PLOS Genetics

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ISSN / EISSN : 1553-7390 / 1553-7404
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 9,449
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Seiya Oura, , , Yuki Horisawa-Takada, Makoto Matsuyama, ,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009412

Meiosis is a cell division process with complex chromosome events where various molecules must work in tandem. To find meiosis-related genes, we screened evolutionarily conserved and reproductive tract-enriched genes using the CRISPR/Cas9 system and identified potassium channel tetramerization domain containing 19 (Kctd19) as an essential factor for meiosis. In prophase I, Kctd19 deficiency did not affect synapsis or the DNA damage response, and chiasma structures were also observed in metaphase I spermatocytes of Kctd19 KO mice. However, spermatocytes underwent apoptotic elimination during the metaphase-anaphase transition. We were able to rescue the Kctd19 KO phenotype with an epitope-tagged Kctd19 transgene. By immunoprecipitation-mass spectrometry, we confirmed the association of KCTD19 with zinc finger protein 541 (ZFP541) and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1). Phenotyping of Zfp541 KO spermatocytes demonstrated XY chromosome asynapsis and recurrent DNA damage in the late pachytene stage, leading to apoptosis. In summary, our study reveals that KCTD19 associates with ZFP541 and HDAC1, and that both KCTD19 and ZFP541 are essential for meiosis in male mice.
, William D. Hopkins, Patrick R. Hof, John J. Ely, ,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009506

Identifying the molecular underpinnings of the neural specializations that underlie human cognitive and behavioral traits has long been of considerable interest. Much research on human-specific changes in gene expression and epigenetic marks has focused on the prefrontal cortex, a brain structure distinguished by its role in executive functions. The cerebellum shows expansion in great apes and is gaining increasing attention for its role in motor skills and cognitive processing, including language. However, relatively few molecular studies of the cerebellum in a comparative evolutionary context have been conducted. Here, we identify human-specific methylation in the lateral cerebellum relative to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, in a comparative study with chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Specifically, we profiled genome-wide methylation levels in the three species for each of the two brain structures and identified human-specific differentially methylated genomic regions unique to each structure. We further identified which differentially methylated regions (DMRs) overlap likely regulatory elements and determined whether associated genes show corresponding species differences in gene expression. We found greater human-specific methylation in the cerebellum than the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, with differentially methylated regions overlapping genes involved in several conditions or processes relevant to human neurobiology, including synaptic plasticity, lipid metabolism, neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration, and neurodevelopment, including developmental disorders. Moreover, our results show some overlap with those of previous studies focused on the neocortex, indicating that such results may be common to multiple brain structures. These findings further our understanding of the cerebellum in human brain evolution.
, Huimin Li, Minfang Song, Ziyu Tao, Tao Wu, Zaoke He, Xiangyu Zhao, Kai Wu,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009557

Genome alteration signatures reflect recurring patterns caused by distinct endogenous or exogenous mutational events during the evolution of cancer. Signatures of single base substitution (SBS) have been extensively studied in different types of cancer. Copy number alterations are important drivers for the progression of multiple cancer. However, practical tools for studying the signatures of copy number alterations are still lacking. Here, a user-friendly open source bioinformatics tool “sigminer” has been constructed for copy number signature extraction, analysis and visualization. This tool has been applied in prostate cancer (PC), which is particularly driven by complex genome alterations. Five copy number signatures are identified from human PC genome with this tool. The underlying mutational processes for each copy number signature have been illustrated. Sample clustering based on copy number signature exposure reveals considerable heterogeneity of PC, and copy number signatures show improved PC clinical outcome association when compared with SBS signatures. This copy number signature analysis in PC provides distinct insight into the etiology of PC, and potential biomarkers for PC stratification and prognosis.
Marcus Keatinge, Themistoklis M. Tsarouchas, Tahimina Munir, Nicola J. Porter, Juan Larraz, Davide Gianni, Hui-Hsin Tsai, , , Thomas Becker
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009515

Zebrafish exhibit robust regeneration following spinal cord injury, promoted by macrophages that control post-injury inflammation. However, the mechanistic basis of how macrophages regulate regeneration is poorly understood. To address this gap in understanding, we conducted a rapid in vivo phenotypic screen for macrophage-related genes that promote regeneration after spinal injury. We used acute injection of synthetic RNA Oligo CRISPR guide RNAs (sCrRNAs) that were pre-screened for high activity in vivo. Pre-screening of over 350 sCrRNAs allowed us to rapidly identify highly active sCrRNAs (up to half, abbreviated as haCRs) and to effectively target 30 potentially macrophage-related genes. Disruption of 10 of these genes impaired axonal regeneration following spinal cord injury. We selected 5 genes for further analysis and generated stable mutants using haCRs. Four of these mutants (tgfb1a, tgfb3, tnfa, sparc) retained the acute haCR phenotype, validating the approach. Mechanistically, tgfb1a haCR-injected and stable mutant zebrafish fail to resolve post-injury inflammation, indicated by prolonged presence of neutrophils and increased levels of il1b expression. Inhibition of Il-1β rescues the impaired axon regeneration in the tgfb1a mutant. Hence, our rapid and scalable screening approach has identified functional regulators of spinal cord regeneration, but can be applied to any biological function of interest.
, Andreas S. Chavez, , , Megan Phifer-Rixey, Ke Bi,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009495

