Nucleic Acids Research

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  • Transcriptome-wide investigation of genomic imprinting in chicken
    [Apr 2014]

    Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic mechanism by which alleles of some specific genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin manner. It has been observed in mammals and marsupials, but not in birds. Until now, only a few genes orthologous to mammalian imprinted ones have been analyzed in chicken and did not demonstrate any evidence of imprinting in this species. However, several published observations such as imprinted-like QTL in poultry or reciprocal effects keep the question open. Our main objective was thus to screen the entire chicken genome for parental-allele-specific differential expression on whole embryonic transcriptomes, using high-throughput sequencing. To identify the parental origin of each observed haplotype, two chicken experimental populations were used, as inbred and as genetically distant as possible. Two families were produced from two reciprocal crosses. Transcripts from 20 embryos were sequenced using NGS technology, producing ~200 Gb of sequences. This allowed the detection of 79 potentially imprinted SNPs, through an analysis method that we validated by detecting imprinting from mouse data already published. However, out of 23 candidates tested by pyrosequencing, none could be confirmed. These results come together, without a priori, with previous statements and phylogenetic considerations assessing the absence of genomic imprinting in chicken.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Multiple-binding-site mechanism explains concentration-dependent unbinding rates of DNA-binding proteins
    [Apr 2014]

    Recent work has demonstrated concentration-dependent unbinding rates of proteins from DNA, using fluorescence visualization of the bacterial nucleoid protein Fis [Graham et al. (2011) (Concentration-dependent exchange accelerates turnover of proteins bound to double-stranded DNA. Nucleic Acids Res., 39:2249)]. The physical origin of this concentration-dependence is unexplained. We use a combination of coarse-grained simulation and theory to demonstrate that this behavior can be explained by taking into account the dimeric nature of the protein, which permits partial dissociation and exchange with other proteins in solution. Concentration-dependent unbinding is generated by this simple model, quantitatively explaining experimental data. This effect is likely to play a major role in determining binding lifetimes of proteins in vivo where there are very high concentrations of solvated molecules.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • G-Quadruplex binding enantiomers show chiral selective interactions with human telomere
    [Apr 2014]

    Chiral recognition of DNA molecules is important because DNA chiral transition and its different conformations are involved in a series of important life events. Among them, polymorphic human telomere DNA has attracted great interests in recent years because of its important roles in chromosome structural integrity. In this report, we examine the short-term effect of chiral metallo-supramolecular complex enantiomers treatment on tumor cells, and find that a zinc-finger-like alpha helical chiral metallo-supramolecular complex, [Ni2L3]4+-P enantiomer (NiP), can selectively provoke the rapid telomere uncapping, trigger DNA damage responses at telomere and degradation of G-overhang and the delocalization of telomeric protein from telomeres. Further studies indicate that NiP can induce an acute cellular apoptosis and senescence in cancer cells rather than normal cells. These results are further evidenced by the upregulation of p21 and p16 proteins. Moreover, NiP can cause translocation of hTERT from nuclear to cytoplasm through Tyr 707 phosphorylation. While its enantiomer, [Ni2L3]4+-M (NiM), has no such mentioned effects, these results clearly demonstrate the compound’s chiral selectivity in cancer cells. Our work will shed light on design of chiral anticancer drugs targeting G-quadruplex DNA, and developing telomere and telomerase modulation agents.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • RNase L restricts the mobility of engineered retrotransposons in cultured human cells
    [Apr 2014]

