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Find video protocols related to scientific articles indexed in Pubmed.
Nonsyntenic Genes Drive Highly Dynamic Complementation of Gene Expression in Maize Hybrids.
Plant Cell
PUBLISHED: 10-16-2014
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Maize (Zea mays) displays an exceptional level of structural genomic diversity, which is likely unique among higher eukaryotes. In this study, we surveyed how the genetic divergence of two maize inbred lines affects the transcriptomic landscape in four different primary root tissues of their F1-hybrid progeny. An extreme instance of complementation was frequently observed: genes that were expressed in only one parent but in both reciprocal hybrids. This single-parent expression (SPE) pattern was detected for 2341 genes with up to 1287 SPE patterns per tissue. As a consequence, the number of active genes in hybrids exceeded that of their parents in each tissue by >400. SPE patterns are highly dynamic, as illustrated by their excessive degree of tissue specificity (80%). The biological significance of this type of complementation is underpinned by the observation that a disproportionally high number of SPE genes (75 to 82%) is nonsyntenic, as opposed to all expressed genes (36%). These genes likely evolved after the last whole-genome duplication and are therefore younger than the syntenic genes. In summary, SPE genes shape the remarkable gene expression plasticity between root tissues and complementation in maize hybrids, resulting in a tissue-specific increase of active genes in F1-hybrids compared with their inbred parents.
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Transcriptional analysis of the global regulatory networks active in Pseudomonas syringae during leaf colonization.
MBio
PUBLISHED: 09-02-2014
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The plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae B728a grows and survives on leaf surfaces and in the leaf apoplast of its host, bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). To understand the contribution of distinct regulators to B728a fitness and pathogenicity, we performed a transcriptome analysis of strain B728a and nine regulatory mutants recovered from the surfaces and interior of leaves and exposed to environmental stresses in culture. The quorum-sensing regulators AhlR and AefR influenced few genes in planta or in vitro. In contrast, GacS and a downstream regulator, SalA, formed a large regulatory network that included a branch that regulated diverse traits and was independent of plant-specific environmental signals and a plant signal-dependent branch that positively regulated secondary metabolite genes and negatively regulated the type III secretion system. SalA functioned as a central regulator of iron status based on its reciprocal regulation of pyoverdine and achromobactin genes and also sulfur uptake, suggesting a role in the iron-sulfur balance. RetS functioned almost exclusively to repress secondary metabolite genes when the cells were not on leaves. Among the sigma factors examined, AlgU influenced many more genes than RpoS, and most AlgU-regulated genes depended on RpoN. RpoN differentially impacted many AlgU- and GacS-activated genes in cells recovered from apoplastic versus epiphytic sites, suggesting differences in environmental signals or bacterial stress status in these two habitats. Collectively, our findings illustrate a central role for GacS, SalA, RpoN, and AlgU in global regulation in B728a in planta and a high level of plasticity in these regulators' responses to distinct environmental signals.
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An improved method for computing q-values when the distribution of effect sizes is asymmetric.
Bioinformatics
PUBLISHED: 07-14-2014
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Asymmetry is frequently observed in the empirical distribution of test statistics that results from the analysis of gene expression experiments. This asymmetry indicates an asymmetry in the distribution of effect sizes. A common method for identifying differentially expressed (DE) genes in a gene expression experiment while controlling false discovery rate (FDR) is Storey's q-value method. This method ranks genes based solely on the P-values from each gene in the experiment.
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Copy number variation detection using next generation sequencing read counts.
BMC Bioinformatics
PUBLISHED: 04-02-2014
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A copy number variation (CNV) is a difference between genotypes in the number of copies of a genomic region. Next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies provide sensitive and accurate tools for detecting genomic variations that include CNVs. However, statistical approaches for CNV identification using NGS are limited. We propose a new methodology for detecting CNVs using NGS data. This method (henceforth denoted by m-HMM) is based on a hidden Markov model with emission probabilities that are governed by mixture distributions. We use the Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm to estimate the parameters in the model.
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Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium-infected pigs with different shedding levels exhibit distinct clinical, peripheral cytokine and transcriptomic immune response phenotypes.
Innate Immun
PUBLISHED: 03-18-2014
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Foodborne salmonellosis costs the US $2.7?billion/year, including $100.0?million in annual losses to pork producers. Pigs colonized with Salmonella are usually asymptomatic with varied severity and duration of fecal shedding. Thus, understanding the responses that result in less shedding may provide a mechanism for control. Fifty-four pigs were inoculated with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (ST) and clinical signs, fecal ST shedding, growth performance, peripheral cytokines and whole blood gene expression were measured. Persistently shedding (PS) pigs had longer pyrexia and elevated serum IL-1?, TNF-? and IFN-? compared with low shedding (LS) pigs, while LS pigs had brief pyrexia, less shedding that decreased more rapidly and greater serum CXCL8 than PS pigs. The PS pigs up-regulated genes involved with the STAT1, IFNB1 and IFN-? networks on d 2, while up-regulation of genes involved in immune response regulation were only detected in LS pigs. This is the first study to examine host responses to ST infection at a clinical, performance, cytokine and transcriptomic level. The results indicated that pigs with different shedding outcomes developed distinct immune responses within the first 2?d of ST infection, and elucidated alternative mechanisms that could be targeted to reduce Salmonella shedding and spread.
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Endometrial gene expression profiling in pregnant Meishan and Yorkshire pigs on day 12 of gestation.
BMC Genomics
PUBLISHED: 02-17-2014
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Litter size in pigs is a major factor affecting the profitability in the pig industry. The peri-implantation window in pigs is characterized by the coordinated interactions between the maternal uterine endometrium and the rapidly elongating conceptuses and represents a period of time during which a large percentage of the developing conceptuses are lost. However, the gene expression and regulatory networks in the endometrium contributing to the establishment of the maternal: placental interface remain poorly understood.
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Code-assisted discovery of TAL effector targets in bacterial leaf streak of rice reveals contrast with bacterial blight and a novel susceptibility gene.
PLoS Pathog.
