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2.  Alternative splicing of the neurofibromatosis type 1 pre-mRNA is regulated by the muscleblind-like proteins and the CUG-BP and ELAV-like factors 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:35.
Alternative splicing is often subjected to complex regulatory control that involves many protein factors and cis-acting RNA sequence elements. One major challenge is to identify all of the protein players and define how they control alternative expression of a particular exon in a combinatorial manner. The Muscleblind-like (MBNL) and CUG-BP and ELAV-Like family (CELF) proteins are splicing regulatory proteins, which function as antagonists in the regulation of several alternative exons. Currently only a limited number of common targets of MBNL and CELF are known that are antagonistically regulated by these two groups of proteins.
Recently, we identified neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) exon 23a as a novel target of negative regulation by CELF proteins. Here we report that MBNL family members are positive regulators of this exon. Overexpression of MBNL proteins promote exon 23a inclusion in a low MBNL-expressing cell line, and simultaneous siRNA-mediated knockdown of MBNL1 and MBNL2 family members in a high MBNL-expressing cell line promotes exon 23a skipping. Importantly, these two groups of proteins antagonize each other in regulating inclusion of exon 23a. Furthermore, we analyzed the binding sites of these proteins in the intronic sequences upstream of exon 23a by UV cross-linking assays. We show that in vitro, in addition to the previously identified preferred binding sequence UGCUGU, the MBNL proteins need the neighboring sequences for optimal binding.
This study along with our previous work that demonstrated roles for Hu, CELF, and TIA-1 and TIAR proteins in the regulation of NF1 exon 23a establish that this exon is under tight, complex control.
PMCID: PMC3558374  PMID: 23227900
Muscleblind-like (MBNL) proteins; CUG-BP and ELAV-like family (CELF proteins); Alternative splicing; Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1); Splicing regulation; Complex control
3.  Directional telomeric silencing and lack of canonical B1 elements in two silencer Autonomously Replicating Sequences in S. cerevisiae 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:34.
Autonomously Replicating Sequences (ARS) in S. cerevisiae serve as origins of DNA replication or as components of cis-acting silencers, which impose positional repression at the mating type loci and at the telomeres. Both types of ARS can act as replicators or silencers, however it is not clear how these quite diverse functions are executed. It is believed that all ARS contain a core module of an essential ARS Consensus Sequence (ACS) and a non-essential B1 element.
We have tested how the B1 elements contribute to the silencer and replicator function of ARS. We report that the ACS-B1 orientation of ARS has a profound effect on the levels of gene silencing at telomeres. We also report that the destruction of the canonical B1 elements in two silencer ARS (ARS317 and ARS319) has no effect on their silencer and replicator activity.
The observed orientation effects on gene silencing suggest that ARSs can act as both proto-silencers and as insulator elements. In addition, the lack of B1 suggests that the ACS-B1 module could be different in silencer and replicator ARS.
PMCID: PMC3545912  PMID: 23157664
Autonomously replicating sequences; Telomere position effect; DNA replication; Gene silencing
4.  Escherichia coli RecG functionally suppresses human Bloom syndrome phenotypes 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:33.
Defects in the human BLM gene cause Bloom syndrome, notable for early development of tumors in a broad variety of tissues. On the basis of sequence similarity, BLM has been identified as one of the five human homologs of RecQ from Escherichia coli. Nevertheless, biochemical characterization of the BLM protein indicates far greater functional similarity to the E. coli RecG protein and there is no known RecG homolog in human cells. To explore the possibility that the shared biochemistries of BLM and RecG may represent an example of convergent evolution of cellular function where in humans BLM has evolved to fulfill the genomic stabilization role of RecG, we determined whether expression of RecG in human BLM-deficient cells could suppress established functional cellular Bloom syndrome phenotypes. We found that RecG can indeed largely suppress both the definitive elevated sister chromatid exchange phenotype and the more recently demonstrated gene cluster instability phenotype of BLM-deficient cells. In contrast, expression of RecG has no impact on either of these phenotypes in human cells with functional BLM protein. These results suggest that the combination of biochemical activities shared by RecG and BLM fill the same evolutionary niche in preserving genomic integrity without requiring exactly identical molecular mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3517418  PMID: 23110454
5.  Cloning, ligand-binding, and temporal expression of ecdysteroid receptors in the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:32.
The diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.) (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae), is a devastating pest of cruciferous crops worldwide, and has developed resistance to a wide range of insecticides, including diacylhydrazine-based ecdysone agonists, a highly selective group of molt-accelerating biopesticides targeting the ecdysone receptors.
In this study, we cloned and characterized the ecdysone receptors from P. xylostella, including the two isoforms of EcR and a USP. Sequence comparison and phylogenetic analysis showed striking conservations among insect ecdysone receptors, especially between P. xylostella and other lepidopterans. The binding affinity of ecdysteroids to in vitro-translated receptor proteins indicated that PxEcRB isoform bound specifically to ponasterone A, and the binding affinity was enhanced by co-incubation with PxUSP (Kd =3.0±1.7 nM). In contrast, PxEcRA did not bind to ponasterone A, even in the presence of PxUSP. The expression of PxEcRB were consistently higher than that of PxEcRA across each and every developmental stage, while the pattern of PxUSP expression is more or less ubiquitous.
