Nucleic Acids Research

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A cytoplasmic pathway for gapmer antisense oligonucleotide-mediated gene silencing in mammalian cells

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are known to trigger mRNA degradation in the nucleus via an RNase H-dependent mechanism. We have now identified a putative cytoplasmic mechanism through which ASO gapmers silence their targets when transfected or delivered gymnotically (i.e. in the absence of any transfection reagent). We have shown that the ASO gapmers can interact with the Ago-2 PAZ domain and can localize into GW-182 mRNA-degradation bodies (GW-bodies). The degradation products of the targeted mRNA, however, are not generated by Ago-2-directed cleavage. The apparent identification of a cytoplasmic pathway complements the previously known nuclear activity of ASOs and concurrently suggests that nuclear localization is not an absolute requirement for gene silencing.

Categories: Journal Articles

MiRNA-891a-5p mediates HIV-1 Tat and KSHV Orf-K1 synergistic induction of angiogenesis by activating NF-{kappa}B signaling

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Co-infection with HIV-1 and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is the cause of aggressive AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma (AIDS-KS) characterized by abnormal angiogenesis. The impact of HIV-1 and KSHV interaction on the pathogenesis and extensive angiogenesis of AIDS-KS remains unclear. Here, we explored the synergistic effect of HIV-1 Tat and KSHV oncogene Orf-K1 on angiogenesis. Our results showed that soluble Tat or ectopic expression of Tat enhanced K1-induced cell proliferation, microtubule formation and angiogenesis in chorioallantoic membrane and nude mice models. Mechanistic studies revealed that Tat promoted K1-induced angiogenesis by enhancing NF-B signaling. Mechanistically, we showed that Tat synergized with K1 to induce the expression of miR-891a-5p, which directly targeted IBα 3' untranslated region, leading to NF-B activation. Consequently, inhibition of miR-891a-5p increased IBα level, prevented nuclear translocation of NF-B p65 and ultimately suppressed the synergistic effect of Tat- and K1-induced angiogenesis. Our results illustrate that, by targeting IBα to activate the NF-B pathway, miR-891a-5p mediates Tat and K1 synergistic induction of angiogenesis. Therefore, the miR-891a-5p/NF-B pathway is important in the pathogenesis of AIDS-KS, which could be an attractive therapeutic target for AIDS-KS.

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Nuclear domain 'knock-in' screen for the evaluation and identification of small molecule enhancers of CRISPR-based genome editing

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

CRISPR is a genome-editing platform that makes use of the bacterially-derived endonuclease Cas9 to introduce DNA double-strand breaks at precise locations in the genome using complementary guide RNAs. We developed a nuclear domain knock-in screen, whereby the insertion of a gene encoding the green fluorescent protein variant Clover is inserted by Cas9-mediated homology directed repair (HDR) within the first exon of genes that are required for the structural integrity of subnuclear domains such as the nuclear lamina and promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies (PML NBs). Using this approach, we compared strategies for enhancing CRISPR-mediated HDR, focusing on known genes and small molecules that impact non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination (HR). Ultimately, we identified the small molecule RS-1 as a potent enhancer of CRISPR-based genome editing, enhancing HDR 3- to 6-fold depending on the locus and transfection method. We also characterized U2OS human osteosarcoma cells expressing Clover-tagged PML and demonstrate that this strategy generates cell lines with PML NBs that are structurally and functionally similar to bodies in the parental cell line. Thus, the nuclear domain knock-in screen that we describe provides a simple means of rapidly evaluating methods and small molecules that have the potential to enhance Cas9-mediated HDR.

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NPGPx modulates CPEB2-controlled HIF-1{alpha} RNA translation in response to oxidative stress

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Non-selenocysteine-containing phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase (NPGPx or GPx7) is an oxidative stress sensor that modulates the antioxidative activity of its target proteins through intermolecular disulfide bond formation. Given NPGPx's role in protecting cells from oxidative damage, identification of the oxidative stress-induced protein complexes, which forms with key stress factors, may offer novel insight into intracellular reactive oxygen species homeostasis. Here, we show that NPGPx forms a disulfide bond with the translational regulator cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding protein 2 (CPEB2) that results in negative regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) RNA translation. In NPGPx-proficient cells, high oxidative stress that disrupts this bonding compromises the association of CPEB2 with HIF-1α RNA, leading to elevated HIF-1α RNA translation. NPGPx-deficient cells, in contrast, demonstrate increased HIF-1α RNA translation under normoxia with both impaired induction of HIF-1α synthesis and blunted HIF-1α-programmed transcription following oxidative stress. Together, these results reveal a molecular mechanism for how NPGPx mediates CPEB2-controlled HIF-1α RNA translation in a redox-sensitive manner.

