# Nucleic Acids Research

Nucleic Acids Research - RSS feed of current issue
Updated: 3 weeks 2 days ago

### Ty1 retrovirus-like element Gag contains overlapping restriction factor and nucleic acid chaperone functions

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Ty1 Gag comprises the capsid of virus-like particles and provides nucleic acid chaperone (NAC) functions during retrotransposition in budding yeast. A subgenomic Ty1 mRNA encodes a truncated Gag protein (p22) that is cleaved by Ty1 protease to form p18. p22/p18 strongly inhibits transposition and can be considered an element-encoded restriction factor. Here, we show that only p22 and its short derivatives restrict Ty1 mobility whereas other regions of GAG inhibit mobility weakly if at all. Mutational analyses suggest that p22/p18 is synthesized from either of two closely spaced AUG codons. Interestingly, AUG1p18 and AUG2p18 proteins display different properties, even though both contain a region crucial for RNA binding and NAC activity. AUG1p18 shows highly reduced NAC activity but specific binding to Ty1 RNA, whereas AUG2p18 shows the converse behavior. p22/p18 affects RNA encapsidation and a mutant derivative defective for RNA binding inhibits the RNA chaperone activity of the C-terminal region (CTR) of Gag-p45. Moreover, affinity pulldowns show that p18 and the CTR interact. These results support the idea that one aspect of Ty1 restriction involves inhibition of Gag-p45 NAC functions by p22/p18-Gag interactions.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Different motif requirements for the localization zipcode element of {beta}-actin mRNA binding by HuD and ZBP1

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Interactions of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) with their target transcripts are essential for regulating gene expression at the posttranscriptional level including mRNA export/localization, stability, and translation. ZBP1 and HuD are RBPs that play pivotal roles in mRNA transport and local translational control in neuronal processes. While HuD possesses three RNA recognition motifs (RRMs), ZBP1 contains two RRMs and four K homology (KH) domains that either increase target specificity or provide a multi-target binding capability. Here we used isolated cis-element sequences of the target mRNA to examine directly protein-RNA interactions in cell-free systems. We found that both ZBP1 and HuD bind the zipcode element in rat β-actin mRNA's 3' UTR. Differences between HuD and ZBP1 were observed in their binding preference to the element. HuD showed a binding preference for U-rich sequence. In contrast, ZBP1 binding to the zipcode RNA depended more on the structural level, as it required the proper spatial organization of a stem-loop that is mainly determined by the U-rich element juxtaposed to the 3' end of a 5'-ACACCC-3' motif. On the basis of this work, we propose that ZBP1 and HuD bind to overlapping sites in the β-actin zipcode, but they recognize different features of this target sequence.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Importin-{beta} facilitates nuclear import of human GW proteins and balances cytoplasmic gene silencing protein levels

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) guide Argonaute (Ago) proteins to distinct target mRNAs leading to translational repression and mRNA decay. Ago proteins interact with a member of the GW protein family, referred to as TNRC6A-C in mammals, which coordinate downstream gene-silencing processes. The cytoplasmic functions of TNRC6 and Ago proteins are reasonably well established. Both protein families are found in the nucleus as well. Their detailed nuclear functions, however, remain elusive. Furthermore, it is not clear which import routes Ago and TNRC6 proteins take into the nucleus. Using different nuclear transport assays, we find that Ago as well as TNRC6 proteins shuttle between the cytoplasm and the nucleus. While import receptors might function redundantly to transport Ago2, we demonstrate that TNRC6 proteins are imported by the Importin-β pathway. Finally, we show that nuclear localization of both Ago2 and TNRC6 proteins can depend on each other suggesting actively balanced cytoplasmic Ago – TNRC6 levels.

Categories: Journal Articles

### {Delta}Np63 intronic miR-944 is implicated in the {Delta}Np63-mediated induction of epidermal differentiation

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Np63 is required for both the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes, but its role in the differentiation of these cells is poorly understood. The corresponding gene, TP63, harbors the MIR944 sequence within its intron. However, the mechanism of biogenesis and the function of miR-944 are unknown. We found that miR-944 is highly expressed in keratinocytes, in a manner that is concordant with that of Np63 mRNA, but the regulation of miR-944 expression under various conditions did not correspond with that of Np63. Bioinformatics analysis and functional studies demonstrated that MIR944 has its own promoter. We demonstrate here that MIR944 is a target of Np63. Promoter analysis revealed that the activity of the MIR944 promoter was markedly enhanced by the binding of Np63, which was maintained by the supportive action of AP-2 during keratinocyte differentiation. Our results indicated that miR-944 biogenesis is dependent on Np63 protein, even though it is generated from Np63 mRNA-independent transcripts. We also demonstrated that miR-944 induces keratin 1 and keratin 10 expression by inhibiting ERK signaling and upregulating p53 expression. Our findings suggested that miR-944, as an intronic miRNA and a direct target of Np63, contributes to the function of Np63 in the induction of epidermal differentiation.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Transcription yield of fully 2'-modified RNA can be increased by the addition of thermostabilizing mutations to T7 RNA polymerase mutants

