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1.  Bacterial delivery of large intact genomic-DNA-containing BACs into mammalian cells 
Bioengineered Bugs  2012;3(2):86-92.
Efficient delivery of large intact vectors into mammalian cells remains problematical. Here we evaluate delivery by bacterial invasion of two large BACs of more than 150 kb in size into various cells. First, we determined the effect of several drugs on bacterial delivery of a small plasmid into different cell lines. Most drugs tested resulted in a marginal increase of the overall efficiency of delivery in only some cell lines, except the lysosomotropic drug chloroquine, which was found to increase the efficiency of delivery by 6-fold in B16F10 cells. Bacterial invasion was found to be significantly advantageous compared with lipofection in delivering large intact BACs into mouse cells, resulting in 100% of clones containing intact DNA. Furthermore, evaluation of expression of the human hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase (HPRT) gene from its genomic locus, which was present in one of the BACs, showed that single copy integrations of the HPRT-containing BAC had occurred in mouse B16F10 cells and that expression of HPRT from each human copy was 0.33 times as much as from each endogenous mouse copy. These data provide new evidence that bacterial delivery is a convenient and efficient method to transfer large intact therapeutic genes into mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC3357338  PMID: 22095052
BACs; bacterial transfer; lysosomotropic drugs
2.  Nerve-dependent changes in skeletal muscle myosin heavy chain after experimental denervation, cross-reinnervation and in a demyelinating mouse model of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A 
Muscle & nerve  2008;38(6):1572-1584.
Innervation regulates the contractile properties of vertebrate muscle fibers, in part through the effect of electrical activity on expression of distinct myosins. Here we analyse the role of innervation in regulating the accumulation of the general, maturational and adult forms of rodent slow myosin heavy chain (MyHC) that are defined by the presence of distinct antigenic epitopes. Denervation increases the number of fibers that express general slow MyHC, but it decreases the adult slow MyHC epitope. Cross-reinnervation of slow muscle by a fast nerve leads to an increase in the number of fibers that express fast MyHC. In both cases, there is an increase in fibers that express slow and fast IIA MyHCs but without the adult slow MyHC epitope. The data suggest that innervation is required for maturation and maintenance of diversity of both slow and fast fibers. The sequence of slow MyHC epitope transitions is a useful biomarker, and it may play a significant role during nerve-dependent changes in muscle fiber function. We applied this detailed muscle analysis to a transgenic mouse model of Human Motor and Sensory Neuropathy IA, also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type 1A (CMT1A), in which electrical conduction in some motor neurons is poor due to demyelination. The mice display atrophy of some muscle fibers and changes in slow and fast MyHC epitope expression suggestive of a progressive increase in innervation of muscle fibers by fast motor neurons, even at early stages. The potential role of these early changes in disease pathogenesis is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3008217  PMID: 19016545
Muscle; myosin; human motor and sensory neuropathy IA; denervation; innervation; fast; slow; type I; type II; fiber type; antibody; post-translational modification; demyelination
3.  Independent degeneration of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium in conditional knockout mouse models of choroideremia 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(2):386-394.
Choroideremia (CHM) is an X-linked degeneration of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), photoreceptors, and choroid, caused by loss of function of the CHM/REP1 gene. REP1 is involved in lipid modification (prenylation) of Rab GTPases, key regulators of intracellular vesicular transport and organelle dynamics. To study the pathogenesis of CHM and to develop a model for assessing gene therapy, we have created a conditional mouse knockout of the Chm gene. Heterozygous-null females exhibit characteristic hallmarks of CHM: progressive degeneration of the photoreceptors, patchy depigmentation of the RPE, and Rab prenylation defects. Using tamoxifen-inducible and tissue-specific Cre expression in combination with floxed Chm alleles, we show that CHM pathogenesis involves independently triggered degeneration of photoreceptors and the RPE, associated with different subsets of defective Rabs.
PMCID: PMC1326146  PMID: 16410831
4.  Analyses of the differentiation potential of satellite cells from myoD-/-, mdx, and PMP22 C22 mice 
Sporadic and sometimes contradictory studies have indicated changes in satellite cell behaviour associated with the progressive nature of human Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Satellite cell proliferation and number are reportedly altered in DMD and the mdx mouse model. We recently found that satellite cells in MSVski transgenic mice, a muscle hypertrophy model showing progressive muscle degeneration, display a severe ageing-related differentiation defect in vitro. We tested the hypothesis that similar changes contribute to the gradual loss of muscle function with age in mdx and PMP22 mice, a model of human motor and sensory neuropathy type 1A (HMSN1A).