Target site insensitivity, in which the altered binding of insecticides (ecdysone agonists) to their targets (ecdysone receptors) leads to an adaptive response (resistance), is one of the underlying mechanisms of diacylhydrazine resistance. Given the distinct differences at expression level and the ligand-binding capacity, we hypothesis that PxEcRB is the ecdysone receptor that controls the remodeling events during metamorphosis. More importantly, PxEcRB is the potential target site which is modified in the ecdysone agonist-resistant P. xylostella.
PMCID: PMC3568735  PMID: 23078528
Plutella xylostella, Ecdysone receptor (EcR); Binding affinity, Expression profiling, Ecdysone agonist
6.  Adenylate kinase 2 (AK2) promotes cell proliferation in insect development 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:31.
Adenylate kinase 2 (AK2) is a phosphotransferase that catalyzes the reversible reaction 2ADP(GDP) ↔ ATP(GTP) + AMP and influences cellular energy homeostasis. However, the role of AK2 in regulating cell proliferation remains unclear because AK2 has been reported to be involved in either cell proliferation or cell apoptosis in different cell types of various organisms.
This study reports AK2 promotion of cell proliferation using the lepidopteran insect Helicoverpa armigera and its epidermal cell line HaEpi as models. Western blot analysis indicates that AK2 constitutively expresses in various tissues during larval development. Immunocytochemistry analysis indicates that AK2 localizes in the mitochondria. The recombinant expressed AK2 in E. coli promotes cell growth and viability of HaEpi cell line by 3-(4, 5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay. AK2 knockdown in larvae by RNA interference causes larval growth defects, including body weight decrease and development delay. AK2 knockdown in larvae also decreases the number of circulating haemocytes. The mechanism for such effects might be the suppression of gene transcription involved in insect development caused by AK2 knockdown.
These results show that AK2 regulates cell growth, viability, and proliferation in insect growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3583204  PMID: 23020757
Helicoverpa armigera; Adenylate kinase 2 (AK2); Cell growth and viability; RNA interference
7.  A MultiSite GatewayTM vector set for the functional analysis of genes in the model Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:30.
Recombinatorial cloning using the GatewayTM technology has been the method of choice for high-throughput omics projects, resulting in the availability of entire ORFeomes in GatewayTM compatible vectors. The MultiSite GatewayTM system allows combining multiple genetic fragments such as promoter, ORF and epitope tag in one single reaction. To date, this technology has not been accessible in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one of the most widely used experimental systems in molecular biology, due to the lack of appropriate destination vectors.
Here, we present a set of three-fragment MultiSite GatewayTM destination vectors that have been developed for gene expression in S. cerevisiae and that allow the assembly of any promoter, open reading frame, epitope tag arrangement in combination with any of four auxotrophic markers and three distinct replication mechanisms. As an example of its applicability, we used yeast three-hybrid to provide evidence for the assembly of a ternary complex of plant proteins involved in jasmonate signalling and consisting of the JAZ, NINJA and TOPLESS proteins.
Our vectors make MultiSite GatewayTM cloning accessible in S. cerevisiae and implement a fast and versatile cloning method for the high-throughput functional analysis of (heterologous) proteins in one of the most widely used model organisms for molecular biology research.
PMCID: PMC3519679  PMID: 22994806
Gateway cloning; MultiSite; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Yeast; Vector; Fusion protein; Epitope tag; Jasmonate; Arabidopsis thaliana
8.  A novel 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) splice variant with an alternative exon 1 potentially encoding an extended N-terminus 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:29.
The major rate-limiting enzyme for de novo cholesterol synthesis is 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR). HMGCR is sterically inhibited by statins, the most commonly prescribed drugs for the prevention of cardiovascular events. Alternative splicing of HMGCR has been implicated in the control of cholesterol homeostasis. The aim of this study was to identify novel alternatively spliced variants of HMGCR with potential physiological importance.
Bioinformatic analyses predicted three novel HMGCR transcripts containing an alternative exon 1 (HMGCR-1b, -1c, -1d) compared with the canonical transcript (HMGCR-1a). The open reading frame of the HMGCR-1b transcript potentially encodes 20 additional amino acids at the N-terminus, compared with HMGCR-1a. Reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was used to examine the mRNA levels of HMGCR in different tissues; HMGCR-1a was the most highly expressed variant in most tissues, with the exception of the skin, esophagus, and uterine cervix, in which HMGCR-1b was the most highly expressed transcript. Atorvastatin treatment of HepG2 cells resulted in increased HMGCR-1b mRNA levels, but unaltered proximal promoter activity compared to untreated cells. In contrast, HMGCR-1c showed a more restricted transcription pattern, but was also induced by atorvastatin treatment.
The gene encoding HMGCR uses alternative, mutually exclusive exon 1 sequences. This contributes to an increased complexity of HMGCR transcripts. Further studies are needed to investigate whether HMGCR splice variants identified in this study are physiologically functional.
PMCID: PMC3526503  PMID: 22989091
3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase; HMG-CoA; Transcription; Alternative splicing; Statin; Cholesterol
9.  Regulation of GAD65 expression by SMAR1 and p53 upon Streptozotocin treatment 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:28.
