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1.  Chromosomal Integration of Transduced Recombinant Baculovirus DNA in Mammalian Cells 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(2):903-909.
Our group and others have recently demonstrated the ability of recombinant baculoviruses to transduce mammalian cells at high frequency. To further characterize the use of baculovirus as a mammalian gene delivery system, we examined the status of transduced DNA stably maintained in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Four independent clones carrying two introduced markers, the genes for neomycin resistance (Neo) and green fluorescent protein (GFP), were selected. PCR analysis, Southern blotting, and DNA sequencing showed that discrete portions of the 148-kb baculovirus DNA were present as single-copy fragments ranging in size from 5 to 18 kb. Integration into the CHO cell genome was confirmed by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis. For one clone, the left and right viral/chromosomal junctions were determined by DNA sequencing of inverse PCR products. Similarly, for a different clone, the left viral/chromosomal junction was determined; however, the right junction sequence revealed the joining to another viral fragment by a short homology (microhomology), a hallmark of illegitimate recombination. The random viral breakpoints and the lack of homology between the virus and flanking chromosomal sequences are also suggestive of an illegitimate integration mechanism. To examine the long-term stability of reporter gene expression, all four clones were grown continuously for 36 passages in either the presence or absence of selection for Neo. Periodic assays over a 5-month period showed no loss of GFP expression for at least two of the clones. This report represents the first detailed analysis of baculovirus integrants within mammalian cells. The potential advantages of the baculovirus system for the stable integration of genetic material into mammalian genomes are discussed.
PMCID: PMC113986  PMID: 11134303
2.  High frequency vector-mediated transformation and gene replacement in Tetrahymena. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1994;22(24):5391-5398.
Recently, we developed a mass DNA-mediated transformation technique for the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila that introduces transforming DNA by electroporation into conjugating cells. Other studies demonstrated that a neomycin resistance gene flanked by Tetrahymena H4-I gene regulatory sequences transformed Tetrahymena by homologous recombination within the H4-I locus when microinjected into the macronucleus. We describe the use of conjugant electrotransformation (CET) for gene replacement and for the development of new independently replicating vectors and a gene cassette that can be used as a selectable marker in gene knockout experiments. Using CET, the neomycin resistance gene flanked by H4-I sequences transformed Tetrahymena, resulting in the replacement of the H4-I gene or integrative recombination of the H4-I/neo/H4-I gene (but not vector sequences) in the 5' or 3' flanking region of the H4-I locus. Gene replacement was obtained with non-digested plasmid DNA but releasing the insert increased the frequency of replacement events about 6-fold. The efficiency of transformation by the H4-I/neo/H4-I selectable marker was unchanged when a single copy of the Tetrahymena rDNA replication origin was included on the transforming plasmid. However, the efficiency of transformation using CET increased greatly when a tandem repeat of the replication origin fragment was used. This high frequency of transformation enabled mapping of the region required for H4-I promoter function to within 333 bp upstream of the initiator ATG. Similarly approximately 300 bp of sequence downstream of the translation terminator TGA of the beta-tubulin 2 (BTU2) gene could substitute for the 3' region of the H4-I gene. This hybrid H4-I/neo/BTU2 gene did not transform Tetrahymena when subcloned on a plasmid lacking an origin of replication, but did transform at high frequency on a two origin plasmid. Thus, the H4-I/neo/BTU2 cassette is a selectable marker that can be used for gene knockout in Tetrahymena. As a first step toward constructing a vector suitable for cloning genes by complementation of mutations in Tetrahymena, we also demonstrated that the vector containing 2 origins and the H4-I/neo/BTU2 cassette can co-express a gene encoding a cycloheximide resistant ribosomal protein.
PMCID: PMC332088  PMID: 7816630
3.  Adeno-associated virus 2-mediated high efficiency gene transfer into immature and mature subsets of hematopoietic progenitor cells in human umbilical cord blood 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  1994;179(6):1867-1875.
Recombinant adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV) virions were constructed containing a gene for resistance to neomycin (neoR), under the control of either the herpesvirus thymidine kinase (TK) gene promoter (vTK- Neo), or the human parvovirus B19 p6 promoter (vB19-Neo), as well as those containing an upstream erythroid cell-specific enhancer (HS-2) from the locus control region of the human beta-globin gene cluster (vHS2-TK-Neo; vHS2-B19-Neo). These recombinant virions were used to infect either low density or highly enriched populations of CD34+ cells isolated from human umbilical cord blood. In clonogenic assays initiated with cells infected with the different recombinant AAV-Neo virions, equivalent high frequency transduction of the neoR gene into slow-cycling multipotential, erythroid, and granulocyte/macrophage (GM) progenitor cells, including those with high proliferative potential, was obtained without prestimulation with growth factors, indicating that these immature and mature hematopoietic progenitor cells were susceptible to infection by the recombinant AAV virions. Successful transduction did not require and was not enhanced by prestimulation of these cell populations with cytokines. The functional activity of the transduced neo gene was evident by the development of resistance to the drug G418, a neomycin analogue. Individual high and low proliferative colony-forming unit (CFU)-GM, burst-forming unit-erythroid, and CFU- granulocyte erythroid macrophage megakaryocyte colonies from mock- infected, or the recombinant virus-infected cultures were subjected to polymerase chain reaction analysis using a neo-specific synthetic oligonucleotide primer pair. A 276-bp DNA fragment that hybridized with a neo-specific DNA probe on Southern blots was only detected in those colonies cloned from the recombinant virus-infected cells, indicating stable integration of the transduced neo gene. These studies suggest that parvovirus-based vectors may prove to be a useful alternative to the more commonly used retroviral vectors for high efficiency gene transfer into slow or noncycling primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells, without the need for growth factor stimulation, which could potentially lead to differentiation of these cells before transplantation.