    Retrotransposons are mobile genetic elements, and their mobility can lead to genomic instability. Retrotransposon insertions are associated with a diverse range of sporadic diseases, including cancer. Thus, it is not a surprise that multiple host defense mechanisms suppress retrotransposition. The 2',5'-oligoadenylate (2-5A) synthetase (OAS)-RNase L system is a mechanism for restricting viral infections during the interferon antiviral response. Here, we investigated a potential role for the OAS-RNase L system in the restriction of retrotransposons. Expression of wild type (WT) and a constitutively active form of RNase L (N385), but not a catalytically inactive RNase L mutant (R667A), impaired the mobility of engineered human LINE-1 (L1) and mouse intracisternal A-type particle retrotransposons in cultured human cells. Furthermore, WT RNase L, but not an inactive RNase L mutant (R667A), reduced L1 RNA levels and subsequent expression of the L1-encoded proteins (ORF1p and ORF2p). Consistently, confocal immunofluorescent microscopy demonstrated that WT RNase L, but not RNase L R667A, prevented formation of L1 cytoplasmic foci. Finally, siRNA-mediated depletion of endogenous RNase L in a human ovarian cancer cell line (Hey1b) increased the levels of L1 retrotransposition by ~2-fold. Together, these data suggest that RNase L might function as a suppressor of structurally distinct retrotransposons.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Single molecule analysis of Thermus thermophilus SSB protein dynamics on single-stranded DNA
    [Apr 2014]

    Single-stranded (ss) DNA binding (SSB) proteins play central roles in DNA replication, recombination and repair in all organisms. We previously showed that Escherichia coli (Eco) SSB, a homotetrameric bacterial SSB, undergoes not only rapid ssDNA-binding mode transitions but also one-dimensional diffusion (or migration) while remaining bound to ssDNA. Whereas the majority of bacterial SSB family members function as homotetramers, dimeric SSB proteins were recently discovered in a distinct bacterial lineage of extremophiles, the Thermus–Deinococcus group. Here we show, using single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), that homodimeric bacterial SSB from Thermus thermophilus (Tth) is able to diffuse spontaneously along ssDNA over a wide range of salt concentrations (20–500 mM NaCl), and that TthSSB diffusion can help transiently melt the DNA hairpin structures. Furthermore, we show that two TthSSB molecules undergo transitions among different DNA-binding modes while remaining bound to ssDNA. Our results extend our previous observations on homotetrameric SSBs to homodimeric SSBs, indicating that the dynamic features may be shared among different types of SSB proteins. These dynamic features of SSBs may facilitate SSB redistribution and removal on/from ssDNA, and help recruit other SSB-interacting proteins onto ssDNA for subsequent DNA processing in DNA replication, recombination and repair.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Substrate specificity of the MUS81-EME2 structure selective endonuclease
    [Apr 2014]

    MUS81 plays important cellular roles in the restart of stalled replication forks, the resolution of recombination intermediates and in telomere length maintenance. Although the actions of MUS81-EME1 have been extensively investigated, MUS81 is the catalytic subunit of two human structure-selective endonucleases, MUS81-EME1 and MUS81-EME2. Little is presently known about the activities of MUS81-EME2. Here, we have purified MUS81-EME2 and compared its activities with MUS81-EME1. We find that MUS81-EME2 is a more active endonuclease than MUS81-EME1 and exhibits broader substrate specificity. Like MUS81-EME1, MUS81-EME2 cleaves 3'-flaps, replication forks and nicked Holliday junctions, and exhibits limited endonuclease activity with intact Holliday junctions. In contrast to MUS81-EME1, however, MUS81-EME2 cuts D-loop recombination intermediates and in so doing disengages the D-loop structure by cleaving the 3'-invading strand. Additionally, MUS81-EME2 acts on 5'-flap structures to cleave off a duplex arm, in reactions that cannot be promoted by MUS81-EME1. These studies suggest that MUS81-EME1 and MUS81-EME2 exhibit similar and yet distinct DNA structure selectivity, indicating that the two MUS81 complexes may promote different nucleolytic cleavage reactions in vivo.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Active site plasticity enables metal-dependent tuning of Cas5d nuclease activity in CRISPR-Cas type I-C system
    [Apr 2014]

    Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat (CRISPR) in association with CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins constitutes a formidable defense system against mobile genetic elements in prokaryotes. In type I-C, the ribonucleoprotein surveillance complex comprises only three Cas proteins, namely, Cas5d, Csd1 and Csd2. Unlike type I-E that uses Cse3/CasE for metal-independent CRISPR RNA maturation, type I-C that lacks this deputes Cas5d to process the pre-crRNA. Here, we report the promiscuous DNase activity of Cas5d in presence of divalent metals. Remarkably, the active site that renders RNA hydrolysis may be tuned by metal to act on DNA substrates too. Further, the realization that Csd1 is a fusion of its functional homolog Cse1/CasA and Cse2/CasB forecasts that the stoichiometry of the constituents of the surveillance complex in type I-C may differ from type I-E. Although Csd2 seems to be inert, Csd1 too exhibits RNase and metal-dependent DNase activity. Thus, in addition to their proposed functions, the DNase activity of Cas5d and Csd1 may also enable them to be co-opted in adaptation and interference stages of CRISPR immunity wherein interaction with DNA substrates is involved.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • An arginine-aspartate network in the active site of bacterial TruB is critical for catalyzing pseudouridine formation
    [Apr 2014]

    Pseudouridine synthases introduce the most common RNA modification and likely use the same catalytic mechanism. Besides a catalytic aspartate residue, the contributions of other residues for catalysis of pseudouridine formation are poorly understood. Here, we have tested the role of a conserved basic residue in the active site for catalysis using the bacterial pseudouridine synthase TruB targeting U55 in tRNAs. Substitution of arginine 181 with lysine results in a 2500-fold reduction of TruB’s catalytic rate without affecting tRNA binding. Furthermore, we analyzed the function of a second-shell aspartate residue (D90) that is conserved in all TruB enzymes and interacts with C56 of tRNA. Site-directed mutagenesis, biochemical and kinetic studies reveal that this residue is not critical for substrate binding but influences catalysis significantly as replacement of D90 with glutamate or asparagine reduces the catalytic rate 30- and 50-fold, respectively. In agreement with molecular dynamics simulations of TruB wild type and TruB D90N, we propose an electrostatic network composed of the catalytic aspartate (D48), R181 and D90 that is important for catalysis by fine-tuning the D48-R181 interaction. Conserved, negatively charged residues similar to D90 are found in a number of pseudouridine synthases, suggesting that this might be a general mechanism.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • RecA-dependent programmable endonuclease Ref cleaves DNA in two distinct steps
    [Apr 2014]

    The bacteriophage P1 recombination enhancement function (Ref) protein is a RecA-dependent programmable endonuclease. Ref targets displacement loops formed when an oligonucleotide is bound by a RecA filament and invades homologous double-stranded DNA sequences. Mechanistic details of this reaction have been explored, revealing that (i) Ref is nickase, cleaving the two target strands of a displacement loop sequentially, (ii) the two strands are cleaved in a prescribed order, with the paired strand cut first and (iii) the two cleavage events have different requirements. Cutting the paired strand is rapid, does not require RecA-mediated ATP hydrolysis and is promoted even by Ref active site variant H153A. The displaced strand is cleaved much more slowly, requires RecA-mediated ATP hydrolysis and does not occur with Ref H153A. The two cleavage events are also affected differently by solution conditions. We postulate that the second cleavage (displaced strand) is limited by some activity of RecA protein.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A novel intermediate in transcription initiation by human mitochondrial RNA polymerase
    [Apr 2014]

    The mitochondrial genome is transcribed by a single-subunit T7 phage-like RNA polymerase (mtRNAP), structurally unrelated to cellular RNAPs. In higher eukaryotes, mtRNAP requires two transcription factors for efficient initiation—TFAM, a major nucleoid protein, and TFB2M, a transient component of mtRNAP catalytic site. The mechanisms behind assembly of the mitochondrial transcription machinery and its regulation are poorly understood. We isolated and identified a previously unknown human mitochondrial transcription intermediate—a pre-initiation complex that includes mtRNAP, TFAM and promoter DNA. Using protein–protein cross-linking, we demonstrate that human TFAM binds to the N-terminal domain of mtRNAP, which results in bending of the promoter DNA around mtRNAP. The subsequent recruitment of TFB2M induces promoter melting and formation of an open initiation complex. Our data indicate that the pre-initiation complex is likely to be an important target for transcription regulation and provide basis for further structural, biochemical and biophysical studies of mitochondrial transcription.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Binary recombinase systems for high-resolution conditional mutagenesis
    [Apr 2014]

