UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Genomic identification and functional analysis of essential genes in Caenorhabditis elegans Yu, Shicheng; Zheng, Chaoran; Zhou, Fan; Baillie, David L; Rose, Ann M; Deng, Zixin; Chu, Jeffrey S


Background: Essential genes are required for an organism’s viability and their functions can vary greatly, spreading across many pathways. Due to the importance of essential genes, large scale efforts have been undertaken to identify the complete set of essential genes and to understand their function. Studies of genome architecture and organization have found that genes are not randomly disturbed in the genome. Results: Using combined genetic mapping, Illumina sequencing, and bioinformatics analyses, we successfully identified 44 essential genes with 130 lethal mutations in genomic regions of C. elegans of around 7.3 Mb from Chromosome I (left). Of the 44 essential genes, six of which were genes not characterized previously by mutant alleles, let-633/let-638 (B0261.1), let-128 (C53H9.2), let-511 (W09C3.4), let-162 (Y47G6A.18), let-510 (Y47G6A.19), and let-131 (Y71G12B.6). Examine essential genes with Hi-C data shows that essential genes tend to cluster within TAD units rather near TAD boundaries. We have also shown that essential genes in the left half of chromosome I in C. elegans function in enzyme and nucleic acid binding activities during fundamental processes, such as DNA replication, transcription, and translation. From protein-protein interaction networks, essential genes exhibit more protein connectivity than non-essential genes in the genome. Also, many of the essential genes show strong expression in embryos or early larvae stages, indicating that they are important to early development. Conclusions: Our results confirmed that this work provided a more comprehensive picture of the essential gene and their functional characterization. These genetic resources will offer important tools for further heath and disease research.

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