PMCID: PMC2191525  PMID: 7515101
4.  Inducible gene expression by DNA rearrangements in human cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1986;6(2):549-558.
A permanent human cell line, cell line LM205, was established by transforming primary human fibroblasts with a plasmid containing both simian virus 40 sequences with a defective origin of replication and a G418 resistance gene (neo) that lacked a eucaryotic transcriptional promoter. G418-resistant cells appeared spontaneously in clonal populations of LM205 cells at a frequency of approximately 10(-5) cell per cell plated in the presence of 400 micrograms of G418 per ml. G418 resistance was stable and correlated with the appearance of neo-specific RNA. Characterization of the neo gene in the G418-sensitive parental cell line by both a Southern blot analysis and a restriction map analysis of cloned sequences demonstrated that there was a stable integration site containing a single neo coding sequence. A Southern blot analysis of five G418-resistant subclones indicated that there were heterogeneous DNA rearrangements in the region of the neo gene that were unique in each subclone. Restriction mapping of a fragment containing the neo gene isolated from one of the resistant subclones demonstrated that the rearrangement was a tandem duplication that resulted in the relocation of the simian virus 40 bidirectional transcriptional promoter 5' to the neo gene. Tandem duplication was also consistent with the Southern blot polymorphisms observed in the other resistant subclones, suggesting that there were heterogeneous sites of recombination with respect to both the neo gene and the simian virus 40 promoter. Although these rearrangements resulted in an increase in neo gene copy number per cell, amplification showed no correlation quantitatively with the large increase in neo-specific RNA in these cells. Therefore, G418-resistant colony formation in cell line LM205 provides a method for studying both the mechanisms involved in this type of recombination and the factors influencing its frequency.
PMCID: PMC367545  PMID: 2431271
5.  Chromosomal Integration and Homologous Gene Targeting by Replication-Incompetent Vectors Based on the Autonomous Parvovirus Minute Virus of Mice 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(24):13136-13145.
The molecular mechanisms responsible for random integration and gene targeting by recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors are largely unknown, and whether vectors derived from autonomous parvoviruses transduce cells by similar pathways has not been investigated. In this report, we constructed vectors based on the autonomous parvovirus minute virus of mice (MVM) that were designed to introduce a neomycin resistance expression cassette (neo) into the X-linked human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT) locus. High-titer, replication-incompetent MVM vector stocks were generated with a two-plasmid transfection system that preserved the wild-type characteristic of packaging only one DNA strand. Vectors with inserts in the forward or reverse orientations packaged noncoding or coding strands, respectively. In human HT-1080 cells, MVM vector random integration frequencies (neo+ colonies) were comparable to those obtained with AAV vectors, and no difference was observed for noncoding and coding strands. HPRT gene-targeting frequencies (HPRT mutant colonies) were lower with MVM vectors, and the noncoding strand frequency was threefold greater than that of the coding strand. Random integration and gene-targeting events were confirmed by Southern blot analysis of G418- and 6-thioguanine (6TG)-resistant clones. In separate experiments, correction of an alkaline phosphatase (AP) gene by gene targeting was nine times more effective with a coding strand vector. The data suggest that single-stranded parvoviral vector genomes are substrates for gene targeting and possibly for random integration as well.
PMCID: PMC296056  PMID: 14645570
6.  Detection of Norovirus genogroup I and II by multiplex real-time RT- PCR using a 3'-minor groove binder-DNA probe 
Due to an increasing number of norovirus infections in the last years rapid, specific, and sensitive diagnostic tools are needed. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) have become the methods of choice. To minimize the working time and the risk of carryover contamination during the multi-step procedure of PCR the multiplex real-time RT-PCR for the simultaneous detection of genogroup I (GI) and II (GII) offers advantages for the handling of large amounts of clinical specimens.
We have developed and evaluated a multiplex one-tube RT-PCR using a combination of optimized GI and GII specific primers located in the junction between ORF1 and ORF2 of the norovirus genome. For the detection of GI samples, a 3'- minor groove binder-DNA probe (GI-MGB-probe) were designed and used for the multiplex real-time PCR.
Comparable results to those of our in-house nested PCR and monoplex real-time-PCR were only obtained using the GI specific MGB-probe. The MGB-probe forms extremely stable duplexes with single-stranded DNA targets, which enabled us to design a shorter probe (length 15 nucleotides) hybridizing to a more conserved part of the GI sequences. 97 % of 100 previously norovirus positive specimens (tested by nested PCR and/or monoplex real-time PCR) were detected by the multiplex real-time PCR. A broad dynamic range from 2 × 10^1 to 2 × 10^7 genomic equivalents per assay using plasmid DNA standards for GI and GII were obtained and viral loads between 2.5 × 10^2 and 2 × 10^12 copies per ml stool suspension were detected.
The one-tube multiplex RT real-time PCR using a minor groove binder -DNA probe for GI is a fast, specific, sensitive and cost-effective tool for the detection of norovirus infections in both mass outbreaks and sporadic cases and may have also applications in food and environmental testing.
PMCID: PMC1524786  PMID: 16606447
7.  Adeno-associated virus type 2-mediated transfer of ecotropic retrovirus receptor cDNA allows ecotropic retroviral transduction of established and primary human cells. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(7):5663-5667.