PUBLISHED: 02-01-2014
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Bacterial leaf streak of rice, caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola (Xoc) is an increasingly important yield constraint in this staple crop. A mesophyll colonizer, Xoc differs from X. oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo), which invades xylem to cause bacterial blight of rice. Both produce multiple distinct TAL effectors, type III-delivered proteins that transactivate effector-specific host genes. A TAL effector finds its target(s) via a partially degenerate code whereby the modular effector amino acid sequence identifies nucleotide sequences to which the protein binds. Virulence contributions of some Xoo TAL effectors have been shown, and their relevant targets, susceptibility (S) genes, identified, but the role of TAL effectors in leaf streak is uncharacterized. We used host transcript profiling to compare leaf streak to blight and to probe functions of Xoc TAL effectors. We found that Xoc and Xoo induce almost completely different host transcriptional changes. Roughly one in three genes upregulated by the pathogens is preceded by a candidate TAL effector binding element. Experimental analysis of the 44 such genes predicted to be Xoc TAL effector targets verified nearly half, and identified most others as false predictions. None of the Xoc targets is a known bacterial blight S gene. Mutational analysis revealed that Tal2g, which activates two genes, contributes to lesion expansion and bacterial exudation. Use of designer TAL effectors discriminated a sulfate transporter gene as the S gene. Across all targets, basal expression tended to be higher than genome-average, and induction moderate. Finally, machine learning applied to real vs. falsely predicted targets yielded a classifier that recalled 92% of the real targets with 88% precision, providing a tool for better target prediction in the future. Our study expands the number of known TAL effector targets, identifies a new class of S gene, and improves our ability to predict functional targeting.
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Host-induced gene silencing in barley powdery mildew reveals a class of ribonuclease-like effectors.
Mol. Plant Microbe Interact.
PUBLISHED: 02-28-2013
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Obligate biotrophic pathogens of plants must circumvent or counteract defenses to guarantee accommodation inside the host. To do so, they secrete a variety of effectors that regulate host immunity and facilitate the establishment of pathogen feeding structures called haustoria. The barley powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei produces a large number of proteins predicted to be secreted from haustoria. Fifty of these Blumeria effector candidates (BEC) were screened by host-induced gene silencing (HIGS), and eight were identified that contribute to infection. One shows similarity to ?-1,3 glucosyltransferases, one to metallo-proteases, and two to microbial secreted ribonucleases; the remainder have no similarity to proteins of known function. Transcript abundance of all eight BEC increases dramatically in the early stages of infection and establishment of haustoria, consistent with a role in that process. Complementation analysis using silencing-insensitive synthetic cDNAs demonstrated that the ribonuclease-like BEC 1011 and 1054 are bona fide effectors that function within the plant cell. BEC1011 specifically interferes with pathogen-induced host cell death. Both are part of a gene superfamily unique to the powdery mildew fungi. Structural modeling was consistent, with BEC1054 adopting a ribonuclease-like fold, a scaffold not previously associated with effector function.
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Estimation of false discovery rate using sequential permutation p-values.
Biometrics
PUBLISHED: 02-04-2013
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We consider the problem of testing each of m null hypotheses with a sequential permutation procedure in which the number of draws from the permutation distribution of each test statistic is a random variable. Each sequential permutation p-value has a null distribution that is nonuniform on a discrete support. We show how to use a collection of such p-values to estimate the number of true null hypotheses m0 among the m null hypotheses tested and how to estimate the false discovery rate (FDR) associated with p-value significance thresholds. We use real data analyses and simulation studies to evaluate and illustrate the performance of our proposed approach relative to standard, more computationally intensive strategies. We find that our sequential approach produces similar results with far less computational expense in a variety of scenarios.
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Transcriptional responses of Pseudomonas syringae to growth in epiphytic versus apoplastic leaf sites.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
PUBLISHED: 01-14-2013
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Some strains of the foliar pathogen Pseudomonas syringae are adapted for growth and survival on leaf surfaces and in the leaf interior. Global transcriptome profiling was used to evaluate if these two habitats offer distinct environments for bacteria and thus present distinct driving forces for adaptation. The transcript profiles of Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae B728a support a model in which leaf surface, or epiphytic, sites specifically favor flagellar motility, swarming motility based on 3-(3-hydroxyalkanoyloxy) alkanoic acid surfactant production, chemosensing, and chemotaxis,indicating active relocation primarily on the leaf surface. Epiphytic sites also promote high transcript levels for phenylalanine degradation, which may help counteract phenylpropanoid-based defenses before leaf entry. In contrast, intercellular, or apoplastic,sites favor the high-level expression of genes for GABA metabolism (degradation of these genes would attenuate GABA repression of virulence) and the synthesis of phytotoxins, two additional secondary metabolites, and syringolin A. These findings support roles for these compounds in virulence, including a role for syringolin A in suppressing defense responses beyond stomatal closure. A comparison of the transcriptomes from in planta cells and from cells exposed to osmotic stress, oxidative stress, and iron and nitrogen limitation indicated that water availability, in particular,was limited in both leaf habitats but was more severely limited in the apoplast than on the leaf surface under the conditions tested. These findings contribute to a coherent model of the adaptations of this widespread bacterial phytopathogen to distinct habitats within its host.
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Soybean homologs of MPK4 negatively regulate defense responses and positively regulate growth and development.
Plant Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 08-30-2011
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Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades play important roles in disease resistance in model plant species such as Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). However, the importance of MAPK signaling pathways in the disease resistance of crops is still largely uninvestigated. To better understand the role of MAPK signaling pathways in disease resistance in soybean (Glycine max), 13, nine, and 10 genes encoding distinct MAPKs, MAPKKs, and MAPKKKs, respectively, were silenced using virus-induced gene silencing mediated by Bean pod mottle virus. Among the plants silenced for various MAPKs, MAPKKs, and MAPKKKs, those in which GmMAPK4 homologs (GmMPK4s) were silenced displayed strong phenotypes including stunted stature and spontaneous cell death on the leaves and stems, the characteristic hallmarks of activated defense responses. Microarray analysis showed that genes involved in defense responses, such as those in salicylic acid (SA) signaling pathways, were significantly up-regulated in GmMPK4-silenced plants, whereas genes involved in growth and development, such as those in auxin signaling pathways and in cell cycle and proliferation, were significantly down-regulated. As expected, SA and hydrogen peroxide accumulation was significantly increased in GmMPK4-silenced plants. Accordingly, GmMPK4-silenced plants were more resistant to downy mildew and Soybean mosaic virus compared with vector control plants. Using bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis and in vitro kinase assays, we determined that GmMKK1 and GmMKK2 might function upstream of GmMPK4. Taken together, our results indicate that GmMPK4s negatively regulate SA accumulation and defense response but positively regulate plant growth and development, and their functions are conserved across plant species.
