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Fluorescent protein reporter genes are widely used to identify and sort murine pancreatic β-cells. In this study, we compared use of the MIP-GFP transgene, which exhibits aberrant expression of human growth hormone (hGH), with a newly derived Ins2 allele that lacks hGH expression on the expression of sex-specific genes. β-Cells from MIP-GFP transgenic mice exhibit changes in the expression of 7,733 genes, or greater than half of their transcriptome, compared with β-cells from Ins2 mice. To determine how these differences might affect a typical differential gene expression study, we analyzed the effect of sex on gene expression using both reporter lines. Six hundred fifty-seven differentially expressed genes were identified between male and female β-cells containing the Ins2 allele. Female β-cells exhibit higher expression of Xist, Tmed9, Arpc3, Eml2, and several islet-enriched transcription factors, including Nkx2-2 and Hnf4a, whereas male β-cells exhibited a generally higher expression of genes involved in cell cycle regulation. In marked contrast, the same male vs. female comparison of β-cells containing the MIP-GFP transgene revealed only 115 differentially expressed genes, and comparison of the 2 lists of differentially expressed genes revealed only 17 that were common to both analyses. These results indicate that 1) male and female β-cells differ in their expression of key transcription factors and cell cycle regulators and 2) the MIP-GFP transgene may attenuate sex-specific differences that distinguish male and female β-cells, thereby impairing the identification of sex-specific variations.
A cell therapy platform permitting long-term delivery of peptide hormones in vivo would be a significant advance for patients with hormonal deficiencies. Here we report the utility of antigen-specific T lymphocytes as a regulatable peptide delivery platform for in vivo therapy. piggyBac transposon modification of murine cells with luciferase allows us to visualize T cells after adoptive transfer. Vaccination stimulates long-term T-cell engraftment, persistence, and transgene expression enabling detection of modified cells up to 300 days after adoptive transfer. We demonstrate adoptive transfer of antigen-specific T cells expressing erythropoietin (EPO) elevating the hematocrit in mice for more than 20 weeks. We extend our observations to human T cells demonstrating inducible EPO production from Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antigen-specific T lymphocytes. Our results reveal antigen-specific T lymphocytes to be an effective delivery platform for therapeutic molecules such as EPO in vivo, with important implications for other diseases that require peptide therapy.
Inactivation of the retinoblastoma gene () product, pRB, is common in many human cancers. Targeting downstream effectors of pRB that are central to tumorigenesis is a promising strategy to block the growth of tumors harboring loss-of-function mutations. One such effector is retinoblastoma-binding protein 2 (RBP2, also called JARID1A or KDM5A), which encodes an H3K4 demethylase. Binding of pRB to RBP2 has been linked to the ability of pRB to promote senescence and differentiation. Importantly, genetic ablation of RBP2 is sufficient to phenocopy pRB's ability to induce these cellular changes in cell culture experiments. Moreover, germline deletion significantly impedes tumorigenesis in mice. The value of RBP2 as a therapeutic target in cancer, however, hinges on whether loss of RBP2 could block the growth of established tumors as opposed to simply delaying their onset. Here we show that conditional, systemic ablation of RBP2 in tumor-bearing mice is sufficient to slow tumor growth and significantly extend survival without causing obvious toxicity to the host. These findings show that established -null tumors require RBP2 for growth and further credential RBP2 as a therapeutic target in human cancers driven by inactivation.
Hydrodynamic injection creates a local, high-pressure environment to transfect various tissues with plasmid DNA and other substances. Hydrodynamic tail vein injection, for example, is a well-established method by which the liver can be transfected. This manuscript describes an application of hydrodynamic principles by injection of the mouse kidney directly with plasmid DNA for kidney-specific gene expression. Mice are anesthetized and the kidney is exposed by a flank incision followed by a fast injection of a plasmid DNA-containing solution directly into the renal pelvis. The needle is kept in place for ten seconds and the incision site is sutured. The following day, live animal imaging, Western blot, or immunohistochemistry may be used to assay gene expression, or other assays suited to the transgene of choice are used for detection of the protein of interest. Published methods to prolong gene expression include transposon-mediated transgene integration and cyclophosphamide treatment to inhibit the immune response to the transgene.
Genetic mutations in the human small heat shock protein αB-crystallin have been implicated in autosomal cataracts and skeletal myopathies, including heart muscle diseases (cardiomyopathy). Although these mutations lead to modulation of their chaperone activity , the functions of αB-crystallin in the maintenance of both lens transparency and muscle integrity remain unclear. This lack of information has hindered a mechanistic understanding of these diseases. To better define the functional roles of αB-crystallin, we generated loss-of-function zebrafish mutant lines by utilizing the CRISPR/Cas9 system to specifically disrupt the two αB-crystallin genes, α and α We observed lens abnormalities in the mutant lines of both genes, and the penetrance of the lens phenotype was higher in α than α mutants. This finding is in contrast with the lack of a phenotype previously reported in αB-crystallin knock-out mice and suggests that the elevated chaperone activity of the two zebrafish orthologs is critical for lens development. Besides its key role in the lens, we uncovered another critical role for αB-crystallin in providing stress tolerance to the heart. The αB-crystallin mutants exhibited hypersusceptibility to develop pericardial edema when challenged by crowding stress or exposed to elevated cortisol stress, both of which activate glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Our work illuminates the involvement of αB-crystallin in stress tolerance of the heart presumably through the proteostasis network and reinforces the critical role of the chaperone activity of αB-crystallin in the maintenance of lens transparency.
