Ancestral grass karyotype reconstruction unravels new mechanisms of genome shuffling as a source of plant evolution.
Genome Res. 20:1545-57. Abstract
The comparison of the chromosome numbers of today's species with common reconstructed paleo-ancestors has led to intense speculation of how chromosomes have been rearranged over time in mammals. However, similar studies in plants with respect to genome evolution as well as molecular mechanisms leading to mosaic synteny blocks have been lacking due to relevant examples of evolutionary zooms from genomic sequences. Such studies require genomes of species that belong to the same family but are diverged to fall into different subfamilies. Our most important crops belong to the family of the grasses, where a number of genomes have now been sequenced. Based on detailed paleogenomics, using inference from n = 5-12 grass ancestral karyotypes (AGKs) in terms of gene content and order, we delineated sequence intervals comprising a complete set of junction break points of orthologous regions from rice, maize, sorghum, and Brachypodium genomes, representing three different subfamilies and different polyploidization events. By focusing on these sequence intervals, we could show that the chromosome number variation/reduction from the n = 12 common paleo-ancestor was driven by nonrandom centric double-strand break repair events. It appeared that the centromeric/telomeric illegitimate recombination between nonhomologous chromosomes led to nested chromosome fusions (NCFs) and synteny break points (SBPs). When intervals comprising NCFs were compared in their structure, we concluded that SBPs (1) were meiotic recombination hotspots, (2) corresponded to high sequence turnover loci through repeat invasion, and (3) might be considered as hotspots of evolutionary novelty that could act as a reservoir for producing adaptive phenotypes.
The maize high-lysine mutant opaque7 is defective in an acyl-CoA synthetase-like protein.
Genetics. 189:1271-80. Abstract
Maize (Zea mays) has a large class of seed mutants with opaque or nonvitreous endosperms that could improve the nutritional quality of our food supply. The phenotype of some of them appears to be linked to the improper formation of protein bodies (PBs) where zein storage proteins are deposited. Although a number of genes affecting endosperm vitreousness have been isolated, it has been difficult to clone opaque7 (o7), mainly because of its low penetrance in many genetic backgrounds. The o7-reference (o7-ref) mutant arose spontaneously in a W22 inbred, but is poorly expressed in other lines. We report here the isolation of o7 with a combination of map-based cloning and transposon tagging. We first identified an o7 candidate gene by map-based cloning. The putative o7-ref allele has a 12-bp in-frame deletion of codons 350-353 in a 528-codon-long acyl-CoA synthetase-like gene (ACS). We then confirmed this candidate gene by generating another mutant allele from a transposon-tagging experiment using the Activator/Dissociation (Ac/Ds) system in a W22 background. The second allele, isolated from approximately 1 million gametes, presented a 2-kb Ds insertion that resembles the single Ds component of double-Ds, McClintock's original Dissociation element, at codon 496 of the ACS gene. PBs exhibited striking membrane invaginations in the o7-ref allele and a severe number reduction in the Ds-insertion mutant, respectively. We propose a model in which the ACS enzyme plays a key role in membrane biogenesis, by taking part in protein acylation, and that altered PBs render the seed nonvitreous.
Differential gene expression and epiregulation of alpha zein gene copies in maize haplotypes.
PLoS Genet. 7:e1002131. Abstract
Multigenic traits are very common in plants and cause diversity. Nutritional quality is such a trait, and one of its factors is the composition and relative expression of storage protein genes. In maize, they represent a medium-size gene family distributed over several chromosomes and unlinked locations. Two inbreds, B73 and BSSS53, both from the Iowa Stiff Stock Synthetic collection, have been selected to analyze allelic and non-allelic variability in these regions that span between 80-500 kb of chromosomal DNA. Genes were copied to unlinked sites before and after allotetraploidization of maize, but before transposition enlarged intergenic regions in a haplotype-specific manner. Once genes are copied, expression of donor genes is reduced relative to new copies. Epigenetic regulation seems to contribute to silencing older copies, because some of them can be reactivated when endosperm is maintained as cultured cells, indicating that copy number variation might contribute to a reserve of gene copies. Bisulfite sequencing of the promoter region also shows different methylation patterns among gene clusters as well as differences between tissues, suggesting a possible position effect on regulatory mechanisms as a result of inserting copies at unlinked locations. The observations offer a potential paradigm for how different gene families evolve and the impact this has on their expression and regulation of their members.
A system for shotgun DNA sequencing.