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Biphasic gene expression changes elicited by Phakopsora pachyrhizi in soybean correlate with fungal penetration and haustoria formation.
Plant Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 07-26-2011
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Inoculation of soybean (Glycine max) plants with Phakopsora pachyrhizi, the causal organism of Asian soybean rust, elicits a biphasic response characterized by a burst of differential gene expression in the first 12 h. A quiescent period occurs from 24 to 48 h after inoculation, in which P. pachyrhizi continues to develop but does not elicit strong host responses, followed by a second phase of intense gene expression. To correlate soybean responses with P. pachyrhizi growth and development, we inoculated the soybean cultivar Ankur (accession PI462312), which carries the Rpp3 resistance gene, with avirulent and virulent isolates of P. pachyrhizi. The avirulent isolate Hawaii 94-1 elicits hypersensitive cell death that limits fungal growth on Ankur and results in an incompatible response, while the virulent isolate Taiwan 80-2 grows extensively, sporulates profusely, and produces a compatible reaction. Inoculated leaves were collected over a 288-h time course for microarray analysis of soybean gene expression and microscopic analysis of P. pachyrhizi growth and development. The first burst in gene expression correlated with appressorium formation and penetration of epidermal cells, while the second burst of gene expression changes followed the onset of haustoria formation in both compatible and incompatible interactions. The proliferation of haustoria coincided with the inhibition of P. pachyrhizi growth in the incompatible interaction or the beginning of accelerated growth in the compatible interaction. The temporal relationships between P. pachyrhizi growth and host responses provide an important context in which to view interacting gene networks that mediate the outcomes of their interactions.
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Helicobacter bilis colonization enhances susceptibility to Typhlocolitis following an inflammatory trigger.
Dig. Dis. Sci.
PUBLISHED: 03-29-2011
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Aberrant mucosal immune responses to antigens of the resident microbiota are a significant cause of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), as are genetic and environmental factors. Previous work from our laboratory demonstrated that Helicobacter bilis colonization of immunocompetent, defined microbiota mice induced antigen-specific immune responses to the resident microbiota, yet these mice failed to develop colitis, suggesting that the immunological provocation induced by H. bilis alone was insufficient to induce disease.
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The Soybean Rhg1 locus for resistance to the soybean cyst nematode Heterodera glycines regulates the expression of a large number of stress- and defense-related genes in degenerating feeding cells.
Plant Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 02-18-2011
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To gain new insights into the mechanism of soybean (Glycine max) resistance to the soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines), we compared gene expression profiles of developing syncytia in soybean near-isogenic lines differing at Rhg1 (for resistance to Heterodera glycines), a major quantitative trait locus for resistance, by coupling laser capture microdissection with microarray analysis. Gene expression profiling revealed that 1,447 genes were differentially expressed between the two lines. Of these, 241 (16.8%) were stress- and defense-related genes. Several stress-related genes were up-regulated in the resistant line, including those encoding homologs of enzymes that lead to increased levels of reactive oxygen species and proteins associated with the unfolded protein response. These results indicate that syncytia induced in the resistant line are undergoing severe oxidative stress and imbalanced endoplasmic reticulum homeostasis, both of which likely contribute to the resistance reaction. Defense-related genes up-regulated within syncytia of the resistant line included those predominantly involved in apoptotic cell death, the plant hypersensitive response, and salicylic acid-mediated defense signaling; many of these genes were either partially suppressed or not induced to the same level by a virulent soybean cyst nematode population for successful nematode reproduction and development on the resistant line. Our study demonstrates that a network of molecular events take place during Rhg1-mediated resistance, leading to a highly complex defense response against a root pathogen.
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Quantitative and temporal definition of the Mla transcriptional regulon during barley-powdery mildew interactions.
Mol. Plant Microbe Interact.
PUBLISHED: 02-18-2011
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Barley Mildew resistance locus a (Mla) is a major determinant of immunity to the powdery mildew pathogen, Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei. Alleles of Mla encode cytoplasmic- and membrane-localized coiled-coil, nucleotide binding site, leucine-rich repeat proteins that mediate resistance when complementary avirulence effectors (AVR(a)) are present in the pathogen. Presence of an appropriate AVR(a) protein triggers nuclear relocalization of MLA, in which MLA binds repressing host transcription factors. Timecourse expression profiles of plants harboring Mla1, Mla6, and Mla12 wild-type alleles versus paired loss-of-function mutants were compared to discover conserved transcriptional targets of MLA and downstream signaling cascades. Pathogen-dependent gene expression was equivalent or stronger in susceptible plants at 20 h after inoculation (HAI) and was attenuated at later timepoints, whereas resistant plants exhibited a time-dependent strengthening of the transcriptional response, increasing in both fold change and the number of genes differentially expressed. Deregulation at 20 HAI implicated 16 HAI as a crucial point in determining the future trajectory of this interaction and was interrogated by quantitative analysis. In total, 28 potential transcriptional targets of the MLA regulon were identified. These candidate targets possess a diverse set of predicted functions, suggesting that multiple pathways are required to mediate the hypersensitive reaction.
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Distinct peripheral blood RNA responses to Salmonella in pigs differing in Salmonella shedding levels: intersection of IFNG, TLR and miRNA pathways.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 02-10-2011
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Transcriptomic analysis of the response to bacterial pathogens has been reported for several species, yet few studies have investigated the transcriptional differences in whole blood in subjects that differ in their disease response phenotypes. Salmonella species infect many vertebrate species, and pigs colonized with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (ST) are usually asymptomatic, making detection of these Salmonella-carrier pigs difficult. The variable fecal shedding of Salmonella is an important cause of foodborne illness and zoonotic disease. To investigate gene pathways and biomarkers associated with the variance in Salmonella shedding following experimental inoculation, we initiated the first analysis of the whole blood transcriptional response induced by Salmonella. A population of pigs (n?=?40) was inoculated with ST and peripheral blood and fecal Salmonella counts were collected between 2 and 20 days post-inoculation (dpi). Two groups of pigs with either low shedding (LS) or persistent shedding (PS) phenotypes were identified. Global transcriptional changes in response to ST inoculation were identified by Affymetrix Genechip® analysis of peripheral blood RNA at day 0 and 2 dpi. ST inoculation triggered substantial gene expression changes in the pigs and there was differential expression of many genes between LS and PS pigs. Analysis of the differential profiles of gene expression within and between PS and LS phenotypic classes identified distinct regulatory pathways mediated by IFN-?, TNF, NF-?B, or one of several miRNAs. We confirmed the activation of two regulatory factors, SPI1 and CEBPB, and demonstrated that expression of miR-155 was decreased specifically in the PS animals. These data provide insight into specific pathways associated with extremes in Salmonella fecal shedding that can be targeted for further exploration on why some animals develop a carrier state. This knowledge can also be used to develop rational manipulations of genetics, pharmaceuticals, nutrition or husbandry methods to decrease Salmonella colonization, shedding and spread.
