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1.  DNA targeting by the type I-G and type I-A CRISPR–Cas systems of Pyrococcus furiosus 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(21):10353-10363.
CRISPR–Cas systems silence plasmids and viruses in prokaryotes. CRISPR–Cas effector complexes contain CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) that include sequences captured from invaders and direct CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins to destroy corresponding invader nucleic acids. Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) harbors three CRISPR–Cas immune systems: a Cst (Type I-G) system with an associated Cmr (Type III-B) module at one locus, and a partial Csa (Type I-A) module (lacking known invader sequence acquisition and crRNA processing genes) at another locus. The Pfu Cmr complex cleaves complementary target RNAs, and Csa systems have been shown to target DNA, while the mechanism by which Cst complexes silence invaders is unknown. In this study, we investigated the function of the Cst as well as Csa system in Pfu strains harboring a single CRISPR–Cas system. Plasmid transformation assays revealed that the Cst and Csa systems both function by DNA silencing and utilize similar flanking sequence information (PAMs) to identify invader DNA. Silencing by each system specifically requires its associated Cas3 nuclease. crRNAs from the 7 shared CRISPR loci in Pfu are processed for use by all 3 effector complexes, and Northern analysis revealed that individual effector complexes dictate the profile of mature crRNA species that is generated.
PMCID: PMC4666368  PMID: 26519471
2.  Sequences spanning the leader-repeat junction mediate CRISPR adaptation to phage in Streptococcus thermophilus 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(3):1749-1758.
CRISPR-Cas systems are RNA-based immune systems that protect prokaryotes from invaders such as phages and plasmids. In adaptation, the initial phase of the immune response, short foreign DNA fragments are captured and integrated into host CRISPR loci to provide heritable defense against encountered foreign nucleic acids. Each CRISPR contains a ∼100–500 bp leader element that typically includes a transcription promoter, followed by an array of captured ∼35 bp sequences (spacers) sandwiched between copies of an identical ∼35 bp direct repeat sequence. New spacers are added immediately downstream of the leader. Here, we have analyzed adaptation to phage infection in Streptococcus thermophilus at the CRISPR1 locus to identify cis-acting elements essential for the process. We show that the leader and a single repeat of the CRISPR locus are sufficient for adaptation in this system. Moreover, we identified a leader sequence element capable of stimulating adaptation at a dormant repeat. We found that sequences within 10 bp of the site of integration, in both the leader and repeat of the CRISPR, are required for the process. Our results indicate that information at the CRISPR leader-repeat junction is critical for adaptation in this Type II-A system and likely other CRISPR-Cas systems.
PMCID: PMC4330368  PMID: 25589547
3.  Programmable plasmid interference by the CRISPR-Cas system in Thermococcus kodakarensis 
RNA Biology  2013;10(5):828-840.
CRISPR-Cas systems are RNA-guided immune systems that protect prokaryotes against viruses and other invaders. The CRISPR locus encodes crRNAs that recognize invading nucleic acid sequences and trigger silencing by the associated Cas proteins. There are multiple CRISPR-Cas systems with distinct compositions and mechanistic processes. Thermococcus kodakarensis (Tko) is a hyperthermophilic euryarchaeon that has both a Type I-A Csa and a Type I-B Cst CRISPR-Cas system. We have analyzed the expression and composition of crRNAs from the three CRISPRs in Tko by RNA deep sequencing and northern analysis. Our results indicate that crRNAs associated with these two CRISPR-Cas systems include an 8-nucleotide conserved sequence tag at the 5′ end. We challenged Tko with plasmid invaders containing sequences targeted by endogenous crRNAs and observed active CRISPR-Cas-mediated silencing. Plasmid silencing was dependent on complementarity with a crRNA as well as on a sequence element found immediately adjacent to the crRNA recognition site in the target termed the PAM (protospacer adjacent motif). Silencing occurred independently of the orientation of the target sequence in the plasmid, and appears to occur at the DNA level, presumably via DNA degradation. In addition, we have directed silencing of an invader plasmid by genetically engineering the chromosomal CRISPR locus to express customized crRNAs directed against the plasmid. Our results support CRISPR engineering as a feasible approach to develop prokaryotic strains that are resistant to infection for use in industry.
PMCID: PMC3737340  PMID: 23535213
CRISPR; Cas; archaea; Thermococcus; hyperthermophile; immune; RNA; DNA; silencing; interference
4.  The three major types of CRISPR-Cas systems function independently in CRISPR RNA biogenesis in Streptococcus thermophilus 
Molecular microbiology  2014;93(1):98-112.