GAD65 (Glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 KDa isoform) is one of the most important auto-antigens involved in Type 1 diabetes induction. Although it serves as one of the first injury markers of β-islets, the mechanisms governing GAD65 expression remain poorly understood. Since the regulation of GAD65 is crucial for the proper functioning of insulin secreting cells, we investigated the stress induced regulation of GAD65 transcription.
The present study shows that SMAR1 regulates GAD65 expression at the transcription level. Using a novel protein-DNA pull-down assay, we show that SMAR1 binding is very specific to GAD65 promoter but not to the other isoform, GAD67. We show that Streptozotocin (STZ) mediated DNA damage leads to upregulation of SMAR1 and p53 expression, resulting in elevated levels of GAD65, in both cell lines as well as mouse β-islets. SMAR1 and p53 act synergistically to up-regulate GAD65 expression upon STZ treatment.
We propose a novel mechanism of GAD65 regulation by synergistic activities of SMAR1 and p53.
PMCID: PMC3459802  PMID: 22978699
SMAR1; Diabetes; GAD65; p53; Streptozotocin
10.  Clock-controlled mir-142-3p can target its activator, Bmal1 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:27.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are shown to be involved in the regulation of circadian clock. However, it remains largely unknown whether miRNAs can regulate the core clock genes (Clock and Bmal1).
In this study, we found that mir-142-3p directly targeted the 3’UTR of human BMAL1 and mouse Bmal1. The over-expression (in 293ET and NIH3T3 cells) and knockdown (in U87MG cells) of mir-142-3p reduced and up-regulated the Bmal1/BMAL1 mRNA and protein levels, respectively. Moreover, the expression level of mir-142-3p oscillated in serum-shocked NIH3T3 cells and the results of ChIP and luciferase reporter assays suggested that the expression of mir-142-3p was directly controlled by CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimers in NIH3T3 cells.
Our study demonstrates that mir-142-3p can directly target the 3’UTR of Bmal1. In addition, the expression of mir-142-3p is controlled by CLOCK/BMAL1 heterodimers, suggesting a potential negative feedback loop consisting of the miRNAs and the core clock genes. These findings open new perspective for studying the molecular mechanism of circadian clock.
PMCID: PMC3482555  PMID: 22958478
mir-142-3p; Bmal1; Circadian clock
11.  Structural/functional analysis of the human OXR1 protein: identification of exon 8 as the anti-oxidant encoding function 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:26.
The human OXR1 gene belongs to a class of genes with conserved functions that protect cells from reactive oxygen species (ROS). The gene was found using a screen of a human cDNA library by its ability to suppress the spontaneous mutator phenotype of an E. coli mutH nth strain. The function of OXR1 is unknown. The human and yeast genes are induced by oxidative stress and targeted to the mitochondria; the yeast gene is required for resistance to hydrogen peroxide. Multiple spliced isoforms are expressed in a variety of human tissues, including brain.
In this report, we use a papillation assay that measures spontaneous mutagenesis of an E. coli mutM mutY strain, a host defective for oxidative DNA repair. Papillation frequencies with this strain are dependent upon a G→T transversion in the lacZ gene (a mutation known to occur as a result of oxidative damage) and are suppressed by in vivo expression of human OXR1. N-terminal, C-terminal and internal deletions of the OXR1 gene were constructed and tested for suppression of the mutagenic phenotype of the mutM mutY strain. We find that the TLDc domain, encoded by the final four exons of the OXR1 gene, is not required for papillation suppression in E. coli. Instead, we show that the protein segment encoded by exon 8 of OXR1 is responsible for the suppression of oxidative damage in E. coli.
The protein segment encoded by OXR1 exon 8 plays an important role in the anti-oxidative function of the human OXR1 protein. This result suggests that the TLDc domain, found in OXR1 exons 12–16 and common in many proteins with nuclear function, has an alternate (undefined) role other than oxidative repair.
PMCID: PMC3462732  PMID: 22873401
12.  Dual regulation of P-glycoprotein expression by Trichostatin A in cancer cell lines 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:25.
It has been reported that the histone deacetylase inhibitor (iHDAc) trichostatin A (TSA) induces an increase in MDR1 gene transcription (ABCB1). This result would compromise the use of iHDACs in combination with other cytotoxic agents that are substrates of P-glycoprotein (Pgp). It has also been reported the use of alternative promoters by the ABCB1 gene and the existence of a translational control of Pgp protein. Finally, the ABCB1 gene is located in a genetic locus with the nested gene RUNDC3B in the complementary DNA strand, raising the possibility that RUNDC3B expression could interfere with ABCB1 alternative promoter regulation.
A combination of RT-PCR, real time RT-PCR, Western blot and drug accumulation assays by flow cytometry has been used in this study.
The iHDACs-induced increase in MDR1 mRNA levels is not followed by a subsequent increase in Pgp protein levels or activity in several pancreatic and colon carcinoma cell lines, suggesting a translational control of Pgp in these cell lines. In addition, the MDR1 mRNA produced in these cell lines is shorter in its 5′ end that the Pgp mRNA produced in cell lines expressing Pgp protein. The different size of the Pgp mRNA is due to the use of alternative promoters. We also demonstrate that these promoters are differentially regulated by TSA. The translational blockade of Pgp mRNA in the pancreatic carcinoma cell lines could be related to alterations in the 5′ end of the MDR1 mRNA in the Pgp protein expressing cell lines. In addition, we demonstrate that the ABCB1 nested gene RUNDC3B expression although upregulated by TSA is independent of the ABCB1 alternative promoter used.
