PLOS Genetics

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ISSN / EISSN : 15537390 / 15537404
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 8,583
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Stéfanie Graindorge, Valérie Cognat, Philippe Johann To Berens, Jérôme Mutterer, Jean Molinier
Published: 18 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008476

Abstract:Plants are exposed to the damaging effect of sunlight that induces DNA photolesions. In order to maintain genome integrity, specific DNA repair pathways are mobilized. Upon removal of UV-induced DNA lesions, the accurate re-establishment of epigenome landscape is expected to be a prominent step of these DNA repair pathways. However, it remains poorly documented whether DNA methylation is accurately maintained at photodamaged sites and how photodamage repair pathways contribute to the maintenance of genome/methylome integrities. Using genome wide approaches, we report that UV-C irradiation leads to CHH DNA methylation changes. We identified that the specific DNA repair pathways involved in the repair of UV-induced DNA lesions, Direct Repair (DR), Global Genome Repair (GGR) and small RNA-mediated GGR prevent the excessive alterations of DNA methylation landscape. Moreover, we identified that UV-C irradiation induced chromocenter reorganization and that photodamage repair factors control this dynamics. The methylome changes rely on misregulation of maintenance, de novo and active DNA demethylation pathways highlighting that molecular processes related to genome and methylome integrities are closely interconnected. Importantly, we identified that photolesions are sources of DNA methylation changes in repressive chromatin. This study unveils that DNA repair factors, together with small RNA, act to accurately maintain both genome and methylome integrities at photodamaged silent genomic regions, strengthening the idea that plants have evolved sophisticated interplays between DNA methylation dynamics and DNA repair. Living organisms have to efficiently respond to environmental cues that interfere with different cellular processes. Upon exposure to biotic/abiotic stresses, the coordinated maintenance of genome and epigenome integrity is crucial to allow the accurate progress of the developmental programs. In plants the sunlight used for photosynthesis also induces the formation of photodamage altering DNA structure. Although photolesions repair pathways are well characterized, the side effect of UV irradiation on epigenome integrity is yet-to-be fully investigated. Using genome wide approaches and several photodamage repair deficient Arabidopsis plants we determined that UV-C irradiation induces alterations of DNA methylation landscape and that all photodamage repair pathways contribute to the accurate maintenance of methylome integrity predominantly in silent genomic regions. These UV-induced methylation changes are accompanied by the modulation of constitutive heterochromatin organization. Moreover, our study highlighted that photolesions are source of DNA methylation alterations strengthening the idea that complex interplays between DNA damage, DNA repair and DNA methylation dynamics exist.
Benjamin Alleva, Sean Clausen, Emily Koury, Adam Hefel, Sarit Smolikove
Published: 18 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008486

Abstract:To maintain the integrity of the genome, meiotic DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) need to form by the meiosis-specific nuclease Spo11 and be repaired by homologous recombination. One class of products formed by recombination are crossovers, which are required for proper chromosome segregation in the first meiotic division. The synaptonemal complex (SC) is a protein structure that connects homologous chromosomes during meiotic prophase I. The proper assembly of the SC is important for recombination, crossover formation, and the subsequent chromosome segregation. Here we identify the components of Cullin RING E3 ubiquitin ligase 4 (CRL4) that play a role in SC assembly in Caenorhabditis elegans. Mutants of the CRL4 complex (cul-4, ddb-1, and gad-1) show defects in SC assembly manifested in the formation of polycomplexes (PCs), impaired progression of meiotic recombination, and reduction in crossover numbers. PCs that are formed in cul-4 mutants lack the mobile properties of wild type SC, but are likely not a direct target of ubiquitination. In C. elegans, SC assembly does not require recombination and there is no evidence that PC formation is regulated by recombination as well. However, in one cul-4 mutant PC formation is dependent upon early meiotic recombination, indicating that proper assembly of the SC can be diminished by recombination in some scenarios. Lastly, our studies suggest that CUL-4 deregulation leads to transposition of the Tc3 transposable element, and defects in formation of SPO-11-mediated DSBs. Our studies highlight previously unknown functions of CRL4 in C. elegans meiosis and show that CUL-4 likely plays multiple roles in meiosis that are essential for maintaining genome integrity. Defects in the formation of the structure named the synaptonemal complex (SC) lead to the missegregation of chromosomes in the divisions that generate sperm and egg cells. In humans, this chromosome missegregation is associated with infertility and developmental disabilities of the surviving progeny. Abnormal SC structures composed of misfolded and aggregated SC proteins are associated with an inability to properly repair DNA damage and accurately segregate meiotic chromosomes. How SC proteins assemble such that they do not form misfolded protein aggregates is poorly understood. The germlines of nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans) that lack protein components of the Cullin 4 E3 Ubiquitin ligase complex (CRL4), have defects in the formation of the SC that can be due to misfolding of SC proteins and their aggregation. CRL4 appears to be involved in other germline functions that directly affect chromosome stability (DNA damage repair and transposition), indicating that CRL4 has a central function in the formation of functional sperm and egg cells.
Jude Gibson, Tom C. Russ, Toni-Kim Clarke, David M. Howard, Robert F. Hillary, Kathryn L. Evans, Rosie M. Walker, Mairead L. Bermingham, Stewart W. Morris, Archie Campbell, et al.
Published: 18 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008104

