Nucleic Acids Research

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Molecular basis for the substrate specificity and catalytic mechanism of thymine-7-hydroxylase in fungi

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17

TET proteins play a vital role in active DNA demethylation in mammals and thus have important functions in many essential cellular processes. The chemistry for the conversion of 5mC to 5hmC, 5fC and 5caC catalysed by TET proteins is similar to that of T to 5hmU, 5fU and 5caU catalysed by thymine-7-hydroxylase (T7H) in the nucleotide anabolism in fungi. Here, we report the crystal structures and biochemical properties of Neurospora crassa T7H. T7H can bind the substrates only in the presence of cosubstrate, and binding of different substrates does not induce notable conformational changes. T7H exhibits comparable binding affinity for T and 5hmU, but 3-fold lower affinity for 5fU. Residues Phe292, Tyr217 and Arg190 play critical roles in substrate binding and catalysis, and the interactions of the C5 modification group of substrates with the cosubstrate and enzyme contribute to the slightly varied binding affinity and activity towards different substrates. After the catalysis, the products are released and new cosubstrate and substrate are reloaded to conduct the next oxidation reaction. Our data reveal the molecular basis for substrate specificity and catalytic mechanism of T7H and provide new insights into the molecular mechanism of substrate recognition and catalysis of TET proteins.

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KSHV but not MHV-68 LANA induces a strong bend upon binding to terminal repeat viral DNA

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17

Latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) is central to episomal tethering, replication and transcriptional regulation of 2-herpesviruses. LANA binds cooperatively to the terminal repeat (TR) region of the viral episome via adjacent LANA binding sites (LBS), but the molecular mechanism by which LANA assembles on the TR remains elusive. We show that KSHV LANA and MHV-68 LANA proteins bind LBS DNA using strikingly different modes. Solution structure of LANA complexes revealed that while kLANA tetramer is intrinsically bent both in the free and bound state to LBS1–2 DNA, mLANA oligomers instead adopt a rigid linear conformation. In addition, we report a novel non-ring kLANA structure that displays more flexibility at its assembly interface than previously demonstrated. We identified a hydrophobic pivot point located at the dimer–dimer assembly interface, which gives rotational freedom for kLANA to adopt variable conformations to accommodate both LBS1–2 and LBS2–1–3 DNA. Alterations in the arrangement of LBS within TR or at the tetramer assembly interface have a drastic effect on the ability of kLANA binding. We also show kLANA and mLANA DNA binding functions can be reciprocated. Although KSHV and MHV-68 are closely related, the findings provide new insights into how the structure, oligomerization, and DNA binding of LANA have evolved differently to assemble on the TR DNA.

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Quadruplex formation by both G-rich and C-rich DNA strands of the C9orf72 (GGGGCC)8*(GGCCCC)8 repeat: effect of CpG methylation

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17

Unusual DNA/RNA structures of the C9orf72 repeat may participate in repeat expansions or pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. Expanded repeats are CpG methylated with unknown consequences. Typically, quadruplex structures form by G-rich but not complementary C-rich strands. Using CD, UV and electrophoresis, we characterized the structures formed by (GGGGCC)8 and (GGCCCC)8 strands with and without 5-methylcytosine (5mCpG) or 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmCpG) methylation. All strands formed heterogenous mixtures of structures, with features of quadruplexes (at pH 7.5, in K+, Na+ or Li+), but no feature typical of i-motifs. C-rich strands formed quadruplexes, likely stabilized by G•C•G•C-tetrads and C•C•C•C-tetrads. Unlike G•G•G•G-tetrads, some G•C•G•C-tetrad conformations do not require the N7-Guanine position, hence C9orf72 quadruplexes still formed when N7-deazaGuanine replace all Guanines. 5mCpG and 5hmCpG increased and decreased the thermal stability of these structures. hnRNPK, through band-shift analysis, bound C-rich but not G-rich strands, with a binding preference of unmethylated > 5hmCpG > 5mCpG, where methylated DNA-protein complexes were retained in the wells, distinct from unmethylated complexes. Our findings suggest that for C-rich sequences interspersed with G-residues, one must consider quadruplex formation and that methylation of quadruplexes may affect epigenetic processes.