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The novel influenza A virus protein PA-X and its naturally deleted variant show different enzymatic properties in comparison to the viral endonuclease PA

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The PA protein of Influenza A virus (IAV) encoded by segment 3 acts as a specialized RNA endonuclease in the transcription of the viral genome. The same genomic segment encodes for a second shorter protein, termed PA-X, with the first 191 N-terminal aminoacids (aa) identical to PA, but with a completely different C-ter domain of 61 aa, due to a ribosomal frameshifting. In addition, it has been shown that several IAV isolates encode for a naturally truncated PA-X variant, PAXC20, missing the last 20 aa. The biochemical properties of PA-X and PAXC20 have been poorly investigated so far. Here, we have carried out an enzymatic characterization of PA-X and its naturally deleted form, in comparison with PA from the human IAV strain A/WSN/33 (H1N1). Our results showed, to the best of our knowledge for the first time, that PA-X possesses an endonucleolytic activity. Both PA and PA-X preferentially cut single stranded RNA regions, but with some differences. In addition, we showed that PAXC20 has severely reduced nuclease activity. These results point to a previously undetected role of the last C-ter 20 aa for the catalytic activity of PA-X and support distinct roles for these proteins in the viral life cycle.

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Slicer-independent mechanism drives small-RNA strand separation during human RISC assembly

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Small RNA silencing is mediated by the effector RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) that consists of an Argonaute protein (AGOs 1–4 in humans). A fundamental step during RISC assembly involves the separation of two strands of a small RNA duplex, whereby only the guide strand is retained to form the mature RISC, a process not well understood. Despite the widely accepted view that ‘slicer-dependent unwinding’ via passenger-strand cleavage is a prerequisite for the assembly of a highly complementary siRNA into the AGO2-RISC, here we show by careful re-examination that ‘slicer-independent unwinding’ plays a more significant role in human RISC maturation than previously appreciated, not only for a miRNA duplex, but, unexpectedly, for a highly complementary siRNA as well. We discovered that ‘slicer-dependency’ for the unwinding was affected primarily by certain parameters such as temperature and Mg2+. We further validate these observations in non-slicer AGOs (1, 3 and 4) that can be programmed with siRNAs at the physiological temperature of humans, suggesting that slicer-independent mechanism is likely a common feature of human AGOs. Our results now clearly explain why both miRNA and siRNA are found in all four human AGOs, which is in striking contrast to the strict small-RNA sorting system in Drosophila.

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RNA binding to APOBEC3G induces the disassembly of functional deaminase complexes by displacing single-stranded DNA substrates

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

APOBEC3G (A3G) DNA deaminase activity requires a holoenzyme complex whose assembly on nascent viral reverse transcripts initiates with A3G dimers binding to ssDNA followed by formation of higher-order A3G homo oligomers. Catalytic activity is inhibited when A3G binds to RNA. Our prior studies suggested that RNA inhibited A3G binding to ssDNA. In this report, near equilibrium binding and gel shift analyses showed that A3G assembly and disassembly on ssDNA was an ordered process involving A3G dimers and multimers thereof. Although, fluorescence anisotropy showed that A3G had similar nanomolar affinity for RNA and ssDNA, RNA stochastically dissociated A3G dimers and higher-order oligomers from ssDNA, suggesting a different modality for RNA binding. Mass spectrometry mapping of A3G peptides cross-linked to nucleic acid suggested ssDNA only bound to three peptides, amino acids (aa) 181–194 in the N-terminus and aa 314–320 and 345–374 in the C-terminus that were part of a continuous exposed surface. RNA bound to these peptides and uniquely associated with three additional peptides in the N- terminus, aa 15–29, 41–52 and 83–99, that formed a continuous surface area adjacent to the ssDNA binding surface. The data predict a mechanistic model of RNA inhibition of ssDNA binding to A3G in which competitive and allosteric interactions determine RNA-bound versus ssDNA-bound conformational states.

