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1.  A recessive genetic screen for host factors required for retroviral infection in a library of insertionally mutated Blm-deficient embryonic stem cells 
Genome Biology  2007;8(4):R48.
A recessive genetic screen of an insertionally mutated Blm-/- ES cell library identifies host factors required for retroviral infection, and confirms that mCat-1 is the ecotropic murine leukaemia virus receptor in ES cells.
Background
Host factors required for retroviral infection are potential targets for the modulation of diseases caused by retroviruses. During the retroviral life cycle, numerous cellular factors interact with the virus and play an essential role in infection. Cultured embryonic stem (ES) cells are susceptible to retroviral infection, therefore providing access to all of the genes required for this process to take place. In order to identify the host factors involved in retroviral infection, we designed and implemented a scheme for identifying ES cells that are resistant to retroviral infection and subsequent cloning of the mutated gene.
Results
A library of mutant ES cells was established by genome-wide insertional mutagenesis in Blm-deficient ES cells, and a screen was performed by superinfection of the library at high multiplicity with a recombinant retrovirus carrying a positive and negative selection cassette. Stringent negative selection was then used to exclude the infected ES cells. We successfully recovered five independent clones of ES cells that are resistant to retroviral infection. Analysis of the mutations in these clones revealed four different homozygous and one compound heterozygous mutation in the mCat-1 locus, which confirms that mCat-1 is the ecotropic murine leukemia virus receptor in ES cells.
Conclusion
We have demonstrated the feasibility and reliability of this recessive genetic approach to identifying critical genes required for retroviral infection in ES cells; the approach provides a unique opportunity to recover other cellular factors required for retroviral infection. The resulting insertionally mutated Blm-deficient ES cell library might also provide access to essential host cell components that are required for infection and replication for other types of virus.
doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-4-r48
PMCID: PMC1895998  PMID: 17407599
2.  RTCGD: retroviral tagged cancer gene database 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(Database issue):D523-D527.
Retroviral insertional mutagenesis in mouse hematopoietic tumors provides a potent cancer gene discovery tool in the post-genome-sequence era. To manage multiple high-throughput insertional mutagenesis screening projects, we developed the Retroviral Tagged Cancer Gene Database (RTCGD; http://RTCGD.ncifcrf.gov). A sequence analysis pipeline determines the genomic position of each retroviral integration site cloned from a mouse tumor, the distance between it and the nearest candidate disease gene(s) and its orientation with respect to the candidate gene(s). The pipeline also identifies genomic regions that are targets of retroviral integration in more than one tumor (common integration sites, CISs) and are thus likely to encode a disease gene. Users can search the database using a specified gene symbol, chromosome number or tumor model to identify both CIS genes and unique viral integration sites or compare the integration sites cloned by different laboratories using different models. As a default setting, users first review the CIS Lists and then Clone Lists. CIS Lists describe CISs and their candidate disease genes along with links to other public databases and clone lists. Clone Lists describe the viral integration site clones along with the tumor model and tumor type from which they were cloned, candidate disease gene(s), genomic position and orientation of the integrated provirus with respect to the candidate gene(s). It also provides a pictorial view of the genomic location of each integration site relative to neighboring genes and markers. Researchers can identify integrations of interest and compare their results with those for multiple tumor models and tumor types using RTCGD.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkh013
PMCID: PMC308748  PMID: 14681473
3.  Common Sites of Retroviral Integration in Mouse Hematopoietic Tumors Identified by High-Throughput, Single Nucleotide Polymorphism-Based Mapping and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome Hybridization 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(2):1584-1588.
Retroviral insertional mutagenesis in mouse hematopoietic tumors provides a powerful cancer gene discovery tool. Here, we describe a high-throughput, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based method, for mapping retroviral integration sites cloned from mouse tumors, and a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) hybridization method, for localizing these retroviral integration sites to common sites of retroviral integration (CISs). Several new CISs were identified, including one CIS that mapped near Notch1, a gene that has been causally associated with human T-cell tumors. This mapping method is applicable to many different species, including ones where few genetic markers and little genomic sequence information are available. It can also be used to map endogenous proviruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.77.2.1584-1588.2003
PMCID: PMC140841  PMID: 12502872
4.  TILLING - a shortcut in functional genomics 
Journal of Applied Genetics  2011;52(4):371-390.
