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The spontaneous deamination of cytosine is a major source of transitions from C•G to T•A base pairs, which account for half of known pathogenic point mutations in humans. The ability to efficiently convert targeted A•T base pairs to G•C could therefore advance the study and treatment of genetic diseases. The deamination of adenine yields inosine, which is treated as guanine by polymerases, but no enzymes are known to deaminate adenine in DNA. Here we describe adenine base editors (ABEs) that mediate the conversion of A•T to G•C in genomic DNA. We evolved a transfer RNA adenosine deaminase to operate on DNA when fused to a catalytically impaired CRISPR-Cas9 mutant. Extensive directed evolution and protein engineering resulted in seventh-generation ABEs that convert targeted A•T base pairs efficiently to G•C (approximately 50% efficiency in human cells) with high product purity (typically at least 99.9%) and low rates of indels (typically no more than 0.1%). ABEs introduce point mutations more efficiently and cleanly, and with less off-target genome modification, than a current Cas9 nuclease-based method, and can install disease-correcting or disease-suppressing mutations in human cells. Together with previous base editors, ABEs enable the direct, programmable introduction of all four transition mutations without double-stranded DNA cleavage.
We recently developed base editing, the programmable conversion of target C:G base pairs to T:A without inducing double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs) or requiring homology-directed repair using engineered fusions of Cas9 variants and cytidine deaminases. Over the past year, the third-generation base editor (BE3) and related technologies have been successfully used by many researchers in a wide range of organisms. The product distribution of base editing-the frequency with which the target C:G is converted to mixtures of undesired by-products, along with the desired T:A product-varies in a target site-dependent manner. We characterize determinants of base editing outcomes in human cells and establish that the formation of undesired products is dependent on uracil N-glycosylase (UNG) and is more likely to occur at target sites containing only a single C within the base editing activity window. We engineered CDA1-BE3 and AID-BE3, which use cytidine deaminase homologs that increase base editing efficiency for some sequences. On the basis of these observations, we engineered fourth-generation base editors (BE4 and SaBE4) that increase the efficiency of C:G to T:A base editing by approximately 50%, while halving the frequency of undesired by-products compared to BE3. Fusing BE3, BE4, SaBE3, or SaBE4 to Gam, a bacteriophage Mu protein that binds DSBs greatly reduces indel formation during base editing, in most cases to below 1.5%, and further improves product purity. BE4, SaBE4, BE4-Gam, and SaBE4-Gam represent the state of the art in C:G-to-T:A base editing, and we recommend their use in future efforts.
Threats to genomic integrity arising from DNA damage are mitigated by DNA glycosylases, which initiate the base excision repair pathway by locating and excising aberrant nucleobases. How these enzymes find small modifications within the genome is a current area of intensive research. A hallmark of these and other DNA repair enzymes is their use of base flipping to sequester modified nucleotides from the DNA helix and into an active site pocket. Consequently, base flipping is generally regarded as an essential aspect of lesion recognition and a necessary precursor to base excision. Here we present the first, to our knowledge, DNA glycosylase mechanism that does not require base flipping for either binding or catalysis. Using the DNA glycosylase AlkD from Bacillus cereus, we crystallographically monitored excision of an alkylpurine substrate as a function of time, and reconstructed the steps along the reaction coordinate through structures representing substrate, intermediate and product complexes. Instead of directly interacting with the damaged nucleobase, AlkD recognizes aberrant base pairs through interactions with the phosphoribose backbone, while the lesion remains stacked in the DNA duplex. Quantum mechanical calculations revealed that these contacts include catalytic charge-dipole and CH-π interactions that preferentially stabilize the transition state. We show in vitro and in vivo how this unique means of recognition and catalysis enables AlkD to repair large adducts formed by yatakemycin, a member of the duocarmycin family of antimicrobial natural products exploited in bacterial warfare and chemotherapeutic trials. Bulky adducts of this or any type are not excised by DNA glycosylases that use a traditional base-flipping mechanism. Hence, these findings represent a new model for DNA repair and provide insights into catalysis of base excision.
It is demonstrated that time-dependent density functional theory (DFT) calculations can accurately predict changes in near-UV electronic circular dichroism (ECD) spectra of DNA as the structure is altered from the linear (free) B-DNA form to the supercoiled N-DNA form found in nucleosome core particles. At the DFT/B3LYP level of theory, the ECD signal response is reduced by a factor of 6.7 in going from the B-DNA to the N-DNA form, and it is illustrated how more than 90% of the individual base-pair dimers contribute to this strong hypochromic effect. Of the several inter-base pair parameters, an increase in twist angles is identified as to strongly contribute to a reduced ellipticity. The present work provides first evidence that first-principles calculations can elucidate changes in DNA dichroism due to the supramolecular organization of the nucleoprotein particle and associates these changes with the local structural features of nucleosomal DNA.
