Nucleic Acids Research

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HOXA1 binds RBCK1/HOIL-1 and TRAF2 and modulates the TNF/NF-{kappa}B pathway in a transcription-independent manner

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

HOX proteins define a family of key transcription factors regulating animal embryogenesis. HOX genes have also been linked to oncogenesis and HOXA1 has been described to be active in several cancers, including breast cancer. Through a proteome-wide interaction screening, we previously identified the TNFR-associated proteins RBCK1/HOIL-1 and TRAF2 as HOXA1 interactors suggesting that HOXA1 is functionally linked to the TNF/NF-B signaling pathway. Here, we reveal a strong positive correlation between expression of HOXA1 and of members of the TNF/NF-B pathway in breast tumor datasets. Functionally, we demonstrate that HOXA1 can activate NF-B and operates upstream of the NF-B inhibitor IB. Consistently, we next demonstrate that the HOXA1-mediated activation of NF-B is non-transcriptional and that RBCK1 and TRAF2 influences on NF-B are epistatic to HOXA1. We also identify an 11 Histidine repeat and the homeodomain of HOXA1 to be required both for RBCK1 and TRAF2 interaction and NF-B stimulation. Finally, we highlight that activation of NF-B is crucial for HOXA1 oncogenic activity.

Perpetuating the homing endonuclease life cycle: identification of mutations that modulate and change I-TevI cleavage preference

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Homing endonucleases are sequence-tolerant DNA endonucleases that act as mobile genetic elements. The ability of homing endonucleases to cleave substrates with multiple nucleotide substitutions suggests a high degree of adaptability in that changing or modulating cleavage preference would require relatively few amino acid substitutions. Here, using directed evolution experiments with the GIY-YIG homing endonuclease I-TevI that targets the thymidylate synthase gene of phage T4, we readily isolated variants that dramatically broadened I-TevI cleavage preference, as well as variants that fine-tuned cleavage preference. By combining substitutions, we observed an ~10 000-fold improvement in cleavage on some substrates not cleaved by the wild-type enzyme, correlating with a decrease in readout of information content at the cleavage site. Strikingly, we were able to change the cleavage preference of I-TevI to that of the isoschizomer I-BmoI which targets a different cleavage site in the thymidylate synthase gene, recapitulating the evolution of cleavage preference in this family of homing endonucleases. Our results define a strategy to isolate GIY-YIG nuclease domains with distinct cleavage preferences, and provide insight into how homing endonucleases may escape a dead-end life cycle in a population of saturated target sites by promoting transposition to different target sites.

The mechanism of {phi}C31 integrase directionality: experimental analysis and computational modelling

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Serine integrases, DNA site-specific recombinases used by bacteriophages for integration and excision of their DNA to and from their host genomes, are increasingly being used as tools for programmed rearrangements of DNA molecules for biotechnology and synthetic biology. A useful feature of serine integrases is the simple regulation and unidirectionality of their reactions. Recombination between the phage attP and host attB sites is promoted by the serine integrase alone, giving recombinant attL and attR sites, whereas the ‘reverse’ reaction (between attL and attR) requires an additional protein, the recombination directionality factor (RDF). Here, we present new experimental data on the kinetics and regulation of recombination reactions mediated by C31 integrase and its RDF, and use these data as the basis for a mathematical model of the reactions. The model accounts for the unidirectionality of the attP x attB and attL x attR reactions by hypothesizing the formation of structurally distinct, kinetically stable integrase–DNA product complexes, dependent on the presence or absence of RDF. The model accounts for all the available experimental data, and predicts how mutations of the proteins or alterations of reaction conditions might increase the conversion efficiency of recombination.

