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NAR Top Articles - Nucleic Acid Enzymes

Nucleic Acid Enzymes

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July 2015

Phylogeny of Cas9 determines functional exchangeability of dual-RNA and Cas9 among orthologous type II CRISPR-Cas systems
Fonfara, I; Le Rhun, A; Chylinski, K; Makarova, KS; Lecrivain, AL; Bzdrenga, J; Koonin, EV; Charpentier, E
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 2577-2590
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The CRISPR-Cas-derived RNA-guided Cas9 endonuclease is the key element of an emerging promising technology for genome engineering in a broad range of cells and organisms. The DNA-targeting mechanism of the type II CRISPR-Cas system involves maturation of tracrRNA: crRNA duplex (dual-RNA), which directs Cas9 to cleave invading DNA in a sequence-specific manner, dependent on the presence of a Protospacer Adjacent Motif (PAM) on the target. We show that evolution of dual-RNA and Cas9 in bacteria produced remarkable sequence diversity. We selected eight representatives of phylogenetically defined type II CRISPR-Cas groups to analyze possible coevolution of Cas9 and dual-RNA. We demonstrate that these two components are interchangeable only between closely related type II systems when the PAM sequence is adjusted to the investigated Cas9 protein. Comparison of the taxonomy of bacterial species that harbor type II CRISPR-Cas systems with the Cas9 phylogeny corroborates horizontal transfer of the CRISPR-Cas loci...

Binary recombinase systems for high-resolution conditional mutagenesis
Hermann, M; Stillhard, P; Wildner, H; Seruggia, D; Kapp, V; Sanchez-Iranzo, H; Mercader, N; Montoliu, L; Zeilhofer, HU; Pelczar, P
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 3894-3907
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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.

The interplay of restriction-modification systems with mobile genetic elements and their prokaryotic hosts
Oliveira, PH; Touchon, M; Rocha, EPC
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 10618-10631
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The roles of restriction-modification (R-M) systems in providing immunity against horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and in stabilizing mobile genetic elements (MGEs) have been much debated. However, few studies have precisely addressed the distribution of these systems in light of HGT, its mechanisms and its vectors. We analyzed the distribution of R-M systems in 2261 prokaryote genomes and found their frequency to be strongly dependent on the presence of MGEs, CRISPR-Cas systems, integrons and natural transformation. Yet R-M systems are rare in plasmids, in prophages and nearly absent from other phages. Their abundance depends on genome size for small genomes where it relates with HGT but saturates at two occurrences per genome. Chromosomal R-M systems might evolve under cycles of purifying and relaxed selection, where sequence conservation depends on the biochemical activity and complexity of the system and total gene loss is frequent. Surprisingly, analysis of 43 pan-genomes suggests that solitary R-M genes rarely arise from the degradation of R-M systems. Solitary genes are transferred by large MGEs, whereas complete systems are more frequently transferred autonomously or in small MGEs...

Efficient DNA ligation in DNA-RNA hybrid helices by Chlorella virus DNA ligase
Lohman, GJS; Zhang, YH; Zhelkovsky, AM; Cantor, EJ; Evans, TC
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 1831-1844
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Single-stranded DNA molecules (ssDNA) annealed to an RNA splint are notoriously poor substrates for DNA ligases. Herein we report the unexpectedly efficient ligation of RNA-splinted DNA by Chlorella virus DNA ligase (PBCV-1 DNA ligase). PBCV-1 DNA ligase ligated ssDNA splinted by RNA with k(cat) approximate to 8 x 10(-3) s(-1) and K-M < 1 nM at 25 degrees C under conditions where T4 DNA ligase produced only 5'-adenylylated DNA with a 20-fold lower k(cat) and a K-M approximate to 300 nM. The rate of ligation increased with addition of Mn2+, but was strongly inhibited by concentrations of NaCl > 100mM. Abortive adenylylation was suppressed at low ATP concentrations (<100 mu M) and pH >8, leading to increased product yields. The ligation reaction was rapid for a broad range of substrate sequences, but was relatively slower for substrates with a 5'-phosphorylated dC or dG residue on the 3' side of the ligation junction. Nevertheless, PBCV-1 DNA ligase ligated all sequences tested with 10-fold less enzyme and 15-fold shorter incubation times than required when using T4 DNA ligase...

Direct assessment of transcription fidelity by high-resolution RNA sequencing
Imashimizu, M; Oshima, T; Lubkowska, L; Kashlev, M
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41, 9090-9104
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Cancerous and aging cells have long been thought to be impacted by transcription errors that cause genetic and epigenetic changes. Until now, a lack of methodology for directly assessing such errors hindered evaluation of their impact to the cells. We report a high-resolution Illumina RNA-seq method that can assess noncoded base substitutions in mRNA at 10(-4)-10(-5) per base frequencies in vitro and in vivo. Statistically reliable detection of changes in transcription fidelity through similar to 10(3) nt DNA sites assures that the RNA-seq can analyze the fidelity in a large number of the sites where errors occur. A combination of the RNA-seq and biochemical analyses of the positions for the errors revealed two sequence-specific mechanisms that increase transcription fidelity by Escherichia coli RNA polymerase: (i) enhanced suppression of nucleotide misincorporation that improves selectivity for the cognate substrate, and (ii) increased backtracking of the RNA polymerase that decreases a chance of error propagation to the full-length transcript after misincorporation and provides an opportunity to proofread the error. This method is adoptable to a genome-wide assessment of transcription fidelity.

