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1.  Evaluation of Chemical Fluorescent Dyes as a Protein Conjugation Partner for Live Cell Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106271.
To optimize live cell fluorescence imaging, the choice of fluorescent substrate is a critical factor. Although genetically encoded fluorescent proteins have been used widely, chemical fluorescent dyes are still useful when conjugated to proteins or ligands. However, little information is available for the suitability of different fluorescent dyes for live imaging. We here systematically analyzed the property of a number of commercial fluorescent dyes when conjugated with antigen-binding (Fab) fragments directed against specific histone modifications, in particular, phosphorylated H3S28 (H3S28ph) and acetylated H3K9 (H3K9ac). These Fab fragments were conjugated with a fluorescent dye and loaded into living HeLa cells. H3S28ph-specific Fab fragments were expected to be enriched in condensed chromosomes, as H3S28 is phosphorylated during mitosis. However, the degree of Fab fragment enrichment on mitotic chromosomes varied depending on the conjugated dye. In general, green fluorescent dyes showed higher enrichment, compared to red and far-red fluorescent dyes, even when dye∶protein conjugation ratios were similar. These differences are partly explained by an altered affinity of Fab fragment after dye-conjugation; some dyes have less effect on the affinity, while others can affect it more. Moreover, red and far-red fluorescent dyes tended to form aggregates in the cytoplasm. Similar results were observed when H3K9ac-specific Fab fragments were used, suggesting that the properties of each dye affect different Fab fragments similarly. According to our analysis, conjugation with green fluorescent dyes, like Alexa Fluor 488 and Dylight 488, has the least effect on Fab affinity and is the best for live cell imaging, although these dyes are less photostable than red fluorescent dyes. When multicolor imaging is required, we recommend the following dye combinations for optimal results: Alexa Fluor 488 (green), Cy3 (red), and Cy5 or CF640 (far-red).
PMCID: PMC4153647  PMID: 25184362
2.  Direct Evidence for Pitavastatin Induced Chromatin Structure Change in the KLF4 Gene in Endothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96005.
Statins exert atheroprotective effects through the induction of specific transcriptional factors in multiple organs. In endothelial cells, statin-dependent atheroprotective gene up-regulation is mediated by Kruppel-like factor (KLF) family transcription factors. To dissect the mechanism of gene regulation, we sought to determine molecular targets by performing microarray analyses of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) treated with pitavastatin, and KLF4 was determined to be the most highly induced gene. In addition, it was revealed that the atheroprotective genes induced with pitavastatin, such as nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3) and thrombomodulin (THBD), were suppressed by KLF4 knockdown. Myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2) family activation is reported to be involved in pitavastatin-dependent KLF4 induction. We focused on MEF2C among the MEF2 family members and identified a novel functional MEF2C binding site 148 kb upstream of the KLF4 gene by chromatin immunoprecipitation along with deep sequencing (ChIP-seq) followed by luciferase assay. By applying whole genome and quantitative chromatin conformation analysis {chromatin interaction analysis with paired end tag sequencing (ChIA-PET), and real time chromosome conformation capture (3C) assay}, we observed that the MEF2C-bound enhancer and transcription start site (TSS) of KLF4 came into closer spatial proximity by pitavastatin treatment. 3D-Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) imaging supported the conformational change in individual cells. Taken together, dynamic chromatin conformation change was shown to mediate pitavastatin-responsive gene induction in endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC4010393  PMID: 24797675
3.  Smc5/6-mediated regulation of replication progression contributes to chromosome assembly during mitosis in human cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(2):302-317.
The Smc5/6 complex plays a critical role in processing DNA replication and is indispensable for sister chromatid assembly and faithful segregation in mitosis.
The structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins constitute the core of critical complexes involved in structural organization of chromosomes. In yeast, the Smc5/6 complex is known to mediate repair of DNA breaks and replication of repetitive genomic regions, including ribosomal DNA loci and telomeres. In mammalian cells, which have diverse genome structure and scale from yeast, the Smc5/6 complex has also been implicated in DNA damage response, but its further function in unchallenged conditions remains elusive. In this study, we addressed the behavior and function of Smc5/6 during the cell cycle. Chromatin fractionation, immunofluorescence, and live-cell imaging analyses indicated that Smc5/6 associates with chromatin during interphase but largely dissociates from chromosomes when they condense in mitosis. Depletion of Smc5 and Smc6 resulted in aberrant mitotic chromosome phenotypes that were accompanied by the abnormal distribution of topoisomerase IIα (topo IIα) and condensins and by chromosome segregation errors. Importantly, interphase chromatin structure indicated by the premature chromosome condensation assay suggested that Smc5/6 is required for the on-time progression of DNA replication and subsequent binding of topo IIα on replicated chromatids. These results indicate an essential role of the Smc5/6 complex in processing DNA replication, which becomes indispensable for proper sister chromatid assembly in mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3890350  PMID: 24258023
4.  Genetically encoded system to track histone modification in vivo 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2436.
Post-translational histone modifications play key roles in gene regulation, development, and differentiation, but their dynamics in living organisms remain almost completely unknown. To address this problem, we developed a genetically encoded system for tracking histone modifications by generating fluorescent modification-specific intracellular antibodies (mintbodies) that can be expressed in vivo. To demonstrate, an H3 lysine 9 acetylation specific mintbody (H3K9ac-mintbody) was engineered and stably expressed in human cells. In good agreement with the localization of its target acetylation, H3K9ac-mintbody was enriched in euchromatin, and its kinetics measurably changed upon treatment with a histone deacetylase inhibitor. We also generated transgenic fruit fly and zebrafish stably expressing H3K9ac-mintbody for in vivo tracking. Dramatic changes in H3K9ac-mintbody localization during Drosophila embryogenesis could highlight enhanced acetylation at the start of zygotic transcription around mitotic cycle 7. Together, this work demonstrates the broad potential of mintbody and lays the foundation for epigenetic analysis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3743053  PMID: 23942372
5.  HDAC8 mutations in Cornelia de Lange Syndrome affect the cohesin acetylation cycle 
Nature  2012;489(7415):313-317.
Cornelia de Lange syndrome (CdLS) is a dominantly inherited congenital malformation disorder caused by mutations in the cohesin-loading protein NIPBL1,2 for nearly 60% of individuals with classical CdLS3-5 and in the core cohesin components SMC1A (~5%) and SMC3 (<1%) for a smaller fraction of probands6,7. In humans, the multi-subunit complex cohesin is comprised of SMC1, SMC3, RAD21 and a STAG protein to form a ring structure proposed to encircle sister chromatids to mediate sister chromatid cohesion (SCC)8 as well as play key roles in gene regulation9. SMC3 is acetylated during S-phase to establish cohesiveness of chromatin-loaded cohesin10-13 and in yeast, HOS1, a class I histone deacetylase, deacetylates SMC3 during anaphase14-16. Here we report the identification of HDAC8 as the vertebrate SMC3 deacetylase as well as loss-of-function HDAC8 mutations in six CdLS probands. Loss of HDAC8 activity results in increased SMC3 acetylation (SMC3-ac) and inefficient dissolution of the “used” cohesin complex released from chromatin in both prophase and anaphase. While SMC3 with retained acetylation is loaded onto chromatin, ChIP-Seq analysis demonstrates decreased occupancy of cohesin localization sites that results in a consistent pattern of altered transcription seen in CdLS cell lines with either NIPBL or HDAC8 mutations.
PMCID: PMC3443318  PMID: 22885700
6.  Polycomb Associates Genome-wide with a Specific RNA Polymerase II Variant, and Regulates Metabolic Genes in ESCs 
Cell Stem Cell  2012;10(2):157-170.