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

On average, mutations are deleterious to proteins. Mutations conferring new function to a protein often come at the expense of protein folding or stability, reducing overall activity. Over the years, a panel of T7 RNA polymerases have been designed or evolved to accept nucleotides with modified ribose moieties. These modified RNAs have proven useful, especially in vivo, but the transcriptional yields tend to be quite low. Here we show that mutations previously shown to increase the thermal tolerance of T7 RNA polymerase can increase the activity of mutants with expanded substrate range. The resulting polymerase mutants can be used to generate 2'-O-methyl modified RNA with yields much higher than enzymes currently employed.

Categories: Journal Articles

### tRNA recognition by a bacterial tRNA Xm32 modification enzyme from the SPOUT methyltransferase superfamily

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

TrmJ proteins from the SPOUT methyltransferase superfamily are tRNA Xm32 modification enzymes that occur in bacteria and archaea. Unlike archaeal TrmJ, bacterial TrmJ require full-length tRNA molecules as substrates. It remains unknown how bacterial TrmJs recognize substrate tRNAs and specifically catalyze a 2'-O modification at ribose 32. Herein, we demonstrate that all six Escherichia coli (Ec) tRNAs with 2'-O-methylated nucleosides at position 32 are substrates of EcTrmJ, and we show that the elbow region of tRNA, but not the amino acid acceptor stem, is needed for the methylation reaction. Our crystallographic study reveals that full-length EcTrmJ forms an unusual dimer in the asymmetric unit, with both the catalytic SPOUT domain and C-terminal extension forming separate dimeric associations. Based on these findings, we used electrophoretic mobility shift assay, isothermal titration calorimetry and enzymatic methods to identify amino acids within EcTrmJ that are involved in tRNA binding. We found that tRNA recognition by EcTrmJ involves the cooperative influences of conserved residues from both the SPOUT and extensional domains, and that this process is regulated by the flexible hinge region that connects these two domains.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Identifying novel sequence variants of RNA 3D motifs

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Predicting RNA 3D structure from sequence is a major challenge in biophysics. An important sub-goal is accurately identifying recurrent 3D motifs from RNA internal and hairpin loop sequences extracted from secondary structure (2D) diagrams. We have developed and validated new probabilistic models for 3D motif sequences based on hybrid Stochastic Context-Free Grammars and Markov Random Fields (SCFG/MRF). The SCFG/MRF models are constructed using atomic-resolution RNA 3D structures. To parameterize each model, we use all instances of each motif found in the RNA 3D Motif Atlas and annotations of pairwise nucleotide interactions generated by the FR3D software. Isostericity relations between non-Watson–Crick basepairs are used in scoring sequence variants. SCFG techniques model nested pairs and insertions, while MRF ideas handle crossing interactions and base triples. We use test sets of randomly-generated sequences to set acceptance and rejection thresholds for each motif group and thus control the false positive rate. Validation was carried out by comparing results for four motif groups to RMDetect. The software developed for sequence scoring (JAR3D) is structured to automatically incorporate new motifs as they accumulate in the RNA 3D Motif Atlas when new structures are solved and is available free for download.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Destabilization of microRNAs in human cells by 3' deadenylation mediated by PARN and CUGBP1

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

MicroRNA-122 (miR-122), which is expressed at high levels in hepatocytes, is selectively stabilized by 3'-adenylation mediated by the cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase GLD-2. Here, we report that poly(A)-specific ribonuclease (PARN) is responsible for the deadenylation and destabilization of miR-122. The 3'-oligoadenylated variant of miR-122 was detected in Huh7 cells when PARN was down-regulated. In addition, both the steady-state level and stability of miR-122 were increased in PARN knockdown cells. We also demonstrate that CUG-binding protein 1 (CUGBP1) specifically interacts with miR-122 and other UG-rich miRNAs, and promotes their destabilization. Overexpression of CUGBP1 or PARN in Huh7 cells reduced the steady-state levels of these miRNAs. Because CUGBP1 interacts directly with PARN, we hypothesized that it specifically recruits PARN to miR-122. In fact, CUGBP1 enhanced PARN-mediated deadenylation and degradation of miR-122 in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. These results indicate that the cellular level of miR-122 is determined by the balance between the opposing effects of GLD-2 and PARN/CUGBP1 on the metabolism of its 3'-terminus.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Nucleic acid-binding specificity of human FUS protein