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High-resolution genotyping via whole genome hybridizations to microarrays containing long oligonucleotide probes.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 07-23-2010
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To date, microarray-based genotyping of large, complex plant genomes has been complicated by the need to perform genome complexity reduction to obtain sufficiently strong hybridization signals. Genome complexity reduction techniques are, however, tedious and can introduce unwanted variables into genotyping assays. Here, we report a microarray-based genotyping technology for complex genomes (such as the 2.3 GB maize genome) that does not require genome complexity reduction prior to hybridization. Approximately 200,000 long oligonucleotide probes were identified as being polymorphic between the inbred parents of a mapping population and used to genotype two recombinant inbred lines. While multiple hybridization replicates provided ?97% accuracy, even a single replicate provided ?95% accuracy. Genotyping accuracy was further increased to >99% by utilizing information from adjacent probes. This microarray-based method provides a simple, high-density genotyping approach for large, complex genomes.
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Unique genome-wide transcriptome profiles of chicken macrophages exposed to Salmonella-derived endotoxin.
BMC Genomics
PUBLISHED: 05-12-2010
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Macrophages play essential roles in both innate and adaptive immune responses. Bacteria require endotoxin, a complex lipopolysaccharide, for outer membrane permeability and the host interprets endotoxin as a signal to initiate an innate immune response. The focus of this study is kinetic and global transcriptional analysis of the chicken macrophage response to in vitro stimulation with endotoxin from Salmonella typhimurium-798.
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Paternal dominance of trans-eQTL influences gene expression patterns in maize hybrids.
Science
PUBLISHED: 12-08-2009
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Heterosis refers to the superior performance of hybrid progeny relative to their inbred parents, but the mechanisms responsible are unknown. Hybrids between the maize inbred lines B73 and Mo17 exhibit heterosis regardless of cross direction. These reciprocal hybrids differ from each other phenotypically, and 30 to 50% of their genes are differentially expressed. We identified approximately 4000 expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) that allowed us to identify markers linked to variation in expression. We found that over three-quarters of these eQTL act in trans (78%) and that 86% of these differentially regulate transcript accumulation in a manner consistent with gene expression in the hybrid being regulated exclusively by the paternally transmitted allele. This result suggests that widespread imprinting contributes to the regulation of gene expression in maize hybrids.
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The B73 maize genome: complexity, diversity, and dynamics.
Patrick S Schnable, Doreen Ware, Robert S Fulton, Joshua C Stein, Fusheng Wei, Shiran Pasternak, Chengzhi Liang, Jianwei Zhang, Lucinda Fulton, Tina A Graves, Patrick Minx, Amy Denise Reily, Laura Courtney, Scott S Kruchowski, Chad Tomlinson, Cindy Strong, Kim Delehaunty, Catrina Fronick, Bill Courtney, Susan M Rock, Eddie Belter, Feiyu Du, Kyung Kim, Rachel M Abbott, Marc Cotton, Andy Levy, Pamela Marchetto, Kerri Ochoa, Stephanie M Jackson, Barbara Gillam, Weizu Chen, Le Yan, Jamey Higginbotham, Marco Cardenas, Jason Waligorski, Elizabeth Applebaum, Lindsey Phelps, Jason Falcone, Krishna Kanchi, Thynn Thane, Adam Scimone, Nay Thane, Jessica Henke, Tom Wang, Jessica Ruppert, Neha Shah, Kelsi Rotter, Jennifer Hodges, Elizabeth Ingenthron, Matt Cordes, Sara Kohlberg, Jennifer Sgro, Brandon Delgado, Kelly Mead, Asif Chinwalla, Shawn Leonard, Kevin Crouse, Kristi Collura, Dave Kudrna, Jennifer Currie, Ruifeng He, Angelina Angelova, Shanmugam Rajasekar, Teri Mueller, Rene Lomeli, Gabriel Scara, Ara Ko, Krista Delaney, Marina Wissotski, Georgina Lopez, David Campos, Michele Braidotti, Elizabeth Ashley, Wolfgang Golser, Hyeran Kim, Seunghee Lee, Jinke Lin, Zeljko Dujmic, Woojin Kim, Jayson Talag, Andrea Zuccolo, Chuanzhu Fan, Aswathy Sebastian, Melissa Kramer, Lori Spiegel, Lidia Nascimento, Theresa Zutavern, Beth Miller, Claude Ambroise, Stephanie Müller, Will Spooner, Apurva Narechania, Liya Ren, Sharon Wei, Sunita Kumari, Ben Faga, Michael J Levy, Linda McMahan, Peter Van Buren, Matthew W Vaughn, Kai Ying, Cheng-Ting Yeh, Scott J Emrich, Yi Jia, Ananth Kalyanaraman, An-Ping Hsia, W Brad Barbazuk, Regina S Baucom, Thomas P Brutnell, Nicholas C Carpita, Cristian Chaparro, Jer-Ming Chia, Jean-Marc Deragon, James C Estill, Yan Fu, Jeffrey A Jeddeloh, Yujun Han, Hyeran Lee, Pinghua Li, Damon R Lisch, Sanzhen Liu, Zhijie Liu, Dawn Holligan Nagel, Maureen C McCann, Phillip SanMiguel, Alan M Myers, Dan Nettleton, John Nguyen, Bryan W Penning, Lalit Ponnala, Kevin L Schneider, David C Schwartz, Anupma Sharma, Carol Soderlund, Nathan M Springer, Qi Sun, Hao Wang, Michael Waterman, Richard Westerman, Thomas K Wolfgruber, Lixing Yang, Yeisoo Yu, Lifang Zhang, Shiguo Zhou, Qihui Zhu, Jeffrey L Bennetzen, R Kelly Dawe, Jiming Jiang, Ning Jiang, Gernot G Presting, Susan R Wessler, Srinivas Aluru, Robert A Martienssen, Sandra W Clifton, W Richard McCombie, Rod A Wing, Richard K Wilson.
