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1.  Engineered Streptomyces avermitilis host for heterologous expression of biosynthetic gene cluster for secondary metabolites 
ACS synthetic biology  2013;2(7):384-396.
An industrial microorganism Streptomyces avermitilis, which is a producer of anthelmintic macrocyclic lactones, avermectins, has been constructed as a versatile model host for heterologous expression of genes encoding secondary metabolite biosynthesis. Twenty of the entire biosynthetic gene clusters for secondary metabolites were successively cloned and introduced into a versatile model host S. avermitilis SUKA17 or 22. Almost all S. avermitilis transformants carrying the entire gene cluster produced metabolites as a result of the expression of biosynthetic gene clusters introduced. A few transformants were unable to produce metabolites but their production was restored by the expression of biosynthetic genes using an alternative promoter or the expression of a regulatory gene in the gene cluster that controls the expression of biosynthetic genes in the cluster using an alternative promoter. Production of metabolites in some transformants of the versatile host was higher than that of the original producers and cryptic biosynthetic gene clusters in the original producer were also expressed in a versatile host.
PMCID: PMC3932656  PMID: 23654282
secondary metabolism; heterologous expression; biosynthesis; Streptomyces; genome
2.  Genome-Based Discovery of a Novel Membrane-Bound 1,6-Dihydroxyphenazine Prenyltransferase from a Marine Actinomycete 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99122.
Recently, novel prenylated derivatives of 1,6-dihydroxyphenazine have been isolated from the marine sponge-associated Streptomyces sp. SpC080624SC-11. Genome sequencing of this strain now revealed a gene cluster containing all genes necessary for the synthesis of the phenazine and the isoprenoid moieties. Unexpectedly, however, the cluster did not contain a gene with similarity to previously investigated phenazine prenyltransferases, but instead a gene with modest similarity to the membrane-bound prenyltransferases of ubiquinone and menaquinone biosynthesis. Expression of this gene in E. coli and isolation of the membrane fraction proved that the encoded enzyme, Mpz10, catalyzes two successive prenylations of 1,6-dihydroxyphenazine. Mpz10 is the first example of a membrane-bound enzyme catalyzing the prenylation of a phenazine substrate, and one of few examples of membrane-bound enzymes involved in the prenylation of aromatic secondary metabolites in microorganisms.
PMCID: PMC4044012  PMID: 24892559
3.  Telomestatin Impairs Glioma Stem Cell Survival and Growth through the Disruption of Telomeric G-Quadruplex and Inhibition of the Proto-oncogene, c-Myb 
Glioma stem cells (GSC) are a critical therapeutic target of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
Experimental Design
The effects of a G-quadruplex ligand, telomestatin, were evaluated using patient-derived GSCs, non-stem tumor cells (non-GSC), and normal fetal neural precursors in vitro and in vivo. The molecular targets of telomestatin were determined by immunofluorescence in situ hybridization (iFISH) and cDNA microarray. The data were then validated by in vitro and in vivo functional assays, as well as by immunohistochemistry against 90 clinical samples.
Telomestatin impaired the maintenance of GSC stem cell state by inducing apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. The migration potential of GSCs was also impaired by telomestatin treatment. In contrast, both normal neural precursors and non-GSCs were relatively resistant to telomestatin. Treatment of GSC-derived mouse intracranial tumors reduced tumor sizes in vivo without a noticeable cell death in normal brains. iFISH revealed both telomeric and non-telomeric DNA damage by telomestatin in GSCs but not in non-GSCs. cDNA microarray identified a proto-oncogene, c-Myb, as a novel molecular target of telomestatin in GSCs, and pharmacodynamic analysis in telomestatin-treated tumor-bearing mouse brains showed a reduction of c-Myb in tumors in vivo. Knockdown of c-Myb phenocopied telomestatin-treated GSCs both in vitro and in vivo, and restoring c-Myb by overexpression partially rescued the phenotype. Finally, c-Myb expression was markedly elevated in surgical specimens of GBMs compared with normal tissues.
These data indicate that telomestatin potently eradicates GSCs through telomere disruption and c-Myb inhibition, and this study suggests a novel GSC-directed therapeutic strategy for GBMs.
PMCID: PMC3896097  PMID: 22230766
4.  MIDDAS-M: Motif-Independent De Novo Detection of Secondary Metabolite Gene Clusters through the Integration of Genome Sequencing and Transcriptome Data 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84028.
