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author:("Bi, anzhen")
1.  Direct Conversion of Fibroblasts to Neurons by Reprogramming PTB-Regulated microRNA Circuits 
Cell  2013;152(1-2):82-96.
The induction of pluripotency or trans-differentiation of one cell type to another can be accomplished with cell lineage-specific transcription factors. Here we report that repression of a single RNA binding protein PTB, which occurs during normal brain development via the action of miR-124, is sufficient to induce trans-differentiation of fibroblasts into functional neurons. Besides its traditional role in regulated splicing, we show that PTB has a previously undocumented function in the regulation of microRNA functions, suppressing or enhancing microRNA targeting by competitive binding on target mRNA or altering local RNA secondary structure. A key event during neuronal induction is the relief of PTB-mediated blockage of microRNA action on multiple components of the REST complex, thereby de-repressing a large array of neuronal genes, including miR-124 and multiple neuronal-specific transcription factors, in non-neuronal cells. This converts a negative feedback loop to a positive one to elicit cellular reprogramming to the neuronal lineage.
PMCID: PMC3552026  PMID: 23313552
2.  Pseudo attP sites in favor of transgene integration and expression in cultured porcine cells identified by streptomyces phage phiC31 integrase 
BMC Molecular Biology  2013;14:20.
Phage PhiC31 integrase integrates attB-containing plasmid into pseudo attP site in eukaryotic genomes in a unidirectional site-specific manner and maintains robust transgene expression. Few studies, however, explore its potential in livestock. This study aims to discover the molecular basis of PhiC31 integrase-mediated site-specific recombination in pig cells. We show that PhiC31 integrase can mediate site-specific transgene integration into the genome of pig kidney PK15 cells. Intramolecular recombination in pig PK15 cell line occurred at maximum frequency of 82% with transiently transfected attB- and attP-containing plasmids. An optimal molar ratio of pCMV-Int to pEGFP-N1-attB at 5:1 was observed for maximum number of cell clones under drug selection. Four candidate pseudo attP sites were identified by TAIL-PCR from those cell clones with single-copy transgene integration. Two of them gave rise to higher integration frequency occurred at 33%. 5′ and 3′ junction PCR showed that transgene integration mediated by PhiC31 integrase was mono-allelic. Micro- deletion and insertion were observed by sequencing the integration border, indicating that double strand break was induced by the recombination. We then constructed rescue reporter plasmids by ABI-REC cloning of the four pseudo attP sites into pBCPB + plasmid. Transfection of these rescue plasmids and pCMV-Int resulted in expected intramolecular recombination between attB and pseudo attP sites. This proved that the endogenous pseudo attP sites were functional substrates for PhiC31 integrase-mediated site-specific recombination. Two pseudo attP sites maintained robust extracellular and intracellular EGFP expression. Alamar blue assay showed that transgene integration into these specific sites had little effect on cell proliferation. This is the first report to document the potential use of PhiC31 integrase to mediate site-specific recombination in pig cells. Our work established an ideal model to study the position effect of identical transgene located in diverse chromosomal contexts. These findings also form the basis for targeted pig genome engineering and may be used to produce genetically modified pigs for agricultural and biomedical uses.
PMCID: PMC3844521  PMID: 24010979
PhiC31 integrase; Pig; Pseudo attP site; TAIL-PCR
3.  An asymmetric PCR-based, reliable and rapid single-tube native DNA engineering strategy 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:39.
Widely used restriction-dependent cloning methods are labour-intensive and time-consuming, while several types of ligase-independent cloning approaches have inherent limitations. A rapid and reliable method of cloning native DNA sequences into desired plasmids are highly desired.
This paper introduces ABI-REC, a novel strategy combining asymmetric bridge PCR with intramolecular homologous recombination in bacteria for native DNA cloning. ABI-REC was developed to precisely clone inserts into defined location in a directional manner within recipient plasmids. It featured an asymmetric 3-primer PCR performed in a single tube that could robustly amplify a chimeric insert-plasmid DNA sequence with homologous arms at both ends. Intramolecular homologous recombination occurred to the chimera when it was transformed into E.coli and produced the desired recombinant plasmids with high efficiency and fidelity. It is rapid, and does not involve any operational nucleotides. We proved the reliability of ABI-REC using a double-resistance reporter assay, and investigated the effects of homology and insert length upon its efficiency. We found that 15 bp homology was sufficient to initiate recombination, while 25 bp homology had the highest cloning efficiency. Inserts up to 4 kb in size could be cloned by this method. The utility and advantages of ABI-REC were demonstrated through a series of pig myostatin (MSTN) promoter and terminator reporter plasmids, whose transcriptional activity was assessed in mammalian cells. We finally used ABI-REC to construct a pig MSTN promoter-terminator cassette reporter and showed that it could work coordinately to express EGFP.
ABI-REC has the following advantages: (i) rapid and highly efficient; (ii) native DNA cloning without introduction of extra bases; (iii) restriction-free; (iv) easy positioning of directional and site-specific recombination owing to formulated primer design. ABI-REC is a novel approach to DNA engineering and gene functional analysis.
PMCID: PMC3408372  PMID: 22768962
Asymmetric; Bridge PCR; Intramolecular homologous recombination; Myostatin

Results 1-3 (3)