Science
PUBLISHED: 12-08-2009
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We report an improved draft nucleotide sequence of the 2.3-gigabase genome of maize, an important crop plant and model for biological research. Over 32,000 genes were predicted, of which 99.8% were placed on reference chromosomes. Nearly 85% of the genome is composed of hundreds of families of transposable elements, dispersed nonuniformly across the genome. These were responsible for the capture and amplification of numerous gene fragments and affect the composition, sizes, and positions of centromeres. We also report on the correlation of methylation-poor regions with Mu transposon insertions and recombination, and copy number variants with insertions and/or deletions, as well as how uneven gene losses between duplicated regions were involved in returning an ancient allotetraploid to a genetically diploid state. These analyses inform and set the stage for further investigations to improve our understanding of the domestication and agricultural improvements of maize.
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Gene expression profiling of the short-term adaptive response to acute caloric restriction in liver and adipose tissues of pigs differing in feed efficiency.
Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 11-25-2009
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Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of feed efficiency, in which low RFI denotes improved feed efficiency. Caloric restriction (CR) is associated with feed efficiency in livestock species and to human health benefits, such as longevity and cancer prevention. We have developed pig lines that differ in RFI, and we are interested in identifying the genes and pathways that underlie feed efficiency. Prepubertal Yorkshire gilts with low RFI (n = 10) or high RFI (n = 10) were fed ad libitum or fed at restricted intake of 80% of maintenance energy requirements for 8 days. We measured serum metabolites and hormones and generated transcriptional profiles of liver and subcutaneous adipose tissue on these animals. Overall, 6,114 genes in fat and 305 genes in liver were differentially expressed (DE) in response to CR, and 311 genes in fat and 147 genes in liver were DE due to RFI differences. Pathway analyses of CR-induced DE genes indicated a dramatic switch to a conservation mode of energy usage by down-regulating lipogenesis and steroidogenesis in both liver and fat. Interestingly, CR altered expression of genes in immune and cell cycle/apoptotic pathways in fat, which may explain part of the CR-driven lifespan enhancement. In silico analysis of transcription factors revealed ESR1 as a putative regulator of the adaptive response to CR, as several targets of ESR1 in our DE fat genes were annotated as cell cycle/apoptosis genes. The lipid metabolic pathway was overrepresented by down-regulated genes due to both CR and low RFI. We propose a common energy conservation mechanism, which may be controlled by PPARA, PPARG, and/or CREB in both CR and feed-efficient pigs.
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Transcript-based cloning of RRP46, a regulator of rRNA processing and R gene-independent cell death in barley-powdery mildew interactions.
Plant Cell
PUBLISHED: 10-27-2009
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Programmed cell death (PCD) plays a pivotal role in plant development and defense. To investigate the interaction between PCD and R gene-mediated defense, we used the 22K Barley1 GeneChip to compare and contrast time-course expression profiles of Blumeria graminis f. sp hordei (Bgh) challenged barley (Hordeum vulgare) cultivar C.I. 16151 (harboring the Mla6 powdery mildew resistance allele) and its fast neutron-derived Bgh-induced tip cell death1 mutant, bcd1. Mixed linear model analysis identified genes associated with the cell death phenotype as opposed to R gene-mediated resistance. One-hundred fifty genes were found at the threshold P value < 0.0001 and a false discovery rate <0.6%. Of these, 124 were constitutively overexpressed in the bcd1 mutant. Gene Ontology and rice (Oryza sativa) alignment-based annotation indicated that 68 of the 124 overexpressed genes encode ribosomal proteins. A deletion harboring six genes on chromosome 5H cosegregates with bcd1-specified cell death and is associated with misprocessing of rRNAs but segregates independent of R gene-mediated resistance. Barley stripe mosaic virus-induced gene silencing of one of the six deleted genes, RRP46 (rRNA-processing protein 46), phenocopied bcd1-mediated tip cell death. These findings suggest that RRP46, a critical component of the exosome core, mediates RNA processing and degradation involved in cell death initiation as a result of attempted penetration by Bgh during the barley-powdery mildew interaction but is independent of gene-for-gene resistance.
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Linear mixed model selection for false discovery rate control in microarray data analysis.
Biometrics
PUBLISHED: 06-12-2009
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In a microarray experiment, one experimental design is used to obtain expression measures for all genes. One popular analysis method involves fitting the same linear mixed model for each gene, obtaining gene-specific p-values for tests of interest involving fixed effects, and then choosing a threshold for significance that is intended to control false discovery rate (FDR) at a desired level. When one or more random factors have zero variance components for some genes, the standard practice of fitting the same full linear mixed model for all genes can result in failure to control FDR. We propose a new method that combines results from the fit of full and selected linear mixed models to identify differentially expressed genes and provide FDR control at target levels when the true underlying random effects structure varies across genes.
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Microarray gene expression profiles of fasting induced changes in liver and adipose tissues of pigs expressing the melanocortin-4 receptor D298N variant.
Physiol. Genomics
PUBLISHED: 04-14-2009
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Transcriptional profiling coupled with blood metabolite analyses were used to identify porcine genes and pathways that respond to a fasting treatment or to a D298N missense mutation in the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene. Gilts (12 homozygous for D298 and 12 homozygous for N298) were either fed ad libitum or fasted for 3 days. Fasting decreased body weight, backfat, and serum urea concentration and increased serum nonesterified fatty acid. In response to fasting, 7,029 genes in fat and 1,831 genes in liver were differentially expressed (DE). MC4R genotype did not significantly affect gene expression, body weight, backfat depth, or any measured serum metabolite concentration. Pathway analyses of fasting-induced DE genes indicated that lipid and steroid synthesis was downregulated in both liver and fat. Fasting increased expression of genes involved in glucose sparing pathways, such as oxidation of amino acids and fatty acids in liver, and in extracellular matrix pathways, such as cell adhesion and adherens junction in fat. Additionally, we identified DE transcription factors (TF) that regulate many DE genes. This confirms the involvement of TF, such as PPARG, SREBF1, and CEBPA, which are known to regulate the fasting response, and implicates additional TF, such as ESR1. Interestingly, ESR1 controls several fasting induced genes in fat that are involved in cell matrix morphogenesis. Our findings indicate a transcriptional response to fasting in two key metabolic tissues of pigs, which was corroborated by changes in blood metabolites, and the involvement of novel putative transcriptional regulators in the immediate adaptive response to fasting.
