Nucleic Acids Research

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

Methylation of histone H3 lysine 9 occurs during translation

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Histone post-translational modifications are key contributors to chromatin structure and function, and participate in the maintenance of genome stability. Understanding the establishment and maintenance of these marks, along with their misregulation in pathologies is thus a major focus in the field. While we have learned a great deal about the enzymes regulating histone modifications on nucleosomal histones, much less is known about the mechanisms establishing modifications on soluble newly synthesized histones. This includes methylation of lysine 9 on histone H3 (H3K9), a mark that primes the formation of heterochromatin, a critical chromatin landmark for genome stability. Here, we report that H3K9 mono- and dimethylation is imposed during translation by the methyltransferase SetDB1. We discuss the importance of these results in the context of heterochromatin establishment and maintenance and new therapeutic opportunities in pathologies where heterochromatin is perturbed.

Categories: Journal Articles

Influence of 5-N-carboxamide modifications on the thermodynamic stability of oligonucleotides

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

We have recently shown that the incorporation of modified nucleotides such as 5-N-carboxamide-deoxyuridines into random nucleic acid libraries improves success rates in SELEX experiments and facilitates the identification of ligands with slow off-rates. Here we report the impact of these modifications on the thermodynamic stability of both duplexes and intramolecular ‘single-stranded’ structures. Within duplexes, large, hydrophobic naphthyl groups were destabilizing relative to the all natural DNA duplex, while the hydrophilic groups exhibited somewhat improved duplex stability. All of the significant changes in stability were driven by opposing contributions from the enthalpic and entropic terms. In contrast, both benzyl and naphthyl modifications stabilized intramolecular single-stranded structures relative to their natural DNA analogs, consistent with the notion that intramolecular folding allows formation of novel, stabilizing hydrophobic interactions. Imino proton NMR data provided evidence that elements of the folded structure form at temperatures well below the Tm, with a melting transition that is distinctly less cooperative when compared to duplex DNA. Although there are no data to suggest that the unmodified DNA sequences fold into structures similar to their modified analogs, this still represents clear evidence that these modifications impart thermodynamic stability to the folded structure not achievable with unmodified DNA.

Categories: Journal Articles

Enhancing antisense efficacy with multimers and multi-targeting oligonucleotides (MTOs) using cleavable linkers

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The in vivo potency of antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) has been significantly increased by reducing their length to 8–15 nucleotides and by the incorporation of high affinity RNA binders such as 2', 4'-bridged nucleic acids (also known as locked nucleic acid or LNA, and 2',4'-constrained ethyl [cET]). We now report the development of a novel ASO design in which such short ASO monomers to one or more targets are co-synthesized as homo- or heterodimers or multimers via phosphodiester linkers that are stable in plasma, but cleaved inside cells, releasing the active ASO monomers. Compared to current ASOs, these multimers and multi-targeting oligonucleotides (MTOs) provide increased plasma protein binding and biodistribution to liver, and increased in vivo efficacy against single or multiple targets with a single construct. In vivo, MTOs synthesized in both RNase H-activating and steric-blocking oligonucleotide designs provide 4–5-fold increased potency and 2-fold increased efficacy, suggesting broad therapeutic applications.

Categories: Journal Articles

Base damage, local sequence context and TP53 mutation hotspots: a molecular dynamics study of benzo[a]pyrene induced DNA distortion and mutability

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The mutational pattern for the TP53 tumour suppressor gene in lung tumours differs to other cancer types by having a higher frequency of G:C>T:A transversions. The aetiology of this differing mutation pattern is still unknown. Benzo[a]pyrene,diol epoxide (BPDE) is a potent cigarette smoke carcinogen that forms guanine adducts at TP53 CpG mutation hotspot sites including codons 157, 158, 245, 248 and 273. We performed molecular modelling of BPDE-adducted TP53 duplex sequences to determine the degree of local distortion caused by adducts which could influence the ability of nucleotide excision repair. We show that BPDE adducted codon 157 has greater structural distortion than other TP53 G:C>T:A hotspot sites and that sequence context more distal to adjacent bases must influence local distortion. Using TP53 trinucleotide mutation signatures for lung cancer in smokers and non-smokers we further show that codons 157 and 273 have the highest mutation probability in smokers. Combining this information with adduct structural data we predict that G:C>T:A mutations at codon 157 in lung tumours of smokers are predominantly caused by BPDE. Our results provide insight into how different DNA sequence contexts show variability in DNA distortion at mutagen adduct sites that could compromise DNA repair at well characterized cancer related mutation hotspots.

