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1.  MKL1 inhibits cell cycle progression through p21 in podocytes 
BMC Molecular Biology  2015;16(1):1.
Background
The glomerular podocyte is a highly specialized cell type with the ability to ultrafilter blood and support glomerular capillary pressure. However, little is known about the genetic programs leading to this functionality or the final phenotype.
Results
In the current study, we found that the expression of a myocardin/MKL family member, MKL1, was significantly upregulated during cell cycle arrest induced by a temperature switch in murine podocyte clone 5 (MPC5) cells. Further investigation demonstrated that overexpression of MKL1 led to inhibition of cell proliferation by decreasing the number of cells in S phase of the cell cycle. In contrast, MKL1 knockdown by RNA interference had the opposite effect, highlighting a potential role of MKL1 in blocking G1/S transition of the cell cycle in MPC5 cells. Additionally, using an RT2 Profiler PCR Array, p21 was identified as a direct target of MKL1. We further revealed that MKL1 activated p21 transcription by recruitment to the CArG element in its promoter, thus resulting in cell cycle arrest. In addition, the expression of MKL1 is positively correlated with that of p21 in podocytes in postnatal mouse kidney and significantly upregulated during the morphological switch of podocytes from proliferation to differentiation.
Conclusions
Our observations demonstrate that MKL1 has physiological roles in the maturation and development of podocytes, and thus its misregulation might lead to glomerular and renal dysfunction.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0029-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-015-0029-5
PMCID: PMC4330937
Kidney development; Podocyte; Cell growth arrest; MKL1
2.  Molecular characterization of the piggyBac-like element, a candidate marker for phylogenetic research of Chilo suppressalis (Walker) in China 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15(1):28.
Background
Transposable elements (TEs, transposons) are mobile genetic DNA sequences. TEs can insert copies of themselves into new genomic locations and they have the capacity to multiply. Therefore, TEs have been crucial in the shaping of hosts’ current genomes. TEs can be utilized as genetic markers to study population genetic diversity. The rice stem borer Chilo suppressalis Walker is one of the most important insect pests of many subtropical and tropical paddy fields. This insect occurs in all the rice-growing areas in China. This research was carried out in order to find diversity between C. suppressalis field populations and detect the original settlement of C. suppressalis populations based on the piggyBac-like element (PLE). We also aim to provide insights into the evolution of PLEs in C. suppressalis and the phylogeography of C. suppressalis.
Results
Here we identify a new piggyBac-like element (PLE) in the rice stem borer Chilo suppressalis Walker, which is called CsuPLE1.1 (GenBank accession no. JX294476). CsuPLE1.1 is transcriptionally active. Additionally, the CsuPLE1.1 sequence varied slightly between field populations, with polymorphic indels (insertion/deletion) and hyper-variable regions including the identification of the 3′ region outside the open reading frame (ORF). CsuPLE1.1 insertion frequency varied between field populations. Sequences variation was found between CsuPLE1 copies and varied within and among field populations. Twenty-one different insertion sites for CsuPLE1 copies were identified with at least two insertion loci found in all populations.
Conclusions
Our results indicate that the initial invasion of CsuPLE1 into C. suppressalis occurred before C. suppressalis populations spread throughout China, and suggest that C. suppressalis populations have a common ancestor in China. Additionally, the lower reaches of the Yangtze River are probably the original settlement of C. suppressalis in China. Finally, the CsuPLE1 insertion site appears to be a candidate marker for phylogenetic research of C. suppressalis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-014-0028-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-014-0028-y
PMCID: PMC4273485  PMID: 25515331
Transposon; piggyBac; Molecular characterization; Evolution; Chilo suppressalis
3.  Néstor-Guillermo Progeria Syndrome: a biochemical insight into Barrier-to-Autointegration Factor 1, alanine 12 threonine mutation 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15(1):27.
Background
Premature aging syndromes recapitulate many aspects of natural aging and provide an insight into this phenomenon at a molecular and cellular level. The progeria syndromes appear to cause rapid aging through disruption of normal nuclear structure. Recently, a coding mutation (c.34G > A [p.A12T]) in the Barrier to Autointegration Factor 1 (BANF1) gene was identified as the genetic basis of Néstor-Guillermo Progeria syndrome (NGPS). This mutation was described to cause instability in the BANF1 protein, causing a disruption of the nuclear envelope structure.
Results
Here we demonstrate that the BANF1 A12T protein is indeed correctly folded, stable and that the observed phenotype, is likely due to the disruption of the DNA binding surface of the A12T mutant. We demonstrate, using biochemical assays, that the BANF1 A12T protein is impaired in its ability to bind DNA while its interaction with nuclear envelope proteins is unperturbed. Consistent with this, we demonstrate that ectopic expression of the mutant protein induces the NGPS cellular phenotype, while the protein localizes normally to the nuclear envelope.
Conclusions
Our study clarifies the role of the A12T mutation in NGPS patients, which will be of importance for understanding the development of the disease.
doi:10.1186/s12867-014-0027-z
PMCID: PMC4266902  PMID: 25495845
Progeria; Nuclear envelope; Aging
4.  Efficient isolation of specific genomic regions retaining molecular interactions by the iChIP system using recombinant exogenous DNA-binding proteins 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15(1):26.