The cellular receptors that mediate binding and internalization of retroviruses have recently been identified. The concentration and accessibility of these receptors are critical determinants in accomplishing successful gene transfer with retrovirus-based vectors. Murine retroviruses containing ecotropic glycoproteins do not infect human cells since human cells do not express the receptor that binds the ecotropic glycoproteins. To enable human cells to become permissive for ecotropic retrovirus-mediated gene transfer, we have developed a recombinant adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV) vector containing ecotropic retroviral receptor (ecoR) cDNA under the control of the Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter (vRSVp-ecoR). Established human cell lines, such as HeLa and KB, known to be nonpermissive for murine ecotropic retroviruses, became permissive for infection by a retroviral vector containing a bacterial gene for resistance to neomycin (RV-Neo(r)), with a transduction efficiency of up to 47%, following transduction with vRSVp-ecoR, as determined by the development of colonies that were resistant to the drug G418, a neomycin analog. No G418-resistant colonies were present in cultures infected with either vRSVp-ecoR or RV-Neo(r) alone. Southern and Northern blot analyses revealed stable integration and long-term expression, respectively, of the transduced murine ecoR gene in clonal isolates of HeLa and KB cells. Similarly, ecotropic retrovirus-mediated Neo(r) transduction of primary human CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells from normal bone marrow was also documented, but only following infection with vRSVp-ecoR. The retroviral transduction efficiency was approximately 7% without prestimulation and approximately 14% with prestimulation of CD34+ cells with cytokines, as determined by hematopoietic clonogenic assays. No G418-resistant progenitor cell colonies were present in cultures infected with either vRSVp-ecoR or RV-Neo(r) alone. These results suggest that sequential transduction of primary human cells with two different viral vectors may overcome limitations encountered with a single vector. Thus, the combined use of AAV- and retrovirus-based vectors may have important clinical implications for ex vivo and in vivo human gene therapy.
PMCID: PMC191813  PMID: 9188645
8.  3′-Minor groove binder-DNA probes increase sequence specificity at PCR extension temperatures 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(2):655-661.
DNA probes with conjugated minor groove binder (MGB) groups form extremely stable duplexes with single-stranded DNA targets, allowing shorter probes to be used for hybridization based assays. In this paper, sequence specificity of 3′-MGB probes was explored. In comparison with unmodified DNA, MGB probes had higher melting temperature (Tm) and increased specificity, especially when a mismatch was in the MGB region of the duplex. To exploit these properties, fluorogenic MGB probes were prepared and investigated in the 5′-nuclease PCR assay (real-time PCR assay, TaqMan assay). A 12mer MGB probe had the same Tm (65°C) as a no-MGB 27mer probe. The fluorogenic MGB probes were more specific for single base mismatches and fluorescence quenching was more efficient, giving increased sensitivity. A/T rich duplexes were stabilized more than G/C rich duplexes, thereby leveling probe Tm and simplifying design. In summary, MGB probes were more sequence specific than standard DNA probes, especially for single base mismatches at elevated hybridization temperatures.
PMCID: PMC102528  PMID: 10606668
9.  Development of real time PCR for detection and quantitation of Dengue Viruses 
Virology Journal  2009;6:10.
Dengue virus (DENV), a mosquito borne flavivirus is an important pathogen causing more than 50 million infections every year around the world. Dengue diagnosis depends on serology, which is not useful in the early phase of the disease and virus isolation, which is laborious and time consuming. There is need for a rapid, sensitive and high throughput method for detection of DENV in the early stages of the disease. Several real-time PCR assays have been described for dengue viruses, but there is scope for improvement. The new generation TaqMan Minor Groove Binding (MGB) probe approach was used to develop an improved real time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) for DENV in this study.
The 3'UTR of thirteen Indian strains of DENV was sequenced and aligned with 41 representative sequences from GenBank. A region conserved in all four serotypes was used to target primers and probes for the qRT-PCR. A single MGB probe and a single primer pair for all the four serotypes of DENV were designed. The sensitivity of the two step qRT-PCR assay was10 copies of RNA molecules per reaction. The specificity and sensitivity of the assay was 100% when tested with a panel of 39 known positive and negative samples. Viral RNA could be detected and quantitated in infected mouse brain, cell cultures, mosquitoes and clinical samples. Viral RNA could be detected in patients even after seroconversion till 10 days post onset of infection. There was no signal with Japanese Encephalitis (JE), West Nile (WN), Chikungunya (CHK) viruses or with Leptospira, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum and Rickettsia positive clinical samples.
We have developed a highly sensitive and specific qRT-PCR for detection and quantitation of dengue viruses. The assay will be a useful tool for differential diagnosis of dengue fever in a situation where a number of other clinically indistinguishable infectious diseases like malaria, Chikungunya, rickettsia and leptospira occur. The ability of the assay to detect DENV-2 in inoculated mosquitoes makes it a potential tool for detecting DENV in field-caught mosquitoes.
PMCID: PMC2651855  PMID: 19166574
10.  Homologous recombination of copackaged retrovirus RNAs during reverse transcription. 
Journal of Virology  1992;66(4):2378-2388.
According to prevailing models, the high frequency of recombination in retroviruses occurs during reverse transcription of two genetically different genomes copackaged into virion particles. This view has been tested in our studies of the mechanism of recombination within homologous sequences of two retroviral genomes during a single round of virus replication and in the absence of helper virus. The recombination substrates were Moloney murine leukemia virus-based vectors, each of which contains an altered defective neomycin gene (neo) under the transcriptional control of the 5' long terminal repeat; the 3' sequences of each construct contain either the Moloney murine leukemia virus or simian virus 40 large-T polyadenylation sequence. One neo gene contained a linker insertion mutation at the 5' end (neo minus), and the other contained a deletion and linker insertion at the 3' end (neo delta 3). Each of the mutant neo constructs was introduced into the packaging helper cell line psi 2 by sequential cotransfection, and individual psi 2 double transformants were selected. Supernatant fluids from the cloned psi 2 double transformants were used to infect NIH 3T3 cells, and recombinant neo+ proviruses were detected by their ability to confer G418 resistance during infection of NIH 3T3 cells. Our results show that (i) recombination between a homologous sequence of about 560 bp occurred with a frequency of about 10(-4) per virus replication cycle; (ii) recombination occurred only after the viral RNAs had been packaged into particles, i.e., recombination between the two vector DNAs or between viral RNAs prior to packaging was not detected; and (iii) copackaging of two different genomic RNAs as a heterodimer is a prerequisite for recombination. Furthermore, our results indicate that recombination can occur during the DNA negative-strand synthesis of reverse transcription.