Categories: Journal Articles

A structural approach reveals how neighbouring C2H2 zinc fingers influence DNA binding specificity

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Development of an accurate protein–DNA recognition code that can predict DNA specificity from protein sequence is a central problem in biology. C2H2 zinc fingers constitute by far the largest family of DNA binding domains and their binding specificity has been studied intensively. However, despite decades of research, accurate prediction of DNA specificity remains elusive. A major obstacle is thought to be the inability of current methods to account for the influence of neighbouring domains. Here we show that this problem can be addressed using a structural approach: we build structural models for all C2H2-ZF–DNA complexes with known binding motifs and find six distinct binding modes. Each mode changes the orientation of specificity residues with respect to the DNA, thereby modulating base preference. Most importantly, the structural analysis shows that residues at the domain interface strongly and predictably influence the binding mode, and hence specificity. Accounting for predicted binding mode significantly improves prediction accuracy of predicted motifs. This new insight into the fundamental behaviour of C2H2-ZFs has implications for both improving the prediction of natural zinc finger-binding sites, and for prioritizing further experiments to complete the code. It also provides a new design feature for zinc finger engineering.

Categories: Journal Articles

Beyond the one-locus-one-miRNA paradigm: microRNA isoforms enable deeper insights into breast cancer heterogeneity

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Here we describe our study of miRNA isoforms (isomiRs) in breast cancer (BRCA) and normal breast data sets from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) repository. We report that the full isomiR profiles, from both known and novel human-specific miRNA loci, are particularly rich in information and can distinguish tumor from normal tissue much better than the archetype miRNAs. IsomiR expression is also dependent on the patient's race, exemplified by miR-183-5p, several isomiRs of which are upregulated in triple negative BRCA in white but not black women. Additionally, we find that an isomiR's 5' endpoint and length, but not the genomic origin, are key determinants of the regulation of its expression. Overexpression of distinct miR-183-5p isomiRs in MDA-MB-231 cells followed by microarray analysis revealed that each isomiR has a distinct impact on the cellular transcriptome. Parallel integrative analysis of mRNA expression from BRCA data sets of the TCGA repository demonstrated that isomiRs can distinguish between the luminal A and luminal B subtypes and explain in more depth the molecular differences between them than the archetype molecules. In conclusion, our findings provide evidence that post-transcriptional studies of BRCA will benefit from transcending the one-locus-one-miRNA paradigm and taking into account all isoforms from each miRNA locus as well as the patient's race.

Categories: Journal Articles

Searching target sites on DNA by proteins: Role of DNA dynamics under confinement

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

DNA-binding proteins (DBPs) rapidly search and specifically bind to their target sites on genomic DNA in order to trigger many cellular regulatory processes. It has been suggested that the facilitation of search dynamics is achieved by combining 3D diffusion with one-dimensional sliding and hopping dynamics of interacting proteins. Although, recent studies have advanced the knowledge of molecular determinants that affect one-dimensional search efficiency, the role of DNA molecule is poorly understood. In this study, by using coarse-grained simulations, we propose that dynamics of DNA molecule and its degree of confinement due to cellular crowding concertedly regulate its groove geometry and modulate the inter-communication with DBPs. Under weak confinement, DNA dynamics promotes many short, rotation-decoupled sliding events interspersed by hopping dynamics. While this results in faster 1D diffusion, associated probability of missing targets by jumping over them increases. In contrast, strong confinement favours rotation-coupled sliding to locate targets but lacks structural flexibility to achieve desired specificity. By testing under physiological crowding, our study provides a plausible mechanism on how DNA molecule may help in maintaining an optimal balance between fast hopping and rotation-coupled sliding dynamics, to locate target sites rapidly and form specific complexes precisely.

