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July 2012 Highlights For Genetics Society Of America’s Genetics Journal

July 11, 2012

Listed below are the selected highlights for the July 2012 issue of the Genetics Society of America’s journal, Genetics. The July issue is available online at www.genetics.org/content/current. Please credit Genetics, Vol. 191, JULY 2012, Copyright © 2012.

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS

Increasing association mapping power and resolution in mouse genetic studies through the use of meta-analysis for structured populations, pp. 959-967
Nicholas A. Furlotte, Eun Yong Kang, Atila Van Nas, Charles R. Farber, Aldons J. Lusis, and Eleazar Eskin

Because mouse models have a long history in the study of human disease, many studies describe the association of mouse genetic variation and disease traits. Their power can be increased by combining the results through the statistical procedure of meta-analysis, but the differing ancestry of the mouse panels used in each study can pose complications. These authors introduce a technique to combine studies, while accounting for differing ancestry, and they show how their method increases the potential to discover genomic regions underlying disease traits.

Multiple barriers to nonhomologous DNA end joining during meiosis in Drosophila, pp. 739-746
Eric F. Joyce, Anshu Paul, Katherine E. Chen, Nikhila Tanneti, and Kim S. McKim

Nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ) is to be suppressed in meiosis. This article provides insight into how Drosophila does that. Two groups of proteins that promote homologous recombination–MCM-like protein MEI-218 and Rad51-related proteins RAD51C and XRCC3–suppress NHEJ during meiotic prophase. The authors suggest that those proteins regulate early events in the double-strand break repair response, such as resection, which influences the particular pathway of repair.

Properties and power of the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource for the routine dissection of complex traits, pp. 935-949
Elizabeth G. King, Stuart J. Macdonald, and Anthony D. Long

This article describes a resource that promises to bring us closer to the ultimate goal of modern genetics: an understanding of how genetic variation translates into phenotype. The authors provide essential information about the Drosophila Synthetic Population Resource, a community resource for genetic dissection of complex traits. They describe its mapping power and resolution, and present the inference of complete genotype information from a dense set of markers, assessing how sequence coverage and marker density influence this inference.

A hyperactive transposase of the maize transposable element Activator (Ac), pp. 747-756
Katina Lazarow, My-Linh Du, Ruth Weimer, and Reinhard Kunze

Transposons (“jumping genes”) are widely used to generate new mutations, but the typically low frequency of transposition makes the search for insertion mutants tedious. These investigators describe a hyperactive Ac transposase that should facilitate insertion mutagenesis in plants and other organisms.

Establishment of new mutations in changing environments, pp. 895-906

Stephan Peischl and Mark Kirkpatrick

This study helps us understand when populations can adapt quickly enough to avoid extinction. Most new beneficial mutations are lost by chance while they are still rare. The authors examine several biologically important situations–when the environment changes in consistent, periodic, and random ways, and when population size changes–to find the probability that new mutations escape extinction and become permanently established.

Remarkably simple sequence requirement of the M-factor pheromone of Schizosaccharomyces pombe, pp. 815-825
Taisuke Seike, Yoshikazu Yamagishi, Hideo Iio, Taro Nakamura, and Chikashi Shimoda

How long is a ligand? Not very, in the case described by these authors. They create a complete set of 152 missense mutations affecting a nonapeptide mating pheromone of fission yeast and find that only four carboxyl-terminal amino acid residues are necessary for it to stimulate its G-protein-coupled receptor.

Improved models for transcription factor binding site identification using nonindependent interactions, pp. 781-790
Yue Zhao, Shuxiang Ruan, Manishi Pandey, and Gary D. Stormo

Methods predicting transcription factor binding sites usually assume that each position makes an independent contribution to binding. Here, the authors tell us this assumption is reasonably strong for most transcription factors, but in some cases it is quite weak. They introduce an extended binding energy model that includes contributions of adjacent base pairs and predicts binding sites more accurately than previous methods. This model facilitates studies of gene regulatory networks in cells.

This Month’s Perspectives

Notch and the awesome power of genetics, pp. 655-669
Iva Greenwald

This Perspectives article, which focuses on Notch, a receptor that plays major and varied roles in animal development, is a paean to the remarkable synergy between genetics and molecular biology, and a coming-of-age story about how model organisms came to occupy a prominent place in modern biology research. The author provides a historical account of the discovery of this important protein and describes the major advances, from identifying the first Drosophila mutant almost a century ago through elucidating its unusual mechanism of signal transduction.

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