Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is one of the most prevalent muscular dystrophies. The majority of FSHD cases are linked to a decreased copy number of D4Z4 macrosatellite repeats on chromosome 4q (FSHD1). Less than 5% of FSHD cases have no repeat contraction (FSHD2), most of which are associated with mutations of SMCHD1. FSHD is associated with the transcriptional derepression of DUX4 encoded within the D4Z4 repeat, and SMCHD1 contributes to its regulation. We previously found that the loss of heterochromatin mark (i.e., histone H3 lysine 9 tri-methylation (H3K9me3)) at D4Z4 is a hallmark of both FSHD1 and FSHD2. However, whether this loss contributes to DUX4 expression was unknown. Furthermore, additional D4Z4 homologs exist on multiple chromosomes, but they are largely uncharacterized and their relationship to 4q/10q D4Z4 was undetermined. We found that the suppression of H3K9me3 results in displacement of SMCHD1 at D4Z4 and increases DUX4 expression in myoblasts. The DUX4 open reading frame (ORF) is disrupted in D4Z4 homologs and their heterochromatin is unchanged in FSHD. The results indicate the significance of D4Z4 heterochromatin in DUX4 gene regulation and reveal the genetic and epigenetic distinction between 4q/10q D4Z4 and the non-4q/10q homologs, highlighting the special role of the 4q/10q D4Z4 chromatin and the DUX4 ORF in FSHD.
BM88 is a cell-cycle exit and neuronal differentiation protein that has been used as a marker of surviving retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) after optic nerve injury. Thy1.1 has also been used as a marker for RGC loss, but after optic nerve crush (ONC) a decrease in Thy1.1 expression precedes the loss of RGCs. The purpose of this study was to determine if BM88 expression was correlated with RGC loss after ONC and optic nerve transection (ONT) injuries.
Cohesin is an essential multiprotein complex that mediates sister chromatid cohesion critical for proper segregation of chromosomes during cell division. Cohesin is also involved in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair. In mammalian cells, cohesin is involved in both DSB repair and the damage checkpoint response, though the relationship between these two functions is unclear. Two cohesins differing by one subunit (SA1 or SA2) are present in somatic cells, but their functional specificities with regard to DNA repair remain enigmatic. We found that cohesin-SA2 is the main complex co-recruited with the cohesin-loading factor NIPBL to DNA damage sites in an S/G2 phase-specific manner. Replacing the diverged C-terminal region of SA1 with the corresponding region of SA2 confers this activity on SA1. Depletion of SA2, but not SA1, decreased sister chromatid homologous recombination repair and affected repair pathway choice, indicating that DNA repair activity is specifically associated with cohesin recruited to damage sites. In contrast, both cohesin complexes function in the intra-S checkpoint, indicating that cell cycle-specific damage site accumulation is not prerequisite for cohesins intra-S checkpoint function. Our findings reveal the unique ways in which cohesin-SA1 and cohesin-SA2 participate in the DNA damage response, coordinately protecting genome integrity in human cells.
Cohesins are conserved and essential Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) protein-containing complexes that physically interact with chromatin and modulate higher-order chromatin organization. Cohesins mediate sister chromatid cohesion and cellular long-distance chromatin interactions affecting genome maintenance and gene expression. Discoveries of mutations in cohesins subunits and its regulator proteins in human developmental disorders, so-called "cohesinopathies," reveal crucial roles for cohesins in development and cellular growth and differentiation. In this review, we discuss the latest findings concerning cohesins functions in higher-order chromatin architecture organization and gene regulation and new insight gained from studies of cohesinopathies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Chromatin and epigenetic regulation of animal development.
Microsatellites are widely used for many genetic studies. In contrast to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and genotyping-by-sequencing methods, they are readily typed in samples of low DNA quality/concentration (e.g. museum/non-invasive samples), and enable the quick, cheap identification of species, hybrids, clones and ploidy. Microsatellites also have the highest cross-species utility of all types of markers used for genotyping, but, despite this, when isolated from a single species, only a relatively small proportion will be of utility. Marker development of any type requires skill and time. The availability of sufficient "off-the-shelf" markers that are suitable for genotyping a wide range of species would not only save resources but also uniquely enable new comparisons of diversity among taxa at the same set of loci. No other marker types are capable of enabling this. We therefore developed a set of avian microsatellite markers with enhanced cross-species utility.
