Using gene map science to evaluate the genetic map and eliminate disease

Genetic News

While productivity in academia is measured through authorship, not all scientific contributors have been recognized as authors. We consider nonauthor "acknowledged programmers" (APs), who developed, ran, and sometimes analyzed the results of computer programs. We identified APs in Theoretical Population Biology articles published between 1970 and 1990, finding that APs were disproportionately women (P = 4.0 x 10–10). We note recurrent APs who contributed to several highly-cited manuscripts. The occurrence of APs decreased over time, corresponding to the masculinization of computer programming and the shift of programming responsibilities to individuals credited as authors. We conclude that, while previously overlooked, historically, women have made substantial contributions to computational biology. For a video of this abstract, see:

In this FlyBook chapter, we present a survey of the current literature on the development of the hematopoietic system in Drosophila. The Drosophila blood system consists entirely of cells that function in innate immunity, tissue integrity, wound healing, and various forms of stress response, and are therefore functionally similar to myeloid cells in mammals. The primary cell types are specialized for phagocytic, melanization, and encapsulation functions. As in mammalian systems, multiple sites of hematopoiesis are evident in Drosophila and the mechanisms involved in this process employ many of the same molecular strategies that exemplify blood development in humans. Drosophila blood progenitors respond to internal and external stress by coopting developmental pathways that involve both local and systemic signals. An important goal of these Drosophila studies is to develop the tools and mechanisms critical to further our understanding of human hematopoiesis during homeostasis and dysfunction.

Controlling protein activity and localization is a key tool in modern biology. Mammalian steroid receptor ligand-binding domain (LBD) fusions have been used in a range of organisms and cell types to inactivate proteins of interest until the cognate steroid ligand is applied. Here, we demonstrate that the glucocorticoid receptor LBD confers ligand-gated control of a heterologous gene expression system (Q system) and the DAF-16 transcription factor in Caenorhabditis elegans. These experiments provide a powerful tool for temporal control of protein activity, and will bolster existing tools used to modulate gene expression and protein activity in this animal.

The targetable DNA endonuclease CRISPR-Cas9 has transformed analysis of biological processes by enabling robust genome editing in model and nonmodel organisms. Although rules directing Cas9 to its target DNA via a guide RNA are straightforward, wide variation occurs in editing efficiency and repair outcomes for both imprecise error-prone repair and precise templated repair. We found that imprecise and precise DNA repair from double-strand breaks (DSBs) is asymmetric, favoring repair in one direction. Using this knowledge, we designed RNA guides and repair templates that increased the frequency of imprecise insertions and deletions and greatly enhanced precise insertion of point mutations in Caenorhabditis elegans. We also devised strategies to insert long (10 kb) exogenous sequences and incorporate multiple nucleotide substitutions at a considerable distance from DSBs. We expanded the repertoire of co-conversion markers appropriate for diverse nematode species. These selectable markers enable rapid identification of Cas9-edited animals also likely to carry edits in desired targets. Lastly, we explored the timing, location, frequency, sex dependence, and categories of DSB repair events by developing loci with allele-specific Cas9 targets that can be contributed during mating from either male or hermaphrodite germ cells. We found a striking difference in editing efficiency between maternally and paternally contributed genomes. Furthermore, imprecise repair and precise repair from exogenous repair templates occur with high frequency before and after fertilization. Our strategies enhance Cas9-targeting efficiency, lend insight into the timing and mechanisms of DSB repair, and establish guidelines for achieving predictable precise and imprecise repair outcomes with high frequency.

Tissue-specific loss-of-function (LOF) analysis is essential for characterizing gene function. Here, we present a simple, yet highly efficient, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-mediated tissue-restricted mutagenesis (CRISPR-TRiM) method for ablating gene function in Drosophila. This binary system consists of a tissue-specific Cas9 and a ubiquitously expressed multi-guide RNA (gRNA) transgene. We describe convenient toolkits for making enhancer-driven Cas9 lines and multi-gRNAs that are optimized for mutagenizing somatic cells. We demonstrate that insertions or deletions in coding sequences more reliably cause somatic mutations than DNA excisions induced by two gRNAs. We further show that enhancer-driven Cas9 is less cytotoxic yet results in more complete LOF than Gal4-driven Cas9 in larval sensory neurons. Finally, CRISPR-TRiM efficiently unmasks redundant soluble N-ethylmaleimide–sensitive factor attachment protein receptor gene functions in neurons and epidermal cells. Importantly, Cas9 transgenes expressed at different times in the neuronal lineage reveal the extent to which gene products persist in cells after tissue-specific gene knockout. These CRISPR tools can be applied to analyze tissue-specific gene function in many biological processes.

