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1.  Effects of mutations in SGS1 and in genes functionally related to SGS1 on inverted repeat-stimulated spontaneous unequal sister-chromatid exchange in yeast 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:120.
The presence of inverted repeats (IRs) in DNA poses an obstacle to the normal progression of the DNA replication machinery, because these sequences can form secondary structures ahead of the replication fork. A failure to process and to restart the stalled replication machinery can lead to the loss of genome integrity. Consistently, IRs have been found to be associated with a high level of genome rearrangements, including deletions, translocations, inversions, and a high rate of sister-chromatid exchange (SCE). The RecQ helicase Sgs1, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is believed to act on stalled replication forks. To determine the role of Sgs1 when the replication machinery stalls at the secondary structure, we measured the rates of IR-associated and non-IR-associated spontaneous unequal SCE events in the sgs1 mutant, and in strains bearing mutations in genes that are functionally related to SGS1.
The rate of SCE in sgs1 cells for both IR and non-IR-containing substrates was higher than the rate in the wild-type background. The srs2 and mus81 mutations had modest effects, compared to sgs1. The exo1 mutation increased SCE rates for both substrates. The sgs1 exo1 double mutant exhibited synergistic effects on spontaneous SCE. The IR-associated SCE events in sgs1 cells were partially MSH2-dependent.
These results suggest that Sgs1 suppresses spontaneous unequal SCE, and SGS1 and EXO1 regulate spontaneous SCE by independent mechanisms. The mismatch repair proteins, in contradistinction to their roles in mutation avoidance, promote secondary structure-associated genetic instability.
PMCID: PMC2254439  PMID: 18166135
2.  RNA extraction from ten year old formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded breast cancer samples: a comparison of column purification and magnetic bead-based technologies 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:118.
The development of protocols for RNA extraction from paraffin-embedded samples facilitates gene expression studies on archival samples with known clinical outcome. Older samples are particularly valuable because they are associated with longer clinical follow up. RNA extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue is problematic due to chemical modifications and continued degradation over time. We compared quantity and quality of RNA extracted by four different protocols from 14 ten year old and 14 recently archived (three to ten months old) FFPE breast cancer tissues. Using three spin column purification-based protocols and one magnetic bead-based protocol, total RNA was extracted in triplicate, generating 336 RNA extraction experiments. RNA fragment size was assayed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for the housekeeping gene glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), testing primer sets designed to target RNA fragment sizes of 67 bp, 151 bp, and 242 bp.
Biologically useful RNA (minimum RNA integrity number, RIN, 1.4) was extracted in at least one of three attempts of each protocol in 86–100% of older and 100% of recently archived ("months old") samples. Short RNA fragments up to 151 bp were assayable by RT-PCR for G6PD in all ten year old and months old tissues tested, but none of the ten year old and only 43% of months old samples showed amplification if the targeted fragment was 242 bp.
All protocols extracted RNA from ten year old FFPE samples with a minimum RIN of 1.4. Gene expression of G6PD could be measured in all samples, old and recent, using RT-PCR primers designed for RNA fragments up to 151 bp. RNA quality from ten year old FFPE samples was similar to that extracted from months old samples, but quantity and success rate were generally higher for the months old group. We preferred the magnetic bead-based protocol because of its speed and higher quantity of extracted RNA, although it produced similar quality RNA to other protocols. If a chosen protocol fails to extract biologically useful RNA from a given sample in a first attempt, another attempt and then another protocol should be tried before excluding the case from molecular analysis.
PMCID: PMC2233637  PMID: 18154675
3.  Checkpoint effects and telomere amplification during DNA re-replication in fission yeast 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:119.
Although much is known about molecular mechanisms that prevent re-initiation of DNA replication on newly replicated DNA during a single cell cycle, knowledge is sparse regarding the regions that are most susceptible to re-replication when those mechanisms are bypassed and regarding the extents to which checkpoint pathways modulate re-replication. We used microarrays to learn more about these issues in wild-type and checkpoint-mutant cells of the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe.
