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1.  Poly purine.pyrimidine sequences upstream of the beta-galactosidase gene affect gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Background
Poly purine.pyrimidine sequences have the potential to adopt intramolecular triplex structures and are overrepresented upstream of genes in eukaryotes. These sequences may regulate gene expression by modulating the interaction of transcription factors with DNA sequences upstream of genes.
Results
A poly purine.pyrimidine sequence with the potential to adopt an intramolecular triplex DNA structure was designed. The sequence was inserted within a nucleosome positioned upstream of the β-galactosidase gene in yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, between the cycl promoter and gal 10Upstream Activating Sequences (UASg). Upon derepression with galactose, β-galactosidase gene expression is reduced 12-fold in cells carrying single copy poly purine.pyrimidine sequences. This reduction in expression is correlated with reduced transcription. Furthermore, we show that plasmids carrying a poly purine.pyrimidine sequence are not specifically lost from yeast cells.
Conclusion
We propose that a poly purine.pyrimidine sequence upstream of a gene affects transcription. Plasmids carrying this sequence are not specifically lost from cells and thus no additional effort is needed for the replication of these sequences in eukaryotic cells.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-2-11
PMCID: PMC59624  PMID: 11696239
2.  UAG readthrough in mammalian cells: Effect of upstream and downstream stop codon contexts reveal different signals 
Background
Translation termination is mediated through an interaction between the release factors eRF1 and eRF3 and the stop codon within its nucleotide context. Although it is well known that the nucleotide contexts both upstream and downstream of the stop codon, can modulate readthrough, little is known about the mechanisms involved.
Results
We have performed an in vivo analysis of translational readthrough in mouse cells in culture using a reporter system that allows the measurement of readthrough levels as low as 10-4. We first quantified readthrough frequencies obtained with constructs carrying different codons (two Gln, two His and four Gly) immediately upstream of the stop codon. There was no effect of amino acid identity or codon frequency. However, an adenine in the -1 position was always associated with the highest readthrough levels while an uracil was always associated with the lowest readthrough levels. This could be due to an effect mediated either by the nucleotide itself or by the P-site tRNA. We then examined the importance of the downstream context using eight other constructs. No direct correlation between the +6 nucleotide and readthrough efficiency was observed.
Conclusions
We conclude that, in mouse cells, the upstream and downstream stop codon contexts affect readthrough via different mechanisms, suggesting that complex interactions take place between the mRNA and the various components of the translation termination machinery. Comparison of our results with those previously obtained in plant cells and in yeast, strongly suggests that the mechanisms involved in stop codon recognition are conserved among eukaryotes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-2-3
PMCID: PMC29092  PMID: 11242562
3.  High affinity binding of proteins HMG1 and HMG2 to semicatenated DNA loops 
Background
Proteins HMG1 and HMG2 are two of the most abundant non histone proteins in the nucleus of mammalian cells, and contain a domain of homology with many proteins implicated in the control of development, such as the sex-determination factor Sry and the Sox family of proteins. In vitro studies of interactions of HMG1/2 with DNA have shown that these proteins can bind to many unusual DNA structures, in particular to four-way junctions, with binding affinities of 107 to 109 M-1.
Results
Here we show that HMG1 and HMG2 bind with a much higher affinity, at least 4 orders of magnitude higher, to a new structure, Form X, which consists of a DNA loop closed at its base by a semicatenated DNA junction, forming a DNA hemicatenane. The binding constant of HMG1 to Form X is higher than 5 × 1012 M-1, and the half-life of the complex is longer than one hour in vitro.
