Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
COVID-19 and Genetic Variants of Protein Involved in the SARS-CoV-2 Entry into the Host Cells
Genes 2020, 11(9), 1010; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11091010 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 32
Abstract
The recent global COVID-19 public health emergency is caused by SARS-CoV-2 infections and can manifest extremely variable clinical symptoms. Host human genetic variability could influence susceptibility and response to infection. It is known that ACE2 acts as a receptor for this pathogen, but [...] Read more.
The recent global COVID-19 public health emergency is caused by SARS-CoV-2 infections and can manifest extremely variable clinical symptoms. Host human genetic variability could influence susceptibility and response to infection. It is known that ACE2 acts as a receptor for this pathogen, but the viral entry into the target cell also depends on other proteins. The aim of this study was to investigate the variability of genes coding for these proteins involved in the SARS-CoV-2 entry into the cells. We analyzed 131 COVID-19 patients by exome sequencing and examined the genetic variants of TMPRSS2, PCSK3, DPP4, and BSG genes. In total we identified seventeen variants. In PCSK3 gene, we observed a missense variant (c.893G>A) statistically more frequent compared to the EUR GnomAD reference population and a missense mutation (c.1906A>G) not found in the GnomAD database. In TMPRSS2 gene, we observed a significant difference in the frequency of c.331G>A, c.23G>T, and c.589G>A variant alleles in COVID-19 patients, compared to the corresponding allelic frequency in GnomAD. Genetic variants in these genes could influence the entry of the SARS-CoV-2. These data also support the hypothesis that host genetic variability may contribute to the variability in infection susceptibility and severity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Host Genetics in Susceptibility to Infectious Diseases)
Communication
Prediction and Analysis of SARS-CoV-2-Targeting MicroRNA in Human Lung Epithelium
Genes 2020, 11(9), 1002; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11091002 - 26 Aug 2020
Cited by 19
Abstract
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), an RNA virus, is responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020. Experimental evidence suggests that microRNA can mediate an intracellular defence mechanism against some RNA viruses. The purpose of this study was to [...] Read more.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), an RNA virus, is responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020. Experimental evidence suggests that microRNA can mediate an intracellular defence mechanism against some RNA viruses. The purpose of this study was to identify microRNA with predicted binding sites in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, compare these to their microRNA expression profiles in lung epithelial tissue and make inference towards possible roles for microRNA in mitigating coronavirus infection. We hypothesize that high expression of specific coronavirus-targeting microRNA in lung epithelia may protect against infection and viral propagation, conversely, low expression may confer susceptibility to infection. We have identified 128 human microRNA with potential to target the SARS-CoV-2 genome, most of which have very low expression in lung epithelia. Six of these 128 microRNA are differentially expressed upon in vitro infection of SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, 28 microRNA also target the SARS-CoV genome while 23 microRNA target the MERS-CoV genome. We also found that a number of microRNA are commonly identified in two other studies. Further research into identifying bona fide coronavirus targeting microRNA will be useful in understanding the importance of microRNA as a cellular defence mechanism against pathogenic coronavirus infections. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Protein Coding and Long Noncoding RNA (lncRNA) Transcriptional Landscape in SARS-CoV-2 Infected Bronchial Epithelial Cells Highlight a Role for Interferon and Inflammatory Response
Genes 2020, 11(7), 760; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11070760 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 33
Abstract
The global spread of COVID-19, caused by pathogenic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) underscores the need for an imminent response from medical research communities to better understand this rapidly spreading infection. Employing multiple bioinformatics and computational pipelines on transcriptome data from [...] Read more.
The global spread of COVID-19, caused by pathogenic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) underscores the need for an imminent response from medical research communities to better understand this rapidly spreading infection. Employing multiple bioinformatics and computational pipelines on transcriptome data from primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) during SARS-CoV-2 infection revealed activation of several mechanistic networks, including those involved in immunoglobulin G (IgG) and interferon lambda (IFNL) in host cells. Induction of acute inflammatory response and activation of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) was prominent in SARS-CoV-2 infected NHBE cells. Additionally, disease and functional analysis employing ingenuity pathway analysis (IPA) revealed activation of functional categories related to cell death, while those associated with viral infection and replication were suppressed. Several interferon (IFN) responsive gene targets (IRF9, IFIT1, IFIT2, IFIT3, IFITM1, MX1, OAS2, OAS3, IFI44 and IFI44L) were highly upregulated in SARS-CoV-2 infected NBHE cell, implying activation of antiviral IFN innate response. Gene ontology and functional annotation of differently expressed genes in patient lung tissues with COVID-19 revealed activation of antiviral response as the hallmark. Mechanistic network analysis in IPA identified 14 common activated, and 9 common suppressed networks in patient tissue, as well as in the NHBE cell model, suggesting a plausible role for these upstream regulator networks in the pathogenesis of COVID-19. Our data revealed expression of several viral proteins in vitro and in patient-derived tissue, while several host-derived long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) were identified. Our data highlights activation of IFN response as the main hallmark associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro and in human, and identified several differentially expressed lncRNAs during the course of infection, which could serve as disease biomarkers, while their precise role in the host response to SARS-CoV-2 remains to be investigated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genomics of Host-Pathogen Interactions)
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Article
Mutation Patterns of Human SARS-CoV-2 and Bat RaTG13 Coronavirus Genomes Are Strongly Biased Towards C>U Transitions, Indicating Rapid Evolution in Their Hosts
Genes 2020, 11(7), 761; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11070761 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 40
Abstract
The pandemic caused by the spread of SARS-CoV-2 has led to considerable interest in its evolutionary origin and genome structure. Here, we analyzed mutation patterns in 34 human SARS-CoV-2 isolates and a closely related RaTG13 isolated from Rhinolophus affinis (a horseshoe bat). We [...] Read more.
The pandemic caused by the spread of SARS-CoV-2 has led to considerable interest in its evolutionary origin and genome structure. Here, we analyzed mutation patterns in 34 human SARS-CoV-2 isolates and a closely related RaTG13 isolated from Rhinolophus affinis (a horseshoe bat). We also evaluated the CpG dinucleotide contents in SARS-CoV-2 and other human and animal coronavirus genomes. Out of 1136 single nucleotide variations (~4% divergence) between human SARS-CoV-2 and bat RaTG13, 682 (60%) can be attributed to C>U and U>C substitutions, far exceeding other types of substitutions. An accumulation of C>U mutations was also observed in SARS-CoV2 variants that arose within the human population. Globally, the C>U substitutions increased the frequency of codons for hydrophobic amino acids in SARS-CoV-2 peptides, while U>C substitutions decreased it. In contrast to most other coronaviruses, both SARS-CoV-2 and RaTG13 exhibited CpG depletion in their genomes. The data suggest that C-to-U conversion mediated by C deamination played a significant role in the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. We hypothesize that the high frequency C>U transitions reflect virus adaptation processes in their hosts, and that SARS-CoV-2 could have been evolving for a relatively long period in humans following the transfer from animals before spreading worldwide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rapid Evolution)
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Communication
Analysis of ACE2 Genetic Variability among Populations Highlights a Possible Link with COVID-19-Related Neurological Complications
Genes 2020, 11(7), 741; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11070741 - 03 Jul 2020
Cited by 24
Abstract
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been recognized as the entry receptor of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2). Structural and sequence variants in ACE2 gene may affect its expression in different tissues and determine a differential response to SARS-Cov-2 infection [...] Read more.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) has been recognized as the entry receptor of the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2). Structural and sequence variants in ACE2 gene may affect its expression in different tissues and determine a differential response to SARS-Cov-2 infection and the COVID-19-related phenotype. The present study investigated the genetic variability of ACE2 in terms of single nucleotide variants (SNVs), copy number variations (CNVs), and expression quantitative loci (eQTLs) in a cohort of 268 individuals representative of the general Italian population. The analysis identified five SNVs (rs35803318, rs41303171, rs774469453, rs773676270, and rs2285666) in the Italian cohort. Of them, rs35803318 and rs2285666 displayed a significant different frequency distribution in the Italian population with respect to worldwide population. The eQTLs analysis located in and targeting ACE2 revealed a high distribution of eQTL variants in different brain tissues, suggesting a possible link between ACE2 genetic variability and the neurological complications in patients with COVID-19. Further research is needed to clarify the possible relationship between ACE2 expression and the susceptibility to neurological complications in patients with COVID-19. In fact, patients at higher risk of neurological involvement may need different monitoring and treatment strategies in order to prevent severe, permanent brain injury. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Molecular Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Rapid Direct Nucleic Acid Amplification Test without RNA Extraction for SARS-CoV-2 Using a Portable PCR Thermocycler
Genes 2020, 11(6), 664; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11060664 - 18 Jun 2020
Cited by 25
Abstract
There is an ongoing worldwide coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). At present, confirmatory diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), typically taking several hours and requiring a molecular laboratory to perform. There [...] Read more.
There is an ongoing worldwide coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). At present, confirmatory diagnosis is by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), typically taking several hours and requiring a molecular laboratory to perform. There is an urgent need for rapid, simplified, and cost-effective detection methods. We have developed and analytically validated a protocol for direct rapid extraction-free PCR (DIRECT-PCR) detection of SARS-CoV-2 without the need for nucleic acid purification. As few as six RNA copies per reaction of viral nucleocapsid (N) gene from respiratory samples such as sputum and nasal exudate can be detected directly using our one-step inhibitor-resistant assay. The performance of this assay was validated on a commercially available portable PCR thermocycler. Viral lysis, reverse transcription, amplification, and detection are achieved in a single-tube homogeneous reaction within 36 min. This minimizes hands-on time, reduces turnaround-time for sample-to-result, and obviates the need for RNA purification reagents. It could enable wider use of Covid-19 testing for diagnosis, screening, and research in countries and regions where laboratory capabilities are limiting. Full article
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Article
Efficient Generation and Correction of Mutations in Human iPS Cells Utilizing mRNAs of CRISPR Base Editors and Prime Editors
Genes 2020, 11(5), 511; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11050511 - 06 May 2020
Cited by 23
Abstract
In contrast to CRISPR/Cas9 nucleases, CRISPR base editors (BE) and prime editors (PE) enable predefined nucleotide exchanges in genomic sequences without generating DNA double strand breaks. Here, we employed BE and PE mRNAs in conjunction with chemically synthesized sgRNAs and pegRNAs for efficient [...] Read more.
In contrast to CRISPR/Cas9 nucleases, CRISPR base editors (BE) and prime editors (PE) enable predefined nucleotide exchanges in genomic sequences without generating DNA double strand breaks. Here, we employed BE and PE mRNAs in conjunction with chemically synthesized sgRNAs and pegRNAs for efficient editing of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). Whereas we were unable to correct a disease-causing mutation in patient derived iPSCs using a CRISPR/Cas9 nuclease approach, we corrected the mutation back to wild type with high efficiency utilizing an adenine BE. We also used adenine and cytosine BEs to introduce nine different cancer associated TP53 mutations into human iPSCs with up to 90% efficiency, generating a panel of cell lines to investigate the biology of these mutations in an isogenic background. Finally, we pioneered the use of prime editing in human iPSCs, opening this important cell type for the precise modification of nucleotides not addressable by BEs and to multiple nucleotide exchanges. These approaches eliminate the necessity of deriving disease specific iPSCs from human donors and allows the comparison of different disease-causing mutations in isogenic genetic backgrounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genes at Ten)
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Article
Inhibition of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Ameliorates Renal Fibrosis by Mitigating DPP-4 Level and Restoring Antifibrotic MicroRNAs
Genes 2020, 11(2), 211; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11020211 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 23
Abstract
Two class of drugs 1) angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEis) and 2) angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are well-known conventional drugs that can retard the progression of chronic nephropathies to end-stage renal disease. However, there is a lack of comparative studies on the effects [...] Read more.
Two class of drugs 1) angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEis) and 2) angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are well-known conventional drugs that can retard the progression of chronic nephropathies to end-stage renal disease. However, there is a lack of comparative studies on the effects of ACEi versus ARB on renal fibrosis. Here, we observed that ACEi ameliorated renal fibrosis by mitigating DPP-4 and TGFβ signaling, whereas, ARB did not show. Moreover, the combination of N-acetyl-seryl-aspartyl-lysyl-proline (AcSDKP), one of the substrates of ACE, with ACEi slightly enhanced the inhibitory effects of ACEi on DPP-4 and associated-TGFβ signaling. Further, the comprehensive miRome analysis in kidneys of ACEi+AcSDKP (combination) treatment revealed the emergence of miR-29s and miR-let-7s as key antifibrotic players. Treatment of cultured cells with ACEi alone or in combination with AcSDKP prevented the downregulated expression of miR-29s and miR-let-7s induced by TGFβ stimulation. Interestingly, ACEi also restored miR-29 and miR-let-7 family cross-talk in endothelial cells, an effect that is shared by AcSDKP suggesting that AcSDKP may be partially involved in the anti-mesenchymal action of ACEi. The results of the present study promise to advance our understanding of how ACEi regulates antifibrotic microRNAs crosstalk and DPP-4 associated-fibrogenic processes which is a critical event in the development of diabetic kidney disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection microRNA Omnibus)
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Article
Circulatory miR-133b and miR-21 as Novel Biomarkers in Early Prediction and Diagnosis of Coronary Artery Disease
Genes 2020, 11(2), 164; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11020164 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 22
Abstract
While coronary artery disease (CAD) has become a major threat worldwide, the timely biomarker-based early diagnosis of CAD remains a major unmet clinical challenge. We aimed towards assessing the level of circulatory microRNAs as candidates of novel biomarkers in patients with CAD. A [...] Read more.