PMCID: PMC289033  PMID: 1372369
11.  Detection, quantification and genotyping of Herpes Simplex Virus in cervicovaginal secretions by real-time PCR: a cross sectional survey 
Virology Journal  2005;2:61.
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Genital Ulcer Disease (GUD) is an important public health problem, whose interaction with HIV results in mutually enhancing epidemics. Conventional methods for detecting HSV tend to be slow and insensitive. We designed a rapid PCR-based assay to quantify and type HSV in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) fluid of subjects attending a Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic. Vaginal swabs, CVL fluid and venous blood were collected. Quantitative detection of HSV was conducted using real time PCR with HSV specific primers and SYBR Green I. Fluorogenic TaqMan Minor Groove Binder (MGB) probes designed around a single base mismatch in the HSV DNA polymerase I gene were used to type HSV in a separate reaction. The Kalon test was used to detect anti-HSV-2 IgG antibodies in serum. Testing for HIV, other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and related infections was based on standard clinical and laboratory methods.
Seventy consecutive GUM clinic attendees were studied. Twenty-seven subjects (39%) had detectable HSV DNA in CVL fluid; HSV-2 alone was detected in 19 (70%) subjects, HSV-1 alone was detected in 4 (15%) subjects and both HSV types were detected in 4 (15%) subjects. Eleven out of 27 subjects (41%) with anti-HSV-2 IgG had detectable HSV-2 DNA in CVL fluid. Seven subjects (10%) were HIV-positive. Three of seven (43%) HIV-infected subjects and two of five subjects with GUD (40%) were secreting HSV-2. None of the subjects in whom HSV-1 was detected had GUD.
Quantitative real-time PCR and Taqman MGB probes specific for HSV-1 or -2 were used to develop an assay for quantification and typing of HSV. The majority of subjects in which HSV was detected had low levels of CVL fluid HSV, with no detectable HSV-2 antibodies and were asymptomatic.
PMCID: PMC1236615  PMID: 16095535
12.  Determination of L1 retrotransposition kinetics in cultured cells 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(6):1418-1423.
L1 retrotransposons are autonomous retroelements that are active in the human and mouse genomes. Previously, we developed a cultured cell assay that uses a neomycin phosphotransferase (neo) retrotransposition cassette to determine relative retrotransposition frequencies among various L1 elements. Here, we describe a new retrotransposition assay that uses an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) retrotransposition cassette to determine retrotransposition kinetics in cultured cells. We show that retrotransposition is not detected in cultured cells during the first 48 h post-transfection, but then proceeds at a continuous high rate for at least 16 days. We also determine the relative retrotransposition rates of two similar human L1 retrotransposons, L1RP and L1.3. L1RP retrotransposed in the EGFP assay at a rate of ~0.5% of transfected cells/day, ~3-fold higher than the rate measured for L1.3. We conclude that the new assay detects near real time retrotransposition in a single cell and is sufficiently sensitive to differentiate retrotransposition rates among similar L1 elements. The EGFP assay exhibits improved speed and accuracy compared to the previous assay when used to determine relative retrotransposition frequencies. Furthermore, the EGFP cassette has an expanded range of experimental applications.
PMCID: PMC111040  PMID: 10684937
13.  A Mouse M-opsin Monochromat: Retinal Cone Photoreceptors have increased M-Opsin Expression when S-Opsin is knocked out 
Vision research  2011;51(4):447-458.
Mouse cone photoreceptors, like those of most mammals including humans, express cone opsins derived from two ancient families: S-opsin (gene Opn1sw) and M-opsin (gene Opn1mw). Most C57BI/6 mouse cones co-express both opsins, but in dorso-ventral counter-gradients, with M-opsin dominant in the dorsal retina and S-opsin in the ventral retina, and S-opsin 4-fold greater overall. We created a mouse lacking S-opsin expression by the insertion of a Neomycin selection cassette between the third and fourth exons of the Opn1sw gene (Opn1swNeo/Neo). In strong contrast to published results characterizing mice lacking rhodopsin (Rho−/−) in which retinal rods undergo cell death by 2.5 months, cones of the Opn1swNeo/Neo mouse remain viable for at least 1.5 yrs, even though many ventral cones do not form outer segments, as revealed by high resolution immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. Suction pipette recordings revealed that functional ventral cones of the Opn1swNeo/Neo mouse not only phototransduce light with normal kinetics, but are more sensitive to mid-wavelength light than their WT counterparts. Quantitative Western blot analysis revealed the basis of the heightened sensitivity to be increased M-opsin expression. Because S- and M-opsin transcripts must compete for the same translational machinery in cones where they are co-expressed, elimination of S-opsin mRNA in ventral Opn1swNeo/Neo cones likely increases M-opsin expression by relieving competition for translational machinery, revealing an important consequence of eliminating a dominant transcript. Overall, our results reveal a striking capacity for cone photoreceptors to function with much reduced opsin expression, and to remain viable in the absence of an outer segment.
PMCID: PMC3072795  PMID: 21219924
opsin; cone survival; phototransduction; color vision
14.  Quantitation of substitutions at amino acid 70 in hepatitis C virus genotype 1b 
Virology Journal  2014;11:148.
Substitutions of amino acid (aa) 70 in the core region of hepatitis C virus genotype 1b (HCV 1b) are a predictor of the non-virological response to pegylated interferon plus ribavirin (PEG-IFN/RBV) therapy. The aim of our study was to develop quantitative real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays to quantify wild-type (70 W) and mutant (70 M) strains of HCV 1b.