The E3 ubiquitin ligase UBE3A is an integral component of the molecular circadian clock through regulating the BMAL1 transcription factor
Gossan, NC; Zhang, F; Guo, BQ; Jin, D; Yoshitane, H; Yao, AY; Glossop, N; Zhang, YQ; Fukada, Y; Meng, QJ
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 5765-5775
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Post-translational modifications (such as ubiquitination) of clock proteins are critical in maintaining the precision and robustness of the evolutionarily conserved circadian clock. Ubiquitination of the core clock transcription factor BMAL1 (brain and muscle Arnt-like 1) has recently been reported. However, it remains unknown whether BMAL1 ubiquitination affects circadian pacemaking and what ubiquitin ligase(s) is involved. Here, we show that activating UBE3A (by expressing viral oncogenes E6/E7) disrupts circadian oscillations in mouse embryonic fibroblasts, measured using PER2::Luc dynamics, and rhythms in endogenous messenger ribonucleic acid and protein levels of BMAL1. Over-expression of E6/E7 reduced the level of BMAL1, increasing its ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. UBE3A could bind to and degrade BMAL1 in a ubiquitin ligase-dependent manner. This occurred both in the presence and absence of E6/E7...

megaTALs: a rare-cleaving nuclease architecture for therapeutic genome engineering
Boissel, S; Jarjour, J; Astrakhan, A; Adey, A; Gouble, A; Duchateau, P; Shendure, J; Stoddard, BL; Certo, MT; Baker, D; Scharenberg, AM
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 2591-2601
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Rare-cleaving endonucleases have emerged as important tools for making targeted genome modifications. While multiple platforms are now available to generate reagents for research applications, each existing platform has significant limitations in one or more of three key properties necessary for therapeutic application: efficiency of cleavage at the desired target site, specificity of cleavage (i.e. rate of cleavage at 'off-target' sites), and efficient/facile means for delivery to desired target cells. Here, we describe the development of a single-chain rare-cleaving nuclease architecture, which we designate 'megaTAL', in which the DNA binding region of a transcription activator-like (TAL) effector is used to 'address' a site-specific meganuclease adjacent to a single desired genomic target site. This architecture allows the generation of extremely active and hyper-specific compact nucleases that are compatible with all current viral and nonviral cell delivery methods.

eIF4B, eIF4G and RNA regulate eIF4A activity in translation initiation by modulating the eIF4A conformational cycle
Harms, U; Andreou, AZ; Gubaev, A; Klostermeier, D
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 7911-7922
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Eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4A is a DEAD-box helicase that resolves secondary structure elements in the 5 '-UTR of mRNAs during ribosome scanning. Its RNA-stimulated ATPase and ATP-dependent helicase activities are enhanced by other translation initiation factors, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. DEAD-box proteins alternate between open and closed conformations during RNA unwinding. The transition to the closed conformation is linked to duplex destabilization. eIF4A is a special DEAD-box protein that can adopt three different conformations, an open state in the absence of ligands, a half-open state stabilized by the translation initiation factor eIF4G and a closed state in the presence of eIF4G and eIF4B. We show here that eIF4A alone does not measurably sample the closed conformation. The translation initiation factors eIF4B and eIF4G accelerate the eIF4A conformational cycle. eIF4G increases the rate of closing more than the opening rate, and eIF4B selectively increases the closing rate. Strikingly, the rate constants and the effect of eIF4B are different for different RNAs, and are related to the presence of single-stranded regions...

The methyltransferase domain of dengue virus protein NS5 ensures efficient RNA synthesis initiation and elongation by the polymerase domain
Potisopon, S; Priet, S; Collet, A; Decroly, E; Canard, B; Selisko, B
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 11642-11656
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Viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRps) responsible for the replication of single-strand RNA virus genomes exert their function in the context of complex replication machineries. Within these replication complexes the polymerase activity is often highly regulated by RNA elements, proteins or other domains of multi-domain polymerases. Here, we present data of the influence of the methyltransferase domain (NS5-MTase) of dengue virus (DENV) protein NS5 on the RdRp activity of the polymerase domain (NS5-Pol). The steady-state polymerase activities of DENV-2 recombinant NS5 and NS5-Pol are compared using different biochemical assays allowing the dissection of the de novo initiation, transition and elongation steps of RNA synthesis. We show that NS5-MTase ensures efficient RdRp activity by stimulating the de novo initiation and the elongation phase. This stimulation is related to a higher affinity of NS5 toward the single-strand RNA template indicating NS5-MTase either completes a high-affinity RNA binding site and/or promotes the correct formation of the template tunnel...

Unique subunit packing in mycobacterial nanoRNase leads to alternate substrate recognitions in DHH phosphodiesterases
Srivastav, R; Kumar, D; Grover, A; Singh, A; Manjasetty, BA; Sharma, R; Taneja, B
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014, 42, 7894-7910
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DHH superfamily includes RecJ, nanoRNases (NrnA), cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases and pyrophosphatases. In this study, we have carried out in vitro and in vivo investigations on the bifunctional NrnA-homolog from Mycobacterium smegmatis, MSMEG_2630. The crystal structure of MSMEG_2630 was determined to 2.2-angstrom resolution and reveals a dimer consisting of two identical subunits with each subunit folding into an N-terminal DHH domain and a C-terminal DHHA1 domain. The overall structure and fold of the individual domains is similar to other members of DHH superfamily. However, MSMEG_2630 exhibits a distinct quaternary structure in contrast to other DHH phosphodiesterases. This novel mode of subunit packing and variations in the linker region that enlarge the domain interface are responsible for alternate recognitions of substrates in the bifunctional nanoRNases. MSMEG_2630 exhibits bifunctional 3 '-5 ' exonuclease [on both deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) substrates] as well as CysQ-like phosphatase activity (on pAp) in vitro with a preference for nanoRNA substrates over single-stranded DNA...

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