Conclusions
Of all DNA structures described so far with which HMG1 and HMG2 interact, we have found that Form X, a DNA loop with a semicatenated DNA junction at its base, is the structure with the highest affinity by more than 4 orders of magnitude. This suggests that, if similar structures exist in the cell nucleus, one of the functions of these proteins might be linked to the remarkable property of DNA hemicatenanes to associate two distant regions of the genome in a stable but reversible manner.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-1-1
PMCID: PMC29088  PMID: 11041984
4.  Inverted terminal repeats of adeno-associated virus decrease random integration of a gene targeting fragment in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Background
Homologous recombination mediated gene targeting is still too inefficient to be applied extensively in genomics and gene therapy. Although sequence-specific nucleases could greatly stimulate gene targeting efficiency, the off-target cleavage sites of these nucleases highlighted the risk of this strategy. Adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors are used for specific gene knockouts, since several studies indicate that these vectors are able to induce site-specific genome alterations at high frequency. Since each targeted event is accompanied by at least ten random integration events, increasing our knowledge regarding the mechanisms behind these events is necessary in order to understand the potential of AAV-mediated gene targeting for therapy application. Moreover, the role of AAV regulatory proteins (Rep) and inverted terminal repeated sequences (ITRs) in random and homologous integration is not completely known. In this study, we used the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a genetic model system to evaluate whether the presence of ITRs in the integrating plasmid has an effect on gene targeting and random integration.
Results
We have shown that the presence of ITRs flanking a gene targeting vector containing homology to its genomic target decreased the frequency of random integration, leading to an increase in the gene targeting/random integration ratio. On the other hand, the expression of Rep proteins, which produce a nick in the ITR, significantly increased non-homologous integration of a DNA fragment sharing no homology to the genome, but had no effect on gene targeting or random integration when the DNA fragment shared homology with the genome. Molecular analysis showed that ITRs are frequently conserved in the random integrants, and that they induce rearrangements.
Conclusions
Our results indicate that ITRs may be a useful tool for decreasing random integration, and consequently favor homologous gene targeting.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-5
PMCID: PMC3925961  PMID: 24521444
Yeast; AAV; ITRs; Homologous recombination; Random integration
5.  An improved genetic system for detection and analysis of protein nuclear import signals 
Background
Nuclear import of proteins is typically mediated by their physical interaction with soluble cytosolic receptor proteins via a nuclear localization signal (NLS). A simple genetic assay to detect active NLSs based on their function in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been previously described. In that system, a chimera consisting of a modified bacterial LexA DNA binding domain and the transcriptional activation domain of the yeast Gal4 protein is fused to a candidate NLS. A functional NLS will redirect the chimeric fusion to the yeast cell nucleus and activate transcription of a reporter gene.
Results
We have reengineered this nuclear import system to expand its utility and tested it using known NLS sequences from adenovirus E1A. Firstly, the vector has been reconstructed to reduce the level of chimera expression. Secondly, an irrelevant "stuffer" sequence from the E. coli maltose binding protein was used to increase the size of the chimera above the passive diffusion limit of the nuclear pore complex. The improved vector also contains an expanded multiple cloning site and a hemagglutinin epitope tag to allow confirmation of expression.
Conclusion
The alterations in expression level and composition of the fusions used in this nuclear import system greatly reduce background activity in β-galactosidase assays, improving sensitivity and allowing more quantitative analysis of NLS bearing sequences.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-6
PMCID: PMC1796550  PMID: 17254328
6.  Sequence periodicity of Escherichia coli is concentrated in intergenic regions 
Background
Sequence periodicity with a period close to the DNA helical repeat is a very basic genomic property. This genomic feature was demonstrated for many prokaryotic genomes. The Escherichia coli sequences display the period close to 11 base pairs.
Results
Here we demonstrate that practically only ApA/TpT dinucleotides contribute to overall dinucleotide periodicity in Escherichia coli. The noncoding sequences reveal this periodicity much more prominently compared to protein-coding sequences. The sequence periodicity of ApC/GpT, ApT and GpC dinucleotides along the Escherichia coli K-12 is found to be located as well mainly within the intergenic regions.
Conclusions
The observed concentration of the dinucleotide sequence periodicity in the intergenic regions of E. coli suggests that the periodicity is a typical property of prokaryotic intergenic regions. We suppose that this preferential distribution of dinucleotide periodicity serves many biological functions; first of all, the regulation of transcription.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-5-14
PMCID: PMC516772  PMID: 15333140
7.  The YEATS family member GAS41 interacts with the general transcription factor TFIIF 
BMC Molecular Biology  2010;11:53.
Background
In eukaryotes the transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II requires numerous general and regulatory factors including general transcription factors. The general transcription factor TFIIF controls the activity of the RNA polymerase II both at the initiation and elongation stages. The glioma amplified sequence 41 (GAS41) has been associated with TFIIF via its YEATS domain.
