• Volume 19, Issue 5

      December 1994,   pages  511-644

    • Preface

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    • Inactivation of mammalian X-chromosome during spermatogenesis: Temporal expression of genes in the laboratory mouse

      Parimal Das Rajiva Raman

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      At zygotene/pachytene stage of meiosis in mammalian testis, the X—Y heterobivalent is sequesterd into a heterochromatinized body whose genetic inactivity is shown by lack of uridine incorporation. For the genic level evaluation of the X-inactivation, activities of three X-linked genes were assayed in testicular cell types in the laboratory mouse. While hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase is functional at least up to pachytene stage of primary spermatocytes, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase appears to be active only in the Sertoli cells. No transcript of the muscle specific muscular dystrophin gene was obtained from its regular 5′ promoter. Thus, inactivation of X-linked genes in testis occurs at different stages during spermatogenesis, independently of heterochrornatinizati on of the XY-body. We propose that Xist transcript, the putative regulator of X-inactivation in female soma, is also the regulator in testis. However, due to its extremely low level in testis the transcript may regulate by “spreading” in a gradient and affect the genes in a temporal order. Thus, besides other factors, physical proximity of the genes to Xist may determine the stage of their inactivation.

    • Nondegradative pisatin-resistance inDictyostelium discoideum, Neurospora crassa andNectria haematococca: Similarities and differences

      Durgadas P Kasbekar

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      Paradoxically, on pisatin-medium (150 μg/ml) the cellular slime mouldDictyostelium discoideum grows only when plated as spores but not when plated as amoebae. The recent discovery of inducible nondegradativc pisatin resistance in amoebae has allowed us to formulate a model that resolves this paradox. In this model, the germinating amoeba is postulated to acquire a pisatin-resistance phenotype while ensconced within the spore wall. This article reviews the findings on which this model is based and extends it to also account for the differences in pisatin sensitivity phenotype that result from sterol alteration in cellular slime moulds and fungi.

    • When the control is lacking—the role of tumour suppressor genes in cancer development

      Bernard M Mechler

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      The potential to genetically dissect tumorigenesis provides the major reason to study this process in the fruit flyDrosophila. Over the last 30 years genetic analysis has identified some 55 genes in which recessive mutations cause the appearance of specific tumours during development in tissues such as the imaginal discs, the brain hemispheres, the hematopoietic organs or the gonads, Since the normal allele acts dominantly over the mutated allele, these genes are designated as tumour suppressor genes. The estimate of the number of genes that can be mutated to tumour formation may be, however, much higher ranging between I00 to 200. The challenge before this field is how best to identify these genes and elucidate their function. Current molecular procedures, such as mutagenesis mediated by P-element transposon, provide new ways for tagging any gene of interest inDrosophila and thus for cloning it rapidly. Function of the gene product can be inferred by comparing its amino acid sequence with sequences of proteins with known function or can be determined by histochemical and biochemical investigations.

      Progress in the understanding of tumour suppression inDrosophila is most advanced in the case of genes regulating cell growth in imaginal discs. The imaginal discs are small groups of cells displaying a strong apical-basal polarity and form folded sacs of epithelia which grow throughout the larval life and give rise to the adult tegument during metamorphosis. Tumour suppressor genes regulating cell growth of imaginal discs, such as thelethal(2)giantlarvae (l(2)g1),lethal(1)discslarge-1 andexpanded genes, were found to encode proteins localized in domains of cell to cell contact on the plasma membrane and were thus thought to maintain cell adhesion. However, recent studies of l(2)gl have revealed that the l(2)gl protein is a component of the normal cytoskeleton which can participates to the cytoskeletal matrix underlaying the plasma membrane. These findings indicate that the changes in cell shape and the loss of apical-basal polarity in imaginal disc cells result primarily from alterations in the cytoskeleton structure. Furthermore the neoplastic growth of the mutated cells may be caused by the disorganization of an intracellular communication system that ultimately controls cell proliferation and/or cell differentiation.

    • Methyl directed DNA mismatch repair inVibrio cholerae

      Rupa Bandyopadhyay Aditya Sengupta Tapan K Bera Kishor K Bhakat Chitra Dutta Jyotirmoy Das

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      Mismatches in DNA occur either due to replication error or during recombination between homologous but non-identical DNA sequences or due to chemical modification of bases. The mismatch in DNA, if not repaired, result in high spontaneous mutation frequency. The repair has to be in the newly synthesized strand of the DNA molecule, otherwise the error will be fixed permanently. Three distinct mechanisms have been proposed for the repair of mismatches in DNA in prokaryotic cells and gene functions involved in these repair processes have been identified. The methyl-directed DNA mismatch repair has been examined inVibrio cholerae, a highly pathogenic gram negative bacterium and the causative agent of the diarrhoeal disease cholera. The DNA adenine methyltransferase encoding gene (dam) of this organism which is involved in strand discrimination during the repair process has been cloned and the complete nucleotide sequence has been determined.Vibrio cholerae dam gene codes for a 21.5 kDa protein and can substitute for theEscherichia coli enzyme. Overproduction ofVibrio cholerae Dam protein is neither hypermutable nor lethal both in Escherichia coli andVibrio cholerae. WhileEscherichia coli dam mutants are sensitive to 2-aminopurine,Vibrio cholerae 2-aminopurine sensitive mutants have been isolated with intact GATC methylation activity. The mutator genesmutS andmutL involved in the recognition of mismatch have been cloned, nucleotide sequence determined and their products characterized. Mutants ofmutS andmutL ofVibrio cholerae have been isolated and show high rate of spontaneous mutation frequency. ThemutU gene ofVibrio cholerae, the product of which is a DNA helicase II, codes for a 70 kDa protein. The deduced amino acid sequence of themutU gene hs all the consensus helicase motifs. The DNA cytosine methyltransferase encoding gene (dam) ofVibrio cholerae has also been cloned. Thedcm gene codes for a 53 kDa protein. This gene product might be involved in very short patch (VSP) repair of DNA mismatches. The vsr gene which is directly involved in VSP repair process codes for a 23 kDa protein. Using these information, the status of DNA mismatch repair inVibrio cholerae will be discussed.