Background
Comprehensive understanding of mechanisms of genome functions requires identification of molecules interacting with genomic regions of interest in vivo. We previously developed the insertional chromatin immunoprecipitation (iChIP) technology to isolate specific genomic regions retaining molecular interactions and identify their associated molecules. iChIP consists of locus-tagging and affinity purification. The recognition sequences of an exogenous DNA-binding protein such as LexA are inserted into a genomic region of interest in the cell to be analyzed. The exogenous DNA-binding protein fused with a tag(s) is expressed in the cell and the target genomic region is purified with antibody against the tag(s). In this study, we developed the iChIP system using recombinant DNA-binding proteins to make iChIP more straightforward than the conventional iChIP system using expression of the exogenous DNA-binding proteins in the cells to be analyzed.
Results
In this system, recombinant 3xFNLDD-D (r3xFNLDD-D) consisting of the 3xFLAG-tag, a nuclear localization signal (NLS), the DNA-binding domain plus the dimerization domain of the LexA protein, and the Dock-tag is used for isolation of specific genomic regions. r3xFNLDD-D was expressed using a silkworm-baculovirus expression system and purified by affinity purification. iChIP using r3xFNLDD-D could efficiently isolate the single-copy chicken Pax5 (cPax5) locus, in which LexA binding elements were inserted, with negligible contamination of other genomic regions. In addition, we could detect RNA associated with the cPax5 locus using this form of the iChIP system combined with RT-PCR.
Conclusions
The iChIP system using r3xFNLDD-D can isolate specific genomic regions retaining molecular interactions without expression of the exogenous DNA-binding protein in the cell to be analyzed. iChIP using r3xFNLDD-D would be more straightforward and useful for analysis of specific genomic regions to elucidate their functions as compared to the previously published iChIP protocol.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12867-014-0026-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12867-014-0026-0
PMCID: PMC4253623  PMID: 25428274
iChIP; Locus-specific ChIP; r3xFNLDD-D; ChIP; Chromatin immunoprecipitation
5.  Downregulation of microRNA-100 protects apoptosis and promotes neuronal growth in retinal ganglion cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15(1):25.
Background
Retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are preferentially lost in glaucoma or optic neuritis. In the present study, we investigated the protective effect of mircoRNA 100 (miR-100) against oxidative stress induced apoptosis in RGC-5 cells.
Results
Rat RGC-5 cells were cultured in plates and H2O2 was added to induce oxidative stress. TUNEL assay and qRT-PCR showed H2O2 induced apoptosis and up-regulated miR-100 in a dose-dependent manner in RGC-5 cells. Conversely, lentiviral-mediated miR-100 down-regulation protected H2O2 induced apoptosis, promoted neurite growth and activated AKT/ERK and TrkB pathways through phosphorylation. Luciferase assay confirmed that IGF1R was directly regulated by miR-100 in RGC-5 cells, and siRNA-mediated IGF1R knockdown activated AKT protein through phosphorylation, down-regulated miR-100, therefore exerted a protective effect on RGC-5 apoptosis.
Conclusion
Down-regulating miR-100 is an effective method to protect H2O2 induced apoptosis in RGC-5 cells, possible associated with IGF1R regulation.
doi:10.1186/s12867-014-0025-1
PMCID: PMC4271342  PMID: 25406880
Retinal ganglion; miR-100; Oxidative stress; Apoptosis; IGF-1
6.  Establishment of a quantitative PCR system for discriminating chitinase-like proteins: catalytically inactive breast regression protein-39 and Ym1 are constitutive genes in mouse lung 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:23.
Background
Mice and humans produce chitinase-like proteins (CLPs), which are highly homologous to chitinases but lack chitinolytic activity. Mice express primarily three CLPs, including breast regression protein-39 (BRP-39) [chitinase 3-like-1 (Chi3l1) or 38-kDa glycoprotein (gp38k)], Ym1 (Chi3l3) and Ym2 (Chi3l4). Recently, CLPs have attracted considerable attention due to their increased expression in a number of pathological conditions, including asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and malignant tumors. Although the exact functions of CLPs are largely unknown, the significance of their increased expression levels during pathophysiological states needs to be determined. The quantification of BRP-39, Ym1 and Ym2 is an important step in gaining insight into the in vivo regulation of the CLPs.
Methods
We constructed a standard DNA for quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) by containing three CLPs target fragments and five reference genes cDNA in a one-to-one ratio. We evaluated this system by analyzing the eight target cDNA sequences. Tissue cDNAs obtained by reverse transcription from total RNA from four embryonic stages and eight adult tissues were analyzed using the qPCR system with the standard DNA.
Results
We established a qPCR system detecting CLPs and comparing their expression levels with those of five reference genes using the same scale in mouse tissues. We found that BRP-39 and Ym1 were abundant in the mouse lung, whereas Ym2 mRNA was abundant in the stomach, followed by lung. The expression levels of BRP-39 and Ym1 in the mouse lung were higher than those of two active chitinases and were comparable to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, a housekeeping gene which is constitutively expressed in all tissues.
Conclusion
Our results indicate that catalytically inactive BRP-39 and Ym1 are constitutive genes in normal mouse lung.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-23
PMCID: PMC4195342  PMID: 25294623
BRP-39; Chitinase; Chitinase-like protein; Gene expression analysis; Quantitative real-time PCR system; Ym1; Ym2
7.  Expression of GBGT1 is epigenetically regulated by DNA methylation in ovarian cancer cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:24.
Background
The GBGT1 gene encodes the globoside alpha-1,3-N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 1. This enzyme catalyzes the last step in the multi-step biosynthesis of the Forssman (Fs) antigen, a pentaglycosyl ceramide of the globo series glycosphingolipids. While differential GBGT1 mRNA expression has been observed in a variety of human tissues being highest in placenta and ovary, the expression of GBGT1 and the genes encoding the glycosyltransferases and glycosidases involved in the biosynthesis of Fs as well as the possible involvement of DNA methylation in transcriptional regulation of GBGT1 expression have not yet been investigated.