Categories: Journal Articles

Joint modeling of RNase footprint sequencing profiles for genome-wide inference of RNA structure

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Recent studies have revealed significant roles of RNA structure in almost every step of RNA processing, including transcription, splicing, transport and translation. RNase footprint sequencing (RNase-seq) has emerged to dissect RNA structures at the genome scale. However, it remains challenging to analyze RNase-seq data because of the issues of signal sparsity, variability and correlations among various RNases. We present a probabilistic framework, joint Poisson-gamma mixture (JPGM), for integrative modeling of multiple RNase-seq profiles. Combining JPGM with hidden Markov model allows genome-wide inference of RNA structures. We apply the joint modeling approach for inferring base pairing states on simulated data sets and RNase-seq profiles of the double-strand specific RNase V1 and single-strand specific RNase S1 in yeast. We demonstrate that joint analysis of V1 and S1 profiles outputs interpretable RNA structure states, while approaches that analyze each profile separately do not. The joint modeling approach predicts the structure states of all nucleotides in 3196 transcripts of yeast without compromising accuracy, while the simple thresholding approach misses 43% of the nucleotides. Furthermore, the posterior probabilities outputted by our model are able to resolve the structural ambiguity of 300 000 nucleotides with overlapping V1 and S1 cleavage sites. Our model also generates RNA accessibilities, which are associated with three-dimensional conformations.

Categories: Journal Articles

Global identification of the genetic networks and cis-regulatory elements of the cold response in zebrafish

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The transcriptional programs of ectothermic teleosts are directly influenced by water temperature. However, the cis- and trans-factors governing cold responses are not well characterized. We profiled transcriptional changes in eight zebrafish tissues exposed to mildly and severely cold temperatures using RNA-Seq. A total of 1943 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified, from which 34 clusters representing distinct tissue and temperature response expression patterns were derived using the k-means fuzzy clustering algorithm. The promoter regions of the clustered DEGs that demonstrated strong co-regulation were analysed for enriched cis-regulatory elements with a motif discovery program, DREME. Seventeen motifs, ten known and seven novel, were identified, which covered 23% of the DEGs. Two motifs predicted to be the binding sites for the transcription factors Bcl6 and Jun, respectively, were chosen for experimental verification, and they demonstrated the expected cold-induced and cold-repressed patterns of gene regulation. Protein interaction modeling of the network components followed by experimental validation suggested that Jun physically interacts with Bcl6 and might be a hub factor that orchestrates the cold response in zebrafish. Thus, the methodology used and the regulatory networks uncovered in this study provide a foundation for exploring the mechanisms of cold adaptation in teleosts.

Categories: Journal Articles

Mediator independently orchestrates multiple steps of preinitiation complex assembly in vivo

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Mediator is a large multiprotein complex conserved in all eukaryotes, which has a crucial coregulator function in transcription by RNA polymerase II (Pol II). However, the molecular mechanisms of its action in vivo remain to be understood. Med17 is an essential and central component of the Mediator head module. In this work, we utilised our large collection of conditional temperature-sensitive med17 mutants to investigate Mediator's role in coordinating preinitiation complex (PIC) formation in vivo at the genome level after a transfer to a non-permissive temperature for 45 minutes. The effect of a yeast mutation proposed to be equivalent to the human Med17-L371P responsible for infantile cerebral atrophy was also analyzed. The ChIP-seq results demonstrate that med17 mutations differentially affected the global presence of several PIC components including Mediator, TBP, TFIIH modules and Pol II. Our data show that Mediator stabilizes TFIIK kinase and TFIIH core modules independently, suggesting that the recruitment or the stability of TFIIH modules is regulated independently on yeast genome. We demonstrate that Mediator selectively contributes to TBP recruitment or stabilization to chromatin. This study provides an extensive genome-wide view of Mediator's role in PIC formation, suggesting that Mediator coordinates multiple steps of a PIC assembly pathway.

Categories: Journal Articles

A bacterial regulatory RNA attenuates virulence, spread and human host cell phagocytosis

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis is directed by regulatory proteins and RNAs. We report the case of an RNA attenuating virulence and host uptake, possibly to sustain commensalism. A S. aureus sRNA, SprC (srn_3610), reduced virulence and bacterial loads in a mouse infection model. S. aureus deleted for sprC became more virulent and increased bacterial dissemination in colonized animals. Conversely, inducing SprC expression lowered virulence and the bacterial load. Without sprC, S. aureus phagocytosis by monocytes and macrophages was higher, whereas bacteria were internalized at lower yields when SprC expression was stimulated. Without sprC, higher internalization led to a greater number of extracellular bacteria, facilitating colonization. SprC expression decreased after phagocytosis, concurring with the facilitated growth of bacteria lacking the sRNA in the presence of an oxidant. The major staphylococcal autolysin facilitates S. aureus uptake by human phagocytes. ATL proved to be negatively regulated by SprC. The SprC domains involved in pairing with atl mRNA were analyzed. The addition of ATL reduced phagocytosis of bacteria lacking sprC with no effects on wild-type bacterial uptake, implying that SprC influences phagocytosis, at least in part, by controlling ATL. Since the control of SprC on ATL was modest, other factors must contribute to atl regulation.