We found that over-expressing a non-phosphorylatable form of the replication-initiation protein, Cdc18 (known as Cdc6 in other eukaryotes), drove re-replication of DNA sequences genome-wide, rather than forcing high level amplification of just a few sequences. Moderate variations in extents of re-replication generated regions spanning hundreds of kilobases that were amplified (or not) ~2-fold more (or less) than average. However, these regions showed little correlation with replication origins used during S phase. The extents and locations of amplified regions in cells deleted for the checkpoint genes encoding Rad3 (ortholog of human ATR and budding yeast Mec1) and Cds1 (ortholog of human Chk2 and budding yeast Rad53) were similar to those in wild-type cells. Relatively minor but distinct effects, including increased re-replication of heterochromatic regions, were found specifically in cells lacking Rad3. These might be due to Cds1-independent roles for Rad3 in regulating re-replication and/or due to the fact that cells lacking Rad3 continued to divide during re-replication, unlike wild-type cells or cells lacking Cds1. In both wild-type and checkpoint-mutant cells, regions near telomeres were particularly susceptible to re-replication. Highly re-replicated telomere-proximal regions (50–100 kb) were, in each case, followed by some of the least re-replicated DNA in the genome.
The origins used, and the extent of replication fork progression, during re-replication are largely independent of the replication and DNA-damage checkpoint pathways mediated by Cds1 and Rad3. The fission yeast pattern of telomere-proximal amplification adjacent to a region of under-replication has also been seen in the distantly-related budding yeast, which suggests that subtelomeric sequences may be a promising place to look for DNA re-replication in other organisms.
PMCID: PMC2265721  PMID: 18154680
4.  Relative quantification of mRNA: comparison of methods currently used for real-time PCR data analysis 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:113.
Fluorescent data obtained from real-time PCR must be processed by some method of data analysis to obtain the relative quantity of target mRNA. The method chosen for data analysis can strongly influence results of the quantification.
To compare the performance of six techniques which are currently used for analysing fluorescent data in real-time PCR relative quantification, we quantified four cytokine transcripts (IL-1β, IL-6 TNF-α, and GM-CSF) in an in vivo model of colonic inflammation. Accuracy of the methods was tested by quantification on samples with known relative amounts of target mRNAs. Reproducibility of the methods was estimated by the determination of the intra-assay and inter-assay variability. Cytokine expression normalized to the expression of three reference genes (ACTB, HPRT, SDHA) was then determined using the six methods for data analysis. The best results were obtained with the relative standard curve method, comparative Ct method and with DART-PCR, LinRegPCR and Liu & Saint exponential methods when average amplification efficiency was used. The use of individual amplification efficiencies in DART-PCR, LinRegPCR and Liu & Saint exponential methods significantly impaired the results. The sigmoid curve-fitting (SCF) method produced medium performance; the results indicate that the use of appropriate type of fluorescence data and in some instances manual selection of the number of amplification cycles included in the analysis is necessary when the SCF method is applied. We also compared amplification efficiencies (E) and found that although the E values determined by different methods of analysis were not identical, all the methods were capable to identify two genes whose E values significantly differed from other genes.
Our results show that all the tested methods can provide quantitative values reflecting the amounts of measured mRNA in samples, but they differ in their accuracy and reproducibility. Selection of the appropriate method can also depend on the design of a particular experiment. The advantages and disadvantages of the methods in different applications are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2235892  PMID: 18093344
5.  The venom gland transcriptome of the Desert Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii): towards an understanding of venom composition among advanced snakes (Superfamily Colubroidea) 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:115.
Snake venoms are complex mixtures of pharmacologically active proteins and peptides which belong to a small number of superfamilies. Global cataloguing of the venom transcriptome facilitates the identification of new families of toxins as well as helps in understanding the evolution of venom proteomes.
We have constructed a cDNA library of the venom gland of a threatened rattlesnake (a pitviper), Sistrurus catenatus edwardsii (Desert Massasauga), and sequenced 576 ESTs. Our results demonstrate a high abundance of serine proteinase and metalloproteinase transcripts, indicating that the disruption of hemostasis is a principle mechanism of action of the venom. In addition to the transcripts encoding common venom proteins, we detected two varieties of low abundance unique transcripts in the library; these encode for three-finger toxins and a novel toxin possibly generated from the fusion of two genes. We also observed polyadenylated ribosomal RNAs in the venom gland library, an interesting preliminary obsevation of this unusual phenomenon in a reptilian system.
The three-finger toxins are characteristic of most elapid venoms but are rare in viperid venoms. We detected several ESTs encoding this group of toxins in this study. We also observed the presence of a transcript encoding a fused protein of two well-characterized toxins (Kunitz/BPTI and Waprins), and this is the first report of this kind of fusion in a snake toxin transcriptome. We propose that these new venom proteins may have ancillary functions for envenomation. The presence of a fused toxin indicates that in addition to gene duplication and accelerated evolution, exon shuffling or transcriptional splicing may also contribute to generating the diversity of toxins and toxin isoforms observed among snake venoms. The detection of low abundance toxins, as observed in this and other studies, indicates a greater compositional similarity of venoms (though potency will differ) among advanced snakes than has been previously recognized.