Insight into G-quadruplex-hemin DNAzyme/RNAzyme: adjacent adenine as the intramolecular species for remarkable enhancement of enzymatic activity

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

G-quadruplex (G4) with stacked G-tetrads structure is able to bind hemin (iron (III)-protoporphyrin IX) to form a unique type of DNAzyme/RNAzyme with peroxidase-mimicking activity, which has been widely employed in multidisciplinary fields. However, its further applications are hampered by its relatively weak activity compared with protein enzymes. Herein, we report a unique intramolecular enhancement effect of the adjacent adenine (EnEAA) at 3' end of G4 core sequences that significantly improves the activity of G4 DNAzymes. Through detailed investigations of the EnEAA, the added 3' adenine was proved to accelerate the compound I formation in catalytic cycle and thus improve the G4 DNAzyme activity. EnEAA was found to be highly dependent on the unprotonated state of the N1 of adenine, substantiating that adenine might function as a general acid–base catalyst. Further adenine analogs analysis supported that both N1 and exocyclic 6-amino groups in adenine played key role in the catalysis. Moreover, we proved that EnEAA was generally applicable for various parallel G-quadruplex structures and even G4 RNAzyme. Our studies implied that adenine might act analogously as the distal histidine in protein peroxidases, which shed light on the fundamental understanding and rational design of G4 DNAzyme/RNAzyme catalysts with enhanced functions.

The CRISPR RNA-guided surveillance complex in Escherichia coli accommodates extended RNA spacers

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Bacteria and archaea acquire resistance to foreign genetic elements by integrating fragments of foreign DNA into CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) loci. In Escherichia coli, CRISPR-derived RNAs (crRNAs) assemble with Cas proteins into a multi-subunit surveillance complex called Cascade (CRISPR-associated complex for antiviral defense). Cascade recognizes DNA targets via protein-mediated recognition of a protospacer adjacent motif and complementary base pairing between the crRNA spacer and the DNA target. Previously determined structures of Cascade showed that the crRNA is stretched along an oligomeric protein assembly, leading us to ask how crRNA length impacts the assembly and function of this complex. We found that extending the spacer portion of the crRNA resulted in larger Cascade complexes with altered stoichiometry and preserved in vitro binding affinity for target DNA. Longer spacers also preserved the in vivo ability of Cascade to repress target gene expression and to recruit the Cas3 endonuclease for target degradation. Finally, longer spacers exhibited enhanced silencing at particular target locations and were sensitive to mismatches within the extended region. These findings demonstrate the flexibility of the Type I-E CRISPR machinery and suggest that spacer length can be modified to fine-tune Cascade activity.

Genome-wide analysis of single non-templated nucleotides in plant endogenous siRNAs and miRNAs

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Plant small RNAs are subject to various modifications. Previous reports revealed widespread 3' modifications (truncations and non-templated tailing) of plant miRNAs when the 2'-O-methyltransferase HEN1 is absent. However, non-templated nucleotides in plant heterochromatic siRNAs have not been deeply studied, especially in wild-type plants. We systematically studied non-templated nucleotide patterns in plant small RNAs by analyzing small RNA sequencing libraries from Arabidopsis, tomato, Medicago, rice, maize and Physcomitrella. Elevated rates of non-templated nucleotides were observed at the 3' ends of both miRNAs and endogenous siRNAs from wild-type specimens of all species. ‘Off-sized’ small RNAs, such as 25 and 23 nt siRNAs arising from loci dominated by 24 nt siRNAs, often had very high rates of 3'-non-templated nucleotides. The same pattern was observed in all species that we studied. Further analysis of 24 nt siRNA clusters in Arabidopsis revealed distinct patterns of 3'-non-templated nucleotides of 23 nt siRNAs arising from heterochromatic siRNA loci. This pattern of non-templated 3' nucleotides on 23 nt siRNAs is not affected by loss of known small RNA 3'-end modifying enzymes, and may result from modifications added to longer heterochromatic siRNA precursors.

