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Trends in Genetics: TIG

Iain C Macaulay, Chris P Ponting, Thierry Voet
Single-cell sequencing provides information that is not confounded by genotypic or phenotypic heterogeneity of bulk samples. Sequencing of one molecular type (RNA, methylated DNA or open chromatin) in a single cell, furthermore, provides insights into the cell's phenotype and links to its genotype. Nevertheless, only by taking measurements of these phenotypes and genotypes from the same single cells can such inferences be made unambiguously. In this review, we survey the first experimental approaches that assay, in parallel, multiple molecular types from the same single cell, before considering the challenges and opportunities afforded by these and future technologies...
January 12, 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Gerson Rothschild, Uttiya Basu
Intergenic and intragenic enhancers found inside topologically associated regulatory domains (TADs) express noncoding RNAs, known as enhancer RNAs (eRNAs). Recent studies have indicated these eRNAs play a role in gene regulatory networks by controlling promoter and enhancer interactions and topology of higher-order chromatin structure. Misregulation of enhancer and promoter associated noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) could stabilize deleterious secondary DNA structures, noncoding RNA associated DNA/RNA hybrid formation, and promote collisions of transcription complexes with replisomes...
January 10, 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Leah F Rosin, Barbara G Mellone
Centromeres are essential chromosomal structures that mediate the accurate distribution of genetic material during meiotic and mitotic cell divisions. In most organisms, centromeres are epigenetically specified and propagated by nucleosomes containing the centromere-specific H3 variant, centromere protein A (CENP-A). Although centromeres perform a critical and conserved function, CENP-A and the underlying centromeric DNA are rapidly evolving. This paradox has been explained by the centromere drive hypothesis, which proposes that CENP-A is undergoing an evolutionary tug-of-war with selfish centromeric DNA...
January 6, 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Shoko Vos, Johannes J M van Delden, Paul J van Diest, Annelien L Bredenoord
Advances in genome sequencing together with the introduction of personalized medicine offer promising new avenues for research and precision treatment, particularly in the field of oncology. At the same time, the convergence of genomics, bioinformatics, and the collection of human tissues and patient data creates novel moral duties for researchers. After all, unprecedented amounts of potentially sensitive information are being generated. Over time, traditional research ethics principles aimed at protecting individual participants have become supplemented with social obligations related to the interests of society and the research enterprise at large, illustrating that genomic medicine is also a social endeavor...
December 22, 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Timofey A Karginov, Daniel Parviz Hejazi Pastor, Bert L Semler, Christopher M Gomez
Our understanding of gene expression has come far since the 'one-gene one-polypeptide' hypothesis proposed by Beadle and Tatum. In this review, we address the gradual recognition that a growing number of polycistronic genes, originally discovered in viruses, are being identified within the mammalian genome, and that these may provide new insights into disease mechanisms and treatment. We carried out a systematic literature review identifying 13 mammalian genes for which there is evidence for polycistronic expression via translation through an internal ribosome entry site (IRES)...
December 21, 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Sarah C R Elgin, Charles Hauser, Teresa M Holzen, Christopher Jones, Adam Kleinschmit, Judith Leatherman
The era of 'big data' is also the era of abundant data, creating new opportunities for student-scientist research partnerships. By coordinating undergraduate efforts, the Genomics Education Partnership produces high-quality annotated data sets and analyses that could not be generated otherwise, leading to scientific publications while providing many students with research experience.
December 6, 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Sierra S Nishizaki, Alan P Boyle
One of the formative goals of genetics research is to understand how genetic variation leads to phenotypic differences and human disease. Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) bring us closer to this goal by linking variation with disease faster than ever before. Despite this, GWASs alone are unable to pinpoint disease-causing single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Noncoding SNPs, which represent the majority of GWAS SNPs, present a particular challenge. To address this challenge, an array of computational tools designed to prioritize and predict the function of noncoding GWAS SNPs have been developed...
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Leah Houri-Zeevi, Oded Rechavi
Small RNAs are increasingly emerging as transgenerational carriers of epigenetic information in Caenorhabditis elegans and in other organisms. Recent studies have identified factors that are required for the inheritance of small RNAs and for heritable RNAi in worms, which typically persist for a finite number of generations. We examine here recent insights into the mechanisms that control the duration of transgenerational inheritance of small RNAs. We discuss current understanding of two types of regulatory mechanisms: those that prolong RNAi inheritance through amplification and maintenance of heritable small RNAs, and those that limit the persistence of ancestral RNAi by, for example, employing negative feedback loops to reset the transmission of epigenetic information...
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Aviram Rasouly, Bibhusita Pani, Evgeny Nudler
Nucleotide excision repair (NER) is the key DNA repair system that eliminates the majority of DNA helix-distorting lesions. RNA polymerase (RNAP) expedites the recognition of DNA damage by NER components via transcription-coupled DNA repair (TCR). In bacteria, a modified nucleotide ppGpp ('magic spot') is a pleiotropic second messenger that mediates the response to nutrient deficiencies by altering the initiation properties of RNAP. In this review, we discuss newly elucidated roles of guanosine 5'-diphosphate 3'-diphosphate (ppGpp) in transcription elongation that couple this alarmone to DNA damage repair and maintenance...
