[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) silence transposons and maintain genome integrity during germline development. In Drosophila, transposon-rich heterochromatic clusters encode piRNAs either on both genomic strands (dual-strand clusters) or predominantly one genomic strand (uni-strand clusters). Primary piRNAs derived from these clusters are proposed to drive a ping-pong amplification cycle catalyzed by proteins that localize to the perinuclear nuage. We show that the HP1 homolog Rhino is required for nuage organization, transposon silencing, and ping-pong amplification of piRNAs. rhi mutations virtually eliminate piRNAs from the dual-strand clusters and block production of putative precursor RNAs from both strands of the major 42AB dual-strand cluster, but not of transcripts or piRNAs from the uni-strand clusters. Furthermore, Rhino protein associates with the 42AB dual-strand cluster,but does not bind to uni-strand cluster 2 or flamenco. Rhino thus appears to promote transcription of dual-strand clusters, leading to production of piRNAs that drive the ping-pong amplification cycle.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) silence transposons in animal germ cells. piRNAs are thought to derive from long transcripts spanning transposon-rich genomic loci and to direct an autoamplification loop in which an antisense piRNA, bound to Aubergine or Piwi protein, triggers production of a sense piRNA bound to the PIWI protein Argonaute3 (Ago3). In turn, the new piRNA is envisioned to produce a second antisense piRNA. Here, we describe strong loss-of-function mutations in ago3, allowing a direct genetic test of this model. We find that Ago3 acts to amplify piRNA pools and to enforce on them an antisense bias, increasing the number of piRNAs that can act to silence transposons. We also detect a second, Ago3-independent piRNA pathway centered on Piwi. Transposons targeted by this second pathway often reside in the flamenco locus, which is expressed in somatic ovarian follicle cells, suggesting a role for piRNAs beyond the germline.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) direct RNA interference (RNAi) in eukaryotes. In flies, somatic cells produce siRNAs from exogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) as a defense against viral infection. We identified endogenous siRNAs (endo-siRNAs), 21 nucleotides in length, that correspond to transposons and heterochromatic sequences in the somatic cells of Drosophila melanogaster. We also detected endo-siRNAs complementary to messenger RNAs (mRNAs); these siRNAs disproportionately mapped to the complementary regions of overlapping mRNAs predicted to form double-stranded RNA in vivo. Normal accumulation of somatic endo-siRNAs requires the siRNA-generating ribonuclease Dicer-2 and the RNAi effector protein Argonaute2 (Ago2). We propose that endo-siRNAs generated by the fly RNAi pathway silence selfish genetic elements in the soma, much as Piwi-interacting RNAs do in the germ line.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been used extensively in genetics and epidemiology studies. Traditionally, SNPs that did not pass the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) test were excluded from these analyses. Many investigators have addressed possible causes for departure from HWE, including genotyping errors, population admixture and segmental duplication. Recent large-scale surveys have revealed abundant structural variations in the human genome, including copy number variations (CNVs). This suggests that a significant number of SNPs must be within these regions, which may cause deviation from HWE.
We performed a Bayesian analysis on the potential effect of copy number variation, segmental duplication and genotyping errors on the behavior of SNPs. Our results suggest that copy number variation is a major factor of HWE violation for SNPs with a small minor allele frequency, when the sample size is large and the genotyping error rate is 0~1%.
Our study provides the posterior probability that a SNP falls in a CNV or a segmental duplication, given the observed allele frequency of the SNP, sample size and the significance level of HWE testing.
PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(12):e3906. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A complete, high-quality reference sequence of a dog genome was recently produced by a team of researchers led by the Broad Institute, achieving another major milestone in deciphering the genomic landscape of mammalian organisms. The genome sequence provides an indispensable resource for comparative analysis and novel insights into dog and human evolution and history. Together with the survey sequence of a poodle previously published in 2003, the two dog genome sequences allowed identification of more than 2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms within and between dog breeds, which can be used in evolutionary analysis, behavioral studies and disease gene mapping.(1)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent advances in genome sequencing suggest a remarkable conservation in gene content of mammalian organisms. The similarity in gene repertoire present in different organisms has increased interest in studying regulatory mechanisms of gene expression aimed at elucidating the differences in phenotypes. In particular, a proximal promoter region contains a large number of regulatory elements that control the expression of its downstream gene. Although many studies have focused on identification of these elements, a broader picture on the complexity of transcriptional regulation of different biological processes has not been addressed in mammals. The regulatory complexity may strongly correlate with gene function, as different evolutionary forces must act on the regulatory systems under different biological conditions. We investigate this hypothesis by comparing the conservation of promoters upstream of genes classified in different functional categories.
By conducting a rank correlation analysis between functional annotation and upstream sequence alignment scores obtained by human-mouse and human-dog comparison, we found a significantly greater conservation of the upstream sequence of genes involved in development, cell communication, neural functions and signaling processes than those involved in more basic processes shared with unicellular organisms such as metabolism and ribosomal function. This observation persists after controlling for G+C content. Considering conservation as a functional signature, we hypothesize a higher density of cis-regulatory elements upstream of genes participating in complex and adaptive processes.
We identified a class of functions that are associated with either high or low promoter conservation in mammals. We detected a significant tendency that points to complex and adaptive processes were associated with higher promoter conservation, despite the fact that they have emerged relatively recently during evolution. We described and contrasted several hypotheses that provide a deeper insight into how transcriptional complexity might have been emerged during evolution.