Abstract:'Epigenetic age acceleration' is a valuable biomarker of ageing, predictive of morbidity and mortality, but for which the underlying biological mechanisms are not well established. Two commonly used measures, derived from DNA methylation, are Horvath-based (Horvath-EAA) and Hannum-based (Hannum-EAA) epigenetic age acceleration. We conducted genome-wide association studies of Horvath-EAA and Hannum-EAA in 13,493 unrelated individuals of European ancestry, to elucidate genetic determinants of differential epigenetic ageing. We identified ten independent SNPs associated with Horvath-EAA, five of which are novel. We also report 21 Horvath-EAA-associated genes including several involved in metabolism (NHLRC, TPMT) and immune system pathways (TRIM59, EDARADD). GWAS of Hannum-EAA identified one associated variant (rs1005277), and implicated 12 genes including several involved in innate immune system pathways (UBE2D3, MANBA, TRIM46), with metabolic functions (UBE2D3, MANBA), or linked to lifespan regulation (CISD2). Both measures had nominal inverse genetic correlations with father’s age at death, a rough proxy for lifespan. Nominally significant genetic correlations between Hannum-EAA and lifestyle factors including smoking behaviours and education support the hypothesis that Hannum-based epigenetic ageing is sensitive to variations in environment, whereas Horvath-EAA is a more stable cellular ageing process. We identified novel SNPs and genes associated with epigenetic age acceleration, and highlighted differences in the genetic architecture of Horvath-based and Hannum-based epigenetic ageing measures. Understanding the biological mechanisms underlying individual differences in the rate of epigenetic ageing could help explain different trajectories of age-related decline. DNA methylation, an epigenetic process, is known to vary with age. Methylation levels at specific sites across the genome can be combined to form estimates of age known as ‘epigenetic age’. The difference between epigenetic age and chronological age is referred to as ‘epigenetic age acceleration’, with positive values indicating that a person is biologically older than their years. Understanding why some people seem to age faster than others could shed light on the biological processes behind age-related decline; however, the mechanisms underlying differential rates of epigenetic ageing are largely unknown. Here, we investigate genetic determinants of two commonly used epigenetic age acceleration measures, based on the Horvath and Hannum epigenetic clocks. We report novel genetic variants and genes associated with epigenetic age acceleration, and highlight differences in the genetic factors influencing these two measures. We identify ten genetic variants and 21 genes associated with Horvath-based epigenetic age acceleration, and one variant and 12 genes associated with the Hannum-based measure. There were no genome-wide significant variants or genes in common between...
Sheila Lutz, Christian Brion, Margaret Kliebhan, Frank W. Albert
Published: 18 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008375