While coronary artery disease (CAD) has become a major threat worldwide, the timely biomarker-based early diagnosis of CAD remains a major unmet clinical challenge. We aimed towards assessing the level of circulatory microRNAs as candidates of novel biomarkers in patients with CAD. A total of 147 subjects were recruited which includes 78 subjects with angiographically proven CAD, 15 pre-atherosclerotic normal coronary artery (NCA) subjects and 54 healthy individuals. Quantitative real-time PCR assays were performed. MiR-133b was downregulated by 4.6 fold (p < 0.0001) whereas miR-21 was upregulated by ~2 fold (p < 0.0001) in plasma samples of CAD patients. Importantly, both the miRNAs showed association with disease severity as miR-133b was downregulated by 8.45 fold in acute coronary syndrome (ACS), 3.38 fold in Stable angina (SA) and 2.08 fold in NCA. MiR-21 was upregulated by 2.46 fold in ACS, 1.90 fold in SA and 1.12 fold in NCA. Moreover, miR-133b could significantly differentiate subjects with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) from Non-STEMI. Area under the curve (AUC) for miR-133b was 0.80 with >75.6% sensitivity and specificity, AUC for miR-21 was 0.79 with >69.4% sensitivity and specificity. Our results suggest that miR-133b and miR-21 could be possible candidates of novel biomarkers in early prediction of CAD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection microRNA Omnibus)
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Article
Genomics in Bacterial Taxonomy: Impact on the Genus Pseudomonas
Genes 2020, 11(2), 139; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11020139 - 29 Jan 2020
Cited by 41
Abstract
The introduction of genomics is profoundly changing current bacterial taxonomy. Phylogenomics provides accurate methods for delineating species and allows us to infer the phylogeny of higher taxonomic ranks as well as those at the subspecies level. We present as a model the currently [...] Read more.
The introduction of genomics is profoundly changing current bacterial taxonomy. Phylogenomics provides accurate methods for delineating species and allows us to infer the phylogeny of higher taxonomic ranks as well as those at the subspecies level. We present as a model the currently accepted taxonomy of the genus Pseudomonas and how it can be modified when new taxonomic methodologies are applied. A phylogeny of the species in the genus deduced from analyses of gene sequences or by whole genome comparison with different algorithms allows three main conclusions: (i) several named species are synonymous and have to be reorganized in a single genomic species; (ii) many strains assigned to known species have to be proposed as new genomic species within the genus; and (iii) the main phylogenetic groups defined by 4-, 100- and 120-gene multilocus sequence analyses are concordant with the groupings in the whole genome analyses. Moreover, the boundaries of the genus Pseudomonas are also discussed based on phylogenomic analyses in relation to other genera in the family Pseudomonadaceae. The new technologies will result in a substantial increase in the number of species and probably split the current genus into several genera or subgenera, although these classifications have to be supported by a polyphasic taxonomic approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Periodontitis and Tooth Loss Have Negative Systemic Impact on Circulating Progenitor Cell Levels: A Clinical Study
Genes 2019, 10(12), 1022; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10121022 - 07 Dec 2019
Cited by 46
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to investigate the association and impact of periodontitis and tooth loss on a subtype of endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) levels (CD133+/KDR+). Furthermore, the objective was to determine if the periodontal status influenced [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the association and impact of periodontitis and tooth loss on a subtype of endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) levels (CD133+/KDR+). Furthermore, the objective was to determine if the periodontal status influenced CD133+/KDR+ levels. In all, 88 patients with periodontitis and 79 healthy controls (HCs) were enrolled in the study. Enrolled patients were examined and characterized by clinical and blood sample analysis. Spearman’s correlation test was applied in order to assess the interdependence between CD133+/KDR+ levels and all periodontal parameters. In order to estimate a statistically significant trend (p-trend) for ordered CD133++/KDR+ quartiles, the Jonckheere–Terpstra test was applied for all variables. Patients in the periodontitis group presented significantly lower CD133+/KDR+ levels (66.4 (45.5–269.6 cells/µL)) compared to the HC group (76.7 (24.3–313.2 cells/µL), p < 0.001). Lower CD133+/KDR+ levels negatively correlated with C-reactive protein (CRP), with the number of teeth, and with all periodontal parameters (p < 0.001). Moreover, there was a proportional increase in CD133+/KDR+ levels with a progressive increase in number of teeth (p-trend < 0.001), while there was a proportional decrease in CD133+/KDR+ levels with a proportional increase in clinical attachment level (CAL, p-trend = 0.003), probing depth (PD, p-trend = 0.007), and bleeding sites (bleeding on probing (BOP), p-trend < 0.001) as an extent measure of periodontitis. This study demonstrated that patients with periodontitis presented significantly lower CD133+/KDR+ levels compared to HCs. Moreover, all patients presented an increase in the CD133+/KDR+ EPC levels with an extended level of periodontitis and tooth loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cells Application in Clinical Practice: Advances and Challenges)
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Article
Restrictive Cardiomyopathy is Caused by a Novel Homozygous Desmin (DES) Mutation p.Y122H Leading to a Severe Filament Assembly Defect
Genes 2019, 10(11), 918; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10110918 - 11 Nov 2019
Cited by 20
Abstract
Here, we present a small Iranian family, where the index patient received a diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) in combination with atrioventricular (AV) block. Genetic analysis revealed a novel homozygous missense mutation in the DES gene (c.364T > C; p.Y122H), which is absent [...] Read more.
Here, we present a small Iranian family, where the index patient received a diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) in combination with atrioventricular (AV) block. Genetic analysis revealed a novel homozygous missense mutation in the DES gene (c.364T > C; p.Y122H), which is absent in human population databases. The mutation is localized in the highly conserved coil-1 desmin subdomain. In silico, prediction tools indicate a deleterious effect of the desmin (DES) mutation p.Y122H. Consequently, we generated an expression plasmid encoding the mutant and wildtype desmin formed, and analyzed the filament formation in vitro in cardiomyocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells and HT-1080 cells. Confocal microscopy revealed a severe filament assembly defect of mutant desmin supporting the pathogenicity of the DES mutation, p.Y122H, whereas the wildtype desmin formed regular intermediate filaments. According to the guidelines of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, we classified this mutation, therefore, as a novel pathogenic mutation. Our report could point to a recessive inheritance of the DES mutation, p.Y122H, which is important for the genetic counseling of similar families with restrictive cardiomyopathy caused by DES mutations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Article
Comparative Study of Gut Microbiota in Wild and Captive Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
Genes 2019, 10(10), 827; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10100827 - 20 Oct 2019
Cited by 25
Abstract
Captive breeding has been used as an effective approach to protecting endangered animals but its effect on the gut microbiome and the conservation status of these species is largely unknown. The giant panda is a flagship species for the conservation of wildlife. With [...] Read more.
Captive breeding has been used as an effective approach to protecting endangered animals but its effect on the gut microbiome and the conservation status of these species is largely unknown. The giant panda is a flagship species for the conservation of wildlife. With integrated efforts including captive breeding, this species has been recently upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” (IUCN 2016). Since a large proportion (21.8%) of their global population is still captive, it is critical to understand how captivity changes the gut microbiome of these pandas and how such alterations to the microbiome might affect their future fitness and potential impact on the ecosystem after release into the wild. Here, we use 16S rRNA (ribosomal RNA) marker gene sequencing and shotgun metagenomics sequencing to demonstrate that the fecal microbiomes differ substantially between wild and captive giant pandas. Fecal microbiome diversity was significantly lower in captive pandas, as was the diversity of functional genes. Additionally, captive pandas have reduced functional potential for cellulose degradation but enriched metabolic pathways for starch metabolism, indicating that they may not adapt to a wild diet after being released into the wild since a major component of their diet in the wild will be bamboo. Most significantly, we observed a significantly higher level of amylase activity but a lower level of cellulase activity in captive giant panda feces than those of wild giant pandas, shown by an in vitro experimental assay. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance genes and virulence factors, as well as heavy metal tolerance genes were enriched in the microbiomes of captive pandas, which raises a great concern of spreading these genes to other wild animals and ecosystems when they are released into a wild environment. Our results clearly show that captivity has altered the giant panda microbiome, which could have unintended negative consequences on their adaptability and the ecosystem during the reintroduction of giant pandas into the wild. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
i6mA-DNCP: Computational Identification of DNA N6-Methyladenine Sites in the Rice Genome Using Optimized Dinucleotide-Based Features
Genes 2019, 10(10), 828; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10100828 - 20 Oct 2019
Cited by 18
Abstract
DNA N6-methyladenine (6mA) plays an important role in regulating the gene expression of eukaryotes. Accurate identification of 6mA sites may assist in understanding genomic 6mA distributions and biological functions. Various experimental methods have been applied to detect 6mA sites in a [...] Read more.
DNA N6-methyladenine (6mA) plays an important role in regulating the gene expression of eukaryotes. Accurate identification of 6mA sites may assist in understanding genomic 6mA distributions and biological functions. Various experimental methods have been applied to detect 6mA sites in a genome-wide scope, but they are too time-consuming and expensive. Developing computational methods to rapidly identify 6mA sites is needed. In this paper, a new machine learning-based method, i6mA-DNCP, was proposed for identifying 6mA sites in the rice genome. Dinucleotide composition and dinucleotide-based DNA properties were first employed to represent DNA sequences. After a specially designed DNA property selection process, a bagging classifier was used to build the prediction model. The jackknife test on a benchmark dataset demonstrated that i6mA-DNCP could obtain 84.43% sensitivity, 88.86% specificity, 86.65% accuracy, a 0.734 Matthew’s correlation coefficient (MCC), and a 0.926 area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). Moreover, three independent datasets were established to assess the generalization ability of our method. Extensive experiments validated the effectiveness of i6mA-DNCP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Technologies and Resources for Genetics)
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Article
Comparative Analysis of Fecal Microbiota Composition Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis Patients
Genes 2019, 10(10), 748; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10100748 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 18
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate differences between the gut microbiota composition in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and those with osteoarthritis (OA). Stool samples from nine RA patients and nine OA patients were collected, and DNA was extracted. The gut [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate differences between the gut microbiota composition in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and those with osteoarthritis (OA). Stool samples from nine RA patients and nine OA patients were collected, and DNA was extracted. The gut microbiome was assessed using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The structures and differences in the gut microbiome between RA and OA were analyzed. The analysis of diversity revealed no differences in the complexity of samples. The RA group had a lower Bacteroidetes: Firmicutes ratio than did the OA group. Lactobacilli and Prevotella, particularly Prevotella copri, were more abundant in the RA than in the OA group, although these differences were not statistically significant. The relative abundance of Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium was lower in the RA group. At the species level, the abundance of certain bacterial species was significantly lower in the RA group, such as Fusicatenibacter saccharivorans, Dialister invisus, Clostridium leptum, Ruthenibacterium lactatiformans, Anaerotruncus colihominis, Bacteroides faecichinchillae, Harryflintia acetispora, Bacteroides acidifaciens, and Christensenella minuta. The microbial properties of the gut differed between RA and OA patients, and the RA dysbiosis revealed results similar to those of other autoimmune diseases, suggesting that a specific gut microbiota pattern is related to autoimmunity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Two Years of Viral Metagenomics in a Tertiary Diagnostics Unit: Evaluation of the First 105 Cases
Genes 2019, 10(9), 661; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090661 - 29 Aug 2019
Cited by 22
Abstract
Metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) can capture the full spectrum of viral pathogens in a specimen and has the potential to become an all-in-one solution for virus diagnostics. To date, clinical application is still in an early phase and limitations remain. Here, we evaluated [...] Read more.
Metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) can capture the full spectrum of viral pathogens in a specimen and has the potential to become an all-in-one solution for virus diagnostics. To date, clinical application is still in an early phase and limitations remain. Here, we evaluated the impact of viral mNGS for cases analyzed over two years in a tertiary diagnostics unit. High throughput mNGS was performed upon request by the treating clinician in cases where the etiology of infection remained unknown or the initial differential diagnosis was very broad. The results were compared to conventional routine testing regarding outcome and workload. In total, 163 specimens from 105 patients were sequenced. The main sample types were cerebrospinal fluid (34%), blood (33%) and throat swabs (10%). In the majority of the cases, viral encephalitis/meningitis or respiratory infection was suspected. In parallel, conventional virus diagnostic tests were performed (mean 18.5 individually probed targets/patients). mNGS detected viruses in 34 cases (32%). While often confirmatory, in multiple cases, the identified viruses were not included in the selected routine diagnostic tests. Two years of mNGS in a tertiary diagnostics unit demonstrated the advantages of a single, untargeted approach for comprehensive, rapid and efficient virus diagnostics, confirming the utility of mNGS in complementing current routine tests. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viral Diagnostics Using Next-Generation Sequencing)
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Article
Tree Lab: Portable Genomics for Early Detection of Plant Viruses and Pests in Sub-Saharan Africa
Genes 2019, 10(9), 632; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090632 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 29
Abstract
In this case study we successfully teamed the PDQeX DNA purification technology developed by MicroGEM, New Zealand, with the MinION and MinIT mobile sequencing devices developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies to produce an effective point-of-need field diagnostic system. The PDQeX extracts DNA using [...] Read more.