Base pairing in nucleic acids plays a crucial role in their structure and function. Differences in the base-pair opening and closing kinetics of individual double-stranded DNA sequences or between chemically modified base pairs provide insight into the recognition of these base pairs by DNA processing enzymes. This unit describes how to quantify the kinetics for localized base pairs by observing changes in the imino proton signals by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The determination of all relevant parameters using state-of-the art techniques and NMR instrumentation, including cryoprobes, is discussed.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Mammalian cells possess mechanisms to detect and defend themselves from invading viruses. In the cytosol, the RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs), RIG-I (retinoic acid-inducible gene I; encoded by DDX58) and MDA5 (melanoma differentiation-associated gene 5; encoded by IFIH1) sense atypical RNAs associated with virus infection. Detection triggers a signalling cascade via the adaptor MAVS that culminates in the production of type I interferons (IFN-α and β; hereafter IFN), which are key antiviral cytokines. RIG-I and MDA5 are activated by distinct viral RNA structures and much evidence indicates that RIG-I responds to RNAs bearing a triphosphate (ppp) moiety in conjunction with a blunt-ended, base-paired region at the 5'-end (reviewed in refs 1, 2, 3). Here we show that RIG-I also mediates antiviral responses to RNAs bearing 5'-diphosphates (5'pp). Genomes from mammalian reoviruses with 5'pp termini, 5'pp-RNA isolated from yeast L-A virus, and base-paired 5'pp-RNAs made by in vitro transcription or chemical synthesis, all bind to RIG-I and serve as RIG-I agonists. Furthermore, a RIG-I-dependent response to 5'pp-RNA is essential for controlling reovirus infection in cultured cells and in mice. Thus, the minimal determinant for RIG-I recognition is a base-paired RNA with 5'pp. Such RNAs are found in some viruses but not in uninfected cells, indicating that recognition of 5'pp-RNA, like that of 5'ppp-RNA, acts as a powerful means of self/non-self discrimination by the innate immune system.
DNA in its simplest form is an ensemble of nucleic acids, water, and ions, and the conformation of DNA is dependent on the relative proportions of all three components. When DNA is covalently damaged by endogenous or exogenous reactive species, including those produced by some anticancer drugs, the ensemble undergoes localized changes that affect nucleic acid structure, thermodynamic stability, and the qualitative and quantative arrangement of associated cations and water molecules. Fortunately, the biological effects of low levels of DNA damage are successfully mitigated by a large number of proteins that efficiently recognize and repair DNA damage in the midst of a vast excess of canonical DNA. In this Account, we explore the impact of DNA modifications on the high resolution and dynamic structure of DNA, DNA stability, and the uptake of ions and water and explore how these changes may be sensed by proteins whose function is to initially locate DNA lesions. We discuss modifications on the nucleobases that are located in the major and minor grooves of DNA and include lesions that are observed in vivo, including oxidized bases, as well as some synthetic nucleobases that allow us to probe how the location and nature of different substituents affect the thermodynamics and structure of the DNA ensemble. It is demonstrated that disruption of a cation binding site in the major groove by modification of the N7-position on the purines, which is the major site for DNA alkylation, is enthalpically destabilizing. Accordingly, tethering a cationic charge in the major groove is enthalpically stabilizing. The combined structural and thermodynamic studies provide a detailed picture of how different DNA lesions affect the dynamics of DNA and how modified bases interact with their environment. Our work supports the hypothesis that there is a "thermodynamic signature" to DNA lesions that can be exploited in the initial search that requires differentiation between canonical DNA and DNA with a lesion. The differentiation between a lesion and a cognate lesion that is a substrate for a particular enzyme involves another layer of thermodynamic and kinetic factors.
The 2'-deoxynucleoside containing the synthetic base 1-[(2R,4S,5R)-4-hydroxy-5-(hydroxymethyl)-tetrahydrofuran-2-yl)-1H-perimidin-2(3H)-one] (dPer) recognizes in DNA the O(6)-benzyl-2'-deoxyguanosine nucleoside (O(6)-Bn-dG), formed by exposure to N-benzylmethylnitrosamine. Herein, we show how dPer distinguishes between O(6)-Bn-dG and dG in DNA. The structure of the modified Dickerson-Drew dodecamer (DDD) in which guanine at position G(4) has been replaced by O(6)-Bn-dG and cytosine C(9) has been replaced with dPer to form the modified O(6)-Bn-dG:dPer (DDD-XY) duplex [5'-d(C(1)G(2)C(3)X(4)A(5)A(6)T(7)T(8)Y(9)G(10)C(11)G(12))-3']2 (X = O(6)-Bn-dG, Y = dPer) reveals that dPer intercalates into the duplex and adopts the syn conformation about the glycosyl bond. This provides a binding pocket that allows the benzyl group of O(6)-Bn-dG to intercalate between Per and thymine of the 3'-neighbor A:T base pair. Nuclear magnetic resonance data suggest that a similar intercalative recognition mechanism applies in this sequence in solution. However, in solution, the benzyl ring of O(6)-Bn-dG undergoes rotation on the nuclear magnetic resonance time scale. In contrast, the structure of the modified DDD in which cytosine at position C(9) is replaced with dPer to form the dG:dPer (DDD-GY) [5'-d(C(1)G(2)C(3)G(4)A(5)A(6)T(7)T(8)Y(9)G(10)C(11)G(12))-3']2 duplex (Y = dPer) reveals that dPer adopts the anti conformation about the glycosyl bond and forms a less stable wobble pairing interaction with guanine.