Abstract:DNA variants that alter gene expression contribute to variation in many phenotypic traits. In particular, trans-acting variants, which are often located on different chromosomes from the genes they affect, are an important source of heritable gene expression variation. However, our knowledge about the identity and mechanism of causal trans-acting variants remains limited. Here, we developed a fine-mapping strategy called CRISPR-Swap and dissected three expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) hotspots known to alter the expression of numerous genes in trans in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Causal variants were identified by engineering recombinant alleles and quantifying the effects of these alleles on the expression of a green fluorescent protein-tagged gene affected by the given locus in trans. We validated the effect of each variant on the expression of multiple genes by RNA-sequencing. The three variants differed in their molecular mechanism, the type of genes they reside in, and their distribution in natural populations. While a missense leucine-to-serine variant at position 63 in the transcription factor Oaf1 (L63S) was almost exclusively present in the reference laboratory strain, the two other variants were frequent among S. cerevisiae isolates. A causal missense variant in the glucose receptor Rgt2 (V539I) occurred at a poorly conserved amino acid residue and its effect was strongly dependent on the concentration of glucose in the culture medium. A noncoding variant in the conserved fatty acid regulated (FAR) element of the OLE1 promoter influenced the expression of the fatty acid desaturase Ole1 in cis and, by modulating the level of this essential enzyme, other genes in trans. The OAF1 and OLE1 variants showed a non-additive genetic interaction, and affected cellular lipid metabolism. These results demonstrate that the molecular basis of trans-regulatory variation is diverse, highlighting the challenges in predicting which natural genetic variants affect gene expression. Differences in the DNA sequence of individual genomes contribute to differences in many traits, such as appearance, physiology, and the risk for common diseases. An important group of these DNA variants influences how individual genes across the genome are turned on or off. In this paper, we describe a strategy for identifying such “trans-acting” variants in different strains of baker’s yeast. We used this strategy to reveal three single DNA base changes that each influences the expression of dozens of genes. These three DNA variants were very different from each other. Two of them changed the protein sequence, one in a transcription factor and the other in a sugar sensor. The third changed the expression of an enzyme, a change that in turn caused other genes to alter their expression. One variant existed in only a few yeast isolates, while the other two existed in many isolates collected from around the world. This diversity of DNA variants that...
Jianhui Li, Michal Breker, Morven Graham, Maya Schuldiner, Mark Hochstrasser
Published: 18 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008387

Abstract:The ubiquitin-proteasome system regulates numerous cellular processes and is central to protein homeostasis. In proliferating yeast and many mammalian cells, proteasomes are highly enriched in the nucleus. In carbon-starved yeast, proteasomes migrate to the cytoplasm and collect in proteasome storage granules (PSGs). PSGs dissolve and proteasomes return to the nucleus within minutes of glucose refeeding. The mechanisms by which cells regulate proteasome homeostasis under these conditions remain largely unknown. Here we show that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) together with endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRTs) drive a glucose starvation-dependent microautophagy pathway that preferentially sorts aberrant proteasomes into the vacuole, thereby biasing accumulation of functional proteasomes in PSGs. The proteasome core particle (CP) and regulatory particle (RP) are regulated differently. Without AMPK, the insoluble protein deposit (IPOD) serves as an alternative site that specifically sequesters CP aggregates. Our findings reveal a novel AMPK-controlled ESCRT-mediated microautophagy mechanism in the regulation of proteasome trafficking and homeostasis under carbon starvation. Protein homeostasis is critical for maintaining organismal health. The cellular dysfunction caused by accumulation and aggregation of aberrant proteins or other normally short-lived proteins is associated with aging and many human diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes, and various types of cancer. The eukaryotic ubiquitin-proteasome system regulates numerous cellular processes and through selective protein degradation helps maintain cellular protein homeostasis under normal growth conditions. However, hundreds of cellular granules or condensates are formed during carbon starvation in yeast cells, including proteasome storage granules (PSGs). PSGs result from a massive relocation of proteasomes from the nucleus to the cytoplasm under these conditions. However, how cells regulate proteasome homeostasis under these conditions remains largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), a master cellular energy regulator, drives ESCRT (endosomal sorting complexes required for transport)-dependent microautophagy of aberrant proteasomes. This allows rapid re-mobilization of functional proteasomes from PSGs upon glucose refeeding. Previous studies had identified classical macroautophagy as a means of degrading proteasomes during starvation. Our work shows that direct uptake of proteasomes into the vacuole (lysosome) by microautophagy is a major means of proteasome elimination under limiting glucose conditions.
Mandy Li-Ian Tay, Jun Wei Pek
Published: 15 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008498