In this case study we successfully teamed the PDQeX DNA purification technology developed by MicroGEM, New Zealand, with the MinION and MinIT mobile sequencing devices developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies to produce an effective point-of-need field diagnostic system. The PDQeX extracts DNA using a cocktail of thermophilic proteinases and cell wall-degrading enzymes, thermo-responsive extractor cartridges and a temperature control unit. This closed system delivers purified DNA with no cross-contamination. The MinIT is a newly released data processing unit that converts MinION raw signal output into nucleotide base called data locally in real-time, removing the need for high-specification computers and large file transfers from the field. All three devices are battery powered with an exceptionally small footprint that facilitates transport and setup. To evaluate and validate capability of the system for unbiased pathogen identification by real-time sequencing in a farmer’s field setting, we analysed samples collected from cassava plants grown by subsistence farmers in three sub-Sahara African countries (Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya). A range of viral pathogens, all with similar symptoms, greatly reduce yield or destroy cassava crops. Eight hundred (800) million people worldwide depend on cassava for food and yearly income, and viral diseases are a significant constraint to its production. Early pathogen detection at a molecular level has great potential to rescue crops within a single growing season by providing results that inform decisions on disease management, use of appropriate virus-resistant or replacement planting. This case study presented conditions of working in-field with limited or no access to mains power, laboratory infrastructure, Internet connectivity and highly variable ambient temperature. An additional challenge is that, generally, plant material contains inhibitors of downstream molecular processes making effective DNA purification critical. We successfully undertook real-time on-farm genome sequencing of samples collected from cassava plants on three farms, one in each country. Cassava mosaic begomoviruses were detected by sequencing leaf, stem, tuber and insect samples. The entire process, from arrival on farm to diagnosis, including sample collection, processing and provisional sequencing results was complete in under 3 h. The need for accurate, rapid and on-site diagnosis grows as globalized human activity accelerates. This technical breakthrough has applications that are relevant to human and animal health, environmental management and conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MetaGenomics Sequencing In Situ)
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Article
SCINA: A Semi-Supervised Subtyping Algorithm of Single Cells and Bulk Samples
Genes 2019, 10(7), 531; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10070531 - 12 Jul 2019
Cited by 25
Abstract
Advances in single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) have allowed for comprehensive analyses of single cell data. However, current analyses of scRNA-Seq data usually start from unsupervised clustering or visualization. These methods ignore prior knowledge of transcriptomes and the probable structures of the data. Moreover, [...] Read more.
Advances in single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-Seq) have allowed for comprehensive analyses of single cell data. However, current analyses of scRNA-Seq data usually start from unsupervised clustering or visualization. These methods ignore prior knowledge of transcriptomes and the probable structures of the data. Moreover, cell identification heavily relies on subjective and possibly inaccurate human inspection afterwards. To address these analytical challenges, we developed SCINA (Semi-supervised Category Identification and Assignment), a semi-supervised model that exploits previously established gene signatures using an expectation–maximization (EM) algorithm. SCINA is applicable to scRNA-Seq and flow cytometry/CyTOF data, as well as other data of similar format. We applied SCINA to a wide range of datasets, and showed its accuracy, stability and efficiency, which exceeded most popular unsupervised approaches. SCINA discovered an intermediate stage of oligodendrocytes from mouse brain scRNA-Seq data. SCINA also detected immune cell population changes in cytometry data in a genetically-engineered mouse model. Furthermore, SCINA performed well with bulk gene expression data. Specifically, we identified a new kidney tumor clade with similarity to FH-deficient tumors (FHD), which we refer to as FHD-like tumors (FHDL). Overall, SCINA provides both methodological advances and biological insights from perspectives different from traditional analytical methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Variation and Splicing from Single Cell RNA-Sequencing)
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Article
A Rapid and Accurate MinION-Based Workflow for Tracking Species Biodiversity in the Field
Genes 2019, 10(6), 468; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10060468 - 20 Jun 2019
Cited by 27
Abstract
Genetic markers (DNA barcodes) are often used to support and confirm species identification. Barcode sequences can be generated in the field using portable systems based on the Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION sequencer. However, to achieve a broader application, current proof-of-principle workflows for [...] Read more.
Genetic markers (DNA barcodes) are often used to support and confirm species identification. Barcode sequences can be generated in the field using portable systems based on the Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION sequencer. However, to achieve a broader application, current proof-of-principle workflows for on-site barcoding analysis must be standardized to ensure a reliable and robust performance under suboptimal field conditions without increasing costs. Here, we demonstrate the implementation of a new on-site workflow for DNA extraction, PCR-based barcoding, and the generation of consensus sequences. The portable laboratory features inexpensive instruments that can be carried as hand luggage and uses standard molecular biology protocols and reagents that tolerate adverse environmental conditions. Barcodes are sequenced using MinION technology and analyzed with ONTrack, an original de novo assembly pipeline that requires as few as 1000 reads per sample. ONTrack-derived consensus barcodes have a high accuracy, ranging from 99.8 to 100%, despite the presence of homopolymer runs. The ONTrack pipeline has a user-friendly interface and returns consensus sequences in minutes. The remarkable accuracy and low computational demand of the ONTrack pipeline, together with the inexpensive equipment and simple protocols, make the proposed workflow particularly suitable for tracking species under field conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MetaGenomics Sequencing In Situ)
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Article
Antisense Oligonucleotide Screening to Optimize the Rescue of the Splicing Defect Caused by the Recurrent Deep-Intronic ABCA4 Variant c.4539+2001G>A in Stargardt Disease
Genes 2019, 10(6), 452; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10060452 - 14 Jun 2019
Cited by 21
Abstract
Deep-sequencing of the ABCA4 locus has revealed that ~10% of autosomal recessive Stargardt disease (STGD1) cases are caused by deep-intronic mutations. One of the most recurrent deep-intronic variants in the Belgian and Dutch STGD1 population is the c.4539+2001G>A mutation. This variant introduces a [...] Read more.
Deep-sequencing of the ABCA4 locus has revealed that ~10% of autosomal recessive Stargardt disease (STGD1) cases are caused by deep-intronic mutations. One of the most recurrent deep-intronic variants in the Belgian and Dutch STGD1 population is the c.4539+2001G>A mutation. This variant introduces a 345-nt pseudoexon to the ABCA4 mRNA transcript in a retina-specific manner. Antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) are short sequences of RNA that can modulate splicing. In this work, we designed 26 different AONs to perform a thorough screening to identify the most effective AONs to correct splicing defects associated with c.4539+2001G>A. All AONs were tested in patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that were differentiated to photoreceptor precursor cells (PPCs). AON efficacy was assessed through RNA analysis and was based on correction efficacy, and AONs were grouped and their properties assessed. We (a) identified nine AONs with significant correction efficacies (>50%), (b) confirmed that a single nucleotide mismatch was sufficient to significantly decrease AON efficacy, and (c) found potential correlations between efficacy and some of the parameters analyzed. Overall, our results show that AON-based splicing modulation holds great potential for treating Stargardt disease caused by splicing defects in ABCA4. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Therapies for Inherited Retinal Diseases)
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Article
Metagenomic Insights into the Bacterial Functions of a Diesel-Degrading Consortium for the Rhizoremediation of Diesel-Polluted Soil
Genes 2019, 10(6), 456; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10060456 - 14 Jun 2019
Cited by 23
Abstract
Diesel is a complex pollutant composed of a mixture of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. Because of this complexity, diesel bioremediation requires multiple microorganisms, which harbor the catabolic pathways to degrade the mixture. By enrichment cultivation of rhizospheric soil from a diesel-polluted site, we [...] Read more.
Diesel is a complex pollutant composed of a mixture of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. Because of this complexity, diesel bioremediation requires multiple microorganisms, which harbor the catabolic pathways to degrade the mixture. By enrichment cultivation of rhizospheric soil from a diesel-polluted site, we have isolated a bacterial consortium that can grow aerobically with diesel and different alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as the sole carbon and energy source. Microbiome diversity analyses based on 16S rRNA gene showed that the diesel-degrading consortium consists of 76 amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) and it is dominated by Pseudomonas, Aquabacterium, Chryseobacterium, and Sphingomonadaceae. Changes in microbiome composition were observed when growing on specific hydrocarbons, reflecting that different populations degrade different hydrocarbons. Shotgun metagenome sequence analysis of the consortium growing on diesel has identified redundant genes encoding enzymes implicated in the initial oxidation of alkanes (AlkB, LadA, CYP450) and a variety of hydroxylating and ring-cleavage dioxygenases involved in aromatic and polyaromatic hydrocarbon degradation. The phylogenetic assignment of these enzymes to specific genera allowed us to model the role of specific populations in the diesel-degrading consortium. Rhizoremediation of diesel-polluted soil microcosms using the consortium, resulted in an important enhancement in the reduction of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs), making it suited for rhizoremediation applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Biodegradation and Bioremediation)
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Article
Genomic Diversity of Two Hydrocarbon-Degrading and Plant Growth-Promoting Pseudomonas Species Isolated from the Oil Field of Bóbrka (Poland)
Genes 2019, 10(6), 443; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10060443 - 11 Jun 2019
Cited by 18
Abstract
Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria are important resources for use in phytoremediation applications. Yet, for many hydrocarbonoclastic strains the genetic information regarding pollutant degradation and detoxification has not been thoroughly revealed. In this study, hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria were isolated from a long-term oil-polluted soil in Bóbrka, Poland. [...] Read more.
Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria are important resources for use in phytoremediation applications. Yet, for many hydrocarbonoclastic strains the genetic information regarding pollutant degradation and detoxification has not been thoroughly revealed. In this study, hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria were isolated from a long-term oil-polluted soil in Bóbrka, Poland. Pseudomonas spp. was the most dominant species. Of all 69 isolated strains tested in the laboratory using qualitative biochemical assays, 61% showed the capability to use diesel as sole carbon source, 33% could produce indole, 19% produced siderophores, 36% produced organic acids, and 54% were capable of producing 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylate (ACC)-deaminase. From all morphologically and genetically different strains, two representative Pseudomonas spp., strain VI4.1 and VI4T1, were selected for genome sequencing. Genomic analyses indicated the presence of the full naphthalene dioxygenase operon (plasmid and chromosomal), of genes involved in the degradation of BTEX compounds (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylene) and alkanes (alkB gene) as well as the anthranilate degradation pathway (strain VI4T1) and terephthalate dioxygenase protein (strain VI4.1). Proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS) analyses confirmed naphthalene and BTEX degradation within seven days. Motility, resistance to abiotic stresses, high and low temperatures, low pH, and salinity were confirmed at the genetic level and experimentally verified. The presence of multiple degradative and plant growth promotion genes, together with the in vitro experimental evidence, indicates the high value of these two strains and their potential use for sustainable site clean-up. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics of Biodegradation and Bioremediation)
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Article
Effect of Long-Term Farming Practices on Agricultural Soil Microbiome Members Represented by Metagenomically Assembled Genomes (MAGs) and Their Predicted Plant-Beneficial Genes
Genes 2019, 10(6), 424; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10060424 - 03 Jun 2019
Cited by 21
Abstract
To follow the hypothesis that agricultural management practices affect structure and function of the soil microbiome regarding soil health and plant-beneficial traits, high-throughput (HT) metagenome analyses were performed on Chernozem soil samples from a long-term field experiment designated LTE-1 carried out at Bernburg-Strenzfeld [...] Read more.
To follow the hypothesis that agricultural management practices affect structure and function of the soil microbiome regarding soil health and plant-beneficial traits, high-throughput (HT) metagenome analyses were performed on Chernozem soil samples from a long-term field experiment designated LTE-1 carried out at Bernburg-Strenzfeld (Saxony-Anhalt, Germany). Metagenomic DNA was extracted from soil samples representing the following treatments: (i) plough tillage with standard nitrogen fertilization and use of fungicides and growth regulators, (ii) plough tillage with reduced nitrogen fertilization (50%), (iii) cultivator tillage with standard nitrogen fertilization and use of fungicides and growth regulators, and (iv) cultivator tillage with reduced nitrogen fertilization (50%). Bulk soil (BS), as well as root-affected soil (RS), were considered for all treatments in replicates. HT-sequencing of metagenomic DNA yielded approx. 100 Giga bases (Gb) of sequence information. Taxonomic profiling of soil communities revealed the presence of 70 phyla, whereby Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes, Acidobacteria, Thaumarchaeota, Firmicutes, Verrucomicrobia and Chloroflexi feature abundances of more than 1%. Functional microbiome profiling uncovered, i.a., numerous potential plant-beneficial, plant-growth-promoting and biocontrol traits predicted to be involved in nutrient provision, phytohormone synthesis, antagonism against pathogens and signal molecule synthesis relevant in microbe–plant interaction. Neither taxonomic nor functional microbiome profiling based on single-read analyses revealed pronounced differences regarding the farming practices applied. Soil metagenome sequences were assembled and taxonomically binned. The ten most reliable and abundant Metagenomically Assembled Genomes (MAGs) were taxonomically classified and metabolically reconstructed. Importance of the phylum Thaumarchaeota for the analyzed microbiome is corroborated by the fact that the four corresponding MAGs were predicted to oxidize ammonia (nitrification), thus contributing to the cycling of nitrogen, and in addition are most probably able to fix carbon dioxide. Moreover, Thaumarchaeota and several bacterial MAGs also possess genes with predicted functions in plant–growth–promotion. Abundances of certain MAGs (species resolution level) responded to the tillage practice, whereas the factors compartment (BS vs. RS) and nitrogen fertilization only marginally shaped MAG abundance profiles. Hence, soil management regimes promoting plant-beneficial microbiome members are very likely advantageous for the respective agrosystem, its health and carbon sequestration and accordingly may enhance plant productivity. Since Chernozem soils are highly fertile, corresponding microbiome data represent a valuable reference resource for agronomy in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Pharmacist-Initiated Pre-Emptive Pharmacogenetic Panel Testing with Clinical Decision Support in Primary Care: Record of PGx Results and Real-World Impact
Genes 2019, 10(6), 416; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10060416 - 29 May 2019
Cited by 29
Abstract
Logistics and (cost-)effectiveness of pharmacogenetic (PGx)-testing may be optimized when delivered through a pre-emptive panel-based approach, within a clinical decision support system (CDSS). Here, clinical recommendations are automatically deployed by the CDSS when a drug-gene interaction (DGI) is encountered. However, this requires record [...] Read more.
