Current Genomics (v.16, #1)

Meet the Editorial Board: by Christian Neri (1-1).

Editorial: by Christian Neri (2-2).

Transcriptional regulation plays vital roles in many fundamental biological processes. Reverse engineering of genome-wide regulatory networks from high-throughput transcriptomic data provides a promising way to characterize the global scenario of regulatory relationships between regulators and their targets. In this review, we summarize and categorize the main frameworks and methods currently available for inferring transcriptional regulatory networks from microarray gene expression profiling data. We overview each of strategies and introduce representative methods respectively. Their assumptions, advantages, shortcomings, and possible improvements and extensions are also clarified and commented.

siRNA-directed DNA Methylation in Plants by Meng Xie, Bin Yu (23-31).
DNA cytosine methylationis an important epigenetic process that is correlated with transgene silencing, transposon suppression, and gene imprinting. In plants, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) can trigger DNA methylation at loci containing their homolog sequences through a process called RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM). In canonical RdDM, 24 nucleotide (nt) siRNAs (ra-siRNAs) will be loaded into their effector protein called ARGONAUTE 4 (AGO4) and subsequently targeted to RdDM loci through base-pairing with the non-coding transcripts produced by DNA-directed RNA Polymerase V. Then, the AGO4-ra-siRNA will recruit the DNA methyltransferase to catalyze de novo DNA methylation. Recent studies also identified non-canonical RdDM pathways that involve microRNAs or 21 nt siRNAs. These RdDM pathways are biologically important since they control responses biotic and abiotic stresses, maintain genome stability and regulate development. Here, we summarize recent progresses of mechanisms governing canonical and noncanonical RdDM pathways.

Genes and Conditions Controlling Mammalian Pre- and Post-implantation Embryo Development by G. Anifandis, C.I. Messini, K. Dafopoulos, I.E. Messinis (32-46).
Embryo quality during the in vitro developmental period is of great clinical importance. Experimental genetic studies during this period have demonstrated the association between specific gene expression profiles and the production of healthy blastocysts. Although the quality of the oocyte may play a major role in embryo development, it has been well established that the post - fertilization period also has an important and crucial role in the determination of blastocyst quality. A variety of genes (such as OCT, SOX2, NANOG) and their related signaling pathways as well as transcription molecules (such as TGF-β, BMP) have been implicated in the pre- and post-implantation period. Furthermore, DNA methylation has been lately characterized as an epigenetic mark since it is one of the most important processes involved in the maintenance of genome stability. Physiological embryo development appears to depend upon the correct DNA methylation pattern. Due to the fact that soon after fertilization the zygote undergoes several morphogenetic and developmental events including activation of embryonic genome through the transition of the maternal genome, a diverse gene expression pattern may lead to clinically important conditions, such as apoptosis or the production of a chromosomically abnormal embryo. The present review focused on genes and their role during pre-implantation embryo development, giving emphasis on the various parameters that may alter gene expression or DNA methylation patterns. The pre-implantation embryos derived from in vitro culture systems (in vitro fertilization) and the possible effects on gene expression after the prolonged culture conditions are also discussed.

Genetics and Vaccines in the Era of Personalized Medicine by John Castiblanco, Juan-Manuel Anaya (47-59).
Vaccines represent the most successful and sustainable tactic to prevent and counteract infection. A vaccine generally improves immunity to a particular disease upon administration by inducing specific protective and efficient immune responses in all of the receiving population. The main known factors influencing the observed heterogeneity for immune responses induced by vaccines are gender, age, co-morbidity, immune system, and genetic background. This review is mainly focused on the genetic status effect to vaccine immune responses and how this could contribute to the development of novel vaccine candidates that could be better directed and predicted relative to the genetic history of an individual and/or population. The text offers a brief history of vaccinology as a field, a description of the genetic status of the most relevant and studied genes and their functionality and correlation with exposure to specific vaccines; followed by an inside look into autoimmunity as a concern when designing vaccines as well as perspectives and conclusions looking towards an era of personalized and predictive vaccinology instead of a one size fits all approach.

DNA Secondary Structure at Chromosomal Fragile Sites in Human Disease by Ryan G. Thys, Christine E. Lehman, Levi C. T. Pierce, Yuh-Hwa Wang (60-70).
DNA has the ability to form a variety of secondary structures that can interfere with normal cellular processes, and many of these structures have been associated with neurological diseases and cancer. Secondary structure-forming sequences are often found at chromosomal fragile sites, which are hotspots for sister chromatid exchange, chromosomal translocations, and deletions. Structures formed at fragile sites can lead to instability by disrupting normal cellular processes such as DNA replication and transcription. The instability caused by disruption of replication and transcription can lead to DNA breakage, resulting in gene rearrangements and deletions that cause disease. In this review, we discuss the role of DNA secondary structure at fragile sites in human disease.