuclease Exo1 or Dna2. Here we show that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling protein Chd1 participates in both short- and long-range resection by promoting MRX and Exo1 association with the DSB ends. Furthermore, Chd1 reduces histone occupancy near the DSB ends and promotes DSB repair by HR. All these functions require Chd1 ATPase activity, supporting a role for Chd1 in the opening of chromatin at the DSB site to facilitate MRX and Exo1 processing activities.
PLoS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009772
Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) is the most common type of dementia causing irreversible brain damage to the elderly and presents a major public health challenge. Clinical research and genome-wide association studies have suggested a potential contribution of the endocytic pathway to AD, with an emphasis on common loci. However, the contribution of rare variants in this pathway to AD has not been thoroughly investigated. In this study, we focused on the effect of rare variants on AD by first applying a rare-variant gene-set burden analysis using genes in the endocytic pathway on over 3,000 individuals with European ancestry from three large whole-genome sequencing (WGS) studies. We identified significant associations of rare-variant burden within the endocytic pathway with AD, which were successfully replicated in independent datasets. We further demonstrated that this endocytic rare-variant enrichment is associated with neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and age-related phenotypes, increasing the risk of obtaining severer brain damage, earlier age-at-onset, and earlier age-of-death. Next, by aggregating rare variants within each gene, we sought to identify single endocytic genes associated with AD and NFTs. Careful examination using NFTs revealed one significantly associated gene, ANKRD13D. To identify functional associations, we integrated bulk RNA-Seq data from over 600 brain tissues and found two endocytic expression genes (eGenes), HLA-A and SLC26A7, that displayed significant influences on their gene expressions. Differential expressions between AD patients and controls of these three identified genes were further examined by incorporating scRNA-Seq data from 48 post-mortem brain samples and demonstrated distinct expression patterns across cell types. Taken together, our results demonstrated strong rare-variant effect in the endocytic pathway on AD risk and progression and functional effect of gene expression alteration in both bulk and single-cell resolution, which may bring more insight and serve as valuable resources for future AD genetic studies, clinical research, and therapeutic targeting.
PLoS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009794
LRRK2 gain-of-function is considered a major cause of Parkinson’s disease (PD) in humans. However, pathogenicity of LRRK2 loss-of-function in animal models is controversial. Here we show that deletion of the entire zebrafish lrrk2 locus elicits a pleomorphic transient brain phenotype in maternal-zygotic mutant embryos (mzLrrk2). In contrast to lrrk2, the paralog gene lrrk1 is virtually not expressed in the brain of both wild-type and mzLrrk2 fish at different developmental stages. Notably, we found reduced catecholaminergic neurons, the main target of PD, in specific cell populations in the brains of mzLrrk2 larvae, but not adult fish. Strikingly, age-dependent accumulation of monoamine oxidase (MAO)-dependent catabolic signatures within mzLrrk2 brains revealed a previously undescribed interaction between LRRK2 and MAO biological activities. Our results highlight mzLrrk2 zebrafish as a tractable tool to study LRRK2 loss-of-function in vivo, and suggest a link between LRRK2 and MAO, potentially of relevance in the prodromic stages of PD.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009629
Stochastic signaling dynamics expand living cells’ information processing capabilities. An increasing number of studies report that regulators encode information in their pulsatile dynamics. The evolutionary mechanisms that lead to complex signaling dynamics remain uncharacterized, perhaps because key interactions of signaling proteins are encoded in intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs), whose evolution is difficult to analyze. Here we focused on the IDR that controls the stochastic pulsing dynamics of Crz1, a transcription factor in fungi downstream of the widely conserved calcium signaling pathway. We find that Crz1 IDRs from anciently diverged fungi can all respond transiently to calcium stress; however, only Crz1 IDRs from the Saccharomyces clade support pulsatility, encode extra information, and rescue fitness in competition assays, while the Crz1 IDRs from distantly related fungi do none of the three. On the other hand, we find that Crz1 pulsing is conserved in the distantly related fungi, consistent with the evolutionary model of stabilizing selection on the signaling phenotype. Further, we show that a calcineurin docking site in a specific part of the IDRs appears to be sufficient for pulsing and show evidence for a beneficial increase in the relative calcineurin affinity of this docking site. We propose that evolutionary flexibility of functionally divergent IDRs underlies the conservation of stochastic signaling by stabilizing selection.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009785