We used the TaqMan system to quantify strains 70 W and 70 M. Codon 70 in the HCV 1b core region can be either CGN or CAN, therefore degenerate TaqMan minor groove binder (MGB) probes with inosine were used. We determined detection limits, sensitivity and specificity of the methods developed. Direct sequencing and cloning of the HCV core region were used to confirm the reliability of our new system. Serum samples from 138 Chinese patients infected with HCV 1b were examined with the system we developed and compared with results obtained from the Roche TaqMan RT-PCR HCV RNA quantitation system.
Degenerate MGB probes were able to clearly distinguish 70 W from 70 M. The detection limit was 103 copies/mL. Cross-reactivity tests confirmed the specificity of our method. Our system can effectively quantify 70 W and 70 M for 99.6% of patients with HCV 1b. Further tests involving cloning and sequencing confirmed the reliability of our system.
We developed an assay system using degenerate TaqMan MGB probes with inosine to quantify wild-type and mutant viral RNAs of the HCV 1b core region at aa 70. Our developed assay system had high levels of sensitivity and accuracy, and could prove useful in investigating dynamic changes during PEG-IFN/RBV therapy to assess virological responses.
PMCID: PMC4141953  PMID: 25128407
Hepatitis C virus; Genotype 1b; Amino acid 70 substitutions; Degenerate probes; Inosine; Quantitative PCR
15.  Quantitative real-time PCR with SYBR Green detection to assess gene duplication in insects: study of gene dosage in Drosophila melanogaster (Diptera) and in Ostrinia nubilalis (Lepidoptera) 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:84.
The accurate determination of the number of copies of a gene in the genome (gene dosage) is essential for a number of genetic analyses. Quantitative real time PCR (qPCR) with TaqMan detection has shown advantages over traditional Southern-blot and FISH techniques, however the high costs of the required labeled probes is an important limitation of this method. qPCR with SYBR Green I detection is a simple and inexpensive alternative, but it has never been applied to the determination of the copy number of low copy number genes in organisms with high allelic variability (as some insects), where a very small margin of error is essential.
We have tested the suitability of the qPCR with SYBR Green I detection methodology for the detection of low copy number genes in two insects: the genetically well characterized Drosophila melanogaster (Diptera) and the poor genetically characterized Ostrinia nubilalis (Lepidoptera). The system was applied to determine the copy number of: (1) the O. nubilalis cadherin gene, involved in the mode of action of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins, which showed indirect evidence of duplication, and (2) the D. melanogaster BarH1 and BarH2 genes, located within the Bar region of the X chromosome, to clearly determine whether they both are covered by the tandem duplication in the classical Bar (B1) mutant. Our results showed that the O. nubilalis cadherin gene is an autosomal single copy gene and that BarH1, but not BarH2, is duplicated in the Drosophila B1 mutant.
This work shows that qPCR with SYBR Green I detection can be specific and accurate enough to distinguish between one and two gene copies per haploid genome of genes with high allelic variability. The technique is sensitive enough to give reliable results with a minimum amount of sample (DNA from individual thoraxes) and to detect gene duplications in tandem.
PMCID: PMC3079659  PMID: 21443764
16.  Fast-tracking development of homozygous transgenic cereal lines using a simple and highly flexible real-time PCR assay 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:71.
A crucial step in the evaluation of newly produced transgenic plants is the selection of homozygous plants. Here we describe an efficient and highly flexible real-time PCR-based method for the development of homozygous lines in plant models with complex (multiple) genomes and/or relatively long generation times (>3 months) using direct copy number determinations.
An existing DNA extraction method was converted into a high-throughput plant leaf DNA extraction procedure yielding DNA suitable for real-time PCR analyses. Highly specific and efficient primer pairs were developed for a bread wheat reference gene (Epsilon Cyclase) and for standard sequence elements in the gene cassette routinely used for cereal transformations (an intron bridge and the Nopaline Synthase terminator). The real-time PCR assay reliably distinguished wheat plants with a single copy of the transgene from individuals with multiple copies or those lacking the transgene. To obtain homozygous lines carrying a unique insertion event as efficiently as possible, T0 plants (plants raised from transformed callus) with a single copy of the transgene were selected and their progeny screened for homozygous plants. Finally, the assay was adapted to work on rice.
The ability to quickly, easily and accurately quantify the construct copy numbers, as provided by the real-time PCR assay, greatly improved the efficiency and reliability of the selection of homozygous transgenic plants in our case study. We were able to select homozygous plants in early generations, avoiding time-consuming methods such as large scale analysis of segregation patterns of descendants and/or Southern blotting. Additionally, the ability to specifically develop homozygous lines carrying a unique insertion event could be important in avoiding gene silencing due to co-suppression, and if needed assist in the selection of lines suitable for future deregulation. The same primer pairs can be used to quantify many different wheat transgenic events because the construct-specific primer pairs are targeted to standard sequence elements of the cereal gene cassettes, making the method widely applicable in wheat GM research. Moreover, because all procedures described here are standardized, the method may easily be adapted to vectors lacking the target regions used here and/or to other plant models.
PMCID: PMC3668147  PMID: 23627847
Real-time PCR; qPCR; Cereal; Wheat; Transgene; Copy number; Homozygous line
17.  Introduction of a point mutation into the mouse genome by homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells using a replacement type vector with a selectable marker. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1993;21(11):2613-2617.