Single extensor digitorum longus muscle fibres were cultured from mdx and PMP22 mice and age- and genetic background-matched controls. Mice at several ages were compared with regard to the differentiation of satellite cells, assayed as the proportion of desmin-expressing cells that accumulated sarcomeric myosin heavy chain.
Satellite cells of 2 month, 6 month, and 12 month old mdx mice were capable of differentiating to a similar extent to age-matched wild type control animals in an in vitro proliferation/differentiation model. Strikingly, differentiation efficiency in individual 6 month and 12 month old mdx animals varies to a much higher extent than in age-matched controls, younger mdx animals, or PMP22 mice. In contrast, differentiation of myoblasts from all myoD null mice assayed was severely impaired in this assay system. The defect in satellite cell differentiation that occurs in some mdx animals arises from a delay in differentiation that is not overcome by IGF-1 treatment at any phase of cultivation.
Overall, a defect in satellite cell differentiation above that arising through normal ageing does not occur in mdx or PMP22 mouse models of human disease. Nonetheless, the impaired differentiation of satellite cells from some mdx animals suggests that additional factors, environmental or epigenetic, may lead to deteriorating muscle repair through poor differentiation of satellite cells in genetically predisposed individuals.
PMCID: PMC1079863  PMID: 15762989
5.  A General Role for Rab27a in Secretory CellsD⃞V⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(1):332-344.
Vesicular transport is a complex multistep process regulated by distinct Rab GTPases. Here, we show for the first time that an EGFP-Rab fusion protein is fully functional in a mammalian organism. We constructed a PAC-based transgenic mouse, which expresses EGFP-Rab27a under the control of endogenous Rab27a promoter. The EGFP-Rab27a transgene was fully functional and rescued the two major defects of the ashen Rab27a knockout mouse. We achieved cell-specific expression of EGFP-Rab27a, which faithfully followed the pattern of expression of endogenous Rab27a. We found that Rab27a is expressed in an exceptionally broad range of specialized secretory cells, including exocrine (particularly in mucin- and zymogen-secreting cells), endocrine, ovarian, and hematopoietic cells, most of which undergo regulated exocytosis. We suggest that Rab27a acts in concert with Rab3 proteins in most regulated secretory events. The present strategy represents one way in which the complex pattern of expression and function of proteins involved in specialized cell types may be unraveled.
PMCID: PMC307551  PMID: 14617806
6.  Recombining overlapping BACs into a single larger BAC 
BMC Biotechnology  2004;4:1.
BAC clones containing entire mammalian genes including all the transcribed region and long range controlling elements are very useful for functional analysis. Sequenced BACs are available for most of the human and mouse genomes and in many cases these contain intact genes. However, large genes often span more than one BAC, and single BACs covering the entire region of interest are not available. Here we describe a system for linking two or more overlapping BACs into a single clone by homologous recombination.
The method was used to link a 61-kb insert carrying the final 5 exons of the human CFTR gene onto a 160-kb BAC carrying the first 22 exons. Two rounds of homologous recombination were carried out in the EL350 strain of bacteria which can be induced for the Red genes. In the first round, the inserts of the two overlapping BACs were subcloned into modified BAC vectors using homologous recombination. In the second round, the BAC to be added was linearised with the very rare-cutting enzyme I-PpoI and electroporated into recombination efficient EL350 bacteria carrying the other BAC. Recombined BACs were identified by antibiotic selection and PCR screening and 10% of clones contained the correctly recombined 220-kb BAC.
The system can be used to link the inserts from any overlapping BAC or PAC clones. The original orientation of the inserts is not important and desired regions of the inserts can be selected. The size limit for the fragments recombined may be larger than the 61 kb used here and multiple BACs in a contig could be combined by alternating use of the two pBACLink vectors. This system should be of use to many investigators wishing to carry out functional analysis on large mammalian genes which are not available in single BAC clones.
PMCID: PMC317331  PMID: 14709179
7.  Retrofitting BACs with G418 resistance, luciferase, and oriP and EBNA-1 – new vectors for in vitro and in vivo delivery 
BMC Biotechnology  2003;3:2.
Bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) have been used extensively for sequencing the human and mouse genomes and are thus readily available for most genes. The large size of BACs means that they can generally carry intact genes with all the long range controlling elements that drive full levels of tissue-specific expression. For gene expression studies and gene therapy applications it is useful to be able to retrofit the BACs with selectable genes such as G418 resistance, reporter genes such as luciferase, and oriP/EBNA-1 from Epstein Barr virus which allows long term episomal maintenance in mammalian cells.