Many bioactive natural products are produced as “secondary metabolites” by plants, bacteria, and fungi. During the middle of the 20th century, several secondary metabolites from fungi revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry, for example, penicillin, lovastatin, and cyclosporine. They are generally biosynthesized by enzymes encoded by clusters of coordinately regulated genes, and several motif-based methods have been developed to detect secondary metabolite biosynthetic (SMB) gene clusters using the sequence information of typical SMB core genes such as polyketide synthases (PKS) and non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS). However, no detection method exists for SMB gene clusters that are functional and do not include core SMB genes at present. To advance the exploration of SMB gene clusters, especially those without known core genes, we developed MIDDAS-M, a motif-independent de novo detection algorithm for SMB gene clusters. We integrated virtual gene cluster generation in an annotated genome sequence with highly sensitive scoring of the cooperative transcriptional regulation of cluster member genes. MIDDAS-M accurately predicted 38 SMB gene clusters that have been experimentally confirmed and/or predicted by other motif-based methods in 3 fungal strains. MIDDAS-M further identified a new SMB gene cluster for ustiloxin B, which was experimentally validated. Sequence analysis of the cluster genes indicated a novel mechanism for peptide biosynthesis independent of NRPS. Because it is fully computational and independent of empirical knowledge about SMB core genes, MIDDAS-M allows a large-scale, comprehensive analysis of SMB gene clusters, including those with novel biosynthetic mechanisms that do not contain any functionally characterized genes.
PMCID: PMC3877130  PMID: 24391870
5.  FANCJ couples replication past natural fork barriers with maintenance of chromatin structure 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;201(1):33-48.
The FANCJ helicase promotes DNA replication in trans by counteracting fork stalling at replication barriers and suppresses heterochromatin spreading by coupling fork movement with maintenance of chromatin structure.
Defective DNA repair causes Fanconi anemia (FA), a rare childhood cancer–predisposing syndrome. At least 15 genes are known to be mutated in FA; however, their role in DNA repair remains unclear. Here, we show that the FANCJ helicase promotes DNA replication in trans by counteracting fork stalling on replication barriers, such as G4 quadruplex structures. Accordingly, stabilization of G4 quadruplexes in ΔFANCJ cells restricts fork movements, uncouples leading- and lagging-strand synthesis and generates small single-stranded DNA gaps behind the fork. Unexpectedly, we also discovered that FANCJ suppresses heterochromatin spreading by coupling fork movement through replication barriers with maintenance of chromatin structure. We propose that FANCJ plays an essential role in counteracting chromatin compaction associated with unscheduled replication fork stalling and restart, and suppresses tumorigenesis, at least partially, in this replication-specific manner.
PMCID: PMC3613694  PMID: 23530069
6.  Pleiotropic Control of Secondary Metabolism and Morphological Development by KsbC, a Butyrolactone Autoregulator Receptor Homologue in Kitasatospora setae 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(22):8015-8024.
The γ-butyrolactone autoregulator signaling cascades have been shown to control secondary metabolism and/or morphological development among many Streptomyces species. However, the conservation and variation of the regulatory systems among actinomycetes remain to be clarified. The genome sequence of Kitasatospora setae, which also belongs to the family Streptomycetaceae containing the genus Streptomyces, has revealed the presence of three homologues of the autoregulator receptor: KsbA, which has previously been confirmed to be involved only in secondary metabolism; KsbB; and KsbC. We describe here the characterization of ksbC, whose regulatory cluster closely resembles the Streptomyces virginiae barA locus responsible for the autoregulator signaling cascade. Deletion of the gene ksbC resulted in lowered production of bafilomycin and a defect of aerial mycelium formation, together with the early and enhanced production of a novel β-carboline alkaloid named kitasetaline. A putative kitasetaline biosynthetic gene cluster was identified, and its expression in a heterologous host led to the production of kitasetaline together with JBIR-133, the production of which is also detected in the ksbC disruptant, and JBIR-134 as novel β-carboline alkaloids, indicating that these genes were biosynthetic genes for β-carboline alkaloid and thus are the first such genes to be discovered in bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3485943  PMID: 22961899
7.  Atrx deficiency induces telomere dysfunction, endocrine defects, and reduced life span  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(5):2049-2063.
