PLoS Genetics Journal Impact Factor & Information

Publisher: Public Library of Science, Public Library of Science

Journal description

Genetics and genomics research has grown at a bewildering pace in the past 15 years. The techniques of these fields are being applied to a wealth of biological questions and experimental systems. PLoS Genetics reflects the full breadth and interdisciplinary nature of this research by publishing outstanding original contributions in all areas of biology. PLoS Genetics publishes human studies, as well as research on model organisms - from mice and flies, to plants and bacteria. Topics include (but are not limited to) gene discovery and function, population genetics, genome projects, comparative and functional genomics, medical genetics, cancer biology, evolution, gene expression, complex traits, chromosome biology, and epigenetics.

Current impact factor: 7.53

Impact Factor Rankings

2015 Impact Factor Available summer 2016
2014 Impact Factor 7.528
2013 Impact Factor 8.167
2012 Impact Factor 8.517
2011 Impact Factor 8.694
2010 Impact Factor 9.543
2009 Impact Factor 9.532
2008 Impact Factor 8.883

Impact factor over time

Impact factor

Additional details

5-year impact 8.56
Cited half-life 3.80
Immediacy index 1.37
Eigenfactor 0.20
Article influence 4.18
Website PLoS Genetics website
Other titles PLOS genetics (Online), PLOS genetics, Public Library of Science genetics
ISSN 1553-7404
OCLC 57175810
Material type Document, Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Internet Resource, Computer File, Journal / Magazine / Newspaper

