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Ubiquitin, and components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system, feature extensively in the regulation of gene transcription. Although there are many examples of how ubiquitin controls the activity of transcriptional regulators and coregulators, there are few examples of core components of the transcriptional machinery that are directly controlled by ubiquitin-dependent processes. The budding yeast protein Asr1 is the prototypical member of the RPC (RING, PHD, CBD) family of ubiquitin-ligases, characterized by the presence of amino-terminal RING (really interesting new gene) and PHD (plant homeo domain) fingers and a carboxyl-terminal domain that directly binds the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (pol II), Rpb1, in response to phosphorylation events tied to the initiation of transcription. Asr1-mediated oligo-ubiquitylation of pol II leads to ejection of two core subunits of the enzyme and is associated with inhibition of polymerase function. Here, we present evidence that Asr1-mediated ubiquitylation of pol II is required for silencing of subtelomeric gene transcription. We show that Asr1 associates with telomere-proximal chromatin and that disruption of the ubiquitin-ligase activity of Asr1--or mutation of ubiquitylation sites within Rpb1--induces transcription of silenced gene sequences. In addition, we report that Asr1 associates with the Ubp3 deubiquitylase and that Asr1 and Ubp3 play antagonistic roles in setting transcription levels from silenced genes. We suggest that control of pol II by nonproteolytic ubiquitylation provides a mechanism to enforce silencing by transient and reversible inhibition of pol II activity at subtelomeric chromatin.
The discovery of RNAi in the late 1990s unlocked a new realm of therapeutic possibilities by enabling potent and specific silencing of theoretically any desired genetic target. Better elucidation of the mechanism of action, the impact of chemical modifications that stabilize and reduce nonspecific effects of siRNA molecules, and the key design considerations for effective delivery systems has spurred progress toward developing clinically-successful siRNA therapies. A logical aim for initial siRNA translation is local therapies, as delivering siRNA directly to its site of action helps to ensure that a sufficient dose reaches the target tissue, lessens the potential for off-target side effects, and circumvents the substantial systemic delivery barriers. While locally injected or topically applied siRNA has progressed into numerous clinical trials, an enormous opportunity exists to develop sustained-release, local delivery systems that enable both spatial and temporal control of gene silencing. This review focuses on material platforms that establish both localized and controlled gene silencing, with emphasis on the systems that show most promise for clinical translation.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Glucagon antagonism is a potential treatment for diabetes. One potential side effect is α-cell hyperplasia, which has been noted in several approaches to antagonize glucagon action. To investigate the molecular mechanism of the α-cell hyperplasia and to identify the responsible factor, we created a zebrafish model in which glucagon receptor (gcgr) signaling has been interrupted. The genetically and chemically tractable zebrafish, which provides a robust discovery platform, has two gcgr genes (gcgra and gcgrb) in its genome. Sequence, phylogenetic, and synteny analyses suggest that these are co-orthologs of the human GCGR. Similar to its mammalian counterparts, gcgra and gcgrb are mainly expressed in the liver. We inactivated the zebrafish gcgra and gcgrb using transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN) first individually and then both genes, and assessed the number of α-cells using an α-cell reporter line, Tg(gcga:GFP). Compared to WT fish at 7 days postfertilization, there were more α-cells in gcgra-/-, gcgrb-/-, and gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish and there was an increased rate of α-cell proliferation in the gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish. Glucagon levels were higher but free glucose levels were lower in gcgra-/-, gcgrb-/-, and gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- fish, similar to Gcgr-/- mice. These results indicate that the compensatory α-cell hyperplasia in response to interruption of glucagon signaling is conserved in zebrafish. The robust α-cell hyperplasia in gcgra-/-;gcgrb-/- larvae provides a platform to screen for chemical and genetic suppressors, and ultimately to identify the stimulus of α-cell hyperplasia and its signaling mechanism.
© 2015 Society for Endocrinology.
Accurate prediction of the functional effect of genetic variation is critical for clinical genome interpretation. We systematically characterized the transcriptome effects of protein-truncating variants, a class of variants expected to have profound effects on gene function, using data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) and Geuvadis projects. We quantitated tissue-specific and positional effects on nonsense-mediated transcript decay and present an improved predictive model for this decay. We directly measured the effect of variants both proximal and distal to splice junctions. Furthermore, we found that robustness to heterozygous gene inactivation is not due to dosage compensation. Our results illustrate the value of transcriptome data in the functional interpretation of genetic variants.
Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by developmental delay, speech impairment, movement disorder, sleep disorders and refractory epilepsy. AS is caused by loss of the Ube3a protein encoded for by the imprinted Ube3a gene. Ube3a is expressed nearly exclusively from the maternal chromosome in mature neurons. While imprinting in neurons of the brain has been well described, the imprinting and expression of Ube3a in other neural tissues remains relatively unexplored. Moreover, given the overwhelming deficits in brain function in AS patients, the possibility of disrupted Ube3a expression in the infratentorial nervous system and its consequent disability have been largely ignored. We evaluated the imprinting status of Ube3a in the spinal cord and sciatic nerve and show that it is also imprinted in these neural tissues. Furthermore, a growing body of clinical and radiological evidence has suggested that myelin dysfunction may contribute to morbidity in many neurodevelopmental syndromes. However, findings regarding Ube3a expression in non-neuronal cells of the brain have varied. Utilizing enriched primary cultures of oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, we show that Ube3a is expressed, but not imprinted in these cell types. Unlike many other neurodevelopmental disorders, AS symptoms do not become apparent until roughly 6 to 12 months of age. To determine the temporal expression pattern and silencing, we analyzed Ube3a expression in AS mice at several time points. We confirm relaxed imprinting of Ube3a in neurons of the postnatal developing cortex, but not in structures in which neurogenesis and migration are more complete. This furthers the hypothesis that the apparently normal window of development in AS patients is supported by an incompletely silenced paternal allele in developing neurons, resulting in a relative preservation of Ube3a expression during this crucial epoch of early development.
