Nucleic Acids Research

Nucleic Acids Research - RSS feed of current issue
  • Estimation of the RNU2 macrosatellite mutation rate by BRCA1 mutation tracing
    [Aug 2014]

    Large tandem repeat sequences have been poorly investigated as severe technical limitations and their frequent absence from the genome reference hinder their analysis. Extensive allelotyping of this class of variation has not been possible until now and their mutational dynamics are still poorly known. In order to estimate the mutation rate of a macrosatellite, we analysed in detail the RNU2 locus, which displays at least 50 different alleles containing 5-82 copies of a 6.1 kb repeat unit. Mining data from the 1000 Genomes Project allowed us to precisely estimate copy numbers of the RNU2 repeat unit using read depth of coverage. This further revealed significantly different mean values in various recent modern human populations, favoring a scenario of fast evolution of this locus. Its proximity to a disease gene with numerous founder mutations, BRCA1, within the same linkage disequilibrium block, offered the unique opportunity to trace RNU2 arrays over a large timescale. Analysis of the transmission of RNU2 arrays associated with one ‘private’ mutation in an extended kindred and four founder mutations in multiple kindreds gave an estimation by maximum likelihood of 5 x 10–3 mutations per generation, which is close to that of microsatellites.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Genomic organization and evolution of double minutes/homogeneously staining regions with MYC amplification in human cancer
    [Aug 2014]

    The mechanism for generating double minutes chromosomes (dmin) and homogeneously staining regions (hsr) in cancer is still poorly understood. Through an integrated approach combining next-generation sequencing, single nucleotide polymorphism array, fluorescent in situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction-based techniques, we inferred the fine structure of MYC-containing dmin/hsr amplicons harboring sequences from several different chromosomes in seven tumor cell lines, and characterized an unprecedented number of hsr insertion sites. Local chromosome shattering involving a single-step catastrophic event (chromothripsis) was recently proposed to explain clustered chromosomal rearrangements and genomic amplifications in cancer. Our bioinformatics analyses based on the listed criteria to define chromothripsis led us to exclude it as the driving force underlying amplicon genesis in our samples. Instead, the finding of coexisting heterogeneous amplicons, differing in their complexity and chromosome content, in cell lines derived from the same tumor indicated the occurrence of a multi-step evolutionary process in the genesis of dmin/hsr. Our integrated approach allowed us to gather a complete view of the complex chromosome rearrangements occurring within MYC amplicons, suggesting that more than one model may be invoked to explain the origin of dmin/hsr in cancer. Finally, we identified PVT1 as a target of fusion events, confirming its role as breakpoint hotspot in MYC amplification.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Sensitive, multiplex and direct quantification of RNA sequences using a modified RASL assay
    [Aug 2014]

    A sensitive and highly multiplex method to directly measure RNA sequence abundance without requiring reverse transcription would be of value for a number of biomedical applications, including high throughput small molecule screening, pathogen transcript detection and quantification of short/degraded RNAs. RNA Annealing, Selection and Ligation (RASL) assays, which are based on RNA template-dependent oligonucleotide probe ligation, have been developed to meet this need, but technical limitations have impeded their adoption. Whereas DNA ligase-based RASL assays suffer from extremely low and sequence-dependent ligation efficiencies that compromise assay robustness, Rnl2 can join a fully DNA donor probe to a 3'-diribonucleotide-terminated acceptor probe with high efficiency on an RNA template strand. Rnl2-based RASL exhibits sub-femtomolar transcript detection sensitivity, and permits the rational tuning of probe signals for optimal analysis by massively parallel DNA sequencing (RASL-seq). A streamlined Rnl2-based RASL-seq protocol was assessed in a small molecule screen using 77 probe sets designed to monitor complex human B cell phenotypes during antibody class switch recombination. Our data demonstrate the robustness, cost-efficiency and broad applicability of Rnl2-based RASL assays.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • metaseq: a Python package for integrative genome-wide analysis reveals relationships between chromatin insulators and associated nuclear mRNA
    [Aug 2014]