We describe a series of retrofitting plasmids and a protocol for in vivo loxP/Cre recombination. The vector pRetroNeo carries a G418 resistance cassette, pRetroNeoLuc carries G418 resistance and a luciferase expression cassette, pRetroNeoLucOE carries G418 resistance, luciferase and an oriP/EBNA-1 cassette and pRetroNeoOE carries G418 resistance and oriP/EBNA-1. These vectors can be efficiently retrofitted onto BACs without rearrangement of the BAC clone. The luciferase cassette is expressed efficiently from the retrofitting plasmids and from retrofitted BACs after transient transfection of B16F10 cells in tissue culture and after electroporation into muscles of BALB/c mice in vivo. We also show that a BAC carrying GFP, oriP and EBNA-1 can be transfected into B16F10 cells with Lipofectamine 2000 and can be rescued intact after 5 weeks.
The pRetro vectors allow efficient retrofitting of BACs with G418 resistance, luciferase and/or oriP/EBNA-1 using in vivo expression of Cre. The luciferase reporter gene is expressed after transient transfection of retrofitted BACs into cells in tissue culture and after electroporation into mouse muscle in vivo. OriP/EBNA-1 allows stable maintenance of a 150-kb BAC without rearrangement for at least 5 weeks.
PMCID: PMC150596  PMID: 12609052
8.  Rapid degradation of dominant-negative Rab27 proteins in vivo precludes their use in transgenic mouse models 
BMC Cell Biology  2002;3:26.
Transgenic mice have proven to be a powerful system to study normal and pathological gene functions. Here we describe an attempt to generate a transgenic mouse model for choroideremia (CHM), a slow-onset X-linked retinal degeneration caused by mutations in the Rab Escort Protein-1 (REP1) gene. REP1 is part of the Rab geranylgeranylation machinery, a modification that is essential for Rab function in membrane traffic. The loss of REP1 in CHM patients may trigger retinal degeneration through its effects on Rab proteins. We have previously reported that Rab27a is the Rab most affected in CHM lymphoblasts and hypothesised that the selective dysfunction of Rab27a (and possibly a few other Rab GTPases) plays an essential role in the retinal degenerative process.
To investigate this hypothesis, we generated several lines of dominant-negative, constitutively-active and wild-type Rab27a (and Rab27b) transgenic mice whose expression was driven either by the pigment cell-specific tyrosinase promoter or the ubiquitous β-actin promoter. High levels of mRNA and protein were observed in transgenic lines expressing wild-type or constitutively active Rab27a and Rab27b. However, only modest levels of transgenic protein were expressed. Pulse-chase experiments suggest that the dominant-negative proteins, but not the constitutively-active or wild type proteins, are rapidly degraded. Consistently, no significant phenotype was observed in our transgenic lines. Coat-colour was normal, indicating normal Rab27a activity. Retinal function as determined by fundoscopy, angiography, electroretinography and histology was also normal.
We suggest that the instability of the dominant-negative mutant Rab27 proteins in vivo precludes the use of this approach to generate mouse models of disease caused by Rab27 GTPases.
PMCID: PMC137576  PMID: 12401133
9.  Chromosomal mapping, gene structure and characterization of the human and murine RAB27B gene 
BMC Genetics  2001;2:2.
Rab GTPases are regulators of intracellular membrane traffic. The Rab27 subfamily consists of Rab27a and Rab27b. Rab27a has been recently implicated in Griscelli Disease, a disease combining partial albinism with severe immunodeficiency. Rab27a plays a key role in the function of lysosomal-like organelles such as melanosomes in melanocytes and lytic granules in cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Little is known about Rab27b.
The human RAB27B gene is organised in six exons, spanning about 69 kb in the chromosome 18q21.1 region. Exon 1 is non-coding and is separated from the others by 49 kb of DNA and exon 6 contains a long 3' untranslated sequence (6.4 kb). The mouse Rab27b cDNA shows 95% identity with the human cDNA at the protein level and maps to mouse chromosome 18. The mouse mRNA was detected in stomach, large intestine, spleen and eye by RT-PCR, and in heart, brain, spleen and kidney by Northern blot. Transient over-expression of EGF-Rab27b fusion protein in cultured melanocytes revealed that Rab27b is associated with melanosomes, as observed for EGF-Rab27a.
Our results indicate that the Rab27 subfamily of Ras-like GTPases is highly conserved in mammals. There is high degree of conservation in sequence and gene structure between RAB27A and RAB27B genes. Exogenous expression of Rab27b in melanocytes results in melanosomal association as observed for Rab27a, suggesting the two Rab27 proteins are functional homologues. As with RAB27A in Griscelli Disease, RAB27B may be also associated with human disease mapping to chromosome 18.
PMCID: PMC29082  PMID: 11178108

Results 1-9 (9)