The results show that the increase in MDR1 mRNA expression after iHDACs treatment is clinically irrelevant since this mRNA does not render an active Pgp protein, at least in colon and pancreatic cancer cell lines. Furthermore, we demonstrate that TSA in fact, regulates differentially both ABCB1 promoters, downregulating the upstream promoter that is responsible for active P-glycoprotein expression. These results suggest that iHDACs such as TSA may in fact potentiate the effects of antitumour drugs that are substrates of Pgp. Finally, we also demonstrate that TSA upregulates RUNDC3B mRNA independently of the ABCB1 promoter in use.
PMCID: PMC3441908  PMID: 22846052
13.  Structure-function analysis of Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum RNA ligase – engineering a thermostable ATP independent enzyme 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:24.
RNA ligases are essential reagents for many methods in molecular biology including NextGen RNA sequencing. To prevent ligation of RNA to itself, ATP independent mutant ligases, defective in self-adenylation, are often used in combination with activated pre-adenylated linkers. It is important that these ligases not have de-adenylation activity, which can result in activation of RNA and formation of background ligation products. An additional useful feature is for the ligase to be active at elevated temperatures. This has the advantage or reducing preferences caused by structures of single-stranded substrates and linkers.
To create an RNA ligase with these desirable properties we performed mutational analysis of the archaeal thermophilic RNA ligase from Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum. We identified amino acids essential for ATP binding and reactivity but dispensable for phosphodiester bond formation with 5’ pre-adenylated donor substrate. The motif V lysine mutant (K246A) showed reduced activity in the first two steps of ligation reaction. The mutant has full ligation activity with pre-adenylated substrates but retained the undesirable activity of deadenylation, which is the reverse of step 2 adenylation. A second mutant, an alanine substitution for the catalytic lysine in motif I (K97A) abolished activity in the first two steps of the ligation reaction, but preserved wild type ligation activity in step 3. The activity of the K97A mutant is similar with either pre-adenylated RNA or single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) as donor substrates but we observed two-fold preference for RNA as an acceptor substrate compared to ssDNA with an identical sequence. In contrast, truncated T4 RNA ligase 2, the commercial enzyme used in these applications, is significantly more active using pre-adenylated RNA as a donor compared to pre-adenylated ssDNA. However, the T4 RNA ligases are ineffective in ligating ssDNA acceptors.
Mutational analysis of the heat stable RNA ligase from Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum resulted in the creation of an ATP independent ligase. The K97A mutant is defective in the first two steps of ligation but retains full activity in ligation of either RNA or ssDNA to a pre-adenylated linker. The ability of the ligase to function at 65°C should reduce the constraints of RNA secondary structure in RNA ligation experiments.
PMCID: PMC3514331  PMID: 22809063
14.  G-quadruplex recognition activities of E. Coli MutS 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:23.
Guanine quadruplex (G4 DNA) is a four-stranded structure that contributes to genome instability and site-specific recombination. G4 DNA folds from sequences containing tandemly repetitive guanines, sequence motifs that are found throughout prokaryote and eukaryote genomes. While some cellular activities have been identified with binding or processing G4 DNA, the factors and pathways governing G4 DNA metabolism are largely undefined. Highly conserved mismatch repair factors have emerged as potential G4-responding complexes because, in addition to initiating heteroduplex correction, the human homologs bind non-B form DNA with high affinity. Moreover, the MutS homologs across species have the capacity to recognize a diverse range of DNA pairing variations and damage, suggesting a conserved ability to bind non-B form DNA.
Here, we asked if E. coli MutS and a heteroduplex recognition mutant, MutS F36A, were capable of recognizing and responding to G4 DNA structures. We find by mobility shift assay that E. coli MutS binds to G4 DNA with high affinity better than binding to G-T heteroduplexes. In the same assay, MutS F36A failed to recognize G-T mismatched oligonucleotides, as expected, but retained an ability to bind to G4 DNA. Association with G4 DNA by MutS is not likely to activate the mismatch repair pathway because nucleotide binding did not promote release of MutS or MutS F36A from G4 DNA as it does for heteroduplexes. G4 recognition activities occur under physiological conditions, and we find that M13 phage harboring G4-capable DNA poorly infected a MutS deficient strain of E. coli compared to M13mp18, suggesting functional roles for mismatch repair factors in the cellular response to unstable genomic elements.
Taken together, our findings demonstrate that E. coli MutS has a binding activity specific for non-B form G4 DNA, but such binding appears independent of canonical heteroduplex repair activation.
PMCID: PMC3437207  PMID: 22747774
DNA repair; G4; Quadruplex DNA; Mismatch repair; MutS
15.  Evaluation of reference genes for real-time quantitative PCR studies in Candida glabrata following azole treatment 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:22.