Results
Using GST pull-down assays, we demonstrated that GAS41 binds to both, the small subunit (RAP30) and the large subunit (RAP74) of TFIIF in vitro. The in vivo interaction of GAS41 and endogenous RAP30 and RAP74 was confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation. GAS41 binds to two non-overlapping regions of the C-terminus of RAP30. There is also an ionic component to the binding between GAS41 and RAP30. There was no evidence for a direct interaction between GAS41 and TBP or between GAS41 and RNA polymerase II.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrate binding between endogenous GAS41 and the endogenous TFIIF subunits (RAP30 and RAP74). Since we did not find evidence for a binding of GAS41 to TBP or RNA polymerase II, GAS41 seems to preferentially bind to TFIIF. GAS41 that does not contain a DNA-binding domain appears to be a co-factor of TFIIF.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-11-53
PMCID: PMC2908078  PMID: 20618999
8.  Locations of several novel 2'-O-methylated nucleotides in human 28S rRNA 
Background
Ribose 2'-O-methylation, the most common nucleotide modification in mammalian rRNA, is directed by the C/D box small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs). Thus far, more than fifty putative human rRNA methylation guide snoRNAs have been identified. For nine of these snoRNAs, the respective ribose methylations in human 28S rRNA have been only presumptive.
Results
In this study, the methylation state of human 28S rRNA in the positions predicted by the snoRNAs U21, U26, U31, U48, U50, U73, U74, U80 and U81 was assessed using reverse transcription-based methods and several novel 2'-O-methylations were localized.
Conclusions
Seven novel ribose 2'-O-methylated residues (Am389, Am391, Gm1604, Gm1739, Gm2853, Cm3810, Gm4156, predicted by snoRNAs U26, U81, U80, U73, U50, U74 and U31, respectively) have been localized in human 28S rRNA. The total number of 2'-O-methylations in human rRNA is not yet known.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-3-1
PMCID: PMC88882  PMID: 11897011
10.  Selection of reference genes for normalisation of real-time RT-PCR in brain-stem death injury in Ovis aries 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:72.
Background
Heart and lung transplantation is frequently the only therapeutic option for patients with end stage cardio respiratory disease. Organ donation post brain stem death (BSD) is a pre-requisite, yet BSD itself causes such severe damage that many organs offered for donation are unusable, with lung being the organ most affected by BSD. In Australia and New Zealand, less than 50% of lungs offered for donation post BSD are suitable for transplantation, as compared with over 90% of kidneys, resulting in patients dying for lack of suitable lungs. Our group has developed a novel 24 h sheep BSD model to mimic the physiological milieu of the typical human organ donor. Characterisation of the gene expression changes associated with BSD is critical and will assist in determining the aetiology of lung damage post BSD. Real-time PCR is a highly sensitive method involving multiple steps from extraction to processing RNA so the choice of housekeeping genes is important in obtaining reliable results. Little information however, is available on the expression stability of reference genes in the sheep pulmonary artery and lung. We aimed to establish a set of stably expressed reference genes for use as a standard for analysis of gene expression changes in BSD.
Results
We evaluated the expression stability of 6 candidate normalisation genes (ACTB, GAPDH, HGPRT, PGK1, PPIA and RPLP0) using real time quantitative PCR. There was a wide range of Ct-values within each tissue for pulmonary artery (15–24) and lung (16–25) but the expression pattern for each gene was similar across the two tissues. After geNorm analysis, ACTB and PPIA were shown to be the most stably expressed in the pulmonary artery and ACTB and PGK1 in the lung tissue of BSD sheep.
Conclusion
Accurate normalisation is critical in obtaining reliable and reproducible results in gene expression studies. This study demonstrates tissue associated variability in the selection of these normalisation genes in BSD sheep and underlines the importance of selecting the correct reference genes for both the animal model and tissue studied.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-72
PMCID: PMC2721835  PMID: 19624860
11.  Validation of commonly used reference genes for sleep-related gene expression studies 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:45.