CRISPR-Cas systems are small RNA-based immune systems that protect prokaryotes from invaders such as viruses and plasmids. We have investigated the features and biogenesis of the CRISPR (cr)RNAs in Streptococcus thermophilus (Sth) strain DGCC7710, which possesses four different CRISPR-Cas systems including representatives from the three major types of CRISPR-Cas systems. Our results indicate that the crRNAs from each CRISPR locus are specifically processed into divergent crRNA species by Cas proteins (and non-coding RNAs) associated with the respective locus. We find that the Csm Type III-A and Cse Type I-E crRNAs are specifically processed by Cas6 and Cse3 (Cas6e), respectively, and retain an 8-nucleotide CRISPR repeat sequence tag 5′ of the invader-targeting sequence. The Cse Type I-E crRNAs also retain a 21-nucleotide 3′ repeat tag. The crRNAs from the two Csn Type II-A systems in Sth consist of a 5′-truncated targeting sequence and a 3′ tag; however these are distinct in size between the two. Moreover, the Csn1 (Cas9) protein associated with one Csn locus functions specifically in the production of crRNAs from that locus. Our findings indicate that multiple CRISPR-Cas systems can function independently in crRNA biogenesis within a given organism – an important consideration in engineering co-existing CRISPR-Cas pathways.
PMCID: PMC4095994  PMID: 24811454
CRISPR RNA biogenesis; Cas6; Cas9; tracrRNA; Streptococcus thermophilus
5.  Argonaute of the archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus is a DNA-guided nuclease that targets cognate DNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(10):5120-5129.
Functions of prokaryotic Argonautes (pAgo) have long remained elusive. Recently, Argonautes of the bacteria Rhodobacter sphaeroides and Thermus thermophilus were demonstrated to be involved in host defense. The Argonaute of the archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus (PfAgo) belongs to a different branch in the phylogenetic tree, which is most closely related to that of RNA interference-mediating eukaryotic Argonautes. Here we describe a functional and mechanistic characterization of PfAgo. Like the bacterial counterparts, archaeal PfAgo contributes to host defense by interfering with the uptake of plasmid DNA. PfAgo utilizes small 5′-phosphorylated DNA guides to cleave both single stranded and double stranded DNA targets, and does not utilize RNA as guide or target. Thus, with respect to function and specificity, the archaeal PfAgo resembles bacterial Argonautes much more than eukaryotic Argonautes. These findings demonstrate that the role of Argonautes is conserved through the bacterial and archaeal domains of life and suggests that eukaryotic Argonautes are derived from DNA-guided DNA-interfering host defense systems.
PMCID: PMC4446448  PMID: 25925567
6.  Structure of the Cmr2 Subunit of the CRISPR-Cas RNA Silencing Complex 
Cmr2 is the largest and an essential subunit of a CRISPR RNA-Cas protein complex (the Cmr complex) that cleaves foreign RNA to protect prokaryotes from invading genetic elements. Cmr2 is thought to be the catalytic subunit of the effector complex because of its N-terminal HD nuclease domain. Here however, we report that the HD domain of Cmr2 is not required for cleavage by the complex in vitro. The 2.3Å crystal structure of Pyrococcus furiosus Cmr2 (lacking the HD domain) reveals two adenylyl cyclase-like and two α-helical domains. The adenylyl cyclase-like domains are arranged as in homodimeric adenylyl cyclases and bind ADP and divalent metals. However, mutagenesis studies show that the metal- and ADP-coordinating residues of Cmr2 are also not critical for cleavage by the complex. Our findings suggest that another component provides the catalytic function, and that the essential role by Cmr2 does not require the identified ADP- or metal-binding, or HD domains in vitro.
PMCID: PMC4384425  PMID: 22405013
7.  CRISPR-Based Technologies: Prokaryotic Defense Weapons Repurposed 
Trends in genetics : TIG  2014;30(3):111-118.