Categories: Journal Articles

The interaction of {omega}2 with the RNA polymerase {beta}' subunit functions as an activation to repression switch

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The gene is encoded in broad-host range and low-copy plasmids. It is genetically linked to antibiotic resistance genes of the major human pathogens of phylum Firmicutes. The homodimeric forms of (2) coordinate the plasmid copy number control, faithful partition (2 and 2) and better-than-random segregation (2) systems. The promoter (P) of the operon (P) transiently interacts with 2. Adding 2 facilitates the formation of stable 2·P complexes. Here we show that limiting 2 interacts with the N-terminal domain of the β’ subunit of the Bacillus subtilis RNA polymerase (RNAP-A) vegetative holoenzyme. In this way 2 recruits RNAP-A onto P DNA. Partial P occupancy by 2 increases the rate at which RNAP-A complex shifts from its closed (RPC) to open (RPO) form. This shift increases transcription activation. Adding 2 further increases the rate of P transcription initiation, perhaps by stabilizing the 2·P complex. In contrast, full operator occupancy by 2 facilitates RPC formation, but it blocks RPO isomerization and represses P utilization. The stimulation and inhibition of RPO formation is the mechanism whereby 2 mediates copy number fluctuation and stable plasmid segregation. By this mechanism, 2 also indirectly influences the acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes.

Categories: Journal Articles

Regulation of DNA replication at the end of the mitochondrial D-loop involves the helicase TWINKLE and a conserved sequence element

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

The majority of mitochondrial DNA replication events are terminated prematurely. The nascent DNA remains stably associated with the template, forming a triple-stranded displacement loop (D-loop) structure. However, the function of the D-loop region of the mitochondrial genome remains poorly understood. Using a comparative genomics approach we here identify two closely related 15 nt sequence motifs of the D-loop, strongly conserved among vertebrates. One motif is at the D-loop 5'-end and is part of the conserved sequence block 1 (CSB1). The other motif, here denoted coreTAS, is at the D-loop 3'-end. Both these sequences may prevent transcription across the D-loop region, since light and heavy strand transcription is terminated at CSB1 and coreTAS, respectively. Interestingly, the replication of the nascent D-loop strand, occurring in a direction opposite to that of heavy strand transcription, is also terminated at coreTAS, suggesting that coreTAS is involved in termination of both transcription and replication. Finally, we demonstrate that the loading of the helicase TWINKLE at coreTAS is reversible, implying that this site is a crucial component of a switch between D-loop formation and full-length mitochondrial DNA replication.

Categories: Journal Articles

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

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 04:05

Combining biophysical measurements on T4 bacteriophage replication complexes with detailed structural information can illuminate the molecular mechanisms of these ‘macromolecular machines’. Here we use the low energy circular dichroism (CD) and fluorescent properties of site-specifically introduced base analogues to map and quantify the equilibrium binding interactions of short (8 nts) ssDNA oligomers with gp32 monomers at single nucleotide resolution. We show that single gp32 molecules interact most directly and specifically near the 3'-end of these ssDNA oligomers, thus defining the polarity of gp32 binding with respect to the ssDNA lattice, and that only 2–3 nts are directly involved in this tight binding interaction. The loss of exciton coupling in the CD spectra of dimer 2-AP (2-aminopurine) probes at various positions in the ssDNA constructs, together with increases in fluorescence intensity, suggest that gp32 binding directly extends the sugar-phosphate backbone of this ssDNA oligomer, particularly at the 3'-end and facilitates base unstacking along the entire 8-mer lattice. These results provide a model (and ‘DNA map’) for the isolated gp32 binding to ssDNA targets, which serves as the nucleation step for the cooperative binding that occurs at transiently exposed ssDNA sequences within the functioning T4 DNA replication complex.

