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Steensels J.,Catholic University of Leuven | Steensels J.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | Verstrepen K.J.,Catholic University of Leuven | Verstrepen K.J.,Laboratory for Systems Biology
Annual Review of Microbiology | Year: 2014

Yeasts are the main driving force behind several industrial food fermentation processes, including the production of beer, wine, sake, bread, and chocolate. Historically, these processes developed from uncontrolled, spontaneous fermentation reactions that rely on a complex mixture of microbes present in the environment. Because such spontaneous processes are generally inconsistent and inefficient and often lead to the formation of off-flavors, most of today's industrial production utilizes defined starter cultures, often consisting of a specific domesticated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. bayanus, or S. pastorianus. Although this practice greatly improved process consistency, efficiency, and overall quality, it also limited the sensorial complexity of the end product. In this review, we discuss how Saccharomyces yeasts were domesticated to become the main workhorse of food fermentations, and we investigate the potential and selection of nonconventional yeasts that are often found in spontaneous fermentations, such as Brettanomyces, Hanseniaspora, and Pichia spp. Copyright © 2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

Gemayel R.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | Gemayel R.,Catholic University of Leuven | Vinces M.D.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | Vinces M.D.,Catholic University of Leuven | And 3 more authors.
Annual Review of Genetics | Year: 2010

Genotype-to-phenotype mapping commonly focuses on two major classes of mutations: single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and copy number variation (CNV). Here, we discuss an underestimated third class of genotypic variation: changes in microsatellite and minisatellite repeats. Such tandem repeats (TRs) are ubiquitous, unstable genomic elements that have historically been designated as nonfunctional "junk DNA" and are therefore mostly ignored in comparative genomics. However, as many as 10 to 20 of eukaryotic genes and promoters contain an unstable repeat tract. Mutations in these repeats often have fascinating phenotypic consequences. For example, changes in unstable repeats located in or near human genes can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington disease. Apart from their role in disease, variable repeats also confer useful phenotypic variability, including cell surface variability, plasticity in skeletal morphology, and tuning of the circadian rhythm. As such, TRs combine characteristics of genetic and epigenetic changes that may facilitate organismal evolvability. © 2010 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

Jansen A.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | Jansen A.,Catholic University of Leuven | Jansen A.,Human Genome Laboratory | Gemayel R.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | And 3 more authors.
Genome Dynamics | Year: 2012

Tandem repeats are intrinsically highly variable sequences since repeat units are often lost or gained during replication or following unequal recombination events. Because of their low complexity and their instability, these repeats, which are also called satellite repeats, are often considered to be useless 'junk' DNA. However, recent findings show that tandem repeats are frequently found within promoters of stress-induced genes and within the coding regions of genes encoding cell-surface and regulatory proteins. Interestingly, frequent changes in these repeats often confer phenotypic variability. Examples include variation in the microbial cell surface, rapid tuning of internal molecular clocks in flies, and enhanced morphological plasticity in mammals. This suggests that instead of being useless junk DNA, some variable tandem repeats are useful functional elements that confer 'evolvability', facilitating swift evolution and rapid adaptation to changing environments. Since changes in repeats are frequent and reversible, repeats provide a unique type of mutation that bridges the gap between rare genetic mutations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, and highly unstable but reversible epigenetic inheritance. Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel. Source

Voordeckers K.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | Voordeckers K.,Catholic University of Leuven | De Maeyer D.,Catholic University of Leuven | van der Zande E.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | And 11 more authors.
Molecular Microbiology | Year: 2012

When grown on solid substrates, different microorganisms often form colonies with very specific morphologies. Whereas the pioneers of microbiology often used colony morphology to discriminate between species and strains, the phenomenon has not received much attention recently. In this study, we use a genome-wide assay in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to identify all genes that affect colony morphology. We show that several major signalling cascades, including the MAPK, TORC, SNF1 and RIM101 pathways play a role, indicating that morphological changes are a reaction to changing environments. Other genes that affect colony morphology are involved in protein sorting and epigenetic regulation. Interestingly, the screen reveals only few genes that are likely to play a direct role in establishing colony morphology, with one notable example being FLO11, a gene encoding a cell-surface adhesin that has already been implicated in colony morphology, biofilm formation, and invasive and pseudohyphal growth. Using a series of modified promoters for fine-tuning FLO11 expression, we confirm the central role of Flo11 and show that differences in FLO11 expression result in distinct colony morphologies. Together, our results provide a first comprehensive look at the complex genetic network that underlies the diversity in the morphologies of yeast colonies. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Pougach K.,Catholic University of Leuven | Pougach K.,Laboratory for Systems Biology | Voet A.,RIKEN | Kondrashov F.A.,Center for Genomic Regulation | And 15 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2014

The emergence of new genes throughout evolution requires rewiring and extension of regulatory networks. However, the molecular details of how the transcriptional regulation of new gene copies evolves remain largely unexplored. Here we show how duplication of a transcription factor gene allowed the emergence of two independent regulatory circuits. Interestingly, the ancestral transcription factor was promiscuous and could bind different motifs in its target promoters. After duplication, one paralogue evolved increased binding specificity so that it only binds one type of motif, whereas the other copy evolved a decreased activity so that it only activates promoters that contain multiple binding sites. Interestingly, only a few mutations in both the DNA-binding domains and in the promoter binding sites were required to gradually disentangle the two networks. These results reveal how duplication of a promiscuous transcription factor followed by concerted cis and trans mutations allows expansion of a regulatory network. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

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