© 2018 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
EGF receptor (EGFR) is a critical signaling node throughout life. However, it has not been possible to directly visualize endogenous Egfr in mice. Using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, we appended a fluorescent reporter to the C terminus of the Egfr. Homozygous reporter mice appear normal and EGFR signaling is intact in vitro and in vivo. We detect distinct patterns of Egfr expression in progenitor and differentiated compartments in embryonic and adult mice. Systemic delivery of EGF or amphiregulin results in markedly different patterns of Egfr internalization and trafficking in hepatocytes. In the normal intestine, Egfr localizes to the crypt rather than villus compartment, expression is higher in adjacent epithelium than in intestinal tumors, and following colonic injury expression appears in distinct cell populations in the stroma. This reporter, under control of its endogenous regulatory elements, enables in vivo monitoring of the dynamics of Egfr localization and trafficking in normal and disease states.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Using a transgenic mouse model to express MafA, Pdx1, and Neurog3 (3TF) in a pancreatic acinar cell- and doxycycline-dependent manner, we discovered that the outcome of transcription factor-mediated acinar to β-like cellular reprogramming is dependent on both the magnitude of 3TF expression and on reprogramming-induced inflammation. Overly robust 3TF expression causes acinar cell necrosis, resulting in marked inflammation and acinar-to-ductal metaplasia. Generation of new β-like cells requires limiting reprogramming-induced inflammation, either by reducing 3TF expression or by eliminating macrophages. The new β-like cells were able to reverse streptozotocin-induced diabetes 6 days after inducing 3TF expression but failed to sustain their function after removal of the reprogramming factors.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A widely accepted paradigm in the field of cancer biology is that solid tumors are uni-ancestral being derived from a single founder and its descendants. However, data have been steadily accruing that indicate early tumors in mice and humans can have a multi-ancestral origin in which an initiated primogenitor facilitates the transformation of neighboring co-genitors. We developed a new mouse model that permits the determination of clonal architecture of intestinal tumors in vivo and ex vivo, have validated this model, and then used it to assess the clonal architecture of adenomas, intramucosal carcinomas, and invasive adenocarcinomas of the intestine. The percentage of multi-ancestral tumors did not significantly change as tumors progressed from adenomas with low-grade dysplasia [40/65 (62%)], to adenomas with high-grade dysplasia [21/37 (57%)], to intramucosal carcinomas [10/23 (43%]), to invasive adenocarcinomas [13/19 (68%)], indicating that the clone arising from the primogenitor continues to coexist with clones arising from co-genitors. Moreover, neoplastic cells from distinct clones within a multi-ancestral adenocarcinoma have even been observed to simultaneously invade into the underlying musculature [2/15 (13%)]. Thus, intratumoral heterogeneity arising early in tumor formation persists throughout tumorigenesis.
Determining the mechanism of gene function is greatly enhanced using conditional mutagenesis. However, generating engineered conditional alleles is inefficient and has only been widely used in mice. Importantly, multiplex conditional mutagenesis requires extensive breeding. Here we demonstrate a system for one-generation multiplex conditional mutagenesis in zebrafish (Danio rerio) using transgenic expression of both cas9 and multiple single guide RNAs (sgRNAs). We describe five distinct zebrafish U6 promoters for sgRNA expression and demonstrate efficient multiplex biallelic inactivation of tyrosinase and insulin receptor a and b, resulting in defects in pigmentation and glucose homeostasis. Furthermore, we demonstrate temporal and tissue-specific mutagenesis using transgenic expression of Cas9. Heat-shock-inducible expression of cas9 allows temporal control of tyr mutagenesis. Liver-specific expression of cas9 disrupts insulin receptor a and b, causing fasting hypoglycemia and postprandial hyperglycemia. We also show that delivery of sgRNAs targeting ascl1a into the eye leads to impaired damage-induced photoreceptor regeneration. Our findings suggest that CRISPR/Cas9-based conditional mutagenesis in zebrafish is not only feasible but rapid and straightforward.
Copyright © 2015 by the Genetics Society of America.
BACKGROUND - Zebrafish have been used as a vertebrate model to study human cancers such as melanoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, liver cancer, and leukemia as well as for high-throughput screening of small molecules of therapeutic value. However, they are just emerging as a model for human brain tumors, which are among the most devastating and difficult to treat. In this study, we evaluated zebrafish as a brain tumor model by overexpressing a human version of oncogenic KRAS (KRAS(G12V)).
METHODS - Using zebrafish cytokeratin 5 (krt5) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (gfap) gene promoters, we activated Ras signaling in the zebrafish central nervous system (CNS) through transient and stable transgenic overexpression. Immunohistochemical analyses were performed to identify activated pathways in the resulting brain tumors. The effects of the MEK inhibitor U0126 on oncogenic KRAS were evaluated.
RESULTS - We demonstrated that transient transgenic expression of KRAS(G12V) in putative neural stem and/or progenitor cells induced brain tumorigenesis. When expressed under the control of the krt5 gene promoter, KRAS(G12V) induced brain tumors in ventricular zones (VZ) at low frequency. The majority of other tumors were composed mostly of spindle and epithelioid cells, reminiscent of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). In contrast, when expressed under the control of the gfap gene promoter, KRAS(G12V) induced brain tumors in both VZs and brain parenchyma at higher frequency. Immunohistochemical analyses indicated prominent activation of the canonical RAS-RAF-ERK pathway, variable activation of the mTOR pathway, but no activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway. In a krt5-derived stable and inducible transgenic line, expression of oncogenic KRAS resulted in skin hyperplasia, and the MEK inhibitor U0126 effectively suppressed this pro-proliferative effects. In a gfap-derived stable and inducible line, expression of oncogenic KRAS led to significantly increased mitotic index in the spinal cord.
CONCLUSIONS - Our studies demonstrate that zebrafish could be explored to study cellular origins and molecular mechanisms of brain tumorigenesis and could also be used as a platform for studying human oncogene function and for discovering oncogenic RAS inhibitors.