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  1. Abstract Background

    Many plant species exhibit genetic variation for coping with environmental stress. However, there are still limited approaches to effectively uncover the genomic region that regulates distinct responsive patterns of the gene across multiple varieties within the same species under abiotic stress.


    By analyzing the transcriptomes of more than 100 maize inbreds, we reveal manycis- andtrans-acting eQTLs that influence the expression response to heat stress. Thecis-acting eQTLs in response to heat stress are identified in genes with differential responses to heat stress between genotypes as well as genes that are only expressed under heat stress. Thecis-acting variants for heat stress-responsive expression likely result from distinct promoter activities, and the differential heat responses of the alleles are confirmed for selected genes using transient expression assays. Global footprinting of transcription factor binding is performed in control and heat stress conditions to document regions with heat-enriched transcription factor binding occupancies.


    Footprints enriched near proximal regions of characterized heat-responsive genes in a large association panel can be utilized for prioritizing functional genomic regions that regulate genotype-specific responses under heat stress.

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  2. Abstract

    Protein translation is tightly and precisely controlled by multiple mechanisms including upstream open reading frames (uORFs), but the origins of uORFs and their role in maize are largely unexplored. In this study, an active transposition event was identified during the propagation of maize inbred line B73. The transposon, which was named BTA for ‘B73 active transposable element hAT’, creates a novel dosage-dependent hypomorphic allele of the hexose transporter gene ZmSWEET4c through insertion within the coding sequence in the first exon, and results in reduced kernel size. The BTA insertion does not affect transcript abundance but reduces protein abundance of ZmSWEET4c, probably through the introduction of a uORF. Furthermore, the introduction of BTA sequence in the exon of other genes can regulate translation efficiency without affecting their mRNA levels. A transposon capture assay revealed 79 novel insertions for BTA and BTA-like elements. These insertion sites have typical euchromatin features, including low levels of DNA methylation and high levels of H3K27ac. A putative autonomous element that mobilizes BTA and BTA-like elements was identified. Together, our results suggest a transposon-based origin of uORFs and document a new role for transposable elements to influence protein abundance and phenotypic diversity by affecting the translation rate.

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  3. Abstract

    CRISPR–Cas9-mediated genome editing has been widely adopted for basic and applied biological research in eukaryotic systems. While many studies consider DNA sequences of CRISPR target sites as the primary determinant for CRISPR mutagenesis efficiency and mutation profiles, increasing evidence reveals the substantial role of chromatin context. Nonetheless, most prior studies are limited by the lack of sufficient epigenetic resources and/or by only transiently expressing CRISPR–Cas9 in a short time window. In this study, we leveraged the wealth of high-resolution epigenomic resources in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) to address the impact of chromatin features on CRISPR–Cas9 mutagenesis using stable transgenic plants. Our results indicated that DNA methylation and chromatin features could lead to substantial variations in mutagenesis efficiency by up to 250-fold. Low mutagenesis efficiencies were mostly associated with repressive heterochromatic features. This repressive effect appeared to persist through cell divisions but could be alleviated through substantial reduction of DNA methylation at CRISPR target sites. Moreover, specific chromatin features, such as H3K4me1, H3.3, and H3.1, appear to be associated with significant variation in CRISPR–Cas9 mutation profiles mediated by the non-homologous end joining repair pathway. Our findings provide strong evidence that specific chromatin features could have substantial and lasting impacts on both CRISPR–Cas9 mutagenesis efficiency and DNA double-strand break repair outcomes.

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    The DOMAINS REARRANGED METHYLTRANSFERASEs (DRMs) are crucial for RNA‐directed DNA methylation (RdDM) in plant species.Setaria viridisis a model monocot species with a relatively compact genome that has limited transposable element (TE) content. CRISPR‐based genome editing approaches were used to create loss‐of‐function alleles for the two putative functional DRM genes inS. viridisto probe the role of RdDM. Double mutant (drm1ab)plants exhibit some morphological abnormalities but are fully viable. Whole‐genome methylation profiling provided evidence for the widespread loss of methylation in CHH sequence contexts, particularly in regions with high CHH methylation in wild‐type plants. Evidence was also found for the locus‐specific loss of CG and CHG methylation, even in some regions that lack CHH methylation. Transcriptome profiling identified genes with altered expression in thedrm1abmutants. However, the majority of genes with high levels of CHH methylation directly surrounding the transcription start site or in nearby promoter regions in wild‐type plants do not have altered expression in thedrm1abmutant, even when this methylation is lost, suggesting limited regulation of gene expression by RdDM. Detailed analysis of the expression of TEs identified several transposons that are transcriptionally activated indrm1abmutants. These transposons are likely to require active RdDM for the maintenance of transcriptional repression.

