Genetics

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Genome-wide association studies of COVID-19 have identified genetic loci affecting disease severity, but the mechanisms remain to be fully described. Here, the authors use genetically predicted transcriptome, splicing and proteome data to identify potential genes and pathways underlying COVID- 19 severity.

    • Gita A. Pathak
    • , Kritika Singh
    •  & Nicholas Mancuso
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Germline mutations in the DNMT3A gene can cause an overgrowth syndrome associated with behavioural and hematopoietic phenotypes. Here the authors describe a mouse model of this syndrome that recapitulates many of these features, including conserved alterations in DNA methylation in the blood cells of both species.

    • Amanda M. Smith
    • , Taylor A. LaValle
    •  & Timothy J. Ley
  • Article
    | Open Access

    To explore the nature of wild and cultivated mandarins, the authors carry out genomic analysis of diverse east Asian citrus. The discovery of a wild species Citrus ryukyuensis native to the Ryukyu islands and a new population of wild mainland Asian mandarin explains the origin and diversity of mandarins and their ability to reproduce apomictically.

    • Guohong Albert Wu
    • , Chikatoshi Sugimoto
    •  & Daniel S. Rokhsar
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While polygenic risk scores have been shown to be correlated with disease risk, there is little agreement on how the score should be calculated. Here the authors investigate risk scores for Alzheimer’s disease, finding that the most effective approach includes an APOE score and a polygenic score excluding APOE.

    • Ganna Leonenko
    • , Emily Baker
    •  & Valentina Escott-Price
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Early vertebrate genomes were shaped by multiple whole-genome duplication (WGD) events of debated timings. Here the authors’ reconstruction of ancestral genomes using the probabilistic macrosynteny model supports a WGD shared by all vertebrates and a gnathostome-specific WGD, and reveals evidence of a cyclostome-specific genome triplication.

    • Yoichiro Nakatani
    • , Prashant Shingate
    •  & Byrappa Venkatesh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Testicular germ cell tumors are highly heritable, and the authors present the largest genome association study, identifying 22 novel loci, which account for a third of those identified to date. Implicated pathways include male germ cell development and differentiation, and chromosomal segregation.

    • John Pluta
    • , Louise C. Pyle
    •  & Christian Kubisch
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The ability of HIV to alternate between acute and latent forms is thought to rely on a transcriptional feedback loop where polymerase pausing is released by the viral protein Tat. Here, the authors show that viral genome transcription can occur in a burst-like stochastic manner in the absence of Tat.

    • Katjana Tantale
    • , Encar Garcia-Oliver
    •  & Edouard Bertrand
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Heterogeneity in leiomyosarcomas (LMS) makes treatment of the disease challenging. Here the authors analyze LMS heterogeneity and molecular LMS subtypes using genomics and transcriptomics, finding origins in distinct lineages and associations with survival, in addition to the early emergence of metastatic clones.

    • Nathaniel D. Anderson
    • , Yael Babichev
    •  & Adam Shlien
  • Article
    | Open Access

    We lack a comprehensive understanding of how Neanderthal ancestry influences human traits. This study finds that regions with Neanderthal ancestry are broadly depleted of trait-associated variation; yet, introgressed variants likely contributed to human adaptation in a few traits, like skin color and immune response modulation.

    • Evonne McArthur
    • , David C. Rinker
    •  & John A. Capra
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Different factors protect cells from harmful R-loops, but the way these are formed is still unclear. Authors show here that R-loops form co-transcriptionally by different manners and cells possess specialized mechanisms to prevent them in each case, a major mechanism being independent of replication and another one being linked to replication.

    • Marta San Martin-Alonso
    • , María E. Soler-Oliva
    •  & Andrés Aguilera
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The role of regulatory cis-elements in carcinogenesis and metastasis in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma remains crucial. Here the authors investigate H3K27ac-marked active enhancer profiles and transcriptomes in different types of esophageal tissues and identify oncogenic events and potential therapeutic targets.

    • Bo Ye
    • , Dandan Fan
    •  & Yunbo Qiao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Globin loci harbor genes that are expressed embryonically and silenced postnatally. Here the authors show that zeta-globin silencing depends upon selective hypoacetylation of its TAD subdomain, which blocks its interaction with the alpha-globin super-enhancer, and zeta-globin can be reactivated by acetylation.

    • Andrew J. King
    • , Duantida Songdej
    •  & Christian Babbs
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Mosquito-borne diseases pose significant global health burdens. In this review, the authors explore Wolbachia and genome engineering approaches to mosquito-borne disease population control.