Human ATRX mutations are associated with cognitive deficits, developmental abnormalities, and cancer. We show that the Atrx-null embryonic mouse brain accumulates replicative damage at telomeres and pericentromeric heterochromatin, which is exacerbated by loss of p53 and linked to ATM activation. ATRX-deficient neuroprogenitors exhibited higher incidence of telomere fusions and increased sensitivity to replication stress–inducing drugs. Treatment of Atrx-null neuroprogenitors with the G-quadruplex (G4) ligand telomestatin increased DNA damage, indicating that ATRX likely aids in the replication of telomeric G4-DNA structures. Unexpectedly, mutant mice displayed reduced growth, shortened life span, lordokyphosis, cataracts, heart enlargement, and hypoglycemia, as well as reduction of mineral bone density, trabecular bone content, and subcutaneous fat. We show that a subset of these defects can be attributed to loss of ATRX in the embryonic anterior pituitary that resulted in low circulating levels of thyroxine and IGF-1. Our findings suggest that loss of ATRX increases DNA damage locally in the forebrain and anterior pituitary and causes tissue attrition and other systemic defects similar to those seen in aging.
PMCID: PMC3635723  PMID: 23563309
8.  Compound C Prevents the Unfolded Protein Response during Glucose Deprivation through a Mechanism Independent of AMPK and BMP Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45845.
Inhibiting the unfolded protein response (UPR) can be a therapeutic approach, especially for targeting the tumor microenvironment. Here, we show that compound C (also known as dorsomorphin), a small-molecule inhibitor of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling, inhibit the UPR-induced transcription program depending on the glucose deprivation conditions. We found that compound C prevented UPR marker glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) accumulation and exerted enhanced cytotoxicity during glucose deprivation. Gene expression profiling, together with biochemical analysis, revealed that compound C had a unique mode of action to suppress the transcriptional activation of UPR-targeted genes, as compared with the classic UPR inhibitors versipelostatin and biguanides. Surprisingly, the UPR-inhibiting activity of compound C was not associated with either AMPK or BMP signaling inhibition. We further found that combination treatments of compound C and the classic UPR inhibitors resulted in synergistic cell death with UPR suppression during glucose deprivation. Our findings demonstrate that compound C could be a unique tool for developing a UPR-targeted antitumor therapy.
PMCID: PMC3454318  PMID: 23029271
9.  Involvement of Membrane GRP78 in Trophoblastic Cell Fusion 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e40596.
Glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) is highly expressed in first trimester cytrophoblastic cells (CTBs), especially in syncytiotrophoblast (STB). However, the role of GRP78 in these cells has never been investigated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we have examined the role of GRP78 in trophoblast fusion using the Bewo choriocarcinoma cell line as a model of cytotrophoblast fusion. Down regulation of GRP78 by siRNA or chemical inhibitors and use of antibodies against GRP78 in culture medium significantly decreased forskolin-induced fusion capacity of Bewo cells suggesting the involvement of membrane GRP78 in trophoblast fusion. GRP78 expression was also studied in preeclamptic (PE) CTBs which are known to have lower fusion capacity compared to control CTBs. Interestingly, despite the increase of GRP78 mRNA in PE CTBs, membrane GRP78 is significantly decreased in PE CTBs compared to control CTBs, suggesting that relocation of GRP78 from the endoplasmic reticulum to cell surface is probably altered in PE CTBs.
Our results imply that membrane GRP78 could play an important role in syncytialisation. They also suggest that deregulation of GRP78 expression or relocation at cell surface might be involved in pregnancy complication associated with defective syncytialisation, such as preeclampsia.
PMCID: PMC3415408  PMID: 22912664
10.  Comprehensive predictions of target proteins based on protein-chemical interaction using virtual screening and experimental verifications 
BMC Chemical Biology  2012;12:2.
Identification of the target proteins of bioactive compounds is critical for elucidating the mode of action; however, target identification has been difficult in general, mostly due to the low sensitivity of detection using affinity chromatography followed by CBB staining and MS/MS analysis.
We applied our protocol of predicting target proteins combining in silico screening and experimental verification for incednine, which inhibits the anti-apoptotic function of Bcl-xL by an unknown mechanism. One hundred eighty-two target protein candidates were computationally predicted to bind to incednine by the statistical prediction method, and the predictions were verified by in vitro binding of incednine to seven proteins, whose expression can be confirmed in our cell system.
As a result, 40% accuracy of the computational predictions was achieved successfully, and we newly found 3 incednine-binding proteins.
This study revealed that our proposed protocol of predicting target protein combining in silico screening and experimental verification is useful, and provides new insight into a strategy for identifying target proteins of small molecules.