The thymine analog 5-chlorouridine, first reported in the 1950s as anti-tumor agent, is known as an effective mutagen, clastogen and toxicant as well as an effective inducer of sister-chromatid exchange. Recently, the first microorganism with a chemically different genome was reported; the selected Escherichia coli strain relies on the four building blocks 5-chloro-2'-deoxyuridine (ClU), A, C and G instead of the standard T, A, C, G alphabet [Marlière,P., Patrouix,J., Döring,V., Herdewijn,P., Tricot,S., Cruveiller,S., Bouzon,M. and Mutzel,R. (2011) Chemical evolution of a bacterium's genome. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 50, 7109-7114]. The residual fraction of T in the DNA of adapted bacteria was <2% and the switch from T to ClU was accompanied by a massive number of mutations, including >1500 A to G or G to A transitions in a culture. The former is most likely due to wobble base pairing between ClU and G, which may be more common for ClU than T. To identify potential changes in the geometries of base pairs and duplexes as a result of replacement of T by ClU, we determined four crystal structures of a B-form DNA dodecamer duplex containing ClU:A or ClU:G base pairs. The structures reveal nearly identical geometries of these pairs compared with T:A or T:G, respectively, and no consequences for stability and cleavage by an endonuclease (EcoRI). The lack of significant changes in the geometry of ClU:A and ClU:G base pairs relative to the corresponding native pairs is consistent with the sustained unlimited self-reproduction of E. coli strains with virtually complete T→ClU genome substitution.
In DNA, bases pair in a molecular interaction that is both highly predictable and exquisitely specific. Therefore researchers have generally believed that the insertion of the matching nucleotide opposite a template base by DNA polymerases (pols) required Watson-Crick (W-C) hydrogen bond formation. However pioneering work by Kool and co-workers using hydrophobic base analogs such as the thymine (T) isostere 2,4-difluorotoluene (F) showed that shape rather than H-bonding served as the primary source of specificity in DNA replication by certain pols. This steric hypothesis for DNA replication has gained popularity, perhaps discouraging further experimental studies to address potential limitations of this new idea. The idea that shape trumps H-bonding in terms of pol selectivity largely hinges on the belief that fluorine is a poor H-bond acceptor. However, the shape complementarity model was embraced in the absence of any detailed structural data for match (F:A) and mismatch pairs (F:G, F:C, F:T) in DNA duplexes or at active sites of pols. Although the F and T nucleosides are roughly isosteric, it is unclear whether F:A and T:A pairs exhibit similar geometries. If the F:A pair is devoid of H-bonding, it will be notably wider than a T:A pair. Because shape and size and H-bonding are intimately related, it may not be possible to separate these two properties. Thus the geometries of an isolated F:A pair in water may differ considerably from an F:A pair embedded in a stretch of duplex DNA, at the tight active site of an A-family replicative pol, or within the spacious active site of a Y-family translesion pol. The shape complementarity model may have more significance for pol accuracy than efficiency: this model appears to be most relevant for replicative pols that use specific residues to probe the identity of the nascent base pair from the minor groove side. However, researchers have not fully considered the importance of such interactions that include H-bonds compared with W-C H-bonds in terms of pol fidelity and the shape complementarity model. This Account revisits the steric hypothesis for DNA replication in light of recent structural data and discusses the role of fluorine as an H-bond acceptor. Over the last 5 years, crystal structures have emerged for nucleic acid duplexes with F paired opposite to natural bases or located at the active sites of DNA pols. These data permit a more nuanced understanding of the role of shape in DNA replication and the capacity of fluorine to form H-bonds. These studies and additional research involving RNA or other fluorine-containing nucleoside analogs within duplexes indicate that fluorine engages in H-bonding in many cases. Although T and F are isosteric at the nucleoside level, replacement of a natural base by F in pairs often changes their shapes and sizes, and dF in DNA behaves differently from rF in RNA. Similarly, the pairing geometries observed for F and T opposite dATP, dGTP, dTTP, or dCTP and their H-bonding patterns at the active site of a replicative pol differ considerably.