Articles Online (Volume 8, Issue 4)

Review Article

Evolutionary Transients in the Rice Transcriptome

Jun Wang, Jianguo Zhang, Ruiqiang Li, Hongkun Zheng, Jun Li, Yong Zhang, Heng Li, Peixiang Ni, Songgang Li, Shengting Li, Jingqiang Wang, Dongyuan Liu, Jason McDermott, Ram Samudrala, Siqi Liu, Jian Wang, Huanming Yang, Jun Yu, Gane Ka-Shu Wong

In the canonical version of evolution by gene duplication, one copy is kept unaltered while the other is free to evolve. This process of evolutionary experimentation can persist for millions of years. Since it is so short lived in comparison to the lifetime of the core genes that make up the majority of most genomes, a substantial fraction of the genome and the transcriptome may—in principle—be attributable to what we will refer to as “evolutionary transients”, referring here to both the process and the genes that have gone or are undergoing this process. Using the rice gene set as a test case, we argue that this phenomenon goes a long way towards explaining why there are so many more rice genes than Arabidopsis genes, and why most excess rice genes show low similarity to eudicots.

Page 211–228

Review Article

Discovery, Identification and Comparative Analysis of Non-Specific Lipid Transfer Protein (nsLtp) Family in Solanaceae

Wanfei Liu, Dawei Huang, Kan Liu, Songnian Hu, Jun Yu, Gang Gao, Shuhui Song

Plant non-specific lipid transfer proteins (nsLtps) have been reported to be involved in plant defense activity against bacterial and fungal pathogens. In this study, we identified 135 (122 putative and 13 previously identified) Solanaceae nsLtps, which are clustered into 8 different groups. By comparing with Boutrot's nsLtp classification, we classified these eight groups into five types (I, II, IV, IX and X). We compared Solanaceae nsLtps with Arabi-dopsis and Gramineae nsLtps and found that (1) Types I, II and IV are shared by Solanaceae, Gramineae and Arabidopsis; (2) Types III, V, VI and VIII are shared by Gramineae and Arabidopsis but not detected in Solanaceae so far; (3) Type VII is only found in Gramineae whereas type IX is present only in Arabidopsis and Solanaceae; (4) Type X is a new type that accounts for 52.59% Solanaceae nsLtps in our data, and has not been reported in any other plant so far. We further built and compared the three-dimensional structures of the eight groups, and found that the major functional diversification within the nsLtp family could be predated to the monocot/dicot divergence, and many gene duplications and sequence variations had happened in the nsLtp family after the monocot/dicot divergence, especially in Solanaceae.

Page 229–237

Review Article

A Multifunctional Lentiviral-Based Gene Knockdown with Concurrent Rescue that Controls for Off-Target Effects of RNAi

Yunfeng Feng, Linghu Nie, Meghna Das Thakur, Qin Su, Zhenfen Chi, Yongliang Zhao, Gregory D. Longmore

The efficient, stable delivery of siRNA into cells, and the appropriate controls for non-specific off-target effects of siRNA are major limitations to functional studies using siRNA technology. To overcome these drawbacks, we have developed a single lentiviral vector that can concurrently deplete endogenous gene expression while expressing an epitope-tagged siRNA-resistant target gene in the same cell. To demonstrate the functional utility of this system, we performed RNAi-depleted α-actinin-1 (α-ACTNl) expression in human T cells. α-ACTNl RNAi resulted in inhibited chemotaxis to SDF-lα, but it can be completely rescued by concurrent expression of RNAi-resistant α-ACTNl (rr-α-ACTNl) in the same cell. The presence of a GFP tag on rr-α-ACTNl allowed for detection of appropriate subcellular localization of rr-α-ACTNl. This system provides not only an internal control for RNAi off-target effects, but also the potential tool for rapid structure-function analyses and gene therapy.

