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

Genetic News

Sustaining a healthy proteome is a lifelong challenge for each individual cell of an organism. However, protein homeostasis or proteostasis is constantly jeopardized since damaged proteins accumulate under proteotoxic stress that originates from ever-changing metabolic, environmental, and pathological conditions. Proteostasis is achieved via a conserved network of quality control pathways that orchestrate the biogenesis of correctly folded proteins, prevent proteins from misfolding, and remove potentially harmful proteins by selective degradation. Nevertheless, the proteostasis network has a limited capacity and its collapse deteriorates cellular functionality and organismal viability, causing metabolic, oncological, or neurodegenerative disorders. While cell-autonomous quality control mechanisms have been described intensely, recent work on Caenorhabditis elegans has demonstrated the systemic coordination of proteostasis between distinct tissues of an organism. These findings indicate the existence of intricately balanced proteostasis networks important for integration and maintenance of the organismal proteome, opening a new door to define novel therapeutic targets for protein aggregation diseases. Here, we provide an overview of individual protein quality control pathways and the systemic coordination between central proteostatic nodes. We further provide insights into the dynamic regulation of cellular and organismal proteostasis mechanisms that integrate environmental and metabolic changes. The use of C. elegans as a model has pioneered our understanding of conserved quality control mechanisms important to safeguard the organismal proteome in health and disease.

The application of CRISPR technology has greatly facilitated the creation of transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans lines. However, methods to insert multi-kilobase DNA constructs remain laborious even with these advances. Here, I describe a new approach for introducing large DNA constructs into the C. elegans genome at specific sites using a combination of Flp and Cre recombinases. The system utilizes specialized integrated landing sites that express GFP ubiquitously flanked by single loxP, FRT, and FRT3 sites. DNA sequences of interest are inserted into an integration vector that contains a sqt-1 self-excising cassette and FRT and FRT3 sites. Plasmid DNA is injected into the germline of landing site animals. Transgenic animals are identified as Rol progeny, and the sqt-1 marker is subsequently excised with heat shock Cre expression. Integration events were obtained at a rate of approximately one integration per three injected F0 animals—a rate substantially higher than any current approach. To demonstrate the robustness of the approach, I compared the efficiency of the Gal4/UAS, QF (and QF2)/QUAS, tetR(and rtetR)/tetO, and LexA/lexO bipartite expression systems by assessing expression levels in combinations of driver and reporter GFP constructs and a direct promoter GFP fusion each integrated at multiple sites in the genome. My data demonstrate that all four bipartite systems are functional in C. elegans. Although the new integration system has several limitations, it greatly reduces the effort required to create single-copy insertions at defined sites in the C. elegans genome.

Site-specific recombinases are widely used tools for analysis of genetics, development, and cell biology, and many schemes have been devised to alter gene expression by recombinase-mediated DNA rearrangements. Because the FRT and lox target sites for the commonly used FLP and Cre recombinases are asymmetrical, and must pair in the same direction to recombine, construct design must take into account orientation of the target sites. Both direct and inverted configurations have been used. However, the outcome of recombination between target sites on sister chromatids is frequently overlooked. This is especially consequential with inverted target sites, where exchange between oppositely oriented target sites on sisters will produce dicentric and acentric chromosomes. By using constructs that have inverted target sites in Drosophila melanogaster and in mice, we show here that dicentric chromosomes are produced in the presence of recombinase, and that the frequency of this event is quite high. The negative effects on cell viability and behavior can be significant, and should be considered when using such constructs.

Plant breeders make selection decisions based on multiple traits, such as yield, plant height, flowering time, and disease resistance. A commonly used approach in multi-trait genomic selection is index selection, which assigns weights to different traits relative to their economic importance. However, classical index selection only optimizes genetic gain in the next generation, requires some experimentation to find weights that lead to desired outcomes, and has difficulty optimizing nonlinear breeding objectives. Multi-objective optimization has also been used to identify the Pareto frontier of selection decisions, which represents different trade-offs across multiple traits. We propose a new approach, which maximizes certain traits while keeping others within desirable ranges. Optimal selection decisions are made using a new version of the look-ahead selection (LAS) algorithm, which was recently proposed for single-trait genomic selection, and achieved superior performance with respect to other state-of-the-art selection methods. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the new method, a case study is developed using a realistic data set where our method is compared with conventional index selection. Results suggest that the multi-trait LAS is more effective at balancing multiple traits compared with index selection.