Background
Sleep is a restorative process and is essential for maintenance of mental and physical health. In an attempt to understand the complexity of sleep, multidisciplinary strategies, including genetic approaches, have been applied to sleep research. Although quantitative real time PCR has been used in previous sleep-related gene expression studies, proper validation of reference genes is currently lacking. Thus, we examined the effect of total or paradoxical sleep deprivation (TSD or PSD) on the expression stability of the following frequently used reference genes in brain and blood: beta-actin (b-actin), beta-2-microglobulin (B2M), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), and hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT).
Results
Neither TSD nor PSD affected the expression stability of all tested genes in both tissues indicating that b-actin, B2M, GAPDH and HPRT are appropriate reference genes for the sleep-related gene expression studies. In order to further verify these results, the relative expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase1 (GPD1) was evaluated in brain and blood, respectively. The normalization with each of four reference genes produced similar pattern of expression in control and sleep deprived rats, but subtle differences in the magnitude of expression fold change were observed which might affect the statistical significance.
Conclusion
This study demonstrated that sleep deprivation does not alter the expression stability of commonly used reference genes in brain and blood. Nonetheless, the use of multiple reference genes in quantitative RT-PCR is required for the accurate results.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-45
PMCID: PMC2685383  PMID: 19445681
12.  Revised Mimivirus major capsid protein sequence reveals intron-containing gene structure and extra domain 
BMC Molecular Biology  2009;10:39.
Background
Acanthamoebae polyphaga Mimivirus (APM) is the largest known dsDNA virus. The viral particle has a nearly icosahedral structure with an internal capsid shell surrounded with a dense layer of fibrils. A Capsid protein sequence, D13L, was deduced from the APM L425 coding gene and was shown to be the most abundant protein found within the viral particle. However this protein remained poorly characterised until now. A revised protein sequence deposited in a database suggested an additional N-terminal stretch of 142 amino acids missing from the original deduced sequence. This result led us to investigate the L425 gene structure and the biochemical properties of the complete APM major Capsid protein.
Results
This study describes the full length 3430 bp Capsid coding gene and characterises the 593 amino acids long corresponding Capsid protein 1. The recombinant full length protein allowed the production of a specific monoclonal antibody able to detect the Capsid protein 1 within the viral particle. This protein appeared to be post-translationnally modified by glycosylation and phosphorylation. We proposed a secondary structure prediction of APM Capsid protein 1 compared to the Capsid protein structure of Paramecium Bursaria Chlorella Virus 1, another member of the Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Large DNA virus family.
Conclusion
The characterisation of the full length L425 Capsid coding gene of Acanthamoebae polyphaga Mimivirus provides new insights into the structure of the main Capsid protein. The production of a full length recombinant protein will be useful for further structural studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-10-39
PMCID: PMC2688009  PMID: 19432951
13.  Prediction of highly expressed genes in microbes based on chromatin accessibility 
Background
It is well known that gene expression is dependent on chromatin structure in eukaryotes and it is likely that chromatin can play a role in bacterial gene expression as well. Here, we use a nucleosomal position preference measure of anisotropic DNA flexibility to predict highly expressed genes in microbial genomes. We compare these predictions with those based on codon adaptation index (CAI) values, and also with experimental data for 6 different microbial genomes, with a particular interest in experimental data from Escherichia coli. Moreover, position preference is examined further in 328 sequenced microbial genomes.
Results
We find that absolute gene expression levels are correlated with the position preference in many microbial genomes. It is postulated that in these regions, the DNA may be more accessible to the transcriptional machinery. Moreover, ribosomal proteins and ribosomal RNA are encoded by DNA having significantly lower position preference values than other genes in fast-replicating microbes.
Conclusion
This insight into DNA structure-dependent gene expression in microbes may be exploited for predicting the expression of non-translated genes such as non-coding RNAs that may not be predicted by any of the conventional codon usage bias approaches.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-11
PMCID: PMC1805505  PMID: 17295928
14.  DNA unwinding assay using streptavidin-bound oligonucleotides 
Background
Helicases play essential roles in many cellular processes including replication, transcription and translation. Most helicases translocate along one strand of the duplex while displacing the complementary strand (of either DNA or RNA). Thus, helicases have directionality. They move along nucleic acids in either the 3'→ 5' or 5'→ 3' direction. The directionality of helicases with low activity or of those that cannot initiate duplex unwinding from a substrate that contains only one single-stranded overhang region is difficult to determine.
