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  1. Abstract

    Single-cell ATAC-seq has emerged as a powerful approach for revealing candidate cis-regulatory elements genome-wide at cell-type resolution. However, current single-cell methods suffer from limited throughput and high costs. Here, we present a novel technique called scifi-ATAC-seq, single-cell combinatorial fluidic indexing ATAC-sequencing, which combines a barcoded Tn5 pre-indexing step with droplet-based single-cell ATAC-seq using the 10X Genomics platform. With scifi-ATAC-seq, up to 200,000 nuclei across multiple samples can be indexed in a single emulsion reaction, representing an approximately 20-fold increase in throughput compared to the standard 10X Genomics workflow.

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  2. The ease and throughput of single-cell genomics have steadily improved, and its current trajectory suggests that surveying single-cell populations will become routine. We discuss the merger of quantitative genetics with single-cell genomics and emphasize how this synergizes with advantages intrinsic to plants. Single-cell population genomics provides increased detection resolution when mapping variants that control molecular traits, including gene expression or chromatin accessibility. Additionally, single-cell population genomics reveals the cell types in which variants act and, when combined with organism-level phenotype measurements, unveils which cellular contexts impact higher-order traits. Emerging technologies, notably multiomics, can facilitate the measurement of both genetic changes and genomic traits in single cells, enabling single-cell genetic experiments. The implementation of single-cell genetics will advance the investigation of the genetic architecture of complex molecular traits and provide new experimental paradigms to study eukaryotic genetics.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 27, 2024
  3. Introduction

    Gene expression is often controlled via cis-regulatory elements (CREs) that modulate the production of transcripts. For multi-gene genetic engineering and synthetic biology, precise control of transcription is crucial, both to insulate the transgenes from unwanted native regulation and to prevent readthrough or cross-regulation of transgenes within a multi-gene cassette. To prevent this activity, insulator-like elements, more properly referred to as transcriptional blockers, could be inserted to separate the transgenes so that they are independently regulated. However, only a few validated insulator-like elements are available for plants, and they tend to be larger than ideal.


    To identify additional potential insulator-like sequences, we conducted a genome-wide analysis ofUtricularia gibba(humped bladderwort), one of the smallest known plant genomes, with genes that are naturally close together. The 10 best insulator-like candidates were evaluated in vivo for insulator-like activity.


    We identified a total of 4,656 intergenic regions with expression profiles suggesting insulator-like activity. Comparisons of these regions across 45 other plant species (representing Monocots, Asterids, and Rosids) show low levels of syntenic conservation of these regions. Genome-wide analysis of unmethylated regions (UMRs) indicates ~87% of the targeted regions are unmethylated; however, interpretation of this is complicated becauseU. gibbahas remarkably low levels of methylation across the genome, so that large UMRs frequently extend over multiple genes and intergenic spaces. We also could not identify any conserved motifs among our selected intergenic regions or shared with existing insulator-like elements for plants. Despite this lack of conservation, however, testing of 10 selected intergenic regions for insulator-like activity found two elements on par with a previously published element (EXOB) while being significantly smaller.