Many genetic variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are associated with multiple, sometimes seemingly unrelated, traits. This motivates multi-trait association analyses, which have successfully identified novel associated loci for many complex diseases. While appealing, most existing methods focus on analyzing a relatively small number of traits, and may yield inflated Type 1 error rates when a large number of traits need to be analyzed jointly. As deep phenotyping data are becoming rapidly available, we develop a novel method, referred to as aMAT (adaptive multi-trait association test), for multi-trait analysis of any number of traits. We applied aMAT to GWAS summary statistics for a set of 58 volumetric imaging derived phenotypes from the UK Biobank. aMAT had a genomic inflation factor of 1.04, indicating the Type 1 error rate was well controlled. More important, aMAT identified 24 distinct risk loci, 13 of which were ignored by standard GWAS. In comparison, the competing methods either had a suspicious genomic inflation factor or identified much fewer risk loci. Finally, four additional sets of traits have been analyzed and provided similar conclusions.

Mutations affecting DNA polymerase exonuclease domains or mismatch repair (MMR) generate "mutator" phenotypes capable of driving tumorigenesis. Cancers with both defects exhibit an explosive increase in mutation burden that appears to reach a threshold, consistent with selection acting against further mutation accumulation. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae haploid yeast, simultaneous defects in polymerase proofreading and MMR select for "antimutator" mutants that suppress the mutator phenotype. We report here that spontaneous polyploids also escape this "error-induced extinction" and routinely outcompete antimutators in evolved haploid cultures. We performed similar experiments to explore how diploid yeast adapt to the mutator phenotype. We first evolved cells with homozygous mutations affecting polymerase proofreading and MMR, which we anticipated would favor tetraploid emergence. While tetraploids arose with a low frequency, in most cultures, a single antimutator clone rose to prominence carrying biallelic mutations affecting the polymerase mutator alleles. Variation in mutation rate between subclones from the same culture suggests that there exists continued selection pressure for additional antimutator alleles. We then evolved diploid yeast modeling MMR-deficient cancers with the most common heterozygous exonuclease domain mutation (POLE-P286R). Although these cells grew robustly, within 120 generations, all subclones carried truncating or nonsynonymous mutations in the POLE-P286R homologous allele (pol2-P301R) that suppressed the mutator phenotype as much as 100-fold. Independent adaptive events in the same culture were common. Our findings suggest that analogous tumor cell populations may adapt to the threat of extinction by polyclonal mutations that neutralize the POLE mutator allele and preserve intratumoral genetic diversity for future adaptation.

Hybrid sterility is a hallmark of speciation, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we report that speciation may regularly proceed through a stage at which gene flow is completely interrupted, but hybrid sterility occurs only in male hybrids whereas female hybrids reproduce asexually. We analyzed gametogenic pathways in hybrids between the fish species Cobitis elongatoides and C. taenia, and revealed that male hybrids were sterile owing to extensive asynapsis and crossover reduction among heterospecific chromosomal pairs in their gametes, which was subsequently followed by apoptosis. We found that polyploidization allowed pairing between homologous chromosomes and therefore partially rescued the bivalent formation and crossover rates in triploid hybrid males. However, it was not sufficient to overcome sterility. In contrast, both diploid and triploid hybrid females exhibited premeiotic genome endoreplication, thereby ensuring proper bivalent formation between identical chromosomal copies. This endoreplication ultimately restored female fertility but it simultaneously resulted in the obligate production of clonal gametes, preventing any interspecific gene flow. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the emergence of asexuality can remedy hybrid sterility in a sex-specific manner and contributes to the speciation process.

Replication protein A (RPA) is essential for many facets of DNA metabolism. The RPA gene family expanded in Arabidopsis thaliana with five phylogenetically distinct RPA1 subunits (RPA1A-E), two RPA2 (RPA2A and B), and two RPA3 (RPA3A and B). RPA1 paralogs exhibit partial redundancy and functional specialization in DNA replication (RPA1B and RPA1D), repair (RPA1C and RPA1E), and meiotic recombination (RPA1A and RPA1C). Here, we show that RPA subunits also differentially impact telomere length set point. Loss of RPA1 resets bulk telomeres at a shorter length, with a functional hierarchy for replication group over repair and meiosis group RPA1 subunits. Plants lacking RPA2A, but not RPA2B, harbor short telomeres similar to the replication group. Telomere shortening does not correlate with decreased telomerase activity or deprotection of chromosome ends in rpa mutants. However, in vitro assays show that RPA1B2A3B unfolds telomeric G-quadruplexes known to inhibit replications fork progression. We also found that ATR deficiency can partially rescue short telomeres in rpa2a mutants, although plants exhibit defects in growth and development. Unexpectedly, the telomere shortening phenotype of rpa2a mutants is completely abolished in plants lacking the RTEL1 helicase. RTEL1 has been implicated in a variety of nucleic acid transactions, including suppression of homologous recombination. Thus, the lack of telomere shortening in rpa2a mutants upon RTEL1 deletion suggests that telomere replication defects incurred by loss of RPA may be bypassed by homologous recombination. Taken together, these findings provide new insight into how RPA cooperates with replication and recombination machinery to sustain telomeric DNA.