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Comparative gene expression profiles between heterotic and non-heterotic hybrids of tetraploid Medicago sativa.
BMC Plant Biol.
PUBLISHED: 02-25-2009
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Heterosis, the superior performance of hybrids relative to parents, has clear agricultural value, but its genetic control is unknown. Our objective was to test the hypotheses that hybrids expressing heterosis for biomass yield would show more gene expression levels that were different from midparental values and outside the range of parental values than hybrids that do not exhibit heterosis.
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Sequence mining and transcript profiling to explore cyst nematode parasitism.
BMC Genomics
PUBLISHED: 01-30-2009
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Cyst nematodes are devastating plant parasites that become sedentary within plant roots and induce the transformation of normal plant cells into elaborate feeding cells with the help of secreted effectors, the parasitism proteins. These proteins are the translation products of parasitism genes and are secreted molecular tools that allow cyst nematodes to infect plants.
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Microdissection of shoot meristem functional domains.
PLoS Genet.
PUBLISHED: 01-22-2009
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The shoot apical meristem (SAM) maintains a pool of indeterminate cells within the SAM proper, while lateral organs are initiated from the SAM periphery. Laser microdissection-microarray technology was used to compare transcriptional profiles within these SAM domains to identify novel maize genes that function during leaf development. Nine hundred and sixty-two differentially expressed maize genes were detected; control genes known to be upregulated in the initiating leaf (P0/P1) or in the SAM proper verified the precision of the microdissections. Genes involved in cell division/growth, cell wall biosynthesis, chromatin remodeling, RNA binding, and translation are especially upregulated in initiating leaves, whereas genes functioning during protein fate and DNA repair are more abundant in the SAM proper. In situ hybridization analyses confirmed the expression patterns of six previously uncharacterized maize genes upregulated in the P0/P1. P0/P1-upregulated genes that were also shown to be downregulated in leaf-arrested shoots treated with an auxin transport inhibitor are especially implicated to function during early events in maize leaf initiation. Reverse genetic analyses of asceapen1 (asc1), a maize D4-cyclin gene upregulated in the P0/P1, revealed novel leaf phenotypes, less genetic redundancy, and expanded D4-CYCLIN function during maize shoot development as compared to Arabidopsis. These analyses generated a unique SAM domain-specific database that provides new insight into SAM function and a useful platform for reverse genetic analyses of shoot development in maize.
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Identification of the novel protein QQS as a component of the starch metabolic network in Arabidopsis leaves.
Plant J.
PUBLISHED: 01-22-2009
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Little is known about the role of proteins that lack primary sequence homology with any known motifs (proteins with unknown functions, PUFs); these comprise more than 10% of all proteins. This paper offers a generalized experimental strategy for identifying the functions of such proteins, particularly in relation to metabolism. Using this strategy, we have identified a novel regulatory function for Arabidopsis locus At3g30720 (which we term QQS for qua-quine starch). QQS expression, revealed through global mRNA profiling, is up-regulated in an Arabidopsis Atss3 mutant that lacks starch synthase III and has increased leaf starch content. Analysis of public microarray data using MetaOmGraph (metnetdb.org), in combination with transgenic Arabidopsis lines containing QQS promoter-GUS transgenes, indicated that QQS expression responds to a variety of developmental/genetic/environmental perturbations. In addition to the increase in the Atss3 mutant, QQS is up-regulated in the carbohydrate mutants mex1 and sis8. A 586 nt sequence for the QQS mRNA was identified by 5 and 3 RACE experiments. The QQS transcript is predicted to encode a protein of 59 amino acids, whose expression was confirmed by immunological Western blot analysis. The QQS gene is recognizable in sequenced Arabidopsis ecotypes, but is not identifiable in any other sequenced species, including the closely related Brassica napus. Transgenic RNA interference lines in which QQS expression is reduced show excess leaf starch content at the end of the illumination phase of a diurnal cycle. Taken together, the data identify QQS as a potential novel regulator of starch biosynthesis.
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Mucosal gene expression profiles following the colonization of immunocompetent defined-flora C3H mice with Helicobacter bilis: a prelude to typhlocolitis.
Microbes Infect.
PUBLISHED: 01-14-2009
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An aberrant immune response to the commensal microbiota is widely hypothesized to contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease. Helicobacter bilis colonization of defined-flora mice has been shown to trigger host immune responses to the commensal flora. However, the magnitude of the effects on mucosal homeostasis following colonization with H. bilis has not been determined. Using microarray analysis, differential gene expression within the cecal mucosa was assessed at 15, 30, or 45 days following H. bilis colonization using Affymetrix Genechips. H. bilis colonization induced marked upregulation of genes associated with protein metabolism, immune responses, and downregulation of genes associated with fatty acid metabolism and detoxification which peaked at 15 days postinfection. A set of genes associated with glycoprotein synthesis and detoxification including Fut2, B3galt5, Ceacam12, Cyp4b1, and Ugt8a were uniquely identified and found to be similarly expressed following the induction of typhlocolitis by dextran sodium sulfate or Brachyspira hyodysenteriae. This study provides preliminary evidence as to the types of factors or changes in the intestinal mucosa that potentially predispose the host to the development of typhlocolitis.
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Detecting differential expression in RNA-sequence data using quasi-likelihood with shrunken dispersion estimates.
Stat Appl Genet Mol Biol
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Next generation sequencing technology provides a powerful tool for measuring gene expression (mRNA) levels in the form of RNA-sequence data. Method development for identifying differentially expressed (DE) genes from RNA-seq data, which frequently includes many low-count integers and can exhibit severe overdispersion relative to Poisson or binomial distributions, is a popular area of ongoing research. Here we present quasi-likelihood methods with shrunken dispersion estimates based on an adaptation of Smyths (2004) approach to estimating gene-specific error variances for microarray data. Our suggested methods are computationally simple, analogous to ANOVA and compare favorably versus competing methods in detecting DE genes and estimating false discovery rates across a variety of simulations based on real data.
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Complementation contributes to transcriptome complexity in maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids relative to their inbred parents.
Genome Res.