The selection of stable and suitable reference genes for real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) is a crucial prerequisite for reliable gene expression analysis under different experimental conditions. The present study aimed to identify reference genes as internal controls for gene expression studies by RT-qPCR in azole-stimulated Candida glabrata.
The expression stability of 16 reference genes under fluconazole stress was evaluated using fold change and standard deviation computations with the hkgFinder tool. Our data revealed that the mRNA expression levels of three ribosomal RNAs (RDN5.8, RDN18, and RDN25) remained stable in response to fluconazole, while PGK1, UBC7, and UBC13 mRNAs showed only approximately 2.9-, 3.0-, and 2.5-fold induction by azole, respectively. By contrast, mRNA levels of the other 10 reference genes (ACT1, EF1α, GAPDH, PPIA, RPL2A, RPL10, RPL13A, SDHA, TUB1, and UBC4) were dramatically increased in C. glabrata following antifungal treatment, exhibiting changes ranging from 4.5- to 32.7-fold. We also assessed the expression stability of these reference genes using the 2-ΔΔCT method and three other software packages. The stability rankings of the reference genes by geNorm and the 2-ΔΔCT method were identical to those by hkgFinder, whereas the stability rankings by BestKeeper and NormFinder were notably different. We then validated the suitability of six candidate reference genes (ACT1, PGK1, RDN5.8, RDN18, UBC7, and UBC13) as internal controls for ten target genes in this system using the comparative CT method. Our validation experiments passed for all six reference genes analyzed except RDN18, where the amplification efficiency of RDN18 was different from that of the ten target genes. Finally, we demonstrated that the relative quantification of target gene expression varied according to the endogenous control used, highlighting the importance of the choice of internal controls in such experiments.
We recommend the use of RDN5.8, UBC13, and PGK1 alone or the combination of RDN5.8 plus UBC13 or PGK1 as reference genes for RT-qPCR analysis of gene expression in C. glabrata following azole treatment. In contrast, we show that ACT1 and other commonly used reference genes (GAPDH, PPIA, RPL13A, TUB1, etc.) were not validated as good internal controls in the current model.
PMCID: PMC3482582  PMID: 22747760
Candida glabrata; Azole resistance gene; Fluconazole; hkgFinder; Housekeeping gene; Reference gene; RT-qPCR
16.  Interaction of C/EBP-beta and NF-Y factors constrains activity levels of the nutritionally controlled promoter IA expressing the acetyl-CoA carboxylase-alpha gene in cattle 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:21.
The enzyme acetyl-CoA carboxylase-alpha (ACC-α) is rate limiting for de novo fatty acid synthesis. Among the four promoters expressing the bovine gene, promoter IA (PIA) is dominantly active in lipogenic tissues. This promoter is in principal repressed but activated under favorable nutritional conditions. Previous analyses already coarsely delineated the repressive elements on the distal promoter but did not resolve the molecular nature of the repressor. Knowledge about the molecular functioning of this repressor is fundamental to understanding the nutrition mediated regulation of PIA activity. We analyzed here the molecular mechanism calibrating PIA activity.
We finely mapped the repressor binding sites in reporter gene assays and demonstrate together with Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assays that nuclear factor-Y (NF-Y) and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein-β (C/EBPβ) each separately repress PIA activity by binding to their cognate low affinity sites, located on distal elements of the promoter. Simultaneous binding of both factors results in strongest repression. Paradoxically, over expression of NFY factors, but also - and even more so - of C/EBPβ significantly activated the promoter when bound to high affinity sites on the proximal promoter. However, co-transfection experiments revealed that NF-Y may eventually diminish the strong stimulatory effect of C/EBPβ at the proximal PIA in a dose dependent fashion. We validated by chromatin immunoprecipitation, that NF-Y and C/EBP factors may physically interact.
The proximal promoter segment of PIA appears to be principally in an active state, since even minute concentrations of both, NF-Y and C/EBPβ factors can saturate the high affinity activator sites. Higher factor concentrations will saturate the low affinity repressive sites on the distal promoter resulting in reduced and calibrated promoter activity. Based on measurements of the mRNA concentrations of those factors in different tissues we propose that the interplay of both factors may set tissue-specific limits for PIA activity.
PMCID: PMC3441787  PMID: 22738246
ACC-alpha; Bos taurus; CCAAT-enhancer binding protein; Fat synthesis; Gene regulation; Nuclear factor Y
17.  SPRR2A enhances p53 deacetylation through HDAC1 and down regulates p21 promoter activity 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:20.
Small proline rich protein (SPRR) 2A is one of 14 SPRR genes that encodes for a skin cross-linking protein, which confers structural integrity to the cornified keratinocyte cell envelope. New evidence, however, shows that SPRR2A is also a critical stress and wound repair modulator: it enables a variety of barrier epithelia to transiently acquire mesenchymal characteristics (EMT) and simultaneously quench reactive oxygen species during wound repair responses. p53 is also widely recognized as the node in cellular stress responses that inhibits EMT and triggers cell-cycle arrest, apoptosis, and cellular senescence. Since some p53-directed processes would seem to impede wound repair of barrier epithelia, we hypothesized that SPRR2A up regulation might counteract these effects and enable/promote wound repair under stressful environmental conditions.