Systematic analysis of plant mitochondrial and chloroplast small RNAs suggests organelle-specific mRNA stabilization mechanisms

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Land plant organellar genomes encode a small number of genes, many of which are essential for respiration and photosynthesis. Organellar gene expression is characterized by a multitude of RNA processing events that lead to stable, translatable transcripts. RNA binding proteins (RBPs), have been shown to generate and protect transcript termini and eventually induce the accumulation of short RNA footprints. We applied knowledge of such RBP-derived footprints to develop software (sRNA miner) that enables identification of RBP footprints, or other clusters of small RNAs, in organelles. We used this tool to determine mitochondrial and chloroplast cosRNAs (clustered organellar sRNAs) in Arabidopsis. We found that in mitochondria, cosRNAs coincide with transcript 3'-ends, but are largely absent from 5'-ends. In chloroplasts this bias is absent, suggesting a different mode of 5' processing, possibly owing to different sets of RNases. Furthermore, we identified a large number of cosRNAs that represent silenced insertions of mitochondrial DNA in the nuclear genome of Arabidopsis. Steady-state RNA analyses demonstrate that cosRNAs display differential accumulation during development. Finally, we demonstrate that the chloroplast RBP PPR10 associates in vivo with its cognate cosRNA. A hypothetical role of cosRNAs as competitors of mRNAs for PPR proteins is discussed.

The RNA-binding protein TTP is a global post-transcriptional regulator of feedback control in inflammation

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) facilitate post-transcriptional control of eukaryotic gene expression at multiple levels. The RBP tristetraprolin (TTP/Zfp36) is a signal-induced phosphorylated anti-inflammatory protein guiding unstable mRNAs of pro-inflammatory proteins for degradation and preventing translation. Using iCLIP, we have identified numerous mRNA targets bound by wild-type TTP and by a non-MK2-phosphorylatable TTP mutant (TTP-AA) in 1 h LPS-stimulated macrophages and correlated their interaction with TTP to changes at the level of mRNA abundance and translation in a transcriptome-wide manner. The close similarity of the transcriptomes of TTP-deficient and TTP-expressing macrophages upon short LPS stimulation suggested an effective inactivation of TTP by MK2, whereas retained RNA-binding capacity of TTP-AA to 3'UTRs caused profound changes in the transcriptome and translatome, altered NF-B-activation and induced cell death. Increased TTP binding to the 3'UTR of feedback inhibitor mRNAs, such as Ier3, Dusp1 or Tnfaip3, in the absence of MK2-dependent TTP neutralization resulted in a strong reduction of their protein synthesis contributing to the deregulation of the NF-B-signaling pathway. Taken together, our study uncovers a role of TTP as a suppressor of feedback inhibitors of inflammation and highlights the importance of fine-tuned TTP activity-regulation by MK2 in order to control the pro-inflammatory response.

eIF1A/eIF5B interaction network and its functions in translation initiation complex assembly and remodeling

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Eukaryotic translation initiation is a highly regulated process involving multiple steps, from 43S pre-initiation complex (PIC) assembly, to ribosomal subunit joining. Subunit joining is controlled by the G-protein eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5B (eIF5B). Another protein, eIF1A, is involved in virtually all steps, including subunit joining. The intrinsically disordered eIF1A C-terminal tail (eIF1A-CTT) binds to eIF5B Domain-4 (eIF5B-D4). The ribosomal complex undergoes conformational rearrangements at every step of translation initiation; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we report three novel interactions involving eIF5B and eIF1A: (i) a second binding interface between eIF5B and eIF1A; (ii) a dynamic intramolecular interaction in eIF1A between the folded domain and eIF1A-CTT; and (iii) an intramolecular interaction between eIF5B-D3 and -D4. The intramolecular interactions within eIF1A and eIF5B interfere with one or both eIF5B/eIF1A contact interfaces, but are disrupted on the ribosome at different stages of translation initiation. Therefore, our results indicate that the interactions between eIF1A and eIF5B are being continuously rearranged during translation initiation. We present a model how the dynamic eIF1A/eIF5B interaction network can promote remodeling of the translation initiation complexes, and the roles in the process played by intrinsically disordered protein segments.