Recent advances in large-scale genome sequencing projects have opened up new possibilities for the application of conventional mutation techniques in not only forward but also reverse genetics strategies. TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) was developed a decade ago as an alternative to insertional mutagenesis. It takes advantage of classical mutagenesis, sequence availability and high-throughput screening for nucleotide polymorphisms in a targeted sequence. The main advantage of TILLING as a reverse genetics strategy is that it can be applied to any species, regardless of its genome size and ploidy level. The TILLING protocol provides a high frequency of point mutations distributed randomly in the genome. The great mutagenic potential of chemical agents to generate a high rate of nucleotide substitutions has been proven by the high density of mutations reported for TILLING populations in various plant species. For most of them, the analysis of several genes revealed 1 mutation/200–500 kb screened and much higher densities were observed for polyploid species, such as wheat. High-throughput TILLING permits the rapid and low-cost discovery of new alleles that are induced in plants. Several research centres have established a TILLING public service for various plant species. The recent trends in TILLING procedures rely on the diversification of bioinformatic tools, new methods of mutation detection, including mismatch-specific and sensitive endonucleases, but also various alternatives for LI-COR screening and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery using next-generation sequencing technologies. The TILLING strategy has found numerous applications in functional genomics. Additionally, wide applications of this throughput method in basic and applied research have already been implemented through modifications of the original TILLING strategy, such as Ecotilling or Deletion TILLING.
doi:10.1007/s13353-011-0061-1
PMCID: PMC3189332  PMID: 21912935
TILLING platform; Plant mutagenesis; Bioinformatic tools; Reverse genetics; Next-generation sequencing technologies
5.  Identification of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Engraftment Genes in Gene Therapy Studies 
Journal of stem cell research & therapy  2013;2013(Suppl 3):10.4172/2157-7633.S3-004.
Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) therapy using replication-incompetent retroviral vectors is a promising approach to provide life-long correction for genetic defects. HSC gene therapy clinical studies have resulted in functional cures for several diseases, but in some studies clonal expansion or leukemia has occurred. This is due to the dyregulation of endogenous host gene expression from vector provirus insertional mutagenesis. Insertional mutagenesis screens using replicating retroviruses have been used extensively to identify genes that influence oncogenesis. However, retroviral mutagenesis screens can also be used to determine the role of genes in biological processes such as stem cell engraftment. The aim of this review is to describe the potential for vector insertion site data from gene therapy studies to provide novel insights into mechanisms of HSC engraftment. In HSC gene therapy studies dysregulation of host genes by replication-incompetent vector proviruses may lead to enrichment of repopulating clones with vector integrants near genes that influence engraftment. Thus, data from HSC gene therapy studies can be used to identify novel candidate engraftment genes. As HSC gene therapy use continues to expand, the vector insertion site data collected will be of great interest to help identify novel engraftment genes and may ultimately lead to new therapies to improve engraftment.
doi:10.4172/2157-7633.S3-004
PMCID: PMC3875223  PMID: 24383045
Engraftment; Gene therapy; Hematopoietic stem cell; Viral vector; Insertional mutagenesis
6.  Detecting Statistically Significant Common Insertion Sites in Retroviral Insertional Mutagenesis Screens 
PLoS Computational Biology  2006;2(12):e166.
Retroviral insertional mutagenesis screens, which identify genes involved in tumor development in mice, have yielded a substantial number of retroviral integration sites, and this number is expected to grow substantially due to the introduction of high-throughput screening techniques. The data of various retroviral insertional mutagenesis screens are compiled in the publicly available Retroviral Tagged Cancer Gene Database (RTCGD). Integrally analyzing these screens for the presence of common insertion sites (CISs, i.e., regions in the genome that have been hit by viral insertions in multiple independent tumors significantly more than expected by chance) requires an approach that corrects for the increased probability of finding false CISs as the amount of available data increases. Moreover, significance estimates of CISs should be established taking into account both the noise, arising from the random nature of the insertion process, as well as the bias, stemming from preferential insertion sites present in the genome and the data retrieval methodology. We introduce a framework, the kernel convolution (KC) framework, to find CISs in a noisy and biased environment using a predefined significance level while controlling the family-wise error (FWE) (the probability of detecting false CISs). Where previous methods use one, two, or three predetermined fixed scales, our method is capable of operating at any biologically relevant scale. This creates the possibility to analyze the CISs in a scale space by varying the width of the CISs, providing new insights in the behavior of CISs across multiple scales. Our method also features the possibility of including models for background bias. Using simulated data, we evaluate the KC framework using three kernel functions, the Gaussian, triangular, and rectangular kernel function. We applied the Gaussian KC to the data from the combined set of screens in the RTCGD and found that 53% of the CISs do not reach the significance threshold in this combined setting. Still, with the FWE under control, application of our method resulted in the discovery of eight novel CISs, which each have a probability less than 5% of being false detections.