Results
An improved assay to determine helicase directionality was developed that uses a substrate containing biotinylated oligonucleotides. As a proof of concept, it was shown that the substrates substantially improve helicase activity and directionality determination for several DNA helicases in comparison to more traditional substrates. In addition, a universal substrate that can be used to determine the directionality of both 3'→ 5' and 5'→ 3' helicases was developed.
Conclusion
It is shown here that the use of a biotin-streptavidin complex as a helicase substrate improves helicase activity and the determination of helicase directionality. The method described is simpler that the currently available techniques.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-7-43
PMCID: PMC1684258  PMID: 17132162
15.  Periodicity of DNA in exons 
Background
The periodic pattern of DNA in exons is a known phenomenon. It was suggested that one of the initial causes of periodicity could be the universal (RNY)npattern (R = A or G, Y = C or U, N = any base) of ancient RNA. Two major questions were addressed in this paper. Firstly, the cause of DNA periodicity, which was investigated by comparisons between real and simulated coding sequences. Secondly, quantification of DNA periodicity was made using an evolutionary algorithm, which was not previously used for such purposes.
Results
We have shown that simulated coding sequences, which were composed using codon usage frequencies only, demonstrate DNA periodicity very similar to the observed in real exons. It was also found that DNA periodicity disappears in the simulated sequences, when the frequencies of codons become equal.
Frequencies of the nucleotides (and the dinucleotide AG) at each location along phase 0 exons were calculated for C. elegans, D. melanogaster and H. sapiens. Two models were used to fit these data, with the key objective of describing periodicity. Both of the models showed that the best-fit curves closely matched the actual data points. The first dynamic period determination model consistently generated a value, which was very close to the period equal to 3 nucleotides. The second fixed period model, as expected, kept the period exactly equal to 3 and did not detract from its goodness of fit.
Conclusions
Conclusion can be drawn that DNA periodicity in exons is determined by codon usage frequencies. It is essential to differentiate between DNA periodicity itself, and the length of the period equal to 3. Periodicity itself is a result of certain combinations of codons with different frequencies typical for a species. The length of period equal to 3, instead, is caused by the triplet nature of genetic code. The models and evolutionary algorithm used for characterising DNA periodicity are proven to be an effective tool for describing the periodicity pattern in a species, when a number of exons in the same phase are analysed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-5-12
PMCID: PMC516030  PMID: 15315715
Codon usage; DNA periodicity; simulated sequences; evolutionary algorithm
16.  High-level gene expression in Aedes albopictus cells using a baculovirus Hr3 enhancer and IE1 transactivator 
Background
Aedes aegypti is the key vector of both the Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever viruses throughout many parts of the world. Low and variable transgene expression levels due to position effect and position effect variegation are problematic to efforts to create transgenic laboratory strains refractory to these viruses. Transformation efficiencies are also less than optimal, likely due to failure to detect expression from all integrated transgenes and potentially due to limited expression of the transposase required for transgene integration.
Results
Expression plasmids utilizing three heterologous promoters and three heterologous enhancers, in all possible combinations, were tested. The Hr3/IE1 enhancer-transactivator in combination with each of the constitutive heterologous promoters tested increased reporter gene expression significantly in transiently transfected Aedes albopictus C7-10 cells.
Conclusions
The addition of the Hr3 enhancer to expression cassettes and concomitant expression of the IE1 transactivator gene product is a potential method for increasing the level of transgene expression in insect systems. This mechanism could also potentially be used to increase the level of transiently-expressed transposase in order to increase the number of integration events in transposon-mediated transformation experiments.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-5-8
PMCID: PMC487899  PMID: 15251037
17.  Functional interaction between RNase III and the Escherichia coli ribosome 
Background
RNase III is a dsRNA specific endoribonuclease which is involved in the primary processing of rRNA and several mRNA species in bacteria. Both primary structural elements and the secondary structure of the substrate RNA play a role in cleavage specificity.
Results
We have analyzed RNase III cleavage sites around both ends of pre-23 S rRNA in the ribosome and in the protein-free pre-rRNA. It was found that in the protein-free pre-23 S rRNA the main cleavage site is at position (-7) in respect of the mature 5' end. When pre-23 S rRNA was in 70 S ribosomes or in 50 S subunits, the RNase III cleavage occurred at position (-3). We have demonstrated that RNase III interacts with both ribosomal subunits and with even higher affinity with 70 S ribosomes. Association of RNase III with 70 S ribosomes cannot be dissociated by poly(U) RNA indicating that the binding is specific.
