Adult stem cells are capable of both symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions. Asymmetric cell division allows self-renewal and gives rise to intermediate cells that ultimately differentiate into specific cell types. Consequently, adult stem cells play a key role in development and tissue homeostasis during the life span of an organism. Typically, adult stem cell divisions are regulated through coordination between non-autonomous signaling from the niche and cell-autonomous influences from stem cell-intrinsic factors. Although localized distribution of proteins, RNA and organelles during cell division contributes significantly to the differences between fates of daughter cells, recent studies have also implicated epigenetic factors in this process. A number of epigenetic modifications remain associated with the chromosomes during mitosis and serve as a template to reestablish fates after mitosis. Whether the distribution of epigenetic modifications is random on each chromatid or there is a bias in their distribution is therefore under extensive investigation. The nonrandom distribution of epigenetic modifications on mitotic chromosomes provides an attractive possible explanation of how bias is generated during chromatid segregation. In Drosophila male germline stem cells, the histone modifications present in the stem cells are distinct from those in the differentiating daughter cells. These modifications help to retain pre-existing histones in the mother cell while imparting newly synthesized histones to the daughter cell. Importantly, the retention of pre-existing histones in the stem cells is a prerequisite to maintain their ability to self-renew. Here we summarize recent studies that focus on the role of different epigenetic modifications in the regulation of asymmetric adult germline stem cell divisions in Drosophila. We further describe how epigenetic modifications potentially lead to variations in the otherwise equivalent chromatids, and discuss the role of biased chromatid segregation in asymmetric cell divisions.
The associations between interleukin-12 (IL-12) gene polymorphisms and cancer risk have been discussed extensively, with controversial results. Therefore, we conducted the present meta-analysis to better assess the potential roles of IL-12 gene variation in cancer occurrence. Eligible articles were found via PubMed, Medline, EMBASE, Google Scholar and CNKI. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were used to evaluate the associations between IL-12 gene polymorphisms and cancer risk. Thirty-one studies with 10,749 cancer patients and 11,921 healthy subjects were included in the analyses. The overall results showed that cancer risk was increased by IL-12A rs568408 (GG versus GA + AA: P = 0.004; G versus A: P = 0.005) and IL-12B rs3212227 (AA versus AC + CC: P = 0.004; CC versus AA + AC: P = 0.03; A versus C: P = 0.007) polymorphisms. Further subgroup analyses for IL-12A rs568408 and IL-12B rs3212227 revealed that the positive results could be impacted by the ethnicity of the population, cancer type and/or genotyping methods. However, we failed to detect any significant associations between the IL-12A rs2243115 polymorphism and cancer risk in either the overall or the subgroup analyses. The current study suggests that certain IL-12 gene polymorphisms serve as biological markers of cancer susceptibility.
The present study reports spontaneous tyrosinase gene mutations identified in oculocutaneous albinos of three Japanese wild frog species, Pelophylax nigromaculatus, Glandirana rugosa and Fejervarya kawamurai. This represents the first molecular analyses of albinic phenotypes in frogs. Albinos of P. nigromaculatus collected from two different populations were found to suffer from frameshift mutations. These mutations were caused by the insertion of a thymine residue within each of exons 1 and 4, while albinos in a third population lacked three nucleotides encoding lysine in exon 1. Albinos from the former two P. nigromaculatus populations were also associated with splicing variants of mRNA that lacked either exons 2–4 or exon 4. In the other two frog species examined, missense mutations that resulted in amino acid substitutions from glycine to arginine and glycine to aspartic acid were identified in exons 1 and 3, respectively. The two glycines in F. kawamurai and G. rugosa, and the lysine deleted in one P. nigromaculatus albino, were highly conserved in vertebrates, which suggested that they were situated in regions of critical importance to tyrosinase function. In fact, the glycine of G. rugosa is located within a predicted copper-binding domain. The five mutations identified in the present study are candidates for causing the albinic phenotypes, and, if directly confirmed, they are all unique among vertebrates, which suggests that molecular analysis of albino frogs could contribute to research on albinos in humans and vertebrates by providing new information about tyrosinase structure and transcript processing.
The brown hagfish (Eptatretus atami) is one of several known hagfish species occurring in Japanese coastal waters. To date, there has been no research studying genetic polymorphisms in the species. In the present study, we analyzed differences in nucleotide sequences between two populations: one from Suruga Bay on the Pacific coast of Honshu, Japan, and the other from the Sea of Japan, off Akita on the northwest coast of Honshu. We sequenced part of the cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 gene (COX1) from the mitochondrial genome, and three G protein-coupled receptor genes from the nuclear genome. Phylogenetic networks of all four genes showed divergence between the two populations. Further, comparison of the COX1 data using a phylogenetic tree for a range of hagfish species indicated clear differences between the populations, suggesting that they differ at the species level. The numbers of their teeth, in particular of fused cusps (anterior/posterior multicusps), also supported these findings. Individuals of the Suruga Bay population had 3/3 fused cusps, as described for E. atami, whereas individuals of the Akita population had 3/2 fused cusps. These results suggest that the brown hagfish from the Sea of Japan, off the northwest coast of Honshu, is a distinct species from E. atami.
Hybrid male sterility genes are important factors in creating postzygotic reproductive isolation barriers in plants. One such gene, S25, is known to cause severe transmission ratio distortion in inter-subspecific progeny of cultivated rice Oryza sativa ssp. indica and japonica. To further characterize the S25 gene, we fine-mapped and genetically characterized the S25 gene using near-isogenic lines with reciprocal genetic backgrounds. We mapped the S25 locus within the 0.67–1.02 Mb region on rice chromosome 12. Further genetic analyses revealed that S25 substantially reduced male fertility in the japonica background, but not in the indica background. In first-generation hybrid progeny, S25 had a milder effect than it had in the japonica background. These results suggest that the expression of S25 is epistatically regulated by at least one partially dominant gene present in the indica genome. This finding supports our previous studies showing that hybrid male sterility due to pollen killer genes results from epistatic interaction with other genes that are hidden in the genetic background.