Synopsis
A potent method for the identification of novel cancer genes is retroviral insertional mutagenesis. Mice infected with slow transforming retroviruses develop tumors because the virus inserts randomly in their genome and mutates cancer genes. The regions in the genome that are mutated in multiple independent tumors are likely to contain genes involved in tumorigenesis. As the size of these datasets increases, conventional methods to detect these so-called common insertion sites (CISs) no longer suffice, and an approach is required that can control the error independent of the dataset size. The authors introduce a framework that uses a technique called kernel density estimation to find the regions in the genome that show a significant increase in insertion density. This method is implemented over a range of scales, allowing the data to be evaluated at any relevant scale. The authors demonstrate that the framework is capable of compensating for the inherent biases in the data, such as preference for retroviruses to insert near transcriptional start sites. By better balancing the error, they are able to show that from the 361 published CISs, 150 can be identified that have a low probability of being a false detection. In addition, they discover eight novel CISs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0020166
PMCID: PMC1676030  PMID: 17154714
7.  Detecting Statistically Significant Common Insertion Sites in Retroviral Insertional Mutagenesis Screens 
PLoS Computational Biology  2006;2(12):e166.
Retroviral insertional mutagenesis screens, which identify genes involved in tumor development in mice, have yielded a substantial number of retroviral integration sites, and this number is expected to grow substantially due to the introduction of high-throughput screening techniques. The data of various retroviral insertional mutagenesis screens are compiled in the publicly available Retroviral Tagged Cancer Gene Database (RTCGD). Integrally analyzing these screens for the presence of common insertion sites (CISs, i.e., regions in the genome that have been hit by viral insertions in multiple independent tumors significantly more than expected by chance) requires an approach that corrects for the increased probability of finding false CISs as the amount of available data increases. Moreover, significance estimates of CISs should be established taking into account both the noise, arising from the random nature of the insertion process, as well as the bias, stemming from preferential insertion sites present in the genome and the data retrieval methodology. We introduce a framework, the kernel convolution (KC) framework, to find CISs in a noisy and biased environment using a predefined significance level while controlling the family-wise error (FWE) (the probability of detecting false CISs). Where previous methods use one, two, or three predetermined fixed scales, our method is capable of operating at any biologically relevant scale. This creates the possibility to analyze the CISs in a scale space by varying the width of the CISs, providing new insights in the behavior of CISs across multiple scales. Our method also features the possibility of including models for background bias. Using simulated data, we evaluate the KC framework using three kernel functions, the Gaussian, triangular, and rectangular kernel function. We applied the Gaussian KC to the data from the combined set of screens in the RTCGD and found that 53% of the CISs do not reach the significance threshold in this combined setting. Still, with the FWE under control, application of our method resulted in the discovery of eight novel CISs, which each have a probability less than 5% of being false detections.
Synopsis
A potent method for the identification of novel cancer genes is retroviral insertional mutagenesis. Mice infected with slow transforming retroviruses develop tumors because the virus inserts randomly in their genome and mutates cancer genes. The regions in the genome that are mutated in multiple independent tumors are likely to contain genes involved in tumorigenesis. As the size of these datasets increases, conventional methods to detect these so-called common insertion sites (CISs) no longer suffice, and an approach is required that can control the error independent of the dataset size. The authors introduce a framework that uses a technique called kernel density estimation to find the regions in the genome that show a significant increase in insertion density. This method is implemented over a range of scales, allowing the data to be evaluated at any relevant scale. The authors demonstrate that the framework is capable of compensating for the inherent biases in the data, such as preference for retroviruses to insert near transcriptional start sites. By better balancing the error, they are able to show that from the 361 published CISs, 150 can be identified that have a low probability of being a false detection. In addition, they discover eight novel CISs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0020166
PMCID: PMC1676030  PMID: 17154714
8.  Hematopoietic stem cells, hematopoiesis and disease: lessons from the zebrafish model 
Genome Medicine  2011;3(12):83.
The zebrafish model is rapidly gaining prominence in the study of development, hematopoiesis, and disease. The zebrafish provides distinct advantages over other vertebrate models during early embryonic development by producing transparent, externally fertilized embryos. Embryonic zebrafish are easily visualized and manipulated through microinjection, chemical treatment, and mutagenesis. These procedures have contributed to large-scale chemical, suppressor, and genetic screens to identify hematopoietic gene mutations. Genomic conservation and local synteny between the human and zebrafish genomes make genome-scale and epigenetic analysis of these mutations (by microarray, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing, and RNA sequencing procedures) powerful methods for translational research and medical discovery. In addition, large-scale screening techniques have resulted in the identification of several small molecules capable of rescuing hematopoietic defects and inhibiting disease. Here, we discuss the contributions of the zebrafish model to the understanding of hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cell development, and disease-related discovery. We also highlight the recent discovery of small molecules with clinical promise, such as dimethyl prostaglandin E2, 3F8, and thiazole-carboxamide 10A.
doi:10.1186/gm299
PMCID: PMC3334548  PMID: 22206610
Chemical screen, disease; fate mapping; hematopoiesis; HSCs; morpholino; mutagenesis; suppressor screen; transplantation; zebrafish
9.  Insertional mutagenesis in mice deficient for p15Ink4b, p16Ink4a, p21Cip1, p27Kip1 reveals cancer gene interactions and correlations with tumor phenotypes 
Cancer research  2010;70(2):520-531.
The cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors p15, p16, p21 and p27 are frequently deleted, silenced or downregulated in many malignancies. Inactivation of CDK inhibitors predisposes mice to tumor development demonstrating that these genes can act as tumor suppressors. Here we describe high-throughput murine leukemia virus (MuLV) insertional mutagenesis screens in mice deficient for one or a combination of two CDK inhibitors. We retrieved 9117 retroviral insertions from 476 lymphomas and find hundreds of loci that are mutated significantly more frequently than expected by chance. Many of these are skewed toward a specific genetic context of predisposing germline and somatic mutations. We also find associations between these loci and gender, age of tumor onset and with lymphocyte lineage (B or T cell). Comparison of retroviral insertion sites with SNPs associated with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) reveals significant overlap between these datasets. Together these data highlight the importance of genetic context within large-scale mutation detection studies and demonstrate a novel use for insertional mutagenesis data in prioritization of disease associated genes resulting from genome-wide association studies.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-2736
PMCID: PMC2875110  PMID: 20068150
CDK inhibitors; insertional mutagenesis; lymphoma; CLL; Down syndrome
10.  Computational identification of insertional mutagenesis targets for cancer gene discovery 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(15):e105.
Insertional mutagenesis is a potent forward genetic screening technique used to identify candidate cancer genes in mouse model systems. An important, yet unresolved issue in the analysis of these screens, is the identification of the genes affected by the insertions. To address this, we developed Kernel Convolved Rule Based Mapping (KC-RBM). KC-RBM exploits distance, orientation and insertion density across tumors to automatically map integration sites to target genes. We perform the first genome-wide evaluation of the association of insertion occurrences with aberrant gene expression of the predicted targets in both retroviral and transposon data sets. We demonstrate the efficiency of KC-RBM by showing its superior performance over existing approaches in recovering true positives from a list of independently, manually curated cancer genes. The results of this work will significantly enhance the accuracy and speed of cancer gene discovery in forward genetic screens. KC-RBM is available as R-package.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr447
PMCID: PMC3159484  PMID: 21652642
11.  Transposon-mediated Genome Manipulations in Vertebrates 
Nature methods  2009;6(6):415-422.
Transposable elements are segments of DNA with the unique ability to move about in the genome. This inherent feature can be exploited to harness these elements as gene vectors for diverse genome manipulations. Transposon-based genetic strategies have been established in vertebrate species over the last decade, and current progress in this field indicates that transposable elements will serve as indispensable tools in the genetic toolkit of vertebrate models. In particular, transposons can be applied as vectors for somatic and germline transgenesis, and as insertional mutagens in both loss-of-function and gain-of-function forward mutagenesis screens. The major advantage of using transposons as genetic tools is that they facilitate analysis of gene function in an easy, controlled and scalable manner. Transposon-based technologies are beginning to be exploited to link sequence information to gene functions in vertebrate models. In this article, we provide an overview of transposon-based methods used in vertebrate model organisms, and highlight the most important considerations concerning genetic applications of the transposon systems.
doi:10.1038/nmeth.1332
PMCID: PMC2867038  PMID: 19478801
Transposon; transgenesis; insertional mutagenesis; chromosome engineering
12.  Large-scale mapping of mutations affecting zebrafish development 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:11.
Background
Large-scale mutagenesis screens in the zebrafish employing the mutagen ENU have isolated several hundred mutant loci that represent putative developmental control genes. In order to realize the potential of such screens, systematic genetic mapping of the mutations is necessary. Here we report on a large-scale effort to map the mutations generated in mutagenesis screening at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology by genome scanning with microsatellite markers.
Results
We have selected a set of microsatellite markers and developed methods and scoring criteria suitable for efficient, high-throughput genome scanning. We have used these methods to successfully obtain a rough map position for 319 mutant loci from the Tübingen I mutagenesis screen and subsequent screening of the mutant collection. For 277 of these the corresponding gene is not yet identified. Mapping was successful for 80 % of the tested loci. By comparing 21 mutation and gene positions of cloned mutations we have validated the correctness of our linkage group assignments and estimated the standard error of our map positions to be approximately 6 cM.