Polycomb repressor complexes (PRCs) are important chromatin modifiers fundamentally implicated in pluripotency and cancer. Polycomb silencing in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) can be accompanied by active chromatin and primed RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), but the relationship between PRCs and RNAPII remains unclear genome-wide. We mapped PRC repression markers and four RNAPII states in ESCs using ChIP-seq, and found that PRC targets exhibit a range of RNAPII variants. First, developmental PRC targets are bound by unproductive RNAPII (S5p+S7p−S2p−) genome-wide. Sequential ChIP, Ring1B depletion, and genome-wide correlations show that PRCs and RNAPII-S5p physically bind to the same chromatin and functionally synergize. Second, we identify a cohort of genes marked by PRC and elongating RNAPII (S5p+S7p+S2p+); they produce mRNA and protein, and their expression increases upon PRC1 knockdown. We show that this group of PRC targets switches between active and PRC-repressed states within the ESC population, and that many have roles in metabolism.
Graphical Abstract
► A unique RNAPII variant (S5p+S7p−S2p−) binds PRC targets genome-wide in ESCs ► RNAPII-S5p and PRC coincide in time and localization, and show proportional abundance ► Novel, active PRC-target genes identified in ESCs include metabolic genes ► Active PRC targets switch between on/off (active/PRC) states in the ESC population
PMCID: PMC3682187  PMID: 22305566
7.  Fission Yeast Swi5-Sfr1 Protein Complex, an Activator of Rad51 Recombinase, Forms an Extremely Elongated Dogleg-shaped Structure* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(50):43569-43576.
Background: The Swi5-Sfr1 protein complex is an activator of Rad51 recombinase, which mediates DNA strand exchange in homologous recombination.
Results: Swi5 and Sfr1 form a 1:1 complex, which exhibits an extremely elongated dogleg-shaped structure in solution.
Conclusion: The Swi5-Sfr1 structure is suitable for binding within the helical groove of the Rad51 filament.
Significance: A structural model will advance our understanding of the molecular mechanism of homologous recombination.
In eukaryotes, DNA strand exchange is the central reaction of homologous recombination, which is promoted by Rad51 recombinases forming a right-handed nucleoprotein filament on single-stranded DNA, also known as a presynaptic filament. Accessory proteins known as recombination mediators are required for the formation of the active presynaptic filament. One such mediator in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is the Swi5-Sfr1 complex, which has been identified as an activator of Rad51 that assists in presynaptic filament formation and stimulates its strand exchange reaction. Here, we determined the 1:1 binding stoichiometry between the two subunits of the Swi5-Sfr1 complex using analytical ultracentrifugation and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Small-angle x-ray scattering experiments revealed that the Swi5-Sfr1 complex displays an extremely elongated dogleg-shaped structure in solution, which is consistent with its exceptionally high frictional ratio (f/f0) of 2.0 ± 0.2 obtained by analytical ultracentrifugation. Furthermore, we determined a rough topology of the complex by comparing the small-angle x-ray scattering-based structures of the Swi5-Sfr1 complex and four Swi5-Sfr1-Fab complexes, in which the Fab fragments of monoclonal antibodies were specifically bound to experimentally determined sites of Sfr1. We propose a model for how the Swi5-Sfr1 complex binds to the Rad51 filament, in which the Swi5-Sfr1 complex fits into the groove of the Rad51 filament, leading to an active and stable presynaptic filament.
PMCID: PMC3234860  PMID: 22033972
DNA Repair; Homologous Recombination; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Ultracentrifugation; X-ray Scattering; Yeast; Swi5-Sfr1; Fission Yeast
8.  Tracking epigenetic histone modifications in single cells using Fab-based live endogenous modification labeling 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(15):6475-6488.
