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The dendritic processes of nociceptive neurons transduce external signals into neurochemical cues that alert the organism to potentially damaging stimuli. The receptive field for each sensory neuron is defined by its dendritic arbor, but the mechanisms that shape dendritic architecture are incompletely understood. Using the model nociceptor, the PVD neuron in C. elegans, we determined that two types of PVD lateral branches project along the dorsal/ventral axis to generate the PVD dendritic arbor: (1) Pioneer dendrites that adhere to the epidermis, and (2) Commissural dendrites that fasciculate with circumferential motor neuron processes. Previous reports have shown that the LIM homeodomain transcription factor MEC-3 is required for all higher order PVD branching and that one of its targets, the claudin-like membrane protein HPO-30, preferentially promotes outgrowth of pioneer branches. Here, we show that another MEC-3 target, the conserved TFIIA-like zinc finger transcription factor EGL-46, adopts the alternative role of specifying commissural dendrites. The known EGL-46 binding partner, the TEAD transcription factor EGL-44, is also required for PVD commissural branch outgrowth. Double mutants of hpo-30 and egl-44 show strong enhancement of the lateral branching defect with decreased numbers of both pioneer and commissural dendrites. Thus, HPO-30/Claudin and EGL-46/EGL-44 function downstream of MEC-3 and in parallel acting pathways to direct outgrowth of two distinct classes of PVD dendritic branches.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Integrating DNA delivery systems hold promise for many applications including treatment of diseases; however, targeted integration is needed for improved safety. The piggyBac (PB) transposon system is a highly active non-viral gene delivery system capable of integrating defined DNA segments into host chromosomes without requiring homologous recombination. We systematically compared four different engineered zinc finger proteins (ZFP), four transcription activator-like effector proteins (TALE), CRISPR associated protein 9 (SpCas9) and the catalytically inactive dSpCas9 protein fused to the amino-terminus of the transposase enzyme designed to target the hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) gene located on human chromosome X. Chimeric transposases were evaluated for expression, transposition activity, chromatin immunoprecipitation at the target loci, and targeted knockout of the HPRT gene in human cells. One ZFP-PB and one TALE-PB chimera demonstrated notable HPRT gene targeting. In contrast, Cas9/dCas9-PB chimeras did not result in gene targeting. Instead, the HPRT locus appeared to be protected from transposon integration. Supplied separately, PB permitted highly efficient isolation of Cas9-mediated knockout of HPRT, with zero transposon integrations in HPRT by deep sequencing. In summary, these tools may allow isolation of 'targeted-only' cells, be utilized to protect a genomic locus from transposon integration, and enrich for Cas9-mutated cells.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research 2017.
Artificial transcription factors (ATFs) are precision-tailored molecules designed to bind DNA and regulate transcription in a preprogrammed manner. Libraries of ATFs enable the high-throughput screening of gene networks that trigger cell fate decisions or phenotypic changes. We developed a genome-scale library of ATFs that display an engineered interaction domain (ID) to enable cooperative assembly and synergistic gene expression at targeted sites. We used this ATF library to screen for key regulators of the pluripotency network and discovered three combinations of ATFs capable of inducing pluripotency without exogenous expression of Oct4 (POU domain, class 5, TF 1). Cognate site identification, global transcriptional profiling, and identification of ATF binding sites reveal that the ATFs do not directly target Oct4; instead, they target distinct nodes that converge to stimulate the endogenous pluripotency network. This forward genetic approach enables cell type conversions without a priori knowledge of potential key regulators and reveals unanticipated gene network dynamics that drive cell fate choices.
INSM1 is a zinc-finger protein expressed throughout the developing nervous system in late neuronal progenitors and nascent neurons. In the embryonic cortex and olfactory epithelium, Insm1 may promote the transition of progenitors from apical, proliferative, and uncommitted to basal, terminally-dividing and neuron producing. In the otocyst, delaminating and delaminated progenitors express Insm1, whereas apically-dividing progenitors do not. This expression pattern is analogous to that in embryonic olfactory epithelium and cortex (basal/subventricular progenitors). Lineage analysis confirms that auditory and vestibular neurons originate from Insm1-expressing cells. In the absence of Insm1, otic ganglia are smaller, with 40% fewer neurons. Accounting for the decrease in neurons, delaminated progenitors undergo fewer mitoses, but there is no change in apoptosis. We conclude that in the embryonic inner ear, Insm1 promotes proliferation of delaminated neuronal progenitors and hence the production of neurons, a similar function to that in other embryonic neural epithelia. Unexpectedly, we also found that differentiating, but not mature, outer hair cells express Insm1, whereas inner hair cells do not. Insm1 is the earliest known gene expressed in outer versus inner hair cells, demonstrating that nascent outer hair cells initiate a unique differentiation program in the embryo, much earlier than previously believed.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Recombination-activating gene 1 (Rag1) and Rag2 enzymes are required for T cell receptor assembly and thymocyte development. The mechanisms underlying the transcriptional activation and repression of Rag1 and Rag2 are incompletely understood. The zinc-finger protein, Zfp608, represses Rag1 and Rag2 expression when expressed in thymocytes blocking T-cell maturation. Here we show that the related zinc-finger protein, Zfp609, is necessary for Rag1 and Rag2 expression in developing thymocytes. Zfp608 represses Rag1 and Rag2 expression indirectly by repressing the expression of Zfp609. Thus, the balance of Zfp608 and Zfp609 plays a critical role in regulating Rag1 and Rag2 expression, which may manifest itself not only during development of immature thymocytes into mature T cells but also in generation of the T-cell arm of the adaptive immune system, which does not fully develop until after birth.