Identifying the neurotransmitters used by specific neurons is a critical step in understanding the function of neural circuits. However, methods for the consistent and efficient detection of neurotransmitter markers remain limited. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) enables direct labeling of type-specific mRNA in neurons. Recent advances in FISH allow this technique to be carried out in intact tissue samples such as whole-mount Drosophila melanogaster brains. Here, we present a FISH platform for high-throughput detection of eight common neurotransmitter phenotypes in Drosophila brains. We greatly increase FISH throughput by processing samples mounted on coverslips and optimizing fluorophore choice for each probe to facilitate multiplexing. As application examples, we demonstrate cases of neurotransmitter coexpression, reveal neurotransmitter phenotypes of specific cell types, and explore the onset of neurotransmitter expression in the developing optic lobe. Beyond neurotransmitter markers, our protocols can in principle be used for large-scale FISH detection of any mRNA in whole-mount fly brains.

With growing human genetic and epidemiologic data, there has been increased interest for the study of gene-by-environment (G-E) interaction effects. Still, major questions remain on how to test jointly a large number of interactions between multiple SNPs and multiple exposures. In this study, we first compared the relative performance of four fixed-effect joint analysis approaches using simulated data, considering up to 10 exposures and 300 SNPs: (1) omnibus test, (2) multi-exposure and genetic risk score (GRS) test, (3) multi-SNP and environmental risk score (ERS) test, and (4) GRS-ERS test. Our simulations explored both linear and logistic regression while considering three statistics: the Wald test, the Score test, and the likelihood ratio test (LRT). We further applied the approaches to three large sets of human cohort data (n = 37,664), focusing on type 2 diabetes (T2D), obesity, hypertension, and coronary heart disease with smoking, physical activity, diets, and total energy intake. Overall, GRS-based approaches were the most robust, and had the highest power, especially when the G-E interaction effects were correlated with the marginal genetic and environmental effects. We also observed severe miscalibration of joint statistics in logistic models when the number of events per variable was too low when using either the Wald test or LRT test. Finally, our real data application detected nominally significant interaction effects for three outcomes (T2D, obesity, and hypertension), mainly from the GRS-ERS approach. In conclusion, this study provides guidelines for testing multiple interaction parameters in modern human cohorts including extensive genetic and environmental data.

R/qtl2 is an interactive software environment for mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL) in experimental populations. The R/qtl2 software expands the scope of the widely used R/qtl software package to include multiparent populations derived from more than two founder strains, such as the Collaborative Cross and Diversity Outbred mice, heterogeneous stocks, and MAGIC plant populations. R/qtl2 is designed to handle modern high-density genotyping data and high-dimensional molecular phenotypes, including gene expression and proteomics. R/qtl2 includes the ability to perform genome scans using a linear mixed model to account for population structure, and also includes features to impute SNPs based on founder strain genomes and to carry out association mapping. The R/qtl2 software provides all of the basic features needed for QTL mapping, including graphical displays and summary reports, and it can be extended through the creation of add-on packages. R/qtl2, which is free and open source software written in the R and C++ programming languages, comes with a test framework.

DNA replication forks that are stalled by DNA damage activate an S-phase checkpoint that prevents irreversible fork arrest and cell death. The increased cell death caused by DNA damage in budding yeast cells lacking the Rad53 checkpoint protein kinase is partially suppressed by deletion of the EXO1 gene. Using a whole-genome sequencing approach, we identified two additional genes, RXT2 and RPH1, whose mutation can also partially suppress this DNA damage sensitivity. We provide evidence that RXT2 and RPH1 act in a common pathway, which is distinct from the EXO1 pathway. Analysis of additional mutants indicates that suppression works through the loss of the Rpd3L histone deacetylase complex. Our results suggest that the loss or absence of histone acetylation, perhaps at stalled forks, may contribute to cell death in the absence of a functional checkpoint.