Conclusions
In addition to the primary and secondary structural elements in RNA, protein binding to substrate RNA can be a determinant of the RNase III cleavage site.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-4-8
PMCID: PMC165447  PMID: 12814522
18.  Asymmetric interactions in the adenosine-binding pockets of the MS2 coat protein dimer 
Background
The X-ray structure of the MS2 coat protein-operator RNA complex reveals the existence of quasi-synmetric interactions of adenosines -4 and -10 in pockets formed on different subunits of the coat protein dimer. Both pockets utilize the same five amino acid residues, namely Val29, Thr45, Ser47, Thr59, and Lys61. We call these sites the adenosine-binding pockets.
Results
We present here a heterodimer complementation analysis of the contributions of individual A-pocket amino acids to the binding of A-4 and A-10 in different halves of the dimer. Various substitutions of A-pocket residues were introduced into one half of single-chain coat protein heterodimers where they were tested for their abilities to complement Y85H or T91I substitutions (defects in the A-4 and A-10 half-sites, respectively) present in the other dimer half.
Conclusions
These experiments provide functional tests of interactions predicted from structural analyses, demonstrating the importance of certain amino acid-nucleotide contacts observed in the crystal structure, and showing that others make little or no contribution to the stability of the complex. In summary, Val29 and Lys61 form important stabilizing interactions with both A-4 and A-10. Meanwhile, Ser47 and Thr59 interact primarily with A-10. The important interactions with Thr45 are restricted to A-4.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-2-6
PMCID: PMC37355  PMID: 11504563
19.  Regulation of TFIIIB during F9 cell differentiation 
BMC Molecular Biology  2010;11:21.
Background
Differentiation of F9 embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells into parietal endoderm (PE) provides a tractable model system for studying molecular events during early and inaccessible stages of murine development. PE formation is accompanied by extensive changes in gene expression both in vivo and in culture. One of the most dramatic is the ~10-fold decrease in transcriptional output by RNA polymerase (pol) III. This has been attributed to changes in activity of TFIIIB, a factor that is necessary and sufficient to recruit pol III to promoters. The goal of this study was to identify molecular changes that can account for the low activity of TFIIIB following F9 cell differentiation.
Results
Three essential subunits of TFIIIB decrease in abundance as F9 cells differentiate; these are Brf1 and Bdp1, which are pol III-specific, and TBP, which is also used by pols I and II. The decreased levels of Brf1 and Bdp1 proteins can be explained by reduced expression of the corresponding mRNAs. However, this is not the case for TBP, which is regulated post-transcriptionally. In proliferating cells, pol III transcription is stimulated by the proto-oncogene product c-Myc and the mitogen-activated protein kinase Erk, both of which bind to TFIIIB. However, c-Myc levels fall during differentiation and Erk becomes inactive through dephosphorylation. The diminished abundance of TFIIIB is therefore likely to be compounded by changes to these positive regulators that are required for its full activity. In addition, PE cells have elevated levels of the retinoblastoma protein RB, which is known to bind and repress TFIIIB.
Conclusion
The low activity of TFIIIB in PE can be attributed to a combination of changes, any one of which could be sufficient to inhibit pol III transcription. Declining levels of essential TFIIIB subunits and of activators that are required for maximal TFIIIB activity are accompanied by an increase in a potent repressor of TFIIIB. These events provide fail-safe guarantees to ensure that pol III output is appropriate to the diminished metabolic requirements of terminally differentiated cells.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-11-21
PMCID: PMC2842266  PMID: 20226026
20.  XRCC1 and PCNA are loading platforms with distinct kinetic properties and different capacities to respond to multiple DNA lesions 
Background
Genome integrity is constantly challenged and requires the coordinated recruitment of multiple enzyme activities to ensure efficient repair of DNA lesions. We investigated the dynamics of XRCC1 and PCNA that act as molecular loading platforms and play a central role in this coordination.