Abstract:Gene expression involves the transcription and splicing of nascent transcripts through the removal of introns. In Drosophila, a double-stranded RNA binding protein Disco-interacting protein 1 (DIP1) targets INE-1 stable intronic sequence RNAs (sisRNAs) for degradation after splicing. How nascent transcripts that also contain INE-1 sequences escape degradation remains unknown. Here we observe that these nascent transcripts can also be bound by DIP1 but the Drosophila homolog of SON (Dsn) protects them from unproductive degradation in ovaries. Dsn localizes to the satellite body where active decay of INE-1 sisRNAs by DIP1 occurs. Dsn is a repressor of DIP1 posttranslational modifications (primarily sumoylation) that are assumed to be required for efficient DIP1 activity. Moreover, the pre-mRNA destabilization caused by Dsn depletion is rescued in DIP1 or Sumo heterozygous mutants, suggesting that Dsn is a negative regulator of DIP1. Our results reveal that under normal circumstances nascent transcripts are susceptible to DIP1-mediated degradation, however intronic sequences are protected by Dsn until intron excision has taken place. During transcription, nascent RNAs are exposed to various RNA degradation machineries in the nucleus. Nascent RNAs undergo a process called splicing that removes noncoding sequences (known as introns) in order to produce protein-coding messenger RNAs. In the vinegar fly Drosophila, introns that contain a transposable sequence known as INE-1 are recognized and degraded by a protein called DIP1. This process usually happens after splicing so that DIP1 does not degrade nascent RNAs. How such a target specificity and temporal control are achieved is not known. Here we found that nascent RNAs are already being recognized by DIP1. However, its activity is inhibited by the SON protein that also binds to nascent RNAs. After splicing, the inhibition of DIP1 by SON is relieved, allowing a spatial and temporal control of DIP1 activity. This regulation is important as it prevents unspecific decay of nascent RNAs that can drastically affect gene expression.
Andrew Schlafly, Ruth M. Pfeiffer, Eduardo Nagore, Susana Puig, Donato Calista, Paola Ghiorzo, Chiara Menin, Maria Concetta Fargnoli, Ketty Peris, Lei Song, et al.
Published: 15 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008490

Abstract:Despite genetics being accepted as the primary cause of familial aggregation for most diseases, it is still unclear whether afflicted families are likely to share a single highly penetrant rare variant, many minimally penetrant common variants, or a combination of the two types of variants. We therefore use recent estimates of SNP heritability and the liability threshold model to estimate the proportion of afflicted families likely to carry a rare, causal variant. We then show that Polygenic Risk Scores (PRS) may be useful for identifying families likely to carry such a rare variant and therefore for prioritizing families to include in sequencing studies with that aim. Specifically, we introduce a new statistic that estimates the proportion of individuals carrying causal rare variants based on the family structure, disease pattern, and PRS of genotyped individuals. Finally, we consider data from the MelaNostrum consortium and show that, despite an estimated PRS heritability of only 0.05 for melanoma, families carrying putative causal variants had a statistically significantly lower PRS, supporting the idea that PRS prioritization may be a useful future tool. However, it will be important to evaluate whether the presence of rare mendelian variants are generally associated with the proposed test statistic or lower PRS in future and larger studies. Multiple members in a family can be diagnosed with the same disease. In such families, genetics may be a significant factor in disease risk. However, it remains unclear whether such familial aggregation of disease is likely due to a single highly penetrant rare variant (HPRV), many minimally penetrant common variants, or a combination of the two types of variants. We therefore use recent estimates of SNP heritability and the liability threshold model to estimate the proportion of afflicted families likely to carry a rare, causal variant. We then show that Polygenic Risk Scores (PRS) may be useful for identifying families likely to carry such a rare variant and introduce a related statistic that can be used to select families for sequencing studies trying to identify HPRV.
John Snedeker, William J. Gibbons, David F. Paulding, Zakia Abdelhamed, Daniel R. Prows, Rolf W. Stottmann
Published: 15 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008467

