Nucleic Acids Research

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  • Surface plasmon resonance imaging reveals multiple binding modes of Agrobacterium transformation mediator VirE2 to ssDNA
    [Jul 2015]

    VirE2 is the major secreted protein of Agrobacterium tumefaciens in its genetic transformation of plant hosts. It is co-expressed with a small acidic chaperone VirE1, which prevents VirE2 oligomerization. After secretion into the host cell, VirE2 serves functions similar to a viral capsid in protecting the single-stranded transferred DNA en route to the nucleus. Binding of VirE2 to ssDNA is strongly cooperative and depends moreover on protein–protein interactions. In order to isolate the protein–DNA interactions, imaging surface plasmon resonance (SPRi) studies were conducted using surface-immobilized DNA substrates of length comparable to the protein-binding footprint. Binding curves revealed an important influence of substrate rigidity with a notable preference for poly-T sequences and absence of binding to both poly-A and double-stranded DNA fragments. Dissociation at high salt concentration confirmed the electrostatic nature of the interaction. VirE1–VirE2 heterodimers also bound to ssDNA, though by a different mechanism that was insensitive to high salt. Neither VirE2 nor VirE1–VirE2 followed the Langmuir isotherm expected for reversible monomeric binding. The differences reflect the cooperative self-interactions of VirE2 that are suppressed by VirE1.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Cooperativity-based modeling of heterotypic DNA nanostructure assembly
    [Jul 2015]

    DNA origami is a robust method for the fabrication of nanoscale 2D and 3D objects with complex features and geometries. The process of DNA origami folding has been recently studied, however quantitative understanding of it is still elusive. Here, we describe a systematic quantification of the assembly process of DNA nanostructures, focusing on the heterotypic DNA junction—in which arms are unequal—as their basic building block. Using bulk fluorescence studies we tracked this process and identified multiple levels of cooperativity from the arms in a single junction to neighboring junctions in a large DNA origami object, demonstrating that cooperativity is a central underlying mechanism in the process of DNA nanostructure assembly. We show that the assembly of junctions in which the arms are consecutively ordered is more efficient than junctions with randomly-ordered components, with the latter showing assembly through several alternative trajectories as a potential mechanism explaining the lower efficiency. This highlights consecutiveness as a new design consideration that could be implemented in DNA nanotechnology CAD tools to produce more efficient and high-yield designs. Altogether, our experimental findings allowed us to devise a quantitative, cooperativity-based heuristic model for the assembly of DNA nanostructures, which is highly consistent with experimental observations.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Structural and biochemical studies of the distinct activity profiles of Rai1 enzymes
    [Jul 2015]

    Recent studies showed that Rai1 and its homologs are a crucial component of the mRNA 5'-end capping quality control mechanism. They can possess RNA 5'-end pyrophosphohydrolase (PPH), decapping, and 5'-3' exonuclease (toward 5' monophosphate RNA) activities, which help to degrade mRNAs with incomplete 5'-end capping. A single active site in the enzyme supports these apparently distinct activities. However, each Rai1 protein studied so far has a unique set of activities, and the molecular basis for these differences are not known. Here, we have characterized the highly diverse activity profiles of Rai1 homologs from a collection of fungal organisms and identified a new activity for these enzymes, 5'-end triphosphonucleotide hydrolase (TPH) instead of PPH activity. Crystal structures of two of these enzymes bound to RNA oligonucleotides reveal differences in the RNA binding modes. Structure-based mutations of these enzymes, changing residues that contact the RNA but are poorly conserved, have substantial effects on their activity, providing a framework to begin to understand the molecular basis for the different activity profiles.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Induced folding in RNA recognition by Arabidopsis thaliana DCL1
    [Jul 2015]

    DCL1 is the ribonuclease that carries out miRNA biogenesis in plants. The enzyme has two tandem double stranded RNA binding domains (dsRBDs) in its C-terminus. Here we show that the first of these domains binds precursor RNA fragments when isolated and cooperates with the second domain in the recognition of substrate RNA. Remarkably, despite showing RNA binding activity, this domain is intrinsically disordered. We found that it acquires a folded conformation when bound to its substrate, being the first report of a complete dsRBD folding upon binding. The free unfolded form shows tendency to adopt folded conformations, and goes through an unfolded bound state prior to the folding event. The significance of these results is discussed by comparison with the behavior of other dsRBDs.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Versatile genetic assembly system (VEGAS) to assemble pathways for expression in S. cerevisiae
    [Jul 2015]

