Massively parallel sequencing technologies have made the generation of genomic data sets a routine component of many biological investigations. For example, Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequence assays detect genomic regions bound (directly or indirectly) by specific factors, and DNase-seq identifies regions of open chromatin. A major bottleneck in the interpretation of these data is the identification of the underlying DNA sequence code that defines, and ultimately facilitates prediction of, these transcription factor (TF) bound or open chromatin regions. We have recently developed a novel computational methodology, which uses a support vector machine (SVM) with kmer sequence features (kmer-SVM) to identify predictive combinations of short transcription factor-binding sites, which determine the tissue specificity of these genomic assays (Lee, Karchin and Beer, Discriminative prediction of mammalian enhancers from DNA sequence. Genome Res. 2011; 21:2167–80). This regulatory information can (i) give confidence in genomic experiments by recovering previously known binding sites, and (ii) reveal novel sequence features for subsequent experimental testing of cooperative mechanisms. Here, we describe the development and implementation of a web server to allow the broader research community to independently apply our kmer-SVM to analyze and interpret their genomic datasets. We analyze five recently published data sets and demonstrate how this tool identifies accessory factors and repressive sequence elements. kmer-SVM is available at http://kmersvm.beerlab.org.
Bacillus anthracis is the causative agent of anthrax with the ability to not only produce a tripartite toxin, but also an enveloping capsule comprised primarily of γ-D-glutamic acid residues. The purpose of this study was to isolate peptide ligands capable of binding to the native capsule of B. anthracis from a commercial phage display peptide library using a synthetic form of the capsule consisting of 12 γ-D-glutamic acid residues. Following four rounds of selection, 80 clones were selected randomly and analysed by DNA sequencing. Four clones, each containing a unique consensus sequence, were identified by sequence alignment analysis. Phage particles were prepared and their derived 12-mer peptides were also chemically synthesized and conjugated to BSA. Both the phage particles and free peptide-BSA conjugates were evaluated by ELISA for binding to encapsulated cells of B. anthracis as well as a B. anthracis capsule extract. All the phage particles tested except one were able to bind to both the encapsulated cells and the capsule extract. However, the peptide-BSA conjugates could only bind to the encapsulated cells. One of the peptide-BSA conjugates, with the sequence DSSRIPMQWHPQ (termed G1), was fluorescently labelled and its binding to the encapsulated cells was further confirmed by confocal microscopy. The results demonstrated that the synthetic capsule was effective in isolating phage-displayed peptides with binding affinity for the native capsule of B. anthracis.
Data normalization is a crucial preliminary step in analyzing genomic datasets. The goal of normalization is to remove global variation to make readings across different experiments comparable. In addition, most genomic loci have non-uniform sensitivity to any given assay because of variation in local sequence properties. In microarray experiments, this non-uniform sensitivity is due to different DNA hybridization and cross-hybridization efficiencies, known as the probe effect. In this paper we introduce a new scheme, called Group Normalization (GN), to remove both global and local biases in one integrated step, whereby we determine the normalized probe signal by finding a set of reference probes with similar responses. Compared to conventional normalization methods such as Quantile normalization and physically motivated probe effect models, our proposed method is general in the sense that it does not require the assumption that the underlying signal distribution be identical for the treatment and control, and is flexible enough to correct for nonlinear and higher order probe effects. The Group Normalization algorithm is computationally efficient and easy to implement. We also describe a variant of the Group Normalization algorithm, called Cross Normalization, which efficiently amplifies biologically relevant differences between any two genomic datasets.
Tertiary lymphoid organs (TLOs) emerge in tissues in response to non-resolving inflammation such as chronic infection, graft rejection, and autoimmune disease. We identified artery TLOs (ATLOs) in the adventitia adjacent to atherosclerotic plaques of aged hyperlipidemic ApoE−/− mice. ATLOs are structured into T cell areas harboring conventional dendritic cells and monocyte-derived DCs; B cell follicles containing follicular dendritic cells within activated germinal centers; and peripheral niches of plasma cells. ATLOs also show extensive neoangiogenesis, aberrant lymphangiogenesis, and high endothelial venule (HEV) neogenesis. Newly formed conduit networks connect the external lamina of the artery with HEVs in T cell areas. ATLOs recruit and generate lymphocyte subsets with opposing activities including activated CD4+ and CD8+ effector T cells, natural and induced CD4+ T regulatory (nTregs; iTregs) cells as well as B-1 and B-2 cells at different stages of differentiation. These data indicate that ATLOs organize dichotomic innate and adaptive immune responses in atherosclerosis. In this review we discuss the novel concept that dichotomic immune responses toward atherosclerosis-specific antigens are carried out by ATLOs in the adventitia of the arterial wall and that malfunction of the tolerogenic arm of ATLO immunity triggers transition from silent autoimmune reactivity to clinically overt disease.