Histone modifications play an important role in epigenetic gene regulation and genome integrity. It remains largely unknown, however, how these modifications dynamically change in individual cells. By using fluorescently labeled specific antigen binding fragments (Fabs), we have developed a general method to monitor the distribution and global level of endogenous histone H3 lysine modifications in living cells without disturbing cell growth and embryo development. Fabs produce distinct nuclear patterns that are characteristic of their target modifications. H3K27 trimethylation-specific Fabs, for example, are concentrated on inactive X chromosomes. As Fabs bind their targets transiently, the ratio of bound and free molecules depends on the target concentration, allowing us to measure changes in global modification levels. High-affinity Fabs are suitable for mouse embryo imaging, so we have used them to monitor H3K9 and H3K27 acetylation levels in mouse preimplantation embryos produced by in vitro fertilization and somatic cell nuclear transfer. The data suggest that a high level of H3K27 acetylation is important for normal embryo development. As Fab-based live endogenous modification labeling (FabLEM) is broadly useful for visualizing any modification, it should be a powerful tool for studying cell signaling and diagnosis in the future.
PMCID: PMC3159477  PMID: 21576221
9.  Visualizing histone modifications in living cells: spatiotemporal dynamics of H3 phosphorylation during interphase 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;187(6):781-790.
A new technique illuminates differential H3S10 phosphorylation dynamics in normal and cancer cells; spatial and temporal regulation of this process by aurora B kinase is required for accurate chromosome segregation.
Posttranslational histone modifications regulate both gene expression and genome integrity. Despite the dynamic nature of these modifications, appropriate real-time monitoring systems are lacking. In this study, we developed a method to visualize histone modifications in living somatic cells and preimplantation embryos by loading fluorescently labeled specific Fab antibody fragments. The technique was used to study histone H3 Ser10 (H3S10) phosphorylation, which occurs during chromosome condensation in mitosis mediated by the aurora B kinase. In aneuploid cancer cells that frequently missegregate chromosomes, H3S10 is phosphorylated just before the chromosomes condense, whereas aurora B already accumulates in nuclei during S phase. In contrast, in nontransformed cells, phosphorylated H3S10 foci appear for a few hours during interphase, and transient exposure to an aurora B–selective inhibitor during this period induces chromosome missegregation. These results suggest that, during interphase, moderate aurora B activity or H3S10 phosphorylation is required for accurate chromosome segregation. Visualizing histone modifications in living cells will facilitate future epigenetic and cell regulation studies.
PMCID: PMC2806314  PMID: 19995936
10.  Active establishment of centromeric CENP-A chromatin by RSF complex 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;185(3):397-407.
Centromeres are chromosomal structures required for equal DNA segregation to daughter cells, comprising specialized nucleosomes containing centromere protein A (CENP-A) histone, which provide the basis for centromeric chromatin assembly. Discovery of centromere protein components is progressing, but knowledge related to their establishment and maintenance remains limited. Previously, using anti-CENP-A native chromatin immunoprecipitation, we isolated the interphase–centromere complex (ICEN). Among ICEN components, subunits of the remodeling and spacing factor (RSF) complex, Rsf-1 and SNF2h proteins, were found. This paper describes the relationship of the RSF complex to centromere structure and function, demonstrating its requirement for maintenance of CENP-A at the centromeric core chromatin in HeLa cells. The RSF complex interacted with CENP-A chromatin in mid-G1. Rsf-1 depletion induced loss of centromeric CENP-A, and purified RSF complex reconstituted and spaced CENP-A nucleosomes in vitro. From these data, we propose the RSF complex as a new factor actively supporting the assembly of CENP-A chromatin.
PMCID: PMC2700388  PMID: 19398759
11.  Activity-dependent Synaptogenesis: Regulation by a CaM-kinase kinase/CaM-kinase I/βPIX Signaling Complex 
Neuron  2008;57(1):94-107.