    Given the small number of insulator-like elements currently available for plants, our results make a significant addition to available tools. The high hit rate (2 out of 10) also implies that more useful sequences are likely present in our selected intergenic regions; additional validation work will be required to identify which will be most useful for plant genetic engineering.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 8, 2024
  4. Abstract Although DNA methylation is an important gene regulatory mechanism in mammals, its function in arthropods remains poorly understood. Studies in eusocial insects have argued for its role in caste development by regulating gene expression and splicing. However, such findings are not always consistent across studies, and have therefore remained controversial. Here we use CRISPR/Cas9 to mutate the maintenance DNA methyltransferase DNMT1 in the clonal raider ant, Ooceraea biroi . Mutants have greatly reduced DNA methylation, but no obvious developmental phenotypes, demonstrating that, unlike mammals, ants can undergo normal development without DNMT1 or DNA methylation. Additionally, we find no evidence of DNA methylation regulating caste development. However, mutants are sterile, whereas in wild-type ants, DNMT1 is localized to the ovaries and maternally provisioned into nascent oocytes. This supports the idea that DNMT1 plays a crucial but unknown role in the insect germline. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  5. Abstract Background The function of DNA methyltransferase genes of insects is a puzzle, because an association between gene expression and methylation is not universal for insects. If the genes normally involved in cytosine methylation are not influencing gene expression, what might be their role? We previously demonstrated that gametogenesis of Oncopeltus fasciatus is interrupted at meiosis following knockdown of DNA methyltransferase 1 ( Dnmt1 ) and this is unrelated to changes in levels of cytosine methylation. Here, using transcriptomics, we tested the hypothesis that Dmnt1 is a part of the meiotic gene pathway. Testes, which almost exclusively contain gametes at varying stages of development, were sampled at 7 days and 14 days following knockdown of Dmnt1 using RNAi. Results Using microscopy, we found actively dividing spermatocysts were reduced at both timepoints. However, as with other studies, we saw Dnmt1 knockdown resulted in condensed nuclei after mitosis–meiosis transition, and then cellular arrest. We found limited support for a functional role for Dnmt1 in our predicted cell cycle and meiotic pathways. An examination of a priori Gene Ontology terms showed no enrichment for meiosis. We then used the full data set to reveal further candidate pathways influenced by Dnmt1 for further hypotheses. Very few genes were differentially expressed at 7 days, but nearly half of all transcribed genes were differentially expressed at 14 days. We found no strong candidate pathways for how Dnmt1 knockdown was achieving its effect through Gene Ontology term overrepresentation analysis. Conclusions We, therefore, suggest that Dmnt1 plays a role in chromosome dynamics based on our observations of condensed nuclei and cellular arrest with no specific molecular pathways disrupted. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  6. Abstract

    Promoters and the noncoding sequences that drive their function are fundamental aspects of genes that are critical to their regulation. The transcription preinitiation complex binds and assembles on promoters where it facilitates transcription. The transcription start site (TSS) is located downstream of the promoter sequence and is defined as the location in the genome where polymerase begins transcribing DNA into RNA. Knowing the location of TSSs is useful for annotation of genes, identification of non‐coding sequences important to gene regulation, detection of alternative TSSs, and understanding of 5′ UTR content. Several existing techniques make it possible to accurately identify TSSs, but are often difficult to perform experimentally, require large amounts of input RNA, or are unable to identify a large number of TSSs from a single sample. Many of these protocols take advantage of template switching reverse transcriptases (TSRTs), which reliably place an adaptor at the 5′ end of a first strand synthesis of cDNA. Here, we introduce a protocol that exploits TSRT activity combined with rolling circle amplification to identify TSSs with several unique advantages over existing methods. Sequence adaptors are placed on the 5′ and 3′ end of the full‐length cDNA copy of a transcript. A splint compatible with those adaptors is then used to circularize the full‐length cDNA. Linear DNA containing concatemers of the cDNA are generated using rolling circle amplification, and a sequencing library is formed by fragmenting the concatemers. This protocol is straightforward to execute, requiring limited bench time with relatively stable reagents. Using extremely low amounts of RNA input, this protocol produces large numbers of accurate, deduplicated TSSs genome wide. © 2023 The Authors. Current Protocols published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

    Basic Protocol 1: Splint generation

    Basic Protocol 2: RNA extraction

    Basic Protocol 3: cDNA synthesis

    Basic Protocol 4: cDNA circularization and amplification

    Basic Protocol 5: Library generation

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  7. High-throughput short-read sequencing has taken on a central role in research and diagnostics. Hundreds of different assays take advantage of Illumina short-read sequencers, the predominant short-read sequencing technology available today. Although other short-read sequencing technologies exist, the ubiquity of Illumina sequencers in sequencing core facilities and the high capital costs of these technologies have limited their adoption. Among a new generation of sequencing technologies, Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) holds a unique position because the ONT MinION, an error-prone long-read sequencer, is associated with little to no capital cost. Here we show that we can make short-read Illumina libraries compatible with the ONT MinION by using the rolling circle to concatemeric consensus (R2C2) method to circularize and amplify the short library molecules. This results in longer DNA molecules containing tandem repeats of the original short library molecules. This longer DNA is ideally suited for the ONT MinION, and after sequencing, the tandem repeats in the resulting raw reads can be converted into high-accuracy consensus reads with similar error rates to that of the Illumina MiSeq. We highlight this capability by producing and benchmarking RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, and regular and target-enriched Tn5 libraries. We also explore the use of this approach for rapid evaluation of sequencing library metrics by implementing a real-time analysis workflow. 
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