Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hot off the presses! Apr 01 TRENDS GENET

The Apr 01 issue of the TRENDS GENET is now up on Pubget (About TRENDS GENET): if you're at a subscribing institution, just click the link in the latest link at the home page. (Note you'll only be able to get all the PDFs in the issue if your institution subscribes to Pubget.)

Latest Articles Include:

  • Editorial Board
    - TRENDS GENET 27(4):i (2011)
  • Insects as innovative models for functional studies of DNA methylation
    - TRENDS GENET 27(4):127-131 (2011)
    The emerging field of epigenomics has the potential to bridge the gap between static genomic sequences and complex phenotypes that arise from multigenic, nonlinear and often context-dependent interactions. However, this goal can only be achieved if easily manageable experimental systems are available in which changes in epigenomic settings can be evaluated in the context of the phenotype under investigation. Recent progress in the characterization of insect DNA methylation patterns enables evaluation of the extent to which epigenetic mechanisms contribute to complex phenotypes in easily accessible organisms whose relatively small genomes are not only sparingly methylated, but the methylated sites are also found almost exclusively in gene bodies. The implementation of insect models in the study of DNA methylation will accelerate progress in understanding the functional significance of this important epigenetic mechanism in controlling gene splicing, in environmentally d! riven reprogramming of gene expression and in adult brain plasticity.
  • Epigenetic regulation of autosomal gene expression by sex chromosomes
    - TRENDS GENET 27(4):132-140 (2011)
    Males and females display differences in physiology, behaviour and susceptibility to many diseases. Genome-wide transcription profiling studies have uncovered large-scale sex differences in autosomal gene expression in somatic tissues that are thought to underlie such 'sexual dimorphisms'. Because males and females differ genetically mainly in their sex chromosome complement, most sex differences can be traced back to the X and Y chromosomes. Although sex hormones are usually considered the main architects of sexual dimorphisms, recent studies have demonstrated that sex chromosomes can also induce sex differences in somatic gene expression in the absence of hormonal differences. The recent discovery of epigenetic sex differences that are not hormone-induced brings us closer to understanding differences in autosomal gene expression. In this review, we discuss the insights gained from these findings and the mechanisms by which X and Y chromosomes might induce epigene! tic sex differences.
  • Genome-wide transcription factor binding: beyond direct target regulation
    - TRENDS GENET 27(4):141-148 (2011)
    The binding of transcription factors to specific DNA target sequences is the fundamental basis of gene regulatory networks. Chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with DNA tiling arrays or high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq, respectively) has been used in many recent studies that detail the binding sites of various transcription factors. Surprisingly, data from a variety of model organisms and tissues have demonstrated that transcription factors vary greatly in their number of genomic binding sites, and that binding events can significantly exceed the number of known or possible direct gene targets. Thus, current understanding of transcription factor function must expand to encompass what role, if any, binding might have outside of direct transcriptional target regulation. In this review, we discuss the biological significance of genome-wide binding of transcription factors and present models that can account for this phenomenon.
  • Genome organization in and around the nucleolus
    - TRENDS GENET 27(4):149-156 (2011)
    The nucleolus is the largest compartment of the cell nucleus and is where ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) are synthesized, processed and assembled with ribosomal proteins. In addition to rRNA gene clusters that build the core of this subnuclear structure, nucleoli are associated with condensed chromatin. Although the higher order structures of rRNA genes and nucleolus-associated chromatin have been studied for decades, detailed molecular insights into the constituents and organization of the nucleolar genome are only beginning to emerge. Here, we summarize current views on the structural organization of nucleolar DNA and on the targeting and anchoring of chromatin domains to this subnuclear compartment.
  • Horizontal gene transfer between bacteria and animals
    - TRENDS GENET 27(4):157-163 (2011)
    Horizontal gene transfer is increasingly described between bacteria and animals. Such transfers that are vertically inherited have the potential to influence the evolution of animals. One classic example is the transfer of DNA from mitochondria and chloroplasts to the nucleus after the acquisition of these organelles by eukaryotes. Even today, many of the described instances of bacteria-to-animal transfer occur as part of intimate relationships such as those of endosymbionts and their invertebrate hosts, particularly insects and nematodes, while numerous transfers are also found in asexual animals. Both of these observations are consistent with modern evolutionary theory, in particular the serial endosymbiotic theory and Muller's ratchet. Although it is tempting to suggest that these particular lifestyles promote horizontal gene transfer, it is difficult to ascertain given the nonrandom sampling of animal genome sequencing projects and the lack of a systematic analysis! of animal genomes for such transfers.

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