Results
RT-qPCR profiling showed high GBGT1 expression in normal ovary surface epithelial (HOSE) cell lines and low GBGT1 expression in all (e.g. A2780, SKOV3) except one (OVCAR3) investigated ovarian cancer cell lines, a finding that was confirmed by Western blot analysis. Hierarchical cluster analysis showed that GBGT1 was even the most variably expressed gene of Fs biosynthesis-relevant glycogenes and among the investigated cell lines, whereas NAGA which encodes the alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase hydrolyzing Fs was not differentially expressed. Bisulfite- and COBRA-analysis of the CpG island methylation status in the GBGT1 promoter region demonstrated high or intermediate levels of GBGT1 DNA methylation in all ovarian cancer cell lines (except for OVCAR3) but marginal levels of DNA methylation in the two HOSE cell lines. The extent of DNA methylation inversely correlated with GBGT1 mRNA and protein expression. Bioinformatic analysis of GBGT1 in The Cancer Genome Atlas ovarian cancer dataset demonstrated that this inverse correlation was also found in primary ovarian cancer tissue samples confirming our cell line-based findings. Restoration of GBGT1 mRNA and protein expression in low GBGT1-expressing A2780 cells was achieved by 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine treatment and these treated cells exhibited increased helix pomatia agglutinin-staining, reflecting the elevated presence of Fs disaccharide on these cells.
Conclusions
GBGT1 expression is epigenetically silenced through promoter hypermethylation in ovarian cancer. Our findings not only suggest an involvement of DNA methylation in the synthesis of Fs antigen but may also explain earlier studies showing differential GBGT1 expression in various human tissue samples and disease stages.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-24
PMCID: PMC4193910  PMID: 25294702
Globo series; Glycosphingolipids; Forssman antigen; Epigenetics; DNA methylation; Transcriptional regulation
8.  Chromatin structure is distinct between coding and non-coding single nucleotide polymorphisms 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:22.
Background
Previous studies suggested that nucleosomes are enriched with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in humans and that the occurrence of mutations is closely associated with CpG dinucleotides. We aimed to determine if the chromatin organization is genomic locus specific around SNPs, and if newly occurring mutations are associated with SNPs.
Results
Here, we classified SNPs according their loci and investigated chromatin organization in both CD4+ T cell and lymphoblastoid cell in humans. We calculated the SNP frequency around somatic mutations. The results indicated that nucleosome occupancy is different around SNPs sites in different genomic loci. Coding SNPs are mainly enriched at nucleosomes and associated with repressed histone modifications (HMs) and DNA methylation. Contrastingly, intron SNPs occur in nucleosome-depleted regions and lack HMs. Interestingly, risk-associated non-coding SNPs are also enriched at nucleosomes with HMs but associated with low GC-content and low DNA methylation level. The base-transversion allele frequency is significantly low in coding-synonymous SNPs (P < 10-11). Another finding is that at the -1 and +1 positions relative to the somatic mutation sites, the SNP frequency was significantly higher (P < 3.2 × 10-5).
Conclusions
The results suggested chromatin structure is different around coding SNPs and non-coding SNPs. New mutations tend to occur at the -1 and +1 position immediately near the SNPs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-22
PMCID: PMC4193957  PMID: 25282079
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP); Nucleosome; Histone modification; DNA methylation; Mutation
9.  Wingless gene cloning and its role in manipulating the wing dimorphism in the white-backed planthopper, Sogatella furcifera 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:20.
Background
Wingless gene (Wg) plays a fundamental role in regulating the segment polarity and wing imaginal discs of insects. The rice planthoppers have an obvious wing dimorphism, and the long- and short-winged forms exist normally in natural populations. However, the molecular characteristics and functions of Wg in rice planthoppers are poorly understood, and the relationship between expression level of Wg and wing dimorphism has not been clarified.
Results
In this study, wingless gene (Wg) was cloned from three species of rice planthopper, Sogatella furcifera, Laodelphgax striatellus and Nilaparvata lugens, and its characteristics and role in determining the wing dimorphism of S. furcifera were explored. The results showed that only three different amino acid residuals encoded by Wg were found between S. furcifera and L. striatellus, but more than 10 residuals in N. lugens were different with L. striatellus and S. furcifera. The sequences of amino acids encoded by Wg showed a high degree of identity between these three species of rice planthopper that belong to the same family, Delphacidae. The macropterous and brachypterous lineages of S. furcifera were established by selection experiment. The Wg mRNA expression levels in nymphs were significantly higher in the macropterous lineage than in the brachypterous lineage of S. furcifera. In macropterous adults, the Wg was expressed mainly in wings and legs, and less in body segments. Ingestion of 100 ng/μL double-stranded RNA of Wg from second instar nymphs led to a significant decrease of expression level of Wg during nymphal stage and of body weight of subsequent adults. Moreover, RNAi of Wg resulted in significantly shorter and deformative wings, including shrunken and unfolded wings.
Conclusion
Wg has high degree of identity among three species of rice planthopper. Wg is involved in the development and growth of wings in S. furcifera. Expression level of Wg during the nymphal stage manipulates the size and pattern of wings in S. furcifera.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-20
PMCID: PMC4183756  PMID: 25266639
Rice planthopper; Sogatella furcifera; Wingless gene; Wing deformation; Wing length
10.  Pax8 modulates the expression of Wnt4 that is necessary for the maintenance of the epithelial phenotype of thyroid cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:21.