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    Single‐parent expression (SPE) is defined as gene expression in only one of the two parents. SPE can arise from differential expression between parental alleles, termed non‐presence/absence (non‐PAV) SPE, or from the physical absence of a gene in one parent, termed PAV SPE. We used transcriptome data of diverseZea mays(maize) inbreds and hybrids, including 401 samples from five different tissues, to test for differences between these types of SPE genes. Although commonly observed, SPE is highly genotype and tissue specific. A positive correlation was observed between the genetic distance of the two inbred parents and the number of SPE genes identified. Regulatory analysis showed that PAV SPE and non‐PAV SPE genes are mainly regulated byciseffects, with a small fraction undertransregulation. Polymorphic transposable element insertions in promoter sequences contributed to the high level ofcisregulation for PAV SPE and non‐PAV SPE genes. PAV SPE genes were more frequently expressed in hybrids than non‐PAV SPE genes. The expression of parentally silent alleles in hybrids of non‐PAV SPE genes was relatively rare but occurred in most hybrids. Non‐PAV SPE genes with expression of the silent allele in hybrids are more likely to exhibit above high parent expression level than hybrids that do not express the silent allele, leading to non‐additive expression. This study provides a comprehensive understanding of the nature of non‐PAV SPE and PAV SPE genes and their roles in gene expression complementation in maize hybrids.

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  6. Suh, Alexander ; Chapman, Tracey (Ed.)
    Abstract It is unclear how mobile DNA sequences (transposable elements, hereafter TEs) invade eukaryotic genomes and reach stable copy numbers, as transposition can decrease host fitness. This challenge is particularly stark early in the invasion of a TE family at which point hosts may lack the specialized machinery to repress the spread of these TEs. One possibility (in addition to the evolution of host regulation of TEs) is that TE families may evolve to preferentially insert into chromosomal regions that are less likely to impact host fitness. This may allow the mean TE copy number to grow while minimizing the risk for host population extinction. To test this, we constructed simulations to explore how the transposition probability and insertion preference of a TE family influence the evolution of mean TE copy number and host population size, allowing for extinction. We find that the effect of a TE family’s insertion preference depends on a host’s ability to regulate this TE family. Without host repression, a neutral insertion preference increases the frequency of and decreases the time to population extinction. With host repression, a preference for neutral insertions minimizes the cumulative deleterious load, increases population fitness, and, ultimately, avoids triggering an extinction vortex. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 31, 2024
  7. Core Ideas Cross‐species models of chromatin state from sequence are comparable or superior to within‐species models. Model performance is highest on accessible regions open in many tissues. Transcription factor motifs can be ranked by importance to each species and chromatin state. 
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  8. Betran, Esther (Ed.)
    Abstract Recognition of the important role of transposable elements (TEs) in eukaryotic genomes quickly led to a burgeoning literature modeling and estimating the effects of selection on TEs. Much of the empirical work on selection has focused on analyzing the site frequency spectrum (SFS) of TEs. But TE evolution differs from standard models in a number of ways that can impact the power and interpretation of the SFS. For example, rather than mutating under a clock-like model, transposition often occurs in bursts which can inflate particular frequency categories compared with expectations under a standard neutral model. If a TE burst has been recent, the excess of low-frequency polymorphisms can mimic the effect of purifying selection. Here, we investigate how transposition bursts affect the frequency distribution of TEs and the correlation between age and allele frequency. Using information on the TE age distribution, we propose an age-adjusted SFS to compare TEs and neutral polymorphisms to more effectively evaluate whether TEs are under selective constraints. We show that our approach can minimize instances of false inference of selective constraint, remains robust to simple demographic changes, and allows for a correct identification of even weak selection affecting TEs which experienced a transposition burst. The results presented here will help researchers working on TEs to more reliably identify the effects of selection on TEs without having to rely on the assumption of a constant transposition rate. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Crop genomics has seen dramatic advances in recent years due to improvements in sequencing technology, assembly methods, and computational resources. These advances have led to the development of new tools to facilitate crop improvement. The study of structural variation within species and the characterization of the pan-genome has revealed extensive genome content variation among individuals within a species that is paradigm shifting to crop genomics and improvement. Here, we review advances in crop genomics and how utilization of these tools is shifting in light of pan-genomes that are becoming available for many crop species. 
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