Using a well characterized cholangiocarcinoma cell line we show that levels of SPRR2A expression, similar to that seen during stressful biliary wound repair responses, disrupts acetylation and subsequent p53 transcriptional activity. p53 deacetylation is accomplished via two distinct, but possibly related, mechanisms: 1) a reduction of p300 acetylation, thereby interfering with p300-p53 binding and subsequent p300 acetylation of K382 in p53; and 2) an increase in histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) mRNA and protein expression. The p300 CH3 domain is essential for both the autoacetylation of p300 and transference of the acetyl group to p53 and HDAC1 is a component of several non-p300 complexes that enhance p53 deacetylation, ubiquitination, and proteosomal degradation. HDAC1 can also bind the p300-CH3 domain, regulating p300 acetylation and interfering with p300 mediated p53 acetylation. The importance of this pathway is illustrated by showing complete restoration of p53 acetylation and partial restoration of p300 acetylation by treating SPRR2A expressing cells with HDAC1 siRNA.
Up-regulation of SPRR2A, similar to that seen during barrier epithelia wound repair responses reduces p53 acetylation by interfering with p300-p53 interactions and by increasing HDAC1 expression. SPRR2A, therefore, functions as a suppressor of p53-dependent transcriptional activity, which otherwise might impede cellular processes needed for epithelial wound repair responses such as EMT.
PMCID: PMC3495018  PMID: 22731250
18.  PIM-1 kinase interacts with the DNA binding domain of the vitamin D receptor: a further kinase implicated in 1,25-(OH)2D3 signaling 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:18.
The vitamin D3 receptor (VDR) is responsible for mediating the pleiotropic and, in part, cell-type-specific effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (calcitriol) on the cardiovascular and the muscle system, on the bone development and maintenance, mineral homeostasis, cell proliferation, cell differentiation, vitamin D metabolism, and immune response modulation.
Based on data obtained from genome-wide yeast two-hybrid screenings, domain mapping studies, intracellular co-localization approaches as well as reporter transcription assay measurements, we show here that the C-terminus of human PIM-1 kinase isoform2 (amino acid residues 135–313), a serine/threonine kinase of the calcium/calmodulin-regulated kinase family, directly interacts with VDR through the receptor’s DNA-binding domain. We further demonstrate that PIM-1 modulates calcitriol signaling in HaCaT keratinocytes by enhancing both endogenous calcitriol response gene transcription (osteopontin) and an extrachromosomal DR3 reporter response.
These results, taken together with previous reports of involvement of kinase pathways in VDR transactivation, underscore the biological relevance of this novel protein-protein interaction.
PMCID: PMC3404970  PMID: 22720752
Coactivator; PIM-1 kinase; Protein-Protein interaction; Serine/Threonine kinase; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor
19.  The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Hot1p regulated gene YHR087W (HGI1) has a role in translation upon high glucose concentration stress 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:19.
While growing in natural environments yeasts can be affected by osmotic stress provoked by high glucose concentrations. The response to this adverse condition requires the HOG pathway and involves transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms initiated by the phosphorylation of this protein, its translocation to the nucleus and activation of transcription factors. One of the genes induced to respond to this injury is YHR087W. It encodes for a protein structurally similar to the N-terminal region of human SBDS whose expression is also induced under other forms of stress and whose deletion determines growth defects at high glucose concentrations.
In this work we show that YHR087W expression is regulated by several transcription factors depending on the particular stress condition, and Hot1p is particularly relevant for the induction at high glucose concentrations. In this situation, Hot1p, together to Sko1p, binds to YHR087W promoter in a Hog1p-dependent manner. Several evidences obtained indicate Yhr087wp’s role in translation. Firstly, and according to TAP purification experiments, it interacts with proteins involved in translation initiation. Besides, its deletion mutant shows growth defects in the presence of translation inhibitors and displays a slightly slower translation recovery after applying high glucose stress than the wild type strain. Analyses of the association of mRNAs to polysome fractions reveals a lower translation in the mutant strain of the mRNAs corresponding to genes GPD1, HSP78 and HSP104.
The data demonstrates that expression of Yhr087wp under high glucose concentration is controlled by Hot1p and Sko1p transcription factors, which bind to its promoter. Yhr087wp has a role in translation, maybe in the control of the synthesis of several stress response proteins, which could explain the lower levels of some of these proteins found in previous proteomic analyses and the growth defects of the deletion strain.
PMCID: PMC3441895  PMID: 22720784
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; High glucose osmotic stress; Gene YHR087W; Gene expression; Translation; Hot1p; Hog1p; Polysomes
20.  Complementation between inactive fragments of SssI DNA methyltransferase 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:17.
Silencing mammalian genes by targeted DNA (cytosine-5) methylation of selected CG sites in the genome would be a powerful technique to analyze epigenomic information and to study the roles of DNA methylation in physiological and pathological states. A promising approach of targeted DNA methylation is based on the ability of split fragments of a monomeric DNA methyltransferase (C5-MTase) to associate and form active enzyme. A few C5-MTases of different specificities have been shown to possess the ability of fragment complementation, but a demonstration of this phenomenon for a C5-MTase, which has CG specificity and thus can be targeted to methylate any CG site, has been lacking. The purpose of this study was to test whether the CG-specific prokaryotic C5-MTase M.SssI shows the phenomenon of fragment complementation.