The introduction of small mutations instead of null alleles into the mouse genome has broad applications to the study of protein structure-function relationships and the creation of animal models of human genetic diseases. To test a simple mutational strategy we designed a targeting vector for the mouse proopiomelanocortin (POMC) gene containing a single nucleotide insertion that converts the initial tyrosine codon of beta-endorphin 1-31 to a premature translational termination codon and introduces a unique Hpal endonuclease restriction site. The targeting vector also contains a neo cassette immediately 3' to the last POMC exon and a herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase cassette to allow positive and negative selection. Homologous recombination occurred at a frequency of 1/30 clones of electroporated embryonic stem cells selected in G418 and gancyclovir. 10/11 clones identified initially by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) strategy had the predicted structure without evidence of concatemer formation by Southern blot analysis. We used a combination of Hpa I digestion of PCR amplified fragments and direct nucleotide sequencing to further confirm that the point mutation was retained in 9/10 clones. The POMC gene was transcriptionally silent in embryonic stem cells and the targeted allele was not activated by the downstream phosphoglycerate kinase-1 promoter that transcribed the neo gene. Under the electroporation conditions used, we have demonstrated that a point mutation can be introduced with high efficiency and precision into the POMC gene using a replacement type vector containing a retained selectable marker without affecting expression of the allele in the embryonic stem cells. A similar strategy may be useful for a wide range of genes.
PMCID: PMC309589  PMID: 8392702
18.  Detection of Brugia Parasite DNA in Human Blood by Real-Time PCR▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(11):3887-3893.
Brugian filariasis (caused by the nematodes Brugia malayi and B. timori) is an important cause of disability in Southeast Asia. Improved diagnostic tests are needed for filariasis elimination programs (to identify areas of endemicity and to monitor progress) and for diagnosis of the disease in infected individuals. We have developed and evaluated two real-time PCR assays for detecting Brugia DNA in human blood and compared the results of these assays to those of “gold standard” assays. One assay uses a TaqMan probe (TaqM) to amplifiy a 320-bp “HhaI repeat” DNA sequence. The other assay uses a minor groove binding probe (MGB) and modified nucleotides in primers (Eclipse MGB) to amplify a 120-bp fragment of the HhaI repeat. This assay detects 22 copies of the target sequence, and it is more sensitive than the TaqM assay. Both assays were evaluated with human blood samples from two different areas of endemicity. The MGB assay was as sensitive as membrane filtration and microscopy for the detection of B. malayi infection in 57 blood samples recovered at night from patients in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The MGB assay also detected parasite DNA in 17 of 31 (55%) of microfilaria-negative day blood samples from these subjects. This test was more sensitive than the conventional and the TaqM PCRs (and was almost as sensitive as night blood membrane filtration) for the detection of infection in 52 blood samples recovered at night from individuals in an area of B. timori endemicity on Alor Island, Indonesia, where microfilaria-positive individuals had low densities after mass treatment. Thus, the Eclipse MGB real-time PCR assay is a sensitive means of detecting Brugia parasite DNA in human blood.
PMCID: PMC1698366  PMID: 16957038
19.  A sensitive one-step real-time PCR for detection of avian influenza viruses using a MGB probe and an internal positive control 
Avian influenza viruses (AIVs) are endemic in wild birds and their introduction and conversion to highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in domestic poultry is a cause of serious economic losses as well as a risk for potential transmission to humans. The ability to rapidly recognise AIVs in biological specimens is critical for limiting further spread of the disease in poultry. The advent of molecular methods such as real time polymerase chain reaction has allowed improvement of detection methods currently used in laboratories, although not all of these methods include an Internal Positive Control (IPC) to monitor for false negative results.
Therefore we developed a one-step reverse transcription real time PCR (RRT-PCR) with a Minor Groove Binder (MGB) probe for the detection of different subtypes of AIVs. This technique also includes an IPC.
RRT-PCR was developed using an improved TaqMan technology with a MGB probe to detect AI from reference viruses. Primers and probe were designed based on the matrix gene sequences from most animal and human A influenza virus subtypes. The specificity of RRT-PCR was assessed by detecting influenza A virus isolates belonging to subtypes from H1–H13 isolated in avian, human, swine and equine hosts. The analytical sensitivity of the RRT-PCR assay was determined using serial dilutions of in vitro transcribed matrix gene RNA. The use of a rodent RNA as an IPC in order not to reduce the efficiency of the assay was adopted.
The RRT-PCR assay is capable to detect all tested influenza A viruses. The detection limit of the assay was shown to be between 5 and 50 RNA copies per reaction and the standard curve demonstrated a linear range from 5 to 5 × 108 copies as well as excellent reproducibility. The analytical sensitivity of the assay is 10–100 times higher than conventional RT-PCR.
The high sensitivity, rapidity, reproducibility and specificity of the AIV RRT-PCR with the use of IPC to monitor for false negative results can make this method suitable for diagnosis and for the evaluation of viral load in field specimens.
PMCID: PMC1524785  PMID: 16725022
20.  Development and comparison of a real-time PCR assay for detection of Dichelobacter nodosus with culturing and conventional PCR: harmonisation between three laboratories 
Ovine footrot is a contagious disease with worldwide occurrence in sheep. The main causative agent is the fastidious bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus. In Scandinavia, footrot was first diagnosed in Sweden in 2004 and later also in Norway and Denmark. Clinical examination of sheep feet is fundamental to diagnosis of footrot, but D. nodosus should also be detected to confirm the diagnosis. PCR-based detection using conventional PCR has been used at our institutes, but the method was laborious and there was a need for a faster, easier-to-interpret method. The aim of this study was to develop a TaqMan-based real-time PCR assay for detection of D. nodosus and to compare its performance with culturing and conventional PCR.
A D. nodosus-specific TaqMan based real-time PCR assay targeting the 16S rRNA gene was designed. The inclusivity and exclusivity (specificity) of the assay was tested using 55 bacterial and two fungal strains. To evaluate the sensitivity and harmonisation of results between different laboratories, aliquots of a single DNA preparation were analysed at three Scandinavian laboratories. The developed real-time PCR assay was compared to culturing by analysing 126 samples, and to a conventional PCR method by analysing 224 samples. A selection of PCR-products was cloned and sequenced in order to verify that they had been identified correctly.
The developed assay had a detection limit of 3.9 fg of D. nodosus genomic DNA. This result was obtained at all three laboratories and corresponds to approximately three copies of the D. nodosus genome per reaction. The assay showed 100% inclusivity and 100% exclusivity for the strains tested. The real-time PCR assay found 54.8% more positive samples than by culturing and 8% more than conventional PCR.