To combat potentially deadly viral infections, prokaryotic microbes enlist small RNA-based adaptive immune systems (CRISPR-Cas systems) that protect through sequence-specific recognition and targeted destruction of viral nucleic acids (either DNA or RNA depending on the system). Here, we summarize rapid progress made in redirecting the nuclease activities of these microbial immune systems to bind and cleave DNA or RNA targets of choice, by reprogramming the small guide RNAs of the various CRISPR-Cas complexes. These studies have demonstrated the potential of Type II CRISPR-Cas systems both as efficient and versatile genome editing tools and as potent and specific regulators of gene expression in a very broad range of cell types (including human) and organisms. Progress is also being made in developing a Type III RNA-targeting CRISPR-Cas system as a novel gene knockdown platform to investigate gene function and modulate gene expression for metabolic engineering in microbes.
PMCID: PMC3981743  PMID: 24555991
CRISPR; Cas; genome editing; RNA silencing; biotechnology; metabolic engineering
8.  Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Is Required for the Localization of Telomerase RNA to Cajal Bodies and Telomeres in Human Cancer Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2008;19(9):3793-3800.
Telomere maintenance by telomerase is critical for the unlimited division potential of most human cancer cells. The two essential components of human telomerase, telomerase RNA (hTR) and telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT), are recruited from distinct subnuclear sites to telomeres during S phase. Throughout the remainder of the cell cycle hTR is found primarily in Cajal bodies. The localization of hTR to Cajal bodies and telomeres is specific to cancer cells where telomerase is active and is not observed in primary cells. Here we show that the trafficking of hTR to both telomeres and Cajal bodies depends on hTERT. RNA interference–mediated depletion of hTERT in cancer cells leads to loss of hTR from both Cajal bodies and telomeres without affecting hTR levels. In addition, expression of hTERT in telomerase-negative cells (including primary and ALT cancer cell lines) induces hTR to localize to both sites. Factors that did not stimulate hTR localization in our experiments include increased hTR RNA levels and Cajal body numbers, and expression of SV40 large T antigen and oncogenic Ras. Our findings suggest that the trafficking of telomerase to Cajal bodies and telomeres in cancer cells correlates with and depends on the assembly of the enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2526684  PMID: 18562689
9.  Essential Structural and Functional Roles of the Cmr4 Subunit in RNA Cleavage by the Cmr CRISPR-Cas Complex 
Cell reports  2014;9(5):1610-1617.
The Cmr complex is the multi-subunit effector complex of the Type III-B CRISPR-Cas immune system. The Cmr complex recognizes a target RNA through base pairing with the integral CRISPR RNA (crRNA) and cleaves the target at multiple regularly spaced locations within the complementary region. To understand the molecular basis of the function of this complex, we have assembled information from electron microscopic and x-ray crystallographic structural studies and mutagenesis of a complete Pyrococcus furiosus Cmr complex. Our findings reveal that four helically-packed Cmr4 subunits, which comprise the backbone of the Cmr complex, act as a platform to support crRNA binding and target RNA cleavage. Interestingly, we found a hook-like structural feature associated with Cmr4 that is likely the site of target RNA binding and cleavage. Our results also elucidate analogies in the mechanisms of crRNA and target molecule binding by the distinct Cmr Type III-A and Cascade Type I-E complexes.
PMCID: PMC4269474  PMID: 25482566
10.  Formation of the conserved pseudouridine at position 55 in archaeal tRNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(15):4293-4301.
Pseudouridine (Ψ) located at position 55 in tRNA is a nearly universally conserved RNA modification found in all three domains of life. This modification is catalyzed by TruB in bacteria and by Pus4 in eukaryotes, but so far the Ψ55 synthase has not been identified in archaea. In this work, we report the ability of two distinct pseudouridine synthases from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus to specifically modify U55 in tRNA in vitro. These enzymes are pfuCbf5, a protein known to play a role in RNA-guided modification of rRNA, and pfuPsuX, a previously uncharacterized enzyme that is not a member of the TruB/Pus4/Cbf5 family of pseudouridine synthases. pfuPsuX is hereafter renamed pfuPus10. Both enzymes specifically modify tRNA U55 in vitro but exhibit differences in substrate recognition. In addition, we find that in a heterologous in vivo system, pfuPus10 efficiently complements an Escherichia coli strain deficient in the bacterial Ψ55 synthase TruB. These results indicate that it is probable that pfuCbf5 or pfuPus10 (or both) is responsible for the introduction of pseudouridine at U55 in tRNAs in archaea. While we cannot unequivocally assign the function from our results, both possibilities represent unexpected functions of these proteins as discussed herein.
PMCID: PMC1616971  PMID: 16920741
11.  Cell Cycle-regulated Trafficking of Human Telomerase to Telomeres 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(2):955-965.
