September 22, 2019  |  

Targeted sequencing by gene synteny, a new strategy for polyploid species: sequencing and physical structure of a complex sugarcane region.

Sugarcane exhibits a complex genome mainly due to its aneuploid nature and high ploidy level, and sequencing of its genome poses a great challenge. Closely related species with well-assembled and annotated genomes can be used to help assemble complex genomes. Here, a stable quantitative trait locus (QTL) related to sugar accumulation in sorghum was successfully transferred to the sugarcane genome. Gene sequences related to this QTL were identified in silico from sugarcane transcriptome data, and molecular markers based on these sequences were developed to select bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones from the sugarcane variety SP80-3280. Sixty-eight BAC clones containing at least two gene sequences associated with the sorghum QTL were sequenced using Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) technology. Twenty BAC sequences were found to be related to the syntenic region, of which nine were sufficient to represent this region. The strategy we propose is called “targeted sequencing by gene synteny,” which is a simpler approach to understanding the genome structure of complex genomic regions associated with traits of interest.


September 22, 2019  |  

Expansions of intronic TTTCA and TTTTA repeats in benign adult familial myoclonic epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, and mutations in genes encoding ion channels or neurotransmitter receptors are frequent causes of monogenic forms of epilepsy. Here we show that abnormal expansions of TTTCA and TTTTA repeats in intron 4 of SAMD12 cause benign adult familial myoclonic epilepsy (BAFME). Single-molecule, real-time sequencing of BAC clones and nanopore sequencing of genomic DNA identified two repeat configurations in SAMD12. Intriguingly, in two families with a clinical diagnosis of BAFME in which no repeat expansions in SAMD12 were observed, we identified similar expansions of TTTCA and TTTTA repeats in introns of TNRC6A and RAPGEF2, indicating that expansions of the same repeat motifs are involved in the pathogenesis of BAFME regardless of the genes in which the expanded repeats are located. This discovery that expansions of noncoding repeats lead to neuronal dysfunction responsible for myoclonic tremor and epilepsy extends the understanding of diseases with such repeat expansion.


September 22, 2019  |  

Somatic hypermutation of T cell receptor a chain contributes to selection in nurse shark thymus.

Since the discovery of the T cell receptor (TcR), immunologists have assigned somatic hypermutation (SHM) as a mechanism employed solely by B cells to diversify their antigen receptors. Remarkably, we found SHM acting in the thymus on a chain locus of shark TcR. SHM in developing shark T cells likely is catalyzed by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) and results in both point and tandem mutations that accumulate non-conservative amino acid replacements within complementarity-determining regions (CDRs). Mutation frequency at TcRa was as high as that seen at B cell receptor loci (BcR) in sharks and mammals, and the mechanism of SHM shares unique characteristics first detected at shark BcR loci. Additionally, fluorescence in situ hybridization showed the strongest AID expression in thymic corticomedullary junction and medulla. We suggest that TcRa utilizes SHM to broaden diversification of the primary aß T cell repertoire in sharks, the first reported use in vertebrates.© 2018, Ott et al.


September 22, 2019  |  

Hagfish and lamprey Hox genes reveal conservation of temporal colinearity in vertebrates.

Hox genes exert fundamental roles for proper regional specification along the main rostro-caudal axis of animal embryos. They are generally expressed in restricted spatial domains according to their position in the cluster (spatial colinearity)-a feature that is conserved across bilaterians. In jawed vertebrates (gnathostomes), the position in the cluster also determines the onset of expression of Hox genes (a feature known as whole-cluster temporal colinearity (WTC)), while in invertebrates this phenomenon is displayed as a subcluster-level temporal colinearity. However, little is known about the expression profile of Hox genes in jawless vertebrates (cyclostomes); therefore, the evolutionary origin of WTC, as seen in gnathostomes, remains a mystery. Here, we show that Hox genes in cyclostomes are expressed according to WTC during development. We investigated the Hox repertoire and Hox gene expression profiles in three different species-a hagfish, a lamprey and a shark-encompassing the two major groups of vertebrates, and found that these are expressed following a whole-cluster, temporally staggered pattern, indicating that WTC has been conserved during the past 500?million years despite drastically different genome evolution and morphological outputs between jawless and jawed vertebrates.