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DNA-binding proteins from marine bacteria expand the known sequence diversity of TALE-like repeats

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17

Transcription Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) of Xanthomonas bacteria are programmable DNA binding proteins with unprecedented target specificity. Comparative studies into TALE repeat structure and function are hindered by the limited sequence variation among TALE repeats. More sequence-diverse TALE-like proteins are known from Ralstonia solanacearum (RipTALs) and Burkholderia rhizoxinica (Bats), but RipTAL and Bat repeats are conserved with those of TALEs around the DNA-binding residue. We study two novel marine-organism TALE-like proteins (MOrTL1 and MOrTL2), the first to date of non-terrestrial origin. We have assessed their DNA-binding properties and modelled repeat structures. We found that repeats from these proteins mediate sequence specific DNA binding conforming to the TALE code, despite low sequence similarity to TALE repeats, and with novel residues around the BSR. However, MOrTL1 repeats show greater sequence discriminating power than MOrTL2 repeats. Sequence alignments show that there are only three residues conserved between repeats of all TALE-like proteins including the two new additions. This conserved motif could prove useful as an identifier for future TALE-likes. Additionally, comparing MOrTL repeats with those of other TALE-likes suggests a common evolutionary origin for the TALEs, RipTALs and Bats.

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Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17
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Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17
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Directly lighting up RNA G-quadruplexes from test tubes to living human cells

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 01:17

RNA G-quadruplexes (G4s) are one of the key components of the transcriptome that act as efficient post-transcriptional regulatory elements in living cells. To conduct further studies of the unique biological functions of RNA G4s, techniques need to be developed that can efficiently recognize RNA G4 structures under various conditions, in fixed cells and living cells, as well as in vitro. This paper presents the development of such a method, a new technique using a cyanine dye called CyT, which can detect both canonical and non-canonical RNA G4 structures from test tubes to living human cells. The ability of CyT to distinguish between G4 and nonG4 RNA offers a promising tool for future RNA G4-based biomarker discovery and potential diagnostic applications.

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BioJazz: in silico evolution of cellular networks with unbounded complexity using rule-based modeling

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Systems biologists aim to decipher the structure and dynamics of signaling and regulatory networks underpinning cellular responses; synthetic biologists can use this insight to alter existing networks or engineer de novo ones. Both tasks will benefit from an understanding of which structural and dynamic features of networks can emerge from evolutionary processes, through which intermediary steps these arise, and whether they embody general design principles. As natural evolution at the level of network dynamics is difficult to study, in silico evolution of network models can provide important insights. However, current tools used for in silico evolution of network dynamics are limited to ad hoc computer simulations and models. Here we introduce BioJazz, an extendable, user-friendly tool for simulating the evolution of dynamic biochemical networks. Unlike previous tools for in silico evolution, BioJazz allows for the evolution of cellular networks with unbounded complexity by combining rule-based modeling with an encoding of networks that is akin to a genome. We show that BioJazz can be used to implement biologically realistic selective pressures and allows exploration of the space of network architectures and dynamics that implement prescribed physiological functions. BioJazz is provided as an open-source tool to facilitate its further development and use. Source code and user manuals are available at: http://oss-lab.github.io/biojazz and http://osslab.lifesci.warwick.ac.uk/BioJazz.aspx.

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Efficient conditional knockout targeting vector construction using co-selection BAC recombineering (CoSBR)

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

A simple and efficient strategy for Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) recombineering based on co-selection is described. We show that it is possible to efficiently modify two positions of a BAC simultaneously by co-transformation of a single-stranded DNA oligo and a double-stranded selection cassette. The use of co-selection BAC recombineering reduces the DNA manipulation needed to make a conditional knockout gene targeting vector to only two steps: a single round of BAC modification followed by a retrieval step.

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By the company they keep: interaction networks define the binding ability of transcription factors

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Access to genome-wide data provides the opportunity to address questions concerning the ability of transcription factors (TFs) to assemble in distinct macromolecular complexes. Here, we introduce the PAnDA (Protein And DNA Associations) approach to characterize DNA associations with human TFs using expression profiles, protein–protein interactions and recognition motifs. Our method predicts TF binding events with >0.80 accuracy revealing cell-specific regulatory patterns that can be exploited for future investigations. Even when the precise DNA-binding motifs of a specific TF are not available, the information derived from protein-protein networks is sufficient to perform high-confidence predictions (area under the ROC curve of 0.89). PAnDA is freely available at http://service.tartaglialab.com/new_submission/panda.