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

FUS, a nuclear RNA-binding protein, plays multiple roles in RNA processing. Five specific FUS-binding RNA sequence/structure motifs have been proposed, but their affinities for FUS have not been directly compared. Here we find that human FUS binds all these sequences with Kdapp values spanning a 10-fold range. Furthermore, some RNAs that do not contain any of these motifs bind FUS with similar affinity. FUS binds RNA in a length-dependent manner, consistent with a substantial non-specific component to binding. Finally, investigation of FUS binding to different nucleic acids shows that it binds single-stranded DNA with three-fold lower affinity than ssRNA of the same length and sequence, while binding to double-stranded nucleic acids is weaker. We conclude that FUS has quite general nucleic acid-binding activity, with the various proposed RNA motifs being neither necessary for FUS binding nor sufficient to explain its diverse binding partners.

Categories: Journal Articles

### RNA aptamer inhibitors of a restriction endonuclease

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Restriction endonucleases (REases) recognize and cleave short palindromic DNA sequences, protecting bacterial cells against bacteriophage infection by attacking foreign DNA. We are interested in the potential of folded RNA to mimic DNA, a concept that might be applied to inhibition of DNA-binding proteins. As a model system, we sought RNA aptamers against the REases BamHI, PacI and KpnI using systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). After 20 rounds of selection under different stringent conditions, we identified the 10 most enriched RNA aptamers for each REase. Aptamers were screened for binding and specificity, and assayed for REase inhibition. We obtained eight high-affinity (Kd ~12-30 nM) selective competitive inhibitors (IC50 ~20-150 nM) for KpnI. Predicted RNA secondary structures were confirmed by in-line attack assay and a 38-nt derivative of the best anti-KpnI aptamer was sufficient for inhibition. These competitive inhibitors presumably act as KpnI binding site analogs, but lack the primary consensus KpnI cleavage sequence and are not cleaved by KpnI, making their potential mode of DNA mimicry fascinating. Anti-REase RNA aptamers could have value in studies of REase mechanism and may give clues to a code for designing RNAs that competitively inhibit DNA binding proteins including transcription factors.

Categories: Journal Articles

### On the availability of microRNA-induced silencing complexes, saturation of microRNA-binding sites and stoichiometry

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Several authors have suggested or inferred that modest changes in microRNA expression can potentiate or impinge on their capacity to mediate gene repression, and that doing so could play a significant role in diseases. Such interpretations are based on several assumptions, namely: (i) changes in microRNA expression correlate with changes in the availability of mature, functional miRISC, (ii) changes in microRNA expression can significantly alter the stoichiometry of miRISC populations with their cognate targets, (iii) and this, in turn, can result in changes in miRISC silencing output. Here, we experimentally challenge those assumptions by quantifying and altering the availability of miRISC across several families of microRNAs. Doing so revealed a surprising fragmentation in the miRISC functional pool, striking differences in the availability of miRNA families and saturability of miRNA-mediated silencing. Furthermore, we provide direct experimental evidence that only a limited subset of miRNAs, defined by a conjuncture of expression threshold, miRISC availability and low target site abundance, is susceptible to competitive effects through microRNA-binding sites.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Dynamic profiling of double-stranded RNA binding proteins

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Double-stranded (ds) RNA is a key player in numerous biological activities in cells, including RNA interference, anti-viral immunity and mRNA transport. The class of proteins responsible for recognizing dsRNA is termed double-stranded RNA binding proteins (dsRBP). However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying the interaction between dsRBPs and dsRNA. Here we examined four human dsRBPs, ADAD2, TRBP, Staufen 1 and ADAR1 on six dsRNA substrates that vary in length and secondary structure. We combined single molecule pull-down (SiMPull), single molecule protein-induced fluorescence enhancement (smPIFE) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to investigate the dsRNA-dsRBP interactions. Our results demonstrate that despite the highly conserved dsRNA binding domains, the dsRBPs exhibit diverse substrate specificities and dynamic properties when in contact with different RNA substrates. While TRBP and ADAR1 have a preference for binding simple duplex RNA, ADAD2 and Staufen1 display higher affinity to highly structured RNA substrates. Upon interaction with RNA substrates, TRBP and Staufen1 exhibit dynamic sliding whereas two deaminases ADAR1 and ADAD2 mostly remain immobile when bound. MD simulations provide a detailed atomic interaction map that is largely consistent with the affinity differences observed experimentally. Collectively, our study highlights the diverse nature of substrate specificity and mobility exhibited by dsRBPs that may be critical for their cellular function.