September 22, 2019  |  

Size and content of the sex-determining region of the Y chromosome in dioecious Mercurialis annua, a plant with homomorphic sex chromosomes.

Dioecious plants vary in whether their sex chromosomes are heteromorphic or homomorphic, but even homomorphic sex chromosomes may show divergence between homologues in the non-recombining, sex-determining region (SDR). Very little is known about the SDR of these species, which might represent particularly early stages of sex-chromosome evolution. Here, we assess the size and content of the SDR of the diploid dioecious herb Mercurialis annua, a species with homomorphic sex chromosomes and mild Y-chromosome degeneration. We used RNA sequencing (RNAseq) to identify new Y-linked markers for M. annua. Twelve of 24 transcripts showing male-specific expression in a previous experiment could be amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) only from males, and are thus likely to be Y-linked. Analysis of genome-capture data from multiple populations of M. annua pointed to an additional six male-limited (and thus Y-linked) sequences. We used these markers to identify and sequence 17 sex-linked bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs), which form 11 groups of non-overlapping sequences, covering a total sequence length of about 1.5 Mb. Content analysis of this region suggests that it is enriched for repeats, has low gene density, and contains few candidate sex-determining genes. The BACs map to a subset of the sex-linked region of the genetic map, which we estimate to be at least 14.5 Mb. This is substantially larger than estimates for other dioecious plants with homomorphic sex chromosomes, both in absolute terms and relative to their genome sizes. Our data provide a rare, high-resolution view of the homomorphic Y chromosome of a dioecious plant.


September 22, 2019  |  

Identification of a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like serine/threonine-protein kinase as a candidate gene for Rvi12 (Vb)-based apple scab resistance

Apple scab caused by Venturia inaequalis is the most important fungal disease of apples (Malus × domestica). Currently, the disease is controlled by up to 15 fungicide applications to the crop per year. Resistant apple cultivars will help promote the sustainable control of scab in commercial orchards. The breakdown of the Rvi6 (Vf) major-gene based resistance, the most used resistance gene in apple breeding, prompted the identification and characterization of new scab resistance genes. By using a large segregating population, the Rvi12 scab resistance gene was previously mapped to a genetic location flanked by molecular markers SNP_23.599 and SNP_24.482. Starting from these markers, utilizing chromosome walking of a Hansen’s baccata #2 (HB2) BAC-library; a single BAC clone spanning the Rvi12 interval was identified. Following Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) RS II sequencing and the use of the hierarchical genome assembly process (HGAP) assembly of the BAC clone sequence, the Rvi12 resistance locus was localized to a 62.3-kb genomic region. Gene prediction and in silico characterization identified a single candidate resistance gene. The gene, named here as Rvi12_Cd5, belongs to the LRR receptor-like serine/threonine-protein kinase family. In silico comparison of the resistance allele from HB2 and the susceptible allele from Golden Delicious (GD) identified the presence of an additional intron in the HB2 allele. Conserved domain analysis identified the presence of four additional LRR motifs in the susceptible allele compared to the resistance allele. The constitutive expression of Rvi12_Cd5 in HB2, together with its structural similarity to known resistance genes, makes it the most likely candidate for Rvi12 scab resistance in apple.


September 22, 2019  |  

Variation in human chromosome 21 ribosomal RNA genes characterized by TAR cloning and long-read sequencing.