Repeated administration of methamphetamine (mAMPH) to rodents in a single-day "binge" produces long-lasting damage to dopaminergic and serotonergic terminals. Because previous research has demonstrated that physical activity can ameliorate nigrostriatal injury, this study investigated whether voluntary exercise in rats can alter the monoaminergic damage resulting from a neurotoxic mAMPH binge. Adult male rats were allowed constant access to running wheels or kept in nonwheel cages for three weeks, then given a binge dosing regimen of mAMPH or saline. The rats were returned to their original environments for three additional weeks post-mAMPH. [(125) I]RTI-55 binding and autoradiography was used to quantify dopamine transporters (DAT), and radioimmunocytochemistry was used to quantify striatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). Binge mAMPH treatment significantly reduced striatal DAT and TH in a regionally specific pattern; with greatest effects in ventral caudate-putamen (CP) and relative sparing of the nucleus accumbens septi (NAc). The effects of mAMPH on striatal DAT and TH were ameliorated in the running, compared to the sedentary, animals. Also, mAMPH was found to reduce [(125) I]RTI-55 binding to serotonin transporters (SERT) in frontoparietal cortex, and this too was significantly attenuated by exercise. Additional correlational analyses showed that the post-mAMPH running of individual animals predicted the amelioration of striatal DAT and TH as well as frontoparietal SERT. Overall, voluntary exercise significantly diminished mAMPH-induced forebrain monoaminergic damage. The significant correlations between post-mAMPH exercise and markers of monoaminergic terminal integrity provide novel evidence that voluntary exercise may exert beneficial effects on behavior in recovering mAMPH addicts.
Cohesins are evolutionarily conserved essential multi-protein complexes that are important for higher-order chromatin organization. They play pivotal roles in the maintenance of genome integrity through mitotic chromosome regulation, DNA repair and replication, as well as gene regulation critical for proper development and cellular differentiation. In this review, we will discuss the multifaceted functions of mammalian cohesins and their apparent functional hierarchy in the cell, with particular focus on their actions in gene regulation and their relevance to human developmental disorders.
The ?-globin locus undergoes dynamic chromatin interaction changes in differentiating erythroid cells that are thought to be important for proper globin gene expression. However, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. The CCCTC-binding factor, CTCF, binds to the insulator elements at the 5 and 3 boundaries of the locus, but these sites were shown to be dispensable for globin gene activation. We found that, upon induction of differentiation, cohesin and the cohesin loading factor Nipped-B-like (Nipbl) bind to the locus control region (LCR) at the CTCF insulator and distal enhancer regions as well as at the specific target globin gene that undergoes activation upon differentiation. Nipbl-dependent cohesin binding is critical for long-range chromatin interactions, both between the CTCF insulator elements and between the LCR distal enhancer and the target gene. We show that the latter interaction is important for globin gene expression in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, the results indicate that such cohesin-mediated chromatin interactions associated with gene regulation are sensitive to the partial reduction of Nipbl caused by heterozygous mutation. This provides the first direct evidence that Nipbl haploinsufficiency affects cohesin-mediated chromatin interactions and gene expression. Our results reveal that dynamic Nipbl/cohesin binding is critical for developmental chromatin organization and the gene activation function of the LCR in mammalian cells.
Technical advances in recent years, such as laser microirradiation and chromatin immunoprecipitation, have led to further understanding of DNA damage responses and repair processes as they happen in vivo and have allowed us to better evaluate the activities of new factors at damage sites. Facilitated by these tools, recent studies identified the unexpected roles of heterochromatin factors in DNA damage recognition and repair, which also involves poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs). The results suggest that chromatin at damage sites may be quite structurally dynamic during the repair process, with transient intervals of closed configurations before a more open arrangement that allows the repair machinery to access damaged DNA.
Condensin I is important for chromosome organization and segregation in mitosis. We previously showed that condensin I also interacts with PARP1 in response to DNA damage and plays a role in single-strand break repair. However, whether condensin I physically associates with DNA damage sites and how PARP1 may contribute to this process were unclear. We found that condensin I is preferentially recruited to DNA damage sites enriched for base damage. This process is dictated by PARP1 through its interaction with the chromosome-targeting domain of the hCAP-D2 subunit of condensin I.
Fig wasps and fig trees are mutually dependent, with each of the 800 or so species of fig trees (Ficus, Moraceae) typically pollinated by a single species of fig wasp (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae). Molecular evidence suggests that the relationship existed over 65 Ma, during the Cretaceous. Here, we record the discovery of the oldest known fossil fig wasps, from England, dated at 34 Ma. They possess pollen pockets that contain fossil Ficus pollen. The length of their ovipositors indicates that their host trees had a dioecious breeding system. Confocal microscopy and scanning electron microscopy reveal that the fossil female fig wasps, and more recent species from Miocene Dominican amber, display the same suite of anatomical characters associated with fig entry and pollen-carrying as modern species. The pollen is also typical of modern Ficus. No innovations in the relationship are discernible for the last tens of millions of years.