Logistics and (cost-)effectiveness of pharmacogenetic (PGx)-testing may be optimized when delivered through a pre-emptive panel-based approach, within a clinical decision support system (CDSS). Here, clinical recommendations are automatically deployed by the CDSS when a drug-gene interaction (DGI) is encountered. However, this requires record of PGx-panel results in the electronic medical record (EMR). Several studies indicate promising clinical utility of panel-based PGx-testing in polypharmacy and psychiatry, but is undetermined in primary care. Therefore, we aim to quantify both the feasibility and the real-world impact of this approach in primary care. Within a prospective pilot study, community pharmacists were provided the opportunity to request a panel of eight pharmacogenes to guide drug dispensing within a CDSS for 200 primary care patients. In this side-study, this cohort was cross-sectionally followed-up after a mean of 2.5-years. PGx-panel results were successfully recorded in 96% and 68% of pharmacist and general practitioner (GP) EMRs, respectively. This enabled 97% of patients to (re)use PGx-panel results for at least one, and 33% for up to four newly initiated prescriptions with possible DGIs. A total of 24.2% of these prescriptions had actionable DGIs, requiring pharmacotherapy adjustment. Healthcare utilization seemed not to vary among those who did and did not encounter a DGI. Pre-emptive panel-based PGx-testing is feasible and real-world impact is substantial in primary care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine)
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Article
Adeno-Associated Viral Vectors as a Tool for Large Gene Delivery to the Retina
Genes 2019, 10(4), 287; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10040287 - 09 Apr 2019
Cited by 28
Abstract
Gene therapy using adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors currently represents the most promising approach for the treatment of many inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), given AAV’s ability to efficiently deliver therapeutic genes to both photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium, and their excellent safety and efficacy [...] Read more.
Gene therapy using adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors currently represents the most promising approach for the treatment of many inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), given AAV’s ability to efficiently deliver therapeutic genes to both photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium, and their excellent safety and efficacy profiles in humans. However, one of the main obstacles to widespread AAV application is their limited packaging capacity, which precludes their use from the treatment of IRDs which are caused by mutations in genes whose coding sequence exceeds 5 kb. Therefore, in recent years, considerable effort has been made to identify strategies to increase the transfer capacity of AAV vectors. This review will discuss these new developed strategies, highlighting the advancements as well as the limitations that the field has still to overcome to finally expand the applicability of AAV vectors to IRDs due to mutations in large genes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Therapies for Inherited Retinal Diseases)
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Article
VvSWEET10 Mediates Sugar Accumulation in Grapes
Genes 2019, 10(4), 255; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10040255 - 28 Mar 2019
Cited by 22
Abstract
Sugar accumulation is a critical event during grape berry ripening that determines the grape market values. Berry cells are highly dependent on sugar transporters to mediate cross-membrane transport. However, the role of sugar transporters in improving sugar accumulation in berries is not well [...] Read more.
Sugar accumulation is a critical event during grape berry ripening that determines the grape market values. Berry cells are highly dependent on sugar transporters to mediate cross-membrane transport. However, the role of sugar transporters in improving sugar accumulation in berries is not well established in grapes. Herein we report that a Sugars Will Eventually be Exported Transporter (SWEET), that is, VvSWEET10, was strongly expressed at the onset of ripening (véraison) and can improve grape sugar content. VvSWEET10 encodes a plasma membrane-localized transporter, and the heterologous expression of VvSWEET10 indicates that VvSWEET10 is a hexose-affinity transporter and has a broad spectrum of sugar transport functions. VvSWEET10 overexpression in grapevine calli and tomatoes increased the glucose, fructose, and total sugar levels significantly. The RNA sequencing results of grapevine transgenic calli showed that many sugar transporter genes and invertase genes were upregulated and suggest that VvSWEET10 may mediate sugar accumulation. These findings elucidated the role of VvSWEET10 in sugar accumulation and will be beneficial for the improvement of grape berry quality in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Droplet Digital PCR Detection of the Erythropoietin Transgene from Horse Plasma and Urine for Gene-Doping Control
Genes 2019, 10(3), 243; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10030243 - 21 Mar 2019
Cited by 19
Abstract
Indiscriminate genetic manipulation to improve athletic ability is a major threat to human sports and the horseracing industry, in which methods involving gene-doping, such as transgenesis, should be prohibited to ensure fairness. Therefore, development of methods to detect indiscriminate genetic manipulation are urgently [...] Read more.
Indiscriminate genetic manipulation to improve athletic ability is a major threat to human sports and the horseracing industry, in which methods involving gene-doping, such as transgenesis, should be prohibited to ensure fairness. Therefore, development of methods to detect indiscriminate genetic manipulation are urgently needed. Here, we developed a highly sensitive method to detect horse erythropoietin (EPO) transgenes using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). We designed two TaqMan probe/primer sets, and the EPO transgene was cloned into a plasmid for use as a model. We extracted the spiked EPO transgene from horse plasma and urine via magnetic beads, followed by ddPCR amplification for absolute quantification and transgene detection. The results indicated high recovery rates (at least ~60% and ~40% in plasma and urine, respectively), suggesting successful detection of the spiked transgene at concentrations of >130 and 200 copies/mL of plasma and urine, respectively. Additionally, successful detection was achieved following intramuscular injection of 20 mg of the EPO transgene. This represents the first study demonstrating a method for detecting the EPO transgene in horse plasma and urine, with our results demonstrating its efficacy for promoting the control of gene-doping in the horseracing industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equine Genetics)
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Article
A Comparison Between Two Assays for Measuring Seminal Oxidative Stress and their Relationship with Sperm DNA Fragmentation and Semen Parameters
Genes 2019, 10(3), 236; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10030236 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 32
Abstract
Oxidative stress (OS) is a significant cause of DNA fragmentation and is associated with poor embryo development and recurrent miscarriage. The aim of this study was to compare two different methods for assessing seminal OS and their ability to predict sperm DNA fragmentation [...] Read more.
Oxidative stress (OS) is a significant cause of DNA fragmentation and is associated with poor embryo development and recurrent miscarriage. The aim of this study was to compare two different methods for assessing seminal OS and their ability to predict sperm DNA fragmentation and abnormal semen parameters. Semen samples were collected from 520 men attending for routine diagnostic testing following informed consent. Oxidative stress was assessed using either a chemiluminescence assay to measure reactive oxygen species (ROS) or an electrochemical assay to measure oxidation reduction potential (sORP). Sperm DNA fragmentation (DFI) and sperm with immature chromatin (HDS) were assessed using sperm chromatin structure assay (SCSA). Semen analysis was performed according to WHO 2010 guidelines. Reactive oxygen species sORP and DFI are negatively correlated with sperm motility (p = 0.0012, 0.0002, <0.0001 respectively) and vitality (p < 0.0001, 0.019, <0.0001 respectively). The correlation was stronger for sORP than ROS. Reactive oxygen species (p < 0.0001), sORP (p < 0.0001), DFI (p < 0.0089) and HDS (p < 0.0001) were significantly elevated in samples with abnormal semen parameters, compared to those with normal parameters. Samples with polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) have excessive ROS levels compared to those without (p < 0.0001), but sORP and DFI in this group are not significantly increased. DNA fragmentation was significantly elevated in samples with OS measured by ROS (p = 0.0052) or sORP (p = 0.004). The results demonstrate the multi-dimensional nature of oxidative stress and that neither assay can be used alone in the diagnosis of OS, especially in cases of leukocytospermia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Male Germline Chromatin)
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Article
Overexpression of AtWRKY30 Transcription Factor Enhances Heat and Drought Stress Tolerance in Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
Genes 2019, 10(2), 163; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10020163 - 20 Feb 2019
Cited by 42
Abstract
Drought and heat factors have negative impacts on wheat yield and growth worldwide. Improving wheat tolerance to heat and drought stress is of the utmost importance to maintain crop yield. WRKY transcription factors help improve plant resistance to environmental factors. In this investigation, [...] Read more.
Drought and heat factors have negative impacts on wheat yield and growth worldwide. Improving wheat tolerance to heat and drought stress is of the utmost importance to maintain crop yield. WRKY transcription factors help improve plant resistance to environmental factors. In this investigation, Arabidopsis WRKY30 (AtWRKY30) transcription factor was cloned and expressed in wheat. Plants growth, biomass, gas-exchange attributes, chlorophyll content, relative water content, prolines content, soluble proteins content, soluble sugars content, and antioxidant enzymes activities (catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POX), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX)) of the AtWRKY30-overexpressing wheat plants were higher than those of the wild type. However, levels of electrolyte leakage, malondialdehyde, and hydrogen peroxide of the AtWRKY30-overexpressing wheat plants were significantly less than those of the wild-type. Additionally, the expression level of antioxidant enzyme-encoding genes and stress-responsive genes (ERF5a, DREB1, DREB3, WRKY19, TIP2, and AQP7) were significantly induced in the transgenic wheat plants in comparison with the wild type. In conclusion, the results demonstrated that AtWRKY30 overexpression promotes heat and drought tolerance in wheat by inducing gas-exchange attributes, antioxidant machinery, osmolytes biosynthesis, and stress-related gene expression. AtWRKY30 could serve as a potential candidate gene for improving stress tolerance in wheat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
The Role of the Late Embryogenesis-Abundant (LEA) Protein Family in Development and the Abiotic Stress Response: A Comprehensive Expression Analysis of Potato (Solanum Tuberosum)
Genes 2019, 10(2), 148; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10020148 - 15 Feb 2019
Cited by 31
Abstract
Late embryogenesis-abundant (LEA) proteins are a large and highly diverse family believed to function in normal plant growth and development, and in protecting cells from abiotic stress. This study presents a characterisation of 74 Solanum tuberosum LEA (StLEA) proteins belonging to nine groups. [...] Read more.
Late embryogenesis-abundant (LEA) proteins are a large and highly diverse family believed to function in normal plant growth and development, and in protecting cells from abiotic stress. This study presents a characterisation of 74 Solanum tuberosum LEA (StLEA) proteins belonging to nine groups. StLEA genes have few introns (≤2) and are distributed on all chromosomes, occurring as gene clusters on chromosomes 1, 2, and 10. All four StASR (StLEA7 group) genes were concentrated on chromosome 4, suggesting their evolutionary conservation on one chromosome. Expression profiles of StLEA genes, in different tissues and in response to hormone and stress treatments, indicated that 71 StLEA genes had differential expression levels, of which 68 StLEA genes were differentially expressed in response to hormones and stress exposure in the potato. Continuous high expression of StASR-2, StLEA3-3, StDHN-3, StLEA2-29, and StLEA2-14 in different tissues indicated their contribution to plant development processes. StLEA2-14, StLEA2-31, StLEA3-3, StASR-1, and StDHN-1 were upregulated by six abiotic stresses, showing their tolerance to a wide spectrum of environmental stresses. Expression analysis of 17 selected StLEA genes in response to drought, salt, heavy metal, heat, and cold treatments by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction indicated that StLEA proteins may be involved in distinct signalling pathways. Taken together, StLEA3, StDHN, and StASR subgroup genes may be excellent resources for potato defence against environmental stresses. These results provide valuable information and robust candidate genes for future functional analysis aimed at improving the stress tolerance of the potato. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Overexpression of StDREB2 Transcription Factor Enhances Drought Stress Tolerance in Cotton (Gossypium barbadense L.)
Genes 2019, 10(2), 142; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10020142 - 14 Feb 2019
Cited by 27
Abstract
Drought stress significantly restricts plant growth and crop productivity. Cotton is the most important textile fiber and oilseed crop worldwide, and its cultivation is affected by drought stress, particularly in dry regions. Improving cotton tolerance to drought stress using the advanced genetic engineering [...] Read more.
Drought stress significantly restricts plant growth and crop productivity. Cotton is the most important textile fiber and oilseed crop worldwide, and its cultivation is affected by drought stress, particularly in dry regions. Improving cotton tolerance to drought stress using the advanced genetic engineering technologies is a promising strategy to maintain crop production and fiber quality and meet the increasing worldwide fiber and oil demand. Dehydration-responsive element binding (DREB) transcription factors play a main role in regulating stresses-tolerance pathways in plant. This study investigated whether potato DREB2 (StDREB2) overexpression can improve drought tolerance in cotton. StDREB2 transcription factor was isolated and overexpressed in cotton. Plant biomass, boll number, relative water content, soluble sugars content, soluble protein content, chlorophyll content, proline content, gas-exchange parameters, and antioxidants enzymes (POD, CAT, SOD, GST) activity of the StDREB2-overexpressing cotton plants were higher than those of wild type plants. By contrast, the contents of malondialdehyde, hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anion of StDREB2-overexpressing transgenic plants were significantly lower than that of the wild type plants. Moreover, the transgenic cotton lines revealed higher expression levels of antioxidant genes (SOD, CAT, POD, GST) and stress-tolerant genes (GhERF2, GhNAC3, GhRD22, GhDREB1A, GhDREB1B, GhDREB1C) compared to wild-type plants. Taken together, these findings showed that StDREB2 overexpression augments drought stress tolerance in cotton by inducing plant biomass, gas-exchange characteristics, reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging, antioxidant enzymes activities, osmolytes accumulation, and expression of stress-related genes. As a result, StDREB2 could be an important candidate gene for drought-tolerant cotton breeding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
N6-Methyladenosine Landscape of Glioma Stem-Like Cells: METTL3 Is Essential for the Expression of Actively Transcribed Genes and Sustenance of the Oncogenic Signaling
Genes 2019, 10(2), 141; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10020141 - 13 Feb 2019
Cited by 33
Abstract
Despite recent advances in N6-methyladenosine (m6A) biology, the regulation of crucial RNA processing steps by the RNA methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) in glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) remains obscure. An integrated analysis of m6A-RIP (RNA immunoprecipitation) and total RNA-Seq [...] Read more.
