Skip Navigation

NAR Top Articles - Molecular Biology

Molecular Biology

View all categories

October 2015

Programmable repression and activation of bacterial gene expression using an engineered CRISPR-Cas system
Bikard, D; Jiang, WY; Samai, P; Hochschild, A; Zhang, F; Marraffini, LA
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41, 7429-7437
Free Full Text
The ability to artificially control transcription is essential both to the study of gene function and to the construction of synthetic gene networks with desired properties. Cas9 is an RNA-guided double-stranded DNA nuclease that participates in the CRISPR-Cas immune defense against prokaryotic viruses. We describe the use of a Cas9 nuclease mutant that retains DNA-binding activity and can be engineered as a programmable transcription repressor by preventing the binding of the RNA polymerase (RNAP) to promoter sequences or as a transcription terminator by blocking the running RNAP. In addition, a fusion between the omega subunit of the RNAP and a Cas9 nuclease mutant directed to bind upstream promoter regions can achieve programmable transcription activation. The simple and efficient modulation of gene expression achieved by this technology is a useful asset for the study of gene networks and for the development of synthetic biology and biotechnological applications.

Rolling circle replication requires single-stranded DNA binding protein to avoid termination and production of double-stranded DNA
Ducani, C; Bernardinelli, G; Hogberg, B
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 10596-10604
Free Full Text
In rolling circle replication, a circular template of DNA is replicated as a long single-stranded DNA concatamer that spools off when a strand displacing polymerase traverses the circular template. The current view is that this type of replication can only produce single-stranded DNA, because the only 3'-ends available are the ones being replicated along the circular templates. In contrast to this view, we find that rolling circle replication in vitro generates large amounts of double stranded DNA and that the production of single-stranded DNA terminates after some time. These properties can be suppressed by adding single-stranded DNA-binding proteins to the reaction. We conclude that amodel in which the polymerase switches templates to the already produced single-stranded DNA, with an exponential distribution of template switching, can explain the observed data. From this, we also provide an estimate value of the switching rate constant.

Detection and characterization of spacer integration intermediates in type I-E CRISPR-Cas system
Arslan, Z; Hermanns, V; Wurm, R; Wagner, R; Pul, U
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 7884-7893
Free Full Text
The adaptation against foreign nucleic acids by the CRISPR-Cas system (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and CRISPR-associated proteins) depends on the insertion of foreign nucleic acid-derived sequences into the CRISPR array as novel spacers by still unknown mechanism. We identified and characterized in Escherichia coli intermediate states of spacer integration and mapped the integration site at the chromosomal CRISPR array in vivo. The results show that the insertion of new spacers occurs by site-specific nicking at both strands of the leader proximal repeat in a staggered way and is accompanied by joining of the resulting 5 '-ends of the repeat strands with the 3 '-ends of the incoming spacer. This concerted cleavage-ligation reaction depends on the metal-binding center of Cas1 protein and requires the presence of Cas2. By acquisition assays using plasmid-located CRISPR array with mutated repeat sequences, we demonstrate that the primary sequence of the first repeat is crucial for cleavage of the CRISPR array and the ligation of new spacer DNA.

LncRNA loc285194 is a p53-regulated tumor suppressor
Liu, Q; Huang, JG; Zhou, NJ; Zhang, ZQ; Zhang, AL; Lu, ZH; Wu, FT; Mo, YY
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41, 4976-4987
Free Full Text
Protein-coding genes account for only a small part of the human genome, whereas the vast majority of transcripts make up the non-coding RNAs including long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Accumulating evidence indicates that lncRNAs could play a critical role in regulation of cellular processes such as cell growth and apoptosis as well as cancer progression and metastasis. LncRNA loc285194 was previously shown to be within a tumor suppressor unit in osteosarcoma and to suppress tumor cell growth. However, it is unknown regarding the regulation of loc285194. Moreover, the underlying mechanism by which loc285194 functions as a potential tumor suppressor is elusive. In this study, we show that loc285194 is a p53 transcription target; ectopic expression of loc285194 inhibits tumor cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Through deletion analysis, we identify an active region responsible for tumor cell growth inhibition within exon 4, which harbors two miR-211 binding sites. Importantly, this loc285194-mediated growth inhibition is in part due to specific suppression of miR-211. We further demonstrate a reciprocal repression between loc285194 and miR-211; in contrast to loc285194, miR-211 promotes cell growth...