Conclusion
By obtaining rough map positions for over 300 zebrafish loci with developmental phenotypes, we have generated a dataset that will be useful not only for cloning of the affected genes, but also to suggest allelism of mutations with similar phenotypes that will be identified in future screens. Furthermore this work validates the usefulness of our methodology for rapid, systematic and inexpensive microsatellite mapping of zebrafish mutations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-11
PMCID: PMC1781435  PMID: 17212827
13.  Large-Scale Identification of Disease Genes Involved in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(4):1971-1980.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous group of diseases in which chromosomal aberrations, small insertions or deletions, or point mutations in certain genes have profound consequences for prognosis. However, the majority of AML patients present without currently known genetic defects. Retroviral insertion mutagenesis in mice has become a powerful tool for identifying new disease genes involved in the pathogenesis of leukemia and lymphoma. Here we have used the Graffi-1.4 strain of murine leukemia virus, which causes predominantly AML, in a screen to identify novel genes involved in the pathogenesis of this disease. We report 79 candidate disease genes in common integration sites (CISs) and 15 genes whose family members previously were found to be affected in other studies. The majority of the identified sequences (60%) were not found in lymphomas and monocytic leukemias in previous screens, suggesting a specific involvement in AML. Although most of the virus integrations occurred in or near the 5′ or 3′ ends of the genes, suggesting deregulation of gene expression as a consequence of virus integration, 18 CISs were located exclusively within the genes, conceivably causing gene disruption.
doi:10.1128/JVI.78.4.1971-1980.2004
PMCID: PMC369447  PMID: 14747562
14.  New methods for finding common insertion sites and co-occurring common insertion sites in transposon- and virus-based genetic screens 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(9):3822-3833.
Insertional mutagenesis screens in mice are used to identify individual genes that drive tumor formation. In these screens, candidate cancer genes are identified if their genomic location is proximal to a common insertion site (CIS) defined by high rates of transposon or retroviral insertions in a given genomic window. In this article, we describe a new method for defining CISs based on a Poisson distribution, the Poisson Regression Insertion Model, and show that this new method is an improvement over previously described methods. We also describe a modification of the method that can identify pairs and higher orders of co-occurring common insertion sites. We apply these methods to two data sets, one generated in a transposon-based screen for gastrointestinal tract cancer genes and another based on the set of retroviral insertions in the Retroviral Tagged Cancer Gene Database. We show that the new methods identify more relevant candidate genes and candidate gene pairs than found using previous methods. Identification of the biologically relevant set of mutations that occur in a single cell and cause tumor progression will aid in the rational design of single and combinatorial therapies in the upcoming age of personalized cancer therapy.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkr1295
PMCID: PMC3351147  PMID: 22241771
15.  PiggyBac Transposon Mutagenesis: A Tool for Cancer Gene Discovery in Mice 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6007):1104-1107.
Transposons are mobile DNA segments that can disrupt gene function by inserting in or near genes. Here we show that insertional mutagenesis by the PiggyBac transposon can be used for cancer gene discovery in mice. PiggyBac transposition in genetically engineered transposon/transposase mice induced cancers whose type (hematopoietic versus solid) and latency were dependent on the regulatory elements introduced into transposons. Analysis of 63 hematopoietic tumors revealed the unique qualities of PiggyBac for genome-wide mutagenesis and discovered many cancer genes not identified in previous retroviral or Sleeping Beauty transposon screens, including Spic, which encodes a PU.1-related transcription factor, and Hdac7, a histone deacetylase gene. PiggyBac and Sleeping Beauty have different integration preferences. To maximize the utility of the tool, we engineered 20 mouse lines to be compatible with both transposases in constitutive, tissue- or temporal-specific mutagenesis. Mice with different transposon types, copy numbers and chromosomal locations support wide applicability.
doi:10.1126/science.1193004
PMCID: PMC3719098  PMID: 20947725
16.  New approach for fish breeding by chemical mutagenesis: establishment of TILLING method in fugu (Takifugu rubripes) with ENU mutagenesis 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:786.
Background
In fish breeding, it is essential to discover and generate fish exhibiting an effective phenotype for the aquaculture industry, but screening for natural mutants by only depending on natural spontaneous mutations is limited. Presently, reverse genetics has become an important tool to generate mutants, which exhibit the phenotype caused by inactivation of a gene. TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions INGenomes) is a reverse genetics strategy that combines random chemical mutagenesis with high-throughput discovery technologies for screening the induced mutations in target genes. Although the chemical mutagenesis has been used widely in a variety of model species and also genetic breeding of microorganisms and crops, the application of the mutagenesis in fish breeding has been only rarely reported.