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ECHO-liveFISH: in vivo RNA labeling reveals dynamic regulation of nuclear RNA foci in living tissues

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Elucidating the dynamic organization of nuclear RNA foci is important for understanding and manipulating these functional sites of gene expression in both physiological and pathological states. However, such studies have been difficult to establish in vivo as a result of the absence of suitable RNA imaging methods. Here, we describe a high-resolution fluorescence RNA imaging method, ECHO-liveFISH, to label endogenous nuclear RNA in living mice and chicks. Upon in vivo electroporation, exciton-controlled sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes revealed focally concentrated endogenous 28S rRNA and U3 snoRNA at nucleoli and poly(A) RNA at nuclear speckles. Time-lapse imaging reveals steady-state stability of these RNA foci and dynamic dissipation of 28S rRNA concentrations upon polymerase I inhibition in native brain tissue. Confirming the validity of this technique in a physiological context, the in vivo RNA labeling did not interfere with the function of target RNA nor cause noticeable cytotoxicity or perturbation of cellular behavior.

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Simultaneous live imaging of the transcription and nuclear position of specific genes

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The relationship between genome organization and gene expression has recently been established. However, the relationships between spatial organization, dynamics, and transcriptional regulation of the genome remain unknown. In this study, we developed a live-imaging method for simultaneous measurements of the transcriptional activity and nuclear position of endogenous genes, which we termed the ‘Real-time Observation of Localization and EXpression (ROLEX)’ system. We demonstrated that ROLEX is highly specific and does not affect the expression level of the target gene. ROLEX enabled detection of sub-genome-wide mobility changes that depended on the state of Nanog transactivation in embryonic stem cells. We believe that the ROLEX system will become a powerful tool for exploring the relationship between transcription and nuclear dynamics in living cells.

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Ca2+ enrichment in culture medium potentiates effect of oligonucleotides

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Antisense and RNAi-related oligonucleotides have gained attention as laboratory tools and therapeutic agents based on their ability to manipulate biological events in vitro and in vivo. We show that Ca2+ enrichment of medium (CEM) potentiates the in vitro activity of multiple types of oligonucleotides, independent of their net charge and modifications, in various cells. In addition, CEM reflects in vivo silencing activity more consistently than conventional transfection methods. Microscopic analysis reveals that CEM provides a subcellular localization pattern of oligonucleotides resembling that obtained by unassisted transfection, but with quantitative improvement. Highly monodispersed nanoparticles ~100 nm in size are found in Ca2+-enriched serum-containing medium regardless of the presence or absence of oligonucleotides. Transmission electron microscopy analysis reveals that the 100-nm particles are in fact an ensemble of much smaller nanoparticles ( ~ 15 nm). The presence of these nanoparticles is critical for the efficient uptake of various oligonucleotides. In contrast, CEM is ineffective for plasmids, which are readily transfected via the conventional calcium phosphate method. Collectively, CEM enables a more accurate prediction of the systemic activity of therapeutic oligonucleotides, while enhancing the broad usability of oligonucleotides in the laboratory.

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Mapping the interactions of the single-stranded DNA binding protein of bacteriophage T4 (gp32) with DNA lattices at single nucleotide resolution: polynucleotide binding and cooperativity

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

We here use our site-specific base analog mapping approach to study the interactions and binding equilibria of cooperatively-bound clusters of the single-stranded DNA binding protein (gp32) of the T4 DNA replication complex with longer ssDNA (and dsDNA) lattices. We show that in cooperatively bound clusters the binding free energy appears to be equi-partitioned between the gp32 monomers of the cluster, so that all bind to the ssDNA lattice with comparable affinity, but also that the outer domains of the gp32 monomers at the ends of the cluster can fluctuate on and off the lattice and that the clusters of gp32 monomers can slide along the ssDNA. We also show that at very low binding densities gp32 monomers bind to the ssDNA lattice at random, but that cooperatively bound gp32 clusters bind preferentially at the 5'-end of the ssDNA lattice. We use these results and the gp32 monomer-binding results of the companion paper to propose a detailed model for how gp32 might bind to and interact with ssDNA lattices in its various binding modes, and also consider how these clusters might interact with other components of the T4 DNA replication complex.