Despite recent advances in N6-methyladenosine (m6A) biology, the regulation of crucial RNA processing steps by the RNA methyltransferase-like 3 (METTL3) in glioma stem-like cells (GSCs) remains obscure. An integrated analysis of m6A-RIP (RNA immunoprecipitation) and total RNA-Seq of METTL3-silenced GSCs identified that m6A modification in GSCs is principally carried out by METTL3. The m6A-modified transcripts showed higher abundance compared to non-modified transcripts. Further, we showed that the METTL3 is essential for the expression of GSC-specific actively transcribed genes. Silencing METTL3 resulted in the elevation of several aberrant alternative splicing events. We also found that putative m6A reader proteins play a key role in the RNA stabilization function of METTL3. METTL3 altered A-to-I and C-to-U RNA editing events by differentially regulating RNA editing enzymes ADAR and APOBEC3A. Similar to protein-coding genes, lincRNAs (long intergenic non-coding RNAs) with m6A marks showed METTL3-dependent high expression. m6A modification of 3′UTRs appeared to result in a conformation-dependent hindrance to miRNA binding to their targets. The integrated analysis of the m6A regulome in METTL3-silenced GSCs showed global disruption in tumorigenic pathways that are indispensable for GSC maintenance and glioma progression. We conclude that METTL3 plays a vital role in many steps of RNA processing and orchestrates successful execution of oncogenic pathways in GSCs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human Genomics and Genetic Diseases)
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Article
A Probabilistic Matrix Factorization Method for Identifying lncRNA-Disease Associations
Genes 2019, 10(2), 126; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10020126 - 08 Feb 2019
Cited by 20
Abstract
Recently, an increasing number of studies have indicated that long-non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) can participate in various crucial biological processes and can also be used as the most promising biomarkers for the treatment of certain diseases such as coronary artery disease and various cancers. [...] Read more.
Recently, an increasing number of studies have indicated that long-non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) can participate in various crucial biological processes and can also be used as the most promising biomarkers for the treatment of certain diseases such as coronary artery disease and various cancers. Due to costs and time complexity, the number of possible disease-related lncRNAs that can be verified by traditional biological experiments is very limited. Therefore, in recent years, it has been very popular to use computational models to predict potential disease-lncRNA associations. In this study, we constructed three kinds of association networks, namely the lncRNA-miRNA association network, the miRNA-disease association network, and the lncRNA-disease correlation network firstly. Then, through integrating these three newly constructed association networks, we constructed an lncRNA-disease weighted association network, which would be further updated by adopting the KNN algorithm based on the semantic similarity of diseases and the similarity of lncRNA functions. Thereafter, according to the updated lncRNA-disease weighted association network, a novel computational model called PMFILDA was proposed to infer potential lncRNA-disease associations based on the probability matrix decomposition. Finally, to evaluate the superiority of the new prediction model PMFILDA, we performed Leave One Out Cross-Validation (LOOCV) based on strongly validated data filtered from MNDR and the simulation results indicated that the performance of PMFILDA was better than some state-of-the-art methods. Moreover, case studies of breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer were implemented to further estimate the performance of PMFILDA, and simulation results illustrated that PMFILDA could achieve satisfying prediction performance as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Technologies and Resources for Genetics)
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Article
The Cancer Aneuploidy Paradox: In the Light of Evolution
Genes 2019, 10(2), 83; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10020083 - 25 Jan 2019
Cited by 25
Abstract
Aneuploidy should compromise cellular proliferation but paradoxically favours tumour progression and poor prognosis. Here, we consider this paradox in terms of our most recent observations of chemo/radio-resistant cells undergoing reversible polyploidy. The latter perform the segregation of two parental groups of end-to-end linked [...] Read more.
Aneuploidy should compromise cellular proliferation but paradoxically favours tumour progression and poor prognosis. Here, we consider this paradox in terms of our most recent observations of chemo/radio-resistant cells undergoing reversible polyploidy. The latter perform the segregation of two parental groups of end-to-end linked dyads by pseudo-mitosis creating tetraploid cells through a dysfunctional spindle. This is followed by autokaryogamy and a homologous pairing preceding a bi-looped endo-prophase. The associated RAD51 and DMC1/γ-H2AX double-strand break repair foci are tandemly situated on the AURKB/REC8/kinetochore doublets along replicated chromosome loops, indicative of recombination events. MOS-associated REC8-positive peri-nucleolar centromere cluster organises a monopolar spindle. The process is completed by reduction divisions (bi-polar or by radial cytotomy including pedogamic exchanges) and by the release of secondary cells and/or the formation of an embryoid. Together this process preserves genomic integrity and chromosome pairing, while tolerating aneuploidy by by-passing the mitotic spindle checkpoint. Concurrently, it reduces the chromosome number and facilitates recombination that decreases the mutation load of aneuploidy and lethality in the chemo-resistant tumour cells. This cancer life-cycle has parallels both within the cycling polyploidy of the asexual life cycles of ancient unicellular protists and cleavage embryos of early multicellulars, supporting the atavistic theory of cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chromosomal Heterogeneity and Human Diseases)
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Article
A High-Quality De novo Genome Assembly from a Single Mosquito Using PacBio Sequencing
Genes 2019, 10(1), 62; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10010062 - 18 Jan 2019
Cited by 49
Abstract
A high-quality reference genome is a fundamental resource for functional genetics, comparative genomics, and population genomics, and is increasingly important for conservation biology. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful [...] Read more.
A high-quality reference genome is a fundamental resource for functional genetics, comparative genomics, and population genomics, and is increasingly important for conservation biology. PacBio Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing generates long reads with uniform coverage and high consensus accuracy, making it a powerful technology for de novo genome assembly. Improvements in throughput and concomitant reductions in cost have made PacBio an attractive core technology for many large genome initiatives, however, relatively high DNA input requirements (~5 µg for standard library protocol) have placed PacBio out of reach for many projects on small organisms that have lower DNA content, or on projects with limited input DNA for other reasons. Here we present a high-quality de novo genome assembly from a single Anopheles coluzzii mosquito. A modified SMRTbell library construction protocol without DNA shearing and size selection was used to generate a SMRTbell library from just 100 ng of starting genomic DNA. The sample was run on the Sequel System with chemistry 3.0 and software v6.0, generating, on average, 25 Gb of sequence per SMRT Cell with 20 h movies, followed by diploid de novo genome assembly with FALCON-Unzip. The resulting curated assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 3.5 Mb) and completeness (more than 98% of conserved genes were present and full-length). In addition, this single-insect assembly now places 667 (>90%) of formerly unplaced genes into their appropriate chromosomal contexts in the AgamP4 PEST reference. We were also able to resolve maternal and paternal haplotypes for over 1/3 of the genome. By sequencing and assembling material from a single diploid individual, only two haplotypes were present, simplifying the assembly process compared to samples from multiple pooled individuals. The method presented here can be applied to samples with starting DNA amounts as low as 100 ng per 1 Gb genome size. This new low-input approach puts PacBio-based assemblies in reach for small highly heterozygous organisms that comprise much of the diversity of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) Sequencing)
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Article
Overexpression of Rice Rab7 Gene Improves Drought and Heat Tolerance and Increases Grain Yield in Rice (Oryza sativa L.)
Genes 2019, 10(1), 56; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10010056 - 17 Jan 2019
Cited by 47
Abstract
Rab family proteins play a crucial role in plant developmental processes and tolerance to environmental stresses. The current study investigated whether rice Rab7 (OsRab7) overexpression could improve rice tolerance to drought and heat stress conditions. The OsRab7 gene was cloned and [...] Read more.
Rab family proteins play a crucial role in plant developmental processes and tolerance to environmental stresses. The current study investigated whether rice Rab7 (OsRab7) overexpression could improve rice tolerance to drought and heat stress conditions. The OsRab7 gene was cloned and transformed into rice plants. The survival rate, relative water content, chlorophyll content, gas-exchange characteristics, soluble protein content, soluble sugar content, proline content, and activities of antioxidant enzymes (CAT, SOD, APX, POD) of the transgenic rice lines were significantly higher than that of the wild-type. In contrast, the levels of hydrogen peroxide, electrolyte leakage, and malondialdehyde of the transgenic lines were significantly reduced when compared to wild-type. Furthermore, the expression of four genes encoding reactive oxygen species (ROS)-scavenging enzymes (OsCATA, OsCATB, OsAPX2, OsSOD-Cu/Zn) and eight genes conferring abiotic stress tolerance (OsLEA3, OsRD29A, OsSNAC1, OsSNAC2, OsDREB2A, OsDREB2B, OsRAB16A, OsRAB16C) was significantly up-regulated in the transformed rice lines as compared to their expression in wild-type. OsRab7 overexpression also increased grain yield in rice. Taken together, the current study indicates that the OsRab7 gene improves grain yield and enhances drought and heat tolerance in transgenic rice by modulating osmolytes, antioxidants and abiotic stress-responsive genes expression. Therefore, OsRab7 gene could be exploited as a promising candidate for improving rice grain yield and stress tolerance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Stress-Tolerant Yeasts: Opportunistic Pathogenicity Versus Biocontrol Potential
Genes 2019, 10(1), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10010042 - 14 Jan 2019
Cited by 22
Abstract
Stress-tolerant fungi that can thrive under various environmental extremes are highly desirable for their application to biological control, as an alternative to chemicals for pest management. However, in fungi, the mechanisms of stress tolerance might also have roles in mammal opportunism. We tested [...] Read more.
Stress-tolerant fungi that can thrive under various environmental extremes are highly desirable for their application to biological control, as an alternative to chemicals for pest management. However, in fungi, the mechanisms of stress tolerance might also have roles in mammal opportunism. We tested five species with high biocontrol potential in agriculture (Aureobasidium pullulans, Debayomyces hansenii, Meyerozyma guilliermondii, Metschnikowia fructicola, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa) and two species recognized as emerging opportunistic human pathogens (Exophiala dermatitidis, Aureobasidium melanogenum) for growth under oligotrophic conditions and at 37 °C, and for tolerance to oxidative stress, formation of biofilms, production of hydrolytic enzymes and siderophores, and use of hydrocarbons as sole carbon source. The results show large overlap between traits desirable for biocontrol and traits linked to opportunism (growth under oligotrophic conditions, production of siderophores, high oxidative stress tolerance, and specific enzyme activities). Based on existing knowledge and these data, we suggest that oligotrophism and thermotolerance together with siderophore production at 37 °C, urease activity, melanization, and biofilm production are the main traits that increase the potential for fungi to cause opportunistic infections in mammals. These traits should be carefully considered when assessing safety of potential biocontrol agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Microbial Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Production and Application of Stable Isotope-Labeled Internal Standards for RNA Modification Analysis
Genes 2019, 10(1), 26; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10010026 - 05 Jan 2019
Cited by 20
Abstract
Post-transcriptional RNA modifications have been found to be present in a wide variety of organisms and in different types of RNA. Nucleoside modifications are interesting due to their already known roles in translation fidelity, enzyme recognition, disease progression, and RNA stability. In addition, [...] Read more.
Post-transcriptional RNA modifications have been found to be present in a wide variety of organisms and in different types of RNA. Nucleoside modifications are interesting due to their already known roles in translation fidelity, enzyme recognition, disease progression, and RNA stability. In addition, the abundance of modified nucleosides fluctuates based on growth phase, external stress, or possibly other factors not yet explored. With modifications ever changing, a method to determine absolute quantities for multiple nucleoside modifications is required. Here, we report metabolic isotope labeling to produce isotopically labeled internal standards in bacteria and yeast. These can be used for the quantification of 26 different modified nucleosides. We explain in detail how these internal standards are produced and show their mass spectrometric characterization. We apply our internal standards and quantify the modification content of transfer RNA (tRNA) from bacteria and various eukaryotes. We can show that the origin of the internal standard has no impact on the quantification result. Furthermore, we use our internal standard for the quantification of modified nucleosides in mouse tissue messenger RNA (mRNA), where we find different modification profiles in liver and brain tissue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Modifications)
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Article
Comparative Analysis of the Complete Chloroplast Genome Sequences of Three Closely Related East-Asian Wild Roses (Rosa sect. Synstylae; Rosaceae)
Genes 2019, 10(1), 23; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10010023 - 03 Jan 2019
Cited by 30
Abstract
Species belonging to Rosa section Synstylae (Rosaceae) are mainly distributed in East Asia, and represent recently diverged lineages within the genus. Over decades, inferring phylogenetic relationships within section Synstylae have been exceptional challenges, due to short branch lengths and low support values. Of [...] Read more.
Species belonging to Rosa section Synstylae (Rosaceae) are mainly distributed in East Asia, and represent recently diverged lineages within the genus. Over decades, inferring phylogenetic relationships within section Synstylae have been exceptional challenges, due to short branch lengths and low support values. Of approximately 36 species in the section Synstylae, Rosa multiflora, Rosa luciae and Rosa maximowicziana are widely distributed in the Sino-Japanese floristic region. In this study, we assembled chloroplast genomes of these three species to compare the genomic features within section Synstylae, and to compare with other infrageneric groups. We found that three Rosa sect. Synstylae species had lost infA genes with pseudogenization, and they were almost identical to each other. Two protein-coding gene regions (ndhF and ycf1) and five non-coding regions (5’matK-trnK, psbI-trnS-trnG, rps16-trnG, rpoB-trnC, and rps4-trnT) were identified as being highly informative markers. Within three section Synstylae chloroplast genomes, 85 simple sequence repeat (SSR) motifs were detected, of which at least 13 motifs were identified to be effective markers. The phylogenetic relationships of R. multiflora, R. luciae and R. maximowicziana could not be resolved, even with chloroplast genome-wide data. This study reveals the chloroplast genomic data of Rosa sect. Synstylae, and it provides valuable markers for DNA barcoding and phylogenetic analyses for further studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Population and Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics)
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Review

Jump to: Research, Other

Review
Regulation of Ergosterol Biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Genes 2020, 11(7), 795; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11070795 - 15 Jul 2020
Cited by 29
Abstract
Ergosterol is an essential component of fungal cell membranes that determines the fluidity, permeability and activity of membrane-associated proteins. Ergosterol biosynthesis is a complex and highly energy-consuming pathway that involves the participation of many enzymes. Deficiencies in sterol biosynthesis cause pleiotropic defects that [...] Read more.