Results
In this study, we developed the TILLING method in fugu with ENU mutagenesis and high-resolution melting (HRM) analysis to detect base pair changes in target sequences. Fugu males were treated 3 times at weekly intervals with various ENU concentrations, and then the collected sperm after the treatment was used to fertilize normal female for generating the mutagenized population (F1). The fertilization and the hatching ratios were similar to those of the control and did not reveal a dose dependency of ENU. Genomic DNA from the harvested F1 offspring was used for the HRM analysis. To obtain a fish exhibiting a useful phenotype (e.g. high meat production and rapid growth), fugu myostatin (Mstn) gene was examined as a target gene, because it has been clarified that the mstn deficient medaka exhibited double-muscle phenotype in common with MSTN knockout mice and bovine MSTN mutant. As a result, ten types of ENU-induced mutations were identified including a nonsense mutation in the investigated region with HRM analysis. In addition, the average mutation frequency in fugu Mstn gene was 1 mutant per 297 kb, which is similar to values calculated for zebrafish and medaka TILLING libraries.
Conclusions
These results demonstrate that the TILLING method in fugu was established. We anticipate that this TILLING approach can be used to generate a wide range of mutant alleles, and be applicable to many farmed fish that can be chemically mutagenized.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-786
PMCID: PMC3830513  PMID: 24225309
TILLING; Fugu; ENU; HRM; Myostatin; Mutagenesis; Fish breeding
17.  The neurogenetic frontier—lessons from misbehaving zebrafish 
One of the central questions in neuroscience is how refined patterns of connectivity in the brain generate and monitor behavior. Genetic mutations can influence neural circuits by disrupting differentiation or maintenance of component neuronal cells or by altering functional patterns of nervous system connectivity. Mutagenesis screens therefore have the potential to reveal not only the molecular underpinnings of brain development and function, but to illuminate the cellular basis of behavior. Practical considerations make the zebrafish an organism of choice for undertaking forward genetic analysis of behavior. The powerful array of experimental tools at the disposal of the zebrafish researcher makes it possible to link molecular function to neuronal properties that underlie behavior. This review focuses on specific challenges to isolating and analyzing behavioral mutants in zebrafish.
doi:10.1093/bfgp/eln039
PMCID: PMC2722256  PMID: 18836206
zebrafish; behavior; mutagenesis
18.  Identification of PDE4D as a proliferation promoting factor in prostate cancer using a Sleeping Beauty transposon based somatic mutagenesis screen 
Cancer research  2009;69(10):4388-4397.
Retroviral and transposon-based mutagenesis screens in mice have been useful for identifying candidate cancer genes for some tumor types. However, many of the organs that exhibit the highest cancer rates in humans, including the prostate, have not previously been amenable to these approaches. This study demonstrates for the first time that the Sleeping Beauty transposon system can be used to identify candidate prostate cancer genes in mice. Somatic mobilization of a mutagenic transposon resulted in focal epithelial proliferation and hyperplasia in the prostate. Efficient methods were established to identify transposon insertion sites in these lesions, and analysis of transposon insertions identified candidate prostate cancer genes at common insertion sites, including Pde4d. PDE4D was also over-expressed in human prostate cancer patient samples and cell lines, and changes in PDE4D mRNA isoform expression were observed in human prostate cancers. Furthermore, knockdown of PDE4D reduced the growth and migration of prostate cancer cells in vitro, and knockdown of PDE4D reduced the growth and proliferation rate of prostate cancer xenografts in vivo. These data indicate that PDE4D functions as a proliferation promoting factor in prostate cancer, and the Sleeping Beauty transposon system is a useful tool for identifying candidate prostate cancer genes.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-3901
PMCID: PMC2710962  PMID: 19401450
19.  Gene Mutations and Genomic Rearrangements in the Mouse as a Result of Transposon Mobilization from Chromosomal Concatemers 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(9):e156.
Previous studies of the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system, as an insertional mutagen in the germline of mice, have used reverse genetic approaches. These studies have led to its proposed use for regional saturation mutagenesis by taking a forward-genetic approach. Thus, we used the SB system to mutate a region of mouse Chromosome 11 in a forward-genetic screen for recessive lethal and viable phenotypes. This work represents the first reported use of an insertional mutagen in a phenotype-driven approach. The phenotype-driven approach was successful in both recovering visible and behavioral mutants, including dominant limb and recessive behavioral phenotypes, and allowing for the rapid identification of candidate gene disruptions. In addition, a high frequency of recessive lethal mutations arose as a result of genomic rearrangements near the site of transposition, resulting from transposon mobilization. The results suggest that the SB system could be used in a forward-genetic approach to recover interesting phenotypes, but that local chromosomal rearrangements should be anticipated in conjunction with single-copy, local transposon insertions in chromosomes. Additionally, these mice may serve as a model for chromosome rearrangements caused by transposable elements during the evolution of vertebrate genomes.