adaptive immune responses; artery tertiary lymphoid organs; atherosclerosis; autoimmunity; inflammation; stable plaque; vulnerable plaque
Protein phosphorylation occurs in certain sequence/structural contexts that are still incompletely understood. The amino acids surrounding the phosphorylated residues are important in determining the binding of the kinase to the protein sequence. Upon phosphorylation these sequences also determine the binding of certain domains that specifically bind to phosphorylated sequences. Thus far, such ‘motifs’ have been identified through alignment of a limited number of well identified kinase substrates.
Experimentally determined phosphorylation sites from Human Protein Reference Database were used to identify 1,167 novel serine/threonine or tyrosine phosphorylation motifs using a computational approach. We were able to statistically validate a number of these novel motifs based on their enrichment in known phosphopeptides datasets over phosphoserine/threonine/tyrosine peptides in the human proteome. There were 299 novel serine/threonine or tyrosine phosphorylation motifs that were found to be statistically significant. Several of the novel motifs that we identified computationally have subsequently appeared in large datasets of experimentally determined phosphorylation sites since we initiated our analysis. Using a peptide microarray platform, we have experimentally evaluated the ability of casein kinase I to phosphorylate a subset of the novel motifs discovered in this study. Our results demonstrate that it is feasible to identify novel phosphorylation motifs through large phosphorylation datasets. Our study also establishes peptide microarrays as a novel platform for high throughput kinase assays and for the validation of consensus motifs. Finally, this extended catalog of phosphorylation motifs should assist in a systematic study of phosphorylation networks in signal transduction pathways.
Phosphorylation; Motifs; Peptide array
Mouse aorta smooth muscle cells (SMC) express tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 1A (TNFR-1) and lymphotoxin β-receptor (LTβR). Circumstantial evidence has linked the SMC LTβR to tertiary lymphoid organogenesis in hyperlipidemic mice. Here, we explored TNFR-1 and LTβR signaling in cultured SMC.
Methods and Results
TNFR-1 signaling activated the classical RelA NF-κB pathway, whereas LTβR signaling activated the classical RelA and alternative RelB NF-κB pathways, and both signaling pathways synergized to enhance p100 inhibitor processing to the p52 subunit of NF-κB. Microarrays showed that simultaneous TNFR-1/LTβR activation resulted in elevated mRNA encoding leukocyte homeostatic chemokines CCL2, CCL5, CXCL1, and CX3CL1. Importantly, SMC acquired features of lymphoid tissue organizers, which control tertiary lymphoid organogenesis in autoimmune diseases through hyperinduction of CCL7, CCL9, CXCL13, CCL19, CXCL16, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1. TNFR-1/LTβR cross-talk resulted in augmented secretion of lymphorganogenic chemokine proteins. Supernatants of TNFR-1/LTβR–activated SMC markedly supported migration of splenic T cells, B cells, and macrophages/dendritic cells. Experiments with ltbr−/− SMC indicated that LTβR-RelB activation was obligatory to generate the lymphoid tissue organizer phenotype.