PMCID: PMC3471015  PMID: 22480302
11.  Human telomerase reverse transcriptase and glucose-regulated protein 78 increase the life span of articular chondrocytes and their repair potential 
Like all mammalian cells, normal adult chondrocytes have a limited replicative life span, which decreases with age. To facilitate the therapeutic use of chondrocytes from older donors, a method is needed to prolong their life span.
We transfected chondrocytes with hTERT or GRP78 and cultured them in a 3-dimensional atelocollagen honeycomb-shaped scaffold with a membrane seal. Then, we measured the amount of nuclear DNA and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and the expression level of type II collagen as markers of cell proliferation and extracellular matrix formation, respectively, in these cultures. In addition, we allografted this tissue-engineered cartilage into osteochondral defects in old rabbits to assess their repair activity in vivo.
Our results showed different degrees of differentiation in terms of GAG content between chondrocytes from old and young rabbits. Chondrocytes that were cotransfected with hTERT and GRP78 showed higher cellular proliferation and expression of type II collagen than those of nontransfected chondrocytes, regardless of the age of the cartilage donor. In addition, the in vitro growth rates of hTERT- or GRP78-transfected chondrocytes were higher than those of nontransfected chondrocytes, regardless of donor age. In vivo, the tissue-engineered cartilage implants exhibited strong repairing activity, maintained a chondrocyte-specific phenotype, and produced extracellular matrix components.
Focal gene delivery to aged articular chondrocytes exhibited strong repairing activity and may be therapeutically useful for articular cartilage regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3349494  PMID: 22472071
12.  Actinobacteria Associated with the Marine Sponges Cinachyra sp., Petrosia sp., and Ulosa sp. and Their Culturability 
Microbes and Environments  2011;27(1):99-104.
Actinobacteria associated with 3 marine sponges, Cinachyra sp., Petrosia sp., and Ulosa sp., were investigated. Analyses of 16S rRNA gene clone libraries revealed that actinobacterial diversity varied greatly and that Ulosa sp. was most diverse, while Cinachyra sp. was least diverse. Culture-based approaches failed to isolate actinobacteria from Petrosia sp. or Ulosa sp., but strains belonging to 10 different genera and 3 novel species were isolated from Cinachyra sp.
PMCID: PMC4036034  PMID: 22214828
actinobacteria; marine sponge; Cinachyra; Petrosia; Ulosa
13.  Cation Involvement in Telomestatin Binding to G-Quadruplex DNA 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2010;2010:121259.
The binding mode of telomestatin to G-quadruplex DNA has been investigated using electrospray mass spectrometry, by detecting the intact complexes formed in ammonium acetate. The mass measurements show the incorporation of one extra ammonium ion in the telomestatin complexes. Experiments on telomestatin alone also show that the telomestatin alone is able to coordinate cations in a similar way as a crown ether. Finally, density functional theory calculations suggest that in the G-quadruplex-telomestatin complex, potassium or ammonium cations are located between the telomestatin and a G-quartet. This study underlines that monovalent cation coordination capabilities should be integrated in the rational design of G-quadruplex binding ligands.
PMCID: PMC2911584  PMID: 20700418
14.  Synthesis of Macrocyclic Hexaoxazole (6OTD) Dimers, Containing Guanidine and Amine Functionalized Side Chains, and an Evaluation of Their Telomeric G4 Stabilizing Properties 
Journal of Nucleic Acids  2010;2010:217627.
Structure-activity relationship studies were carried out on macrocyclic hexaoxazole (6OTD) dimers, whose core structure stabilizes telomeric G-quadruplexes (G4). Two new 6OTD dimers having side chain amine and guanidine functional groups were synthesized and evaluated for their stabilizing ability against a telomeric G4 DNA sequence. The results show that the 6OTD dimers interact with the DNA to form 1:1 complexes and stabilize the antiparallel G4 structure of DNA in the presence of potassium cation. The guanidine functionalized dimer displays a potent stabilizing ability of the G4 structure, as determined by using a FRET melting assay (ΔTm = 14°C).
PMCID: PMC2911606  PMID: 20700415
15.  The G-Quadruplex Ligand Telomestatin Impairs Binding of Topoisomerase IIIα to G-Quadruplex-Forming Oligonucleotides and Uncaps Telomeres in ALT Cells 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6919.
In Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) cell lines, specific nuclear bodies called APBs (ALT-associated PML bodies) concentrate telomeric DNA, shelterin components and recombination factors associated with telomere recombination. Topoisomerase IIIα (Topo III) is an essential telomeric-associated factor in ALT cells. We show here that the binding of Topo III to telomeric G-overhang is modulated by G-quadruplex formation. Topo III binding to G-quadruplex-forming oligonucleotides was strongly inhibited by telomestatin, a potent and specific G-quadruplex ligand. In ALT cells, telomestatin treatment resulted in the depletion of the Topo III/BLM/TRF2 complex and the disruption of APBs and led to the segregation of PML, shelterin components and Topo III. Interestingly, a DNA damage response was observed at telomeres in telomestatin-treated cells. These data indicate the importance of G-quadruplex stabilization during telomere maintenance in ALT cells. The function of TRF2/Topo III/BLM in the resolution of replication intermediates at telomeres is discussed.
PMCID: PMC2732903  PMID: 19742304
16.  Role of TLS DNA polymerases eta and kappa in processing naturally occurring structured DNA in human cells 
Molecular carcinogenesis  2009;48(4):369-378.
Accurate DNA replication during S-phase is fundamental to maintain genome integrity. During this critical process, replication forks frequently encounter obstacles that impede their progression. While the regulatory pathways which act in response to exogenous replication stress are beginning to emerge, the mechanisms by which fork integrity is maintained at naturally occurring endogenous replication-impeding sequences remains obscure. Notably, little is known about how cells replicate through special chromosomal regions containing structured non-B DNA, e.g. G4 quartets, known to hamper fork progression or trigger chromosomal rearrangements. Here, we have investigated the role in this process of the human translesion synthesis (TLS) DNA polymerases of the Y-family (pol η, pol ι, and pol κ), specialized enzymes known to synthesize DNA through DNA damage. We show that depletion by RNA interference of expression of the genes for Pol η or Pol κ, but not Pol ι, sensitizes U2OS cells treated with the G4-tetraplex interactive compound telomestatin and triggers double-strand breaks in HeLa cells harbouring multiple copies of a G-rich sequence from the promoter region of the human c-MYC gene, chromosomally integrated as a transgene. Moreover, we found that downregulation of Pol κ only raises the level of DSB in HeLa cells containing either one of two breakage hotspot structured DNA sequences in the chromosome, the major break region (Mbr) of BCL-2 gene and the GA rich region from the far right-hand end of the genome of the Kaposi Sarcoma associated Herpesvirus. These data suggest that naturally occurring DNA structures are physiological substrates of both pol η and pol κ. We discuss these data in the light of their downregulation in human cancers.
PMCID: PMC2696892  PMID: 19117014
DNA Replication; Genetic Instability; Double Strand Breaks; non-B DNA
17.  FANCJ Helicase Defective in Fanconia Anemia and Breast Cancer Unwinds G-Quadruplex DNA To Defend Genomic Stability▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(12):4116-4128.
FANCJ mutations are associated with breast cancer and genetically linked to the bone marrow disease Fanconi anemia (FA). The genomic instability of FA-J mutant cells suggests that FANCJ helicase functions in the replicational stress response. A putative helicase with sequence similarity to FANCJ in Caenorhabditis elegans (DOG-1) and mouse (RTEL) is required for poly(G) tract maintenance, suggesting its involvement in the resolution of alternate DNA structures that impede replication. Under physiological conditions, guanine-rich sequences spontaneously assemble into four-stranded structures (G quadruplexes [G4]) that influence genomic stability. FANCJ unwound G4 DNA substrates in an ATPase-dependent manner. FANCJ G4 unwinding is specific since another superfamily 2 helicase, RECQ1, failed to unwind all G4 substrates tested under conditions in which the helicase unwound duplex DNA. Replication protein A stimulated FANCJ G4 unwinding, whereas the mismatch repair complex MSH2/MSH6 inhibited this activity. FANCJ-depleted cells treated with the G4-interactive compound telomestatin displayed impaired proliferation and elevated levels of apoptosis and DNA damage compared to small interfering RNA control cells, suggesting that G4 DNA is a physiological substrate of FANCJ. Although the FA pathway has been classically described in terms of interstrand cross-link (ICL) repair, the cellular defects associated with FANCJ mutation extend beyond the reduced ability to repair ICLs and involve other types of DNA structural roadblocks to replication.
PMCID: PMC2423121  PMID: 18426915

Results 1-18 (18)