Categories: Journal Articles

### ROCK inhibition enhances microRNA function by promoting deadenylation of targeted mRNAs via increasing PAIP2 expression

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

The reduced expression levels and functional impairment of global miRNAs are related to various human diseases, including cancers. However, relatively little is known about how global miRNA function may be upregulated. Here, we report that global miRNA function can be enhanced by Rho-associated, coiled-coil-containing protein kinase (ROCK) inhibitors. The regulation of miRNA function by ROCK inhibitors is mediated, at least in part, by poly(A)-binding protein-interacting protein 2 (PAIP2), which enhances poly(A)-shortening of miRNA-targeted mRNAs and leads to global upregulation of miRNA function. In the presence of a ROCK inhibitor, PAIP2 expression is enhanced by the transcription factor hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4A) through increased ROCK1 nuclear localization and enhanced ROCK1 association with HNF4A. Our data reveal an unexpected role of ROCK1 as a cofactor of HNF4A in enhancing PAIP2 transcription. ROCK inhibitors may be useful for the various pathologies associated with the impairment of global miRNA function.

Categories: Journal Articles

### FDF-PAGE: a powerful technique revealing previously undetected small RNAs sequestered by complementary transcripts

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Small RNAs, between 18nt and 30nt in length, are a diverse class of non-coding RNAs that mediate a range of cellular processes, from gene regulation to pathogen defense. They guide ribonucleoprotein complexes to their target nucleic acids by Watson–Crick base pairing. We report here that current techniques for small RNA detection and library generation are biased by formation of RNA duplexes. To address this problem, we established FDF-PAGE (fully-denaturing formaldehyde polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis) to prevent annealing of sRNAs to their complement. By applying FDF-PAGE, we provide evidence that both strands of viral small RNA are present in near equimolar ratios, indicating that the predominant precursor is a long double-stranded RNA. Comparing non-denaturing conditions to FDF-PAGE uncovered extensive sequestration of miRNAs in model organisms and allowed us to identify candidate small RNAs under the control of competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs). By revealing the full repertoire of small RNAs, we can begin to create a better understanding of small RNA mediated interactions.

Categories: Journal Articles

### A network of SMG-8, SMG-9 and SMG-1 C-terminal insertion domain regulates UPF1 substrate recruitment and phosphorylation

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Mammalian nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a eukaryotic surveillance mechanism that degrades mRNAs containing premature translation termination codons. Phosphorylation of the essential NMD effector UPF1 by the phosphoinositide-3-kinase-like kinase (PIKK) SMG-1 is a key step in NMD and occurs when SMG-1, its two regulatory factors SMG-8 and SMG-9, and UPF1 form a complex at a terminating ribosome. Electron cryo-microscopy of the SMG-1–8–9-UPF1 complex shows the head and arm architecture characteristic of PIKKs and reveals different states of UPF1 docking. UPF1 is recruited to the SMG-1 kinase domain and C-terminal insertion domain, inducing an opening of the head domain that provides access to the active site. SMG-8 and SMG-9 interact with the SMG-1 C-insertion and promote high-affinity UPF1 binding to SMG-1–8–9, as well as decelerated SMG-1 kinase activity and enhanced stringency of phosphorylation site selection. The presence of UPF2 destabilizes the SMG-1–8–9-UPF1 complex leading to substrate release. Our results suggest an intricate molecular network of SMG-8, SMG-9 and the SMG-1 C-insertion domain that governs UPF1 substrate recruitment and phosphorylation by SMG-1 kinase, an event that is central to trigger mRNA decay.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Structural basis of the mercury(II)-mediated conformational switching of the dual-function transcriptional regulator MerR