Page 238–245

Review Article

Identification of Potential Leptospira Phosphoheptose Isomerase Inhibitors Through Virtual High-Throughput Screening

Amineni Umamaheswari, Dibyabhaba Pradhan, Marisetty Hemanthkumar

The life-threatening infections caused by Leptospira serovars demand the need for designing anti-leptospirosis drugs. The present study encompasses exploring inhibitors against phosphoheptose isomerase (GmhA) of Leptospira, which is vital for lipopolysaccharide (LPS) biosynthesis and is identified as a common drug target through the subtractive genomic approach. GmhA model was built in Modeller 9v7. Structural refinement and energy minimization of the predicted model was carried out using Maestro 9.0. The refined model reliability was assessed through Procheck, ProSA, ProQ and Profile 3D. The substrate-based virtual high-throughput screening (VHTS) in Ligand. Info Meta-Database tool generated an in-house library of 354 substrate structural analogs. Furthermore, structure-based VHTS from the in-house library with different conformations of each ligand provided 14 novel competitive inhibitors. The model together with insight gained from the VHTS would be a promising starting point for developing anti-leptospirosis competitive inhibitors targeting LPS biosynthesis pathway.

Page 246–255

Review Article

Scanning for Genomic Regions Subject to Selective Sweeps Using SNP-MaP Strategy

Libin Deng , Xiaoli Tang, Wei Chen, Jiari Lin, Zhiqing Lai, Zuoqi Liu, Dake Zhang

Population genomic approaches, which take advantages of high-throughput genotyping, are powerful yet costly methods to scan for selective sweeps. DNA-pooling strategies have been widely used for association studies because it is a cost-effective alternative to large-scale individual genotyping. Here, we performed an SNP-MaP (single nucleotide polymorphism microarrays and pooling) analysis using samples from Eurasia to evaluate the efficiency of pooling strategy in genome-wide scans for selection. By conducting simulations of allelotype data, we first demonstrated that the boxplot with average heterozygosity (HET) is a promising method to detect strong selective sweeps with a moderate level of pooling error. Based on this, we used a sliding window analysis of HET to detect the large contiguous regions (LCRs) putatively under selective sweeps from Eurasia datasets. This survey identified 63 LCRs in a European population. These signals were further supported by the integrated haplotype score (iHS) test using HapMap II data. We also confirmed the European-specific signatures of positive selection from several previously identified genes(KEL, TRPV5, TRPV6, EPHB6). In summary, our results not only revealed the high credibility of SNP-MaP strategy in scanning for selective sweeps, but also provided an insight into the population differentiation.

Page 256–261


Jackknife and Bootstrap Tests of the Composition Vector Trees

Guanghong Zuo, Zhao Xu, Hongjie Yu, Bailin Hao

Composition vector trees (CVTrees) are inferred from whole-genome data by an alignment-free and parameter-free method. The agreement of these trees with the corresponding taxonomy provides an objective justification of the inferred phylogeny In this work, we show the stability and self-consistency of CVTrees by performing bootstrap and jackknife re-sampling tests adapted to this alignment-free approach. Our ultimate goal is to advocate the viewpoint that time-consuming statistical re-sampling tests can be avoided at all in using this alignment-free approach. Agreement with taxonomy should be taken as a major criterion to estimate prokaryotic phylogenetic trees.

Page 262–267

Application Note

SNPTransformer: A Lightweight Toolkit for Genome-Wide Association Studies

Changzheng Dong

High-throughput genotyping chips have produced huge datasets for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that have contributed greatly to discovering susceptibility genes for complex diseases. There are two strategies for performing data analysis for GWAS. One strategy is to use open-source or commercial packages that are designed for GWAS. The other is to take advantage of classic genetic programs with specific functions, such as linkage disequilibrium mapping, haplotype inference and transmission disequilibrium tests. However, most classic programs that are available are not suitable for analyzing chip data directly and require custom-made input, which results in the inconvenience of converting raw genotyping files into various data formats. We developed a powerful, user-friendly, lightweight program named SNPTransformer for GWAS that includes five major modules (Transformer, Operator, Previewer, Coder and Simulator). The toolkit not only works for transforming the genotyping files into ten input formats for use with classic genetics packages, but also carries out useful functions such as relational operations on IDs, previewing data files, recoding data formats and simulating marker files, among other functions. It bridges upstream raw genotyping data with downstream genetic programs, and can act as an in-hand toolkit for human geneticists, especially for non-programmers. SNPTransformer is freely available at

Page 268–273