Parallel changes in genotype and phenotype in response to similar selection pressures in different populations provide compelling evidence of adaptation. House mice (Mus musculus domesticus) have recently colonized North America and are found in a wide range of environments. Here we measure phenotypic and genotypic differentiation among house mice from five populations sampled across 21° of latitude in western North America, and we compare our results to a parallel latitudinal cline in eastern North America. First, we show that mice are genetically differentiated between transects, indicating that they have independently colonized similar environments in eastern and western North America. Next, we find genetically-based differences in body weight and nest building behavior between mice from the ends of the western transect which mirror differences seen in the eastern transect, demonstrating parallel phenotypic change. We then conduct genome-wide scans for selection and a genome-wide association study to identify targets of selection and candidate genes for body weight. We find some genomic signatures that are unique to each transect, indicating population-specific responses to selection. However, there is significant overlap between genes under selection in eastern and western house mouse transects, providing evidence of parallel genetic evolution in response to similar selection pressures across North America.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009471

DNA replication is fundamental to all living organisms. In yeast and animals, it is triggered by an assembly of pre-replicative complex including ORC, CDC6 and MCMs. Cyclin Dependent Kinase (CDK) regulates both assembly and firing of the pre-replicative complex. We tested temperature-sensitive mutants blocking Chlamydomonas DNA replication. The mutants were partially or completely defective in DNA replication and did not produce mitotic spindles. After a long G1, wild type Chlamydomonas cells enter a division phase when it undergoes multiple rapid synchronous divisions (‘multiple fission’). Using tagged transgenic strains, we found that MCM4 and MCM6 were localized to the nucleus throughout the entire multiple fission division cycle, except for transient cytoplasmic localization during each mitosis. Chlamydomonas CDC6 was transiently localized in nucleus in early division cycles. CDC6 protein levels were very low, probably due to proteasomal degradation. CDC6 levels were severely reduced by inactivation of CDKA1 (CDK1 ortholog) but not the plant-specific CDKB1. Proteasome inhibition did not detectably increase CDC6 levels in the cdka1 mutant, suggesting that CDKA1 might upregulate CDC6 at the transcriptional level. All of the DNA replication proteins tested were essentially undetectable until late G1. They accumulated specifically during multiple fission and then were degraded as cells completed their terminal divisions. We speculate that loading of origins with the MCM helicase may not occur until the end of the long G1, unlike in the budding yeast system. We also developed a simple assay for salt-resistant chromatin binding of MCM4, and found that tight MCM4 loading was dependent on ORC1, CDC6 and MCM6, but not on RNR1 or CDKB1. These results provide a microbial framework for approaching replication control in the plant kingdom.
Pyry Helkkula, , , Juha Karjalainen, , , , Aarno Palotie, Ida Surakka, , et al.
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009501

Protein-truncating variants (PTVs) affecting dyslipidemia risk may point to therapeutic targets for cardiometabolic disease. Our objective was to identify PTVs that were associated with both lipid levels and the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD) or type 2 diabetes (T2D) and assess their possible associations with risks of other diseases. To achieve this aim, we leveraged the enrichment of PTVs in the Finnish population and tested the association of low-frequency PTVs in 1,209 genes with serum lipid levels in the Finrisk Study (n = 23,435). We then tested which of the lipid-associated PTVs were also associated with the risks of T2D or CAD, as well as 2,683 disease endpoints curated in the FinnGen Study (n = 218,792). Two PTVs were associated with both lipid levels and the risk of CAD or T2D: triglyceride-lowering variants in ANGPTL8 (-24.0[-30.4 to -16.9] mg/dL per rs760351239-T allele, P = 3.4 × 10−9) and ANGPTL4 (-14.4[-18.6 to -9.8] mg/dL per rs746226153-G allele, P = 4.3 × 10−9). The risk of T2D was lower in carriers of the ANGPTL4 PTV (OR = 0.70[0.60–0.81], P = 2.2 × 10−6) than noncarriers. The odds of CAD were 47% lower in carriers of a PTV in ANGPTL8 (OR = 0.53[0.37–0.76], P = 4.5 × 10−4) than noncarriers. Finally, the phenome-wide scan of the ANGPTL8 PTV showed that the ANGPTL8 PTV carriers were less likely to use statin therapy (68,782 cases, OR = 0.52[0.40–0.68], P = 1.7 × 10−6) compared to noncarriers. Our findings provide genetic evidence of potential long-term efficacy and safety of therapeutic targeting of dyslipidemias.
Braedan M. McCluskey, Susumu Uji, Joseph L. Mancusi, ,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009364