Heterochromatin Protein 1 (HP1) is a transcriptional repressor that directly binds to the methylated lysine 9 residue of histone H3 (H3K9me), which is a hallmark histone modification for transcriptionally silenced heterochromatin. Studies of homologs in different organisms have provided significant insight into the function of HP1 and the role of H3K9me. Initially discovered to be a major constituent of heterochromatin important for gene silencing, HP1 is now known to be a dynamic protein that also functions in transcriptional elongation, centromeric sister chromatid cohesion, telomere maintenance and DNA repair. Furthermore, recent studies have begun to uncover functional differences between HP1 variants and their H3K9me-independent mode of action. As our understanding of HP1 expands, however, conflicting data has also been reported that requires further reconciliation. Here we focus on some of the recent findings and controversies concerning HP1 functions in mammalian cells in comparison to studies in other organisms.
Genetic linkage maps are essential tools when searching for quantitative trait loci (QTL). To maximize genome coverage and provide an evenly spaced marker distribution a combination of different types of genetic marker are sometimes used. In this study we created linkage maps of four zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) chromosomes (1, 1A, 2 and 9) using two types of marker, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and microsatellites. To assess the effectiveness and accuracy of each kind of marker we compared maps built with each marker type separately and with both types of marker combined. Linkage map marker order was validated by making comparisons to the assembled zebra finch genome sequence.
Understanding the genetics of how organisms adapt to changing environments is a fundamental topic in modern evolutionary ecology. The field is currently progressing rapidly because of advances in genomics technologies, especially DNA sequencing. The aim of this review is to first briefly summarise how next generation sequencing (NGS) has transformed our ability to identify the genes underpinning adaptation. We then demonstrate how the application of these genomic tools to ecological model species means that we can start addressing some of the questions that have puzzled ecological geneticists for decades such as: How many genes are involved in adaptation? What types of genetic variation are responsible for adaptation? Does adaptation utilise pre-existing genetic variation or does it require new mutations to arise following an environmental change?
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the availability of high density genetic marker data for both model and non-model organisms. A potential application of these data is to infer relatedness in the absence of a complete pedigree. Using a marker panel of 771 SNPs genotyped in three generations of an extensive zebra finch pedigree, correlations between pedigree relatedness and seven marker-based estimates of relatedness were examined, as was the relationship between heterozygosity and inbreeding. Although marker-based and pedigree relatedness were highly correlated, the variance in estimated relatedness was high. Further, the correlation between heterozygosity and inbreeding was weak, even though mean inbreeding coefficient is typical of that seen in wild vertebrate pedigrees; the weak relationship was in part due to the small variance in inbreeding in the pedigree. Our data suggest that using marker information to reconstruct the pedigree, and then calculating relatedness from the pedigree, is likely to give more accurate relatedness estimates than using marker-based estimators directly.
We have developed a new approach to create microsatellite primer sets that have high utility across a wide range of species. The success of this method was demonstrated using birds. We selected 35 avian EST microsatellite loci that had a high degree of sequence homology between the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata and the chicken Gallus gallus and designed primer sets in which the primer bind sites were identical in both species. For 33 conserved primer sets, on average, 100% of loci amplified in each of 17 passerine species and 99% of loci in five non-passerine species. The genotyping of four individuals per species revealed that 24-76% (mean 48%) of loci were polymorphic in the passerines and 18-26% (mean 21%) in the non-passerines. When at least 17 individuals were genotyped per species for four Fringillidae finch species, 71-85% of loci were polymorphic, observed heterozygosity was above 0.50 for most loci and no locus deviated significantly from Hardy-Weinberg proportions. This new set of microsatellite markers is of higher cross-species utility than any set previously designed. The loci described are suitable for a range of applications that require polymorphic avian markers, including paternity and population studies. They will facilitate comparisons of bird genome organization, including genome mapping and studies of recombination, and allow comparisons of genetic variability between species whilst avoiding ascertainment bias. The costs and time to develop new loci can now be avoided for many applications in numerous species. Furthermore, our method can be readily used to develop microsatellite markers of high utility across other taxa.
Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD) is an autosomal dominant muscular dystrophy in which no mutation of pathogenic gene(s) has been identified. Instead, the disease is, in most cases, genetically linked to a contraction in the number of 3.3 kb D4Z4 repeats on chromosome 4q. How contraction of the 4qter D4Z4 repeats causes muscular dystrophy is not understood. In addition, a smaller group of FSHD cases are not associated with D4Z4 repeat contraction (termed "phenotypic" FSHD), and their etiology remains undefined. We carried out chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis using D4Z4-specific PCR primers to examine the D4Z4 chromatin structure in normal and patient cells as well as in small interfering RNA (siRNA)-treated cells. We found that SUV39H1-mediated H3K9 trimethylation at D4Z4 seen in normal cells is lost in FSHD. Furthermore, the loss of this histone modification occurs not only at the contracted 4q D4Z4 allele, but also at the genetically intact D4Z4 alleles on both chromosomes 4q and 10q, providing the first evidence that the genetic change (contraction) of one 4qD4Z4 allele spreads its effect to other genomic regions. Importantly, this epigenetic change was also observed in the phenotypic FSHD cases with no D4Z4 contraction, but not in other types of muscular dystrophies tested. We found that HP1gamma and cohesin are co-recruited to D4Z4 in an H3K9me3-dependent and cell type-specific manner, which is disrupted in FSHD. The results indicate that cohesin plays an active role in HP1 recruitment and is involved in cell type-specific D4Z4 chromatin regulation. Taken together, we identified the loss of both histone H3K9 trimethylation and HP1gamma/cohesin binding at D4Z4 to be a faithful marker for the FSHD phenotype. Based on these results, we propose a new model in which the epigenetic change initiated at 4q D4Z4 spreads its effect to other genomic regions, which compromises muscle-specific gene regulation leading to FSHD pathogenesis.
Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) is a conserved factor critical for heterochromatin organization and gene silencing. It is recruited to chromatin by its direct interaction with H3K9me (methylated lysine 9 residue of histone H3), an epigenetic mark for silenced chromatin. Now, Luijsterburg et al. (Luijsterburg, M.S., C. Dinant, H. Lans, J. Stap, E. Wiernasz, S. Lagerwerf, D.O. Warmerdam, M. Lindh, M.C. Brink, J.W. Dobrucki, et al. 2009. J. Cell Biol. 185:577-586) reveal a new H3K9me-independent role for HP1 in the DNA damage response, which is distinct from the one recently reported by Ayoub et al. (Ayoub, N., A.D. Jeyasekharan, J.A. Bernal, and A.R. Venkitaraman. 2008. Nature. 453:682-686).
Cohesin is an essential protein complex required for sister chromatid cohesion. Cohesin associates with chromosomes and establishes sister chromatid cohesion during interphase. During metaphase, a small amount of cohesin remains at the chromosome-pairing domain, mainly at the centromeres, whereas the majority of cohesin resides in the cytoplasm, where its functions remain unclear. We describe the mitosis-specific recruitment of cohesin to the spindle poles through its association with centrosomes and interaction with nuclear mitotic apparatus protein (NuMA). Overexpression of NuMA enhances cohesin accumulation at spindle poles. Although transient cohesin depletion does not lead to visible impairment of normal spindle formation, recovery from nocodazole-induced spindle disruption was significantly impaired. Importantly, selective blocking of cohesin localization to centromeres, which disrupts centromeric sister chromatid cohesion, had no effect on this spindle reassembly process, clearly separating the roles of cohesin at kinetochores and spindle poles. In vitro, chromosome-independent spindle assembly using mitotic extracts was compromised by cohesin depletion, and it was rescued by addition of cohesin that was isolated from mitotic, but not S phase, cells. The combined results identify a novel spindle-associated role for human cohesin during mitosis, in addition to its function at the centromere/kinetochore regions.
Cultivation of commercial oysters is now facing the possible influence of global change in sea water composition, commonly referred to as "ocean acidification". In order to test the potential consequence of the predicted environmental changes, a cultivation experiment was carried out. The left and right valves of the oyster shell Crassostrea gigas differ in their structure; moreover, lenses of non compact layers are irregular. The shell layers of juvenile C. gigas are studied using a variety of highly spatially resolved techniques to establish their composition and structure. Our results confirm the presence of three different calcitic structural types. The role of the lenses of chalky layers is not yet deciplered. Despite a common mineralogy, the elemental composition of the layers differs. The sulphur aminoacids and sulphated polysaccharide contents of the intracrystalline and intercrystalline matrices differ, as well as those of the structural types. The possible different sensitivity of these structures to environmental changes is still unknown.
We identified microsatellite sequences of potential utility in the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) and assigned their predicted genome locations. These sequences included newly isolated house sparrow loci, which we fully characterized. Many of the newly isolated loci were polymorphic in two other species of Passeridae: Berthelots pipit Anthus berthelotii and zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata. In total, we identified 179 microsatellite markers that were either isolated directly from, or are of known utility in, the house sparrow. Sixty-seven of these markers were designed from unique sequences that we isolated from a house sparrow genomic library. These new markers were combined with 36 house sparrow markers isolated by other studies and 76 markers isolated from other passerine species but known to be polymorphic in the house sparrow. We utilized sequence homology to assign chromosomal locations for these loci in the assembled zebra finch genome. One hundred and thirty-four loci were assigned to 25 different autosomes and eight loci to the Z chromosome. Examination of the genotypes of known-sex house sparrows for 37 of the new loci revealed a W-linked locus and an additional Z-linked locus. Locus Pdo?2, previously reported as autosomal, was found to be Z-linked. These loci enable the creation of powerful and cost-effective house sparrow multiplex primer sets for population and parentage studies. They can be used to create a house sparrow linkage map and will aid the identification of quantitative trait loci in passerine species.
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