The developed real-time PCR assay has good specificity and sensitivity for detection of D. nodosus, and the results are easy to interpret. The method is less time-consuming than either culturing or conventional PCR.
PMCID: PMC3292931  PMID: 22293440
21.  Subgenomic replicons of the flavivirus Kunjin: construction and applications. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(2):1497-1505.
Several Kunjin virus (KUN) subgenomic replicons containing large deletions in the structural region (C-prM-E) and in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of the genome have been constructed. Replicon RNA deltaME with 1,987 nucleotides deleted (from nucleotide 417 [in codon 108] in the C gene to nucleotide 2403 near the carboxy terminus of the E gene, inclusive) and replicon RNA C20rep with 2,247 nucleotides deleted (from nucleotide 157 [in codon 20] in C to nucleotide 2403) replicated efficiently in electroporated BHK21 cells. A further deletion from C20rep of 53 nucleotides, reducing the coding sequence in core protein to two codons (C2rep RNA), resulted in abolishment of RNA replication. Replicon deltaME/76 with a deletion of 76 nucleotides in the 3'UTR of deltaME RNA (nucleotides 10423 to 10498) replicated efficiently, whereas replicon deltaME/352 with a larger deletion of 352 nucleotides (nucleotides 10423 to 10774), including two conserved sequences RCS3 and CS3, was significantly inhibited in RNA replication. To explore the possibility of using a reporter gene assay to monitor synthesis of the positive strand and the negative strand of KUN RNA, we inserted a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene into the 3'UTR of deltaME/76 RNA under control of the internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) of encephalomyelocarditis virus RNA in both plus (deltaME/76CAT[+])- and minus (deltaME/76CAT[-])-sense orientations. Although insertion of the IRES-CAT cassette in the plus-sense orientation resulted in a significant (10- to 20-fold) reduction of RNA replication compared to that of the parental deltaME/76 RNA, CAT expression was readily detected in electroporated BHK cells. No CAT expression was detected after electroporation of RNA containing the IRES-CAT cassette inserted in the minus-sense orientation despite its apparently more efficient replication (similar to that of deltaME/76 RNA); this result indicated that KUN negative-strand RNA was probably not released from its template after synthesis. Replacement of the CAT gene in the deltaME/76CAT(+) RNA with the neomycin gene (Neo) enabled selection and recovery of a BHK cell culture in which the majority of cells were continuously expressing the replicon RNA for 41 days (nine passages) without apparent cytopathic effect. The constructed KUN replicons should provide valuable tools to study flavivirus RNA replication as well as providing possible vectors for a long-lasting and noncytopathic RNA virus expression system.
PMCID: PMC191206  PMID: 8995675
22.  MGB probe assay for rapid detection of mtDNA11778 mutation in the Chinese LHON patients by real-time PCR*  
Objective: Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) is a maternally inherited degeneration of the optic nerve caused by point mutations of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Many unsolved questions regarding the penetrance and pathophysiological mechanism of LHON demand efficient and reliable mutation testing. This study aims to develop a minor groove binder (MGB) probe assay for rapid detection of mtDNA11778 mutation and heteroplasmy in Chinese LHON patients by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Methods: Forty-eight patients suspected of having LHON and their maternal relatives underwent a molecular genetic evaluation, with 20 normal individuals as a control group at the same time. A real-time PCR involving two MGB probes was used to detect the mtDNA11778 mutation and heteroplasmy. A linear standard curve was obtained by pUCmLHONG and pUCmLHONA clones. Results: All 48 LHON patients and their maternal relatives were positive for mtDNA11778 mutation in our assay, 27 heteroplasmic and 21 homoplasmic. Eighteen cases did not show an occurrence of the disease, while 9 developed the disease among the 27 heteroplasmic mutation cases. Eleven did not show an occurrence of the disease, while 10 cases developed the disease among 21 homoplasmic mutation cases. There was a significant difference in the incidence between the heteroplasmic and the homoplasmic mutation types. The time needed for running a real-time PCR assay was only 80 min. Conclusion: This real-time PCR assay is a rapid, reliable method for mtDNA mutation detection as well as heteroplasmy quantification. Detecting this ratio is very important for predicting phenotypic expression of unaffected carriers.
PMCID: PMC2491690  PMID: 18763310
Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON); Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); MtDNA11778 mutation; Minor groove binder (MGB) probe; Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
23.  Construction of a bifunctional mRNA in the mouse by using the internal ribosomal entry site of the encephalomyocarditis virus. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1992;12(8):3636-3643.
Picornaviral mRNAs have been shown to possess special structures in their 5' nontranslated regions (5'NTRs) that provide sites for internal binding of ribosomes and thus direct cap-independent translation. The translational cis-acting elements for ribosomal internal entry into the 5'NTR of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), a member of family Picornaviridae, have been named the internal ribosomal entry site (IRES). All of the published experiments regarding the IRES function of the picornavirus 5'NTR, however, were performed with cell extracts in vitro or with tissue culture cells in transient assay systems. In this study, we examined the IRES function of the EMCV 5'NTR in chimeric mouse embryos and demonstrated that this element does in fact work stably in mouse embryos as well as in embryonic stem (ES) cells. By using a dicistronic vector, pWH8, consisting of a promoter-driven neomycin resistance gene (neo) followed by the EMCV 5'NTR-lacZ sequence, we showed that more than half of the ES cells made G418 resistant by the vector stained positive for beta-galactosidase (beta-gal). On Northern (RNA) blots, all of the clones analyzed revealed a transcript of the expected size containing both the beta-gal and the neo cistrons. These results indicate that dicistronic mRNAs are produced from the stably integrated vector in those ES clones and that both of the cistrons are translated to produce functional proteins. The chimeric embryos derived from these ES clones also stained positive for beta-gal, suggesting that the bifunctional mRNAs are active in the embryos. This dicistronic vector system provides a novel tool by which to obtain temporally and spatially coordinated expression of two different genes driven by a single promoter in a single cell in mice.