Telomerase synthesizes telomeres at the ends of human chromosomes during S phase. The results presented here suggest that telomerase activity may be regulated by intranuclear trafficking of the key components of the enzyme in human cells. We examined the subcellular localization of endogenous human telomerase RNA (hTR) and telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) in HeLa cervical carcinoma cells. Throughout most of the cell cycle, we found that the two essential components of telomerase accumulate at intranuclear sites separate from telomeres. However, during S phase, both hTR and hTERT are specifically recruited to subsets of telomeres. The localization of telomerase to telomeres is dynamic, peaking at mid-S phase. We also found complex associations of both hTR and hTERT with nucleoli and Cajal bodies during S phase, implicating both structures in the biogenesis and trafficking of telomerase. Our results mark the first observation of human telomerase at telomeres and provide a mechanism for the cell cycle-dependent regulation of telomere synthesis in human cells.
PMCID: PMC1356603  PMID: 16339074
12.  The RNA- and DNA-targeting CRISPR–Cas immune systems of Pyrococcus furiosus 
Biochemical Society transactions  2013;41(6):1416-1421.
Using the hyperthermophile Pyrococcus furiosus, we have delineated several key steps in CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)–Cas (CRISPR-associated) invader defence pathways. P. furiosus has seven transcriptionally active CRISPR loci that together encode a total of 200 crRNAs (CRISPR RNAs). The 27 Cas proteins in this organism represent three distinct pathways and are primarily encoded in two large gene clusters. The Cas6 protein dices CRISPR locus transcripts to generate individual invader-targeting crRNAs. The mature crRNAs include a signature sequence element (the 5′ tag) derived from the CRISPR locus repeat sequence that is important for function. crRNAs are tailored into distinct species and integrated into three distinct crRNA–Cas protein complexes that are all candidate effector complexes. The complex formed by the Cmr [Cas module RAMP (repeat-associated mysterious proteins)] (subtype III-B) proteins cleaves complementary target RNAs and can be programmed to cleave novel target RNAs in a prokaryotic RNAi-like manner. Evidence suggests that the other two CRISPR–Cas systems in P. furiosus, Csa (Cas subtype Apern) (subtype I-A) and Cst (Cas subtype Tneap) (subtype I-B), target invaders at the DNA level. Studies of the CRISPR–Cas systems from P. furiosus are yielding fundamental knowledge of mechanisms of crRNA biogenesis and silencing for three of the diverse CRISPR–Cas pathways, and reveal that organisms such as P. furiosus possess an arsenal of multiple RNA-guided mechanisms to resist diverse invaders. Our knowledge of the fascinating CRISPR–Cas pathways is leading in turn to our ability to co-opt these systems for exciting new biomedical and biotechnological applications.
PMCID: PMC3996508  PMID: 24256230
clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR); CRISPR-associated (Cas); non-coding RNA; prokaryotic immunity; Pyrococcus furiosus; virus
13.  Structure of the Cmr2-Cmr3 Subcomplex of the Cmr RNA Silencing Complex 
The Cmr complex is an RNA-guided effector complex that cleaves invader RNA in the prokaryotic immune response mediated by the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat)-Cas system. Here we report the crystal structure of a Cmr subcomplex containing Cmr2 (Cas10) and Cmr3 subunits at 2.8 Å resolution. The structure revealed a dual Ferredoxin fold and glycine-rich loops characteristic of previously known repeat-associated mysterious proteins (RAMPs) and two unique insertion elements in Cmr3 that mediate its interaction with Cmr2. Surprisingly, while mutation of both insertion elements significantly weakened Cmr3-Cmr2 interaction, they exhibit differential effects on Cmr-mediated RNA cleavage by the Cmr complex, suggesting stabilization of Cmr2-Cmr3 interactions by other subunits. Further mutational analysis of the two conserved (but non-Cmr2-binding) glycine-rich loops of Cmr3 identified a region that is likely involved in assembly or the RNA cleavage function of the Cmr complex.
PMCID: PMC3606058  PMID: 23395183
14.  Structural basis for substrate placement by an archaeal box C/D ribonucleoprotein particle 
Molecular cell  2010;39(6):939-949.