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.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the strongest known risk factor for gastric carcinogenesis. One cancer-linked locus is the cag pathogenicity island, which translocates components of peptidoglycan into host cells. NOD1 is an intracellular immune receptor that senses peptidoglycan from Gram-negative bacteria and responds by inducing autophagy and activating NF-κB, leading to inflammation-mediated bacterial clearance; however chronic pathogens can evade NOD1-mediated clearance by altering peptidoglycan structure. We previously demonstrated that the H. pylori cag(+) strain 7.13 rapidly induces gastric cancer in Mongolian gerbils. Using 2D-DIGE and mass spectrometry, we identified a novel mutation within the gene encoding the peptidoglycan deacetylase PgdA; therefore, we sought to define the role of H. pylori PgdA in NOD1-dependent activation of NF-κB, inflammation, and cancer. Coculture of H. pylori strain 7.13 or its pgdA(-) isogenic mutant with AGS gastric epithelial cells or HEK293 epithelial cells expressing a NF-κB reporter revealed that pgdA inactivation significantly decreased NOD1-dependent NF-κB activation and autophagy. Infection of Mongolian gerbils with an H. pylori pgdA(-) mutant strain led to significantly decreased levels of inflammation and malignant lesions in the stomach; however, preactivation of NOD1 before bacterial challenge reciprocally suppressed inflammation and cancer in response to wild-type H. pylori. Expression of NOD1 differs in human gastric cancer specimens compared with noncancer samples harvested from the same patients. These results indicate that peptidoglycan deacetylation plays an important role in modulating host inflammatory responses to H. pylori, allowing the bacteria to persist and induce carcinogenic consequences in the gastric niche.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
Macrophages dictate both initiation and resolution of inflammation. During acute inflammation classically activated macrophages (M1) predominate, and during the resolution phase alternative macrophages (M2) are dominant. The molecular mechanisms involved in macrophage polarization are understudied. MicroRNAs are differentially expressed in M1 and M2 macrophages that influence macrophage polarization. We identified a role of miR-21 in macrophage polarization, and found that cross-talk between miR-21 and the lipid mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) is a determining factor in macrophage polarization. miR-21 inhibition impairs expression of M2 signature genes but not M1 genes. PGE2 and its downstream effectors PKA and Epac inhibit miR-21 expression and enhance expression of M2 genes, and this effect is more pronounced in miR-21-/- cells. Among potential targets involved in macrophage polarization, we found that STAT3 and SOCS1 were enhanced in miR-21-/- cells and further enhanced by PGE2. We found that STAT3 was a direct target of miR-21 in macrophages. Silencing the STAT3 gene abolished PGE2-mediated expression of M2 genes in miR-21-/- macrophages. These data shed light on the molecular brakes involved in homeostatic macrophage polarization and suggest new therapeutic strategies to prevent inflammatory responses.
Clinical translation of siRNA therapeutics has been limited by the inability to effectively overcome the rigorous delivery barriers associated with intracellular-acting biologics. Here, to address both potency and longevity of siRNA gene silencing, pH-responsive micellar nanoparticle (NP) carriers loaded with siRNA conjugated to palmitic acid (siRNA-PA) were investigated as a combined approach to improve siRNA endosomal escape and stability. Conjugation to hydrophobic PA improved NP loading efficiency relative to unmodified siRNA, enabling complete packaging of siRNA-PA at a lower polymer:siRNA ratio. PA conjugation also increased intracellular uptake of the nucleic acid cargo by 35-fold and produced a 3.1-fold increase in intracellular half-life. The higher uptake and improved retention of siRNA-PA NPs correlated to a 2- and 11-fold decrease in gene silencing IC50 in comparison to siRNA NPs in fibroblasts and mesenchymal stem cells, respectively, for both the model gene luciferase and the therapeutically relevant gene prolyl hydroxylase domain protein 2 (PHD2) . PA conjugation also significantly increased longevity of silencing activity following a single treatment in fibroblasts. Thus, conjugation of PA to siRNA paired with endosomolytic NPs is a promising approach to enhance the functional efficacy of siRNA in tissue regenerative and other applications.
Copyright © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Reduced expression of the Gad1 gene-encoded 67-kDa protein isoform of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) is a hallmark of schizophrenia. GAD67 downregulation occurs in multiple interneuronal sub-populations, including the parvalbumin-positive (PVALB+) cells. To investigate the role of the PV-positive GABAergic interneurons in behavioral and molecular processes, we knocked down the Gad1 transcript using a microRNA engineered to target specifically Gad1 mRNA under the control of Pvalb bacterial artificial chromosome. Verification of construct expression was performed by immunohistochemistry. Follow-up electrophysiological studies revealed a significant reduction in γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release probability without alterations in postsynaptic membrane properties or changes in glutamatergic release probability in the prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons. Behavioral characterization of our transgenic (Tg) mice uncovered that the Pvalb/Gad1 Tg mice have pronounced sensorimotor gating deficits, increased novelty-seeking and reduced fear extinction. Furthermore, NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor antagonism by ketamine had an opposing dose-dependent effect, suggesting that the differential dosage of ketamine might have divergent effects on behavioral processes. All behavioral studies were validated using a second cohort of animals. Our results suggest that reduction of GABAergic transmission from PVALB+ interneurons primarily impacts behavioral domains related to fear and novelty seeking and that these alterations might be related to the behavioral phenotype observed in schizophrenia.