Results
Local DNA damage was introduced by laser microirradation and the recruitment of fluorescent XRCC1 and PCNA fusion proteins was monitored by live cell microscopy. We found an immediate and fast recruitment of XRCC1 preceding the slow and continuous recruitment of PCNA. Fluorescence bleaching experiments (FRAP and FLIP) revealed a stable association of PCNA with DNA repair sites, contrasting the high turnover of XRCC1. When cells were repeatedly challenged with multiple DNA lesions we observed a gradual depletion of the nuclear pool of PCNA, while XRCC1 dynamically redistributed even to lesions inflicted last.
Conclusion
These results show that PCNA and XRCC1 have distinct kinetic properties with functional consequences for their capacity to respond to successive DNA damage events.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-81
PMCID: PMC2039748  PMID: 17880707
21.  Analysis artefacts of the INS-IGF2 fusion transcript 
BMC Molecular Biology  2015;16:13.
Background
In gene expression analysis, overlapping genes, splice variants, and fusion transcripts are potential sources of data analysis artefacts, depending on how the observed intensity is assigned to one, or more genes. We here exemplify this by an in-depth analysis of the INS-IGF2 fusion transcript, which has recently been reported to be among the highest expressed transcripts in human pancreatic beta cells and its protein indicated as a novel autoantigen in Type 1 Diabetes.
Results
Through RNA sequencing and variant specific qPCR analyses we demonstrate that the true abundance of INS-IGF2 is >20,000 fold lower than INS in human beta cells, and we suggest an explanation to the nature of the artefacts which have previously led to overestimation of the gene expression level in selected studies. We reinvestigated the previous reported findings of detection of INS-IGF2 using antibodies both in Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. We found that the one available commercial antibody (BO1P) raised against recombinant INS-IGF2 show strong cross-reaction to native proinsulin, and we did not detect INS-IGF2 protein in the human beta cell line EndoC-βH1. Furthermore, using highly sensitive proteomics analysis we could not demonstrate INS-IGF2 protein in samples of human islets nor in EndoC-βH1.
Conclusions
Sequence features, such as fusion transcripts spanning multiple genes can lead to unexpected results in gene expression analysis, and care must be taken in generating and interpreting the results. For the specific case of INS-IGF2 we conclude that the abundance of the fusion transcript/protein is exceedingly lower than previously reported, and that current immuno-reagents available for detecting INS-IGF2 protein have a strong cross-reaction to native human proinsulin. Finally, we were unable to detect INS-IGF2 protein by proteomics analysis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0042-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0042-8
PMCID: PMC4517550  PMID: 26220792
Insulin; INS-IGF2; Beta cell; Fusion-transcript; Gene expression; Proteomics; Antibody; Bioinformatics; Analysis artefact; Pancreatic islets; Diabetes
22.  SIRT6 protein deacetylase interacts with MYH DNA glycosylase, APE1 endonuclease, and Rad9–Rad1–Hus1 checkpoint clamp 
BMC Molecular Biology  2015;16:12.
Background
SIRT6, a member of the NAD+-dependent histone/protein deacetylase family, regulates genomic stability, metabolism, and lifespan. MYH glycosylase and APE1 are two base excision repair (BER) enzymes involved in mutation avoidance from oxidative DNA damage. Rad9–Rad1–Hus1 (9–1–1) checkpoint clamp promotes cell cycle checkpoint signaling and DNA repair. BER is coordinated with the checkpoint machinery and requires chromatin remodeling for efficient repair. SIRT6 is involved in DNA double-strand break repair and has been implicated in BER. Here we investigate the direct physical and functional interactions between SIRT6 and BER enzymes.
Results
We show that SIRT6 interacts with and stimulates MYH glycosylase and APE1. In addition, SIRT6 interacts with the 9-1-1 checkpoint clamp. These interactions are enhanced following oxidative stress. The interdomain connector of MYH is important for interactions with SIRT6, APE1, and 9–1–1. Mutagenesis studies indicate that SIRT6, APE1, and Hus1 bind overlapping but different sequence motifs on MYH. However, there is no competition of APE1, Hus1, or SIRT6 binding to MYH. Rather, one MYH partner enhances the association of the other two partners to MYH. Moreover, APE1 and Hus1 act together to stabilize the MYH/SIRT6 complex. Within human cells, MYH and SIRT6 are efficiently recruited to confined oxidative DNA damage sites within transcriptionally active chromatin, but not within repressive chromatin. In addition, Myh foci induced by oxidative stress and Sirt6 depletion are frequently localized on mouse telomeres.
