Plants exhibit a robust transcriptional response to gamma radiation which includes the induction of transcripts required for homologous recombination and the suppression of transcripts that promote cell cycle progression. Various DNA damaging agents induce different spectra of DNA damage as well as "collateral" damage to other cellular components and therefore are not expected to provoke identical responses by the cell. Here we study the effects of two different types of ionizing radiation (IR) treatment, HZE (1 GeV Fe(26+) high mass, high charge, and high energy relativistic particles) and gamma photons, on the transcriptome of Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Both types of IR induce small clusters of radicals that can result in the formation of double strand breaks (DSBs), but HZE also produces linear arrays of extremely clustered damage. We performed these experiments across a range of time points (1.5-24 h after irradiation) in both wild-type plants and in mutants defective in the DSB-sensing protein kinase ATM. The two types of IR exhibit a shared double strand break-repair-related damage response, although they differ slightly in the timing, degree, and ATM-dependence of the response. The ATM-dependent, DNA metabolism-related transcripts of the "DSB response" were also induced by other DNA damaging agents, but were not induced by conventional stresses. Both Gamma and HZE irradiation induced, at 24 h post-irradiation, ATM-dependent transcripts associated with a variety of conventional stresses; these were overrepresented for pathogen response, rather than DNA metabolism. In contrast, only HZE-irradiated plants, at 1.5 h after irradiation, exhibited an additional and very extensive transcriptional response, shared with plants experiencing "extended night." This response was not apparent in gamma-irradiated plants.
One of the great advantages of next generation sequencing is the ability to generate large genomic datasets for virtually all species, including non-model organisms. It should be possible, in turn, to apply advanced computational approaches to these datasets to develop models of biological processes. In a practical sense, working with non-model organisms presents unique challenges. In this paper we discuss some of these challenges for ChIP-seq and RNA-seq experiments using the undomesticated tree species of the genus Populus.
Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes (TILLING) provides a nontransgenic method for reverse genetics that is widely applicable, even in species where other functional resources are missing or expensive to build. The efficiency of TILLING, however, is greatly facilitated by high mutation density. Species vary in the number of mutations induced by comparable mutagenic treatments, suggesting that genetic background may affect the response. Allopolyploid species have often yielded higher mutation density than diploids. To examine the effect of ploidy, we autotetraploidized the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) ecotype Columbia, whose diploid has been used for TILLING extensively, and mutagenized it with 50 mm ethylmethane sulfonate. While the same treatment sterilized diploid Columbia, the tetraploid M1 plants produced good seed. To determine the mutation density, we searched 528 individuals for induced mutations in 15 genes for which few or no knockout alleles were previously available. We constructed tridimensional pools from the genomic DNA of M2 plants, amplified target DNA, and subjected them to Illumina sequencing. The results were analyzed with an improved version of the mutation detection software CAMBa that accepts any pooling scheme. This small population provided a rich resource with approximately 25 mutations per queried 1.5-kb fragment, including on average four severe missense and 1.3 truncation mutations. The overall mutation density of 19.4 mutations Mb(-1) is 4 times that achieved in the corresponding diploid accession, indicating that genomic redundancy engenders tolerance to high mutation density. Polyploidization of diploids will allow the production of small populations, such as less than 2,000, that provide allelic series from knockout to mild loss of function for virtually all genes.
TILLING (Targeting induced local lesions IN genomes) is an efficient reverse genetics approach for detecting induced mutations in pools of individuals. Combined with the high-throughput of next-generation sequencing technologies, and the resolving power of overlapping pool design, TILLING provides an efficient and economical platform for functional genomics across thousands of organisms.
Discovery of rare mutations in populations requires methods, such as TILLING (for Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes), for processing and analyzing many individuals in parallel. Previous TILLING protocols employed enzymatic or physical discrimination of heteroduplexed from homoduplexed target DNA. Using mutant populations of rice (Oryza sativa) and wheat (Triticum durum), we developed a method based on Illumina sequencing of target genes amplified from multidimensionally pooled templates representing 768 individuals per experiment. Parallel processing of sequencing libraries was aided by unique tracer sequences and barcodes allowing flexibility in the number and pooling arrangement of targeted genes, species, and pooling scheme. Sequencing reads were processed and aligned to the reference to identify possible single-nucleotide changes, which were then evaluated for frequency, sequencing quality, intersection pattern in pools, and statistical relevance to produce a Bayesian score with an associated confidence threshold. Discovery was robust both in rice and wheat using either bidimensional or tridimensional pooling schemes. The method compared favorably with other molecular and computational approaches, providing high sensitivity and specificity.
Differential expression of maternally and paternally inherited alleles of a gene is referred to as gene imprinting, a form of epigenetic gene regulation common to flowering plants and mammals. In plants, imprinting primarily occurs in the endosperm, a seed tissue that supports the embryo during its growth and development. Previously, we demonstrated that widespread DNA demethylation at remnants of transposable elements accompanies endosperm development and that a subset of these methylation changes are associated with gene imprinting. Here we assay imprinted gene expression genome-wide by performing high-throughput sequencing of RNA derived from seeds of reciprocal intraspecific crosses. We identify more than 200 loci that exhibit parent-of-origin effects on gene expression in the endosperm, including a large number of transcription factors, hormone biosynthesis and response genes, and genes that encode regulators of epigenetic information, such as methylcytosine binding proteins, histone methyltransferases, and chromatin remodelers. The majority of these genes are partially, rather than completely, imprinted, suggesting that gene dosage regulation is an important aspect of imprinted gene expression.
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