Targeted genetic engineering of human pluripotent cells is a prerequisite for exploiting their full potential. Such genetic manipulations can be achieved using site-specific nucleases. Here we engineered transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) for five distinct genomic loci. At all loci tested we obtained human embryonic stem cell (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) clones carrying transgenic cassettes solely at the TALEN-specified location. Our data suggest that TALENs employing the specific architectures described here mediate site-specific genome modification in human pluripotent cells with similar efficiency and precision as do zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs).
The ability to direct gene delivery to a user-defined chromosomal location would greatly improve gene transfer applications. The piggyBac transposon system is a nonviral gene transfer system proven effective in a variety of cells and tissues, including human cells. We fused a highly site-specific synthetic zinc-finger DNA-binding domain (ZFP) to the N-terminus of the piggyBac transposase and evaluated site-directed genomic integration in human cells. Chimeric ZFP-piggyBac transposase exhibited robust gene transfer activity, targeted binding to a cognate endogenous chromosomal ZFP site in the human genome, and site-directed transposon integration into an episomal plasmid target containing a single ZFP site in human cells. We evaluated the ability of ZFP-piggyBac to direct gene integration into an engineered chromosomal ZFP target site in the human genome and consistently observed a higher degree of ZFP-piggyBac site-directed genomic integration when compared to native piggyBac. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments revealed binding of native piggyBac to our engineered TTAA-containing chromosomal target which supported integration, but not a TTAA-deficient chromosomal target which lacked integration. Our results offer insight into the requirements for using a chimeric zinc finger-piggyBac transposase to direct integration into a user-defined chromosomal location.
TRIM proteins play important roles in the innate immune defense against retroviral infection, including human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1). Rhesus macaque TRIM5α (TRIM5α(rh)) targets the HIV-1 capsid and blocks infection at an early post-entry stage, prior to reverse transcription. Studies have shown that binding of TRIM5α to the assembled capsid is essential for restriction and requires the coiled-coil and B30.2/SPRY domains, but the molecular mechanism of restriction is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated, by cryoEM combined with mutagenesis and chemical cross-linking, the direct interactions between HIV-1 capsid protein (CA) assemblies and purified TRIM5α(rh) containing coiled-coil and SPRY domains (CC-SPRY(rh)). Concentration-dependent binding of CC-SPRY(rh) to CA assemblies was observed, while under equivalent conditions the human protein did not bind. Importantly, CC-SPRY(rh), but not its human counterpart, disrupted CA tubes in a non-random fashion, releasing fragments of protofilaments consisting of CA hexamers without dissociation into monomers. Furthermore, such structural destruction was prevented by inter-hexamer crosslinking using P207C/T216C mutant CA with disulfide bonds at the CTD-CTD trimer interface of capsid assemblies, but not by intra-hexamer crosslinking via A14C/E45C at the NTD-NTD interface. The same disruption effect by TRIM5α(rh) on the inter-hexamer interfaces also occurred with purified intact HIV-1 cores. These results provide insights concerning how TRIM5α disrupts the virion core and demonstrate that structural damage of the viral capsid by TRIM5α is likely one of the important components of the mechanism of TRIM5α-mediated HIV-1 restriction.
Transposons have been effectively utilized as non-viral gene delivery systems that are capable of promoting stable transgene expression in mammalian and human cells. Two specific transposon systems, Sleeping Beauty (SB) and piggyBac (PB), have been successfully modified by the addition of a zinc finger (ZF) DNA-binding domain as a strategy for directing transposon integration near ZF target sites in a host cell genome. Site-directed integration could improve transposon-mediated gene transfer by limiting positional effects on transgene integration, limiting genotoxicity, and improving the overall safety in gene therapy applications. In this chapter, we describe methodology for creating and characterizing functional chimeric ZF transposases and experimental approaches for testing their transpositional activity in human cells.
Proteins bound to the poly(A) tail of mRNA transcripts, called poly(A)-binding proteins (Pabs), play critical roles in regulating RNA stability, translation, and nuclear export. Like many mRNA-binding proteins that modulate post-transcriptional processing events, assigning specific functions to Pabs is challenging because these processing events are tightly coupled to one another. To investigate the role that a novel class of zinc finger-containing Pabs plays in these coupled processes, we defined the mode of polyadenosine RNA recognition for the conserved Saccharomyces cerevisiae Nab2 protein and assessed in vivo consequences caused by disruption of RNA binding. The polyadenosine RNA recognition domain of Nab2 consists of three tandem Cys-Cys-Cys-His (CCCH) zinc fingers. Cells expressing mutant Nab2 proteins with decreased binding to polyadenosine RNA show growth defects as well as defects in poly(A) tail length but do not accumulate poly(A) RNA in the nucleus. We also demonstrate genetic interactions between mutant nab2 alleles and mutant alleles of the mRNA 3'-end processing machinery. Together, these data provide strong evidence that Nab2 binding to RNA is critical for proper control of poly(A) tail length.