Conclusions
Although SIRT6, APE1, and 9-1-1 bind to the interdomain connector of MYH, they do not compete for MYH association. Our findings indicate that SIRT6 forms a complex with MYH, APE1, and 9-1-1 to maintain genomic and telomeric integrity in mammalian cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0041-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0041-9
PMCID: PMC4464616  PMID: 26063178
DNA repair; Sirtuin 6 (SIRT6); MutY homolog; APE1; Checkpoint clamp; Rad9/Rad1/Hus1; Telomeres; Protein–protein interaction
23.  MicroRNA-19a regulates lipopolysaccharide-induced endothelial cell apoptosis through modulation of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 expression 
BMC Molecular Biology  2015;16:11.
Background
MicroRNAs, small non-encoding RNAs that post-transcriptionally modulate expression of their target genes, have been implicated as critical regulatory molecules in endothelial cells.
Results
In the present study, we found that overexpression of miR-19a protects endothelial cells from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced apoptosis through the apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1)/p38 pathway. Quantitative real-time PCR demonstrated that the expression of miR-19a in endothelial cell was markedly down-regulated by LPS stimulation. Furthermore, LPS-induced apoptosis was significantly inhibited by over-expression of miR-19a. Finally, both a luciferase reporter assay and western blot analysis showed that ASK1 is a direct target of miR-19a.
Conclusions
MiR-19a regulates ASK1 expression by targeting specific binding sites in the 3’ untranslated region of ASK1 mRNA. Overexpression of miR-19a is an effective method to protect against LPS-induced apoptosis of endothelial cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0034-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0034-8
PMCID: PMC4446110  PMID: 25982447
miR-19a; ASK1; Apoptosis; Endothelial cells
24.  Annual acknowledgement of reviewers 
BMC Molecular Biology  2015;16:10.
Contributing reviewers
The editors of BMC Molecular Biology would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 15 (2014).
doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0032-x
PMCID: PMC4429869
25.  Lowering the quantification limit of the QubitTM RNA HS Assay using RNA spike-in 
Background
RNA quantification is often a prerequisite for most RNA analyses such as RNA sequencing. However, the relatively low sensitivity and large sample consumption of traditional RNA quantification methods such as UV spectrophotometry and even the much more sensitive fluorescence-based RNA quantification assays, such as the Qubit™ RNA HS Assay, are often inadequate for measuring minute levels of RNA isolated from limited cell and tissue samples and biofluids. Thus, there is a pressing need for a more sensitive method to reliably and robustly detect trace levels of RNA without interference from DNA.
Methods
To improve the quantification limit of the Qubit™ RNA HS Assay, we spiked-in a known quantity of RNA to achieve the minimum reading required by the assay. Samples containing trace amounts of RNA were then added to the spike-in and measured as a reading increase over RNA spike-in baseline. We determined the accuracy and precision of reading increases between 1 and 20 pg/μL as well as RNA-specificity in this range, and compared to those of RiboGreen®, another sensitive fluorescence-based RNA quantification assay. We then applied Qubit™ Assay with RNA spike-in to quantify plasma RNA samples.
Results
RNA spike-in improved the quantification limit of the Qubit™ RNA HS Assay 5-fold, from 25 pg/μL down to 5 pg/μL while maintaining high specificity to RNA. This enabled quantification of RNA with original concentration as low as 55.6 pg/μL compared to 250 pg/μL for the standard assay and decreased sample consumption from 5 to 1 ng. Plasma RNA samples that were not measurable by the Qubit™ RNA HS Assay were measurable by our modified method.
Conclusions
The Qubit™ RNA HS Assay with RNA spike-in is able to quantify RNA with high specificity at 5-fold lower concentration and uses 5-fold less sample quantity than the standard Qubit™ Assay.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0039-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0039-3
PMCID: PMC4431604  PMID: 25943882
Lower quantification limit; Minimum RNA concentration; Plasma RNA; Qubit™ RNA HS Assay; RNA quantification; RNA spike-in

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