    Conditional mutagenesis using Cre recombinase expressed from tissue specific promoters facilitates analyses of gene function and cell lineage tracing. Here, we describe two novel dual-promoter-driven conditional mutagenesis systems designed for greater accuracy and optimal efficiency of recombination. Co-Driver employs a recombinase cascade of Dre and Dre-respondent Cre, which processes loxP-flanked alleles only when both recombinases are expressed in a predetermined temporal sequence. This unique property makes Co-Driver ideal for sequential lineage tracing studies aimed at unraveling the relationships between cellular precursors and mature cell types. Co-InCre was designed for highly efficient intersectional conditional transgenesis. It relies on highly active trans-splicing inteins and promoters with simultaneous transcriptional activity to reconstitute Cre recombinase from two inactive precursor fragments. By generating native Cre, Co-InCre attains recombination rates that exceed all other binary SSR systems evaluated in this study. Both Co-Driver and Co-InCre significantly extend the utility of existing Cre-responsive alleles.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Cellular localization and dynamics of the Mrr type IV restriction endonuclease of Escherichia coli
    [Apr 2014]

    In this study, we examined the intracellular whereabouts of Mrr, a cryptic type IV restriction endonuclease of Escherichia coli K12, in response to different conditions. In absence of stimuli triggering its activity, Mrr was found to be strongly associated with the nucleoid as a number of discrete foci, suggesting the presence of Mrr hotspots on the chromosome. Previously established elicitors of Mrr activity, such as exposure to high (hydrostatic) pressure (HP) or expression of the HhaII methyltransferase, both caused nucleoid condensation and an unexpected coalescence of Mrr foci. However, although the resulting Mrr/nucleoid complex was stable when triggered with HhaII, it tended to be only short-lived when elicited with HP. Moreover, HP-mediated activation of Mrr typically led to cellular blebbing, suggesting a link between chromosome and cellular integrity. Interestingly, Mrr variants could be isolated that were specifically compromised in either HhaII- or HP-dependent activation, underscoring a mechanistic difference in the way both triggers activate Mrr. In general, our results reveal that Mrr can take part in complex spatial distributions on the nucleoid and can be engaged in distinct modes of activity.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Dicer-related helicase 3 forms an obligate dimer for recognizing 22G-RNA
    [Apr 2014]

    Dicer is a specialized nuclease that produces RNA molecules of specific lengths for use in gene silencing pathways. Dicer relies on the correct measurement of RNA target duplexes to generate products of specific lengths. It is thought that Dicer uses its multidomain architecture to calibrate RNA product length. However, this measurement model is derived from structural information from a protozoan Dicer, and does not account for the helicase domain present in higher organisms. The Caenorhabditis elegans Dicer-related helicase 3 (DRH-3) is an ortholog of the Dicer and RIG-I family of double-strand RNA activated ATPases essential for secondary siRNA production. We find that DRH-3 specifies 22 bp RNAs by dimerization of the helicase domain, a process mediated by ATPase activity and the N-terminal domain. This mechanism for RNA length discrimination by a Dicer family protein suggests an alternative model for RNA length measurement by Dicer, with implications for recognition of siRNA and miRNA targets.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A tRNA splicing operon: Archease endows RtcB with dual GTP/ATP cofactor specificity and accelerates RNA ligation
    [Apr 2014]

    Archease is a 16-kDa protein that is conserved in all three domains of life. In diverse bacteria and archaea, the genes encoding Archease and the tRNA ligase RtcB are localized into an operon. Here we provide a rationale for this operon organization by showing that Archease and RtcB from Pyrococcus horikoshii function in tandem, with Archease altering the catalytic properties of the RNA ligase. RtcB catalyzes the GTP and Mn(II)-dependent joining of either 2',3'-cyclic phosphate or 3'-phosphate termini to 5'-hydroxyl termini. We find that catalytic concentrations of Archease are sufficient to activate RtcB, and that Archease accelerates both the RNA 3'-P guanylylation and ligation steps. In addition, we show that Archease can alter the NTP specificity of RtcB such that ATP, dGTP or ITP is used efficiently. Moreover, RtcB variants that have inactivating substitutions in the guanine-binding pocket can be rescued by the addition of Archease. We also present a 1.4 Å-resolution crystal structure of P. horikoshii Archease that reveals a metal-binding site consisting of conserved carboxylates located at the protein tip. Substitution of the Archease metal-binding residues drastically reduced Archease-dependent activation of RtcB. Thus, evolution has sought to co-express archease and rtcB by creating a tRNA splicing operon.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Distinct tRNA recognition strategies used by a homologous family of editing domains prevent mistranslation
    [Apr 2014]

