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  1. Qu, Li-Jia (Ed.)

    Pleiotropy—when a single gene controls two or more seemingly unrelated traits—has been shown to impact genes with effects on flowering time, leaf architecture, and inflorescence morphology in maize. However, the genome-wide impact of biological pleiotropy across all maize phenotypes is largely unknown. Here, we investigate the extent to which biological pleiotropy impacts phenotypes within maize using GWAS summary statistics reanalyzed from previously published metabolite, field, and expression phenotypes across the Nested Association Mapping population and Goodman Association Panel. Through phenotypic saturation of 120,597 traits, we obtain over 480 million significant quantitative trait nucleotides. We estimate that only 1.56–32.3% of intervals show some degree of pleiotropy. We then assess the relationship between pleiotropy and various biological features such as gene expression, chromatin accessibility, sequence conservation, and enrichment for gene ontology terms. We find very little relationship between pleiotropy and these variables when compared to permuted pleiotropy. We hypothesize that biological pleiotropy of common alleles is not widespread in maize and is highly impacted by nuisance terms such as population structure and linkage disequilibrium. Natural selection on large standing natural variation in maize populations may target wide and large effect variants, leaving the prevalence of detectable pleiotropy relatively low.

     
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  2. The 5 ′ untranslated region (UTR) sequence of eukaryotic mRNAs may contain upstream open reading frames (uORFs), which can regulate translation of the main ORF (mORF). The current model of translational regulation by uORFs posits that when a ribosome scans a mRNA and encounters an uORF, translation of that uORF can prevent ribosomes from reaching the mORF and cause decreased mORF translation. In this study, we first observed that rare variants in the 5 ′ UTR dysregulate maize ( Zea mays L. ) protein abundance. Upon further investigation, we found that rare variants near the start codon of uORFs can repress or derepress mORF translation, causing allelic changes in protein abundance. This finding holds for common variants as well, and common variants that modify uORF start codons also contribute disproportionately to metabolic and whole-plant phenotypes, suggesting that translational regulation by uORFs serves an adaptive function. These results provide evidence for the mechanisms by which natural sequence variation modulates gene expression, and ultimately, phenotype. 
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  3. Hake, Sarah (Ed.)

    Genomic prediction typically relies on associations between single-site polymorphisms and traits of interest. This representation of genomic variability has been successful for predicting many complex traits. However, it usually cannot capture the combination of alleles in haplotypes and it has generated little insight about the biological function of polymorphisms. Here we present a novel and cost-effective method for imputingcishaplotype associated RNA expression (HARE), studied their transferability across tissues, and evaluated genomic prediction models within and across populations. HARE focuses on tightly linkedcisacting causal variants in the immediate vicinity of the gene, while excludingtranseffects from diffusion and metabolism. Therefore, HARE estimates were more transferrable across different tissues and populations compared to measured transcript expression. We also showed that HARE estimates captured one-third of the variation in gene expression. HARE estimates were used in genomic prediction models evaluated within and across two diverse maize panels–a diverse association panel (Goodman Association panel) and a large half-sib panel (Nested Association Mapping panel)–for predicting 26 complex traits. HARE resulted in up to 15% higher prediction accuracy than control approaches that preserved haplotype structure, suggesting that HARE carried functional information in addition to information about haplotype structure. The largest increase was observed when the model was trained in the Nested Association Mapping panel and tested in the Goodman Association panel. Additionally, HARE yielded higher within-population prediction accuracy as compared to measured expression values. The accuracy achieved by measured expression was variable across tissues, whereas accuracy by HARE was more stable across tissues. Therefore, imputing RNA expression of genes by haplotype is stable, cost-effective, and transferable across populations.

     
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  4. null (Ed.)