    Here we introduce metaseq, a software library written in Python, which enables loading multiple genomic data formats into standard Python data structures and allows flexible, customized manipulation and visualization of data from high-throughput sequencing studies. We demonstrate its practical use by analyzing multiple datasets related to chromatin insulators, which are DNA–protein complexes proposed to organize the genome into distinct transcriptional domains. Recent studies in Drosophila and mammals have implicated RNA in the regulation of chromatin insulator activities. Moreover, the Drosophila RNA-binding protein Shep has been shown to antagonize gypsy insulator activity in a tissue-specific manner, but the precise role of RNA in this process remains unclear. Better understanding of chromatin insulator regulation requires integration of multiple datasets, including those from chromatin-binding, RNA-binding, and gene expression experiments. We use metaseq to integrate RIP- and ChIP-seq data for Shep and the core gypsy insulator protein Su(Hw) in two different cell types, along with publicly available ChIP-chip and RNA-seq data. Based on the metaseq-enabled analysis presented here, we propose a model where Shep associates with chromatin cotranscriptionally, then is recruited to insulator complexes in trans where it plays a negative role in insulator activity.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • The effect of tRNA levels on decoding times of mRNA codons
    [Aug 2014]

    The possible effect of transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) concentrations on codons decoding time is a fundamental biomedical research question; however, due to a large number of variables affecting this process and the non-direct relation between them, a conclusive answer to this question has eluded so far researchers in the field. In this study, we perform a novel analysis of the ribosome profiling data of four organisms which enables ranking the decoding times of different codons while filtering translational phenomena such as experimental biases, extreme ribosomal pauses and ribosome traffic jams. Based on this filtering, we show for the first time that there is a significant correlation between tRNA concentrations and the codons estimated decoding time both in prokaryotes and in eukaryotes in natural conditions (–0.38 to –0.66, all P values <0.006); in addition, we show that when considering tRNA concentrations, codons decoding times are not correlated with aminoacyl-tRNA levels. The reported results support the conjecture that translation efficiency is directly influenced by the tRNA levels in the cell. Thus, they should help to understand the evolution of synonymous aspects of coding sequences via the adaptation of their codons to the tRNA pool.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • G-quadruplexes are specifically recognized and distinguished by selected designed ankyrin repeat proteins
    [Aug 2014]

    We introduce designed ankyrin repeat binding proteins (DARPins) as a novel class of highly specific and structure-selective DNA-binding proteins, which can be functionally expressed within all cells. Human telomere quadruplex was used as target to select specific binders with ribosome display. The selected DARPins discriminate the human telomere quadruplex against the telomeric duplex and other quadruplexes. Affinities of the selected binders range from 3 to 100 nM. CD studies confirm that the quadruplex fold is maintained upon binding. The DARPins show different specificity profiles: some discriminate human telomere quadruplexes from other quadruplex-forming sequences like ILPR, c-MYC and c-KIT, while others recognize two of the sequences tested or even all quadruplexes. None of them recognizes dsDNA. Quadruplex-binding DARPins constitute valuable tools for specific detection at very small scales and for the in vivo investigation of quadruplex DNA.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Activity-associated miRNA are packaged in Map1b-enriched exosomes released from depolarized neurons
    [Aug 2014]

    Rapid input-restricted change in gene expression is an important aspect of synaptic plasticity requiring complex mechanisms of post-transcriptional mRNA trafficking and regulation. Small non-coding miRNA are uniquely poised to support these functions by providing a nucleic-acid-based specificity component for universal-sequence-dependent RNA binding complexes. We investigated the subcellular distribution of these molecules in resting and potassium chloride depolarized human neuroblasts, and found both selective enrichment and depletion in neurites. Depolarization was associated with a neurite-restricted decrease in miRNA expression; a subset of these molecules was recovered from the depolarization medium in nuclease resistant extracellular exosomes. These vesicles were enriched with primate specific miRNA and the synaptic-plasticity-associated protein MAP1b. These findings further support a role for miRNA as neural plasticity regulators, as they are compartmentalized in neurons and undergo activity-associated redistribution or release into the extracellular matrix.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Spacing requirements for Class I transcription activation in bacteria are set by promoter elements
    [Aug 2014]

    The Escherichia coli cAMP receptor protein (CRP) activates transcription initiation at many promoters by binding upstream of core promoter elements and interacting with the C-terminal domain of the RNA polymerase α subunit. Previous studies have shown stringent spacing is required for transcription activation by CRP. Here we report that this stringency can be altered by the nature of different promoter elements at target promoters. Several series of CRP-dependent promoters were constructed with CRP moved to different upstream locations, and their activities were measured. The results show that (i) a full UP element, located immediately downstream of the DNA site for CRP, relaxes the spacing requirements for activation and increases the recruitment of RNAP and open complex formation; (ii) the distal UP subsite plays the key role in this relaxation; (iii) modification of the extended –10 element also affects the spacing requirements for CRP-dependent activation. From these results, we conclude that the spacing requirements for CRP-dependent transcription activation vary according to the sequence of different promoter elements, and our results are important for understanding the organization of promoters in many different bacteria which are controlled by transcription factors that use activatory mechanisms similar to CRP.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A novel phosphorylation-independent interaction between SMG6 and UPF1 is essential for human NMD
    [Aug 2014]