Box C/D small nucleolar and Cajal body ribonucleoprotein particles (sno/scaRNPs) direct site-specific 2’-O-methylation of ribosomal and spliceosomal RNAs and are critical for gene expression. Here we report crystal structures of an archaeal box C/D RNP containing three core proteins (fibrillarin, Nop56/58, and L7Ae) and a halfmer box C/D guide RNA paired with a substrate RNA. The structure reveals a guide-substrate RNA duplex orientation imposed by a composite protein surface and the conserved GAEK motif of Nop56/58. Molecular modelling supports a dual C/D RNP structure that closely mimics that recently visualized by electron microscopy. The substrate-bound dual RNP model predicts an asymmetric protein distribution between the RNP that binds and that methylates the substrate RNA. The predicted asymmetric nature of the holoenzyme is consistent with previous biochemical data on RNP assembly and provides a simple solution for accommodating base-pairing between the C/D guide RNA and large ribosomal and spliceosomal substrate RNAs.
PMCID: PMC3572848  PMID: 20864039
15.  Essential features and rational design of CRISPR RNAs that function with the Cas RAMP module complex to cleave RNAs 
Molecular Cell  2012;45(3):292-302.
Small RNAs target invaders for silencing in the CRISPR-Cas pathways that protect bacteria and archaea from viruses and plasmids. The CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) contain sequence elements acquired from invaders that guide CRISPR-associated (Cas) proteins back to the complementary invading DNA or RNA. Here, we have analyzed essential features of the crRNAs associated with the Cas RAMP module (Cmr) effector complex, which cleaves targeted RNAs. We show that Cmr crRNAs contain an 8-nucleotide 5’ sequence tag (also found on crRNAs associated with other CRISPR-Cas pathways) that is critical for crRNA function and can be used to engineer crRNAs that direct cleavage of novel targets. We also present data that indicates that the Cmr complex cleaves an endogenous complementary RNA in Pyrococcus furiosus, providing direct in vivo evidence of RNA targeting by the CRISPR-Cas system. Our findings indicate that the CRISPR RNA-Cmr protein pathway may be exploited to cleave RNAs of interest.
PMCID: PMC3278580  PMID: 22227116
16.  CRISPR-Based Adaptive Immune Systems 
Current opinion in microbiology  2011;14(3):321-327.
CRISPR-Cas systems are recently discovered, RNA-based immune systems that control invasions of viruses and plasmids in archaea and bacteria. Prokaryotes with CRISPR-Cas immune systems capture short invader sequences within the CRISPR loci in their genomes, and small RNAs produced from the CRISPR loci (CRISPR (cr)RNAs) guide Cas proteins to recognize and degrade (or otherwise silence) the invading nucleic acids. There are multiple variations of the pathway found among prokaryotes, each mediated by largely distinct components and mechanisms that we are only beginning to delineate. Here we will review our current understanding of the remarkable CRISPR-Cas pathways with particular attention to studies relevant to systems found in the archaea.
PMCID: PMC3119747  PMID: 21531607
17.  Processive and Distributive Extension of Human Telomeres by Telomerase Under Homeostatic and Non-equilibrium Conditions 
Molecular cell  2011;42(3):297-307.
Specific information about how telomerase acts in vivo is necessary for understanding telomere dynamics in human tumor cells. Our results imply that under homeostatic telomere length-maintenance conditions only one molecule of telomerase acts at each telomere during every cell division and processively adds ~60 nt to each end. In contrast, multiple molecules of telomerase act at each telomere when telomeres are elongating (non-equilibrium conditions). Telomerase extension is less processive during the first few weeks following the reversal of long-term treatment with the telomerase inhibitor GRN163L, a time when Cajal bodies fail to deliver telomerase RNA to telomeres. This result implies that processing of telomerase by Cajal bodies may affect its processivity. Overexpressed telomerase is also less processive than the endogenously expressed telomerase. These findings reveal two major distinct extension modes adopted by telomerase in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3108241  PMID: 21549308
Telomerase; telomere; cancer; cajal body; hTR; hTERT
18.  Interaction of the Cas6 riboendonuclease with CRISPR RNAs: recognition and cleavage 
The CRISPRs (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) found in prokaryotic genomes confer small RNA-mediated protection against viruses and other invaders. CRISPR loci contain iterations of a short repeat sequence alternating with small segments of varying invader-derived sequences. Distinct families of CRISPR-associated Cas proteins function to cleave within the repeat sequence of CRISPR transcripts and produce the individual invader-targeting crRNAs. Here we report the crystal structure of Pyrococcus furiosus Cas6 bound with a repeat RNA at 3.2 Å resolution. In contrast to other Cas families of endonucleases, Cas6 clasps nucleotides 2–9 of the repeat RNA using its two ferredoxin-like domains, and the enzyme-anchored 5’ end tethers the distal cleavage site of the RNA between nucleotides 22 and 23 to the predicted enzyme active site on the opposite side of the ferrodoxin-like domains. Our findings suggest a wrap-around mechanism for CRISPR RNA recognition and cleavage by Cas6 and related processing endonucleases.