The Mre11-Rad50-Xrs2 (MRX) complex acts together with the Sae2 protein to initiate resection of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and to regulate a checkpoint response that couples cell cycle progression with DSB repair. Sae2 supports resistance to DNA damage and downregulates the signaling activities of MRX, Tel1, and Rad53 checkpoint proteins at the sites of damage. How these functions are connected to each other is not known. Here, we describe the separation-of-function sae2-ms mutant that, similar to SAE2 deletion, upregulates MRX and Tel1 signaling activities at DSBs by reducing Mre11 endonuclease activity. However, unlike SAE2 deletion, Sae2-ms causes neither DNA damage sensitivity nor enhanced Rad53 activation, indicating that DNA damage resistance depends mainly on Sae2-mediated Rad53 inhibition. The lack of Sae2, but not the presence of Sae2-ms, impairs long-range resection and increases both Rad9 accumulation at DSBs and Rad53–Rad9 interaction independently of Mre11 nuclease activity. Altogether, these data lead to a model whereby Sae2 plays distinct functions in limiting MRX-Tel1 and Rad9 abundance at DSBs, with the control on Rad9 association playing the major role in supporting DNA damage resistance and in regulating long-range resection and checkpoint activation.

The Dam1 complex is an essential component of the outer kinetochore that mediates attachments between spindle microtubules and chromosomes. Dam1p, a subunit of the Dam1 complex, binds to microtubules and is regulated by Aurora B/Ipl1p phosphorylation. We find that overexpression of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) catalytic subunits (i.e., TPK1, TPK2, TPK3) is lethal in DAM1 mutants and increases the rate of chromosome loss in wild-type cells. Replacing an evolutionarily conserved PKA site (S31) in Dam1p with a nonphosphorylatable alanine suppressed the high-copy PKA dosage lethality in dam1-1. Consistent with Dam1p as a target of PKA, we find that in vitro PKA can directly phosphorylate S31 in Dam1p and we observed phosphorylation of S31 in Dam1p purified from asynchronously growing yeast cells. Cells carrying high-copy TPK2 or a Dam1p phospho-mimetic S31D mutant displayed a reduction in Dam1p localization at the kinetochore, suggesting that PKA phosphorylation plays a role in assembly and/or stability of the Dam1 complex. Furthermore, we observed spindle defects associated with S31 phosphorylation. Finally, we find that phosphorylation of Dam1p on S31 is reduced when glucose is limiting as well as during α-factor arrest, conditions that inhibit PKA activity. These observations suggest that the PKA site of Dam1p participates in regulating kinetochore activity. While PKA is a well-established effector of glucose signaling, our work shows for the first time that glucose-dependent PKA activity has an important function in chromosome segregation.

Epigenomic signatures from histone marks and transcription factor (TF)-binding sites have been used to annotate putative gene regulatory regions. However, a direct comparison of these diverse annotations is missing, and it is unclear how genetic variation within these annotations affects gene expression. Here, we compare five widely used annotations of active regulatory elements that represent high densities of one or more relevant epigenomic marks—"super" and "typical" (nonsuper) enhancers, stretch enhancers, high-occupancy target (HOT) regions, and broad domains—across the four matched human cell types for which they are available. We observe that stretch and super enhancers cover cell type-specific enhancer "chromatin states," whereas HOT regions and broad domains comprise more ubiquitous promoter states. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in stretch enhancers have significantly smaller effect sizes compared to those in HOT regions. Strikingly, chromatin accessibility QTL in stretch enhancers have significantly larger effect sizes compared to those in HOT regions. These observations suggest that stretch enhancers could harbor genetically primed chromatin to enable changes in TF binding, possibly to drive cell type-specific responses to environmental stimuli. Our results suggest that current eQTL studies are relatively underpowered or could lack the appropriate environmental context to detect genetic effects in the most cell type-specific "regulatory annotations," which likely contributes to infrequent colocalization of eQTL with genome-wide association study signals.