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

The mer operon confers bacterial resistance to inorganic mercury (Hg2+) and organomercurials by encoding proteins involved in sensing, transport and detoxification of these cytotoxic agents. Expression of the mer operon is under tight control by the dual-function transcriptional regulator MerR. The metal-free, apo MerR binds to the mer operator/promoter region as a repressor to block transcription initiation, but is converted into an activator upon Hg2+-binding. To understand how MerR interacts with Hg2+ and how Hg2+-binding modulates MerR function, we report here the crystal structures of apo and Hg2+-bound MerR from Bacillus megaterium, corresponding respectively to the repressor and activator conformation of MerR. To our knowledge, the apo-MerR structure represents the first visualization of a MerR family member in its intact and inducer-free form. And the Hg2+-MerR structure offers the first view of a triligated Hg2+-thiolate center in a metalloprotein, confirming that MerR binds Hg2+ via trigonal planar coordination geometry. Structural comparison revealed the conformational transition of MerR is coupled to the assembly/disassembly of a buried Hg2+ binding site, thereby providing a structural basis for the Hg2+-mediated functional switching of MerR. The pronounced Hg2+-induced repositioning of the MerR DNA-binding domains suggests a plausible mechanism for the transcriptional regulation of the mer operon.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Structural and functional studies of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis VapBC30 toxin-antitoxin system: implications for the design of novel antimicrobial peptides

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems play important roles in bacterial physiology, such as multidrug tolerance, biofilm formation, and arrest of cellular growth under stress conditions. To develop novel antimicrobial agents against tuberculosis, we focused on VapBC systems, which encompass more than half of TA systems in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Here, we report that theMycobacterium tuberculosis VapC30 toxin regulates cellular growth through both magnesium and manganese ion-dependent ribonuclease activity and is inhibited by the cognate VapB30 antitoxin. We also determined the 2.7-Å resolution crystal structure of the M. tuberculosis VapBC30 complex, which revealed a novel process of inactivation of the VapC30 toxin via swapped blocking by the VapB30 antitoxin. Our study on M. tuberculosis VapBC30 leads us to design two kinds of VapB30 and VapC30-based novel peptides which successfully disrupt the toxin-antitoxin complex and thus activate the ribonuclease activity of the VapC30 toxin. Our discovery herein possibly paves the way to treat tuberculosis for next generation.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Role of the central cations in the mechanical unfolding of DNA and RNA G-quadruplexes

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Cations are known to mediate diverse interactions in nucleic acids duplexes but they are critical in the arrangement of four-stranded structures. Here, we use all-atom molecular dynamics simulations with explicit solvent to analyse the mechanical unfolding of representative intramolecular G-quadruplex structures: a parallel, a hybrid and an antiparallel DNA and a parallel RNA, in the presence of stabilising cations. We confirm the stability of these conformations in the presence of $\rm {K}^+$ central ions and observe distortions from the tetrad topology in their absence. Force-induced unfolding dynamics is then investigated. We show that the unfolding events in the force-extension curves are concomitant to the loss of coordination between the central ions and the guanines of the G-quadruplex. We found lower ruptures forces for the parallel configuration with respect to the antiparallel one, while the behaviour of the force pattern of the parallel RNA appears similar to the parallel DNA. We anticipate that our results will be essential to interpret the fine structure rupture profiles in stretching assays at high resolution and will shed light on the mechanochemical activity of G-quadruplex-binding machinery.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Synthetic biosensors for precise gene control and real-time monitoring of metabolites

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15

Characterization and standardization of inducible transcriptional regulators has transformed how scientists approach biology by allowing precise and tunable control of gene expression. Despite their utility, only a handful of well-characterized regulators exist, limiting the complexity of engineered biological systems. We apply a characterization pipeline to four genetically encoded sensors that respond to acrylate, glucarate, erythromycin and naringenin. We evaluate how the concentration of the inducing chemical relates to protein expression, how the extent of induction affects protein expression kinetics, and how the activation behavior of single cells relates to ensemble measurements. We show that activation of each sensor is orthogonal to the other sensors, and to other common inducible systems. We demonstrate independent control of three fluorescent proteins in a single cell, chemically defining eight unique transcriptional states. To demonstrate biosensor utility in metabolic engineering, we apply the glucarate biosensor to monitor product formation in a heterologous glucarate biosynthesis pathway and identify superior enzyme variants. Doubling the number of well-characterized inducible systems makes more complex synthetic biological circuits accessible. Characterizing sensors that transduce the intracellular concentration of valuable metabolites into fluorescent readouts enables high-throughput screening of biological catalysts and alleviates the primary bottleneck of the metabolic engineering design-build-test cycle.

Categories: Journal Articles

### Nucleic Acids Research: VOLUME 43 ISSUE 15 2015

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 01:15
Categories: Journal Articles