    We have developed a method for assembling genetic pathways for expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our pathway assembly method, called VEGAS (Versatile genetic assembly system), exploits the native capacity of S. cerevisiae to perform homologous recombination and efficiently join sequences with terminal homology. In the VEGAS workflow, terminal homology between adjacent pathway genes and the assembly vector is encoded by ‘VEGAS adapter’ (VA) sequences, which are orthogonal in sequence with respect to the yeast genome. Prior to pathway assembly by VEGAS in S. cerevisiae, each gene is assigned an appropriate pair of VAs and assembled using a previously described technique called yeast Golden Gate (yGG). Here we describe the application of yGG specifically to building transcription units for VEGAS assembly as well as the VEGAS methodology. We demonstrate the assembly of four-, five- and six-gene pathways by VEGAS to generate S. cerevisiae cells synthesizing β-carotene and violacein. Moreover, we demonstrate the capacity of yGG coupled to VEGAS for combinatorial assembly.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Post-translational environmental switch of RadA activity by extein-intein interactions in protein splicing
    [Jul 2015]

    Post-translational control based on an environmentally sensitive intervening intein sequence is described. Inteins are invasive genetic elements that self-splice at the protein level from the flanking host protein, the exteins. Here we show in Escherichia coli and in vitro that splicing of the RadA intein located in the ATPase domain of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus horikoshii is strongly regulated by the native exteins, which lock the intein in an inactive state. High temperature or solution conditions can unlock the intein for full activity, as can remote extein point mutations. Notably, this splicing trap occurs through interactions between distant residues in the native exteins and the intein, in three-dimensional space. The exteins might thereby serve as an environmental sensor, releasing the intein for full activity only at optimal growth conditions for the native organism, while sparing ATP consumption under conditions of cold-shock. This partnership between the intein and its exteins, which implies coevolution of the parasitic intein and its host protein may provide a novel means of post-translational control.

    Categories: Journal Articles
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    [Jul 2015]

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • DNA hairpins destabilize duplexes primarily by promoting melting rather than by inhibiting hybridization
    [Jul 2015]

    The effect of secondary structure on DNA duplex formation is poorly understood. Using oxDNA, a nucleotide level coarse-grained model of DNA, we study how hairpins influence the rate and reaction pathways of DNA hybridzation. We compare to experimental systems studied by Gao et al. (1) and find that 3-base pair hairpins reduce the hybridization rate by a factor of 2, and 4-base pair hairpins by a factor of 10, compared to DNA with limited secondary structure, which is in good agreement with experiments. By contrast, melting rates are accelerated by factors of ~100 and ~2000. This surprisingly large speed-up occurs because hairpins form during the melting process, and significantly lower the free energy barrier for dissociation. These results should assist experimentalists in designing sequences to be used in DNA nanotechnology, by putting limits on the suppression of hybridization reaction rates through the use of hairpins and offering the possibility of deliberately increasing dissociation rates by incorporating hairpins into single strands.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Sequence-independent characterization of viruses based on the pattern of viral small RNAs produced by the host
    [Jul 2015]

    Virus surveillance in vector insects is potentially of great benefit to public health. Large-scale sequencing of small and long RNAs has previously been used to detect viruses, but without any formal comparison of different strategies. Furthermore, the identification of viral sequences largely depends on similarity searches against reference databases. Here, we developed a sequence-independent strategy based on virus-derived small RNAs produced by the host response, such as the RNA interference pathway. In insects, we compared sequences of small and long RNAs, demonstrating that viral sequences are enriched in the small RNA fraction. We also noted that the small RNA size profile is a unique signature for each virus and can be used to identify novel viral sequences without known relatives in reference databases. Using this strategy, we characterized six novel viruses in the viromes of laboratory fruit flies and wild populations of two insect vectors: mosquitoes and sandflies. We also show that the small RNA profile could be used to infer viral tropism for ovaries among other aspects of virus biology. Additionally, our results suggest that virus detection utilizing small RNAs can also be applied to vertebrates, although not as efficiently as to plants and insects.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Transcriptome dynamics of the microRNA inhibition response
    [Jul 2015]