Synopsis
Perhaps the greatest challenge for biomedical research in the post-genomics era will be to assign functions to the human set of ~25,000 genes. The classical method for discovering the gene function is mutation. Thus, technologies that can mutate genes in mammalian genetic models like the mouse are under development in hopes of creating an efficient method to complete this task. One such technology, the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system, was developed for this purpose in 2001. This mobile DNA element is highly active in transgenic mice and has been shown to disrupt mouse genes efficiently. Geurts et al. describe a novel attempt to use the SB transposon in a forward-genetic screen using an insertional mutagen, the first attempt of its kind. They discovered that the process of transposon mobilization in mouse chromosomes can lead to dramatic effects on local genomic sequences. Indeed, transposons like SB can cause genomic rearrangements including deletions, inversions and translocations, involving tens of thousands to tens of millions of base pairs. This discovery has important implications for using transposable elements for mouse germline mutagenesis and, at the same time, may provide a model for studying genomic rearrangements that have helped shape vertebrate genomes during evolution.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020156
PMCID: PMC1584263  PMID: 17009875
20.  Somatic Genetics Empowers the Mouse for Modeling and Interrogating Developmental and Disease Processes 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(7):e1002110.
With recent advances in genomic technologies, candidate human disease genes are being mapped at an accelerated pace. There is a clear need to move forward with genetic tools that can efficiently validate these mutations in vivo. Murine somatic mutagenesis is evolving to fulfill these needs with tools such as somatic transgenesis, humanized rodents, and forward genetics. By combining these resources one is not only able to model disease for in vivo verification, but also to screen for mutations and pathways integral to disease progression and therapeutic intervention. In this review, we briefly outline the current advances in somatic mutagenesis and discuss how these new tools, especially the piggyBac transposon system, can be applied to decipher human biology and disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002110
PMCID: PMC3140981  PMID: 21814514
21.  Efficient conditional and promoter-specific in vivo expression of cDNAs of choice by taking advantage of recombinase-mediated cassette exchange using FlEx gene traps 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(9):e106.
Recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) exploits the possibility to unidirectionally exchange any genetic material flanked by heterotypic recombinase recognition sites (RRS) with target sites in the genome. Due to a limited number of available pre-fabricated target sites, RMCE in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells has not been tapped to its full potential to date. Here, we introduce a universal system, which allows the targeted insertion of any given transcriptional unit into 85 742 previously annotated retroviral conditional gene trap insertions, representing 7013 independent genes in mouse ES cells, by RMCE. This system can be used to express any given cDNA under the control of endogenous trapped promoters in vivo, as well as for the generation of transposon ‘launch pads’ for chromosomal region-specific ‘Sleeping Beauty’ insertional mutagenesis. Moreover, transcription of the gene-of-interest is only activated upon Cre-recombinase activity, a feature that adds conditionality to this expression system, which is demonstrated in vivo. The use of the RMCE system presented in this work requires one single-cloning step followed by one overnight gateway clonase reaction and subsequent cassette exchange in ES cells with efficiencies of 40% in average.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq044
PMCID: PMC2875000  PMID: 20139417
22.  Targeted Mutagenesis in Zebrafish Using Customized Zinc Finger Nucleases 
Nature protocols  2009;4(12):1855.
Zebrafish mutants have traditionally been obtained using random mutagenesis or retroviral insertions, methods that cannot be targeted to a specific gene and require laborious gene mapping and sequencing. Recently, we and others have shown that customized zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) can introduce targeted frame-shift mutations with high efficiency, thereby enabling directed creation of zebrafish gene mutations. Here we describe a detailed protocol for constructing ZFN expression vectors, for generating and introducing ZFN-encoding RNAs into zebrafish embryos, and for identifying ZFN-generated mutations in targeted genomic sites. All of our vectors and methods are compatible with previously described Zinc Finger Consortium reagents for constructing engineered zinc finger arrays. Using these methods, zebrafish founders carrying targeted mutations can be identified within four months.
doi:10.1038/nprot.2009.209
PMCID: PMC2814337  PMID: 20010934
23.  Enhanced gene expression from retroviral vectors 
BMC Biotechnology  2008;8:19.
Background
Retroviruses are widely used to transfer genes to mammalian cells efficiently and stably. However, genetic elements required for high-level gene expression are incompatible with standard systems. The retroviral RNA genome is produced by cellular transcription and post-transcriptional processing within packaging cells: Introns present in the retroviral genomic transcript are removed by splicing, while polyadenylation signals lead to the production of ineffective truncated genomes. Furthermore strong enhancer/promoters within the retroviral payload lead to detrimental competition with the retroviral enhancer/promoter.
Results
By exploiting a new method of producing the retroviral genome in vitro it is possible to produce infectious retroviral particles carrying a high-level expression cassette that completely prohibits production of infectious retroviral particles by conventional methods.
We produced an expression cassette comprising a strong enhancer/promoter, an optimised intron, the GFP open reading frame and a strong polyadenylation signal. This cassette was cloned into both a conventional MMLV retroviral vector and a vector designed to allow in vitro transcription of the retroviral genome by T7 RNA polymerase.