Background
The transcription factor Pax8 is expressed during thyroid development and is involved in the morphogenesis of the thyroid gland and maintenance of the differentiated phenotype. In particular, Pax8 has been shown to regulate genes that are considered markers of thyroid differentiation. Recently, the analysis of the gene expression profile of FRTL-5 differentiated thyroid cells after the silencing of Pax8 identified Wnt4 as a novel target. Like the other members of the Wnt family, Wnt4 has been implicated in several developmental processes including regulation of cell fate and patterning during embryogenesis. To date, the only evidence on Wnt4 in thyroid concerns its down-regulation necessary for the progression of thyroid epithelial tumors.
Results
Here we demonstrate that Pax8 is involved in the transcriptional modulation of Wnt4 gene expression directly binding to its 5’-flanking region, and that Wnt4 expression in FRTL-5 cells is TSH-dependent. Interestingly, we also show that in thyroid cells a reduced expression of Wnt4 correlates with the alteration of the epithelial phenotype and that the overexpression of Wnt4 in thyroid cancer cells is able to inhibit cellular migration.
Conclusions
We have identified and characterized a functional Pax8 binding site in the 5’-flanking region of the Wnt4 gene and we show that Pax8 modulates the expression of Wnt4 in thyroid cells. Taken together, our results suggest that in thyroid cells Wnt4 expression correlates with the integrity of the epithelial phenotype and is reduced when this integrity is perturbed. In the end, we would like to suggest that the overexpression of Wnt4 in thyroid cancer cells is able to revert the mesenchymal phenotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-21
PMCID: PMC4200477  PMID: 25270402
Wnt4; Pax8; Transcriptional regulation; Mesenchyme-to-epithelium transition; Thyroid cancer
11.  Requirements for resuming translation in chimeric transfer-messenger RNAs of Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:19.
Background
Trans-translation is catalyzed by ribonucleprotein complexes composed of SmpB protein and transfer-messenger RNA. They release stalled ribosomes from truncated mRNAs and tag defective proteins for proteolytic degradation. Comparative sequence analysis of bacterial tmRNAs provides considerable insights into their secondary structures in which a tRNA-like domain and an mRNA-like region are connected by a variable number of pseudoknots. Progress toward understanding the molecular mechanism of trans-translation is hampered by our limited knowledge about the structure of tmRNA:SmpB complexes.
Results
Complexes consisting of M. tuberculosis tmRNA and E. coli SmpB tag truncated proteins poorly in E. coli. In contrast, the tagging activity of E. coli tmRNA is well supported by M. tuberculosis SmpB that is expressed in E. coli. To investigate this incompatibility, we constructed 12 chimeric tmRNA molecules composed of structural features derived from both E. coli and M. tuberculosis. Our studies demonstrate that replacing the hp5-pk2-pk3-pk4 segment of E. coli tmRNA with the equivalent segment of M. tuberculosis tmRNA has no significant effect on the tagging efficiency of chimeric tmRNAs in the presence of E. coli SmpB. Replacing either helices 2b-2d, the single-stranded part of the ORF, pk1, or residues 79–89 of E. coli tmRNA with the equivalent features of M. tuberculosis tmRNA yields chimeric tmRNAs that are tagged at 68 to 88 percent of what is observed with E. coli tmRNA. Exchanging segments composed of either pk1 and the single-stranded segment upstream of the ORF or helices 2b-2d and pk1 results in markedly impaired tagging activity.
Conclusion
Our observations demonstrate the existence of functionally important but as yet uncharacterized structural constraints in the segment of tmRNA that connects its TLD to the ORF used for resuming translation. As trans-translation is important for the survival of M. tuberculosis, our work provides a new target for pharmacological intervention against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-19
PMCID: PMC4236655  PMID: 25220282
Chimeric tmRNA; SmpB; Trans-translation; Protein tagging
12.  Insight into the cellular involvement of the two reverse gyrases from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:18.
Background
Reverse gyrases are DNA topoisomerases characterized by their unique DNA positive-supercoiling activity. Sulfolobus solfataricus, like most Crenarchaeota, contains two genes each encoding a reverse gyrase. We showed previously that the two genes are differently regulated according to temperature and that the corresponding purified recombinant reverse gyrases have different enzymatic characteristics. These observations suggest a specialization of functions of the two reverse gyrases. As no mutants of the TopR genes could be obtained in Sulfolobales, we used immunodetection techniques to study the function(s) of these proteins in S. solfataricus in vivo. In particular, we investigated whether one or both reverse gyrases are required for the hyperthermophilic lifestyle.
Results
For the first time the two reverse gyrases of S. solfataricus have been discriminated at the protein level and their respective amounts have been determined in vivo. Actively dividing S. solfataricus cells contain only small amounts of both reverse gyrases, approximately 50 TopR1 and 125 TopR2 molecules per cell at 80°C. S. solfataricus cells are resistant at 45°C for several weeks, but there is neither cell division nor replication initiation; these processes are fully restored upon a return to 80°C. TopR1 is not found after three weeks at 45°C whereas the amount of TopR2 remains constant. Enzymatic assays in vitro indicate that TopR1 is not active at 45°C but that TopR2 exhibits highly positive DNA supercoiling activity at 45°C.