    Eukaryotic mRNAs with premature translation-termination codons (PTCs) are recognized and eliminated by nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD). NMD substrates can be degraded by different routes that all require phosphorylated UPF1 (P-UPF1) as a starting point. The endonuclease SMG6, which cleaves mRNA near the PTC, is one of the three known NMD factors thought to be recruited to nonsense mRNAs via an interaction with P-UPF1, leading to eventual mRNA degradation. By artificial tethering of SMG6 and mutants thereof to a reporter mRNA combined with knockdowns of various NMD factors, we demonstrate that besides its endonucleolytic activity, SMG6 also requires UPF1 and SMG1 to reduce reporter mRNA levels. Using in vivo and in vitro approaches, we further document that SMG6 and the unique stalk region of the UPF1 helicase domain, along with a contribution from the SQ domain, form a novel interaction and we also show that this region of the UPF1 helicase domain is critical for SMG6 function and NMD. Our results show that this interaction is required for NMD and for the capability of tethered SMG6 to degrade its bound RNA, suggesting that it contributes to the intricate regulation of UPF1 and SMG6 enzymatic activities.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A dimeric state for PRC2
    [Aug 2014]

    Polycomb repressive complex-2 (PRC2) is a histone methyltransferase required for epigenetic silencing during development and cancer. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) can recruit PRC2 to chromatin. Previous studies identified PRC2 subunits in a complex with the apparent molecular weight of a dimer, which might be accounted for by the incorporation of additional protein subunits or RNA rather than PRC2 dimerization. Here we show that reconstituted human PRC2 is in fact a dimer, using multiple independent approaches including analytical size exclusion chromatography (SEC), SEC combined with multi-angle light scattering and co-immunoprecipitation of differentially tagged subunits. Even though it contains at least two RNA-binding subunits, each PRC2 dimer binds only one RNA molecule. Yet, multiple PRC2 dimers bind a single RNA molecule cooperatively. These observations suggest a model in which the first RNA binding event promotes the recruitment of multiple PRC2 complexes to chromatin, thereby nucleating repression.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Molecular basis of nucleotide-dependent substrate engagement and remodeling by an AAA+ activator
    [Aug 2014]

    Binding and hydrolysis of ATP is universally required by AAA+ proteins to underpin their mechano-chemical work. Here we explore the roles of the ATPase site in an AAA+ transcriptional activator protein, the phage shock protein F (PspF), by specifically altering the Walker B motif sequence required in catalyzing ATP hydrolysis. One such mutant, the E108Q variant, is defective in ATP hydrolysis but fully remodels target transcription complexes, the RNAP-54 holoenzyme, in an ATP dependent manner. Structural analysis of the E108Q variant reveals that unlike wild-type protein, which has distinct conformations for E108 residue in the ATP and ADP bound forms, E108Q adapts the same conformation irrespective of nucleotide bound. Our data show that the remodeling activities of E108Q are strongly favored on pre-melted DNA and engagement with RNAP-54 using ATP binding can be sufficient to convert the inactive holoenzyme to an active form, while hydrolysis per se is required for nucleic acid remodeling that leads to transcription bubble formation. Furthermore, using linked dimer constructs, we show that RNAP-54 engagement by adjacent subunits within a hexamer are required for this protein remodeling activity while DNA remodeling activity can tolerate defective ATP hydrolysis of alternating subunits.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • In vitro selection of DNA-cleaving deoxyribozyme with site-specific thymidine excision activity
    [Aug 2014]

    Single-nucleotide polymorphisms, either inherited or due to spontaneous DNA damage, are associated with numerous diseases. Developing tools for site-specific nucleotide modification may one day provide a way to alter disease polymorphisms. Here, we describe the in vitro selection and characterization of a new deoxyribozyme called F-8, which catalyzes nucleotide excision specifically at thymidine. Cleavage by F-8 generates 3'- and 5'-phosphate ends recognized by DNA modifying enzymes, which repair the targeted deoxyribonucleotide while maintaining the integrity of the rest of the sequence. These results illustrate the potential of DNAzymes as tools for DNA manipulation.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • The RNA-mediated, asymmetric ring regulatory mechanism of the transcription termination Rho helicase decrypted by time-resolved Nucleotide Analog Interference Probing (trNAIP)
    [Aug 2014]