Distinct functions of the RNA polymerase σ subunit region 3.2 in RNA priming and promoter escape
Pupov, D; Kuzin, I; Bass, I; Kulbachinskiy, A
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 4494-4504
Free Full Text
The Sigma subunit of bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) has been implicated in all steps of transcription initiation, including promoter recognition and opening, priming of RNA synthesis, abortive initiation and promoter escape. The post-promoter-recognition Sigma functions were proposed to depend on its conserved region Sigma 3.2 that directly contacts promoter DNA immediately upstream of the RNAP active centre and occupies the RNA exit path. Analysis of the transcription effects of substitutions and deletions in this region in Escherichia coli Sigma(70) subunit, performed in this work, suggests that (i) individual residues in the Sigma 3.2 finger collectively contribute to RNA priming by RNAP, likely by the positioning of the template DNA strand in the active centre, but are not critical to promoter escape; (ii) the physical presence of Sigma 3.2 in the RNA exit channel is important for promoter escape; (iii) Sigma 3.2 promotes Sigma dissociation during initiation and suppresses Sigma-dependent promoter-proximal pausing; (iv) Sigma 3.2 contributes to allosteric inhibition of the initiating NTP binding by rifamycins...

MiR-138 downregulates miRNA processing in HeLa cells by targeting RMND5A and decreasing Exportin-5 stability
Li, J; Chen, Y; Qin, XL; Wen, JZ; Ding, HM; Xia, W; Li, SH; Su, XT; Wang, W; Li, H; Zhao, Q; Fang, T; Qu, LH; Shao, NS
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 458-474
Free Full Text
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-coding small RNAs that consist of similar to 22 nt and are involved in several biological processes by regulating target gene expression. MiR-138 has many biological functions and is often downregulated in cancers. Our results showed that overexpression of miR-138 downregulated target RMND5A (required for meiotic nuclear division 5 homolog A) and reduced Exportin-5 stability, which results in decreased levels of pre-miRNA nuclear export in HeLa cells. We also found that miR-138 could significantly inhibit HeLa cell migration by targeting RMND5A. Our study therefore identifies miR-138-RMND5A-Exportin-5 as a previously unknown miRNA processing regulatory pathway in HeLa cells.

Insulin-like growth factor-1 prevents miR-122 production in neighbouring cells to curtail its intercellular transfer to ensure proliferation of human hepatoma cells
Basu, S; Bhattacharyya, SN
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 7170-7185
Free Full Text
miRNAs are 20-22 nt long post-transcriptional regulators in metazoan cells that repress protein expression from their target mRNAs. These tiny regulatory RNAs follow tissue and cell-type specific expression pattern, aberrations of which are associated with various diseases. miR-122 is a liver-specific anti-proliferative miRNA that, we found, can be transferred via exosomes between human hepatoma cells, Huh7 and HepG2, grown in co-culture. Exosomal miR-122, expressed and released by Huh7 cells and taken by miR-122 deficient HepG2 cells, was found to be effective in repression of target mRNAs and to reduce growth and proliferation of recipient HepG2 cells. Interestingly, in a reciprocal process, HepG2 secretes Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF1) that decreases miR-122 expression in Huh7 cells. Our observations suggest existence of a reciprocal interaction between two different hepatic cells with distinct miR-122 expression profiles. This interaction is mediated via intercellular exosome-mediated miR-122 transfer and countered by a reciprocal IGF1-dependent anti-miR-122 signal...