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Topoisomerase 1-dependent deletions initiated by incision at ribonucleotides are biased to the non-transcribed strand of a highly activated reporter

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

DNA polymerases incorporate ribonucleoside monophosphates (rNMPs) into genomic DNA at a low level and such rNMPs are efficiently removed in an error-free manner by ribonuclease (RNase) H2. In the absence of RNase H2 in budding yeast, persistent rNMPs give rise to short deletions via a mutagenic process initiated by Topoisomerase 1 (Top1). We examined the activity of a 2-bp, rNMP-dependent deletion hotspot [the (TG)2 hotspot] when on the transcribed or non-transcribed strand (TS or NTS, respectively) of a reporter placed in both orientations near a strong origin of replication. Under low-transcription conditions, hotspot activity depended on whether the (TG)2 sequence was part of the newly synthesized leading or lagging strand of replication. In agreement with an earlier study, deletions occurred at a much higher rate when (TG)2 was on the nascent leading strand. Under high-transcription conditions, however, hotspot activity was not dependent on replication direction, but rather on whether the (TG)2 sequence was on the TS or NTS of the reporter. Deletion rates were several orders of magnitude higher when (TG)2 was on the NTS. These results highlight the complex interplay between replication and transcription in regulating Top1-dependent genetic instability.

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Identification of novel post-transcriptional features in olfactory receptor family mRNAs

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Olfactory receptor (Olfr) genes comprise the largest gene family in mice. Despite their importance in olfaction, how most Olfr mRNAs are regulated remains unexplored. Using RNA-seq analysis coupled with analysis of pre-existing databases, we found that Olfr mRNAs have several atypical features suggesting that post-transcriptional regulation impacts their expression. First, Olfr mRNAs, as a group, have dramatically higher average AU-content and lower predicted secondary structure than do control mRNAs. Second, Olfr mRNAs have a higher density of AU-rich elements (AREs) in their 3'UTR and upstream open reading frames (uORFs) in their 5 UTR than do control mRNAs. Third, Olfr mRNAs have shorter 3' UTR regions and with fewer predicted miRNA-binding sites. All of these novel properties correlated with higher Olfr expression. We also identified striking differences in the post-transcriptional features of the mRNAs from the two major classes of Olfr genes, a finding consistent with their independent evolutionary origin. Together, our results suggest that the Olfr gene family has encountered unusual selective forces in neural cells that have driven them to acquire unique post-transcriptional regulatory features. In support of this possibility, we found that while Olfr mRNAs are degraded by a deadenylation-dependent mechanism, they are largely protected from this decay in neural lineage cells.

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Integrated genome-wide analysis of genomic changes and gene regulation in human adrenocortical tissue samples

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

To gain insight into the pathogenesis of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and whether there is progression from normal-to-adenoma-to-carcinoma, we performed genome-wide gene expression, gene methylation, microRNA expression and comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) analysis in human adrenocortical tissue (normal, adrenocortical adenomas and ACC) samples. A pairwise comparison of normal, adrenocortical adenomas and ACC gene expression profiles with more than four-fold expression differences and an adjusted P-value < 0.05 revealed no major differences in normal versus adrenocortical adenoma whereas there are 808 and 1085, respectively, dysregulated genes between ACC versus adrenocortical adenoma and ACC versus normal. The majority of the dysregulated genes in ACC were downregulated. By integrating the CGH, gene methylation and expression profiles of potential miRNAs with the gene expression of dysregulated genes, we found that there are higher alterations in ACC versus normal compared to ACC versus adrenocortical adenoma. Importantly, we identified several novel molecular pathways that are associated with dysregulated genes and further experimentally validated that oncostatin m signaling induces caspase 3 dependent apoptosis and suppresses cell proliferation. Finally, we propose that there is higher number of genomic changes from normal-to-adenoma-to-carcinoma and identified oncostatin m signaling as a plausible druggable pathway for therapeutics.

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Molecular basis of the attenuated phenotype of human APOBEC3B DNA mutator enzyme

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The human APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B genes (A3A and A3B) encode DNA mutator enzymes that deaminate cytidine and 5-methylcytidine residues in single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). They are important sources of mutations in many cancer genomes which show a preponderance of CG->TA transitions. Although both enzymes can hypermutate chromosomal DNA in an experimental setting, only A3A can induce double strand DNA breaks, even though the catalytic domains of A3B and A3A differ by only 9% at the protein level. Accordingly we sought the molecular basis underlying A3B attenuation through the generation of A3A-A3B chimeras and mutants. It transpires that the N-terminal domain facilitates A3B activity while a handful of substitutions in the catalytic C-terminal domain impacting ssDNA binding serve to attenuate A3B compared to A3A. Interestingly, functional attenuation is also observed for the rhesus monkey rhA3B enzyme compared to rhA3A indicating that this genotoxic dichotomy has been selected for and maintained for some 38 million years. Expression of all human ssDNA cytidine deaminase genes is absent in mature sperm indicating they contribute to somatic mutation and cancer but not human diversity.

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