Chromatin domain insulators are thought to help partition the genome into genetic units called topologically associating domains (TADs). In Drosophila, TADs are often separated by inter-TAD regions containing active housekeeping genes and associated insulator binding proteins. This raises the question of whether insulator binding proteins are involved primarily in chromosomal TAD architecture or gene activation, or if these two activities are linked. The Boundary Element-Associated Factor of 32 kDa (BEAF-32, or BEAF for short) is usually found in inter-TADs. BEAF was discovered based on binding to the scs’ insulator, and is important for the insulator activity of scs’ and other BEAF binding sites. There are divergent promoters in scs’ with a BEAF binding site by each. Here, we dissect the scs’ insulator to identify DNA sequences important for insulator and promoter activity, focusing on the half of scs’ with a high affinity BEAF binding site. We find that the BEAF binding site is important for both insulator and promoter activity, as is another sequence we refer to as LS4. Aside from that, different sequences play roles in insulator and promoter activity. So while there is overlap and BEAF is important for both, insulator and promoter activity can be separated.

Exposure of tissues and organs to low oxygen (hypoxia) occurs in both physiological and pathological conditions in animals. Under these conditions, organisms have to adapt their physiology to ensure proper functioning and survival. Here, we define a role for the transcription factor Forkhead Box-O (FOXO) as a mediator of hypoxia tolerance in Drosophila. We find that upon hypoxia exposure, FOXO transcriptional activity is rapidly induced in both larvae and adults. Moreover, we see that foxo mutant animals show misregulated glucose metabolism in low oxygen and subsequently exhibit reduced hypoxia survival. We identify the innate immune transcription factor, NF-B/Relish, as a key FOXO target in the control of hypoxia tolerance. We find that expression of Relish and its target genes is increased in a FOXO-dependent manner in hypoxia, and that relish mutant animals show reduced survival in hypoxia. Together, these data indicate that FOXO is a hypoxia-inducible factor that mediates tolerance to low oxygen by inducing immune-like responses.

In this manuscript, we report that clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 is highly efficient in the hemipteran Oncopeltus fasciatus. The white gene is well characterized in Drosophila where mutation causes loss of eye pigmentation; white is a reliable marker for transgenesis and other genetic manipulations. Accordingly, white has been targeted in a number of nonmodel insects to establish tools for genetic studies. Here, we generated mutations in the Of-white (Of-w) locus using CRISPR/Cas9. We found that Of-w is required for pigmentation throughout the body of Oncopeltus, not just the ommatidia. High rates of somatic mosaicism were observed in the injected generation, reflecting biallelic mutations, and a high rate of germline mutation was evidenced by the large proportion of heterozygous G1s. However, Of-w mutations are homozygous lethal; G2 homozygotes lacked pigment dispersion throughout the body and did not hatch, precluding the establishment of a stable mutant line. Embryonic and parental RNA interference (RNAi) were subsequently performed to rule out off-target mutations producing the observed phenotype and to evaluate the efficacy of RNAi in ablating gene function compared to a loss-of-function mutation. RNAi knockdowns phenocopied Of-w homozygotes, with an unusual accumulation of orange granules observed in unhatched embryos. This is, to our knowledge, the first CRISPR/Cas9-targeted mutation generated in Oncopeltus. While we were unable to establish white as a useful visible marker for Oncopeltus, these findings are instructive for the selection of visible markers in nonmodel species and reveal an unusual role for an ortholog of a classic Drosophila gene.