    Rho is a ring-shaped, ATP-dependent RNA helicase/translocase that dissociates transcriptional complexes in bacteria. How RNA recognition is coupled to ATP hydrolysis and translocation in Rho is unclear. Here, we develop and use a new combinatorial approach, called time-resolved Nucleotide Analog Interference Probing (trNAIP), to unmask RNA molecular determinants of catalytic Rho function. We identify a regulatory step in the translocation cycle involving recruitment of the 2'-hydroxyl group of the incoming 3'-RNA nucleotide by a Rho subunit. We propose that this step arises from the intrinsic weakness of one of the subunit interfaces caused by asymmetric, split-ring arrangement of primary RNA tethers around the Rho hexamer. Translocation is at highest stake every seventh nucleotide when the weak interface engages the incoming 3'-RNA nucleotide or breaks, depending on RNA threading constraints in the Rho pore. This substrate-governed, ‘test to run’ iterative mechanism offers a new perspective on how a ring-translocase may function or be regulated. It also illustrates the interest and versatility of the new trNAIP methodology to unveil the molecular mechanisms of complex RNA-based systems.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Crystal structure of RNase H3-substrate complex reveals parallel evolution of RNA/DNA hybrid recognition
    [Aug 2014]

    RNases H participate in the replication and maintenance of genomic DNA. RNase H1 cleaves the RNA strand of RNA/DNA hybrids, and RNase H2 in addition hydrolyzes the RNA residue of RNA–DNA junctions. RNase H3 is structurally closely related to RNases H2, but its biochemical properties are similar to type 1 enzymes. Its unique N-terminal substrate-binding domain (N-domain) is related to TATA-binding protein. Here, we report the first crystal structure of RNase H3 in complex with its RNA/DNA substrate. Just like RNases H1, type 3 enzyme recognizes the 2'-OH groups of the RNA strand and detects the DNA strand by binding a phosphate group and inducing B-form conformation. Moreover, the N-domain recognizes RNA and DNA in a manner that is highly similar to the hybrid-binding domain of RNases H1. Our structure demonstrates a remarkable example of parallel evolution of the elements used in the specific recognition of RNA and DNA.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Microscopic mechanism of DNA damage searching by hOGG1
    [Aug 2014]

    The DNA backbone is often considered a track that allows long-range sliding of DNA repair enzymes in their search for rare damage sites in DNA. A proposed exemplar of DNA sliding is human 8-oxoguanine (oG) DNA glycosylase 1 (hOGG1), which repairs mutagenic oG lesions in DNA. Here we use our high-resolution molecular clock method to show that macroscopic 1D DNA sliding of hOGG1 occurs by microscopic 2D and 3D steps that masquerade as sliding in resolution-limited single-molecule images. Strand sliding was limited to distances shorter than seven phosphate linkages because attaching a covalent chemical road block to a single DNA phosphate located between two closely spaced damage sites had little effect on transfers. The microscopic parameters describing the DNA search of hOGG1 were derived from numerical simulations constrained by the experimental data. These findings support a general mechanism where DNA glycosylases use highly dynamic multidimensional diffusion paths to scan DNA.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Simulations of DNA topoisomerase 1B bound to supercoiled DNA reveal changes in the flexibility pattern of the enzyme and a secondary protein-DNA binding site
    [Aug 2014]

    Human topoisomerase 1B has been simulated covalently bound to a negatively supercoiled DNA minicircle, and its behavior compared to the enzyme bound to a simple linear DNA duplex. The presence of the more realistic supercoiled substrate facilitates the formation of larger number of protein–DNA interactions when compared to a simple linear duplex fragment. The number of protein–DNA hydrogen bonds doubles in proximity to the active site, affecting all of the residues in the catalytic pentad. The clamp over the DNA, characterized by the salt bridge between Lys369 and Glu497, undergoes reduced fluctuations when bound to the supercoiled minicircle. The linker domain of the enzyme, which is implicated in the controlled relaxation of superhelical stress, also displays an increased number of contacts with the minicircle compared to linear DNA. Finally, the more complex topology of the supercoiled DNA minicircle gives rise to a secondary DNA binding site involving four residues located on subdomain III. The simulation trajectories reveal significant changes in the interactions between the enzyme and the DNA for the more complex DNA topology, which are consistent with the experimental observation that the protein has a preference for binding to supercoiled DNA.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Embryonic stem cell-specific microRNAs contribute to pluripotency by inhibiting regulators of multiple differentiation pathways
    [Aug 2014]