Categories: Journal Articles

An extended dsRBD is required for post-transcriptional modification in human tRNAs

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

In tRNA, dihydrouridine is a conserved modified base generated by the post-transcriptional reduction of uridine. Formation of dihydrouridine 20, located in the D-loop, is catalyzed by dihydrouridine synthase 2 (Dus2). Human Dus2 (HsDus2) expression is upregulated in lung cancers, offering a growth advantage throughout its ability to interact with components of the translation apparatus and inhibit apoptosis. Here, we report the crystal structure of the individual domains of HsDus2 and their functional characterization. HsDus2 is organized into three major modules. The N-terminal catalytic domain contains the flavin cofactor involved in the reduction of uridine. The second module is the conserved α-helical domain known as the tRNA binding domain in HsDus2 homologues. It is connected via a flexible linker to an unusual extended version of a dsRNA binding domain (dsRBD). Enzymatic assays and yeast complementation showed that the catalytic domain binds selectively NADPH but cannot reduce uridine in the absence of the dsRBD. While in Dus enzymes from bacteria, plants and fungi, tRNA binding is essentially achieved by the α-helical domain, we showed that in HsDus2 this function is carried out by the dsRBD. This is the first reported case of a tRNA-modifying enzyme carrying a dsRBD used to bind tRNAs.

Categories: Journal Articles

mRNA and DNA selection via protein multimerization: YB-1 as a case study

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Translation is tightly regulated in cells for keeping adequate protein levels, this task being notably accomplished by dedicated mRNA-binding proteins recognizing a specific set of mRNAs to repress or facilitate their translation. To select specific mRNAs, mRNA-binding proteins can strongly bind to specific mRNA sequences/structures. However, many mRNA-binding proteins rather display a weak specificity to short and redundant sequences. Here we examined an alternative mechanism by which mRNA-binding proteins could inhibit the translation of specific mRNAs, using YB-1, a major translation regulator, as a case study. Based on a cooperative binding, YB-1 forms stable homo-multimers on some mRNAs while avoiding other mRNAs. Via such inhomogeneous distribution, YB-1 can selectively inhibit translation of mRNAs on which it has formed stable multimers. This novel mechanistic view on mRNA selection may be shared by other proteins considering the elevated occurrence of multimerization among mRNA-binding proteins. Interestingly, we also demonstrate how, by using the same mechanism, YB-1 can form multimers on specific DNA structures, which could provide novel insights into YB-1 nuclear functions in DNA repair and multi-drug resistance.

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RAG-3D: a search tool for RNA 3D substructures

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

To address many challenges in RNA structure/function prediction, the characterization of RNA's modular architectural units is required. Using the RNA-As-Graphs (RAG) database, we have previously explored the existence of secondary structure (2D) submotifs within larger RNA structures. Here we present RAG-3D—a dataset of RNA tertiary (3D) structures and substructures plus a web-based search tool—designed to exploit graph representations of RNAs for the goal of searching for similar 3D structural fragments. The objects in RAG-3D consist of 3D structures translated into 3D graphs, cataloged based on the connectivity between their secondary structure elements. Each graph is additionally described in terms of its subgraph building blocks. The RAG-3D search tool then compares a query RNA 3D structure to those in the database to obtain structurally similar structures and substructures. This comparison reveals conserved 3D RNA features and thus may suggest functional connections. Though RNA search programs based on similarity in sequence, 2D, and/or 3D structural elements are available, our graph-based search tool may be advantageous for illuminating similarities that are not obvious; using motifs rather than sequence space also reduces search times considerably. Ultimately, such substructuring could be useful for RNA 3D structure prediction, structure/function inference and inverse folding.