Ergosterol is an essential component of fungal cell membranes that determines the fluidity, permeability and activity of membrane-associated proteins. Ergosterol biosynthesis is a complex and highly energy-consuming pathway that involves the participation of many enzymes. Deficiencies in sterol biosynthesis cause pleiotropic defects that limit cellular proliferation and adaptation to stress. Thereby, fungal ergosterol levels are tightly controlled by the bioavailability of particular metabolites (e.g., sterols, oxygen and iron) and environmental conditions. The regulation of ergosterol synthesis is achieved by overlapping mechanisms that include transcriptional expression, feedback inhibition of enzymes and changes in their subcellular localization. In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the sterol regulatory element (SRE)-binding proteins Upc2 and Ecm22, the heme-binding protein Hap1 and the repressor factors Rox1 and Mot3 coordinate ergosterol biosynthesis (ERG) gene expression. Here, we summarize the sterol biosynthesis, transport and detoxification systems of S. cerevisiae, as well as its adaptive response to sterol depletion, low oxygen, hyperosmotic stress and iron deficiency. Because of the large number of ERG genes and the crosstalk between different environmental signals and pathways, many aspects of ergosterol regulation are still unknown. The study of sterol metabolism and its regulation is highly relevant due to its wide applications in antifungal treatments, as well as in food and pharmaceutical industries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genes at Ten)
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Review
Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Chromosomal Abnormalities: Aneuploidy, Mosaicism, and Structural Rearrangements
Genes 2020, 11(6), 602; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11060602 - 29 May 2020
Cited by 19
Abstract
There is a high incidence of chromosomal abnormalities in early human embryos, whether they are generated by natural conception or by assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Cells with chromosomal copy number deviations or chromosome structural rearrangements can compromise the viability of embryos; much of [...] Read more.
There is a high incidence of chromosomal abnormalities in early human embryos, whether they are generated by natural conception or by assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Cells with chromosomal copy number deviations or chromosome structural rearrangements can compromise the viability of embryos; much of the naturally low human fecundity as well as low success rates of ART can be ascribed to these cytogenetic defects. Chromosomal anomalies are also responsible for a large proportion of miscarriages and congenital disorders. There is therefore tremendous value in methods that identify embryos containing chromosomal abnormalities before intrauterine transfer to a patient being treated for infertility—the goal being the exclusion of affected embryos in order to improve clinical outcomes. This is the rationale behind preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) and structural rearrangements (-SR). Contemporary methods are capable of much more than detecting whole chromosome abnormalities (e.g., monosomy/trisomy). Technical enhancements and increased resolution and sensitivity permit the identification of chromosomal mosaicism (embryos containing a mix of normal and abnormal cells), as well as the detection of sub-chromosomal abnormalities such as segmental deletions and duplications. Earlier approaches to screening for chromosomal abnormalities yielded a binary result of normal versus abnormal, but the new refinements in the system call for new categories, each with specific clinical outcomes and nuances for clinical management. This review intends to give an overview of PGT-A and -SR, emphasizing recent advances and areas of active development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue EmbryoGenetics)
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Review
Histone Deacetylases (HDACs): Evolution, Specificity, Role in Transcriptional Complexes, and Pharmacological Actionability
Genes 2020, 11(5), 556; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11050556 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 40
Abstract
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are evolutionary conserved enzymes which operate by removing acetyl groups from histones and other protein regulatory factors, with functional consequences on chromatin remodeling and gene expression profiles. We provide here a review on the recent knowledge accrued on the zinc-dependent [...] Read more.
Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are evolutionary conserved enzymes which operate by removing acetyl groups from histones and other protein regulatory factors, with functional consequences on chromatin remodeling and gene expression profiles. We provide here a review on the recent knowledge accrued on the zinc-dependent HDAC protein family across different species, tissues, and human pathologies, specifically focusing on the role of HDAC inhibitors as anti-cancer agents. We will investigate the chemical specificity of different HDACs and discuss their role in the human interactome as members of chromatin-binding and regulatory complexes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution of Gene Regulatory Networks)
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Review
Transcriptional Factors Regulate Plant Stress Responses Through Mediating Secondary Metabolism
Genes 2020, 11(4), 346; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11040346 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 23
Abstract
Plants are adapted to sense numerous stress stimuli and mount efficient defense responses by directing intricate signaling pathways. They respond to undesirable circumstances to produce stress-inducible phytochemicals that play indispensable roles in plant immunity. Extensive studies have been made to elucidate the underpinnings [...] Read more.
Plants are adapted to sense numerous stress stimuli and mount efficient defense responses by directing intricate signaling pathways. They respond to undesirable circumstances to produce stress-inducible phytochemicals that play indispensable roles in plant immunity. Extensive studies have been made to elucidate the underpinnings of defensive molecular mechanisms in various plant species. Transcriptional factors (TFs) are involved in plant defense regulations through acting as mediators by perceiving stress signals and directing downstream defense gene expression. The cross interactions of TFs and stress signaling crosstalk are decisive in determining accumulation of defense metabolites. Here, we collected the major TFs that are efficient in stress responses through regulating secondary metabolism for the direct cessation of stress factors. We focused on six major TF families including AP2/ERF, WRKY, bHLH, bZIP, MYB, and NAC. This review is the compilation of studies where researches were conducted to explore the roles of TFs in stress responses and the contribution of secondary metabolites in combating stress influences. Modulation of these TFs at transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels can facilitate molecular breeding and genetic improvement of crop plants regarding stress sensitivity and response through production of defensive compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Review
Controlling Apomixis: Shared Features and Distinct Characteristics of Gene Regulation
Genes 2020, 11(3), 329; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11030329 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 22
Abstract
In higher plants, sexual and asexual reproduction through seeds (apomixis) have evolved as alternative strategies. As apomixis leads to the formation of clonal offspring, its great potential for agricultural applications has long been recognized. However, the genetic basis and the molecular control underlying [...] Read more.
In higher plants, sexual and asexual reproduction through seeds (apomixis) have evolved as alternative strategies. As apomixis leads to the formation of clonal offspring, its great potential for agricultural applications has long been recognized. However, the genetic basis and the molecular control underlying apomixis and its evolutionary origin are to date not fully understood. Both in sexual and apomictic plants, reproduction is tightly controlled by versatile mechanisms regulating gene expression, translation, and protein abundance and activity. Increasing evidence suggests that interrelated pathways including epigenetic regulation, cell-cycle control, hormonal pathways, and signal transduction processes are relevant for apomixis. Additional molecular mechanisms are being identified that involve the activity of DNA- and RNA-binding proteins, such as RNA helicases which are increasingly recognized as important regulators of reproduction. Together with other factors including non-coding RNAs, their association with ribosomes is likely to be relevant for the formation and specification of the apomictic reproductive lineage. Subsequent seed formation appears to involve an interplay of transcriptional activation and repression of developmental programs by epigenetic regulatory mechanisms. In this review, insights into the genetic basis and molecular control of apomixis are presented, also taking into account potential relations to environmental stress, and considering aspects of evolution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Basis of Apomixis in Plants)
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Review
The Roles of the NLRP3 Inflammasome in Neurodegenerative and Metabolic Diseases and in Relevant Advanced Therapeutic Interventions
Genes 2020, 11(2), 131; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11020131 - 27 Jan 2020
Cited by 24
Abstract
Inflammasomes are intracellular multiprotein complexes in the cytoplasm that regulate inflammation activation in the innate immune system in response to pathogens and to host self-derived molecules. Recent advances greatly improved our understanding of the activation of nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor (NLR) family pyrin [...] Read more.
Inflammasomes are intracellular multiprotein complexes in the cytoplasm that regulate inflammation activation in the innate immune system in response to pathogens and to host self-derived molecules. Recent advances greatly improved our understanding of the activation of nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain-like receptor (NLR) family pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3) inflammasomes at the molecular level. The NLRP3 belongs to the subfamily of NLRP which activates caspase 1, thus causing the production of proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin 1β and interleukin 18) and pyroptosis. This inflammasome is involved in multiple neurodegenerative and metabolic disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and gout. Therefore, therapeutic targeting to the NLRP3 inflammasome complex is a promising way to treat these diseases. Recent research advances paved the way toward drug research and development using a variety of machine learning-based and artificial intelligence-based approaches. These state-of-the-art approaches will lead to the discovery of better drugs after the training of such a system. Full article
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Review
Clustered DNA Double-Strand Breaks: Biological Effects and Relevance to Cancer Radiotherapy
Genes 2020, 11(1), 99; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11010099 - 15 Jan 2020
Cited by 41
Abstract
Cells manage to survive, thrive, and divide with high accuracy despite the constant threat of DNA damage. Cells have evolved with several systems that efficiently repair spontaneous, isolated DNA lesions with a high degree of accuracy. Ionizing radiation and a few radiomimetic chemicals [...] Read more.
Cells manage to survive, thrive, and divide with high accuracy despite the constant threat of DNA damage. Cells have evolved with several systems that efficiently repair spontaneous, isolated DNA lesions with a high degree of accuracy. Ionizing radiation and a few radiomimetic chemicals can produce clustered DNA damage comprising complex arrangements of single-strand damage and DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). There is substantial evidence that clustered DNA damage is more mutagenic and cytotoxic than isolated damage. Radiation-induced clustered DNA damage has proven difficult to study because the spectrum of induced lesions is very complex, and lesions are randomly distributed throughout the genome. Nonetheless, it is fairly well-established that radiation-induced clustered DNA damage, including non-DSB and DSB clustered lesions, are poorly repaired or fail to repair, accounting for the greater mutagenic and cytotoxic effects of clustered lesions compared to isolated lesions. High linear energy transfer (LET) charged particle radiation is more cytotoxic per unit dose than low LET radiation because high LET radiation produces more clustered DNA damage. Studies with I-SceI nuclease demonstrate that nuclease-induced DSB clusters are also cytotoxic, indicating that this cytotoxicity is independent of radiogenic lesions, including single-strand lesions and chemically “dirty” DSB ends. The poor repair of clustered DSBs at least in part reflects inhibition of canonical NHEJ by short DNA fragments. This shifts repair toward HR and perhaps alternative NHEJ, and can result in chromothripsis-mediated genome instability or cell death. These principals are important for cancer treatment by low and high LET radiation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Damage and Repair after Radiation)
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Review
Decoding the Role of Satellite DNA in Genome Architecture and Plasticity—An Evolutionary and Clinical Affair
Genes 2020, 11(1), 72; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes11010072 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 20
Abstract
Repetitive DNA is a major organizational component of eukaryotic genomes, being intrinsically related with their architecture and evolution. Tandemly repeated satellite DNAs (satDNAs) can be found clustered in specific heterochromatin-rich chromosomal regions, building vital structures like functional centromeres and also dispersed within euchromatin. [...] Read more.
Repetitive DNA is a major organizational component of eukaryotic genomes, being intrinsically related with their architecture and evolution. Tandemly repeated satellite DNAs (satDNAs) can be found clustered in specific heterochromatin-rich chromosomal regions, building vital structures like functional centromeres and also dispersed within euchromatin. Interestingly, despite their association to critical chromosomal structures, satDNAs are widely variable among species due to their high turnover rates. This dynamic behavior has been associated with genome plasticity and chromosome rearrangements, leading to the reshaping of genomes. Here we present the current knowledge regarding satDNAs in the light of new genomic technologies, and the challenges in the study of these sequences. Furthermore, we discuss how these sequences, together with other repeats, influence genome architecture, impacting its evolution and association with disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Driving Karyotype Evolution and Genomic Architecture)
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Review
The Spectrum of PAX6 Mutations and Genotype-Phenotype Correlations in the Eye
Genes 2019, 10(12), 1050; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10121050 - 17 Dec 2019
Cited by 27
Abstract
The transcription factor PAX6 is essential in ocular development in vertebrates, being considered the master regulator of the eye. During eye development, it is essential for the correct patterning and formation of the multi-layered optic cup and it is involved in the developing [...] Read more.
The transcription factor PAX6 is essential in ocular development in vertebrates, being considered the master regulator of the eye. During eye development, it is essential for the correct patterning and formation of the multi-layered optic cup and it is involved in the developing lens and corneal epithelium. In adulthood, it is mostly expressed in cornea, iris, and lens. PAX6 is a dosage-sensitive gene and it is highly regulated by several elements located upstream, downstream, and within the gene. There are more than 500 different mutations described to affect PAX6 and its regulatory regions, the majority of which lead to PAX6 haploinsufficiency, causing several ocular and systemic abnormalities. Aniridia is an autosomal dominant disorder that is marked by the complete or partial absence of the iris, foveal hypoplasia, and nystagmus, and is caused by heterozygous PAX6 mutations. Other ocular abnormalities have also been associated with PAX6 changes, and genotype-phenotype correlations are emerging. This review will cover recent advancements in PAX6 regulation, particularly the role of several enhancers that are known to regulate PAX6 during eye development and disease. We will also present an updated overview of the mutation spectrum, where an increasing number of mutations in the non-coding regions have been reported. Novel genotype-phenotype correlations will also be discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Inherited Eye Disease)
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Review
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Rare Diseases: Is the Future Brighter?
Genes 2019, 10(12), 978; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10120978 - 27 Nov 2019
Cited by 21
Abstract
The amount of data collected and managed in (bio)medicine is ever-increasing. Thus, there is a need to rapidly and efficiently collect, analyze, and characterize all this information. Artificial intelligence (AI), with an emphasis on deep learning, holds great promise in this area and [...] Read more.