    The findings that microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential for early development in many species and that embryonic miRNAs can reprogram somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells suggest that these miRNAs act directly on transcriptional and chromatin regulators of pluripotency. To elucidate the transcription regulatory networks immediately downstream of embryonic miRNAs, we extended the motif activity response analysis approach that infers the regulatory impact of both transcription factors (TFs) and miRNAs from genome-wide expression states. Applying this approach to multiple experimental data sets generated from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) that did or did not express miRNAs of the ESC-specific miR-290-295 cluster, we identified multiple TFs that are direct miRNA targets, some of which are known to be active during cell differentiation. Our results provide new insights into the transcription regulatory network downstream of ESC-specific miRNAs, indicating that these miRNAs act on cell cycle and chromatin regulators at several levels and downregulate TFs that are involved in the innate immune response.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • G-quadruplexes within prion mRNA: the missing link in prion disease?
    [Aug 2014]

    Cellular ribonucleic acid (RNA) plays a crucial role in the initial conversion of cellular prion protein PrPC to infectious PrPSc or scrapie. The nature of this RNA remains elusive. Previously, RNA aptamers against PrPC have been isolated and found to form G-quadruplexes (G4s). PrPC binding to G4 RNAs destabilizes its structure and is thought to trigger its conversion to PrPSc. Here it is shown that PrP messenger RNA (mRNA) itself contains several G4 motifs, located in the octarepeat region. Investigation of the RNA structure in one of these repeats by circular dichroism, nuclear magnetic resonance and ultraviolet melting studies shows evidence of G4 formation. In vitro translation of full-length PrP mRNA, naturally harboring five consecutive G4 motifs, was specifically affected by G4-binding ligands, lending support to G4 formation in PrP mRNA. A possible role of PrP binding to its own mRNA and the role of anti-prion drugs, many of which are G4-binding ligands, in prion disease are discussed.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • The mRNP remodeling mediated by UPF1 promotes rapid degradation of replication-dependent histone mRNA
    [Aug 2014]

    Histone biogenesis is tightly controlled at multiple steps to maintain the balance between the amounts of DNA and histone protein during the cell cycle. In particular, translation and degradation of replication-dependent histone mRNAs are coordinately regulated. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we investigate remodeling of stem-loop binding protein (SLBP)-containing histone mRNPs occurring during the switch from the actively translating mode to the degradation mode. The interaction between a CBP80/20-dependent translation initiation factor (CTIF) and SLBP, which is important for efficient histone mRNA translation, is disrupted upon the inhibition of DNA replication or at the end of S phase. This disruption is mediated by competition between CTIF and UPF1 for SLBP binding. Further characterizations reveal hyperphosphorylation of UPF1 by activated ATR and DNA-dependent protein kinase upon the inhibition of DNA replication interacts with SLBP more strongly, promoting the release of CTIF and eIF3 from SLBP-containing histone mRNP. In addition, hyperphosphorylated UPF1 recruits PNRC2 and SMG5, triggering decapping followed by 5'-to-3' degradation of histone mRNAs. The collective observations suggest that both inhibition of translation and recruitment of mRNA degradation machinery during histone mRNA degradation are tightly coupled and coordinately regulated by UPF1 phosphorylation.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Discovery of the {beta}-barrel-type RNA methyltransferase responsible for N6-methylation of N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine in tRNAs
    [Aug 2014]

    Methylation is a versatile reaction involved in the synthesis and modification of biologically active molecules, including RNAs. N6-methyl-threonylcarbamoyl adenosine (m6t6A) is a post-transcriptional modification found at position 37 of tRNAs from bacteria, insect, plants, and mammals. Here, we report that in Escherichia coli, yaeB (renamed as trmO) encodes a tRNA methyltransferase responsible for the N6-methyl group of m6t6A in tRNAThr specific for ACY codons. TrmO has a unique single-sheeted β-barrel structure and does not belong to any known classes of methyltransferases. Recombinant TrmO employs S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) as a methyl donor to methylate t6A to form m6t6A in tRNAThr. Therefore, TrmO/YaeB represents a novel category of AdoMet-dependent methyltransferase (Class VIII). In a trmO strain, m6t6A was converted to cyclic t6A (ct6A), suggesting that t6A is a common precursor for both m6t6A and ct6A. Furthermore, N6-methylation of t6A enhanced the attenuation activity of the thr operon, suggesting that TrmO ensures efficient decoding of ACY. We also identified a human homolog, TRMO, indicating that m6t6A plays a general role in fine-tuning of decoding in organisms from bacteria to mammals.

    Categories: Journal Articles