Abstract:The primary cilium is a signaling center critical for proper embryonic development. Previous studies have demonstrated that mice lacking Ttc21b have impaired retrograde trafficking within the cilium and multiple organogenesis phenotypes, including microcephaly. Interestingly, the severity of the microcephaly in Ttc21baln/aln homozygous null mutants is considerably affected by the genetic background and mutants on an FVB/NJ (FVB) background develop a forebrain significantly smaller than mutants on a C57BL/6J (B6) background. We performed a Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) analysis to identify potential genetic modifiers and identified two regions linked to differential forebrain size: modifier of alien QTL1 (Moaq1) on chromosome 4 at 27.8 Mb and Moaq2 on chromosome 6 at 93.6 Mb. These QTLs were validated by constructing congenic strains. Further analysis of Moaq1 identified an orphan G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR), Gpr63, as a candidate gene. We identified a SNP that is polymorphic between the FVB and B6 strains in Gpr63 and creates a missense mutation predicted to be deleterious in the FVB protein. We used CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing to create two lines of FVB congenic mice: one with the B6 sequence of Gpr63 and the other with a deletion allele leading to a truncation of the GPR63 C-terminal tail. We then demonstrated that Gpr63 can localize to the cilium in vitro. These alleles affect ciliary localization of GPR63 in vitro and genetically interact with Ttc21baln/aln as Gpr63;Ttc21b double mutants show unique phenotypes including spina bifida aperta and earlier embryonic lethality. This validated Gpr63 as a modifier of multiple Ttc21b neural phenotypes and strongly supports Gpr63 as a causal gene (i.e., a quantitative trait gene, QTG) within the Moaq1 QTL. TTC21B in humans is a known ciliopathy gene and contributes to the pathophysiology of a number of ciliopathies. Mice homozygous for a null allele of Ttc21b also have a spectrum of ciliopathy phenotypes, including microcephaly (small brain). Further work has shown that the severity of the microcephaly significantly depends on the genetic background of the mouse model. The genetic mechanisms of the Ttc21b pathophysiology and the interacting gene network remain far from understood. As an initial attempt to understand the underlying mechanism(s) underlying the variable effects on brain size, we performed a quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis and found two regions of genomic significance that correlated with smaller brain size. We confirmed both QTLs with congenic lines. One of the two regions was small enough that we considered candidate genes and hypothesized Gpr63 might be a contributing locus for a number of reasons. We evaluated this hypothesis directly with precise variant creation using genome editing and provide evidence that Ttc21b and Gpr63 do indeed genetically interact. Thus, we have been able to combine classical QTL analysis and genome editing to directly test the resulting...
Yang Zhou, Yan Qin, Yingying Qin, Binyang Xu, Ting Guo, Hanni Ke, Lianjun Zhang, Feng Han, YaQiong Li, Min Chen, et al.
Published: 15 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008504

Jingtao Lilue, Anu Shivalikanjli, David J. Adams, Thomas M. Keane
Published: 14 November 2019
PLOS Genetics, Volume 15; doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008446

Abstract:For over a century, mice have been used to model human disease, leading to many fundamental discoveries about mammalian biology and the development of new therapies. Mouse genetics research has been further catalysed by a plethora of genomic resources developed in the last 20 years, including the genome sequence of C57BL/6J and more recently the first draft reference genomes for 16 additional laboratory strains. Collectively, the comparison of these genomes highlights the extreme diversity that exists at loci associated with the immune system, pathogen response, and key sensory functions, which form the foundation for dissecting phenotypic traits in vivo. We review the current status of the mouse genome across the diversity of the mouse lineage and discuss the value of mice to understanding human disease. For decades, the laboratory mouse has been widely used to make fundamental discoveries about human biology, model human disease, and develop new treatments. The mouse reference genome is based on the C57BL/6J; however, researchers use a variety of strains to model human disease. Recent genome analysis has identified that the most highly variable regions of the mouse genome are enriched with genes relevant to disease and infection response. In this review, we discuss what is currently known about these regions, why they are important for human disease modelling, and what is known about their ancestral origins.