PMCID: PMC2242803  PMID: 18096037
6.  Identifying the most suitable endogenous control for determining gene expression in hearts from organ donors 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:114.
Quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) is a useful tool for assessing gene expression in different tissues, but the choice of adequate controls is critical to normalise the results, thereby avoiding differences and maximizing sensitivity and accuracy. So far, many genes have been used as a single reference gene, without having previously verified their value as controls. This practice can lead to incorrect conclusions and recent evidence indicates a need to use the geometric mean of data from several control genes. Here, we identified an appropriate set of genes to be used as an endogenous reference for quantifying gene expression in human heart tissue.
Our findings indicate that out of ten commonly used reference genes (GADPH, PPIA, ACTB, YWHAZ, RRN18S, B2M, UBC, TBP, RPLP and HPRT), PPIA, RPLP and GADPH show the most stable gene transcription levels in left ventricle specimens obtained from organ donors, as assessed using geNorm and Normfinder software. The expression of TBP was found to be highly regulated.
We propose the use of PPIA, RPLP and GADPH as reference genes for the accurate normalisation of qRT-PCR performed on heart tissue. TBP should not be used as a control in this type of tissue.
PMCID: PMC2234425  PMID: 18096027
7.  Differential regulation of NAB corepressor genes in Schwann cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:117.
Myelination of peripheral nerves by Schwann cells requires not only the Egr2/Krox-20 transactivator, but also the NGFI-A/Egr-binding (NAB) corepressors, which modulate activity of Egr2. Previous work has shown that axon-dependent expression of Egr2 is mediated by neuregulin stimulation, and NAB corepressors are co-regulated with Egr2 expression in peripheral nerve development. NAB corepressors have also been implicated in macrophage development, cardiac hypertrophy, prostate carcinogenesis, and feedback regulation involved in hindbrain development.
To test the mechanism of NAB regulation in Schwann cells, transfection assays revealed that both Nab1 and Nab2 promoters are activated by Egr2 expression. Furthermore, direct binding of Egr2 at these promoters was demonstrated in vivo by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis of myelinating sciatic nerve, and binding of Egr2 to the Nab2 promoter was stimulated by neuregulin in primary Schwann cells. Although Egr2 expression activates the Nab2 promoter more highly than Nab1, we surprisingly found that only Nab1 – but not Nab2 – expression levels were reduced in sciatic nerve from Egr2 null mice. Analysis of the Nab2 promoter showed that it is also activated by ETS proteins (Ets2 and Etv1/ER81) and is bound by Ets2 in vivo.
Overall, these results indicate that induction of Nab2 expression in Schwann cells involves not only Egr2, but also ETS proteins that are activated by neuregulin stimulation. Although Nab1 and Nab2 play partially redundant roles, regulation of Nab2 expression by ETS factors explains several observations regarding regulation of NAB genes. Finally, these data suggest that NAB proteins are not only feedback inhibitors of Egr2, but rather that co-induction of Egr2 and NAB genes is involved in forming an Egr2/NAB complex that is crucial for regulation of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2235890  PMID: 18096076
8.  Regulation of heme oxygenase-1 mRNA deadenylation and turnover in NIH3T3 cells by nitrosative or alkylation stress 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:116.
Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) catalizes heme degradation, and is considered one of the most sensitive indicators of cellular stress. Previous work in human fibroblasts has shown that HO-1 expression is induced by NO, and that transcriptional induction is only partially responsible; instead, the HO-1 mRNA half-life is substantially increased in response to NO. The mechanism of this stabilization remains unknown.
In NIH3T3 murine fibroblasts, NO exposure increased the half-life of the HO-1 transcript from ~1.6 h to 11 h, while treatments with CdCl2, NaAsO2 or H2O2 increased the half-life only up to 5 h. Although poly(A) tail shortening can be rate-limiting in mRNA degradation, the HO-1 mRNA deadenylation rate in NO-treated cells was ~65% of that in untreated controls. In untreated cells, HO-1 poly(A) removal proceeded until 30–50 nt remained, followed by rapid mRNA decay. In NO-treated cells, HO-1 deadenylation stopped with the mRNA retaining poly(A) tails 30–50 nt long. We hypothesize that NO treatment stops poly(A) tail shortening at the critical 30- to 50-nt length. This is not a general mechanism for the post-transcriptional regulation of HO-1 mRNA. Methyl methane sulfonate also stabilized HO-1 mRNA, but that was associated with an 8-fold decrease in the deadenylation rate compared to that of untreated cells. Another HO-1 inducer, CdCl2, caused a strong increase in the mRNA level without affecting the HO-1 mRNA half-life.