SMC may participate in the formation of tertiary lymphoid tissue in atherosclerosis by upregulation of lymphorganogenic chemokines involved in T-lymphocyte, B-lymphocyte, and macrophage/dendritic cell attraction.
smooth muscle cells; immune response; chemokines; signaling pathways; tumor necrosis factor receptor; lymphotoxin-β receptor
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play essential roles in biological processes ranging from cellular proliferation to apoptosis. Recently, miRNAs have also been implicated in a number of diseases including cancers. However, the targets of most miRNAs remain unknown. The majority of reports describing identification of miRNA targets are based on computational approaches or detection of altered mRNA levels despite the fact that most miRNAs are thought to regulate their targets primarily at the level of translational inhibition in animals. miR-21 is a miRNA with oncogenic activity that is involved in various cancer related processes such as invasion and migration. Given the importance of miR-21 in tumorigenesis, we employed a quantitative proteomic strategy to systematically identify potential targets of miR-21. By knocking down the expression of endogenous miR-21 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells, we observed an increase in the abundance of 58 proteins signifying that they could be potential targets of miR-21. Validation of 12 of these candidate targets in luciferase assays showed that 6 of them were likely direct targets of miR-21. Importantly, the mRNA of the majority of the candidate targets tested did not show a concomitant increase in abundance. Overall, our results demonstrate that miR-21 affects the expression of many of its targets through translational inhibition and highlights the utility of proteomic approaches for identifying miRNA targets.
miRNA; quantitative analysis; Proteomics
Th17 (T-helper-17) cytokine responses have been recently recognized as an important component for the protective immunity produced by vaccination. However, the mechanism by which immune adjuvants induce Th17 immunity has not been defined. We have developed a novel mucosal nanoemulsion (NE) adjuvant that produces a robust humoral and Th1 cellular immunity. Herein, we demonstrate that immunization with NE adjuvant induces a Th17 response to diverse antigens in both outbred and inbred mice. CD86 deficiency had a limited effect on the induction of IL-17, however, double CD80/CD86, CD40, and IL-6 (interleukin 6) mutant mice failed to produce Th17 immunity in response to NE adjuvant. Mice deficient in TLR2 and TLR4 (Toll-like receptors 2 and 4) had a diminished IL-17 response. Our data indicate that nasal mucosal immunization with NE adjuvant produces Th1 and Th17 immunity; that this process requires IL-6, CD40, and at least one of the CD80/CD86 molecules; and that the induction of TH17 is enhanced by the presence of TLR2 and TLR4 receptors. This unique approach to vaccination may have a significant role in protection against mucosal and intracellular pathogens.
mucosal adjuvant; nanoemulsion; Th17; cellular immunity
Despite rapid advances in disease gene identification, the predictive power of the genotype remains limited, in part due to poorly understood effects of second-site modifiers. Here we demonstrate that a polymorphic coding variant of RPGRIP1L (retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator-interacting protein-1 like), a ciliary gene mutated in Meckel-Gruber (MKS) and Joubert (JBTS) syndromes, is associated with the development of retinal degeneration in patients with ciliopathies caused by mutations in other genes. As part of our resequencing efforts of the ciliary proteome, we identified several putative loss of function RPGRIP1L mutations, including one common variant, A229T. Multiple genetic lines of evidence showed this allele to be associated with photoreceptor loss in ciliopathies. Moreover, we show that RPGRIP1L interacts biochemically with RPGR, loss of which causes retinal degeneration, and that the 229T-encoded protein significantly compromises this interaction. Our data represent an example of modification of a discrete phenotype of syndromic disease and highlight the importance of a multifaceted approach for the discovery of modifier alleles of intermediate frequency and effect.
Atherosclerosis involves a macrophage-rich inflammation in the aortic intima. It is increasingly recognized that this intimal inflammation is paralleled over time by a distinct inflammatory reaction in adjacent adventitia. Though cross talk between the coordinated inflammatory foci in the intima and the adventitia seems implicit, the mechanism(s) underlying their communication is unclear. Here, using detailed imaging analysis, microarray analyses, laser-capture microdissection, adoptive lymphocyte transfers, and functional blocking studies, we undertook to identify this mechanism. We show that in aged apoE−/− mice, medial smooth muscle cells (SMCs) beneath intimal plaques in abdominal aortae become activated through lymphotoxin β receptor (LTβR) to express the lymphorganogenic chemokines CXCL13 and CCL21. These signals in turn trigger the development of elaborate bona fide adventitial aortic tertiary lymphoid organs (ATLOs) containing functional conduit meshworks, germinal centers within B cell follicles, clusters of plasma cells, high endothelial venules (HEVs) in T cell areas, and a high proportion of T regulatory cells. Treatment of apoE−/− mice with LTβR-Ig to interrupt LTβR signaling in SMCs strongly reduced HEV abundance, CXCL13, and CCL21 expression, and disrupted the structure and maintenance of ATLOs. Thus, the LTβR pathway has a major role in shaping the immunological characteristics and overall integrity of the arterial wall.