PMCID: PMC3154685  PMID: 21300293
19.  A Cajal body-independent pathway for telomerase trafficking in mice 
Experimental cell research  2010;316(17):2797-2809.
The intranuclear trafficking of human telomerase involves a dynamic interplay between multiple nuclear sites, most notably Cajal bodies and telomeres. Cajal bodies are proposed to serve as sites of telomerase maturation, storage, and assembly, as well as to function in the cell cycle-regulated delivery of telomerase to telomeres in human cells. Here, we find that telomerase RNA does not localize to Cajal bodies in mouse cells, and instead resides in separate nuclear foci throughout much of the cell cycle. However, as in humans, mouse telomerase RNA (mTR) localizes to subsets of telomeres specifically during S phase. The localization of mTR to telomeres in mouse cells does not require coilin-containing Cajal bodies, as mTR is found at telomeres at similar frequencies in cells from wild-type and coilin knockout mice. At the same time, we find that human TR localizes to Cajal bodies (as well as telomeres) in mouse cells, indicating that the distinct trafficking of mTR is attributable to an intrinsic property of the RNA (rather than a difference in the mouse cell environment such as the properties of mouse Cajal bodies). We also find that during S phase, mTR foci coalesce into short chains, with at least one of the conjoined mTR foci co-localizing with a telomere. These findings point to a novel, Cajal body-independent pathway for telomerase biogenesis and trafficking in mice.
PMCID: PMC2945411  PMID: 20633556
telomerase; telomeres; Cajal bodies; RNA localization; mouse telomerase RNA
20.  TIN2-Tethered TPP1 Recruits Human Telomerase to Telomeres In Vivo▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(12):2971-2982.
Recruitment to telomeres is a pivotal step in the function and regulation of human telomerase; however, the molecular basis for recruitment is not known. Here, we have directly investigated the process of telomerase recruitment via fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). We find that depletion of two components of the shelterin complex that is found at telomeres—TPP1 and the protein that tethers TPP1 to the complex, TIN2—results in a loss of telomerase recruitment. On the other hand, we find that the majority of the observed telomerase association with telomeres does not require POT1, the shelterin protein that links TPP1 to the single-stranded region of the telomere. Deletion of the oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide binding fold (OB-fold) of TPP1 disrupts telomerase recruitment. In addition, while loss of TPP1 results in the appearance of DNA damage factors at telomeres, the DNA damage response per se does not account for the telomerase recruitment defect observed in the absence of TPP1. Our findings indicate that TIN2-anchored TPP1 plays a major role in the recruitment of telomerase to telomeres in human cells and that recruitment does not depend on POT1 or interaction of the shelterin complex with the single-stranded region of the telomere.
PMCID: PMC2876666  PMID: 20404094
21.  RNA-Guided RNA Cleavage by a CRISPR RNA-Cas Protein Complex 
Cell  2009;139(5):945-956.
Compelling evidence indicates that the CRISPR-Cas system protects prokaryotes from viruses and other potential genome invaders. This adaptive prokaryotic immune system arises from the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) found in prokaryotic genomes, which harbor short invader-derived sequences, and the CRISPR-associated (Cas) protein-coding genes. Here we have identified a CRISPR-Cas effector complex that is comprised of small invader-targeting RNAs from the CRISPR loci (termed prokaryotic silencing (psi)RNAs) and the RAMP module (or Cmr) Cas proteins. The psiRNA-Cmr protein complexes cleave complementary target RNAs at a fixed distance from the 3' end of the integral psiRNAs. In Pyrococcus furiosus, psiRNAs occur in two size forms that share a common 5' sequence tag but have distinct 3' ends that direct cleavage of a given target RNA at two distinct sites. Our results indicate that prokaryotes possess a unique RNA silencing system that functions by homology-dependent cleavage of invader RNAs.
PMCID: PMC2951265  PMID: 19945378
22.  A human telomerase holoenzyme protein required for Cajal body localization and telomere synthesis 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;323(5914):644-648.
Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex that synthesizes telomere repeats in tissue progenitor cells and cancer cells. Active human telomerase consists of at least three principal subunits, including the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), the telomerase RNA (TERC), and dyskerin. Here, we identify a holoenzyme subunit, TCAB1 (telomerase Cajal body protein1), uniquely enriched in Cajal bodies, nuclear sites of RNP processing important for telomerase function. TCAB1 associates with active telomerase enzyme, with established telomerase components, and with small Cajal body RNAs involved in modifying splicing RNAs. Depletion of TCAB1 using RNA interference prevents TERC from associating with Cajal bodies, disrupts telomerase-telomere association and abrogates telomere synthesis by telomerase. Thus, TCAB1 controls telomerase trafficking and is required for telomere synthesis in human cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC2728071  PMID: 19179534
23.  Identification of Genes That Function in the Biogenesis and Localization of Small Nucleolar RNAs in Saccharomyces cerevisiae▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(11):3686-3699.
Small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) orchestrate the modification and cleavage of pre-rRNA and are essential for ribosome biogenesis. Recent data suggest that after nucleoplasmic synthesis, snoRNAs transiently localize to the Cajal body (in plant and animal cells) or the homologous nucleolar body (in budding yeast) for maturation and assembly into snoRNPs prior to accumulation in their primary functional site, the nucleolus. However, little is known about the trans-acting factors important for the intranuclear trafficking and nucleolar localization of snoRNAs. Here, we describe a large-scale genetic screen to identify proteins important for snoRNA transport in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We performed fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis to visualize U3 snoRNA localization in a collection of temperature-sensitive yeast mutants. We have identified Nop4, Prp21, Tao3, Sec14, and Htl1 as proteins important for the proper localization of U3 snoRNA. Mutations in genes encoding these proteins lead to specific defects in the targeting or retention of the snoRNA to either the nucleolar body or the nucleolus. Additional characterization of the mutants revealed impairment in specific steps of U3 snoRNA processing, demonstrating that snoRNA maturation and trafficking are linked processes.
PMCID: PMC2423305  PMID: 18378690
24.  Dynamic interactions within sub-complexes of the H/ACA pseudouridylation guide RNP 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(18):6196-6206.
H/ACA RNP complexes change uridines to pseudouridines in target non-coding RNAs in eukaryotes and archaea. H/ACA RNPs are comprised of a guide RNA and four essential proteins: Cbf5 (pseudouridine synthase), L7Ae, Gar1 and Nop10 in archaea. The guide RNA captures the target RNA via two antisense elements brought together to form a contiguous binding site within the pseudouridylation pocket (internal loop) of the guide RNA. Cbf5 and L7Ae interact independently with the guide RNA, and here we have examined the impacts of these proteins on the RNA in nucleotide protection assays. The results indicate that the interactions observed in a fully assembled H/ACA RNP are established in the sub-complexes, but also reveal a unique Cbf5–guide RNA interaction that is displaced by L7Ae. In addition, the results indicate that L7Ae binding at the kink (k)-turn of the guide RNA induces the formation of the upper stem, and thus also the pseudouridylation pocket. Our findings indicate that L7Ae is essential for formation of the substrate RNA binding site in the archaeal H/ACA RNP, and suggest that k-turn-binding proteins may remodel partner RNAs with important effects distant from the protein-binding site.
PMCID: PMC2094053  PMID: 17855403
25.  Telomerase RNA Accumulates in Cajal Bodies in Human Cancer Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(1):81-90.
Telomerase synthesizes telomeric DNA repeats at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. The RNA component of the enzyme (hTR) provides the template for telomere synthesis, which is catalyzed by telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). Little is known regarding the subcellular localization of hTR and hTERT and the pathway by which telomerase is assembled. Here we report the first glimpse of the detailed subcellular localization of endogenous hTR in human cells, which we obtained by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Our studies have revealed a distinctive hTR localization pattern in cancer cells. We have found that hTR accumulates within intranuclear foci called Cajal bodies in all typical tumor-derived cell lines examined (in which telomerase is active), but not in primary or ALT cells (where little or no hTERT is present). Accumulation of hTR in the Cajal bodies of primary cells is induced when hTERT is ectopically expressed. Moreover, we report that hTERT is also found in Cajal bodies. Our data suggest that Cajal bodies are involved in the assembly and/or function of human telomerase.
PMCID: PMC307529  PMID: 14528011

Results 1-25 (28)