The amount of data collected and managed in (bio)medicine is ever-increasing. Thus, there is a need to rapidly and efficiently collect, analyze, and characterize all this information. Artificial intelligence (AI), with an emphasis on deep learning, holds great promise in this area and is already being successfully applied to basic research, diagnosis, drug discovery, and clinical trials. Rare diseases (RDs), which are severely underrepresented in basic and clinical research, can particularly benefit from AI technologies. Of the more than 7000 RDs described worldwide, only 5% have a treatment. The ability of AI technologies to integrate and analyze data from different sources (e.g., multi-omics, patient registries, and so on) can be used to overcome RDs’ challenges (e.g., low diagnostic rates, reduced number of patients, geographical dispersion, and so on). Ultimately, RDs’ AI-mediated knowledge could significantly boost therapy development. Presently, there are AI approaches being used in RDs and this review aims to collect and summarize these advances. A section dedicated to congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG), a particular group of orphan RDs that can serve as a potential study model for other common diseases and RDs, has also been included. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioinformatic Analysis for Rare Diseases)
Review
A “NOTCH” Deeper into the Epithelial-To-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) Program in Breast Cancer
Genes 2019, 10(12), 961; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10120961 - 22 Nov 2019
Cited by 28
Abstract
Notch signaling is a primitive signaling pathway having various roles in the normal origin and development of each multicellular organisms. Therefore, any aberration in the pathway will inevitably lead to deadly outcomes such as cancer. It has now been more than two decades [...] Read more.
Notch signaling is a primitive signaling pathway having various roles in the normal origin and development of each multicellular organisms. Therefore, any aberration in the pathway will inevitably lead to deadly outcomes such as cancer. It has now been more than two decades since Notch was acknowledged as an oncogene in mouse mammary tumor virus-infected mice. Since that discovery, activated Notch signaling and consequent up-regulation of tumor-promoting Notch target genes have been observed in human breast cancer. Moreover, consistent over-expression of Notch ligands and receptors has been shown to correlate with poor prognosis in human breast cancer. Notch regulates a number of key processes during breast carcinogenesis, of which, one key phenomenon is epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is a key process for large-scale cell movement during morphogenesis at the time of embryonic development. Cancer cells aided by transcription factors usurp this developmental program to execute the multi-step process of tumorigenesis and metastasis. In this review, we recapitulate recent progress in breast cancer research that has provided new perceptions into the molecular mechanisms behind Notch-mediated EMT regulation during breast tumorigenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Genotoxicity in Infertility and Cancer Development)
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Review
Zebrafish Models of Cancer—New Insights on Modeling Human Cancer in a Non-Mammalian Vertebrate
Genes 2019, 10(11), 935; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10110935 - 15 Nov 2019
Cited by 28
Abstract
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a valuable non-mammalian vertebrate model widely used to study development and disease, including more recently cancer. The evolutionary conservation of cancer-related programs between human and zebrafish is striking and allows extrapolation of research outcomes obtained in fish [...] Read more.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a valuable non-mammalian vertebrate model widely used to study development and disease, including more recently cancer. The evolutionary conservation of cancer-related programs between human and zebrafish is striking and allows extrapolation of research outcomes obtained in fish back to humans. Zebrafish has gained attention as a robust model for cancer research mainly because of its high fecundity, cost-effective maintenance, dynamic visualization of tumor growth in vivo, and the possibility of chemical screening in large numbers of animals at reasonable costs. Novel approaches in modeling tumor growth, such as using transgene electroporation in adult zebrafish, could improve our knowledge about the spatial and temporal control of cancer formation and progression in vivo. Looking at genetic as well as epigenetic alterations could be important to explain the pathogenesis of a disease as complex as cancer. In this review, we highlight classic genetic and transplantation models of cancer in zebrafish as well as provide new insights on advances in cancer modeling. Recent progress in zebrafish xenotransplantation studies and drug screening has shown that zebrafish is a reliable model to study human cancer and could be suitable for evaluating patient-derived xenograft cell invasiveness. Rapid, large-scale evaluation of in vivo drug responses and kinetics in zebrafish could undoubtedly lead to new applications in personalized medicine and combination therapy. For all of the above-mentioned reasons, zebrafish is approaching a future of being a pre-clinical cancer model, alongside the mouse. However, the mouse will continue to be valuable in the last steps of pre-clinical drug screening, mostly because of the highly conserved mammalian genome and biological processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Modeling in Cancer)
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Review
Gut Microbiota Influences Experimental Outcomes in Mouse Models of Colorectal Cancer
Genes 2019, 10(11), 900; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10110900 - 07 Nov 2019
Cited by 19
Abstract
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Mouse models are a valuable resource for use throughout the development and testing of new therapeutic strategies for CRC. Tumorigenesis and response to therapy in humans and mouse models alike are influenced [...] Read more.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Mouse models are a valuable resource for use throughout the development and testing of new therapeutic strategies for CRC. Tumorigenesis and response to therapy in humans and mouse models alike are influenced by the microbial communities that colonize the gut. Differences in the composition of the gut microbiota can confound experimental findings and reduce the replicability and translatability of the resulting data. Despite this, the contribution of resident microbiota to preclinical tumor models is often underappreciated. This review does the following: (1) summarizes evidence that the gut microbiota influence CRC disease phenotypes; (2) outlines factors that can influence the composition of the gut microbiota; and (3) provides strategies that can be incorporated into the experimental design, to account for the influence of the microbiota on intestinal phenotypes in mouse models of CRC. Through careful experimental design and documentation, mouse models can continue to rapidly advance efforts to prevent and treat colon cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Modeling in Cancer)
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Review
Type II DNA Topoisomerases Cause Spontaneous Double-Strand Breaks in Genomic DNA
Genes 2019, 10(11), 868; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10110868 - 30 Oct 2019
Cited by 22
Abstract
Type II DNA topoisomerase enzymes (TOP2) catalyze topological changes by strand passage reactions. They involve passing one intact double stranded DNA duplex through a transient enzyme-bridged break in another (gated helix) followed by ligation of the break by TOP2. A TOP2 poison, etoposide [...] Read more.
Type II DNA topoisomerase enzymes (TOP2) catalyze topological changes by strand passage reactions. They involve passing one intact double stranded DNA duplex through a transient enzyme-bridged break in another (gated helix) followed by ligation of the break by TOP2. A TOP2 poison, etoposide blocks TOP2 catalysis at the ligation step of the enzyme-bridged break, increasing the number of stable TOP2 cleavage complexes (TOP2ccs). Remarkably, such pathological TOP2ccs are formed during the normal cell cycle as well as in postmitotic cells. Thus, this ‘abortive catalysis’ can be a major source of spontaneously arising DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). TOP2-mediated DSBs are also formed upon stimulation with physiological concentrations of androgens and estrogens. The frequent occurrence of TOP2-mediated DSBs was previously not appreciated because they are efficiently repaired. This repair is performed in collaboration with BRCA1, BRCA2, MRE11 nuclease, and tyrosyl-DNA phosphodiesterase 2 (TDP2) with nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) factors. This review first discusses spontaneously arising DSBs caused by the abortive catalysis of TOP2 and then summarizes proteins involved in repairing stalled TOP2ccs and discusses the genotoxicity of the sex hormones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Topoisomerases in Biology and Medicine)
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Review
Cell Cycle-Dependent Control and Roles of DNA Topoisomerase II
Genes 2019, 10(11), 859; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10110859 - 30 Oct 2019
Cited by 27
Abstract
Type II topoisomerases are ubiquitous enzymes in all branches of life that can alter DNA superhelicity and unlink double-stranded DNA segments during processes such as replication and transcription. In cells, type II topoisomerases are particularly useful for their ability to disentangle newly-replicated sister [...] Read more.
Type II topoisomerases are ubiquitous enzymes in all branches of life that can alter DNA superhelicity and unlink double-stranded DNA segments during processes such as replication and transcription. In cells, type II topoisomerases are particularly useful for their ability to disentangle newly-replicated sister chromosomes. Growing lines of evidence indicate that eukaryotic topoisomerase II (topo II) activity is monitored and regulated throughout the cell cycle. Here, we discuss the various roles of topo II throughout the cell cycle, as well as mechanisms that have been found to govern and/or respond to topo II function and dysfunction. Knowledge of how topo II activity is controlled during cell cycle progression is important for understanding how its misregulation can contribute to genetic instability and how modulatory pathways may be exploited to advance chemotherapeutic development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue DNA Topoisomerases in Biology and Medicine)
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Review
Genetic Biomonitoring and Biodiversity Assessment Using Portable Sequencing Technologies: Current Uses and Future Directions
by , and
Genes 2019, 10(11), 858; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10110858 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 29
Abstract
We live in an era of unprecedented biodiversity loss, affecting the taxonomic composition of ecosystems worldwide. The immense task of quantifying human imprints on global ecosystems has been greatly simplified by developments in high-throughput DNA sequencing technology (HTS). Approaches like DNA metabarcoding enable [...] Read more.
We live in an era of unprecedented biodiversity loss, affecting the taxonomic composition of ecosystems worldwide. The immense task of quantifying human imprints on global ecosystems has been greatly simplified by developments in high-throughput DNA sequencing technology (HTS). Approaches like DNA metabarcoding enable the study of biological communities at unparalleled detail. However, current protocols for HTS-based biodiversity exploration have several drawbacks. They are usually based on short sequences, with limited taxonomic and phylogenetic information content. Access to expensive HTS technology is often restricted in developing countries. Ecosystems of particular conservation priority are often remote and hard to access, requiring extensive time from field collection to laboratory processing of specimens. The advent of inexpensive mobile laboratory and DNA sequencing technologies show great promise to facilitate monitoring projects in biodiversity hot-spots around the world. Recent attention has been given to portable DNA sequencing studies related to infectious organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, yet relatively few studies have focused on applying these tools to Eukaryotes, such as plants and animals. Here, we outline the current state of genetic biodiversity monitoring of higher Eukaryotes using Oxford Nanopore Technology’s MinION portable sequencing platform, as well as summarize areas of recent development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MetaGenomics Sequencing In Situ)
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Review
Transcription Factors Associated with Abiotic and Biotic Stress Tolerance and Their Potential for Crops Improvement
Genes 2019, 10(10), 771; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10100771 - 30 Sep 2019
Cited by 73
Abstract
In field conditions, crops are adversely affected by a wide range of abiotic stresses including drought, cold, salt, and heat, as well as biotic stresses including pests and pathogens. These stresses can have a marked effect on crop yield. The present and future [...] Read more.
In field conditions, crops are adversely affected by a wide range of abiotic stresses including drought, cold, salt, and heat, as well as biotic stresses including pests and pathogens. These stresses can have a marked effect on crop yield. The present and future effects of climate change necessitate the improvement of crop stress tolerance. Plants have evolved sophisticated stress response strategies, and genes that encode transcription factors (TFs) that are master regulators of stress-responsive genes are excellent candidates for crop improvement. Related examples in recent studies include TF gene modulation and overexpression approaches in crop species to enhance stress tolerance. However, much remains to be discovered about the diverse plant TFs. Of the >80 TF families, only a few, such as NAC, MYB, WRKY, bZIP, and ERF/DREB, with vital roles in abiotic and biotic stress responses have been intensively studied. Moreover, although significant progress has been made in deciphering the roles of TFs in important cereal crops, fewer TF genes have been elucidated in sorghum. As a model drought-tolerant crop, sorghum research warrants further focus. This review summarizes recent progress on major TF families associated with abiotic and biotic stress tolerance and their potential for crop improvement, particularly in sorghum. Other TF families and non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression are discussed briefly. Despite the emphasis on sorghum, numerous examples from wheat, rice, maize, and barley are included. Collectively, the aim of this review is to illustrate the potential application of TF genes for stress tolerance improvement and the engineering of resistant crops, with an emphasis on sorghum. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Genetics and Genomics)
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Review
MicroRNA in Pancreatic Cancer: From Biology to Therapeutic Potential
Genes 2019, 10(10), 752; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10100752 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 34
Abstract
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive malignancies, accounting for more than 45,750 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. The aggressive nature and late diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, coupled with the limitations of existing chemotherapy, present the pressing need for the development [...] Read more.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive malignancies, accounting for more than 45,750 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. The aggressive nature and late diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, coupled with the limitations of existing chemotherapy, present the pressing need for the development of novel therapeutic strategies. Recent reports have demonstrated a critical role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the initiation, progression, and metastasis of cancer. Furthermore, aberrant expressions of miRNAs have often been associated with the cause and consequence of pancreatic cancer, emphasizing the possible use of miRNAs in the effective management of pancreatic cancer patients. In this review, we provide a brief overview of miRNA biogenesis and its role in fundamental cellular process and miRNA studies in pancreatic cancer patients and animal models. Subsequent sections narrate the role of miRNA in, (i) cell cycle and proliferation; (ii) apoptosis; (iii) invasions and metastasis; and (iv) various cellular signaling pathways. We also describe the role of miRNA’s in pancreatic cancer; (i) diagnosis; (ii) prognosis and (iii) therapeutic intervention. Conclusion section describes the gist of review with future directions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Genotoxicity in Infertility and Cancer Development)
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Review
Thyroid Cancer in the Pediatric Population
Genes 2019, 10(9), 723; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090723 - 18 Sep 2019
Cited by 47
Abstract
Thyroid cancer is rare in the pediatric population, but thyroid carcinomas occurring in children carry a unique set of clinical, pathologic, and molecular characteristics. In comparison to adults, children more often present with aggressive, advanced stage disease. This is at least in part [...] Read more.