Despite the key role of the human ribosome in protein biosynthesis, little is known about the extent of sequence variation in ribosomal DNA (rDNA) or its pre-rRNA and rRNA products. We recovered ribosomal DNA segments from a single human chromosome 21 using transformation-associated recombination (TAR) cloning in yeast. Accurate long-read sequencing of 13 isolates covering ~0.82 Mb of the chromosome 21 rDNA complement revealed substantial variation among tandem repeat rDNA copies, several palindromic structures and potential errors in the previous reference sequence. These clones revealed 101 variant positions in the 45S transcription unit and 235 in the intergenic spacer sequence. Approximately 60% of the 45S variants were confirmed in independent whole-genome or RNA-seq data, with 47 of these further observed in mature 18S/28S rRNA sequences. TAR cloning and long-read sequencing enabled the accurate reconstruction of multiple rDNA units and a new, high-quality 44 838 bp rDNA reference sequence, which we have annotated with variants detected from chromosome 21 of a single individual. The large number of variants observed reveal heterogeneity in human rDNA, opening up the possibility of corresponding variations in ribosome dynamics.


September 22, 2019  |  

A mosaic monoploid reference sequence for the highly complex genome of sugarcane.

Sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) is a major crop for sugar and bioenergy production. Its highly polyploid, aneuploid, heterozygous, and interspecific genome poses major challenges for producing a reference sequence. We exploited colinearity with sorghum to produce a BAC-based monoploid genome sequence of sugarcane. A minimum tiling path of 4660 sugarcane BAC that best covers the gene-rich part of the sorghum genome was selected based on whole-genome profiling, sequenced, and assembled in a 382-Mb single tiling path of a high-quality sequence. A total of 25,316 protein-coding gene models are predicted, 17% of which display no colinearity with their sorghum orthologs. We show that the two species, S. officinarum and S. spontaneum, involved in modern cultivars differ by their transposable elements and by a few large chromosomal rearrangements, explaining their distinct genome size and distinct basic chromosome numbers while also suggesting that polyploidization arose in both lineages after their divergence.


September 22, 2019  |  

Analysis of the Gli-D2 locus identifies a genetic target for simultaneously improving the breadmaking and health-related traits of common wheat.

Gliadins are a major component of wheat seed proteins. However, the complex homoeologous Gli-2 loci (Gli-A2, -B2 and -D2) that encode the a-gliadins in commercial wheat are still poorly understood. Here we analyzed the Gli-D2 locus of Xiaoyan 81 (Xy81), a winter wheat cultivar. A total of 421.091 kb of the Gli-D2 sequence was assembled from sequencing multiple bacterial artificial clones, and 10 a-gliadin genes were annotated. Comparative genomic analysis showed that Xy81 carried only eight of the a-gliadin genes of the D genome donor Aegilops tauschii, with two of them each experiencing a tandem duplication. A mutant line lacking Gli-D2 (DLGliD2) consistently exhibited better breadmaking quality and dough functionalities than its progenitor Xy81, but without penalties in other agronomic traits. It also had an elevated lysine content in the grains. Transcriptome analysis verified the lack of Gli-D2 a-gliadin gene expression in DLGliD2. Furthermore, the transcript and protein levels of protein disulfide isomerase were both upregulated in DLGliD2 grains. Consistent with this finding, DLGliD2 had increased disulfide content in the flour. Our work sheds light on the structure and function of Gli-D2 in commercial wheat, and suggests that the removal of Gli-D2 and the gliadins specified by it is likely to be useful for simultaneously enhancing the end-use and health-related traits of common wheat. Because gliadins and homologous proteins are widely present in grass species, the strategy and information reported here may be broadly useful for improving the quality traits of diverse cereal crops.© 2018 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Optical and physical mapping with local finishing enables megabase-scale resolution of agronomically important regions in the wheat genome.