Dysregulation of cardiac transcription programs has been identified in patients and families with heart failure, as well as those with morphological and functional forms of congenital heart defects. Mediator is a multi-subunit complex that plays a central role in transcription initiation by integrating regulatory signals from gene-specific transcriptional activators to RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Recently, Mediator subunit 30 (MED30), a metazoan specific Mediator subunit, has been associated with Langer-Giedion syndrome (LGS) Type II and Cornelia de Lange syndrome-4 (CDLS4), characterized by several abnormalities including congenital heart defects. A point mutation in MED30 has been identified in mouse and is associated with mitochondrial cardiomyopathy. Very recent structural analyses of Mediator revealed that MED30 localizes to the proximal Tail, anchoring Head and Tail modules, thus potentially influencing stability of the Mediator core. However, in vivo cellular and physiological roles of MED30 in maintaining Mediator core integrity remain to be tested. Here, we report that deletion of MED30 in embryonic or adult cardiomyocytes caused rapid development of cardiac defects and lethality. Importantly, cardiomyocyte specific ablation of MED30 destabilized Mediator core subunits, while the kinase module was preserved, demonstrating an essential role of MED30 in stability of the overall Mediator complex. RNAseq analyses of constitutive cardiomyocyte specific Med30 knockout (cKO) embryonic hearts and inducible cardiomyocyte specific Med30 knockout (icKO) adult cardiomyocytes further revealed critical transcription networks in cardiomyocytes controlled by Mediator. Taken together, our results demonstrated that MED30 is essential for Mediator stability and transcriptional networks in both developing and adult cardiomyocytes. Our results affirm the key role of proximal Tail modular subunits in maintaining core Mediator stability in vivo.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009432
Epigenetic alterations occur as organisms age, and lead to chromatin deterioration, loss of transcriptional silencing and genomic instability. Dysregulation of the epigenome has been associated with increased susceptibility to age-related disorders. In this study, we aimed to characterize the age-dependent changes of the epigenome and, in turn, to understand epigenetic processes that drive aging phenotypes. We focused on the aging-associated changes in the repressive histone marks H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 in C. elegans. We observed region-specific gain and loss of both histone marks, but the changes are more evident for H3K9me3. We further found alteration of heterochromatic boundaries in aged somatic tissues. Interestingly, we discovered that the most statistically significant changes reflected H3K9me3-marked regions that are formed during aging, and are absent in developing worms, which we termed “aging-specific repressive regions” (ASRRs). These ASRRs preferentially occur in genic regions that are marked by high levels of H3K9me2 and H3K36me2 in larval stages. Maintenance of high H3K9me2 levels in these regions have been shown to correlate with a longer lifespan. Next, we examined whether the changes in repressive histone marks lead to de-silencing of repetitive DNA elements, as reported for several other organisms. We observed increased expression of active repetitive DNA elements but not global re-activation of silent repeats in old worms, likely due to the distributed nature of repetitive elements in the C. elegans genome. Intriguingly, CELE45, a putative short interspersed nuclear element (SINE), was greatly overexpressed at old age and upon heat stress. SINEs have been suggested to regulate transcription in response to various cellular stresses in mammals. It is likely that CELE45 RNAs also play roles in stress response and aging in C. elegans. Taken together, our study revealed significant and specific age-dependent changes in repressive histone modifications and repetitive elements, providing important insights into aging biology.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009763