    Errors in protein synthesis due to mispairing of amino acids with tRNAs jeopardize cell viability. Several checkpoints to prevent formation of Ala- and Cys-tRNAPro have been described, including the Ala-specific editing domain (INS) of most bacterial prolyl-tRNA synthetases (ProRSs) and an autonomous single-domain INS homolog, YbaK, which clears Cys-tRNAPro in trans. In many species where ProRS lacks an INS domain, ProXp-ala, another single-domain INS-like protein, is responsible for editing Ala-tRNAPro. Although the amino acid specificity of these editing domains has been established, the role of tRNA sequence elements in substrate selection has not been investigated in detail. Critical recognition elements for aminoacylation by bacterial ProRS include acceptor stem elements G72/A73 and anticodon bases G35/G36. Here, we show that ProXp-ala and INS require these same acceptor stem and anticodon elements, respectively, whereas YbaK lacks inherent tRNA specificity. Thus, these three related domains use divergent approaches to recognize tRNAs and prevent mistranslation. Whereas some editing domains have borrowed aspects of tRNA recognition from the parent aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase, relaxed tRNA specificity leading to semi-promiscuous editing may offer advantages to cells.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Carbon source-dependent alteration of Puf3p activity mediates rapid changes in the stabilities of mRNAs involved in mitochondrial function
    [Apr 2014]

    The Puf family of RNA-binding proteins regulates gene expression primarily by interacting with the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of targeted mRNAs and inhibiting translation and/or stimulating decay. Physical association and computational analyses of yeast Puf3p identified >150 potential mRNA targets involved in mitochondrial function. However, only COX17 has been established as a target of Puf3p-mediated deadenylation and decapping. We have identified 10 new targets that are rapidly degraded in a Puf3p-dependent manner. We also observed changes in Puf3p activity in response to environmental conditions. Puf3p promotes rapid degradation of mRNA targets in the fermentable carbon source dextrose. However, Puf3p-mediated decay activity is inhibited in carbon sources that require mitochondrial function for efficient cell growth. In addition, the activity of Puf3p is rapidly altered by changing the carbon source. PUF3 expression is not decreased at the RNA or protein level by different carbon sources and localization is not significantly altered, suggesting that Puf3p activity is regulated posttranslationally. Finally, under conditions when Puf3p is unable to stimulate decay, Puf3p can still bind its target mRNAs. Together, these experiments provide insight into the carbon source-specific control of Puf3p activity and how such alterations allow Puf3p to dynamically regulate mitochondrial function.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Structure modulation of helix 69 from Escherichia coli 23S ribosomal RNA by pseudouridylations
    [Apr 2014]

    Helix 69 (H69) is a 19-nt stem-loop region from the large subunit ribosomal RNA. Three pseudouridine () modifications clustered in H69 are conserved across phylogeny and known to affect ribosome function. To explore the effects of on the conformations of Escherichia coli H69 in solution, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to reveal the structural differences between H69 with () and without (UUU) modifications. Comparison of the two structures shows that H69 has the following unique features: (i) the loop region is closed by a Watson–Crick base pair between 1911 and A1919, which is potentially reinforced by interactions involving 1911N1H and (ii) modifications at loop residues 1915 and 1917 promote base stacking from 1915 to A1918. In contrast, the H69 UUU loop region, which lacks modifications, is less organized. Structure modulation by leads to alteration in conformational behavior of the 5' half of the H69 loop region, observed as broadening of C1914 non-exchangeable base proton resonances in the H69 nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, and plays an important biological role in establishing the ribosomal intersubunit bridge B2a and mediating translational fidelity.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Converging pathways involving microRNA-206 and the RNA-binding protein KSRP control post-transcriptionally utrophin A expression in skeletal muscle
    [Apr 2014]