Hepatitis B virus infection remains an important global health concern despite the availability of safe and effective prophylactic vaccines. Limitations to these vaccines include requirement for refrigeration and three immunizations thereby restricting use in the developing world. A new nasal hepatitis B vaccine composed of recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in a novel nanoemulsion (NE) adjuvant (HBsAg-NE) could be effective with fewer administrations.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Physical characterization indicated that HBsAg-NE consists of uniform lipid droplets (349+/−17 nm) associated with HBsAg through electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions. Immunogenicity of HBsAg-NE vaccine was evaluated in mice, rats and guinea pigs. Animals immunized intranasally developed robust and sustained systemic IgG, mucosal IgA and strong antigen-specific cellular immune responses. Serum IgG reached ≥106 titers and was comparable to intramuscular vaccination with alum-adjuvanted vaccine (HBsAg-Alu). Normalization showed that HBsAg-NE vaccination correlates with a protective immunity equivalent or greater than 1000 IU/ml. Th1 polarized immune response was indicated by IFN-γ and TNF-α cytokine production and elevated levels of IgG2 subclass of HBsAg-specific antibodies. The vaccine retains full immunogenicity for a year at 4°C, 6 months at 25°C and 6 weeks at 40°C. Comprehensive pre-clinical toxicology evaluation demonstrated that HBsAg-NE vaccine is safe and well tolerated in multiple animal models.
Our results suggest that needle-free nasal immunization with HBsAg-NE could be a safe and effective hepatitis B vaccine, or provide an alternative booster administration for the parenteral hepatitis B vaccines. This vaccine induces a Th1 associated cellular immunity and also may provide therapeutic benefit to patients with chronic hepatitis B infection who lack cellular immune responses to adequately control viral replication. Long-term stability of this vaccine formulation at elevated temperatures suggests a direct advantage in the field, since potential excursions from cold chain maintenance could be tolerated without a loss in therapeutic efficacy.
The p53 tumor suppressor protein is a critical regulator of the cellular response to cancer initiating insults such as genotoxic stress. In this report, we demonstrate that microRNAs (miRNAs) are important components of the p53 transcriptional network. Global miRNA expression analyses identified a cohort of miRNAs that exhibit p53-dependent upregulation following DNA damage. One such miRNA, miR-34a, is commonly deleted in human cancers and, as shown here, frequently absent in pancreatic cancer cells. Characterization of the miR-34a primary transcript and promoter demonstrates that this miRNA is directly transactivated by p53. Expression of miR-34a causes dramatic reprogramming of gene expression and promotes apoptosis. Much like the known set of p53-regulated genes, miR-34a-responsive genes are highly enriched for those that regulate cell-cycle progression, apoptosis, DNA repair, and angiogenesis. Therefore, it is likely that an important function of miR-34a is the modulation and finetuning of the gene expression program initiated by p53.
All activated sludge systems for removing phosphate microbiologically are configured so the biomass is cycled continuously through alternating anaerobic and aerobic zones. This paper describes a novel aerobic process capable of decreasing the amount of phosphate from 10 to 12 mg P liter−1 to less than 0.1 mg P liter−1 (when expressed as phosphorus) over an extended period from two wastewaters with low chemical oxygen demand. One wastewater was synthetic, and the other was a clarified effluent from a conventional activated sludge system. Unlike anaerobic/aerobic enhanced biological phosphate removal (EBPR) processes where the organic substrates and the phosphate are supplied simultaneously to the biomass under anaerobic conditions, in this aerobic process, the addition of acetate, which begins the feed stage, is temporally separated from the addition of phosphate, which begins the famine stage. Conditions for establishing this process in a sequencing batch reactor are detailed, together with a description of the changes in poly-β-hydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and poly(P) levels in the biomass occurring under the feed and famine regimes, which closely resemble those reported in anaerobic/aerobic EBPR processes. Profiles obtained with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis were very similar for communities fed both wastewaters, and once established, these communities remained stable over prolonged periods of time. 16S rRNA-based clone libraries generated from the two communities were also very similar. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)/microautoradiography and histochemical staining revealed that “Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis” bacteria were the dominant poly(P)-accumulating organisms (PAO) in both communities, with the phenotype expected for PAO. FISH also identified large numbers of betaproteobacterial Dechloromonas and alphaproteobacterial tetrad-forming organisms related to Defluviicoccus in both communities, but while these organisms assimilated acetate and contained intracellular PHA during the feed stages, they never accumulated poly(P) during the cycles, consistent with the phenotype of glycogen-accumulating organisms.