Publisher details

Public Library of Science

  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
  • Conditions
    • Creative Commons Attribution License
    • Eligible UK authors may deposit in OpenDepot
    • Publisher's version/PDF may be used
    • All titles are open access journals
  • Classification
    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Fanconi anemia (FA)-BRCA pathway mediates repair of DNA interstrand crosslinks. The FA core complex, a multi-subunit ubiquitin ligase, participates in the detection of DNA lesions and monoubiquitinates two downstream FA proteins, FANCD2 and FANCI (or the ID complex). However, the regulation of the FA core complex itself is poorly understood. Here we show that the FA core complex proteins are recruited to sites of DNA damage and form nuclear foci in S and G2 phases of the cell cycle. ATR kinase activity, an intact FA core complex and FANCM-FAAP24 were crucial for this recruitment. Surprisingly, FANCI, but not its partner FANCD2, was needed for efficient FA core complex foci formation. Monoubiquitination or ATR-dependent phosphorylation of FANCI were not required for the FA core complex recruitment, but FANCI deubiquitination by USP1 was. Additionally, BRCA1 was required for efficient FA core complex foci formation. These findings indicate that FANCI functions upstream of FA core complex recruitment independently of FANCD2, and alter the current view of the FA-BRCA pathway.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2015; 11(10):e1005563. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005563
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    ABSTRACT: Copy number variants (CNVs) play an important role in the etiology of many diseases such as cancers and psychiatric disorders. Due to a modest marginal effect size or the rarity of the CNVs, collapsing rare CNVs together and collectively evaluating their effect serves as a key approach to evaluating the collective effect of rare CNVs on disease risk. While a plethora of powerful collapsing methods are available for sequence variants (e.g., SNPs) in association analysis, these methods cannot be directly applied to rare CNVs due to the CNV-specific challenges, i.e., the multi-faceted nature of CNV polymorphisms (e.g., CNVs vary in size, type, dosage, and details of gene disruption), and etiological heterogeneity (e.g., heterogeneous effects of duplications and deletions that occur within a locus or in different loci). Existing CNV collapsing analysis methods (a.k.a. the burden test) tend to have suboptimal performance due to the fact that these methods often ignore heterogeneity and evaluate only the marginal effects of a CNV feature. We introduce CCRET, a random effects test for collapsing rare CNVs when searching for disease associations. CCRET is applicable to variants measured on a multi-categorical scale, collectively modeling the effects of multiple CNV features, and is robust to etiological heterogeneity. Multiple confounders can be simultaneously corrected. To evaluate the performance of CCRET, we conducted extensive simulations and analyzed large-scale schizophrenia datasets. We show that CCRET has powerful and robust performance under multiple types of etiological heterogeneity, and has performance comparable to or better than existing methods when there is no heterogeneity.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2015; 11(10):e1005403. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005403
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    ABSTRACT: Bacterial RNA polymerases must associate with a σ factor to bind promoter DNA and initiate transcription. There are two families of σ factor: the σ70 family and the σ54 family. Members of the σ54 family are distinct in their ability to bind promoter DNA sequences, in the context of RNA polymerase holoenzyme, in a transcriptionally inactive state. Here, we map the genome-wide association of Escherichia coli σ54, the archetypal member of the σ54 family. Thus, we vastly expand the list of known σ54 binding sites to 135. Moreover, we estimate that there are more than 250 σ54 sites in total. Strikingly, the majority of σ54 binding sites are located inside genes. The location and orientation of intragenic σ54 binding sites is non-random, and many intragenic σ54 binding sites are conserved. We conclude that many intragenic σ54 binding sites are likely to be functional. Consistent with this assertion, we identify three conserved, intragenic σ54 promoters that drive transcription of mRNAs with unusually long 5' UTRs.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2015; 11(10):e1005552. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005552
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    ABSTRACT: All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is instrumental to male germ cell differentiation, but its mechanism of action remains elusive. To address this question, we have analyzed the phenotypes of mice lacking, in spermatogonia, all rexinoid receptors (RXRA, RXRB and RXRG) or all ATRA receptors (RARA, RARB and RARG). We demonstrate that the combined ablation of RXRA and RXRB in spermatogonia recapitulates the set of defects observed both upon ablation of RAR in spermatogonia. We also show that ATRA activates RAR and RXR bound to a conserved regulatory region to increase expression of the SALL4A transcription factor in spermatogonia. Our results reveal that this major pluripotency gene is a target of ATRA signaling and that RAR/RXR heterodimers are the functional units driving its expression in spermatogonia. They add to the mechanisms through which ATRA promote expression of the KIT tyrosine kinase receptor to trigger a critical step in spermatogonia differentiation. Importantly, they indicate also that meiosis eventually occurs in the absence of a RAR/RXR pathway within germ cells and suggest that instructing this process is either ATRA-independent or requires an ATRA signal originating from Sertoli cells.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2015; 11(10):e1005501. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005501
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    ABSTRACT: Retrotransposition of the budding yeast long terminal repeat retrotransposon Ty3 is activated during mating. In this study, proteins that associate with Ty3 Gag3 capsid protein during virus-like particle (VLP) assembly were identified by mass spectrometry and screened for roles in mating-stimulated retrotransposition. Components of RNA processing bodies including DEAD box helicases Dhh1/DDX6 and Ded1/DDX3, Sm-like protein Lsm1, decapping protein Dcp2, and 5' to 3' exonuclease Xrn1 were among the proteins identified. These proteins associated with Ty3 proteins and RNA, and were required for formation of Ty3 VLP retrosome assembly factories and for retrotransposition. Specifically, Dhh1/DDX6 was required for normal levels of Ty3 genomic RNA, and Lsm1 and Xrn1 were required for association of Ty3 protein and RNA into retrosomes. This role for components of RNA processing bodies in promoting VLP assembly and retrotransposition during mating in a yeast that lacks RNA interference, contrasts with roles proposed for orthologous components in animal germ cell ribonucleoprotein granules in turnover and epigenetic suppression of retrotransposon RNAs.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005528. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005528
  • PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005532. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005532
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    ABSTRACT: The growing availability of high-quality genomic annotation has increased the potential for mechanistic insights when the specific variants driving common genome-wide association signals are accurately localized. A range of fine-mapping strategies have been advocated, and specific successes reported, but the overall performance of such approaches, in the face of the extensive linkage disequilibrium that characterizes the human genome, is not well understood. Using simulations based on sequence data from the 1000 Genomes Project, we quantify the extent to which fine-mapping, here conducted using an approximate Bayesian approach, can be expected to lead to useful improvements in causal variant localization. We show that resolution is highly variable between loci, and that performance is severely degraded as the statistical power to detect association is reduced. We confirm that, where causal variants are shared between ancestry groups, further improvements in performance can be obtained in a trans-ethnic fine-mapping design. Finally, using empirical data from a recently published genome-wide association study for ankylosing spondylitis, we provide empirical confirmation of the behaviour of the approximate Bayesian approach and demonstrate that seven of twenty-six loci can be fine-mapped to fewer than ten variants.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005535. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005535
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with fast nicotine metabolism typically smoke more and thus have a greater risk for smoking-induced diseases. Further, the efficacy of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy is dependent on the rate of nicotine metabolism. Our objective was to use nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR), an established biomarker of nicotine metabolism rate, in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify novel genetic variants influencing nicotine metabolism. A heritability estimate of 0.81 (95% CI 0.70-0.88) was obtained for NMR using monozygotic and dizygotic twins of the FinnTwin cohort. We performed a GWAS in cotinine-verified current smokers of three Finnish cohorts (FinnTwin, Young Finns Study, FINRISK2007), followed by a meta-analysis of 1518 subjects, and annotated the genome-wide significant SNPs with methylation quantitative loci (meQTL) analyses. We detected association on 19q13 with 719 SNPs exceeding genome-wide significance within a 4.2 Mb region. The strongest evidence for association emerged for CYP2A6 (min p = 5.77E-86, in intron 4), the main metabolic enzyme for nicotine. Other interesting genes with genome-wide significant signals included CYP2B6, CYP2A7, EGLN2, and NUMBL. Conditional analyses revealed three independent signals on 19q13, all located within or in the immediate vicinity of CYP2A6. A genetic risk score constructed using the independent signals showed association with smoking quantity (p = 0.0019) in two independent Finnish samples. Our meQTL results showed that methylation values of 16 CpG sites within the region are affected by genotypes of the genome-wide significant SNPs, and according to causal inference test, for some of the SNPs the effect on NMR is mediated through methylation. To our knowledge, this is the first GWAS on NMR. Our results enclose three independent novel signals on 19q13.2. The detected CYP2A6 variants explain a strikingly large fraction of variance (up to 31%) in NMR in these study samples. Further, we provide evidence for plausible epigenetic mechanisms influencing NMR.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005498. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005498
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    ABSTRACT: Profiling amino acids and acylcarnitines in whole blood spots is a powerful tool in the laboratory diagnosis of several inborn errors of metabolism. Emerging data suggests that altered blood levels of amino acids and acylcarnitines are also associated with common metabolic diseases in adults. Thus, the identification of common genetic determinants for blood metabolites might shed light on pathways contributing to human physiology and common diseases. We applied a targeted mass-spectrometry-based method to analyze whole blood concentrations of 96 amino acids, acylcarnitines and pathway associated metabolite ratios in a Central European cohort of 2,107 adults and performed genome-wide association (GWA) to identify genetic modifiers of metabolite concentrations. We discovered and replicated six novel loci associated with blood levels of total acylcarnitine, arginine (both on chromosome 6; rs12210538, rs17657775), propionylcarnitine (chromosome 10; rs12779637), 2-hydroxyisovalerylcarnitine (chromosome 21; rs1571700), stearoylcarnitine (chromosome 1; rs3811444), and aspartic acid traits (chromosome 8; rs750472). Based on an integrative analysis of expression quantitative trait loci in blood mononuclear cells and correlations between gene expressions and metabolite levels, we provide evidence for putative causative genes: SLC22A16 for total acylcarnitines, ARG1 for arginine, HLCS for 2-hydroxyisovalerylcarnitine, JAM3 for stearoylcarnitine via a trans-effect at chromosome 1, and PPP1R16A for aspartic acid traits. Further, we report replication and provide additional functional evidence for ten loci that have previously been published for metabolites measured in plasma, serum or urine. In conclusion, our integrative analysis of SNP, gene-expression and metabolite data points to novel genetic factors that may be involved in the regulation of human metabolism. At several loci, we provide evidence for metabolite regulation via gene-expression and observed overlaps with GWAS loci for common diseases. These results form a strong rationale for subsequent functional and disease-related studies.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005510. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005510
