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Xia X.,University of Ottawa | Xia X.,Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | Year: 2016

While pairwise sequence alignment (PSA) by dynamic programming is guaranteed to generate one of the optimal alignments, multiple sequence alignment (MSA) of highly divergent sequences often results in poorly aligned sequences, plaguing all subsequent phylogenetic analysis. One way to avoid this problem is to use only PSA to reconstruct phylogenetic trees, which can only be done with distance-based methods. I compared the accuracy of this new computational approach (named PhyPA for phylogenetics by pairwise alignment) against the maximum likelihood method using MSA (the ML + MSA approach), based on nucleotide, amino acid and codon sequences simulated with different topologies and tree lengths. I present a surprising discovery that the fast PhyPA method consistently outperforms the slow ML + MSA approach for highly diverged sequences even when all optimization options were turned on for the ML + MSA approach. Only when sequences are not highly diverged (i.e., when a reliable MSA can be obtained) does the ML + MSA approach outperforms PhyPA. The true topologies are always recovered by ML with the true alignment from the simulation. However, with MSA derived from alignment programs such as MAFFT or MUSCLE, the recovered topology consistently has higher likelihood than that for the true topology. Thus, the failure to recover the true topology by the ML + MSA is not because of insufficient search of tree space, but by the distortion of phylogenetic signal by MSA methods. I have implemented in DAMBE PhyPA and two approaches making use of multi-gene data sets to derive phylogenetic support for subtrees equivalent to resampling techniques such as bootstrapping and jackknifing. © 2016 The Author

Julian L.M.,Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | Blais A.,Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology | Blais A.,University of Ottawa
Frontiers in Genetics | Year: 2015

E2F transcription factors and their regulatory partners, the pocket proteins (PPs), have emerged as essential regulators of stem cell fate control in a number of lineages. In mammals, this role extends from both pluripotent stem cells to those encompassing all embryonic germ layers, as well as extra-embryonic lineages. E2F/PP-mediated regulation of stem cell decisions is highly evolutionarily conserved, and is likely a pivotal biological mechanism underlying stem cell homeostasis. This has immense implications for organismal development, tissue maintenance, and regeneration. In this article, we discuss the roles of E2F factors and PPs in stem cell populations, focusing on mammalian systems. We discuss emerging findings that position the E2F and PP families as widespread and dynamic epigenetic regulators of cell fate decisions. Additionally, we focus on the ever expanding landscape of E2F/PP target genes, and explore the possibility that E2Fs are not simply regulators of general 'multi-purpose' cell fate genes but can execute tissue- and cell type-specific gene regulatory programs. © 2015 Julian and Blais.

Xia X.,University of Ottawa | Xia X.,Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology
Current Genomics | Year: 2012

Different patterns of strand asymmetry have been documented in a variety of prokaryotic genomes as well as mitochondrial genomes. Because different replication mechanisms often lead to different patterns of strand asymmetry, much can be learned of replication mechanisms by examining strand asymmetry. Here I summarize the diverse patterns of strand asymmetry among different taxonomic groups to suggest that (1) the single-origin replication may not be universal among bacterial species as the endosymbionts Wigglesworthia glossinidia, Wolbachia species, cyanobacterium Synechocystis 6803 and Mycoplasma pulmonis genomes all exhibit strand asymmetry patterns consistent with the multiple origins of replication, (2) different replication origins in some archaeal genomes leave quite different patterns of strand asymmetry, suggesting that different replication origins in the same genome may be differentially used, (3) mitochondrial genomes from representative vertebrate species share one strand asymmetry pattern consistent with the stranddisplacement replication documented in mammalian mtDNA, suggesting that the mtDNA replication mechanism in mammals may be shared among all vertebrate species, and (4) mitochondrial genomes from primitive forms of metazoans such as the sponge and hydra (representing Porifera and Cnidaria, respectively), as well as those from plants, have strand asymmetry patterns similar to single-origin or multi-origin replications observed in prokaryotes and are drastically different from mitochondrial genomes from other metazoans. This may explain why sponge and hydra mitochondrial genomes, as well as plant mitochondrial genomes, evolves much slower than those from other metazoans. © 2012 Bentham Science Publishers.

Dilworth F.J.,Ottawa Hospital Research Institute | Dilworth F.J.,University of Ottawa | Blais A.,Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology | Blais A.,University of Ottawa
Stem Cell Research and Therapy | Year: 2011

Satellite cells are a population of adult muscle stem cells that play a key role in mediating muscle regeneration. Activation of these quiescent stem cells in response to muscle injury involves modulating expression of multiple developmentally regulated genes, including mediators of the muscle-specific transcription program: Pax7, Myf5, MyoD and myogenin. Here we present evidence suggesting an essential role for the antagonistic Polycomb group and Trithorax group proteins in the epigenetic marking of muscle-specific genes to ensure proper temporal and spatial expression during muscle regeneration. The importance of Polycomb group and Trithorax group proteins in establishing chromatin structure at muscle-specific genes suggests that therapeutic modulation of their activity in satellite cells could represent a viable approach for repairing damaged muscle in muscular dystrophy. © 2011 BioMed Central Ltd.

Chithambaram S.,University of Ottawa | Prabhakaran R.,University of Ottawa | Xia X.,University of Ottawa | Xia X.,Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology
Genetics | Year: 2014

Studying phage codon adaptation is important not only for understanding the process of translation elongation, but also for reengineering phages for medical and industrial purposes. To evaluate the effect of mutation and selection on phage codon usage, we developed an index to measure selection imposed by host translation machinery, based on the difference in codon usage between all host genes and highly expressed host genes. We developed linear and nonlinear models to estimate the C/T mutation bias in different phage lineages and to evaluate the relative effect of mutation and host selection on phage codon usage. C/T-biased mutations occur more frequently in single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) phages than in double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) phages and affect not only synonymous codon usage, but also nonsynonymous substitutions at second codon positions, especially in ssDNA phages. The host translation machinery affects codon adaptation in both dsDNA and ssDNA phages, with a stronger effect on dsDNA phages than on ssDNA phages. Strand asymmetry with the associated local variation in mutation bias can significantly interfere with codon adaptation in both dsDNA and ssDNA phages. © 2014 by the Genetics Society of America.

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