We show that truncated inactive N-terminal fragments of M.SssI can assemble with truncated inactive C-terminal fragments to form active enzyme in vivo when produced in the same E. coli cell. Overlapping and non-overlapping fragments as well as fragments containing short appended foreign sequences had complementation capacity. In optimal combinations C-terminal fragments started between conserved motif VIII and the predicted target recognizing domain of M.SssI. DNA methyltransferase activity in crude extracts of cells with the best complementing fragment pairs was ~ 4 per cent of the activity of cells producing the full length enzyme. Fusions of two N-terminal and two C-terminal fragments to 21.6 kDa zinc finger domains only slightly reduced complementation ability of the fragments.
The CG-specific DNA methyltransferase M.SssI shows the phenomenon of fragment complementation in vivo in E. coli. Fusion of the split fragments to six unit zinc finger domains does not substantially interfere with the formation of active enzyme. These observations and the large number of complementing fragment combinations representing a wide range of MTase activity offer the possibility to develop M.SssI into a programmable DNA methyltransferase of high specificity.
PMCID: PMC3404938  PMID: 22646482
SssI DNA methyltransferase; DNA methylation; 5-methylcytosine; Protein fragment complementation; Protein fusion; Zinc finger
21.  Plasticity of DNA methylation in mouse T cell activation and differentiation 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:16.
Circulating CD4+ T helper cells are activated through interactions with antigen presenting cells and undergo differentiation into specific T helper cell subsets depending on the type of antigen encountered. In addition, the relative composition of the circulating CD4+ T cell population changes as animals mature with an increased percentage of the population being memory/effector type cells.
Here, we report on the highly plastic nature of DNA methylation at the genome-wide level as T cells undergo activation, differentiation and aging. Of particular note were the findings that DNA demethylation occurred rapidly following T cell activation and that all differentiated T cell populations displayed lower levels of global methylation than the non-differentiated population. In addition, T cells from older mice had a reduced level of DNA methylation, most likely explained by the increase in the memory/effector cell fraction. Although significant genome-wide changes were observed, changes in DNA methylation at individual genes were restricted to specific cell types. Changes in the expression of enzymes involved in DNA methylation and demethylation reflect in most cases the changes observed in the genome-wide DNA methylation status.
We have demonstrated that DNA methylation is dynamic and flexible in CD4+ T cells and changes rapidly both in a genome-wide and in a targeted manner during T cell activation, differentiation. These changes are accompanied by parallel changes in the enzymatic complexes that have been implicated in DNA methylation and demethylation implying that the balance between these opposing activities may play a role in the maintaining the methylation profile of a given cell type but also allow flexibility in a cell population that needs to respond rapidly to environmental signals.
PMCID: PMC3386888  PMID: 22642378
DNA demethylation; T cell activation; T cell differentiation; Il2, Csf2
22.  Standardized collection of MNase-seq experiments enables unbiased dataset comparisons 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:15.
The organization of eukaryotic DNA into chromatin has a strong influence on the accessibility and regulation of genetic information. The locations and occupancies of a principle component of chromatin, nucleosomes, are typically assayed through use of enzymatic digestion with micrococcal nuclease (MNase). MNase is an endo-exo nuclease that preferentially digests naked DNA and the DNA in linkers between nucleosomes, thus enriching for nucleosome-associated DNA. To determine nucleosome organization genome-wide, DNA remaining from MNase digestion is sequenced using high-throughput sequencing technologies (MNase-seq). Unfortunately, the results of MNase-seq can vary dramatically due to technical differences and this confounds comparisons between MNase-seq experiments, such as examining condition-dependent chromatin organizations.
In this study we use MNase digestion simulations to demonstrate how MNase-seq signals can vary for different nucleosome configuration when experiments are performed with different extents of MNase digestion. Signal variation in these simulations reveals an important DNA sampling bias that results from a neighborhood effect of MNase digestion techniques. The presence of this neighborhood effect ultimately confounds comparisons between different MNase-seq experiments. To address this issue we present a standardized chromatin preparation which controls for technical variance between MNase-based chromatin preparations and enables the collection of similarly sampled (matched) chromatin populations. Standardized preparation of chromatin includes a normalization step for DNA input into MNase digestions and close matching of the extent of digestion between each chromatin preparation using gel densitometry analysis. The protocol also includes directions for successful pairing with multiplex sequencing reactions.
We validated our method by comparing the experiment-to-experiment variation between biological replicates of chromatin preparations from S. cerevisiae. Results from our matched preparation consistently produced MNase-seq datasets that were more closely correlated than other unstandardized approaches. Additionally, we validated the ability of our approach at enabling accurate downstream comparisons of chromatin structures, by comparing the specificity of detecting Tup1-dependent chromatin remodeling events in comparisons between matched and un-matched wild-type and tup1Δ MNase-seq datasets. Our matched MNase-seq datasets demonstrated a significant reduction in non-specific (technical) differences between experiments and were able to maximize the detection of biologically-relevant (Tup1-dependent) changes in chromatin structure.