    • Thefit genes and transcription control inEscherichia coli

      R Jayaraman

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      This article reviews the work done in the author’s laboratory on the genetics and physiology of thefit mutants ofEscherichia coli. Isolaton of thefit mutants, genetic mapping, transcription abnormalities of thefit mutants, the possible involvement of thefit gene products in transcription control and identity of the fitA gene as pheS are described.

    • Rearrangements of nitrogen fixation (nif) genes in the heterocystous cyanobacteria

      S K Apte N Prabhavathi

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      In the vegetative cells of heterocystous cyanobacteria, such asAnabaena, two Operons harbouring the nitrogen fixaton (nif) genes contain two separate intervening DNA elements resulting in the dispersion of genes and impaired gene expression. A 11 kb element disrupts thenifD gene in thenifH, D-K operon. It contains a 11 bp sequence (GGATTACTCCG) directly repeated at its ends and harbours a gene,xisA, which encodes a site-specific recombinase. A large 55 kb element interrupts thefdxN gene in thenifB fdxN-nifS-nifU operon. It contains two 5 bp direct repeats (TATTC) at its ends and accommodates at least one gene,xisF, which encodes another site-specific recombinase. During heterocyst differentiation both the discontinuities are precisely excised by two distinct site-specific recombination events. One of them is brought about by the XisA protein between the 11 bp direct repeats. The second one is caused by the XisF protein and occurs between the 5 bp direct repeats. As a consequence the 11kb and 55 kb elements are removed from the chromosome as circles and functionalnif Operons are created. Nitrogenase proteins are then expressed from the rearranged genes in heterocysts and aerobic nitrogen fixation ensues. How these elements intruded thenif genes and how and why are they maintained in heterocystous cyanobacteria are exciting puzzles engaging considerable research effort currently. The unique developmental regulation of these gene rearrangements in heterocystous cyanobacteria is discussed.

    • Baculovirus vector-mediated expression of heterologous genes in insect cells

      P Sridhar A K Awasthi A A Azim S Burma S Habib A Jain B Mukherjee A Ranjan Seyed E Hasnain

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      The baculovirus expression system employingAutagrapha californica nuclear polyhidrosis virus andSpodoptera frugiperda insect cells in culture has proved very popular for high level expression of heterologous genes: In this system, transcription of the foreign gene is usually driven by the hyperactive and temporally regulated polyhedrin gene promoter. Replacement of the polyhedrin gene, which encodes a 29-kDa occlusion protein (non-essential for viral replication), with a gene of interest leads to an occlusion negative phenotype which serves as a visual marker to select for recombinant viruses. Simultaneous expression of multiple genes can also be achieved. The heterologous proteins synthesized in this system are antigenically, immunologically and functionally identical in most respects to their native counterparts. This mini-review will aim at summarizing the potentials and utility of the baculovirus expression vector system and will address some important questions relating to the biology of this system.

    • Towards understanding lamin gene regulation

      Veena K Parnaik Vidya S Jonnalagadda Q Anwar Hamid

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      The lamins are components of the nuclear lamina, which forms a fibrous meshwork lining the inner nuclear membrane. Lamina-membrane interactions play a crucial role during nuclear disassembly and reassembly at mitosis, whereas lamina-chromatin association has been proposed to be essential for chromatin organization. The composition of the lamina changes considerably during embryonic development and cell differentiation. Recent studies have provided insights into the regulation of the lamin genes.

    • Development of hearing in vertebrates with special reference to anuran acoustic communication

      Debjani Roy

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      Amphibians, specially anurans, are excellent model systems for studying acoustic communication. After hatching, anurans exist in two forms; these have two distinct mode of sound perception. Aquatic larvae are perceptive to waterborne sound stimuli; then, following metamorphosis, as terrestrial adults, perceptive to airborne sound stimuli. Added to this, the metamorphosing tadpole presents an equally interesting study as it could recapitulate the events which occurred during the evolution of hearing in vertebrates at the lime of the transition from aquatic to terrestrial life. Metamorphosis entails the loss of a prominent aquatic sensory system—the lateral line system—and the simultaneous gain of another, the inner ear, along with the coevolution of the tympanic middle ear, a basilar papilla and a periotic labyrinth in the inner ear.

      Another interesting feature is that anurans are believed to be the first terrestrial vertebrates to use vocalization as a part of their reproductive behaviour. Vocal communication plays an important role in behaviour, ranging from territorial defense to reproduction, and calls are classified according to the particular behaviors that they subserve. Adult male anurans produce a species-specific mating call which is used to attract conspecific females dung their mating season, and this call serves as a mechanism in maintaining reproductive isolation from other sympatric species.

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