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Typically, F(1)-hybrids are more vigorous than their homozygous, genetically distinct parents, a phenomenon known as heterosis. In the present study, the transcriptomes of the reciprocal maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids B73×Mo17 and Mo17×B73 and their parental inbred lines B73 and Mo17 were surveyed in primary roots, early in the developmental manifestation of heterotic root traits. The application of statistical methods and a suitable experimental design established that 34,233 (i.e., 86%) of all high-confidence maize genes were expressed in at least one genotype. Nearly 70% of all expressed genes were differentially expressed between the two parents and 42%-55% of expressed genes were differentially expressed between one of the parents and one of the hybrids. In both hybrids, ?10% of expressed genes exhibited nonadditive gene expression. Consistent with the dominance model (i.e., complementation) for heterosis, 1124 genes that were expressed in the hybrids were expressed in only one of the two parents. For 65 genes, it could be shown that this was a consequence of complementation of genomic presence/absence variation. For dozens of other genes, alleles from the inactive inbred were activated in the hybrid, presumably via interactions with regulatory factors from the active inbred. As a consequence of these types of complementation, both hybrids expressed more genes than did either parental inbred. Finally, in hybrids, ?14% of expressed genes exhibited allele-specific expression (ASE) levels that differed significantly from the parental-inbred expression ratios, providing further evidence for interactions of regulatory factors from one parental genome with target genes from the other parental genome.
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Reverse engineering and analysis of large genome-scale gene networks.
Nucleic Acids Res.
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Reverse engineering the whole-genome networks of complex multicellular organisms continues to remain a challenge. While simpler models easily scale to large number of genes and gene expression datasets, more accurate models are compute intensive limiting their scale of applicability. To enable fast and accurate reconstruction of large networks, we developed Tool for Inferring Network of Genes (TINGe), a parallel mutual information (MI)-based program. The novel features of our approach include: (i) B-spline-based formulation for linear-time computation of MI, (ii) a novel algorithm for direct permutation testing and (iii) development of parallel algorithms to reduce run-time and facilitate construction of large networks. We assess the quality of our method by comparison with ARACNe (Algorithm for the Reconstruction of Accurate Cellular Networks) and GeneNet and demonstrate its unique capability by reverse engineering the whole-genome network of Arabidopsis thaliana from 3137 Affymetrix ATH1 GeneChips in just 9 min on a 1024-core cluster. We further report on the development of a new software Gene Network Analyzer (GeNA) for extracting context-specific subnetworks from a given set of seed genes. Using TINGe and GeNA, we performed analysis of 241 Arabidopsis AraCyc 8.0 pathways, and the results are made available through the web.
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A hierarchical semiparametric model for incorporating intergene information for analysis of genomic data.
Biometrics
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For analysis of genomic data, e.g., microarray data from gene expression profiling experiments, the two-component mixture model has been widely used in practice to detect differentially expressed genes. However, it naïvely imposes strong exchangeability assumptions across genes and does not make active use of a priori information about intergene relationships that is currently available, e.g., gene annotations through the Gene Ontology (GO) project. We propose a general strategy that first generates a set of covariates that summarizes the intergene information and then extends the two-component mixture model into a hierarchical semiparametric model utilizing the generated covariates through latent nonparametric regression. Simulations and analysis of real microarray data show that our method can outperform the naïve two-component mixture model.
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Ontogeny of the maize shoot apical meristem.
Plant Cell
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The maize (Zea mays) shoot apical meristem (SAM) arises early in embryogenesis and functions during stem cell maintenance and organogenesis to generate all the aboveground organs of the plant. Despite its integral role in maize shoot development, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of SAM initiation. Laser microdissection of apical domains from developing maize embryos and seedlings was combined with RNA sequencing for transcriptomic analyses of SAM ontogeny. Molecular markers of key events during maize embryogenesis are described, and comprehensive transcriptional data from six stages in maize shoot development are generated. Transcriptomic profiling before and after SAM initiation indicates that organogenesis precedes stem cell maintenance in maize; analyses of the first three lateral organs elaborated from maize embryos provides insight into their homology and to the identity of the single maize cotyledon. Compared with the newly initiated SAM, the mature SAM is enriched for transcripts that function in transcriptional regulation, hormonal signaling, and transport. Comparisons of shoot meristems initiating juvenile leaves, adult leaves, and husk leaves illustrate differences in phase-specific (juvenile versus adult) and meristem-specific (SAM versus lateral meristem) transcript accumulation during maize shoot development. This study provides insight into the molecular genetics of SAM initiation and function in maize.
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Proteomics-based, multivariate random forest method for prediction of protein separation behavior during cation-exchange chromatography.
J Chromatogr A
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The most significant cost of recombinant protein production lies in the optimization of the downstream purification methods, mainly due to a lack of knowledge of the separation behavior of the host cell proteins (HCP). To reduce the effort required for purification process development, this work was aimed at modeling the separation behavior of a complex mixture of proteins in cation-exchange chromatography (CEX). With the emergence of molecular pharming as a viable option for the production of recombinant pharmaceutical proteins, the HCP mixture chosen was an extract of corn germ. Aqueous two phase system (ATPS) partitioning followed by two-dimensional electrophoresis (2DE) provided data on isoelectric point, molecular weight and surface hydrophobicity of the extract and step-elution fractions. A multivariate random forest (MVRF) method was then developed using the three characterization variables to predict the elution pattern of individual corn HCP. The MVRF method achieved an average root mean squared error (RMSE) value of 0.0406 (fraction of protein eluted in each CEX elution step) for all the proteins that were characterized, providing evidence for the effectiveness of both the characterization method and the analysis approach for protein purification applications.
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Changes in genome content generated via segregation of non-allelic homologs.
Plant J.
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A careful analysis of two maize recombinant inbred lines (RILs) relative to their inbred parents revealed the presence of several hundred apparently de novo copy number variants (CNVs). These changes in genome content were validated via both PCR and whole exome-array capture-and-sequencing experiments. One hundred and eighty-five genomic regions, which overlap with 38 high-confidence genes, exhibited apparently de novo copy number variation (CNV) in these two RILs and in many instances the same apparently de novo CNV events were observed in multiple RILs. Further analyses revealed that these recurrent apparently de novo CNVs were caused by segregation of single-copy homologous sequences that are located in non-allelic positions in the two parental inbred lines. F(1) individuals derived from these inbred lines will be hemizygous for each of these non-allelic homologs but RIL genotypes will contain these sequences at zero, one or two genomic loci. Hence, the segregation of non-allelic homologs may contribute to transgressive segregation. Indeed, statistical associations between phenotypic quantitative trait loci and genomic losses were observed for two of 14 tested pairs of non-allelic homologs.
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Borrowing information across genes and experiments for improved error variance estimation in microarray data analysis.