The regulation of HO-1 mRNA levels in response to cellular stress can be induced by transcriptional and different post-transcriptional events that act independently, and vary depending on the stress inducer. While NO appears to stabilize HO-1 mRNA by preventing the final steps of deadenylation, methyl methane sulfonate achieves stabilization through the regulation of earlier stages of deadenylation.
PMCID: PMC2246143  PMID: 18096048
9.  Checkpoint independence of most DNA replication origins in fission yeast 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:112.
In budding yeast, the replication checkpoint slows progress through S phase by inhibiting replication origin firing. In mammals, the replication checkpoint inhibits both origin firing and replication fork movement. To find out which strategy is employed in the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we used microarrays to investigate the use of origins by wild-type and checkpoint-mutant strains in the presence of hydroxyurea (HU), which limits the pool of deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) and activates the replication checkpoint. The checkpoint-mutant cells carried deletions either of rad3 (which encodes the fission yeast homologue of ATR) or cds1 (which encodes the fission yeast homologue of Chk2).
Our microarray results proved to be largely consistent with those independently obtained and recently published by three other laboratories. However, we were able to reconcile differences between the previous studies regarding the extent to which fission yeast replication origins are affected by the replication checkpoint. We found (consistent with the three previous studies after appropriate interpretation) that, in surprising contrast to budding yeast, most fission yeast origins, including both early- and late-firing origins, are not significantly affected by checkpoint mutations during replication in the presence of HU. A few origins (~3%) behaved like those in budding yeast: they replicated earlier in the checkpoint mutants than in wild type. These were located primarily in the heterochromatic subtelomeric regions of chromosomes 1 and 2. Indeed, the subtelomeric regions defined by the strongest checkpoint restraint correspond precisely to previously mapped subtelomeric heterochromatin. This observation implies that subtelomeric heterochromatin in fission yeast differs from heterochromatin at centromeres, in the mating type region, and in ribosomal DNA, since these regions replicated at least as efficiently in wild-type cells as in checkpoint-mutant cells.
The fact that ~97% of fission yeast replication origins – both early and late – are not significantly affected by replication checkpoint mutations in HU-treated cells suggests that (i) most late-firing origins are restrained from firing in HU-treated cells by at least one checkpoint-independent mechanism, and (ii) checkpoint-dependent slowing of S phase in fission yeast when DNA is damaged may be accomplished primarily by the slowing of replication forks.
PMCID: PMC2235891  PMID: 18093330
10.  The 3' untranslated region of human Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 Regulatory subunit 1 contains regulatory elements affecting transcript stability 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:111.
CDK5R1 plays a central role in neuronal migration and differentiation during central nervous system development. CDK5R1 has been implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and proposed as a candidate gene for mental retardation. The remarkable size of CDK5R1 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) suggests a role in post-transcriptional regulation of CDK5R1 expression.
The bioinformatic study shows a high conservation degree in mammals and predicts several AU-Rich Elements (AREs). The insertion of CDK5R1 3'-UTR into luciferase 3'-UTR causes a decreased luciferase activity in four transfected cell lines. We identified 3'-UTR subregions which tend to reduce the reporter gene expression, sometimes in a cell line-dependent manner. In most cases the quantitative analysis of luciferase mRNA suggests that CDK5R1 3'-UTR affects mRNA stability. A region, leading to a very strong mRNA destabilization, showed a significantly low half-life, indicating an accelerated mRNA degradation. The 3' end of the transcript, containing a class I ARE, specifically displays a stabilizing effect in neuroblastoma cell lines. We also observed the interaction of the stabilizing neuronal RNA-binding proteins ELAV with the CDK5R1 transcript in SH-SY5Y cells and identified three 3'-UTR sub-regions showing affinity for ELAV proteins.
Our findings evince the presence of both destabilizing and stabilizing regulatory elements in CDK5R1 3'-UTR and support the hypothesis that CDK5R1 gene expression is post-transcriptionally controlled in neurons by ELAV-mediated mechanisms. This is the first evidence of the involvement of 3'-UTR in the modulation of CDK5R1 expression. The fine tuning of CDK5R1 expression by 3'-UTR may have a role in central nervous system development and functioning, with potential implications in neurodegenerative and cognitive disorders.