In the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, constitutive heterochromatin is marked by tri-methylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me3) and DNA methylation. We identified mutations in the Neurospora defective in methylation-1 (dim-1) gene that cause defects in cytosine methylation and implicate a putative AAA-ATPase chromatin remodeler. Although it was well-established that chromatin remodelers can affect transcription by influencing DNA accessibility with nucleosomes, little was known about the role of remodelers on chromatin that is normally not transcribed, including regions of constitutive heterochromatin. We found that dim-1 mutants display both reduced DNA methylation in heterochromatic regions as well as increased DNA methylation and H3K9me3 in some intergenic regions associated with highly expressed genes. Deletion of dim-1 leads to atypically spaced nucleosomes throughout the genome and numerous changes in gene expression. DIM-1 localizes to both heterochromatin and intergenic regions that become hyper-methylated in dim-1 strains. Our findings indicate that DIM-1 normally positions nucleosomes in both heterochromatin and euchromatin and that the standard arrangement and density of nucleosomes is required for the proper function of heterochromatin machinery.

In the life cycle of the fungal pathogen Candida albicans, the formation of filamentous cells is a differentiation process that is critically involved in host tissue invasion, and in adaptation to host cell and environmental stresses. Here, we have used the Gene Replacement And Conditional Expression library to identify genes controlling invasiveness and filamentation; conditional repression of the library revealed 69 mutants that triggered these processes. Intriguingly, the genes encoding the small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) E3 ligase Mms21, and all other tested members of the sumoylation pathway, were both nonessential and capable of triggering filamentation upon repression, suggesting an important role for sumoylation in controlling filamentation in C. albicans. We have investigated Mms21 in detail. Both Mms21 nulls (mms21/) and SP [Siz/Pias (protein inhibitor of activated signal transducer and activator of transcription)] domain (SUMO E3 ligase domain)-deleted mutants displayed invasiveness, filamentation, and abnormal nuclear segregation; filament formation occurred even in the absence of the hyphal transcription factor Efg1. Transcriptional analysis of mms21/ showed an increase in expression from two- to eightfold above that of the wild-type for hyphal-specific genes, including ECE1, PGA13, PGA26, HWP1, ALS1, ALS3, SOD4, SOD5, UME6, and HGC1. The Mms21-deleted mutants were unable to recover from DNA-damaging agents like methyl methane sulfonate, hydroxyurea, hydrogen peroxide, and UV radiation, suggesting that the protein is important for genotoxic stress responses. In addition, the mms21/ mutant displayed sensitivity to cell wall and thermal stresses, and to different antifungal drugs. All these findings suggest that Mms21 plays important roles in cellular differentiation, DNA damage and cellular stress responses, and in response to antifungal drugs.

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are crucial sensors of extracellular signals in eukaryotes, with multiple GPCR mutations linked to human diseases. With the growing number of sequenced human genomes, determining the pathogenicity of a mutation is challenging, but can be aided by a direct measurement of GPCR-mediated signaling. This is particularly difficult for the visual pigment rhodopsin—a GPCR activated by light—for which hundreds of mutations have been linked to inherited degenerative retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa. In this study, we successfully engineered, for the first time, activation by human rhodopsin of the yeast mating pathway, resulting in signaling via a fluorescent reporter. We combine this novel assay for rhodopsin light-dependent activation with studies of subcellular localization, and the upregulation of the unfolded protein response in response to misfolded rhodopsin protein. We use these assays to characterize a panel of rhodopsin mutations with known molecular phenotypes, finding that rhodopsin maintains a similar molecular phenotype in yeast, with some interesting differences. Furthermore, we compare our assays in yeast with clinical phenotypes from patients with novel disease-linked mutations. We demonstrate that our engineered yeast strain can be useful in rhodopsin mutant classification, and in helping to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying their pathogenicity. This approach may also be applied to better understand the clinical relevance of other human GPCR mutations, furthering the use of yeast as a tool for investigating molecular mechanisms relevant to human disease.