Conclusions
The two reverse gyrases of S. solfataricus are differently regulated, in terms of protein abundance, in vivo at 80°C and 45°C. TopR2 is present both at high and low temperatures and is therefore presumably required whether cells are dividing or not. By contrast, TopR1 is present only at high temperature where the cell division occurs, suggesting that TopR1 is required for controlling DNA topology associated with cell division activity and/or life at high temperature. Our findings in vitro that TopR1 is able to positively supercoil DNA only at high temperature, and TopR2 is active at both temperatures are consistent with them having different functions within the cells.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-18
PMCID: PMC4183072  PMID: 25200003
Archaea; Hyperthermophile; Topoisomerase; Supercoiling; Topology; Low temperature; Cytometry; TopR; Quantification
13.  Visualization of the physical and functional interaction between hMYH and hRad9 by Dronpa bimolecular fluorescence complementation 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:17.
Background
Human MutY glycosylase homolog (hMYH), a component of the base excision repair pathway, is responsible for the generation of apurinic/apyrimidinic sites. Rad9-Rad1-Hus1 (9-1-1) is a heterotrimeric protein complex that plays a role in cell cycle checkpoint control and DNA repair. In humans, hMYH and 9-1-1 interact through Hus1 and to a lesser degree with Rad1 in the presence of DNA damage. In Saccharomyces pombe, each component of the 9-1-1 complex interacts directly with SpMYH. The glycosylase activity of hMYH is stimulated by Hus1 and the 9-1-1 complex and enhanced by DNA damage treatment. Cells respond to different stress conditions in different manners. Therefore, we investigated whether Rad9 interacted with hMYH under different stresses. Here, we identified and visualized the interaction between hRad9 and hMYH and investigated the functional consequences of this interaction.
Results
Co-IP and BiFC indicates that hMYH interacts with hRad9. As shown by GST-pull down assay, this interaction is direct. Furthermore, BiFC with deletion mutants of hMYH showed that hRad9 interacts with N-terminal region of hMYH. The interaction was enhanced by hydroxyurea (HU) treatment. mRNA and protein levels of hMYH and hRad9 were increased following HU treatment. A marked increase in p-Chk1 (S345) and p-Cdk2 (T14, Y15) was observed. But this phosphorylation decreased in siMYH- or siRad9-transfected cells, and more pronounced decrease observed in co-transfected cells.
Conclusions
Our data reveal that hRad9 interacts directly with N-terminal region of hMYH. This interaction is enhanced by HU treatment. Knockdown of one or both protein result in decreasing Chk1 and Cdk2 phosphorylation. Since both protein functions in the early detection of DNA damage, we suggest that this interaction occurs early in DNA damage pathway.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-17
PMCID: PMC4151078  PMID: 25127721
Human MYH; Human Rad9; Bimolecular fluorescence complementation; FRET; Immunofluorescence; Protein-protein interaction
14.  Genetic transformation of Fusarium avenaceum by Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation and the development of a USER-Brick vector construction system 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:15.
Background
The plant pathogenic and saprophytic fungus Fusarium avenaceum causes considerable in-field and post-field losses worldwide due to its infections of a wide range of different crops. Despite its significant impact on the profitability of agriculture production and a desire to characterize the infection process at the molecular biological level, no genetic transformation protocol has yet been established for F. avenaceum. In the current study, it is shown that F. avenaceum can be efficiently transformed by Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation. In addition, an efficient and versatile single step vector construction strategy relying on Uracil Specific Excision Reagent (USER) Fusion cloning, is developed.
Results
The new vector construction system, termed USER-Brick, is based on a limited number of PCR amplified vector fragments (core USER-Bricks) which are combined with PCR generated fragments from the gene of interest. The system was found to have an assembly efficiency of 97% with up to six DNA fragments, based on the construction of 55 vectors targeting different polyketide synthase (PKS) and PKS associated transcription factor encoding genes in F. avenaceum. Subsequently, the ΔFaPKS3 vector was used for optimizing A. tumefaciens mediated transformation (ATMT) of F. avenaceum with respect to six variables. Acetosyringone concentration, co-culturing time, co-culturing temperature and fungal inoculum were found to significantly impact the transformation frequency. Following optimization, an average of 140 transformants per 106 macroconidia was obtained in experiments aimed at introducing targeted genome modifications. Targeted deletion of FaPKS6 (FA08709.2) in F. avenaceum showed that this gene is essential for biosynthesis of the polyketide/nonribosomal compound fusaristatin A.
Conclusion
The new USER-Brick system is highly versatile by allowing for the reuse of a common set of building blocks to accommodate seven different types of genome modifications. New USER-Bricks with additional functionality can easily be added to the system by future users. The optimized protocol for ATMT of F. avenaceum represents the first reported targeted genome modification by double homologous recombination of this plant pathogen and will allow for future characterization of this fungus. Functional linkage of FaPKS6 to the production of the mycotoxin fusaristatin A serves as a first testimony to this.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-15
PMCID: PMC4133957  PMID: 25048842
Single step cloning; ATMT; Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation; Fusarium avenaceum; USER-Brick; Genome modification; Transformation; Fusaristatin; FaPKS6; Mycotoxin; LC-MS; MS-MS; Polyketide; Nonribosomal peptide
15.  Egr-1 regulates the transcription of NGX6 gene through a Sp1/Egr-1 overlapping site in the promoter 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:14.
Background
As a novel candidate metastasis suppressor gene, Nasopharyngeal carcinoma-associated gene 6 (NGX6) is involved in cellular growth, cell cycle progression and tumor angiogenesis. Previous studies have shown that NGX6 gene is down-regulated in colorectal cancer (CRC). However, little is known about its transcriptional regulation.