Nucleic acids research. 9:309-21. Abstract
A multipurpose cloning site has been introduced into the gene for beta-galactosidase (beta-D-galactosidegalactohydrolase, EC 3.21.23) on the single-stranded DNA phage M13mp2 (Gronenborn, B. and Messing, J., (1978) Nature 272, 375-377) with the use of synthetic DNA. The site contributes 14 additional codons and does not affect the ability of the lac gene product to undergo intracistronic complementation. Two restriction endonuclease cleavage sites in the viral gene II were removed by single base-pair mutations. Using the new phage M13mp7, DNA fragments generated by cleavage with a variety of different restriction endonucleases can be cloned directly. The nucleotide sequences of the cloned DNAs can be determined rapidly by DNA synthesis using chain terminators and a synthetic oligonucleotide primer complementary to 15 bases preceeding the new array of restriction sites.
Importance of anchor genomes for any plant genome project.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 95:2017-20. Abstract
Progress in agricultural and environmental technologies is hampered by a slower rate of gene discovery in plants than animals. The vast pool of genes in plants, however, will be an important resource for insertion of genes, via biotechnological procedures, into an array of plants, generating unique germ plasms not achievable by conventional breeding. It just became clear that genomes of grasses have evolved in a manner analogous to Lego blocks. Large chromosome segments have been reshuffled and stuffer pieces added between genes. Although some genomes have become very large, the genome with the fewest stuffer pieces, the rice genome, is the Rosetta Stone of all the bigger grass genomes. This means that sequencing the rice genome as anchor genome of the grasses will provide instantaneous access to the same genes in the same relative physical position in other grasses (e.g., corn and wheat), without the need to sequence each of these genomes independently. (i) The sequencing of the entire genome of rice as anchor genome for the grasses will accelerate plant gene discovery in many important crops (e.g., corn, wheat, and rice) by several orders of magnitudes and reduce research and development costs for government and industry at a faster pace. (ii) Costs for sequencing entire genomes have come down significantly. Because of its size, rice is only 12% of the human or the corn genome, and technology improvements by the human genome project are completely transferable, translating in another 50% reduction of the costs. (iii) The physical mapping of the rice genome by a group of Japanese researchers provides a jump start for sequencing the genome and forming an international consortium. Otherwise, other countries would do it alone and own proprietary positions.
Sequence composition and genome organization of maize.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 101:14349-54. Abstract
Zea mays L. ssp. mays, or corn, one of the most important crops and a model for plant genetics, has a genome approximately 80% the size of the human genome. To gain global insight into the organization of its genome, we have sequenced the ends of large insert clones, yielding a cumulative length of one-eighth of the genome with a DNA sequence read every 6.2 kb, thereby describing a large percentage of the genes and transposable elements of maize in an unbiased approach. Based on the accumulative 307 Mb of sequence, repeat sequences occupy 58% and genic regions occupy 7.5%. A conservative estimate predicts approximately 59,000 genes, which is higher than in any other organism sequenced so far. Because the sequences are derived from bacterial artificial chromosome clones, which are ordered in overlapping bins, tagged genes are also ordered along continuous chromosomal segments. Based on this positional information, roughly one-third of the genes appear to consist of tandemly arrayed gene families. Although the ancestor of maize arose by tetraploidization, fewer than half of the genes appear to be present in two orthologous copies, indicating that the maize genome has undergone significant gene loss since the duplication event.
Filamentous coliphage M13 as a cloning vehicle: insertion of a HindII fragment of the lac regulatory region in M13 replicative form in vitro.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 74:3642-6. Abstract
A HindII restriction fragment comprising the Escherichia coli lac regulatory region and the genetic information for the alpha peptide of beta-galactosidase (beta-D-galactosidegalactohydrolase, EC. 18.104.22.168) has been inserted into 1 of the 10 Bsu I cleavage sites of M13 by blunt end ligation. A stable hybrid phage was isolated and identified by its ability to complement the lac alpha function. Further characterization of the hybrid phage includes retransformation studies, agarose gel electrophoresis, DNA-DNA hybridization, and heteroduplex mapping. The insertion point has been localized at 0.083 map unit on thewild-type circular map-i.e., within the intergenic region. The results prove that part of the intergenic region is nonessential and that the phage can be used as a cloning vehicle.
Organization and variability of the maize genome.
Current opinion in plant biology. 9:157-63. Abstract
With a size approximating that of the human genome, the maize genome is about to become the largest plant genome yet sequenced. Contributing to that size are a whole-genome duplication event and a retrotransposition explosion that produced a large amount of repetitive DNA. This DNA is greatly under-represented in cDNA collections, so analysis of the maize transcriptome has been an expedient way of assessing the gene content of maize. Over 2 million maize cDNA sequences are now available, making maize the third most widely studied organism, behind mouse and man. To date, the sequencing of large-sized DNA clones has been largely driven by the genetic interests of different investigators. The recent construction of a physical map that is anchored to the genetic map will aid immensely in the maize genome-sequencing effort. However, studies showing that the repetitive DNA component is highly polymorphic among maize inbred lines point to the need to sample vertically a few specific regions of the genome to evaluate the extent and importance of this variability.