PMCID: PMC364630  PMID: 1321342
24.  Insertion of Foreign DNA into an Established Mammalian Genome Can Alter the Methylation of Cellular DNA Sequences† 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(2):1010-1022.
The insertion of adenovirus type 12 (Ad12) DNA into the hamster genome and the transformation of these cells by Ad12 can lead to marked alterations in the levels of DNA methylation in several cellular genes and DNA segments. Since such alterations in DNA methylation patterns are likely to affect the transcription patterns of cellular genes, it is conceivable that these changes have played a role in the generation or the maintenance of the Ad12-transformed phenotype. We have now isolated clonal BHK21 hamster cell lines that carry in their genomes bacteriophage λ and plasmid pSV2neo DNAs in an integrated state. Most of these cell lines contain one or multiple copies of integrated λ DNA, which often colocalize with the pSV2neo DNA, usually in a single chromosomal site as determined by the fluorescent in situ hybridization technique. In different cell lines, the loci of foreign DNA insertion are different. The inserted bacteriophage λ DNA frequently becomes de novo methylated. In some of the thus-generated hamster cell lines, the levels of DNA methylation in the retrotransposon genomes of the endogenous intracisternal A particles (IAP) are increased in comparison to those in the non-λ-DNA-transgenic BHK21 cell lines. These changes in the methylation patterns of the IAP subclone I (IAPI) segment have been documented by restriction analyses with methylation-sensitive restriction endonucleases followed by Southern transfer hybridization and phosphorimager quantitation. The results of genomic sequencing experiments using the bisulfite protocol yielded additional evidence for alterations in the patterns of DNA methylation in selected segments of the IAPI sequences. In these experiments, the nucleotide sequences in >330 PCR-generated cloned DNA molecules were determined. Upon prolonged cultivation of cell lines with altered cellular methylation patterns, these differences became less apparent, perhaps due to counterselection of the transgenic cells. The possibility existed that the hamster BHK21 cell genomes represent mosaics with respect to DNA methylation in the IAPI segment. Hence, some of the cells with the patterns observed after λ DNA integration might have existed prior to λ DNA integration and been selected by chance. A total of 66 individual BHK21 cell clones from the BHK21 cell stock have been recloned up to three times, and the DNAs of these cell populations have been analyzed for differences in IAPI methylation patterns. None have been found. These patterns are identical among the individual BHK21 cell clones and identical to the patterns of the originally used BHK21 cell line. Similar results have been obtained with nine clones isolated from BHK21 cells mock transfected by the Ca2+-phosphate precipitation procedure with DNA omitted from the transfection mixture. In four clonal sublines of nontransgenic control BHK21 cells, genomic sequencing of 335 PCR-generated clones by the bisulfite protocol revealed 5′-CG-3′ methylation levels in the IAPI segment that were comparable to those in the uncloned BHK21 cell line. We conclude that the observed changes in the DNA methylation patterns in BHK21 cells with integrated λ DNA are unlikely to preexist or to be caused by the transfection procedure. Our data support the interpretation that the insertion of foreign DNA into a preexisting mammalian genome can alter the cellular patterns of DNA methylation, perhaps via changes in chromatin structure. The cellular sites affected by and the extent of these changes could depend on the site and size of foreign DNA insertion.
PMCID: PMC103921  PMID: 9882302
25.  Hepatitis C virus infection down-regulates the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α and carnitine palmitoyl acyl-CoA transferase 1A 
World Journal of Gastroenterology  2005;11(48):7591-7596.
AIM: To elucidate the role of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α (PPARα) and its target gene carnitine palmitoyl acyl-CoA transferase 1A (CPT1A) in the pathogenesis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
METHODS: Liver samples were collected from the patients with chronic HCV infection and controls. HepG2 cells were transfected with vector pEF352neo carrying. Two independent clones (clone N3 and N4) stably expressing HCV core protein were analyzed. Total RNA was extracted from cells and liver tissues. PPARα and CPT1A mRNAs were quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using SYBR Green Master. Total extracted proteins were separated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, and electroblotted. Membranes were incubated with the anti-PPARα antibody, then with a swine anti-rabbit IgG conjugated to horseradish peroxidase for PPARα. Protein bands were revealed by an enhanced chemiluminescence reaction for PPARα. For immunohistochemical staining of PPARα, sections were incubated with the primary goat polyclonal antibody directed against PPARα at room temperature.
RESULTS: Real-time PCR indicated that the PPARα level and expression level of CPT1A gene in hepatitis C patients lowered significantly as compared with the controls (1.8±2.8 vs 13±3.4, P = 0.0002; 1.1±1.5 vs 7.4±1, P = 0.004). Western blot results showed that the level of PPARα protein in the livers of hepatitis C patients was lower than that in controls (2.3±0.3 vs 3.6±0.2, P = 0.009). The immunohistochemical staining results in chronic hepatitis C patients indicated a decrease in PPARα staining in hepatocytes compared with those in the control livers. The in vitro studies found that in the N3 and N4 colon stably expressing HCV core protein, the PPARα mRNA levels were significantly lower than that in the controls.
CONCLUSION: The impaired intrahepatic PPARα expression is associated with the pathogenic mechanism in hepatic injury during chronic HCV infection. HCV infection reduced the expression of PPARα and CPT1A at the level of not only mRNAs but also proteins. PPARα plays an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic HCV infection, but the impaired function of this nuclear receptor in HCV infection needs further studies.
PMCID: PMC4727219  PMID: 16437683
Hepatitis C virus; Infection; PPARα; CPT1A

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