Vertebrate pigmentation is a fundamentally important, multifaceted phenotype. Zebrafish, Danio rerio, has been a valuable model for understanding genetics and development of pigment pattern formation due to its genetic and experimental tractability, advantages that are shared across several Danio species having a striking array of pigment patterns. Here, we use the sister species D. quagga and D. kyathit, with stripes and spots, respectively, to understand how natural genetic variation impacts phenotypes at cellular and organismal levels. We first show that D. quagga and D. kyathit phenotypes resemble those of wild-type D. rerio and several single locus mutants of D. rerio, respectively, in a morphospace defined by pattern variation along dorsoventral and anteroposterior axes. We then identify differences in patterning at the cellular level between D. quagga and D. kyathit by repeated daily imaging during pattern development and quantitative comparisons of adult phenotypes, revealing that patterns are similar initially but diverge ontogenetically. To assess the genetic architecture of these differences, we employ reduced-representation sequencing of second-generation hybrids. Despite the similarity of D. quagga to D. rerio, and D. kyathit to some D. rerio mutants, our analyses reveal a complex genetic basis for differences between D. quagga and D. kyathit, with several quantitative trait loci contributing to variation in overall pattern and cellular phenotypes, epistatic interactions between loci, and abundant segregating variation within species. Our findings provide a window into the evolutionary genetics of pattern-forming mechanisms in Danio and highlight the complexity of differences that can arise even between sister species. Further studies of natural genetic diversity underlying pattern variation in D. quagga and D. kyathit should provide insights complementary to those from zebrafish mutant phenotypes and more distant species comparisons.
, Shawn C. Moseley, Surjyendu Ray, Savannah G. Brovero,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009240

Examining the role of chromatin modifications and gene expression in neurons is critical for understanding how the potential for behaviors are established and maintained. We investigate this question by examining Drosophila melanogaster fru P1 neurons that underlie reproductive behaviors in both sexes. We developed a method to purify cell-type-specific chromatin (Chromatag), using a tagged histone H2B variant that is expressed using the versatile Gal4/UAS gene expression system. Here, we use Chromatag to evaluate five chromatin modifications, at three life stages in both sexes. We find substantial changes in chromatin modification profiles across development and fewer differences between males and females. Additionally, we find chromatin modifications that persist in different sets of genes from pupal to adult stages, which may point to genes important for cell fate determination in fru P1 neurons. We generated cell-type-specific RNA-seq data sets, using translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP). We identify actively translated genes in fru P1 neurons, revealing novel stage- and sex-differences in gene expression. We also find chromatin modification enrichment patterns that are associated with gene expression. Next, we use the chromatin modification data to identify cell-type-specific super-enhancer-containing genes. We show that genes with super-enhancers in fru P1 neurons differ across development and between the sexes. We validated that a set of genes are expressed in fru P1 neurons, which were chosen based on having a super-enhancer and TRAP-enriched expression in fru P1 neurons.
Leonor García-Bayona, Michael J. Coyne,
PLOS Genetics, Volume 17; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1009541

The human gut microbiota is a dense microbial ecosystem with extensive opportunities for bacterial contact-dependent processes such as conjugation and Type VI secretion system (T6SS)-dependent antagonism. In the gut Bacteroidales, two distinct genetic architectures of T6SS loci, GA1 and GA2, are contained on Integrative and Conjugative Elements (ICE). Despite intense interest in the T6SSs of the gut Bacteroidales, there is only a superficial understanding of their evolutionary patterns, and of their dissemination among Bacteroidales species in human gut communities. Here, we combine extensive genomic and metagenomic analyses to better understand their ecological and evolutionary dynamics. We identify new genetic subtypes, document extensive intrapersonal transfer of these ICE to Bacteroidales species within human gut microbiomes, and most importantly, reveal frequent population fixation of these newly armed strains in multiple species within a person. We further show the distribution of each of the distinct T6SSs in human populations and show there is geographical clustering. We reveal that the GA1 T6SS ICE integrates at a minimal recombination site leading to their integration throughout genomes and their frequent interruption of genes, whereas the GA2 T6SS ICE integrate at one of three different tRNA genes. The exclusion of concurrent GA1 and GA2 T6SSs in individual strains is associated with intact T6SS loci and with an ICE-encoded gene. By performing a comprehensive analysis of mobile genetic elements (MGE) in co-resident Bacteroidales species in numerous human gut communities, we identify 74 MGE that transferred to multiple Bacteroidales species within individual gut microbiomes. We further show that only three other MGE demonstrate multi-species spread in human gut microbiomes to the degree demonstrated by the GA1 and GA2 ICE. These data underscore the ubiquity and dissemination of mobile T6SS loci within Bacteroidales communities and across human populations.
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