Is junk DNA bunk? A critique of ENCODE.
ABSTRACT Do data from the Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project render the notion of junk DNA obsolete? Here, I review older arguments for junk grounded in the C-value paradox and propose a thought experiment to challenge ENCODE's ontology. Specifically, what would we expect for the number of functional elements (as ENCODE defines them) in genomes much larger than our own genome? If the number were to stay more or less constant, it would seem sensible to consider the rest of the DNA of larger genomes to be junk or, at least, assign it a different sort of role (structural rather than informational). If, however, the number of functional elements were to rise significantly with C-value then, (i) organisms with genomes larger than our genome are more complex phenotypically than we are, (ii) ENCODE's definition of functional element identifies many sites that would not be considered functional or phenotype-determining by standard uses in biology, or (iii) the same phenotypic functions are often determined in a more diffuse fashion in larger-genomed organisms. Good cases can be made for propositions ii and iii. A larger theoretical framework, embracing informational and structural roles for DNA, neutral as well as adaptive causes of complexity, and selection as a multilevel phenomenon, is needed.
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ABSTRACT: Interspecific hybridization leads to new interactions among divergent genomes, revealing the nature of genetic incompatibilities having accumulated during and after the origin of species. Conflicts associated with misregulation of transposable elements (TEs) in hybrids expectedly result in their activation and genome-wide changes that may be key to species boundaries. Repetitive genomes of wild wheats have diverged under differential dynamics of specific long terminal repeat retrotransposons (LTR-RTs), offering unparalleled opportunities to address the underpinnings of plant genome reorganization by selfish sequences. Using reciprocal F1 hybrids between three Aegilops species, restructuring and epigenetic repatterning was assessed at random and LTR-RT sequences with amplified fragment length polymorphism and sequence-specific amplified polymorphisms as well as their methylation-sensitive counterparts, respectively. Asymmetrical reorganization of LTR-RT families predicted to cause conflicting interactions matched differential survival of F1 hybrids. Consistent with the genome shock model, increasing divergence of merged LTR-RTs yielded higher levels of changes in corresponding genome fractions and lead to repeated reorganization of LTR-RT sequences in F1 hybrids. Such non-random reorganization of hybrid genomes is coherent with the necessary repression of incompatible TE loci in support of hybrid viability and indicates that TE-driven genomic conflicts may represent an overlooked factor supporting reproductive isolation. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 04/2015; 282(1804). DOI:10.1098/rspb.2014.2874 · 5.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Psoriasis is a cytokine-mediated skin disease that can be treated effectively with immunosuppressive biologic agents. These medications, however, are not equally effective in all patients and are poorly suited for treating mild psoriasis. To develop more targeted therapies, interfering with transcription factor (TF) activity is a promising strategy. Meta-analysis was used to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the lesional skin from psoriasis patients (n = 237). We compiled a dictionary of 2935 binding sites representing empirically-determined binding affinities of TFs and unconventional DNA-binding proteins (uDBPs). This dictionary was screened to identify "psoriasis response elements" (PREs) overrepresented in sequences upstream of psoriasis DEGs. PREs are recognized by IRF1, ISGF3, NF-kappaB and multiple TFs with helix-turn-helix (homeo) or other all-alpha-helical (high-mobility group) DNA-binding domains. We identified a limited set of DEGs that encode proteins interacting with PRE motifs, including TFs (GATA3, EHF, FOXM1, SOX5) and uDBPs (AVEN, RBM8A, GPAM, WISP2). PREs were prominent within enhancer regions near cytokine-encoding DEGs (IL17A, IL19 and IL1B), suggesting that PREs might be incorporated into complex decoy oligonucleotides (cdODNs). To illustrate this idea, we designed a cdODN to concomitantly target psoriasis-activated TFs (i.e., FOXM1, ISGF3, IRF1 and NF-kappaB). Finally, we screened psoriasis-associated SNPs to identify risk alleles that disrupt or engender PRE motifs. This identified possible sites of allele-specific TF/uDBP binding and showed that PREs are disproportionately disrupted by psoriasis risk alleles. We identified new TF/uDBP candidates and developed an approach that (i) connects transcriptome informatics to cdODN drug development and (ii) enhances our ability to interpret GWAS findings. Disruption of PRE motifs by psoriasis risk alleles may contribute to disease susceptibility.01/2015; 4:13. DOI:10.1186/s40169-015-0054-5
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ABSTRACT: The development and function of our brain are governed by a genetic blueprint, which reflects dynamic changes over the history of evolution. Recent progress in genetics and genomics, facilitated by next-generation sequencing and single-cell sorting, has identified numerous genomic loci that are associated with a neuroanatomical or neurobehavioral phenotype. Here, we review some of the genetic changes in both protein-coding and noncoding regions that affect brain development and evolution, as well as recent progress in brain transcriptomics. Understanding these genetic changes may provide novel insights into neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.