The structural maintenance of chromosome (SMC) complex cohesin mediates sister chromatid cohesion established during replication, and damage-induced cohesion formed in response to DSBs post-replication. The translesion synthesis polymerase Polη is required for damage-induced cohesion through a hitherto unknown mechanism. Since Polη is functionally associated with transcription, and transcription triggers de novo cohesion in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we hypothesized that transcription facilitates damage-induced cohesion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here, we show dysregulated transcriptional profiles in the Polη null mutant (rad30Δ), where genes involved in chromatin assembly and positive transcription regulation were downregulated. In addition, chromatin association of RNA polymerase II was reduced at promoters and coding regions in rad30Δ compared to WT cells, while occupancy of the H2A.Z variant (Htz1) at promoters was increased in rad30Δ cells. Perturbing histone exchange at promoters inactivated damage-induced cohesion, similarly to deletion of the RAD30 gene. Conversely, altering regulation of transcription elongation suppressed the deficient damage-induced cohesion in rad30Δ cells. Furthermore, transcription inhibition negatively affected formation of damage-induced cohesion. These results indicate that the transcriptional deregulation of the Polη null mutant is connected with its reduced capacity to establish damage-induced cohesion. This also suggests a linkage between regulation of transcription and formation of damage-induced cohesion after replication.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009773
During gametogenesis in mammals, meiosis ensures the production of haploid gametes. The timing and length of meiosis to produce female and male gametes differ considerably. In contrast to males, meiotic prophase I in females initiates during development. Hence, the knowledge regarding progression through meiotic prophase I is mainly focused on human male spermatogenesis and female oocyte maturation during adulthood. Therefore, it remains unclear how the different stages of meiotic prophase I between human oogenesis and spermatogenesis compare. Analysis of single-cell transcriptomics data from human fetal germ cells (FGC) allowed us to identify the molecular signatures of female meiotic prophase I stages leptotene, zygotene, pachytene and diplotene. We have compared those between male and female germ cells in similar stages of meiotic prophase I and revealed conserved and specific features between sexes. We identified not only key players involved in the process of meiosis, but also highlighted the molecular components that could be responsible for changes in cellular morphology that occur during this developmental period, when the female FGC acquire their typical (sex-specific) oocyte shape as well as sex-differences in the regulation of DNA methylation. Analysis of X-linked expression between sexes during meiotic prophase I suggested a transient X-linked enrichment during female pachytene, that contrasts with the meiotic sex chromosome inactivation in males. Our study of the events that take place during meiotic prophase I provide a better understanding not only of female meiosis during development, but also highlights biomarkers that can be used to study infertility and offers insights in germline sex dimorphism in humans.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009742
With the development of practical means of human germline genome editing (HGGE) in recent years, there have been calls for stricter regulation and oversight over HGGE interventions with potential for heritable changes in the germline. An international moratorium has been advocated. We examine the practicality of such a proposal, as well as of a regulation through the “traditional” mechanisms of international and municipal laws. We argue that these mechanisms are unlikely to achieve their intended objectives and that the better approach is to engage the international community of stakeholders, researchers, scientists, clinicians, and other workers directly involved in the field in working toward the development of an “informed adaptive consensus”. We offer suggestions as to how this may be achieved and how existing indirect levers of regulation may be harnessed toward this end.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009741
Much has been written about gene modifying technologies (GMTs), with a particularly strong focus on human germline genome editing (HGGE) sparked by its unprecedented clinical research application in 2018, shocking the scientific community. This paper applies political, ethical, and social lenses to aspects of HGGE to uncover previously underexplored considerations that are important to reflect on in global discussions. By exploring 4 areas—(1) just distribution of HGGE benefits through a realist lens; (2) HGGE through a national interest lens; (3) “broad societal consensus” through a structural injustice lens; and (4) HGGE through a scientific trustworthiness lens—a broader perspective is offered, which ultimately aims to enrich further debates and inform well-considered solutions for developments in this field. The application of these lenses also brings to light the fact that all discussions about scientific developments involve a conscious or unconscious application of a lens that shapes the direction of our thinking.