Clostridium difficile is a major spore-forming environmental pathogen that causes serious health problems in patients undergoing antibiotic therapy. Consequently, reliable and sensitive methods for typing individual strains are required for epidemiological and environmental studies. Ribotyping is generally considered the best method, but it fails to account for sequence diversity which might exist in intergenic 16S-23S rRNA spacer regions (ISRs) within and among strains of this organism. Therefore, this study was undertaken to compare the sequence of each individual ISR in five strains of C. difficile to explore the extent of this diversity and see whether such information might provide the basis for more sensitive and discriminatory strain typing methods. After targeted PCR amplification, cloning, and sequencing, the diversity of the ISRs was used as a measure of rRNA operon copy number. In C. difficile strains 630, ATCC 43593, A, and B, 11, 11, 7, and 8 ISR length variants, respectively, were found (containing different combinations of sequence groups [i to xiii]), suggesting 11, 11, 7, and 8 rrn copies in the respective strains. Many ISRs of the same length differed markedly in their sequences, and some of these were restricted in occurrence to a single strain. Most of these ISRs did not contain any tRNA genes, and only single copies of the tRNAAla gene were found in those that did. The presence of ISR sequence groups (i to xiii) varied between strains, with some found in one, two, three, four, or all five strains. We conclude that the intergenic 16S-23S rRNA spacer regions showed a high degree of diversity, not only among the rrn operons in different strains and different rrn copies in a single strain but also among ISRs of the same length. It appears that C. difficile ISRs vary more at the inter- and intragenic levels than those of other species as determined by empirical comparison of sequences. The precise characterization of these sequences has demonstrated a high level of mosaic sequence block rearrangements that are present or absent in multiple strain-variable rrn copies within and between five different strains of C. difficile.
The imprinted expression of the H19 and Igf2 genes in the mouse is controlled by an imprinting control center (ICR) whose activity is regulated by parent-of-origin differences in methylation. The only protein that has been implicated in ICR function is the zinc-finger protein CTCF, which binds at multiple sites within the maternally inherited ICR and is required to form a chromatin boundary that inhibits Igf2 expression. To identify other proteins that play a role in imprinting, we employed electrophoresis mobility shift assays to identify two novel binding sites within the ICR. The DNA binding activity was identified as the heterodimer Ku70/80, which binds nonspecifically to free DNA ends. The sites within the ICR bind Ku70/80 in a sequence-specific manner and with higher affinity than previously reported binding sites. The binding required the presence of Mg2+, implying that the sequence is a pause site for Ku70/80 translocation from a free end. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays were unable to confirm that Ku70/80 binds to the ICR in vivo. In addition, mutation of these binding sites in the mouse did not result in any imprinting defects. A genome scan revealed that the binding site is found in LINE-1 retrotransposons, suggesting a possible role for Ku70/80 in transposition.
Chemical studies have been carried out on the interaction of DNA with uranyl salts. The effect of variations in pH, salt concentration, and structural integrity of the DNA on the stoichiometry of the salt-substrate complex have been investigated. At pH 3.5 DNA interacts with uranyl ions in low concentration yielding a substrate metal ion complex with a UO2++/P mole ratio of about ½ and having a large association constant. At low pH's (about 2.3) the mole ratio decreases to about ⅓. Destruction of the structural integrity of the DNA by heating in HCHO solutions leads to a similar drop in the amount of metal ion bound. Raising the pH above 3.5 leads to an apparent increase in binding as does increasing the concentration of the salt solution. This additional binding has a lower association constant. Under similar conditions DNA binds about seven times more uranyl ion than bovine serum albumin, indicating useful selectivity in staining for electron microscopy.