To mitigate the deleterious effects of temperature increases on cellular organization and proteotoxicity, organisms have developed mechanisms to respond to heat stress. In eukaryotes, HSF1 is the master regulator of the heat shock transcriptional response, but the heat shock response pathway is not yet fully understood. From a forward genetic screen for suppressors of heat-shock-induced gene expression in Caenorhabditis elegans, we found a new allele of hsf-1 that alters its DNA-binding domain, and we found three additional alleles of sup-45, a previously molecularly uncharacterized genetic locus. We identified sup-45 as one of the two hitherto unknown C. elegans orthologs of the human AF4/FMR2 family proteins, which are involved in regulation of transcriptional elongation rate. We thus renamed sup-45 as affl-2 (AF4/FMR2-Like). Through RNA-seq, we demonstrated that affl-2 mutants are deficient in heat-shock-induced transcription. Additionally, affl-2 mutants have herniated intestines, while worms lacking its sole paralog (affl-1) appear wild type. AFFL-2 is a broadly expressed nuclear protein, and nuclear localization of AFFL-2 is necessary for its role in heat shock response. affl-2 and its paralog are not essential for proper HSF-1 expression and localization after heat shock, which suggests that affl-2 may function downstream of, or parallel to, hsf-1. Our characterization of affl-2 provides insights into the regulation of heat-shock-induced gene expression to protect against heat stress.

Dravet syndrome is a developmental epileptic encephalopathy caused by pathogenic variation in SCN1A. To characterize the pathogenic substitution (p.H939R) of a local individual with Dravet syndrome, fibroblast cells from the individual were reprogrammed to pluripotent stem cells and differentiated into neurons. Sodium currents of these neurons were compared with healthy control induced neurons. A novel Scn1aH939R/+ mouse model was generated with the p.H939R substitution. Immunohistochemistry and electrophysiological experiments were performed on hippocampal slices of Scn1aH939R/+ mice. We found that the sodium currents recorded in the proband-induced neurons were significantly smaller and slower compared to wild type (WT). The resting membrane potential and spike amplitude were significantly depolarized in the proband-induced neurons. Similar differences in resting membrane potential and spike amplitude were observed in the interneurons of the hippocampus of Scn1aH939R/+ mice. The Scn1aH939R/+ mice showed the characteristic features of a Dravet-like phenotype: increased mortality and both spontaneous and heat-induced seizures. Immunohistochemistry showed a reduction in amount of parvalbumin and vesicular acetylcholine transporter in the hippocampus of Scn1aH939R/+ compared to WT mice. Overall, these results underline hyper-excitability of the hippocampal CA1 circuit of this novel mouse model of Dravet syndrome which, under certain conditions, such as temperature, can trigger seizure activity. This hyper-excitability is due to the altered electrophysiological properties of pyramidal neurons and interneurons which are caused by the dysfunction of the sodium channel bearing the p.H939R substitution. This novel Dravet syndrome model also highlights the reduction in acetylcholine and the contribution of pyramidal cells, in addition to interneurons, to network hyper-excitability.

The roles of bioelectric signaling in developmental patterning remain largely unknown, although recent work has implicated bioelectric signals in cellular processes such as proliferation and migration. Here, we report a mutation in the inwardly rectifying potassium channel (kir) gene, kcnj13/kir7.1, that causes elongation of the fins in the zebrafish insertional mutant Dhi2059. A viral DNA insertion into the noncoding region of kcnj13 results in transient activation and ectopic expression of kcnj13 in the somite and dermomyotome, from which the fin ray progenitors originate. We made an allele-specific loss-of-function kcnj13 mutant by CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) and showed that it could reverse the long-finned phenotype, but only when located on the same chromosome as the Dhi2059 viral insertion. Also, we showed that ectopic expression of kcnj13 in the dermomyotome of transgenic zebrafish produces phenocopies of the Dhi2059 mutant in a gene dosage-sensitive manner. Finally, to determine whether this developmental function is specific to kcnj13, we ectopically expressed three additional potassium channel genes: kcnj1b, kcnj10a, and kcnk9. We found that all induce the long-finned phenotype, indicating that this function is conserved among potassium channel genes. Taken together, our results suggest that dermomyotome bioelectricity is a new fin-patterning mechanism, and we propose a two-stage bioelectricity model for zebrafish fin patterning. This ion channel-regulated bioelectric developmental patterning mechanism may provide with us new insight into vertebrate morphological evolution and human congenital malformations.