During meiotic prophase I, sister chromatid cohesion is established in a way that supports the assembly of the synaptonemal complex (SC). The SC connects homologous chromosomes, directing meiotic recombination to create crossovers. In this paper, we identify two proteins that cooperate to import and load meiotic cohesins, thus indirectly promoting SC assembly. AKIR-1 is a protein with a previously identified meiotic role in SC disassembly. akir-1 mutants have no obvious defects in sister chromatid cohesion. We identified ima-2, a gene encoding for an α-importin nuclear transport protein, as a gene interacting with akir-1. Analysis of akir-1;ima-2 double mutants reveals a decrease in the number of germline nuclei and the formation of polycomplexes (PCs) (an SC protein aggregate). These PCs contain proteins that are part of the two main substructures of the SC: the central region and the lateral element. Unlike typical PCs, they also contain sister chromatid cohesion proteins. In akir-1;ima-2 double mutants, PCs are located in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. This suggests that the defects observed in the double mutants are both in nuclear import and in the assembly of sister chromatid cohesion. PC formation is also associated with recombination defects leading to reduced numbers of crossovers. Similarly to cohesion mutants, the pairing center protein HIM-8 is mislocalized in akir-1;ima-2 double mutants, forming multiple foci. We propose that AKIR-1 and IMA-2 operate in parallel pathways to import and load chromosomally associated cohesin complex proteins in meiotic nuclei, a novel finding for both of these conserved proteins.

In most species, size homeostasis appears to be exerted in late G1 phase as cells commit to division, called Start in yeast and the Restriction Point in metazoans. This size threshold couples cell growth to division, and, thereby, establishes long-term size homeostasis. Our former investigations have shown that hundreds of genes markedly altered cell size under homeostatic growth conditions in the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, but surprisingly only few of these overlapped with size control genes in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here, we investigated one of the divergent potent size regulators in C. albicans, the Myb-like HTH transcription factor Dot6. Our data demonstrated that Dot6 is a negative regulator of Start, and also acts as a transcriptional activator of ribosome biogenesis (Ribi) genes. Genetic epistasis uncovered that Dot6 interacted with the master transcriptional regulator of the G1 machinery, SBF complex, but not with the Ribi and cell size regulators Sch9, Sfp1, and p38/Hog1. Dot6 was required for carbon-source modulation of cell size, and it is regulated at the level of nuclear localization by the TOR pathway. Our findings support a model where Dot6 acts as a hub that integrates growth cues directly via the TOR pathway to control the commitment to mitotic division at G1.

In a single cell, ciliates maintain a complex pattern of cortical organelles that are arranged along the anteroposterior and circumferential axes. The underlying molecular mechanisms of intracellular pattern formation in ciliates are largely unknown. Ciliates divide by tandem duplication, a process that remodels the parental cell into two daughters aligned head-to-tail. In the elo1-1 mutant of Tetrahymena thermophila, the segmentation boundary/division plane forms too close to the posterior end of the parental cell, producing a large anterior and a small posterior daughter cell, respectively. We show that ELO1 encodes a Lats/NDR kinase that marks the posterior segment of the cell cortex, where the division plane does not form in the wild-type. Elo1 acts independently of CdaI, a Hippo/Mst kinase that marks the anterior half of the parental cell, and whose loss shifts the division plane anteriorly. We propose that, in Tetrahymena, two antagonistic Hippo circuits focus the segmentation boundary/division plane at the equatorial position, by excluding divisional morphogenesis from the cortical areas that are too close to cell ends.

Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling regulates many different developmental and homeostatic processes in metazoans. The BMP pathway is conserved in Caenorhabditis elegans, and is known to regulate body size and mesoderm development. We have identified the C. elegans smoc-1 (Secreted MOdular Calcium-binding protein-1) gene as a new player in the BMP pathway. smoc-1(0) mutants have a small body size, while overexpression of smoc-1 leads to a long body size and increased expression of the RAD-SMAD (reporter acting downstream of SMAD) BMP reporter, suggesting that SMOC-1 acts as a positive modulator of BMP signaling. Using double-mutant analysis, we showed that SMOC-1 antagonizes the function of the glypican LON-2 and acts through the BMP ligand DBL-1 to regulate BMP signaling. Moreover, SMOC-1 appears to specifically regulate BMP signaling without significant involvement in a TGFβ-like pathway that regulates dauer development. We found that smoc-1 is expressed in multiple tissues, including cells of the pharynx, intestine, and posterior hypodermis, and that the expression of smoc-1 in the intestine is positively regulated by BMP signaling. We further established that SMOC-1 functions cell nonautonomously to regulate body size. Human SMOC1 and SMOC2 can each partially rescue the smoc-1(0) mutant phenotype, suggesting that SMOC-1’s function in modulating BMP signaling is evolutionarily conserved. Together, our findings highlight a conserved role of SMOC proteins in modulating BMP signaling in metazoans.