Categories: Journal Articles

The role of wobble uridine modifications in +1 translational frameshifting in eukaryotes

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, 11 out of 42 tRNA species contain 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm5s2U), 5-methoxycarbonylmethyluridine (mcm5U), 5-carbamoylmethyluridine (ncm5U) or 5-carbamoylmethyl-2'-O-methyluridine (ncm5Um) nucleosides in the anticodon at the wobble position (U34). Earlier we showed that mutants unable to form the side chain at position 5 (ncm5 or mcm5) or lacking sulphur at position 2 (s2) of U34 result in pleiotropic phenotypes, which are all suppressed by overexpression of hypomodified tRNAs. This observation suggests that the observed phenotypes are due to inefficient reading of cognate codons or an increased frameshifting. The latter may be caused by a ternary complex (aminoacyl-tRNA*eEF1A*GTP) with a modification deficient tRNA inefficiently being accepted to the ribosomal A-site and thereby allowing an increased peptidyl-tRNA slippage and thus a frameshift error. In this study, we have investigated the role of wobble uridine modifications in reading frame maintenance, using either the Renilla/Firefly luciferase bicistronic reporter system or a modified Ty1 frameshifting site in a HIS4A::lacZ reporter system. We here show that the presence of mcm5 and s2 side groups at wobble uridines are important for reading frame maintenance and thus the aforementioned mutant phenotypes might partly be due to frameshift errors.

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Cooperation meets competition in microRNA-mediated DMPK transcript regulation

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The fundamental role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of gene expression has been well-established, but many miRNA-driven regulatory mechanisms remain elusive. In the present study, we demonstrate that miRNAs regulate the expression of DMPK, the gene mutated in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), and we provide insight regarding the concerted effect of the miRNAs on the DMPK target. Specifically, we examined the binding of several miRNAs to the DMPK 3' UTR using luciferase assays. We validated the interactions between the DMPK transcript and the conserved miR-206 and miR-148a. We suggest a possible cooperativity between these two miRNAs and discuss gene targeting by miRNA pairs that vary in distance between their binding sites and expression profiles. In the same luciferase reporter system, we showed miR-15b/16 binding to the non-conserved CUG repeat tract present in the DMPK transcript and that the CUG-repeat-binding miRNAs might also act cooperatively. Moreover, we detected miR-16 in cytoplasmic foci formed by exogenously expressed RNAs with expanded CUG repeats. Therefore, we propose that the expanded CUGs may serve as a target for concerted regulation by miRNAs and may also act as molecular sponges for natural miRNAs with CAG repeats in their seed regions, thereby affecting their physiological functions.

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EF-Tu dynamics during pre-translocation complex formation: EF-Tu{middle dot}GDP exits the ribosome via two different pathways

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The G-protein EF-Tu, which undergoes a major conformational change when EF-Tu·GTP is converted to EF-Tu·GDP, forms part of an aminoacyl(aa)-tRNA·EF-Tu·GTP ternary complex (TC) that accelerates the binding of aa-tRNA to the ribosome during peptide elongation. Such binding, placing a portion of EF-Tu in contact with the GTPase Associated Center (GAC), is followed by GTP hydrolysis and Pi release, and results in formation of a pretranslocation (PRE) complex. Although tRNA movement through the ribosome during PRE complex formation has been extensively studied, comparatively little is known about the dynamics of EF-Tu interaction with either the ribosome or aa-tRNA. Here we examine these dynamics, utilizing ensemble and single molecule assays employing fluorescent labeled derivatives of EF-Tu, tRNA, and the ribosome to measure changes in either FRET efficiency or fluorescence intensity during PRE complex formation. Our results indicate that ribosome-bound EF-Tu separates from the GAC prior to its full separation from aa-tRNA, and suggest that EF-Tu·GDP dissociates from the ribosome by two different pathways. These pathways correspond to either reversible EF-Tu·GDP dissociation from the ribosome prior to the major conformational change in EF-Tu that follows GTP hydrolysis, or irreversible dissociation after or concomitant with this conformational change.

