Targeted DNA double-strand breaks introduced by rare-cleaving designer endonucleases can be harnessed for gene disruption applications by engaging mutagenic nonhomologous end-joining DNA repair pathways. However, endonuclease-mediated DNA breaks are often subject to precise repair, which limits the efficiency of targeted genome editing. To address this issue, we coupled designer endonucleases to DNA end-processing enzymes to drive mutagenic break resolution, achieving up to 25-fold enhancements in gene disruption rates.
We introduce a mass spectrometry-based method that provides residue-resolved quantitative information about protein phosphorylation. In this FLEXIQinase assay we combined our Full-Length Expressed Stable Isotope-labeled Protein for Quantification strategy (FLEXIQuant) with a traditional kinase assay to determine the mechanisms of multi-kinase substrate phosphorylation such as priming-dependent kinase activities. The assay monitors the decrease in signal intensity of the substrate peptides and the concomitant increase in the (n×80 Da)-shifted phosphorylated peptide. We analyzed the c-Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK)-dependent glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) activity on doublecortin (DCX) revealing mechanistic details about the role of phosphorylation cross-talk in GSK3β activity and permitting an advanced model for GSK3β-mediated signaling.
in vitro; phosphorylation; quantitative proteomics; mass spectrometry; full length stable isotope labeled protein standards
We introduce a microfluidic system for simultaneously measuring single cell mass and cell cycle progression over multiple generations. We use this system to obtain over 1,000 hours of growth data from mouse lymphoblast and pro-B-cell lymphoid cell lines. Cell lineage analysis revealed a decrease in the growth rate variability at the G1/S phase transition, which suggests the presence of a growth rate threshold for maintaining size homeostasis.
Current methods for studying central nervous system myelination necessitate permissive axonal substrates conducive for myelin wrapping by oligodendrocytes. We have developed a neuron-free culture system in which electron-spun nanofibers of varying sizes substitute for axons as a substrate for oligodendrocyte myelination, thereby allowing manipulation of the biophysical elements of axonal-oligodendroglial interactions. To investigate axonal regulation of myelination, this system effectively uncouples the role of molecular (inductive) cues from that of biophysical properties of the axon. We use this method to uncover the causation and sufficiency of fiber diameter in the initiation of concentric wrapping by rat oligodendrocytes. We also show that oligodendrocyte precursor cells display sensitivity to the biophysical properties of fiber diameter and initiate membrane ensheathment prior to differentiation. The use of nanofiber scaffolds will enable screening for potential therapeutic agents that promote oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination as well as provide valuable insight into the processes involved in remyelination.
fiber diameter; oligodendrocyte; myelination
We present dial-out PCR, a highly parallel method for retrieving accurate DNA molecules for gene synthesis. A complex library of DNA molecules is modified with unique flanking tags before massively parallel sequencing. Tag-directed primers then enable the retrieval of molecules with desired sequences by PCR. Dial-out PCR enables multiplex in vitro clone screening and is a compelling alternative to in vivo cloning and Sanger sequencing for accurate gene synthesis.
We present an integrated method that exploits extended time-lapse automated imaging to quantify dynamics of cell proliferation. Cell counts are fit with a Quiescence-Growth model that estimates rates of cell division, entry into quiescence and death. The model is constrained with rates extracted experimentally from the behavior of tracked single cells over time. We visualize the output of the analysis in Fractional Proliferation graphs, which deconvolve dynamic proliferative responses to perturbations into the relative contributions of dividing, quiescent (non-dividing) and dead cells. The method reveals that the response of “oncogene-addicted” human cancer cells to tyrosine kinase inhibitors is a composite of altered rates of division, death and entry into quiescence, challenging the notion that such cells simply ‘die’ in response to oncogene-targeted therapy.
We made substantial advances in the implementation of a rapamycin-triggered heterodimerization strategy. Using molecular engineering of different targeting and enzymatic fusion constructs and a new rapamycin analog, Rho GTPases were directly activated or inactivated on a timescale of seconds, which was followed by pronounced cell morphological changes. As signaling processes often occur within minutes, such rapid perturbations provide a powerful tool to investigate the role, selectivity and timing of Rho GTPase–mediated signaling processes.
We have developed dual recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (dRMCE) to efficiently re-engineer the thousands of available conditional alleles in mouse embryonic stem cells. dRMCE takes advantage of the wild-type loxP and FRT sites present in these conditional alleles and in many gene-trap lines. dRMCE is a scalable, flexible tool to introduce tags, reporters and mutant coding regions into an endogenous locus of interest in an easy and highly efficient manner.
The development of two-component expression systems in Drosophila melanogaster, one of the most powerful genetic models, has allowed the precise manipulation of gene function in specific cell populations. These expression systems, in combination with site-specific recombination approaches, have also led to the development of new methods for clonal lineage analysis. We present a hands-on user guide to the techniques and approaches that have greatly increased resolution of genetic analysis in the fly, with a special focus on their application for lineage analysis. Our intention is to provide guidance and suggestions regarding which genetic tools are most suitable for addressing different developmental questions.
Metagenomic shotgun sequencing data can identify microbes populating a microbial community and their proportions, but existing taxonomic profiling methods are inefficient for increasingly large datasets. We present an approach that uses clade-specific marker genes to unambiguously assign reads to microbial clades more accurately and >50× faster than current approaches. We validated MetaPhlAn on terabases of short reads and provide the largest metagenomic profiling to date of the human gut
We developed a method for restricted enzymatic proteolysis using the outer membrane protease T (OmpT) to produce large peptides (> 6.3 kDa on average) for mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Using this approach to analyze prefractionated high-mass HeLa proteins we identified 3,697 unique peptides from 1,038 proteins. We demonstrated the ability of large OmpT peptides to differentiate closely related protein isoforms and to enable the detection of many post-translational modifications.
Zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) are versatile reagents that have redefined genome engineering. Realizing the full potential of this technology requires the development of safe and effective methods for delivering ZFNs into cells. We demonstrate the intrinsic cell-penetrating capabilities of the standard ZFN architecture and show that direct delivery of ZFNs as proteins leads to efficient endogenous gene disruption in a variety of mammalian cell types with minimal off-target effects.
Detecting genomic structural variants from high-throughput sequencing data is a complex and unresolved challenge. We have developed a statistical learning approach, based on Random Forests, which integrates prior knowledge about the characteristics of structural variants and leads to improved discovery in high throughput sequencing data. The implementation of this technique, forestSV, offers high sensitivity and specificity coupled with the flexibility of a data-driven approach.
Emerging questions in cell biology necessitate nanometer-scale imaging in live cells. Here we present scanning angle interference microscopy, capable of localizing fluorescent objects with nanometer-scale precision along the optical axis in motile cellular structures. We use this approach to resolve nano-topographical features of the cell membrane and cytoskeleton, as well as the temporal evolution, three-dimensional architecture, and nano-scale dynamics of focal adhesion complexes.
Reconstructing gene regulatory networks from high-throughput data is a long-standing problem. Through the DREAM project (Dialogue on Reverse Engineering Assessment and Methods), we performed a comprehensive blind assessment of over thirty network inference methods on Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and in silico microarray data. We characterize performance, data requirements, and inherent biases of different inference approaches offering guidelines for both algorithm application and development. We observe that no single inference method performs optimally across all datasets. In contrast, integration of predictions from multiple inference methods shows robust and high performance across diverse datasets. Thereby, we construct high-confidence networks for E. coli and S. aureus, each comprising ~1700 transcriptional interactions at an estimated precision of 50%. We experimentally test 53 novel interactions in E. coli, of which 23 were supported (43%). Our results establish community-based methods as a powerful and robust tool for the inference of transcriptional gene regulatory networks.
We introduce two large-scale resources for functional analysis of microRNA—a decoy/sponge library for inhibiting microRNA function and a sensor library for monitoring microRNA activity. To take advantage of the sensor library, we developed a high-throughput assay called Sensor-seq, which permits the activity of hundreds of microRNAs to be quantified simultaneously. Using this approach, we show that only the most abundant microRNAs within a cell mediate significant target suppression. Over 60% of detected microRNAs had no discernible activity, indicating that the functional ‘miRNome’ of a cell is considerably smaller than currently inferred from profiling studies. Moreover, some highly expressed microRNAs exhibit relatively weak activity, which in some cases correlated with a high target-to-microRNA ratio or increased nuclear localization of the microRNA. Finally, we show that the microRNA decoy library can be used for pooled loss-of-function studies. These tools provide valuable resources for studying microRNA biology and for microRNA-based therapeutics.
We report the characterization of a highly germline competent C57BL/6N mouse embryonic stem cell line, JM8. To simplify breeding schemes, the dominant Agouti coat color gene was restored in JM8 cells by targeted repair of the C57BL/6 nonagouti mutation. These cells provide a robust foundation for large-scale mouse knockout programs that aim to provide a public resource of targeted mutations in the C57BL/6 genetic background.
Phage ϕC31 encodes an integrase that can mediate the insertion of extrachromosomal DNA into genomic DNA1. Here we show ϕC31 integrase can be used to generate transgenic Xenopus laevis embryos. mRNA encoding integrase was co-injected with a reporter plasmid containing a CMV promoter driven GFP into one cell embryos. The reporter plasmid was integrated into the genome. GFP expression, though robust, was in a limited number of tissues and varied among the embryos analyzed. We attributed this restriction to transcriptional silencing by chromosome position effects. Modification of the reporter plasmid by bracketing the CMV-GFP region with tandem copies of the chicken β-globin 5′ HS4 insulator2 relieved position effects. Embryos transgenic with insulated CMV-GFP expressed GFP uniformly. Tissue specific expression was achieved when the CMV promoter was replaced with a 551 base-pair minimal gamma crystallin lens promoter from Xenopus. Embryos transgenic with this plasmid had GFP expression limited to the lens of the eye. We observed that about a third of embryos assayed one week after fertilization were transgenic. These experiments demonstrate that the integration of insulated gene sequences using ϕC31 integrase can be used to efficiently create transgenic embryos in Xenopus laevis and may increase the practical use of ϕC31 integrase in other systems as well.
We introduce clustering with overlapping neighborhood expansion (ClusterONE), a method for detecting potentially overlapping protein complexes from protein-protein interaction data. ClusterONE-derived complexes for several yeast data sets showed better correspondence with reference complexes in the Munich Information Center for Protein Sequence (MIPS) catalog and complexes derived from the Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD) than the results of seven popular methods. The results also showed a high extent of functional homogeneity.
We present a toolbox for high-throughput screening of image-based Caenorhabditis elegans phenotypes. The image analysis algorithms measure morphological phenotypes in individual worms and are effective for a variety of assays and imaging systems. This WormToolbox is available via the open-source CellProfiler project and enables objective scoring of whole-animal high-throughput image-based assays of C. elegans for the study of diverse biological pathways relevant to human disease.