When the conventional retroviral vector was transfected into packaging cells, the expression cassette drove strong GFP expression, but no infectious retrovirus was produced. Introduction of the in vitro produced uncapped retroviral genomic transcript into the packaging cells did not lead to any detectable GFP expression. However, infectious retrovirus was easily recovered, and when used to infect target primary human cells led to very high GFP expression – up to 3.5 times greater than conventional retroviral LTR-driven expression.
Conclusion
Retroviral vectors carrying an optimized high-level expression cassette do not produce infectious virions when introduced into packaging cells by transfection of DNA. Infectious retrovirus carrying the same cassette is readily produced when packaging cells are transfected with in vitro transcribed retroviral genomic RNA. The applications of this technique are not limited to producing the higher levels of transgene expression demonstrated here. For example, novel reporters with alternatively spliced exon-intron configurations could readily be transduced into virtually any cell. Furthermore, because the in vitro transcripts are not translated within the packaging cells, retroviruses carrying genes lethal to the packaging cells can also be produced.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-8-19
PMCID: PMC2266726  PMID: 18298815
24.  A PATO-compliant zebrafish screening database (MODB): management of morpholino knockdown screen information 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9:7.
Background
The zebrafish is a powerful model vertebrate amenable to high throughput in vivo genetic analyses. Examples include reverse genetic screens using morpholino knockdown, expression-based screening using enhancer trapping and forward genetic screening using transposon insertional mutagenesis. We have created a database to facilitate web-based distribution of data from such genetic studies.
Description
The MOrpholino DataBase is a MySQL relational database with an online, PHP interface. Multiple quality control levels allow differential access to data in raw and finished formats. MODBv1 includes sequence information relating to almost 800 morpholinos and their targets and phenotypic data regarding the dose effect of each morpholino (mortality, toxicity and defects). To improve the searchability of this database, we have incorporated a fixed-vocabulary defect ontology that allows for the organization of morpholino affects based on anatomical structure affected and defect produced. This also allows comparison between species utilizing Phenotypic Attribute Trait Ontology (PATO) designated terminology. MODB is also cross-linked with ZFIN, allowing full searches between the two databases. MODB offers users the ability to retrieve morpholino data by sequence of morpholino or target, name of target, anatomical structure affected and defect produced.
Conclusion
MODB data can be used for functional genomic analysis of morpholino design to maximize efficacy and minimize toxicity. MODB also serves as a template for future sequence-based functional genetic screen databases, and it is currently being used as a model for the creation of a mutagenic insertional transposon database.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-7
PMCID: PMC2221974  PMID: 18179718
25.  Efficient disruption of Zebrafish genes using a Gal4-containing gene trap 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:619.
Background
External development and optical transparency of embryos make zebrafish exceptionally suitable for in vivo insertional mutagenesis using fluorescent proteins to visualize expression patterns of mutated genes. Recently developed Gene Breaking Transposon (GBT) vectors greatly improve the fidelity and mutagenicity of transposon-based gene trap vectors.
Results
We constructed and tested a bipartite GBT vector with Gal4-VP16 as the primary gene trap reporter. Our vector also contains a UAS:eGFP cassette for direct detection of gene trap events by fluorescence. To confirm gene trap events, we generated a UAS:mRFP tester line. We screened 270 potential founders and established 41 gene trap lines. Three of our gene trap alleles display homozygous lethal phenotypes ranging from embryonic to late larval: nsf tpl6, atp1a3atpl10 and flrtpl19. Our gene trap cassette is flanked by direct loxP sites, which enabled us to successfully revert nsf tpl6, atp1a3atpl10 and flrtpl19 gene trap alleles by injection of Cre mRNA. The UAS:eGFP cassette is flanked by direct FRT sites. It can be readily removed by injection of Flp mRNA for use of our gene trap alleles with other tissue-specific GFP-marked lines. The Gal4-VP16 component of our vector provides two important advantages over other GBT vectors. The first is increased sensitivity, which enabled us to detect previously unnoticed expression of nsf in the pancreas. The second advantage is that all our gene trap lines, including integrations into non-essential genes, can be used as highly specific Gal4 drivers for expression of other transgenes under the control of Gal4 UAS.
Conclusions
The Gal4-containing bipartite Gene Breaking Transposon vector presented here retains high specificity for integrations into genes, high mutagenicity and revertibility by Cre. These features, together with utility as highly specific Gal4 drivers, make gene trap mutants presented here especially useful to the research community.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-619
PMCID: PMC3848861  PMID: 24034702
Zebrafish; Insertional mutagenesis; Gene trap; Gal4; Tol2; nsfa; Fleer; atp1a3a; bbs7

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