Numerous scaffold-level sequences for wheat are now being released and, in this context, we report on a strategy for improving the overall assembly to a level comparable to that of the human genome.Using chromosome 7A of wheat as a model, sequence-finished megabase-scale sections of this chromosome were established by combining a new independent assembly using a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-based physical map, BAC pool paired-end sequencing, chromosome-arm-specific mate-pair sequencing and Bionano optical mapping with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium RefSeq v1.0 sequence and its underlying raw data. The combined assembly results in 18 super-scaffolds across the chromosome. The value of finished genome regions is demonstrated for two approximately 2.5 Mb regions associated with yield and the grain quality phenotype of fructan carbohydrate grain levels. In addition, the 50 Mb centromere region analysis incorporates cytological data highlighting the importance of non-sequence data in the assembly of this complex genome region.Sufficient genome sequence information is shown to now be available for the wheat community to produce sequence-finished releases of each chromosome of the reference genome. The high-level completion identified that an array of seven fructosyl transferase genes underpins grain quality and that yield attributes are affected by five F-box-only-protein-ubiquitin ligase domain and four root-specific lipid transfer domain genes. The completed sequence also includes the centromere.


September 22, 2019  |  

Towards map-based cloning of FB_Mfu10: identification of a receptor-like kinase candidate gene underlying the Malus fusca fire blight resistance locus on linkage group 10.

Breeding for resistance against the destructive fire blight disease of apples is the most sustainable strategy to control the menace of this disease, and has become increasingly important in European apple breeding programs. Since most cultivars are susceptible, wild accessions have been explored for resistance with quantitative trait loci detected in a few wild species. Fire blight resistance of Malus fusca was described following phenotypic evaluations with a C-type strain of Erwinia amylovora, Ea222_JKI, and the detection of a major QTL on chromosome 10 (Mfu10) of this crabapple. The stability of the resistance of M. fusca and Mfu10 has been evaluated using two other strains, the highly aggressive Canadian S-type strain-Ea3049, and the avrRpt2EA mutant-ZYRKD3-1, both of which overcome the resistance of Malus ×robusta 5, a wild species accession with an already described fire blight resistance gene. To pave the way for positional cloning of the underlying fire blight resistance gene of M. fusca, we have fine mapped the QTL region on linkage group 10 using 1888 individuals and 23 newly developed molecular markers, thus delimiting the interval of interest to 0.33 cM between markers FR39G5T7xT7y/FR24N24RP and FRMf7358424/FR46H22. Tightly linked SSR markers are suitable for marker-assisted selection in breeding programs. Furthermore, a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clone spanning FB_Mfu10 region was isolated and sequenced. One putative fire blight resistance candidate gene of M. fusca was predicted on the sequence of BAC 46H22 within the resistance region that encodes B-lectin and serine/threonine kinase domains.


September 22, 2019  |  

A PECTIN METHYLESTERASE gene at the maize Ga1 locus confers male function in unilateral cross-incompatibility.

Unilateral cross-incompatibility (UCI) is a unidirectional inter/intra-population reproductive barrier when both parents are self-compatible. Maize Gametophyte factor1 (Ga1) is an intraspecific UCI system and has been utilized in breeding. However, the mechanism underlying maize UCI specificity has remained mysterious for decades. Here, we report the cloning of ZmGa1P, a pollen-expressed PECTIN METHYLESTERASE (PME) gene at the Ga1 locus that can confer the male function in the maize UCI system. Homozygous transgenic plants expressing ZmGa1P in a ga1 background can fertilize Ga1-S plants and can be fertilized by pollen of ga1 plants. ZmGa1P protein is predominantly localized to the apex of growing pollen tubes and may interact with another pollen-specific PME protein, ZmPME10-1, to maintain the state of pectin methylesterification required for pollen tube growth in Ga1-S silks. Our study discloses a PME-mediated UCI mechanism and provides a tool to manipulate hybrid breeding.


September 22, 2019  |  

Ma orthologous genes in Prunus spp. shed light on a noteworthy NBS-LRR cluster conferring differential resistance to root-knot nematodes.