Segregation Distorter (SD) is a naturally occurring male meiotic drive system in Drosophila melanogaster, characterized by almost exclusive transmission of the SD chromosome owing to dysfunction of sperm receiving the SD+ homolog. Previous studies identified at least three closely linked loci on chromosome 2 required for distortion: Sd, the primary distorting gene; E(SD) (Enhancer of SD), which increases the strength of distortion; and Rsp (Responder), the apparent target of Sd. Strength of distortion is also influenced by linked upward modifiers including M(SD) (Modifier of SD) and St(SD) (Stabilizer of SD), and by various unlinked suppressors. Although Sd is known to encode a mutant RanGAP protein, none of the modifiers have been molecularly identified. This work focuses on the genetic and cytological characterization of a strong X-linked suppressor, Su(SD), capable of restoring Mendelian transmission in SD/SD+ males. Sd and its cohort of positive modifiers appear to act semiquantitatively in opposition to Su(SD) with distortion strength depending primarily on the total number of distorting elements rather than which particular elements are present. Su(SD) can also suppress male sterility observed in certain SD genotypes. To facilitate its eventual molecular identification, Su(SD) was localized by deletion mapping to polytene region 13C7-13E4. These studies highlight the polygenic nature of distortion and its dependence on a constellation of positive and negative modifiers, provide insight into the stability of Mendelian transmission in natural populations even when a drive system arises, and pave the way for molecular characterization of Su(SD) whose identity should reveal new information about the mechanism of distortion.

Organisms adapted to life in extreme habitats (extremophiles) can further our understanding of the mechanisms of genetic stability, particularly replication and repair. Despite the harsh environmental conditions they endure, these extremophiles represent a great deal of the Earth’s biodiversity. Here, for the first time in a member of the archaeal domain, we report a genome-wide assay of spontaneous mutations in the halophilic species Haloferax volcanii using a direct and unbiased method: mutation accumulation experiments combined with deep whole-genome sequencing. H. volcanii is a key model organism not only for the study of halophilicity, but also for archaeal biology in general. Our methods measure the genome-wide rate, spectrum, and spatial distribution of spontaneous mutations. The estimated base substitution rate of 3.15 x 10–10 per site per generation, or 0.0012 per genome per generation, is similar to the value found in mesophilic prokaryotes (optimal growth at ~20–45°). This study contributes to a comprehensive phylogenetic view of how evolutionary forces and molecular mechanisms shape the rate and molecular spectrum of mutations across the tree of life.

Maternally transmitted Wolbachia bacteria infect about half of all insect species. They usually show imperfect maternal transmission and often produce cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). Irrespective of CI, Wolbachia frequencies tend to increase when rare only if they benefit host fitness. Several Wolbachia, including wMel that infects Drosophila melanogaster, cause weak or no CI and persist at intermediate frequencies. On the island of São Tomé off West Africa, the frequencies of wMel-like Wolbachia infecting Drosophila yakuba (wYak) and Drosophila santomea (wSan) fluctuate, and the contributions of imperfect maternal transmission, fitness effects, and CI to these fluctuations are unknown. We demonstrate spatial variation in wYak frequency and transmission on São Tomé. Concurrent field estimates of imperfect maternal transmission do not predict spatial variation in wYak frequencies, which are highest at high altitudes where maternal transmission is the most imperfect. Genomic and genetic analyses provide little support for D. yakuba effects on wYak transmission. Instead, rearing at cool temperatures reduces wYak titer and increases imperfect transmission to levels observed on São Tomé. Using mathematical models of Wolbachia frequency dynamics and equilibria, we infer that temporally variable imperfect transmission or spatially variable effects on host fitness and reproduction are required to explain wYak frequencies. In contrast, spatially stable wSan frequencies are plausibly explained by imperfect transmission, modest fitness effects, and weak CI. Our results provide insight into causes of wMel-like frequency variation in divergent hosts. Understanding this variation is crucial to explain Wolbachia spread and to improve wMel biocontrol of human disease in transinfected mosquito systems.

Understanding the determinants of neutral diversity patterns on autosomes and sex chromosomes provides a bedrock for the interpretation of population genetic data; in particular, differences between the two informs our understanding of sex-specific demographic and mutation processes. While sex-specific age-structure and variation in reproductive success have long been known to affect neutral diversity, theoretical descriptions of these effects were complicated and lacking in generality, stymying attempts to relate diversity patterns of species with their life history. Here, we derive general yet simple expressions for these effects. In particular, we show that life history effects on X-to-autosome ratios of pairwise diversity levels (X:A diversity ratios) depend only on the male-to-female ratios of mutation rates, generation times, and reproductive variances. Our results reveal that changing the male-to-female ratio of generation times has opposite effects on X:A ratios of diversity and divergence. They also explain how sex-specific life histories modulate the response of X:A diversity ratios to changes in population size. More generally, they clarify that sex-specific life history—generation times in particular—should have marked effects on X:A diversity ratios in many taxa and enable further investigation of these effects.