PMCID: PMC3464627  PMID: 22559821
Next-generation sequencing; High-throughput sequencing; Chromatin; Nucleosomes; Histones; MNase-seq; Micrococcal nuclease (MNase)
23.  Related bifunctional restriction endonuclease-methyltransferase triplets: TspDTI, Tth111II/TthHB27I and TsoI with distinct specificities 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:13.
We previously defined a family of restriction endonucleases (REases) from Thermus sp., which share common biochemical and biophysical features, such as the fusion of both the nuclease and methyltransferase (MTase) activities in a single polypeptide, cleavage at a distance from the recognition site, large molecular size, modulation of activity by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), and incomplete cleavage of the substrate DNA. Members include related thermophilic REases with five distinct specificities: TspGWI, TaqII, Tth111II/TthHB27I, TspDTI and TsoI.
TspDTI, TsoI and isoschizomers Tth111II/TthHB27I recognize different, but related sequences: 5'-ATGAA-3', 5'-TARCCA-3' and 5'-CAARCA-3' respectively. Their amino acid sequences are similar, which is unusual among REases of different specificity. To gain insight into this group of REases, TspDTI, the prototype member of the Thermus sp. enzyme family, was cloned and characterized using a recently developed method for partially cleaving REases.
TspDTI, TsoI and isoschizomers Tth111II/TthHB27I are closely related bifunctional enzymes. They comprise a tandem arrangement of Type I-like domains, like other Type IIC enzymes (those with a fusion of a REase and MTase domains), e.g. TspGWI, TaqII and MmeI, but their sequences are only remotely similar to these previously characterized enzymes. The characterization of TspDTI, a prototype member of this group, extends our understanding of sequence-function relationships among multifunctional restriction-modification enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3384240  PMID: 22489904
24.  High recovery of cell-free methylated DNA based on a rapid bisulfite-treatment protocol 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:12.
Detection of cell-free methylated DNA in plasma is a promising tool for tumour diagnosis and monitoring. Due to the very low amounts of cell-free DNA in plasma, analytical sensitivity is of utmost importance. The vast majority of currently available methods for analysing DNA methylation are based on bisulfite-mediated deamination of cytosine. Cytosine is rapidly converted to uracil during bisulfite treatment, whereas 5-methylcytosine is only slowly converted. Hence, bisulfite treatment converts an epigenetic modification into a difference in sequence, amenable to analysis either by sequencing or PCR based methods. However, the recovery of bisulfite-converted DNA is very poor.
Here we introduce an alternative method for the crucial steps of bisulfite treatment with high recovery. The method is based on an accelerated deamination step and alkaline desulfonation in combination with magnetic silica purification of DNA, allowing preparation of deaminated DNA from patient samples in less than 2 hours.
The method presented here allows low levels of DNA to be easily and reliably analysed, a prerequisite for the clinical usefulness of cell-free methylated DNA detection in plasma.
PMCID: PMC3324385  PMID: 22448717
25.  The leukemia associated nuclear corepressor ETO homologue genes MTG16 and MTGR1 are regulated differently in hematopoietic cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:11.
MTG16, MTGR1 and ETO are nuclear transcriptional corepressors of the human ETO protein family. MTG16 is implicated in hematopoietic development and in controlling erythropoiesis/megakaryopoiesis. Furthermore, ETO homologue genes are 3'participants in leukemia fusions generated by chromosomal translocations responsible of hematopoietic dysregulation. We tried to identify structural and functional promoter elements of MTG16 and MTGR1 genes in order to find associations between their regulation and hematopoiesis.
5' deletion examinations and luciferase reporter gene studies indicated that a 492 bp sequence upstream of the transcription start site is essential for transcriptional activity by the MTG16 promoter. The TATA- and CCAAT-less promoter with a GC box close to the start site showed strong reporter activity when examined in erythroid/megakaryocytic cells. Mutation of an evolutionary conserved GATA -301 consensus binding site repressed promoter function. Furthermore, results from in vitro antibody-enhanced electrophoretic mobility shift assay and in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation indicated binding of GATA-1 to the GATA -301 site. A role of GATA-1 was also supported by transfection of small interfering RNA, which diminished MTG16 expression. Furthermore, expression of the transcription factor HERP2, which represses GATA-1, produced strong inhibition of the MTG16 promoter reporter consistent with a role of GATA-1 in transcriptional activation. The TATA-less and CCAAT-less MTGR1 promoter retained most of the transcriptional activity within a -308 to -207 bp region with a GC-box-rich sequence containing multiple SP1 binding sites reminiscent of a housekeeping gene with constitutive expression. However, mutations of individual SP1 binding sites did not repress promoter function; multiple active SP1 binding sites may be required to safeguard constitutive MTGR1 transcriptional activity. The observed repression of MTG16/MTGR1 promoters by the leukemia associated AML1-ETO fusion gene may have a role in hematopoietic dysfunction of leukemia.
An evolutionary conserved GATA binding site is critical in transcriptional regulation of the MTG16 promoter. In contrast, the MTGR1 gene depends on a GC-box-rich sequence for transcriptional regulation and possible ubiquitous expression. Our results demonstrate that the ETO homologue promoters are regulated differently consistent with hematopoietic cell-type- specific expression and function.
PMCID: PMC3364894  PMID: 22443175

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