    • Guan-Hong Wang
    • , Stephanie Gamez
    •  & Omar S. Akbari
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Poised enhancers (PEs) in embryonic stem cells have accessible chromatin, are bound by repressive Polycomb Group proteins, and interact with their targets prior to activation. However, whether this is recapitulated in vivo is unknown. Here the authors show PEs display these features in mouse embryos, are prevalent across vertebrates, and are required for developmental gene expression.

    • Giuliano Crispatzu
    • , Rizwan Rehimi
    •  & Alvaro Rada-Iglesias
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Histone H3K9 methylation (H3K9me) states define repressed chromatin in eukaryotic cells. Here the authors reveal complete loss of all H3K9me in mammalian cells through successive deletion of H3K9 methyltransferase genes that results in the dissolution of heterochromatin and the derepression of nearly all repeat families.

    • Thomas Montavon
    • , Nicholas Shukeir
    •  & Thomas Jenuwein
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Identifying causal variants and genes in genome-wide association studies remains a challenge, an issue that is ameliorated with larger sample sizes. Here the authors meta-analyze kidney function genome-wide association studies to identify new loci and fine-map loci to home in on variants and genes involved in kidney function.

    • Kira J. Stanzick
    • , Yong Li
    •  & Thomas W. Winkler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The relevance and underlying molecular mechanisms of epigenetic regulation in squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) await further characterization. Here, the authors show a transcriptional regulatory loop involving SREBF1, TP63 and KLF5 driving tumourigenesis in SCC through fatty acid, ERBB and mTOR pathway regulation.

    • Li-Yan Li
    • , Qian Yang
    •  & De-Chen Lin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Little is known on how mitonuclear interactions influence genomic divergence among hybrid and parental lineages. A study of hybridizing wood warbler species complex finds a nuclear gene block with mitochondrial functions coevolves with mitochondrial genome, driven by climate-associated divergent selection underlying hybrid-parental population divergence.

    • Silu Wang
    • , Madelyn J. Ore
    •  & Darren Irwin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The virulence of some infectious diseases seems to depend on the sex of the host the infection came from, as well as that of the current host. Here, McLeod et al. develop an epidemiological model to investigate the evolution of virulence when pathogens can retain epigenetic memories of their previous host.

    • David V. McLeod
    • , Geoff Wild
    •  & Francisco Úbeda
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Kras is frequently mutated in lung cancer and two isoforms are generated via alternative splicing. Here, the authors show that the two isoforms have divergent roles in cancer stem cells and the main tumour cell population, which are regulated by hypoxia and endoplasmic reticulum stress.

    • Wei-Ching Chen
    • , Minh D. To
    •  & Allan Balmain
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Charting the landscape of 5hmC in human tissues is fundamental to understanding its regulatory functions. Here, we systematically profiled the whole-genome 5hmC landscape at single-base resolution for 19 types of human tissues and found 5hmC shows tissue-specific patterns.

    • Bo He
    • , Chao Zhang
    •  & Chengqi Yi
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Single-cell RNA-seq reveals the cellular heterogeneity in development and disease. Here the authors present a single-nucleus RNA-seq2 that allows deep characterization of nuclei isolated from frozen archived tissues, apply it for transcriptional profiling of individual hepatocytes, and determine a functional crosstalk between liver zonation and ploidy.

    • M. L. Richter
    • , I. K. Deligiannis
    •  & C. P. Martinez-Jimenez
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Welwitschia mirabilis is a unique plant that only has two leaves, but it can survive in hostile conditions of the African desert. Here, the authors report its chromosome-level genome assembly and discuss how gene function and regulation have given rise to its unique morphology and environmental adaptions.

    • Tao Wan
    • , Zhiming Liu
    •  & Qingfeng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Stable epigenetic changes are relatively rare. Here the authors report that mating induces stable silencing of a single-copy transgene in C. elegans. Components of small RNA silencing are required for this stable silencing.

    • Sindhuja Devanapally
    • , Pravrutha Raman
    •  & Antony M. Jose
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mutations in 5’ untranslated regions (UTRs) have a functional role in gene expression in cancer. Here, the authors develop a sequencing-based high throughput functional assay named PLUMAGE and show the effects of these mutations on gene expression and their association with clinical outcomes in prostate cancer.

    • Yiting Lim
    • , Sonali Arora
    •  & Andrew C. Hsieh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Existing genetic prediction tools typically assume that genetic variants contribute equally towards the phenotype. The authors develop eight prediction tools that allow the user to specify the heritability model, and show that these tools enable substantially improved prediction of complex traits.