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    ABSTRACT: Gene targeting of mouse Sushi-ichi-related retrotransposon homologue 11/Zinc finger CCHC domain-containing 16 (Sirh11/Zcchc16) causes abnormal behaviors related to cognition, including attention, impulsivity and working memory. Sirh11/Zcchc16 encodes a CCHC type of zinc-finger protein that exhibits high homology to an LTR retrotransposon Gag protein. Upon microdialysis analysis of the prefrontal cortex region, the recovery rate of noradrenaline (NA) was reduced compared with dopamine (DA) after perfusion of high potassium-containing artificial cerebrospinal fluid in knockout (KO) mice. These data indicate that Sirh11/Zcchc16 is involved in cognitive function in the brain, possibly via the noradrenergic system, in the contemporary mouse developmental systems. Interestingly, it is highly conserved in three out of the four major groups of the eutherians, euarchontoglires, laurasiatheria and afrotheria, but is heavily mutated in xenarthran species such as the sloth and armadillo, suggesting that it has contributed to brain evolution in the three major eutherian lineages, including humans and mice. Sirh11/Zcchc16 is the first SIRH gene to be involved in brain function, instead of just the placenta, as seen in the case of Peg10, Peg11/Rtl1 and Sirh7/Ldoc1.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005521. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005521
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    ABSTRACT: Methods for detecting the genomic signatures of natural selection have been heavily studied, and they have been successful in identifying many selective sweeps. For most of these sweeps, the favored allele remains unknown, making it difficult to distinguish carriers of the sweep from non-carriers. In an ongoing selective sweep, carriers of the favored allele are likely to contain a future most recent common ancestor. Therefore, identifying them may prove useful in predicting the evolutionary trajectory-for example, in contexts involving drug-resistant pathogen strains or cancer subclones. The main contribution of this paper is the development and analysis of a new statistic, the Haplotype Allele Frequency (HAF) score. The HAF score, assigned to individual haplotypes in a sample, naturally captures many of the properties shared by haplotypes carrying a favored allele. We provide a theoretical framework for computing expected HAF scores under different evolutionary scenarios, and we validate the theoretical predictions with simulations. As an application of HAF score computations, we develop an algorithm (PreCIOSS: Predicting Carriers of Ongoing Selective Sweeps) to identify carriers of the favored allele in selective sweeps, and we demonstrate its power on simulations of both hard and soft sweeps, as well as on data from well-known sweeps in human populations.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005527. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005527
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    ABSTRACT: Heterotrimeric G proteins regulate a vast array of cellular functions via specific intracellular effectors. Accumulating pharmacological and biochemical studies implicate Gβ subunits as signaling molecules interacting directly with a wide range of effectors to modulate downstream cellular responses, in addition to their role in regulating Gα subunit activities. However, the native biological roles of Gβ-mediated signaling pathways in vivo have been characterized only in a few cases. Here, we identified a Gβ GPB-1 signaling pathway operating in specific serotonergic neurons to the define steady state serotonin (5-HT) synthesis, through a genetic screen for 5-HT synthesis mutants in Caenorhabditis elegans. We found that signaling through cell autonomous GPB-1 to the OCR-2 TRPV channel defines the baseline expression of 5-HT synthesis enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase tph-1 in ADF chemosensory neurons. This Gβ signaling pathway is not essential for establishing the serotonergic cell fates and is mechanistically separated from stress-induced tph-1 upregulation. We identified that ADF-produced 5-HT controls specific innate rhythmic behaviors. These results revealed a Gβ-mediated signaling operating in differentiated cells to specify intrinsic functional properties, and indicate that baseline TPH expression is not a default generic serotonergic fate, but is programmed in a cell-specific manner in the mature nervous system. Cell-specific regulation of TPH expression could be a general principle for tailored steady state 5-HT synthesis in functionally distinct neurons and their regulation of innate behavior.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005540. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005540
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the success of genome-wide association studies in medical genetics, the underlying genetics of many complex diseases remains enigmatic. One plausible reason for this could be the failure to account for the presence of genetic interactions in current analyses. Exhaustive investigations of interactions are typically infeasible because the vast number of possible interactions impose hard statistical and computational challenges. There is, therefore, a need for computationally efficient methods that build on models appropriately capturing interaction. We introduce a new methodology where we augment the interaction hypothesis with a set of simpler hypotheses that are tested, in order of their complexity, against a saturated alternative hypothesis representing interaction. This sequential testing provides an efficient way to reduce the number of non-interacting variant pairs before the final interaction test. We devise two different methods, one that relies on a priori estimated numbers of marginally associated variants to correct for multiple tests, and a second that does this adaptively. We show that our methodology in general has an improved statistical power in comparison to seven other methods, and, using the idea of closed testing, that it controls the family-wise error rate. We apply our methodology to genetic data from the PROCARDIS coronary artery disease case/control cohort and discover three distinct interactions. While analyses on simulated data suggest that the statistical power may suffice for an exhaustive search of all variant pairs in ideal cases, we explore strategies for a priori selecting subsets of variant pairs to test. Our new methodology facilitates identification of new disease-relevant interactions from existing and future genome-wide association data, which may involve genes with previously unknown association to the disease. Moreover, it enables construction of interaction networks that provide a systems biology view of complex diseases, serving as a basis for more comprehensive understanding of disease pathophysiology and its clinical consequences.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005502. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005502