Spontaneous tumor regression has been documented in a small proportion of human cancer patients, but the specific mechanisms underlying tumor regression without treatment are not well understood. Tasmanian devils are threatened with extinction from a transmissible cancer due to universal susceptibility and a near 100% case fatality rate. In over 10,000 cases, <20 instances of natural tumor regression have been detected. Previous work in this system has focused on Tasmanian devil genetic variation associated with the regression phenotype. Here, we used comparative and functional genomics to identify tumor genetic variation associated with tumor regression. We show that a single point mutation in the 5' untranslated region of the putative tumor suppressor RASL11A significantly contributes to tumor regression. RASL11A was expressed in regressed tumors but silenced in wild-type, nonregressed tumors, consistent with RASL11A downregulation in human cancers. Induced RASL11A expression significantly reduced tumor cell proliferation in vitro. The RAS pathway is frequently altered in human cancers, and RASL11A activation may provide a therapeutic treatment option for Tasmanian devils as well as a general mechanism for tumor inhibition.

Many gene families have been expanded by gene duplications along the human lineage, relative to ancestral opisthokonts, but the extent to which the duplicated genes function similarly is understudied. Here, we focused on structural cytoskeletal genes involved in critical cellular processes, including chromosome segregation, macromolecular transport, and cell shape maintenance. To determine functional redundancy and divergence of duplicated human genes, we systematically humanized the yeast actin, myosin, tubulin, and septin genes, testing ~81% of human cytoskeletal genes across seven gene families for their ability to complement a growth defect induced by inactivation or deletion of the corresponding yeast ortholog. In five of seven families—all but α-tubulin and light myosin, we found at least one human gene capable of complementing loss of the yeast gene. Despite rescuing growth defects, we observed differential abilities of human genes to rescue cell morphology, meiosis, and mating defects. By comparing phenotypes of humanized strains with deletion phenotypes of their interaction partners, we identify instances of human genes in the actin and septin families capable of carrying out essential functions, but failing to fully complement the cytoskeletal roles of their yeast orthologs, thus leading to abnormal cell morphologies. Overall, we show that duplicated human cytoskeletal genes appear to have diverged such that only a few human genes within each family are capable of replacing the essential roles of their yeast orthologs. The resulting yeast strains with humanized cytoskeletal components now provide surrogate platforms to characterize human genes in simplified eukaryotic contexts.

Iron is essential for the growth of the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans within the vertebrate host, and iron sensing contributes to the elaboration of key virulence factors, including the formation of the polysaccharide capsule. C. neoformans employs sophisticated iron acquisition and utilization systems governed by the transcription factors Cir1 and HapX. However, the details of the transcriptional regulatory networks that are governed by these transcription factors and connections to virulence remain to be defined. Here, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by next-generation sequencing (ChIP-seq) and transcriptome analysis (RNA-seq) to identify genes directly regulated by Cir1 and/or HapX in response to iron availability. Overall, 40 and 100 genes were directly regulated by Cir1, and 171 and 12 genes were directly regulated by HapX, under iron-limited and replete conditions, respectively. More specifically, we found that Cir1 directly controls the expression of genes required for iron acquisition and metabolism, and indirectly governs capsule formation by regulating specific protein kinases, a regulatory connection not previously revealed. HapX regulates the genes responsible for iron-dependent pathways, particularly under iron-depleted conditions. By analyzing target genes directly bound by Cir1 and HapX, we predicted the binding motifs for the transcription factors and verified that the purified proteins bind these motifs in vitro. Furthermore, several direct target genes were coordinately and reciprocally regulated by Cir1 and HapX, suggesting that these transcription factors play conserved roles in the response to iron availability. In addition, biochemical analyses revealed that Cir1 and HapX are iron-containing proteins, implying that the regulatory networks of Cir1 and HapX may be influenced by the incorporation of iron into these proteins. Taken together, our identification of the genome-wide transcriptional networks provides a detailed understanding of the iron-related regulatory landscape, establishes a new connection between Cir1 and kinases that regulate capsule, and underpins genetic and biochemical analyses that reveal iron-sensing mechanisms for Cir1 and HapX in C. neoformans.



Genetic Benefits

The techniques developed for genetic mapping have had great impact on the life sciences, and particularly in medicine. But genetic mapping technologies also have useful applications in other fields...
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Mitochondrial DNA

The mitochondrial genome consists of a circular DNA duplex, with 5 to 10 copies per organelle.