• Volume 91, Issue 3

December 2012,   pages  265-424

• Genetic and morphological variability in South American rodent Oecomys (Sigmodontinae, Rodentia): evidence for a complex of species

The rodent genus Oecomys (Sigmodontinae) comprises ∼16 species that inhabit tropical and subtropical forests in Central America and South America. In this study specimens of Oecomys paricola Thomas, 1904 from Belém and Marajó island, northern Brazil, were investigated using cytogenetic, molecular and morphological analyses. Three karyotypes were found, two from Belém ($2n = 68$, fundamental number (FN) = 72 and $2n = 70$, FN = 76) and a third from Marajó island ($2n = 70$, FN = 72). No molecular or morphological differences were found between the individuals with differing cytotypes from Belém, but differences were evident between the individuals from Belém and Marajó island. Specimens from Belém city region may represent two cryptic species because two different karyotypes are present in the absence of significant differences in morphology and molecular characteristics. The Marajó island and Belém populations may represent distinct species that have been separated for some time, and are in the process of morphological and molecular differentiation as a consequence of reproductive isolation at the geographic and chromosomal levels. Thus, the results suggest that O. paricola may be a complex of species.

• Construction of intersubspecific molecular genetic map of lentil based on ISSR, RAPD and SSR markers

Lentil (Lens culinaris ssp. culinaris), is a self-pollinating diploid ($2n = 2x = 14$), cool-season legume crop and is consumed worldwide as a rich source of protein (∼24.0%), largely in vegetarian diets. Here we report development of a genetic linkage map of Lens using 114 F2 plants derived from the intersubspecific cross between L 830 and ILWL 77. RAPD (random amplified polymorphic DNA) primers revealed more polymorphism than ISSR (intersimple sequence repeat) and SSR (simple sequence repeat) markers. The highest proportion (30.72%) of segregation distortion was observed in RAPD markers. Of the 235 markers (34 SSR, 9 ISSR and 192 RAPD) used in the mapping study, 199 (28 SSRs, 9 ISSRs and 162 RAPDs) were mapped into 11 linkage groups (LGs), varying between 17.3 and 433.8 cM and covering 3843.4 cM, with an average marker spacing of 19.3 cM. Linkage analysis revealed nine major groups with 15 or more markers each and two small LGs with two markers each, and 36 unlinked markers. The study reported assigning of 11 new SSRs on the linkage map. Of the 66 markers with aberrant segregation, 14 were unlinked and the remaining 52 were mapped. ISSR and RAPD markers were found to be useful in map construction and saturation. The current map represents maximum coverage of lentil genome and could be used for identification of QTL regions linked to agronomic traits, and for marker-assisted selection in lentil.

• Mapping of quantitative trait loci for oil content in cottonseed kernel

Oil content in cottonseed is a major quality trait which when improved through breeding could enhance the competitiveness of cottonseed oil among other vegetable oils. Cottonseed oil content is a quantitative trait controlled by genes in the tetraploid embryo and tetraploid maternal plant genomes, and the knowledge of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and the genetic effects related to oil content in both genomes could facilitate the improvement in its quality and quantity. However, till date, QTL mapping and genetic analysis related to this trait in cotton have only been conducted in the tetraploid embryo genome. In the current experiment, an IF2 population of cottonseed kernels from the random crossing of 188 intraspecific recombinant inbred lines which were derived from the hybrid of two parents, HS46 and MARCABUCAG8US-1-88, were used to simultaneously locate QTLs for oil content in the embryo and maternal plant genomes. The four QTLs found to be associated with oil content in cottonseed were: qOC-18-1 on chromosome 18; qOC-LG-11 on linkage group 11; qOC-18-2 on chromosome 18; and qOC-22 on chromosome 22. At a high selection threshold of 0.05, there was strong evidence linking the QTLs above the oil content in cottonseed. Embryo additive and dominant effects from the tetraploid embryo genome, as well as maternal additive effects from the tetraploid maternal plant genome were found to be significant contributors to genetic variation in cottonseed oil content.

• Y-SNP haplogroups related to the Yqh+ heteromorphism in the Mexican northwestern population

Morphological variation of the Y chromosome has been observed in different populations. This variation is mostly related to the heteromorphic Yq12 band, which is composed of a variable block of constitutive heterochromatin. The Yqh+ heteromorphism has a worldwide frequency of 2.85% and is considered clinically innocuous. The aim of this study was to identify the ancestry of the Yqh+ heteromorphism present in individuals from western Mexico. For this purpose, 17 Y-chromosome single nucleotide polymorphisms were analysed by multiplex polymerase chain reaction and SNaPshot assays. In 28 Yqh+ males, only five haplogroups were observed; with a haplogroup diversity of 0.4841 ± 0.1094, which was less than that observed in a study of unselected Mexican mestizo population. Differences were specifically conferred by the high frequencies of haplogroups R1b1 and P*(xQ,R), and by the absence of the Amerindian haplogroup Q (Q*(xQ1a3a) plus Q1a3a) from the Yqh+ group. This study suggests a post-1492 incorporation for Yqh+ chromosomes into the Mexican northwestern population.