Results
We defined the minimal promoter of NGX6 gene in a 186-bp region (from-86 to +100) through mutation construct methods and luciferase assays. Results from Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) and Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) revealed that Early growth response gene 1 (Egr-1) binds to the Sp1/Egr-1 overlapping site of NGX6 minimal promoter. Overexpression of Egr-1 increased the promoter activity and mRNA level of NGX6 gene; while knock-down of endogenous Egr-1 decreased mRNA expression of NGX6 gene.
Conclusion
These results demonstrate that Egr-1 regulates NGX6 gene transcription through an overlapping Sp1/Egr-1 binding site as a positive regulator of NGX6 gene.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-14
PMCID: PMC4134679  PMID: 25029911
16.  Exploring the transcription activator-like effectors scaffold versatility to expand the toolbox of designer nucleases 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:13.
Background
The past decade has seen the emergence of several molecular tools that render possible modification of cellular functions through accurate and easy addition, removal, or exchange of genomic DNA sequences. Among these technologies, transcription activator-like effectors (TALE) has turned out to be one of the most versatile and incredibly robust platform for generating targeted molecular tools as demonstrated by fusion to various domains such as transcription activator, repressor and nucleases.
Results
In this study, we generated a novel nuclease architecture based on the transcription activator-like effector scaffold. In contrast to the existing Tail to Tail (TtT) and head to Head (HtH) nuclease architectures based on the symmetrical association of two TALE DNA binding domains fused to the C-terminal (TtT) or N-terminal (HtH) end of FokI, this novel architecture consists of the asymmetrical association of two different engineered TALE DNA binding domains fused to the N- and C-terminal ends of FokI (TALE::FokI and FokI::TALE scaffolds respectively). The characterization of this novel Tail to Head (TtH) architecture in yeast enabled us to demonstrate its nuclease activity and define its optimal target configuration. We further showed that this architecture was able to promote substantial level of targeted mutagenesis at three endogenous loci present in two different mammalian cell lines.
Conclusion
Our results demonstrated that this novel functional TtH architecture which requires binding to only one DNA strand of a given endogenous locus has the potential to extend the targeting possibility of FokI-based TALE nucleases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-13
PMCID: PMC4099384  PMID: 24997498
Transcription activator-like effectors; TALE; TALEN; Protein engineering; Genome editing
17.  Ribonomic analysis of human DZIP1 reveals its involvement in ribonucleoprotein complexes and stress granules 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:12.
Background
DZIP1 (DAZ-interacting protein 1) has been described as a component of the Hh signaling pathway with a putative regulatory role in ciliogenesis. DZIP1 interacts with DAZ RNA binding proteins in embryonic stem cells and human germ cells suggesting a role in mRNA regulation.
Results
We investigated DZIP1 function in HeLa cells and its involvement in ribonucleoprotein complexes. DZIP1 was predominantly located in granules in the cytoplasm. Under oxidative stress conditions, DZIP1 re-localized to stress granules. DZIP appears to be important for the formation of stress granules during the stress response. We used immunoprecipitation assays with antibodies against DZIP1 and microarray hybridization to identify mRNAs associated with DZIP1. The genetic networks formed by the DZIP1-associated mRNAs were involved in cell cycle and gene expression regulation. DZIP1 is involved in the Hedgehog signaling pathway. We used cyclopamine, a specific inhibitor of this pathway, to analyze the expression of DZIP1 and its associated mRNAs. The abundance of DZIP1-associated mRNAs increased with treatment; however, the silencing or overexpression of DZIP1 in HeLa cells had no effect on the accumulation of the associated mRNAs. Polysomal profile analysis by sucrose gradient centrifugation demonstrated the presence of DZIP1 in the polysomal fraction.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that DZIP1 is part of an RNP complex that occupies various subcellular locations. The diversity of the mRNAs associated with DZIP1 suggests that this protein is a component of different RNPs associated with translating polysomes and with RNA granules.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-12
PMCID: PMC4091656  PMID: 24993635
DZIP1; Ribonucleoprotein; Stress granules; Polysome; Hedgehog signaling
18.  Identification of a common reference gene pair for qPCR in human mesenchymal stromal cells from different tissue sources treated with VEGF 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:11.
Background
Human mesenchymal stromal cells from the bone marrow (BMSCs) are widely used as experimental regenerative treatment of ischemic heart disease, and the first clinical trials using adipose-derived stromal cells (ASCs) are currently being conducted. Regenerative mechanisms of BMSCs and ASCs are manifold and in vitro pretreatment of the cells with growth factors has been applied to potentially enhance these properties. When characterizing the transcriptional activity of these cellular mechanisms in vitro it is important to consider the effect of the growth factor treatment on reference genes (RGs) for the normalization of qPCR data.
Results
BMSCs and ASCs were stimulated with vascular endothelial growth factor A-165 (VEGF) for one week, and compared with un-stimulated cells from the same donor. The stability of nine RGs through VEGF treatment as well as the donor variation was assessed using the GenEx software with the subprograms geNorm and Normfinder.
The procedure of stepwise elimination was validated by poor performance of eliminated RGs in a normalization experiment using vWF as target gene. Normfinder found the TATA box binding protein (TBP) to be the most stable single RG for both BMSCs and ASCs. The optimal number of RGs for ASCs was two, and the lowest variance for vWF normalization was found using TBP and YWHAZ. For BMSCs, the optimal number of RGs was four, while the two-RG combination producing the most similar results was TBP and YWHAZ.