    Several reports have previously highlighted the potential role of miR-206 in the post-transcriptional downregulation of utrophin A in cultured cells. Along those lines, we recently identified K-homology splicing regulator protein (KSRP) as an important negative regulator in the post-transcriptional control of utrophin A in skeletal muscle. We sought to determine whether these two pathways act together to downregulate utrophin A expression in skeletal muscle. Surprisingly, we discovered that miR-206 overexpression in cultured cells and dystrophic muscle fibers causes upregulation of endogenous utrophin A levels. We further show that this upregulation of utrophin A results from the binding of miR-206 to conserved sites located in the 3'-UTR (untranslated region) of KSRP, thus causing the subsequent inhibition of KSRP expression. This miR-206-mediated decrease in KSRP levels leads, in turn, to an increase in the expression of utrophin A due to a reduction in the activity of this destabilizing RNA-binding protein. Our work shows that miR-206 can oscillate between direct repression of utrophin A expression via its 3'-UTR and activation of its expression through decreased availability of KSRP and interactions with AU-rich elements located within the 3'-UTR of utrophin A. Our study thus reveals that two apparent negative post-transcriptional pathways can act distinctively as molecular switches causing repression or activation of utrophin A expression.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • p54nrb/NonO and PSF promote U snRNA nuclear export by accelerating its export complex assembly
    [Apr 2014]

    The assembly of spliceosomal U snRNPs in metazoans requires nuclear export of U snRNA precursors. Four factors, nuclear cap-binding complex (CBC), phosphorylated adaptor for RNA export (PHAX), the export receptor CRM1 and RanGTP, gather at the m7G-cap-proximal region and form the U snRNA export complex. Here we show that the multifunctional RNA-binding proteins p54nrb/NonO and PSF are U snRNA export stimulatory factors. These proteins, likely as a heterodimer, accelerate the recruitment of PHAX, and subsequently CRM1 and Ran onto the RNA substrates in vitro, which mediates efficient U snRNA export in vivo. Our results reveal a new layer of regulation for U snRNA export and, hence, spliceosomal U snRNP biogenesis.

    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Incorporation of thio-pseudoisocytosine into triplex-forming peptide nucleic acids for enhanced recognition of RNA duplexes
    [Apr 2014]

    Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) have been developed for applications in biotechnology and therapeutics. There is great potential in the development of chemically modified PNAs or other triplex-forming ligands that selectively bind to RNA duplexes, but not single-stranded regions, at near-physiological conditions. Here, we report on a convenient synthesis route to a modified PNA monomer, thio-pseudoisocytosine (L), and binding studies of PNAs incorporating the monomer L. Thermal melting and gel electrophoresis studies reveal that L-incorporated 8-mer PNAs have superior affinity and specificity in recognizing the duplex region of a model RNA hairpin to form a pyrimidine motif major-groove RNA2–PNA triplex, without appreciable binding to single-stranded regions to form an RNA–PNA duplex or, via strand invasion, forming an RNA–PNA2 triplex at near-physiological buffer condition. In addition, an L-incorporated 8-mer PNA shows essentially no binding to single-stranded or double-stranded DNA. Furthermore, an L-modified 6-mer PNA, but not pseudoisocytosine (J) modified or unmodified PNA, binds to the HIV-1 programmed –1 ribosomal frameshift stimulatory RNA hairpin at near-physiological buffer conditions. The stabilization of an RNA2–PNA triplex by L modification is facilitated by enhanced van der Waals contacts, base stacking, hydrogen bonding and reduced dehydration energy. The destabilization of RNA–PNA and DNA–PNA duplexes by L modification is due to the steric clash and loss of two hydrogen bonds in a Watson–Crick-like G–L pair. An RNA2–PNA triplex is significantly more stable than a DNA2–PNA triplex, probably because the RNA duplex major groove provides geometry compatibility and favorable backbone–backbone interactions with PNA. Thus, L-modified triplex-forming PNAs may be utilized for sequence-specifically targeting duplex regions in RNAs for biological and therapeutic applications.

    Categories: Journal Articles