Molecular events during translocation and proofreading extracted from 200 static structures of DNA polymerase

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

DNA polymerases in family B are workhorses of DNA replication that carry out the bulk of the job at a high speed with high accuracy. A polymerase in this family relies on a built-in exonuclease for proofreading. It has not been observed at the atomic resolution how the polymerase advances one nucleotide space on the DNA template strand after a correct nucleotide is incorporated, that is, a process known as translocation. It is even more puzzling how translocation is avoided after the primer strand is excised by the exonuclease and returned back to the polymerase active site once an error occurs. The structural events along the bifurcate pathways of translocation and proofreading have been unwittingly captured by hundreds of structures in Protein Data Bank. This study analyzes all available structures of a representative member in family B and reveals the orchestrated event sequence during translocation and proofreading.

Integrative structural analysis of the UTPB complex, an early assembly factor for eukaryotic small ribosomal subunits

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Ribosome assembly is an essential and conserved cellular process in eukaryotes that requires numerous assembly factors. The six-subunit UTPB complex is an essential component of the 90S precursor of the small ribosomal subunit. Here, we analyzed the molecular architecture of UTPB using an integrative structural biology approach. We mapped the major interactions that associate each of six UTPB proteins. Crystallographic studies showed that Utp1, Utp21, Utp12 and Utp13 are evolutionarily related and form a dimer of dimers (Utp1–Utp21, Utp12–Utp13) through their homologous helical C-terminal domains. Molecular docking with crosslinking restraints showed that the WD domains of Utp12 and Utp13 are associated, as are the WD domains of Utp1, Utp21 and Utp18. Electron microscopy images of the entire UTPB complex revealed that it predominantly adopts elongated conformations and possesses internal flexibility. We also determined crystal structures of the WD domain of Utp18 and the HAT and deviant HAT domains of Utp6. A structural model of UTPB was derived based on these data.

Post-ExSELEX stabilization of an unnatural-base DNA aptamer targeting VEGF165 toward pharmaceutical applications

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

A new technology, genetic alphabet expansion using artificial bases (unnatural bases), has created high-affinity DNA ligands (aptamers) that specifically bind to target proteins by ExSELEX (genetic alphabet Expansion for Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment). We recently found that the unnatural-base DNA aptamers can be stabilized against nucleases, by introducing an extraordinarily stable, unique hairpin DNA (mini-hairpin DNA) and by reinforcing the stem region with G–C pairs. Here, to establish this aptamer generation method, we examined the stabilization of a high-affinity anti-VEGF165 unnatural-base DNA aptamer. The stabilized aptamers displayed significantly increased thermal and nuclease stabilities, and furthermore, exhibited higher affinity to the target. As compared to the well-known anti-VEGF165 RNA aptamer, pegaptanib (Macugen), our aptamers did not require calcium ions for binding to VEGF165. Biological experiments using cultured cells revealed that our stabilized aptamers efficiently inhibited the interaction between VEGF165 and its receptor, with the same or slightly higher efficiency than that of the pegaptanib RNA aptamer. The development of cost-effective and calcium ion-independent high-affinity anti-VEGF165 DNA aptamers encourages further progress in diagnostic and therapeutic applications. In addition, the stabilization process provided additional information about the key elements required for aptamer binding to VEGF165.

A part toolbox to tune genetic expression in Bacillus subtilis

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:00

Libraries of well-characterised components regulating gene expression levels are essential to many synthetic biology applications. While widely available for the Gram-negative model bacterium Escherichia coli, such libraries are lacking for the Gram-positive model Bacillus subtilis, a key organism for basic research and biotechnological applications. Here, we engineered a genetic toolbox comprising libraries of promoters, Ribosome Binding Sites (RBS), and protein degradation tags to precisely tune gene expression in B. subtilis. We first designed a modular Expression Operating Unit (EOU) facilitating parts assembly and modifications and providing a standard genetic context for gene circuits implementation. We then selected native, constitutive promoters of B. subtilis and efficient RBS sequences from which we engineered three promoters and three RBS sequence libraries exhibiting ~14 000-fold dynamic range in gene expression levels. We also designed a collection of SsrA proteolysis tags of variable strength. Finally, by using fluorescence fluctuation methods coupled with two-photon microscopy, we quantified the absolute concentration of GFP in a subset of strains from the library. Our complete promoters and RBS sequences library comprising over 135 constructs enables tuning of GFP concentration over five orders of magnitude, from 0.05 to 700 μM. This toolbox of regulatory components will support many research and engineering applications in B. subtilis.