Categories: Journal Articles

A mass spectrometry-based method for comprehensive quantitative determination of post-transcriptional RNA modifications: the complete chemical structure of Schizosaccharomyces pombe ribosomal RNAs

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 08:28

We present a liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS)-based method for comprehensive quantitative identification of post-transcriptional modifications (PTMs) of RNA. We incorporated an in vitro-transcribed, heavy isotope-labeled reference RNA into a sample RNA solution, digested the mixture with a number of RNases and detected the post-transcriptionally modified oligonucleotides quantitatively based on shifts in retention time and the MS signal in subsequent LC-MS. This allowed the determination and quantitation of all PTMs in Schizosaccharomyces pombe ribosomal (r)RNAs and generated the first complete PTM maps of eukaryotic rRNAs at single-nucleotide resolution. There were 122 modified sites, most of which appear to locate at the interface of ribosomal subunits where translation takes place. We also identified PTMs at specific locations in rRNAs that were altered in response to growth conditions of yeast cells, suggesting that the cells coordinately regulate the modification levels of RNA.

Categories: Journal Articles

Characterization of fusion genes and the significantly expressed fusion isoforms in breast cancer by hybrid sequencing

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 08:28

We developed an innovative hybrid sequencing approach, IDP-fusion, to detect fusion genes, determine fusion sites and identify and quantify fusion isoforms. IDP-fusion is the first method to study gene fusion events by integrating Third Generation Sequencing long reads and Second Generation Sequencing short reads. We applied IDP-fusion to PacBio data and Illumina data from the MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Compared with the existing tools, IDP-fusion detects fusion genes at higher precision and a very low false positive rate. The results show that IDP-fusion will be useful for unraveling the complexity of multiple fusion splices and fusion isoforms within tumorigenesis-relevant fusion genes.

Categories: Journal Articles

Bacteriophage strain typing by rapid single molecule analysis

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 08:28

Rapid characterization of unknown biological samples is under the focus of many current studies. Here we report a method for screening of biological samples by optical mapping of their DNA. We use a novel, one-step chemo-enzymatic reaction to covalently bind fluorophores to DNA at the four-base recognition sites of a DNA methyltransferase. Due to the diffraction limit of light, the dense distribution of labels results in a continuous fluorescent signal along the DNA. The amplitude modulations (AM) of the fluorescence intensity along the stretched DNA molecules exhibit a unique molecular fingerprint that can be used for identification. We show that this labelling scheme is highly informative, allowing accurate genotyping. We demonstrate the method by labelling the genomes of and T7 bacteriophages, resulting in a consistent, unique AM profile for each genome. These profiles are also successfully used for identification of the phages from a background phage library. Our method may provide a facile route for screening and typing of various organisms and has potential applications in metagenomics studies of various ecosystems.

Categories: Journal Articles

Cas9-chromatin binding information enables more accurate CRISPR off-target prediction

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 08:28

The CRISPR system has become a powerful biological tool with a wide range of applications. However, improving targeting specificity and accurately predicting potential off-targets remains a significant goal. Here, we introduce a web-based CRISPR/Cas9 Off-target Prediction and Identification Tool (CROP-IT) that performs improved off-target binding and cleavage site predictions. Unlike existing prediction programs that solely use DNA sequence information; CROP-IT integrates whole genome level biological information from existing Cas9 binding and cleavage data sets. Utilizing whole-genome chromatin state information from 125 human cell types further enhances its computational prediction power. Comparative analyses on experimentally validated datasets show that CROP-IT outperforms existing computational algorithms in predicting both Cas9 binding as well as cleavage sites. With a user-friendly web-interface, CROP-IT outputs scored and ranked list of potential off-targets that enables improved guide RNA design and more accurate prediction of Cas9 binding or cleavage sites.

Categories: Journal Articles

Varying levels of complexity in transcription factor binding motifs

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 08:28

Binding of transcription factors to DNA is one of the keystones of gene regulation. The existence of statistical dependencies between binding site positions is widely accepted, while their relevance for computational predictions has been debated. Building probabilistic models of binding sites that may capture dependencies is still challenging, since the most successful motif discovery approaches require numerical optimization techniques, which are not suited for selecting dependency structures. To overcome this issue, we propose sparse local inhomogeneous mixture (Slim) models that combine putative dependency structures in a weighted manner allowing for numerical optimization of dependency structure and model parameters simultaneously. We find that Slim models yield a substantially better prediction performance than previous models on genomic context protein binding microarray data sets and on ChIP-seq data sets. To elucidate the reasons for the improved performance, we develop dependency logos, which allow for visual inspection of dependency structures within binding sites. We find that the dependency structures discovered by Slim models are highly diverse and highly transcription factor-specific, which emphasizes the need for flexible dependency models. The observed dependency structures range from broad heterogeneities to sparse dependencies between neighboring and non-neighboring binding site positions.

Categories: Journal Articles