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Lee Kroos
The bacterium Myxococcus xanthus undergoes multicellular development when starved. Thousands of cells build mounds in which some differentiate into spores. This remarkable feat and the genetic tractability of Myxococcus provide a unique opportunity to understand the evolution of gene regulatory networks (GRNs). Recent work has revealed a GRN involving interconnected cascades of signal-responsive transcriptional activators. Initially, starvation-induced intracellular signals direct changes in gene expression...
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Katya L Mack, Michael W Nachman
Understanding the genetic architecture of speciation is a major goal in evolutionary biology. Hybrid dysfunction is thought to arise most commonly through negative interactions between alleles at two or more loci. Divergence between interacting regulatory elements that affect gene expression (i.e., regulatory divergence) may be a common route for these negative interactions to arise. We review here how regulatory divergence between species can result in hybrid dysfunction, including recent theoretical support for this model...
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Arthur L Beaudet
What might be the benefits of whole-genome rather than whole-exome sequencing (WES) for identifying the genetic causes of human disabilities? A recent paper by Doan et al. focuses attention on mutations in human accelerated regions (HARs), a subset of genomic regulatory elements showing accelerated evolution between chimpanzees and humans.
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Lin Liu
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), somatic cell nuclear transfer ESCs, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) represent the most studied group of PSCs. Unlimited self-renewal without incurring chromosomal instability and pluripotency are essential for the potential use of PSCs in regenerative therapy. Telomere length maintenance is critical for the unlimited self-renewal, pluripotency, and chromosomal stability of PSCs. While telomerase has a primary role in telomere maintenance, alternative lengthening of telomere pathways involving recombination and epigenetic modifications are also required for telomere length regulation, notably in mouse PSCs...
January 2017: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Mingyu Li, Liyuan Zhao, Patrick S Page-McCaw, Wenbiao Chen
Geneticists have long sought the ability to manipulate vertebrate genomes by directly altering the information encoded in specific genes. The recently discovered clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 endonuclease has the ability to bind single loci within vertebrate genomes and generate double-strand breaks (DSBs) at those sites. These DSBs induce an endogenous DSB repair response that results in small insertions or deletions at the targeted site. Alternatively, a template can be supplied, in which case homology-directed repair results in the generation of engineered alleles at the break site...
December 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Rico Schieweck, Bastian Popper, Michael A Kiebler
Local protein expression at synapses is a prerequisite for learning in mammalian neurons. It has been shown that a subset of RNAs is localized in dendrites. These transcripts are first assembled into ribonucleoprotein particles in the cell body and are then transported along the cytoskeleton to or near synapses in a translationally repressed state. However, we know very little about the underlying mechanisms of local translation as well as potential protein degradation. Research in the last years showed many features of general translation...
December 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Muhammad A Zabidi, Alexander Stark
Gene expression is regulated by genomic enhancers that recruit transcription factors and cofactors to activate transcription from target core promoters. Over the past years, thousands of enhancers and core promoters in animal genomes have been annotated, and we have learned much about the domain structure in which regulatory genomes are organized in animals. Enhancer-core-promoter targeting occurs at several levels, including regulatory domains, DNA accessibility, and sequence-encoded core-promoter specificities that are likely mediated by different regulatory proteins...
December 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Hironori Hojo, Andrew P McMahon, Shinsuke Ohba
Skeletal development creates the physical framework that shapes our body and its actions. In the past two decades, genetic studies have provided important insights into the molecular processes at play, including the roles of signaling pathways and transcriptional effectors that coordinate an orderly, progressive emergence and expansion of distinct cartilage and bone cell fates in an invariant temporal and spatial pattern for any given skeletal element within that specific vertebrate species. Genome-scale studies have provided additional layers of understanding, moving from individual genes to the gene regulatory landscape, integrating regulatory information through cis-regulatory modules into cell type-specific gene regulatory programs...
December 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Yang Wang, Jing Crystal Zhao
Eukaryotic mRNA undergoes chemical modification both at the 5' cap and internally. Among internal modifications, N(6)-methyladensone (m(6)A), by far the most abundant, is present in all eukaryotes examined so far, including mammals, flies, plants, and yeast. m(6)A modification has an essential role in diverse biological processes. Over the past few years, our knowledge relevant to the establishment and function of this modification has grown rapidly. In this review, we focus on technologies that have facilitated m(6)A detection in mRNAs, the identification of m(6)A methylation enzymes and binding proteins, and potential functions of the modification at the molecular level...
December 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Frédéric Chédin
RNA molecules, such as long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), have critical roles in regulating gene expression, chromosome architecture, and the modification states of chromatin. Recent developments suggest that RNA also influences gene expression and chromatin patterns through the interaction of nascent transcripts with their DNA template via the formation of co-transcriptional R-loop structures. R-loop formation over specific, conserved, hotspots occurs at thousands of genes in mammalian genomes and represents an important and dynamic feature of mammalian chromatin...
December 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
Michael R Brent
One of the principal mechanisms by which cells differentiate and respond to changes in external signals or conditions is by changing the activity levels of transcription factors (TFs). This changes the transcription rates of target genes via the cell's TF network, which ultimately contributes to reconfiguring cellular state. Since microarrays provided our first window into global cellular state, computational biologists have eagerly attacked the problem of mapping TF networks, a key part of the cell's control circuitry...
November 2016: Trends in Genetics: TIG
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