• Conditional QTL mapping of protein content in wheat with respect to grain yield and its components

Grain protein content in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is generally considered a highly heritable character that is negatively correlated with grain yield and yield-related traits. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for protein content was mapped using data on protein content and protein content conditioned on the putatively interrelated traits to evaluate possible genetic interrelationships between protein content and yield, as well as yield-related traits. Phenotypic data were evaluated in a recombinant inbred line population with 302 lines derived from a cross between the Chinese cultivar Weimai 8 and Luohan 2. Inclusive composite interval mapping using IciMapping 3.0 was employed for mapping unconditional and conditional QTL with additives. A strong genetic relationship was found between protein content and grain yield, and yield-related traits. Unconditional QTL mapping analysis detected seven additive QTL for protein content, with additive effects ranging in absolute size from 0.1898% to 0.3407% protein content, jointly accounting for 43.45% of the trait variance. Conditional QTL mapping analysis indicated two QTL independent from yield, which can be used in marker-assisted selection for increasing yield without affecting grain protein content. Three additional QTL with minor effects were identified in the conditional mapping. Of the three QTLs, two were identified when protein content was conditioned on yield, which had pleiotropic effects on those two traits. Conditional QTL mapping can be used to dissect the genetic interrelationship between two traits at the individual QTL level for closely correlated traits. Further, conditional QTL mapping can reveal additional QTL with minor effects that are undetectable in unconditional mapping.

• Genomewide analysis of intronic microRNAs in rice and Arabidopsis

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are potent regulators of gene transcription and posttranscriptional processes. The majority of miRNAs are localized within intronic regions of protein-coding genes (host genes) and have diverse functions in regulating important cellular processes in animals. To date, few plant intronic miRNAs have been studied functionally. Here we report a comprehensive computational analysis to characterize intronic miRNAs in rice and Arabidopsis. RT-PCR analysis confirmed that the identified intronic miRNAs were derived from the real introns of host genes. Interestingly, 13 intronic miRNAs in rice and two in Arabidopsis were located within seven clusters, of which four polycistronic clusters contain miRNAs derived from different families, suggesting that these clustered intronic miRNAs might be involved in extremely complex regulation in rice. Length analysis of miRNA-carrying introns, promoter prediction and qRT-PCR analysis results indicated that intronic miRNAs are coexpressed with their host genes. Expression pattern analysis demonstrated that host genes had a very broad expression spectrum in different stages of development, suggesting the intronic miRNAs might play an important role in plant development. This comparative genomics analysis of intronic miRNAs in rice and Arabidopsis provides new insight into the functions and regulatory mechanisms of intronic miRNAs in monocots and dicots.

• Genetic interaction and mapping studies on the leaflet development (lld) mutant in Pisum sativum

In Pisum sativum, the completely penetrant leaflet development (lld) mutation is known to sporadically abort pinnae suborgans in the unipinnate compound leaf. Here, the frequency and morphology of abortion was studied in each of the leaf suborgans in 36 genotypes and in presence of auxin and gibberellin, and their antagonists. Various lld genotypes were constructed by multifariously recombining lld with a coch homeotic stipule mutation and with af, ins, mare, mfp, tl and uni-tac leaf morphology mutations. It was observed that the suborgans at all levels of pinna subdivisions underwent lld-led abortion events at different stages of development. As in leafblades, lld aborted the pinnae in leaf-like compound coch stipules. The lld mutation interacted with mfp synergistically and with other leaf mutations additively. The rod-shaped and trumpet-shaped aborted pea leaf suborgans mimicked the phenotype of aborted leaves in HD-ZIP-III-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutants. Suborganwise aborted morphologies in lld gnotypes were in agreement with basipetal differentiation of leaflets and acropetal differentiation in tendrils. Altogether, the observations suggested that LLD was the master regulator of pinna development. On the basis of molecular markers found linked to lld, its locus was positioned on the linkage group III of the P. sativum genetic map.

