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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Keeney, Scott (Ed.)

    In most sexually reproducing organisms crossing over between chromosome homologs during meiosis is essential to produce haploid gametes. Most crossovers that form in meiosis in budding yeast result from the biased resolution of double Holliday junction (dHJ) intermediates. This dHJ resolution step involves the actions of Rad2/XPG family nuclease Exo1 and the Mlh1-Mlh3 mismatch repair endonuclease. Here, we provide genetic evidence in baker’s yeast that Exo1 promotes meiotic crossing over by protecting DNA nicks from ligation. We found that structural elements in Exo1 that interact with DNA, such as those required for the bending of DNA during nick/flap recognition, are critical for its role in crossing over. Consistent with these observations, meiotic expression of the Rad2/XPG family member Rad27 partially rescued the crossover defect inexo1null mutants, and meiotic overexpression of Cdc9 ligase reduced the crossover levels ofexo1DNA-binding mutants to levels that approached theexo1null. In addition, our work identified a role for Exo1 in crossover interference. Together, these studies provide experimental evidence for Exo1-protected nicks being critical for the formation of meiotic crossovers and their distribution.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 20, 2024
  3. null (Ed.)
    Even in well-characterized genomes, many transcripts are considered noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) simply due to the absence of large open reading frames (ORFs). However, it is now becoming clear that many small ORFs (smORFs) produce peptides with important biological functions. In the process of characterizing the ribosome-bound transcriptome of an important cell type of the seminal fluid-producing accessory gland of Drosophila melanogaster , we detected an RNA, previously thought to be noncoding, called male-specific abdominal ( msa ). Notably, msa is nested in the HOX gene cluster of the Bithorax complex and is known to contain a micro-RNA within one of its introns. We find that this RNA encodes a “micropeptide” (9 or 20 amino acids, MSAmiP) that is expressed exclusively in the secondary cells of the male accessory gland, where it seems to accumulate in nuclei. Importantly, loss of function of this micropeptide causes defects in sperm competition. In addition to bringing insights into the biology of a rare cell type, this work underlines the importance of small peptides, a class of molecules that is now emerging as important actors in complex biological processes. 
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  4. Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling regulates many different developmental and homeostatic processes in metazoans. The BMP pathway is conserved in Caenorhabditis elegans, and is known to regulate body size and mesoderm development. We have identified the C. elegans smoc-1 (Secreted MOdular Calcium-binding protein-1) gene as a new player in the BMP pathway. smoc-1(0) mutants have a small body size, while overexpression of smoc-1 leads to a long body size and increased expression of the RAD-SMAD (reporter acting downstream of SMAD) BMP reporter, suggesting that SMOC-1 acts as a positive modulator of BMP signaling. Using double-mutant analysis, we showed that SMOC-1 antagonizes the function of the glypican LON-2 and acts through the BMP ligand DBL-1 to regulate BMP signaling. Moreover, SMOC-1 appears to specifically regulate BMP signaling without significant involvement in a TGFβ-like pathway that regulates dauer development. We found that smoc-1 is expressed in multiple tissues, including cells of the pharynx, intestine, and posterior hypodermis, and that the expression of smoc-1 in the intestine is positively regulated by BMP signaling. We further established that SMOC-1 functions cell nonautonomously to regulate body size. Human SMOC1 and SMOC2 can each partially rescue the smoc-1(0) mutant phenotype, suggesting that SMOC-1's function in modulating BMP signaling is evolutionarily conserved. Together, our findings highlight a conserved role of SMOC proteins in modulating BMP signaling in metazoans. 
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