Conclusions
A common reference gene, TBP, was found to be the most stable standalone gene, while TBP and YWHAZ were found to be the best two-RG combination for qPCR analyses for both BMSCs and ASCs through the VEGF stimulation. The presented stepwise elimination procedure was validated, while we found the final normalization experiment to be essential.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-11
PMCID: PMC4045907  PMID: 24885696
Adipose-derived stromal cell; ASC; ADSC; MIQE; qPCR; Reference gene; Mesenchymal stromal cell; MSC; Vascular endothelial growth factor; VEGF
19.  Single and combinatorial chromatin coupling events underlies the function of transcript factor krüppel-like factor 11 in the regulation of gene networks 
BMC Molecular Biology  2014;15:10.
Background
Krüppel-like factors (KLFs) are a group of master regulators of gene expression conserved from flies to human. However, scant information is available on either the mechanisms or functional impact of the coupling of KLF proteins to chromatin remodeling machines, a deterministic step in transcriptional regulation.
Results and discussion
In the current study, we use genome-wide analyses of chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP-on-Chip) and Affymetrix-based expression profiling to gain insight into how KLF11, a human transcription factor involved in tumor suppression and metabolic diseases, works by coupling to three co-factor groups: the Sin3-histone deacetylase system, WD40-domain containing proteins, and the HP1-histone methyltransferase system. Our results reveal that KLF11 regulates distinct gene networks involved in metabolism and growth by using single or combinatorial coupling events.
Conclusion
This study, the first of its type for any KLF protein, reveals that interactions with multiple chromatin systems are required for the full gene regulatory function of these proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-10
PMCID: PMC4049485  PMID: 24885560
Krüppel-like factor; Transcription factor; Gene expression profiling; Gene networks; Metabolism; Cellular growth; Proliferation; Signaling pathways
20.  Differential regulation of the α-globin locus by Krüppel-like factor 3 in erythroid and non-erythroid cells 
Background
Krüppel-like Factor 3 (KLF3) is a broadly expressed zinc-finger transcriptional repressor with diverse biological roles. During erythropoiesis, KLF3 acts as a feedback repressor of a set of genes that are activated by Krüppel-like Factor 1 (KLF1). Noting that KLF1 binds α-globin gene regulatory sequences during erythroid maturation, we sought to determine whether KLF3 also interacts with the α-globin locus to regulate transcription.
Results
We found that expression of a human transgenic α-globin reporter gene is markedly up-regulated in fetal and adult erythroid cells of Klf3−/− mice. Inspection of the mouse and human α-globin promoters revealed a number of canonical KLF-binding sites, and indeed, KLF3 was shown to bind to these regions both in vitro and in vivo. Despite these observations, we did not detect an increase in endogenous murine α-globin expression in Klf3 −/− erythroid tissue. However, examination of murine embryonic fibroblasts lacking KLF3 revealed significant de-repression of α-globin gene expression. This suggests that KLF3 may contribute to the silencing of the α-globin locus in non-erythroid tissue. Moreover, ChIP-Seq analysis of murine fibroblasts demonstrated that across the locus, KLF3 does not occupy the promoter regions of the α-globin genes in these cells, but rather, binds to upstream, DNase hypersensitive regulatory regions.
Conclusions
These findings reveal that the occupancy profile of KLF3 at the α-globin locus differs in erythroid and non-erythroid cells. In erythroid cells, KLF3 primarily binds to the promoters of the adult α-globin genes, but appears dispensable for normal transcriptional regulation. In non-erythroid cells, KLF3 distinctly binds to the HS-12 and HS-26 elements and plays a non-redundant, albeit modest, role in the silencing of α-globin expression.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-8
PMCID: PMC4033687  PMID: 24885809
KLF1; KLF3; Alpha globin; Globin gene regulation; Transcription factor
21.  Validation of housekeeping gene and impact on normalized gene expression in clear cell Renal Cell Carcinoma: critical reassessment of YBX3/ZONAB/CSDA expression 
Background
YBX3/ZONAB/CSDA is an epithelial-specific transcription factor acting in the density-based switch between proliferation and differentiation. Our laboratory reported overexpression of YBX3 in clear cell renal cell arcinoma (ccRCC), as part of a wide study of YBX3 regulation in vitro and in vivo. The preliminary data was limited to 5 cases, of which only 3 could be compared to paired normal tissue, and beta-Actin was used as sole reference to normalize gene expression. We thus decided to re-evaluate YBX3 expression by real-time-PCR in a larger panel of ccRCC samples, and their paired healthy tissue, with special attention on experimental biases such as inter-individual variations, primer specificity, and reference gene for normalization.
Results
Gene expression was measured by RT-qPCR in 16 ccRCC samples, each compared to corresponding healthy tissue to minimize inter-individual variations. Eight potential housekeeping genes were evaluated for expression level and stability among the 16-paired samples. Among tested housekeeping genes, PPIA and RPS13, especially in combination, proved best suitable to normalize gene expression in ccRCC tissues as compared to classical reference genes such as beta-Actin, GAPDH, 18S or B2M. Using this pair as reference, YBX3 expression level among a collection of 16 ccRCC tumors was not significantly increased as compared to normal adjacent tissues. However, stratification according to Fuhrman grade disclosed higher YBX3 expression levels in low-grade tumors and lower in high-grade tumors. Immunoperoxidase confirmed homogeneous nuclear staining for YBX3 in low-grade but revealed nuclear heterogeneity in high-grade tumors.
Conclusions
This paper underlines that special attention to reference gene products in the design of real-time PCR analysis of tumoral tissue is crucial to avoid misleading conclusions.