• Chromosomal distribution of a new centromeric Ty3-gypsy retrotransposon sequence in Dasypyrum and related Triticeae species

• Endothelial nitric oxide synthase polymorphism G298T in association with oxidative DNA damage in coronary atherosclerosis

• Mining microsatellite markers from public expressed sequence tag sequences for genetic diversity analysis in pomegranate

• A new mutation of Fanconi–Bickel syndrome with liver failure and pseudotumour cerebri

• Expression pattern of PRM2, HSP90 and WNT5A in male partners of couples experiencing idiopathic recurrent miscarriages

• Genetic features of thyroid hormone receptors

Thyroid hormone receptors (TR) are prototypes of nuclear transcription factors that regulate the expression of target genes. These receptors play an important role in many physiological processes. Moreover, a dysfunction of these proteins is often implicated in several human diseases and malignancies. Here we report genetic variations and alterations of the TRs that have been described in the literature as well as their potential role in the development of some human diseases including cancers. The functional effects of some mutations and polymorphisms in TRs on disease susceptibility, especially on cancer risk, are now established. Therefore, further investigations are needed in order to use these receptors as therapeutic targets or as biological markers to decide on appropriate forms of treatment.

• Polymorphisms in human DNA repair genes and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Genetic polymorphisms in some DNA repair proteins are associated with a number of malignant transformations like head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Xeroderma pigmentosum group D (XPD) and X-ray repair cross-complementing proteins 1 (XRCC1) and 3 (XRCC3) genes are involved in DNA repair and were found to be associated with HNSCC in numerous studies. To establish our overall understanding of possible relationships between DNA repair gene polymorphisms and development of HNSCC, we surveyed the literature on epidemiological studies that assessed potential associations with HNSCC risk in terms of gene–environment interactions, genotype-induced functional defects in enzyme activity and/or protein expression, and the influence of ethnic origin on these associations.We conclude that large, well-designed studies of common polymorphisms in DNA repair genes are needed. Such studies may benefit from analysis of multiple genes or polymorphisms and from the consideration of relevant exposures that may influence the likelihood of HNSCC when DNA repair capacity is reduced.

• DREB1/CBF transcription factors: their structure, function and role in abiotic stress tolerance in plants

Drought, high salinity and low temperature are major abiotic stresses that influence survival, productivity and geographical distribution of many important crops across the globe. Plants respond to these environmental challenges via physiological, cellular and molecular processes, which results in adjusted metabolic and structural alterations. The dehydration-responsive-element-binding (DREB) protein / C-repeat binding factors (CBFs) belong to APETALA2 (AP2) family transcription factors that bind to DRE/CRT cis-element and regulate the expression of stress-responsive genes. DREB1/CBF genes, therefore, play an important role in increasing stress tolerance in plants and their deployment using transgenic technology seems to be a potential alternative in management of abiotic stresses in crop plants. This review is mainly focussed on the structural characteristics as well as transcriptional regulation of gene expression in response to various abiotic stresses, with particular emphasis on the role of DREB1/CBF regulon in stress-responsive gene expression. The recent progress related to genetic engineering of DREB1/CBF transcription factors in various crops and model plants is also summarized.

• The potential significance of binovular follicles and binucleate giant oocytes for the development of genetic abnormalities

Normal development of a fertilizable female gamete emanates from a follicle containing only one oocyte that becomes haploid after first meiotic division. Binovular follicles including two oocytes and binucleate giant oocytes that are diploid after first meiosis constitute notable exceptions from this rule. Data provided by programmes of human-assisted reproduction on the occurrence of both phenomena have been reviewed to evaluate possible implications for the formation of genetic abnormalities. To exclude confusion with oocytes aspirated from two adjacent individual follicles, true binovularity has been defined as inclusion of two oocytes within a common zona pellucida or their fusion in the zonal region. A total of 18 conjoined oocytes have been reported and one of the oocyte was normally fertilized in seven cases. Simultaneous fertilization of both female gametes occurred only once. No pregnancy was achieved after transfer of an embryo from a binovular follicle. Binucleate giant oocytes have been observed sporadically but a few reports suggest an incidence of up to 0.3% of all gametes retrieved. Extensive studies performed by two independent centres demonstrated that giant oocytes are diploid at metaphase II, can undergo fertilization in vitro with formation of two or three pronuclei and develop into triploid zygotes and triploid or triploid/mosaic embryos. In summary, giant binucleate oocytes may be responsible for the development of digynic triploidy whereas the currently available data do not support a role of conjoined oocytes in producing dizygotic twins, mosaicism, chimaeras or tetraploidy. However, more information on the maturity and fertilizability of oocytes from binovular follicles is needed. Future studies should also evaluate a possible impact of pharmaceutical and environmental oestrogens on the formation of multiovular follicles.

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