Categories: Journal Articles

Co-evolution of quaternary organization and novel RNA tertiary interactions revealed in the crystal structure of a bacterial protein-RNA toxin-antitoxin system

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Genes encoding toxin–antitoxin (TA) systems are near ubiquitous in bacterial genomes and they play key roles in important aspects of bacterial physiology, including genomic stability, formation of persister cells under antibiotic stress, and resistance to phage infection. The CptIN locus from Eubacterium rectale is a member of the recently-discovered Type III class of TA systems, defined by a protein toxin suppressed by direct interaction with a structured RNA antitoxin. Here, we present the crystal structure of the CptIN protein–RNA complex to 2.2 Å resolution. The structure reveals a new heterotetrameric quaternary organization for the Type III TA class, and the RNA antitoxin bears a novel structural feature of an extended A-twist motif within the pseudoknot fold. The retention of a conserved ribonuclease active site as well as traits normally associated with TA systems, such as plasmid maintenance, implicates a wider functional role for Type III TA systems. We present evidence for the co-variation of the Type III component pair, highlighting a distinctive evolutionary process in which an enzyme and its substrate co-evolve.

Categories: Journal Articles

Thymine DNA glycosylase exhibits negligible affinity for nucleobases that it removes from DNA

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Thymine DNA Glycosylase (TDG) performs essential functions in maintaining genetic integrity and epigenetic regulation. Initiating base excision repair, TDG removes thymine from mutagenic G·T mispairs caused by 5-methylcytosine (mC) deamination and other lesions including uracil (U) and 5-hydroxymethyluracil (hmU). In DNA demethylation, TDG excises 5-formylcytosine (fC) and 5-carboxylcytosine (caC), which are generated from mC by Tet (ten–eleven translocation) enzymes. Using improved crystallization conditions, we solved high-resolution (up to 1.45 Å) structures of TDG enzyme–product complexes generated from substrates including G·U, G·T, G·hmU, G·fC and G·caC. The structures reveal many new features, including key water-mediated enzyme–substrate interactions. Together with nuclear magnetic resonance experiments, the structures demonstrate that TDG releases the excised base from its tight product complex with abasic DNA, contrary to previous reports. Moreover, DNA-free TDG exhibits no significant binding to free nucleobases (U, T, hmU), indicating a Kd >> 10 mM. The structures reveal a solvent-filled channel to the active site, which might facilitate dissociation of the excised base and enable caC excision, which involves solvent-mediated acid catalysis. Dissociation of the excised base allows TDG to bind the beta rather than the alpha anomer of the abasic sugar, which might stabilize the enzyme–product complex.

Categories: Journal Articles

MCM ring hexamerization is a prerequisite for DNA-binding

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The hexameric Minichromosome Maintenance (MCM) protein complex forms a ring that unwinds DNA at the replication fork in eukaryotes and archaea. Our recent crystal structure of an archaeal MCM N-terminal domain bound to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) revealed ssDNA associating across tight subunit interfaces but not at the loose interfaces, indicating that DNA-binding is governed not only by the DNA-binding residues of the subunits (MCM ssDNA-binding motif, MSSB) but also by the relative orientation of the subunits. We now extend these findings by showing that DNA-binding by the MCM N-terminal domain of the archaeal organism Pyrococcus furiosus occurs specifically in the hexameric oligomeric form. We show that mutants defective for hexamerization are defective in binding ssDNA despite retaining all the residues observed to interact with ssDNA in the crystal structure. One mutation that exhibits severely defective hexamerization and ssDNA-binding is at a conserved phenylalanine that aligns with the mouse Mcm4(Chaos3) mutation associated with chromosomal instability, cancer, and decreased intersubunit association.

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Systematic reconstruction of binding and stability landscapes of the fluorogenic aptamer spinach

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Fluorogenic RNAs that are based on the complex formed by 3,5-difluoro-4-hydroxybenzylidene imidazolinone (DFHBI) derivatives and the RNA aptamer named Spinach were used to engineer a new generation of in vitro and in vivo sensors for bioanalytics. With the resolved crystal structure of the RNA/small molecule complex, the engineering map becomes available, but comprehensive information regarding the thermodynamic profile of the molecule is missing. Here, we reconstructed the full thermodynamic binding and stability landscapes between DFHBI and a truncated sequence of first-generation Spinach. For this purpose, we established a systematic screening procedure for single- and double-point mutations on a microfluidic large-scale integrated chip platform for 87-nt long RNAs. The thermodynamic profile with single base resolution was used to engineer an improved fluorogenic spinach generation via a directed rather than evolutional approach.

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Nucleic Acids Research: Editorial Board

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05
Categories: Journal Articles