Neuronal activity augments maturation of mushroom-shaped spines to form excitatory synapses, thereby strengthening synaptic transmission. We have delineated a Ca2+-signaling pathway downstream of the NMDA receptor that stimulates calmodulin-dependent kinase kinase (CaMKK) and CaMKI to promote formation of spines and synapses in hippocampal neurons. CaMKK and CaMKI form a multi-protein signaling complex with the guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) βPIX and GIT1 that is localized in spines. CaMKI-mediated phosphorylation of Ser516 in βPIX enhances its GEF activity, resulting in activation of Rac1, an established enhancer of spinogenesis. Suppression of CaMKK or CaMKI by pharmacological inhibitors, dominant-negative (dn) constructs and siRNAs, as well as expression of the βPIX Ser516Ala mutant, decreases spine formation and mEPSC frequency. Constitutively-active Pak1, a downstream effector of Rac1, rescues spine inhibition by dnCaMKI or βPIX S516A. This activity-dependent signaling pathway can promote synapse formation during neuronal development and in structural plasticity.
PMCID: PMC2277504  PMID: 18184567
12.  A novel histone exchange factor, protein phosphatase 2Cγ, mediates the exchange and dephosphorylation of H2A–H2B 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;175(3):389-400.
In eukaryotic nuclei, DNA is wrapped around a protein octamer composed of the core histones H2A, H2B, H3, and H4, forming nucleosomes as the fundamental units of chromatin. The modification and deposition of specific histone variants play key roles in chromatin function. In this study, we established an in vitro system based on permeabilized cells that allows the assembly and exchange of histones in situ. H2A and H2B, each tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP), are incorporated into euchromatin by exchange independently of DNA replication, and H3.1-GFP is assembled into replicated chromatin, as found in living cells. By purifying the cellular factors that assist in the incorporation of H2A–H2B, we identified protein phosphatase (PP) 2C γ subtype (PP2Cγ/PPM1G) as a histone chaperone that binds to and dephosphorylates H2A–H2B. The disruption of PP2Cγ in chicken DT40 cells increased the sensitivity to caffeine, a reagent that disturbs DNA replication and damage checkpoints, suggesting the involvement of PP2Cγ-mediated histone dephosphorylation and exchange in damage response or checkpoint recovery in higher eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC2064517  PMID: 17074886
13.  CENP-A, -B, and -C Chromatin Complex That Contains the I-Type α-Satellite Array Constitutes the Prekinetochore in HeLa Cells 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2002;22(7):2229-2241.
CENP-A is a component of centromeric chromatin and defines active centromere regions by forming centromere-specific nucleosomes. We have isolated centromeric chromatin containing the CENP-A nucleosome, CENP-B, and CENP-C from HeLa cells using anti-CENP-A and/or anti-CENP-C antibodies and shown that the CENP-A/B/C complex is predominantly formed on α-satellite DNA that contains the CENP-B box (αI-type array). Mapping of hypersensitive sites for micrococcal nuclease (MNase) digestion indicated that CENP-A nucleosomes were phased on the αI-type array as a result of interactions between CENP-B and CENP-B boxes, implying a repetitive configuration for the CENP-B/CENP-A nucleosome complex. Molecular mass analysis by glycerol gradient sedimentation showed that MNase digestion released a CENP-A/B/C chromatin complex of three to four nucleosomes into the soluble fraction, suggesting that CENP-C is a component of the repetitive CENP-B/CENP-A nucleosome complex. Quantitative analysis by immunodepletion of CENP-A nucleosomes showed that most of the CENP-C and approximately half the CENP-B took part in formation of the CENP-A/B/C chromatin complex. A kinetic study of the solubilization of CENPs showed that MNase digestion first released the CENP-A/B/C chromatin complex into the soluble fraction, and later removed CENP-B and CENP-C from the complex. This result suggests that CENP-A nucleosomes form a complex with CENP-B and CENP-C through interaction with DNA. On the basis of these results, we propose that the CENP-A/B/C chromatin complex is selectively formed on the I-type α-satellite array and constitutes the prekinetochore in HeLa cells.
PMCID: PMC133672  PMID: 11884609

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