Root-knot nematodes (RKNs) are considerable polyphagous pests that severely challenge plants worldwide and especially perennials. The specific genetic resistance of plants mainly relies on the NBS-LRR genes that are pivotal factors for pathogens control. In Prunus spp., the Ma plum and RMja almond genes possess different spectra for resistance to RKNs. While previous works based on the Ma gene allowed to clone it and to decipher its peculiar TIR-NBS-LRR (TNL) structure, we only knew that the RMja gene mapped on the same chromosome as Ma. We carried out a high-resolution mapping using an almond segregating F2 progeny of 1448 seedlings from resistant (R) and susceptible (S) parental accessions, to locate precisely RMja on the peach genome, the reference sequence for Prunus species. We showed that the RMja gene maps in the Ma resistance cluster and that the Ma ortholog is the best candidate for RMja. This co-localization is a crucial step that opens the way to unravel the molecular determinants involved in the resistance to RKNs. Then we sequenced both almond parental NGS genomes and aligned them onto the RKN susceptible reference peach genome. We produced a BAC library of the R parental accession and, from two overlapping BAC clones, we obtained a 336-kb sequence encompassing the RMja candidate region. Thus, we could benefit from three Ma orthologous regions to investigate their sequence polymorphism, respectively, within plum (complete R spectrum), almond (incomplete R spectrum) and peach (null R spectrum). We showed that the Ma TNL cluster has evolved orthologs with a unique conserved structure comprised of five repeated post-LRR (PL) domains, which contain most polymorphism. In addition to support the Ma and RMja orthologous relationship, our results suggest that the polymorphism contained in the PL sequences might underlie differential resistance interactions with RKNs and an original immune mechanism in woody perennials. Besides, our study illustrates how PL exon duplications and losses shape TNL structure and give rise to atypical PL domain repeats of yet unknown role.


September 22, 2019  |  

Cloning of the wheat Yr15 resistance gene sheds light on the plant tandem kinase-pseudokinase family.

Yellow rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst), is a devastating fungal disease threatening much of global wheat production. Race-specific resistance (R)-genes are used to control rust diseases, but the rapid emergence of virulent Pst races has prompted the search for a more durable resistance. Here, we report the cloning of Yr15, a broad-spectrum R-gene derived from wild emmer wheat, which encodes a putative kinase-pseudokinase protein, designated as wheat tandem kinase 1, comprising a unique R-gene structure in wheat. The existence of a similar gene architecture in 92 putative proteins across the plant kingdom, including the barley RPG1 and a candidate for Ug8, suggests that they are members of a distinct family of plant proteins, termed here tandem kinase-pseudokinases (TKPs). The presence of kinase-pseudokinase structure in both plant TKPs and the animal Janus kinases sheds light on the molecular evolution of immune responses across these two kingdoms.


September 22, 2019  |  

The sequence of a male-specific genome region containing the sex determination switch in Aedes aegypti.

Aedes aegypti is the principal vector of several important arboviruses. Among the methods of vector control to limit transmission of disease are genetic strategies that involve the release of sterile or genetically modified non-biting males, which has generated interest in manipulating mosquito sex ratios. Sex determination in Ae. aegypti is controlled by a non-recombining Y chromosome-like region called the M locus, yet characterisation of this locus has been thwarted by the repetitive nature of the genome. In 2015, an M locus gene named Nix was identified that displays the qualities of a sex determination switch.With the use of a whole-genome bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library, we amplified and sequenced a ~200 kb region containing the male-determining gene Nix. In this study, we show that Nix is comprised of two exons separated by a 99 kb intron primarily composed of repetitive DNA, especially transposable elements.Nix, an unusually large and highly repetitive gene, exhibits features in common with Y chromosome genes in other organisms. We speculate that the lack of recombination at the M locus has allowed the expansion of repeats in a manner characteristic of a sex-limited chromosome, in accordance with proposed models of sex chromosome evolution in insects.


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