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    ABSTRACT: Phosphoinositides represent important lipid signals in the plant development and stress response. However, multiple isoforms of the phosphoinositide biosynthetic genes hamper our understanding of the pivotal enzymes in each step of the pathway as well as their roles in plant growth and development. Here, we report that phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C2 (AtPLC2) is the primary phospholipase in phosphoinositide metabolism and is involved in seedling growth and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana. Lipidomic profiling of multiple plc mutants showed that the plc2-1 mutant increased levels of its substrates phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate and phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate, suggesting that the major phosphoinositide metabolic pathway is impaired. AtPLC2 displayed a distinct tissue expression pattern and localized at the plasma membrane in different cell types, where phosphoinositide signaling occurs. The seedlings of plc2-1 mutant showed growth defect that was complemented by heterologous expression of AtPLC2, suggesting that phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C activity borne by AtPLC2 is required for seedling growth. Moreover, the plc2-1 mutant showed hypersensitive response to ER stress as evidenced by changes in relevant phenotypes and gene expression profiles. Our results revealed the primary enzyme in phosphoinositide metabolism, its involvement in seedling growth and an emerging link between phosphoinositide and the ER stress response.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005511. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005511
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    ABSTRACT: Efforts to identify loci underlying complex traits generally assume that most genetic variance is additive. Here, we examined the genetics of Arabidopsis thaliana root length and found that the genomic narrow-sense heritability for this trait in the examined population was statistically zero. The low amount of additive genetic variance that could be captured by the genome-wide genotypes likely explains why no associations to root length could be found using standard additive-model-based genome-wide association (GWA) approaches. However, as the broad-sense heritability for root length was significantly larger, and primarily due to epistasis, we also performed an epistatic GWA analysis to map loci contributing to the epistatic genetic variance. Four interacting pairs of loci were revealed, involving seven chromosomal loci that passed a standard multiple-testing corrected significance threshold. The genotype-phenotype maps for these pairs revealed epistasis that cancelled out the additive genetic variance, explaining why these loci were not detected in the additive GWA analysis. Small population sizes, such as in our experiment, increase the risk of identifying false epistatic interactions due to testing for associations with very large numbers of multi-marker genotypes in few phenotyped individuals. Therefore, we estimated the false-positive risk using a new statistical approach that suggested half of the associated pairs to be true positive associations. Our experimental evaluation of candidate genes within the seven associated loci suggests that this estimate is conservative; we identified functional candidate genes that affected root development in four loci that were part of three of the pairs. The statistical epistatic analyses were thus indispensable for confirming known, and identifying new, candidate genes for root length in this population of wild-collected A. thaliana accessions. We also illustrate how epistatic cancellation of the additive genetic variance explains the insignificant narrow-sense and significant broad-sense heritability by using a combination of careful statistical epistatic analyses and functional genetic experiments.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005541. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005541
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulation of unfolded proteins in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) causes ER stress. Snf1, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ortholog of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), plays a crucial role in the response to various environmental stresses. However, the role of Snf1 in ER stress response remains poorly understood. In this study, we characterize Snf1 as a negative regulator of Hog1 MAPK in ER stress response. The snf1 mutant cells showed the ER stress resistant phenotype. In contrast, Snf1-hyperactivated cells were sensitive to ER stress. Activated Hog1 levels were increased by snf1 mutation, although Snf1 hyperactivation interfered with Hog1 activation. Ssk1, a specific activator of MAPKKK functioning upstream of Hog1, was induced by ER stress, and its induction was inhibited in a manner dependent on Snf1 activity. Furthermore, we show that the SSK1 promoter is important not only for Snf1-modulated regulation of Ssk1 expression, but also for Ssk1 function in conferring ER stress tolerance. Our data suggest that Snf1 downregulates ER stress response signal mediated by Hog1 through negatively regulating expression of its specific activator Ssk1 at the transcriptional level. We also find that snf1 mutation upregulates the unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway, whereas Snf1 hyperactivation downregulates the UPR activity. Thus, Snf1 plays pleiotropic roles in ER stress response by negatively regulating the Hog1 MAPK pathway and the UPR pathway.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005491. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005491
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    ABSTRACT: Cell water permeability and cell wall properties are critical to survival of plant cells during freezing, however the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we report that a specifically cold-induced nuclear protein, Tolerant to Chilling and Freezing 1 (TCF1), interacts with histones H3 and H4 and associates with chromatin containing a target gene, BLUE-COPPER-BINDING PROTEIN (BCB), encoding a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein that regulates lignin biosynthesis. Loss of TCF1 function leads to reduced BCB transcription through affecting H3K4me2 and H3K27me3 levels within the BCB gene, resulting in reduced lignin content and enhanced freezing tolerance. Furthermore, plants with knocked-down BCB expression (amiRNA-BCB) under cold acclimation had reduced lignin accumulation and increased freezing tolerance. The pal1pal2 double mutant (lignin content reduced by 30% compared with WT) also showed the freezing tolerant phenotype, and TCF1 and BCB act upstream of PALs to regulate lignin content. In addition, TCF1 acts independently of the CBF (C-repeat binding factor) pathway. Our findings delineate a novel molecular pathway linking the TCF1-mediated cold-specific transcriptional program to lignin biosynthesis, thus achieving cell wall remodeling with increased freezing tolerance.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2015; 11(9):e1005471. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1005471