Mutations are the ultimate source of all genetic variation. However, few direct estimates of the contribution of mutation to molecular genetic variation are available. To address this issue, we first analyzed the rate and spectrum of mutations in the Arabidopsis thaliana reference accession after 25 generations of single-seed descent. We then compared the mutation profile in these mutation accumulation (MA) lines against genetic variation observed in the 1001 Genomes Project. The estimated haploid single nucleotide mutation (SNM) rate for A. thaliana is 6.95 x 10–9 (SE ± 2.68 x 10–10) per site per generation, with SNMs having higher frequency in transposable elements (TEs) and centromeric regions. The estimated indel mutation rate is 1.30 x 10–9 (±1.07 x 10–10) per site per generation, with deletions being more frequent and larger than insertions. Among the 1694 unique SNMs identified in the MA lines, the positions of 389 SNMs (23%) coincide with biallelic SNPs from the 1001 Genomes population, and in 289 (17%) cases the changes are identical. Of the 329 unique indels identified in the MA lines, 96 (29%) overlap with indels from the 1001 Genomes dataset, and 16 indels (5% of the total) are identical. These overlap frequencies are significantly higher than expected, suggesting that de novo mutations are not uniformly distributed and arise at polymorphic sites more frequently than assumed. These results suggest that high mutation rate potentially contributes to high polymorphism and low mutation rate to reduced polymorphism in natural populations providing insights of mutational inputs in generating natural genetic diversity.

Genetic covariances represent a combination of pleiotropy and linkage disequilibrium, shaped by the population’s history. Observed genetic covariance is most often interpreted in pleiotropic terms. In particular, functional constraints restricting which phenotypes are physically possible can lead to a stable G matrix with high genetic variance in fitness-associated traits, and high pleiotropic negative covariance along the phenotypic curve of constraint. In contrast, population genetic models of relative fitness assume endless adaptation without constraint, through a series of selective sweeps that are well described by recent traveling wave models. We describe the implications of such population genetic models for the G matrix when pleiotropy is excluded by design, such that all covariance comes from linkage disequilibrium. The G matrix is far less stable than has previously been found, fluctuating over the timescale of selective sweeps. However, its orientation is relatively stable, corresponding to high genetic variance in fitness-associated traits and strong negative covariance—the same pattern often interpreted in terms of pleiotropic constraints but caused instead by linkage disequilibrium. We find that different mechanisms drive the instabilities along vs. perpendicular to the fitness gradient. The origin of linkage disequilibrium is not drift, but small amounts of linkage disequilibrium are instead introduced by mutation and then amplified during competing selective sweeps. This illustrates the need to integrate a broader range of population genetic phenomena into quantitative genetics.

Mutations are the root source of genetic variation and underlie the process of evolution. Although the rates at which mutations occur vary considerably between species, little is known about differences within species, or the genetic and molecular basis of these differences. Here, we leveraged the power of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system to uncover natural genetic variants that underlie variation in mutation rate. We developed a high-throughput fluctuation assay and used it to quantify mutation rates in seven natural yeast isolates and in 1040 segregant progeny from a cross between BY, a laboratory strain, and RM, a wine strain. We observed that mutation rate varies among yeast strains and is heritable (H2 = 0.49). We performed linkage mapping in the segregants and identified four quantitative trait loci underlying mutation rate variation in the cross. We fine-mapped two quantitative trait loci to the underlying causal genes, RAD5 and MKT1, that contribute to mutation rate variation. These genes also underlie sensitivity to the DNA-damaging agents 4NQO and MMS, suggesting a connection between spontaneous mutation rate and mutagen sensitivity.