    • Qianqian Zhang
    • , Florian Privé
    •  & Doug Speed
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mosaic loss of chromosome Y (LOY) is a common form of clonal mosaicism in leukocytes. Here, the authors extend genetic association analyses to rare variation using exome-sequence data from 82,277 males, finding that loss-of-function alleles in GIGYF1 are associated with six-fold higher susceptibility to both LOY and Type 2 Diabetes.

    • Yajie Zhao
    • , Stasa Stankovic
    •  & John R. B. Perry
  • Article
    | Open Access

    While many genetic loci have been found to be associated with disease, not many have had their causal variants and mechanisms investigated. Here, the authors experimentally dissect two loci near GDF5 which are associated with two different joint disorders and which map to independent regulatory elements.

    • Pushpanathan Muthuirulan
    • , Dewei Zhao
    •  & Terence D. Capellini
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pecan is an important specialty crop that has experienced extensive interspecific hybridization and nearly-obligate outcrossing. Here, the authors assemble diploid genomes of four outbred genotypes, identify interspecific introgressions through comparative genomics analyses, and map QTLs associated with pest resistance.

    • John T. Lovell
    • , Nolan B. Bentley
    •  & Jennifer J. Randall
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Few studies have provided functional analysis of the epigenetic landscape in the regenerating liver. Here the authors define chromatin states in the quiescent vs. regenerating mouse liver through integration of genome wide profiles of DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin accessibility, identifying H3K27me3 as an epigenetic mark conferring regenerative potential.

    • Chi Zhang
    • , Filippo Macchi
    •  & Kirsten C. Sadler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    α-ketoglutarate (αKG) is an intermediate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle that is required in the nucleus for genomic DNA demethylation by Tet3. Here, the authors show that the enzyme glutamate dehydrogenase, which converts glutamate to αKG, is redirected from the mitochondria to the nucleus.

    • Franziska R. Traube
    • , Dilara Özdemir
    •  & Thomas Carell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ataxia Telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) is a key regulator of replication stress response; yet, mutations within the ATR gene cause human ATR-Seckel Syndrome associated with microcephaly and intellectual disability. Here, the authors show neuron-specific ATR deletion increases intrinsic neuronal and epileptiform activity, revealing a function of ATR beyond its role in DNA damage response.

    • Murat Kirtay
    • , Josefine Sell
    •  & Zhao-Qi Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How natural selection shapes the rate and molecular spectrum of mutations is debated. Yeast mutation accumulation experiments identify a gene promoting mutagenesis and show stabilizing selection maintaining the mutation rate above the drift barrier. Selection also preserves the mutation spectrum.

    • Haoxuan Liu
    •  & Jianzhi Zhang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Abnormal blood lipid levels are important risk factors for cardiovascular and other various diseases. Here the authors conduct a large-scale multi-ethnic epigenome-wide association study combined with epigenetic (cis-QTL and eQTM) data, and identify CpG-lipid traits associations that are specific to or common across racial/ethnic groups.

    • Min-A Jhun
    • , Michael Mendelson
    •  & Themistocles L. Assimes
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The evolutionary and domestication history of apricots is poorly understood. Here, the authors provide four apricot high-quality genome assemblies, the genomes of 578 accessions from natural and cultivated populations, and show that Chinese and European apricots constitute two different gene pools, resulting from independent domestication events.

    • Alexis Groppi
    • , Shuo Liu
    •  & Véronique Decroocq
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The cellular heterogeneity in brain obscures the identification of robust cellular regulatory networks. Here the authors integrate genome-wide chromosome conformation data from sorted neurons and glia, with transcriptomic and enhancer profiles, to characterize cell-type-specific gene regulatory landscapes in the human brain, and provide insights into cell-type-specific gene regulatory networks in brain disorders.

    • Benxia Hu
    • , Hyejung Won
    •  & Daniel H. Geschwind
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Alpha-fetoprotein producing gastric carcinomas (AFPGC) are rare and aggressive. Here, the authors profile AFPGC tumours using whole exome sequencing, and find amplifications in CCNE1 and ERBB2 that are associated with poor outcomes but are potential therapeutic targets, as shown in patient-derived xenografts.

    • Jun Lu
    • , Yongfeng Ding
    •  & Lisong Teng
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The gene regulatory network controlling the bifurcation of common progenitors into the neural retina and retinal-pigmented epithelium programs remains poorly understood. Here the authors study transcriptome dynamics and chromatin accessibility during this process in zebrafish, revealing network redundancy, as well as context-dependent and sequential transcription factor activity.

    • Lorena Buono
    • , Jorge Corbacho
    •  & Juan-Ramón Martínez-Morales