The H19/let-7 double-negative feedback loop contributes to glucose metabolism in muscle cells
Gao, Y; Wu, FJ; Zhou, JC; Yan, L; Jurczak, MJ; Lee, HY; Yang, LH; Mueller, M; Zhou, XB; Dandolo, L; Szendroedi, J; Roden, M; Flannery, C; Taylor, H; Carmichael, GG; Shulman, GI; Huang, YQ
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 13799-13811
Free Full Text
The H19 lncRNA has been implicated in development and growth control and is associated with human genetic disorders and cancer. Acting as a molecular sponge, H19 inhibits microRNA (miRNA) let-7. Here we report that H19 is significantly decreased in muscle of human subjects with type-2 diabetes and insulin resistant rodents. This decrease leads to increased bioavailability of let-7, causing diminished expression of let-7 targets, which is recapitulated in vitro where H19 depletion results in impaired insulin signaling and decreased glucose uptake. Furthermore, acute hyperinsulinemia down-regulates H19, a phenomenon that occurs through PI3K/AKT-dependent phosphorylation of the miRNA processing factor KSRP, which promotes biogenesis of let-7 and its mediated H19 destabilization. Our results reveal a previously undescribed double-negative feedback loop between sponge lncRNA and target miRNA that contributes to glucose regulation in muscle cells.

Landscape of target:guide homology effects on Cas9-mediated cleavage
Fu, BXH; Hansen, LL; Artiles, KL; Nonet, ML; Fire, AZ
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 13778-13787
Free Full Text
To study target sequence specificity, selectivity, and reaction kinetics of Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 activity, we challenged libraries of random variant targets with purified Cas9:: guide RNA complexes in vitro. Cleavage kinetics were nonlinear, with a burst of initial activity followed by slower sustained cleavage. Consistent with other recent analyses of Cas9 sequence specificity, we observe considerable (albeit incomplete) impairment of cleavage for targets mutated in the PAM sequence or in 'seed' sequences matching the proximal 8 bp of the guide. A second target region requiring close homology was located at the other end of the guide:: target duplex (positions 13-18 relative to the PAM). Sequences flanking the guide+PAM region had measurable (albeit modest) effects on cleavage. In addition, the first-base Guanine constraint commonly imposed by gRNA expression systems has little effect on overall cleavage efficiency. Taken together, these studies provide an in vitro understanding of the complexities of Cas9-gRNA interaction and cleavage beyond the general paradigm of site determination based on the 'seed' sequence and PAM.

Cell cycle-dependent regulation of the RNA-binding protein Staufen1
Boulay, K; Ghram, M; Viranaicken, W; Trepanier, V; Mollet, S; Frechina, C; DesGroseillers, L
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 7867-7883
Free Full Text
Staufen1 (Stau1) is a ribonucleic acid (RNA)-binding protein involved in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Recent studies indicate that Stau1-bound messenger RNAs (mRNAs) mainly code for proteins involved in transcription and cell cycle control. Consistently, we report here that Stau1 abundance fluctuates through the cell cycle in HCT116 and U2OS cells: it is high from the S phase to the onset of mitosis and rapidly decreases as cells transit through mitosis. Stau1 down-regulation is mediated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system and the E3 ubiquitin ligase anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C). Stau1 interacts with the APC/C co-activators Cdh1 and Cdc20 via its first 88 N-terminal amino acids. The importance of controlling Stau1(55) levels is underscored by the observation that its overexpression affects mitosis entry and impairs proliferation of transformed cells. Microarray analyses identified 275 Stau1(55)-bound mRNAs in prometaphase cells, an early mitotic step that just precedes Stau1 degradation...

Back to the top

Impact factor: 9.112

5-Yr impact factor: 8.867

Senior Executive Editors

Keith Fox, Southampton, UK
Barry Stoddard, Seattle, WA, USA

For Authors

Open Access Options for Authors

Open access options for authors

PMC LogoRCUK Wellcome

Looking for your next opportunity?

Looking for jobs...