    We report a high-resolution time series study of transcriptome dynamics following antimiR-mediated inhibition of miR-9 in a Hodgkin lymphoma cell-line—the first such dynamic study of the microRNA inhibition response—revealing both general and specific aspects of the physiological response. We show miR-9 inhibition inducing a multiphasic transcriptome response, with a direct target perturbation before 4 h, earlier than previously reported, amplified by a downstream peak at ~32 h consistent with an indirect response due to secondary coherent regulation. Predictive modelling indicates a major role for miR-9 in post-transcriptional control of RNA processing and RNA binding protein regulation. Cluster analysis identifies multiple co-regulated gene regulatory modules. Functionally, we observe a shift over time from mRNA processing at early time points to translation at later time points. We validate the key observations with independent time series qPCR and we experimentally validate key predicted miR-9 targets. Methodologically, we developed sensitive functional data analytic predictive methods to analyse the weak response inherent in microRNA inhibition experiments. The methods of this study will be applicable to similar high-resolution time series transcriptome analyses and provides the context for more accurate experimental design and interpretation of future microRNA inhibition studies.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • The eIF3 complex of Leishmania--subunit composition and mode of recruitment to different cap-binding complexes
    [Jul 2015]

    Eukaryotic initiation factor 3 (eIF3) is a multi-protein complex and a key participant in the assembly of the translation initiation machinery. In mammals, eIF3 comprises 13 subunits, most of which are characterized by conserved structural domains. The trypanosomatid eIF3 subunits are poorly conserved. Here, we identify 12 subunits that comprise the Leishmania eIF3 complex (LeishIF3a-l) by combining bioinformatics with affinity purification and mass spectrometry analyses. These results highlight the strong association of LeishIF3 with LeishIF1, LeishIF2 and LeishIF5, suggesting the existence of a multi-factor complex. In trypanosomatids, the translation machinery is tightly regulated in the different life stages of these organisms as part of their adaptation and survival in changing environments. We, therefore, addressed the mechanism by which LeishIF3 is recruited to different mRNA cap-binding complexes. A direct interaction was observed in vitro between the fully assembled LeishIF3 complex and recombinant LeishIF4G3, the canonical scaffolding protein of the cap-binding complex in Leishmania promastigotes. We further highlight a novel interaction between the C-terminus of LeishIF3a and LeishIF4E1, the only cap-binding protein that efficiently binds the cap structure under heat shock conditions, anchoring a complex that is deficient of any MIF4G-based scaffolding subunit.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A fine balance: epigenetic control of cellular quiescence by the tumor suppressor PRDM2/RIZ at a bivalent domain in the cyclin a gene
    [Jul 2015]

    Adult stem cell quiescence is critical to ensure regeneration while minimizing tumorigenesis. Epigenetic regulation contributes to cell cycle control and differentiation, but few regulators of the chromatin state in quiescent cells are known. Here we report that the tumor suppressor PRDM2/RIZ, an H3K9 methyltransferase, is enriched in quiescent muscle stem cells in vivo and controls reversible quiescence in cultured myoblasts. We find that PRDM2 associates with >4400 promoters in G0 myoblasts, 55% of which are also marked with H3K9me2 and enriched for myogenic, cell cycle and developmental regulators. Knockdown of PRDM2 alters histone methylation at key promoters such as Myogenin and CyclinA2 (CCNA2), and subverts the quiescence program via global de-repression of myogenesis, and hyper-repression of the cell cycle. Further, PRDM2 acts upstream of the repressive PRC2 complex in G0. We identify a novel G0-specific bivalent chromatin domain in the CCNA2 locus. PRDM2 protein interacts with the PRC2 protein EZH2 and regulates its association with the bivalent domain in the CCNA2 gene. Our results suggest that induction of PRDM2 in G0 ensures that two antagonistic programs—myogenesis and the cell cycle—while stalled, are poised for reactivation. Together, these results indicate that epigenetic regulation by PRDM2 preserves key functions of the quiescent state, with implications for stem cell self-renewal.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Context-specific role of SOX9 in NF-Y mediated gene regulation in colorectal cancer cells
    [Jul 2015]

    Roles for SOX9 have been extensively studied in development and particular emphasis has been placed on SOX9 roles in cell lineage determination in a number of discrete tissues. Aberrant expression of SOX9 in many cancers, including colorectal cancer, suggests roles in these diseases as well and recent studies have suggested tissue- and context-specific roles of SOX9. Our genome wide approach by chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) in human colorectal cancer cells identified a number of physiological targets of SOX9, including ubiquitously expressed cell cycle regulatory genes, such as CCNB1 and CCNB2, CDK1, and TOP2A. These novel high affinity-SOX9 binding peaks precisely overlapped with binding sites for histone-fold NF-Y transcription factor. Furthermore, our data showed that SOX9 is recruited by NF-Y to these promoters of cell cycle regulatory genes and that SOX9 is critical for the full function of NF-Y in activation of the cell cycle genes. Mutagenesis analysis and in vitro binding assays provided additional evidence to show that SOX9 affinity is through NF-Y and that SOX9 DNA binding domain is not necessary for SOX9 affinity to those target genes. Collectively, our results reveal possibly a context-dependent, non-classical regulatory role for SOX9.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • PRC2 regulates RNA polymerase III transcribed non-translated RNA gene transcription through EZH2 and SUZ12 interaction with TFIIIC complex
    [Jul 2015]