Heterosis (hybrid vigor) and inbreeding depression, commonly considered as corollary phenomena, could nevertheless be decoupled under certain assumptions according to theoretical population genetics works. To explore this issue on real data, we analyzed the components of genetic variation in a population derived from a half-diallel cross between strains from Saccharomyces cerevisiae and S. uvarum, two related yeast species involved in alcoholic fermentation. A large number of phenotypic traits, either molecular (coming from quantitative proteomics) or related to fermentation and life history, were measured during alcoholic fermentation. Because the parental strains were included in the design, we were able to distinguish between inbreeding effects, which measure phenotypic differences between inbred and hybrids, and heterosis, which measures phenotypic differences between a specific hybrid and the other hybrids sharing a common parent. The sources of phenotypic variation differed depending on the temperature, indicating the predominance of genotype-by-environment interactions. Decomposing the total genetic variance into variances of additive (intra- and interspecific) effects, of inbreeding effects, and of heterosis (intra- and interspecific) effects, we showed that the distribution of variance components defined clear-cut groups of proteins and traits. Moreover, it was possible to cluster fermentation and life-history traits into most proteomic groups. Within groups, we observed positive, negative, or null correlations between the variances of heterosis and inbreeding effects. To our knowledge, such a decoupling had never been experimentally demonstrated. This result suggests that, despite a common evolutionary history of individuals within a species, the different types of traits have been subject to different selective pressures.

Gene expression variation is a major contributor to phenotypic variation in human complex traits. Selection on complex traits may therefore be reflected in constraint on gene expression. Here, we explore the effects of stabilizing selection on cis-regulatory genetic variation in humans. We analyze patterns of expression variation at copy number variants and find evidence for selection against large increases in gene expression. Using allele-specific expression (ASE) data, we further show evidence of selection against smaller-effect variants. We estimate that, across all genes, singletons in a sample of 122 individuals have ~2.2x greater effects on expression variation than the average variant across allele frequencies. Despite their increased effect size relative to common variants, we estimate that singletons in the sample studied explain, on average, only 5% of the heritability of gene expression from cis-regulatory variants. Finally, we show that genes depleted for loss-of-function variants are also depleted for cis-eQTLs and have low levels of allelic imbalance, confirming tighter constraint on the expression levels of these genes. We conclude that constraint on gene expression is present, but has relatively weak effects on most cis-regulatory variants, thus permitting high levels of gene-regulatory genetic variation.

Mitochondrial genome variation and its effects on phenotypes have been widely analyzed in higher eukaryotes but less so in the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Here, we describe mitochondrial genome variation in 96 diverse S. cerevisiae strains and assess associations between mitochondrial genotype and phenotypes as well as nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis. We associate sensitivity to the ATP synthase inhibitor oligomycin with SNPs in the mitochondrially encoded ATP6 gene. We describe the use of iso-nuclear F1 pairs, the mitochondrial genome equivalent of reciprocal hemizygosity analysis, to identify and analyze mitochondrial genotype-dependent phenotypes. Using iso-nuclear F1 pairs, we analyze the oligomycin phenotype-ATP6 association and find extensive nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis. Similarly, in iso-nuclear F1 pairs, we identify many additional mitochondrial genotype-dependent respiration phenotypes, for which there was no association in the 96 strains, and again find extensive nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis that likely contributes to the lack of association in the 96 strains. Finally, in iso-nuclear F1 pairs, we identify novel mitochondrial genotype-dependent nonrespiration phenotypes: resistance to cycloheximide, ketoconazole, and copper. We discuss potential mechanisms and the implications of mitochondrial genotype and of nuclear-mitochondrial epistasis effects on respiratory and nonrespiratory quantitative traits.



Genetic Markers

You know how an interstate map can guide you from one city to another. A genetic map is like that, and it guides researchers toward their target gene. Just as there are landmarks in interstate maps, there also are landmarks in genetic maps known as genetic markers...
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Genetic Linkage Map

A chromosome map showing the relative positions of the known genes on the chromosomes of a given species.