Furthermore, we found that global YBX3/ZONAB/CSDA mRNA expression level may be considered within a “signature” of RCC grading.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-9
PMCID: PMC4045873  PMID: 24885929
22.  A novel, non-radioactive eukaryotic in vitro transcription assay for sensitive quantification of RNA polymerase II activity 
Background
Many studies of the eukaryotic transcription mechanism and its regulation rely on in vitro assays. Conventional RNA polymerase II transcription assays are based on radioactive labelling of the newly synthesized RNA. Due to the inefficient in vitro transcription, the detection of the RNA involving purification and gel electrophoresis is laborious and not always quantitative.
Results
Herein, we describe a new, non-radioactive, robust and reproducible eukaryotic in vitro transcription assay that has been established in our laboratory. Upon transcription, the newly synthesized RNA is directly detected and quantified using the QuantiGene assay. Alternatively, the RNA can be purified and a primer extension followed by PCR detection or qPCR quantification can be performed. When applied to assess the activity of RNA polymerase II inhibitors, this new method allowed an accurate estimation of their relative potency.
Conclusions
Our novel assay provides a non-radioactive alternative to a standard in vitro transcription assay that allows for sensitive detection and precise quantification of the newly transcribed, unlabelled RNA and is particularly useful for quantification of strong transcriptional inhibitors like α-amanitin. Moreover, the method can be easily adapted to quantify the reaction yield and the transcription efficiency of other eukaryotic in vitro systems, thus providing a complementary tool for the field of transcriptional research.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-7
PMCID: PMC4021065  PMID: 24694320
23.  Fidelity of end joining in mammalian episomes and the impact of Metnase on joint processing 
Background
Double Stranded Breaks (DSBs) are the most serious form of DNA damage and are repaired via homologous recombination repair (HRR) or non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). NHEJ predominates in mammalian cells at most stages of the cell cycle, and it is viewed as ‘error-prone’, although this notion has not been sufficiently challenged due to shortcomings of many current systems. Multi-copy episomes provide a large pool of genetic material where repair can be studied, as repaired plasmids can be back-cloned into bacteria and characterized for sequence alterations. Here, we used EBV-based episomes carrying 3 resistance marker genes in repair studies where a single DSB is generated with virally-encoded HO endonuclease cleaving rapidly at high efficiency for a brief time post-infection. We employed PCR and Southern blot to follow the kinetics of repair and formation of processing intermediates, and replica plating to screen for plasmids with altered joints resulting in loss of chloramphenicol resistance. Further, we employed this system to study the role of Metnase. Metnase is only found in humans and primates and is a key component of the NHEJ pathway, but its function is not fully characterized in intact cells.
Results
We found that repair of episomes by end-joining was highly accurate in 293 T cells that lack Metnase. Less than 10% of the rescued plasmids showed deletions. Instead, HEK293 cells (that do express Metnase) or 293 T transfected with Metnase revealed a large number of rescued plasmids with altered repaired joint, typically in the form of large deletions. Moreover, quantitative PCR and Southern blotting revealed less accurately repaired plasmids in Metnase expressing cells.
Conclusions
Our careful re-examination of fidelity of NHEJ repair in mammalian cells carrying a 3′ cohesive overhang at the ends revealed that the repair is efficient and highly accurate, and predominant over HRR. However, the background of the cells is important in establishing accuracy; with human cells perhaps surprisingly much more prone to generate deletions at the repaired junctions, if/when Metnase is abundantly expressed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-6
PMCID: PMC3998112  PMID: 24655462
Accuracy of DSB repair in mammalian cells; Episomal model of NHEJ; End- processing and re-ligation; Metnase nuclease; Joint accuracy
24.  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
25.  Cooperative activation of Xenopus rhodopsin transcription by paired-like transcription factors 
Background
In vertebrates, rod photoreceptor-specific gene expression is regulated by the large Maf and Pax-like transcription factors, Nrl/LNrl and Crx/Otx5. The ubiquitous occurrence of their target DNA binding sites throughout rod-specific gene promoters suggests that multiple transcription factor interactions within the promoter are functionally important. Cooperative action by these transcription factors activates rod-specific genes such as rhodopsin. However, a quantitative mechanistic explanation of transcriptional rate determinants is lacking.
Results
We investigated the contributions of various paired-like transcription factors and their cognate cis-elements to rhodopsin gene activation using cultured cells to quantify activity. The Xenopus rhodopsin promoter (XOP) has a bipartite structure, with ~200 bp proximal to the start site (RPP) coordinating cooperative activation by Nrl/LNrl-Crx/Otx5 and the adjacent 5300 bp upstream sequence increasing the overall expression level. The synergistic activation by Nrl/LNrl-Crx/Otx5 also occurred when XOP was stably integrated into the genome. We determined that Crx/Otx5 synergistically activated transcription independently and additively through the two Pax-like cis-elements, BAT1 and Ret4, but not through Ret1. Other Pax-like family members, Rax1 and Rax2, do not synergistically activate XOP transcription with Nrl/LNrl and/or Crx/Otx5; rather they act as co-activators via the Ret1 cis-element.
Conclusions
We have provided a quantitative model of cooperative transcriptional activation of the rhodopsin promoter through interaction of Crx/Otx5 with Nrl/LNrl at two paired-like cis-elements proximal to the NRE and TATA binding site. Further, we have shown that Rax genes act in cooperation with Crx/Otx5 with Nrl/LNrl as co-activators of rhodopsin transcription.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-15-4
PMCID: PMC3937059  PMID: 24499263

Results 1-25 (722)