    Polycomb repression complex 2 (PRC2) component EZH2 tri-methylates H3K27 and exerts epigenetic repression on target gene expression. EZH2-mediated epigenetic control of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcribed coding gene transcription has been well established. However, little is known about EZH2-mediated epigenetic regulation of RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription. Here we present a paradigm that EZH2 is involved in the repression of Pol III transcription via interaction with transcriptional factor complex IIIC (TFIIIC). EZH2 and H3K27me3 co-occupy the promoter of tRNATyr, 5S rRNA and 7SL RNA genes. Depletion of EZH2 or inhibition of EZH2 methyltransferase activity led to upregulation of Pol III target gene transcription. EZH2-mediated repression of Pol III transcribed gene expression requires presence of SUZ12. SUZ12 was able to interact with TFIIIC complex and knockdown of SUZ12 decreased occupancy of EZH2 and H3K27me3 at the promoter of Pol III target genes. Our findings pointed out a previously unidentified role of PRC2 complex in suppressing transcription of Pol III transcribed non-translated RNA genes, putting Pol III on a new layer of epigenetic regulation.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • TBP-like protein (TLP) interferes with Taspase1-mediated processing of TFIIA and represses TATA box gene expression
    [Jul 2015]

    TBP-TFIIA interaction is involved in the potentiation of TATA box-driven promoters. TFIIA activates transcription through stabilization of TATA box-bound TBP. The precursor of TFIIA is subjected to Taspase1-directed processing to generate α and β subunits. Although this processing has been assumed to be required for the promoter activation function of TFIIA, little is known about how the processing is regulated. In this study, we found that TBP-like protein (TLP), which has the highest affinity to TFIIA among known proteins, affects Taspase1-driven processing of TFIIA. TLP interfered with TFIIA processing in vivo and in vitro, and direct binding of TLP to TFIIA was essential for inhibition of the processing. We also showed that TATA box promoters are specifically potentiated by processed TFIIA. Processed TFIIA, but not unprocessed TFIIA, associated with the TATA box. In a TLP-knocked-down condition, not only the amounts of TATA box-bound TFIIA but also those of chromatin-bound TBP were significantly increased, resulting in the stimulation of TATA box-mediated gene expression. Consequently, we suggest that TLP works as a negative regulator of the TFIIA processing and represses TFIIA-governed and TATA-dependent gene expression through preventing TFIIA maturation.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Bacteriophage Xp10 anti-termination factor p7 induces forward translocation by host RNA polymerase
    [Jul 2015]

    Regulation of transcription elongation is based on response of RNA polymerase (RNAP) to various pause signals and is modulated by various accessory factors. Here we report that a 7 kDa protein p7 encoded by bacteriophage Xp10 acts as an elongation processivity factor of RNAP of host bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae, a major rice pathogen. Our data suggest that p7 stabilizes the upstream DNA duplex of the elongation complex thus disfavouring backtracking and promoting forward translocated states of the elongation complex. The p7-induced ‘pushing’ of RNAP and modification of RNAP contacts with the upstream edge of the transcription bubble lead to read-through of various types of pauses and termination signals and generally increase transcription processivity and elongation rate, contributing for transcription of an extremely long late genes operon of Xp10. Forward translocation was observed earlier upon the binding of unrelated bacterial elongation factor NusG, suggesting that this may be a general pathway of regulation of transcription elongation.

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  • Mechanism of heat stress-induced cellular senescence elucidates the exclusive vulnerability of early S-phase cells to mild genotoxic stress
    [Jul 2015]

    Heat stress is one of the best-studied cellular stress factors; however, little is known about its delayed effects. Here, we demonstrate that heat stress induces p21-dependent cellular senescence-like cell cycle arrest. Notably, only early S-phase cells undergo such an arrest in response to heat stress. The encounter of DNA replication forks with topoisomerase I-generated single-stranded DNA breaks resulted in the generation of persistent double-stranded DNA breaks was found to be a primary cause of heat stress-induced cellular senescence in these cells. This investigation of heat stress-induced cellular senescence elucidates the mechanisms underlying the exclusive sensitivity of early S-phase cells to ultra-low doses of agents that induce single-stranded DNA breaks.

    Categories: Journal Articles