Thyroid cancer is rare in the pediatric population, but thyroid carcinomas occurring in children carry a unique set of clinical, pathologic, and molecular characteristics. In comparison to adults, children more often present with aggressive, advanced stage disease. This is at least in part due to the underlying biologic and molecular differences between pediatric and adult thyroid cancer. Specifically, papillary thyroid carcinoma (which accounts for approximately 90% of pediatric thyroid cancer) has a high rate of gene fusions which influence the histologic subtypes encountered in pediatric thyroid tumors, are associated with more extensive extrathyroidal disease, and offer unique options for targeted medical therapies. Differences are also seen in pediatric follicular thyroid cancer, although there are few studies of non-papillary pediatric thyroid tumors published in the literature due to their rarity, and in medullary carcinoma, which is most frequently diagnosed in the pediatric population in the setting of prophylactic thyroidectomies for known multiple endocrine neoplasia syndromes. The overall shift in the spectrum of histotypes and underlying molecular alterations common in pediatric thyroid cancer is important to recognize as it may directly influence diagnostic test selection and therapeutic recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thyroid Cancer: Genetics and Targeted Therapies)
Review
Physical Activity and Brain Health
Genes 2019, 10(9), 720; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090720 - 17 Sep 2019
Cited by 45
Abstract
Physical activity (PA) has been central in the life of our species for most of its history, and thus shaped our physiology during evolution. However, only recently the health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, and of highly energetic diets, are becoming clear. It [...] Read more.
Physical activity (PA) has been central in the life of our species for most of its history, and thus shaped our physiology during evolution. However, only recently the health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, and of highly energetic diets, are becoming clear. It has been also acknowledged that lifestyle and diet can induce epigenetic modifications which modify chromatin structure and gene expression, thus causing even heritable metabolic outcomes. Many studies have shown that PA can reverse at least some of the unwanted effects of sedentary lifestyle, and can also contribute in delaying brain aging and degenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Most importantly, PA improves cognitive processes and memory, has analgesic and antidepressant effects, and even induces a sense of wellbeing, giving strength to the ancient principle of “mens sana in corpore sano” (i.e., a sound mind in a sound body). In this review we will discuss the potential mechanisms underlying the effects of PA on brain health, focusing on hormones, neurotrophins, and neurotransmitters, the release of which is modulated by PA, as well as on the intra- and extra-cellular pathways that regulate the expression of some of the genes involved. Full article
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Review
Advances of Molecular Markers and Their Application for Body Variables and Carcass Traits in Qinchuan Cattle
Genes 2019, 10(9), 717; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090717 - 17 Sep 2019
Cited by 20
Abstract
This review considers the unique characteristics of Chinese cattle and intramuscular fat content (IMF) as factors influencing meat quality, including tenderness, flavor, and juiciness of meat. Due to its nutritional qualities, meat contributes to a healthy and balanced diet. The intramuscular fat content [...] Read more.
This review considers the unique characteristics of Chinese cattle and intramuscular fat content (IMF) as factors influencing meat quality, including tenderness, flavor, and juiciness of meat. Due to its nutritional qualities, meat contributes to a healthy and balanced diet. The intramuscular fat content and eating quality of beef are influenced by many factors, which can generally be divided into on-farm and pre-slaughter factors (breed, sex of cattle, age at slaughter, housing system, diet, and pre-slaughter handling) and postmortem factors (post-slaughter processing, chilling temperature, and packaging). Meat quality traits can also be influenced by the individual genetic background of the animal. Worldwide, the function of genes and genetic polymorphisms that have potential effects on fattening of cattle and beef quality have been investigated. The use of DNA markers is recognized as a powerful and efficient approach to achieve genetic gain for desirable phenotypic characteristics, which is helpful for economic growth. The polymorphisms of the SIRT4, SIRT6, SIRT7, CRTC3, ABHD5, KLF6, H-FABP, and ELOVL6 genes for body and growth characteristics of cattle, and also for beef quality, are considered with the aim of highlighting the significance of beef intramuscular fat content, and that growth, body, and meat quality characteristics are polygenically regulated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Review
Molecular Alterations in Thyroid Cancer: From Bench to Clinical Practice
Genes 2019, 10(9), 709; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090709 - 13 Sep 2019
Cited by 29
Abstract
Thyroid cancer comprises different clinical and histological entities. Whereas differentiated (DTCs) malignancies are sensitive to radioiodine therapy, anaplastic (ATCs) and medullary (MTCs) tumors do not uptake radioactive iodine and display aggressive features associated with a poor prognosis. Moreover, in a majority of DTCs, [...] Read more.
Thyroid cancer comprises different clinical and histological entities. Whereas differentiated (DTCs) malignancies are sensitive to radioiodine therapy, anaplastic (ATCs) and medullary (MTCs) tumors do not uptake radioactive iodine and display aggressive features associated with a poor prognosis. Moreover, in a majority of DTCs, disease evolution leads to the progressive loss of iodine sensitivity. Hence, iodine-refractory DTCs, along with ATCs and MTCs, require alternative treatments reflective of their different tumor biology. In the last decade, the molecular mechanisms promoting thyroid cancer development and progression have been extensively studied. This has led to a better understanding of the genomic landscape, displayed by thyroid malignancies, and to the identification of novel therapeutic targets. Indeed, several pharmacological compounds have been developed for iodine-refractory tumors, with four multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitors already available for DTCs (sorafenib and lenvatinib) and MTCs (cabozantib and vandetanib), and a plethora of drugs currently being evaluated in clinical trials. In this review, we will describe the genomic alterations and biological processes intertwined with thyroid cancer development, also providing a thorough overview of targeted drugs already tested or under investigation for these tumors. Furthermore, given the existing preclinical evidence, we will briefly discuss the potential role of immunotherapy as an additional therapeutic strategy for the treatment of thyroid cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Thyroid Cancer: Genetics and Targeted Therapies)
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Review
Molecular Therapies for Inherited Retinal Diseases—Current Standing, Opportunities and Challenges
Genes 2019, 10(9), 654; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090654 - 28 Aug 2019
Cited by 20
Abstract
Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are both genetically and clinically highly heterogeneous and have long been considered incurable. Following the successful development of a gene augmentation therapy for biallelic RPE65-associated IRD, this view has changed. As a result, many different therapeutic approaches are [...] Read more.
Inherited retinal diseases (IRDs) are both genetically and clinically highly heterogeneous and have long been considered incurable. Following the successful development of a gene augmentation therapy for biallelic RPE65-associated IRD, this view has changed. As a result, many different therapeutic approaches are currently being developed, in particular a large variety of molecular therapies. These are depending on the severity of the retinal degeneration, knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanism underlying each subtype of IRD, and the therapeutic target molecule. DNA therapies include approaches such as gene augmentation therapy, genome editing and optogenetics. For some genetic subtypes of IRD, RNA therapies and compound therapies have also shown considerable therapeutic potential. In this review, we summarize the current state-of-the-art of various therapeutic approaches, including the pros and cons of each strategy, and outline the future challenges that lie ahead in the combat against IRDs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Therapies for Inherited Retinal Diseases)
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Review
Integration of Bioinformatic Predictions and Experimental Data to Identify circRNA-miRNA Associations
Genes 2019, 10(9), 642; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10090642 - 24 Aug 2019
Cited by 33
Abstract
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have recently emerged as a novel class of transcripts, characterized by covalently linked 3′–5′ ends that result in the so-called backsplice junction. During the last few years, thousands of circRNAs have been identified in different organisms. Yet, despite their role [...] Read more.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have recently emerged as a novel class of transcripts, characterized by covalently linked 3′–5′ ends that result in the so-called backsplice junction. During the last few years, thousands of circRNAs have been identified in different organisms. Yet, despite their role as disease biomarker started to emerge, depicting their function remains challenging. Different studies have shown that certain circRNAs act as miRNA sponges, but any attempt to generalize from the single case to the “circ-ome” has failed so far. In this review, we explore the potential to define miRNA “sponging” as a more general function of circRNAs and describe the different approaches to predict miRNA response elements (MREs) in known or novel circRNA sequences. Moreover, we discuss how experiments based on Ago2-IP and experimentally validated miRNA:target duplexes can be used to either prioritize or validate putative miRNA-circRNA associations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue RNA Target Prediction Methods)
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Review
Chromosomics: Bridging the Gap between Genomes and Chromosomes
Genes 2019, 10(8), 627; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10080627 - 20 Aug 2019
Cited by 33
Abstract
The recent advances in DNA sequencing technology are enabling a rapid increase in the number of genomes being sequenced. However, many fundamental questions in genome biology remain unanswered, because sequence data alone is unable to provide insight into how the genome is organised [...] Read more.
The recent advances in DNA sequencing technology are enabling a rapid increase in the number of genomes being sequenced. However, many fundamental questions in genome biology remain unanswered, because sequence data alone is unable to provide insight into how the genome is organised into chromosomes, the position and interaction of those chromosomes in the cell, and how chromosomes and their interactions with each other change in response to environmental stimuli or over time. The intimate relationship between DNA sequence and chromosome structure and function highlights the need to integrate genomic and cytogenetic data to more comprehensively understand the role genome architecture plays in genome plasticity. We propose adoption of the term ‘chromosomics’ as an approach encompassing genome sequencing, cytogenetics and cell biology, and present examples of where chromosomics has already led to novel discoveries, such as the sex-determining gene in eutherian mammals. More importantly, we look to the future and the questions that could be answered as we enter into the chromosomics revolution, such as the role of chromosome rearrangements in speciation and the role more rapidly evolving regions of the genome, like centromeres, play in genome plasticity. However, for chromosomics to reach its full potential, we need to address several challenges, particularly the training of a new generation of cytogeneticists, and the commitment to a closer union among the research areas of genomics, cytogenetics, cell biology and bioinformatics. Overcoming these challenges will lead to ground-breaking discoveries in understanding genome evolution and function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mechanisms Driving Karyotype Evolution and Genomic Architecture)
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Review
Host Invasion by Pathogenic Amoebae: Epithelial Disruption by Parasite Proteins
Genes 2019, 10(8), 618; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10080618 - 14 Aug 2019
Cited by 19
Abstract
The epithelium represents the first and most extensive line of defence against pathogens, toxins and pollutant agents in humans. In general, pathogens have developed strategies to overcome this barrier and use it as an entrance to the organism. Entamoeba histolytica, Naegleria fowleri [...] Read more.
The epithelium represents the first and most extensive line of defence against pathogens, toxins and pollutant agents in humans. In general, pathogens have developed strategies to overcome this barrier and use it as an entrance to the organism. Entamoeba histolytica, Naegleria fowleri and Acanthamoeba spp. are amoebae mainly responsible for intestinal dysentery, meningoencephalitis and keratitis, respectively. These amoebae cause significant morbidity and mortality rates. Thus, the identification, characterization and validation of molecules participating in host-parasite interactions can provide attractive targets to timely intervene disease progress. In this work, we present a compendium of the parasite adhesins, lectins, proteases, hydrolases, kinases, and others, that participate in key pathogenic events. Special focus is made for the analysis of assorted molecules and mechanisms involved in the interaction of the parasites with epithelial surface receptors, changes in epithelial junctional markers, implications on the barrier function, among others. This review allows the assessment of initial host-pathogen interaction, to correlate it to the potential of parasite invasion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Proteins in Parasitic Protozoa)
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Review
PARP Inhibitors in Prostate Cancer–the Preclinical Rationale and Current Clinical Development
Genes 2019, 10(8), 565; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10080565 - 26 Jul 2019
Cited by 23
Abstract
Prostate cancer is globally the second most commonly diagnosed cancer type in men. Recent studies suggest that mutations in DNA repair genes are associated with aggressive forms of prostate cancer and castration resistance. Prostate cancer with DNA repair defects may be vulnerable to [...] Read more.
Prostate cancer is globally the second most commonly diagnosed cancer type in men. Recent studies suggest that mutations in DNA repair genes are associated with aggressive forms of prostate cancer and castration resistance. Prostate cancer with DNA repair defects may be vulnerable to therapeutic targeting by Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors. PARP enzymes modify target proteins with ADP-ribose in a process called PARylation and are in particular involved in single strand break repair. The rationale behind the clinical trials that led to the current use of PARP inhibitors to treat cancer was to target the dependence of BRCA-mutant cancer cells on the PARP-associated repair pathway due to deficiency in homologous recombination. However, recent studies have proposed therapeutic potential for PARP inhibitors in tumors with a variety of vulnerabilities generating dependence on PARP beyond the synthetic lethal targeting of BRCA1/BRCA2 mutated tumors, suggesting a wider potential than initially thought. Importantly, PARP-associated DNA repair pathways are also closely connected to androgen receptor (AR) signaling, which is a key regulator of tumor growth and a central therapeutic target in prostate cancer. In this review, we provide an extensive overview of published and ongoing trials exploring PARP inhibitors in treatment of prostate cancer and discuss the underlying biology. Several clinical trials are currently studying PARP inhibitor mono-and combination therapies in the treatment of prostate cancer. Integration of drugs targeting DNA repair pathways in prostate cancer treatment modalities allows developing of more personalized care taking also into account the genetic makeup of individual tumors. Full article
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Review
A Guide on Deep Learning for Complex Trait Genomic Prediction
Genes 2019, 10(7), 553; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/genes10070553 - 20 Jul 2019
Cited by 28
Abstract
Deep learning (DL) has emerged as a powerful tool to make accurate predictions from complex data such as image, text, or video. However, its ability to predict phenotypic values from molecular data is less well studied. Here, we describe the theoretical foundations of [...] Read more.
Deep learning (DL) has emerged as a powerful tool to make accurate predictions from complex data such as image, text, or video. However, its ability to predict phenotypic values from molecular data is less well studied. Here, we describe the theoretical foundations of DL and provide a generic code that can be easily modified to suit specific needs. DL comprises a wide variety of algorithms which depend on numerous hyperparameters. Careful optimization of hyperparameter values is critical to avoid overfitting. Among the DL architectures currently tested in genomic prediction, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) seem more promising than multilayer perceptrons (MLPs). A limitation of DL is in interpreting the results. This may not be relevant for genomic prediction in plant or animal breeding but can be critical when deciding the genetic risk to a disease. Although DL technologies are not “plug-and-play”, they are easily implemented using Keras and TensorFlow public software. To illustrate the principles described here, we implemented a Keras-based code in GitHub. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genomic Prediction Methods for Sequencing Data)
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Review
Ketogenic Diet and Microbiota: Friends or Enemies?
by