Examining cooperative binding of Sox2 on DC5 regulatory element upon complex formation with Pax6 through excess electron transfer assay

Fri, 2016-08-19 06:31

Functional cooperativity among transcription factors on regulatory genetic elements is pivotal for milestone decision-making in various cellular processes including mammalian development. However, their molecular interaction during the cooperative binding cannot be precisely understood due to lack of efficient tools for the analyses of protein–DNA interaction in the transcription complex. Here, we demonstrate that photoinduced excess electron transfer assay can be used for analysing cooperativity of proteins in transcription complex using cooperative binding of Pax6 to Sox2 on the regulatory DNA element (DC5 enhancer) as an example. In this assay, BrU-labelled DC5 was introduced for the efficient detection of transferred electrons from Sox2 and Pax6 to the DNA, and guanine base in the complementary strand was replaced with hypoxanthine (I) to block intra-strand electron transfer at the Sox2-binding site. By examining DNA cleavage occurred as a result of the electron transfer process, from tryptophan residues of Sox2 and Pax6 to DNA after irradiation at 280 nm, we not only confirmed their binding to DNA but also observed their increased occupancy on DC5 with respect to that of Sox2 and Pax6 alone as a result of their cooperative interaction.

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Fri, 2016-08-19 06:31

Engineering a robust DNA split proximity circuit with minimized circuit leakage

Fri, 2016-08-19 06:31

DNA circuit is a versatile and highly-programmable toolbox which can potentially be used for the autonomous sensing of dynamic events, such as biomolecular interactions. However, the experimental implementation of in silico circuit designs has been hindered by the problem of circuit leakage. Here, we systematically analyzed the sources and characteristics of various types of leakage in a split proximity circuit which was engineered to spatially probe for target sites held within close proximity. Direct evidence that 3'-truncated oligonucleotides were the major impurity contributing to circuit leakage was presented. More importantly, a unique strategy of translocating a single nucleotide between domains, termed ‘inter-domain bridging’, was introduced to eliminate toehold-independent leakages while enhancing the strand displacement kinetics across a three-way junction. We also analyzed the dynamics of intermediate complexes involved in the circuit computation in order to define the working range of domain lengths for the reporter toehold and association region respectively. The final circuit design was successfully implemented on a model streptavidin-biotin system and demonstrated to be robust against both circuit leakage and biological interferences. We anticipate that this simple signal transduction strategy can be used to probe for diverse biomolecular interactions when used in conjunction with specific target recognition moieties.

Robust lineage reconstruction from high-dimensional single-cell data

Fri, 2016-08-19 06:31

Single-cell gene expression data provide invaluable resources for systematic characterization of cellular hierarchy in multi-cellular organisms. However, cell lineage reconstruction is still often associated with significant uncertainty due to technological constraints. Such uncertainties have not been taken into account in current methods. We present ECLAIR (Ensemble Cell Lineage Analysis with Improved Robustness), a novel computational method for the statistical inference of cell lineage relationships from single-cell gene expression data. ECLAIR uses an ensemble approach to improve the robustness of lineage predictions, and provides a quantitative estimate of the uncertainty of lineage branchings. We show that the application of ECLAIR to published datasets successfully reconstructs known lineage relationships and significantly improves the robustness of predictions. ECLAIR is a powerful bioinformatics tool for single-cell data analysis. It can be used for robust lineage reconstruction with quantitative estimate of prediction accuracy.