Stat Appl Genet Mol Biol
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Statistical inference for microarray experiments usually involves the estimation of error variance for each gene. Because the sample size available for each gene is often low, the usual unbiased estimator of the error variance can be unreliable. Shrinkage methods, including empirical Bayes approaches that borrow information across genes to produce more stable estimates, have been developed in recent years. Because the same microarray platform is often used for at least several experiments to study similar biological systems, there is an opportunity to improve variance estimation further by borrowing information not only across genes but also across experiments. We propose a lognormal model for error variances that involves random gene effects and random experiment effects. Based on the model, we develop an empirical Bayes estimator of the error variance for each combination of gene and experiment and call this estimator BAGE because information is Borrowed Across Genes and Experiments. A permutation strategy is used to make inference about the differential expression status of each gene. Simulation studies with data generated from different probability models and real microarray data show that our method outperforms existing approaches.
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Gene mapping via bulked segregant RNA-Seq (BSR-Seq).
PLoS ONE
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Bulked segregant analysis (BSA) is an efficient method to rapidly and efficiently map genes responsible for mutant phenotypes. BSA requires access to quantitative genetic markers that are polymorphic in the mapping population. We have developed a modification of BSA (BSR-Seq) that makes use of RNA-Seq reads to efficiently map genes even in populations for which no polymorphic markers have been previously identified. Because of the digital nature of next-generation sequencing (NGS) data, it is possible to conduct de novo SNP discovery and quantitatively genotype BSA samples by analyzing the same RNA-Seq data using an empirical Bayesian approach. In addition, analysis of the RNA-Seq data provides information on the effects of the mutant on global patterns of gene expression at no extra cost. In combination these results greatly simplify gene cloning experiments. To demonstrate the utility of this strategy BSR-Seq was used to clone the glossy3 (gl3) gene of maize. Mutants of the glossy loci exhibit altered accumulation of epicuticular waxes on juvenile leaves. By subjecting the reference allele of gl3 to BSR-Seq, we were able to map the gl3 locus to an ? 2 Mb interval. The single gene located in the ? 2 Mb mapping interval whose expression was down-regulated in the mutant pool was subsequently demonstrated to be the gl3 gene via the analysis of multiple independent transposon induced mutant alleles. The gl3 gene encodes a putative myb transcription factor, which directly or indirectly affects the expression of a number of genes involved in the biosynthesis of very-long-chain fatty acids.
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Improved estimation of the noncentrality parameter distribution from a large number of t-statistics, with applications to false discovery rate estimation in microarray data analysis.
Biometrics
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Given a large number of t-statistics, we consider the problem of approximating the distribution of noncentrality parameters (NCPs) by a continuous density. This problem is closely related to the control of false discovery rates (FDR) in massive hypothesis testing applications, e.g., microarray gene expression analysis. Our methodology is similar to, but improves upon, the existing approach by Ruppert, Nettleton, and Hwang (2007, Biometrics, 63, 483-495). We provide parametric, nonparametric, and semiparametric estimators for the distribution of NCPs, as well as estimates of the FDR and local FDR. In the parametric situation, we assume that the NCPs follow a distribution that leads to an analytically available marginal distribution for the test statistics. In the nonparametric situation, we use convex combinations of basis density functions to estimate the density of the NCPs. A sequential quadratic programming procedure is developed to maximize the penalized likelihood. The smoothing parameter is selected with the approximate network information criterion. A semiparametric estimator is also developed to combine both parametric and nonparametric fits. Simulations show that, under a variety of situations, our density estimates are closer to the underlying truth and our FDR estimates are improved compared with alternative methods. Data-based simulations and the analyses of two microarray datasets are used to evaluate the performance in realistic situations.
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The Arabidopsis microRNA396-GRF1/GRF3 regulatory module acts as a developmental regulator in the reprogramming of root cells during cyst nematode infection.
Plant Physiol.
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The syncytium is a unique plant root organ whose differentiation is induced by plant-parasitic cyst nematodes to create a source of nourishment. Syncytium formation involves the redifferentiation and fusion of hundreds of root cells. The underlying regulatory networks that control this unique change of plant cell fate are not understood. Here, we report that a strong down-regulation of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) microRNA396 (miR396) in cells giving rise to the syncytium coincides with the initiation of the syncytial induction/formation phase and that specific miR396 up-regulation in the developed syncytium marks the beginning of the maintenance phase, when no new cells are incorporated into the syncytium. In addition, our results show that miR396 in fact has a role in the transition from one phase to the other. Expression modulations of miR396 and its Growth-Regulating Factor (GRF) target genes resulted in reduced syncytium size and arrested nematode development. Furthermore, genome-wide expression profiling revealed that the miR396-GRF regulatory system can alter the expression of 44% of the more than 7,000 genes reported to change expression in the Arabidopsis syncytium. Thus, miR396 represents a key regulator for the reprogramming of root cells. As such, this regulatory unit represents a powerful molecular target for the parasitic animal to modulate plant cells and force them into novel developmental pathways.
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The maize brown midrib2 (bm2) gene encodes a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase that contributes to lignin accumulation.
Plant J.
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The midribs of maize brown-midrib (bm) mutants exhibit a reddish-brown color associated with reductions in lignin concentration and alterations in lignin composition. Here, we report the mapping, cloning, and functional and biochemical analyses of the bm2 gene. The bm2 gene was mapped to a small region of chromosome 1 that contains a putative methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which is down-regulated in bm2 mutant plants. Analyses of multiple Mu-induced bm2-Mu mutant alleles confirmed that this constitutively expressed gene is bm2. Yeast complementation experiments and a previously published biochemical characterization demonstrate that the bm2 gene encodes a functional MTHFR. qRT-PCR analyses demonstrated that the bm2 mutants accumulate substantially reduced levels of bm2 transcript. Alteration of MTHFR function is expected to influence the accumulation of the methyl donor, S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM). Because SAM is consumed by two methyltransferases in the lignin pathway (Ye et al., 1994), the finding that bm2 encodes a functional MTHFR is consistent with its lignin phenotype. Consistent with this functional assignment of bm2, the expression patterns of genes in a variety of SAM-dependent or -related pathways, including lignin biosynthesis, are altered in the bm2 mutant. Biochemical assays confirmed that bm2 mutants, as compared to wild-type, accumulate reduced levels of lignin with altered composition. Hence, this study demonstrates a role for MTHFR in lignin biosynthesis. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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