PMCID: PMC2222623  PMID: 18053171
11.  Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 was repressed by CpG hypermethylation through inhibition of KLF6 binding in highly invasive breast cancer cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:110.
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor-2 (TFPI-2) is a matrix-associated Kunitz inhibitor that inhibits plasmin and trypsin-mediated activation of zymogen matrix metalloproteinases involved in tumor progression, invasion and metastasis. Here, we have investigated the mechanism of DNA methylation on the repression of TFPI-2 in breast cancer cell lines.
We found that both protein and mRNA of TFPI-2 could not be detected in highly invasive breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-435. To further investigate the mechanism of TFPI-2 repression in breast cancer cells, 1.5 Kb TFPI-2 promoter was cloned, and several genetic variations were detected, but the promoter luciferase activities were not affected by the point mutation in the promoter region and the phenomena was further supported by deleted mutation. Scan mutation and informatics analysis identified a potential KLF6 binding site in TFPI-2 promoter. It was revealed, by bisulfite modified sequence, that the CpG island in TFPI-2 promoter region was hypermethylated in MDA-MB-435. Finally, using EMSA and ChIP assay, we demonstrated that the CpG methylation in the binding site of KLF-6 diminished the binding of KLF6 to TFPI-2 promoter.
In this study, we found that the CpG islands in TFPI-2 promoter was hypermethylated in highly invasive breast cancer cell line, and DNA methylation in the entire promoter region caused TFPI-2 repression by inducing inactive chromatin structure and decreasing KLF6 binding to its DNA binding sequence.
PMCID: PMC2233638  PMID: 18053161
12.  Long-term stability of RNA in post-mortem bovine skeletal muscle, liver and subcutaneous adipose tissues 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:108.
Recovering high quality intact RNA from post-mortem tissue is of major concern for gene expression studies in animals and humans. Since the availability of post-mortem tissue is often associated with substantial delay, it is important that we understand the temporal variation in the stability of total RNA and of individual gene transcripts so as to be able to appropriately interpret the data generated from such studies. Hence, the objective of this experiment was to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the integrity of total and messenger RNA extracted from bovine skeletal muscle, subcutaneous adipose tissue and liver stored at 4°C at a range of time points up to 22 days post-mortem. These conditions were designed to mimic the environment prevailing during the transport of beef from the abattoir to retail outlets.
The 28S and 18S rRNA molecules of total RNA were intact for up to 24 h post-mortem in liver and adipose tissues and up to 8 days post-mortem in skeletal muscle. The mRNA of housekeeping genes (GAPDH and ACTB) and two diet-related genes (RBP5 and SCD) were detectable up to 22 days post-mortem in skeletal muscle. While the mRNA stability of the two housekeeping genes was different in skeletal muscle and liver, they were similar to each other in adipose tissue. After 22 days post-mortem, the relative abundance of RBP5 gene was increased in skeletal muscle and in adipose tissue and decreased in liver. During this period, the relative abundance of SCD gene also increased in skeletal muscle whereas it decreased in both adipose tissue and liver.
Stability of RNA in three tissues (skeletal muscle, subcutaneous adipose tissue and liver) subjected to long-term post-mortem storage at refrigeration temperature indicated that skeletal muscle can be a suitable tissue for recovering biologically useful RNA for gene expression studies even if the tissue is subjected to post-mortem storage for weeks, whereas adipose tissue and liver should be processed within 24 hours post-mortem.
PMCID: PMC2234424  PMID: 18047648
13.  Biased exonization of transposed elements in duplicated genes: A lesson from the TIF-IA gene 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:109.
Gene duplication and exonization of intronic transposed elements are two mechanisms that enhance genomic diversity. We examined whether there is less selection against exonization of transposed elements in duplicated genes than in single-copy genes.
Genome-wide analysis of exonization of transposed elements revealed a higher rate of exonization within duplicated genes relative to single-copy genes. The gene for TIF-IA, an RNA polymerase I transcription initiation factor, underwent a humanoid-specific triplication, all three copies of the gene are active transcriptionally, although only one copy retains the ability to generate the TIF-IA protein. Prior to TIF-IA triplication, an Alu element was inserted into the first intron. In one of the non-protein coding copies, this Alu is exonized. We identified a single point mutation leading to exonization in one of the gene duplicates. When this mutation was introduced into the TIF-IA coding copy, exonization was activated and the level of the protein-coding mRNA was reduced substantially. A very low level of exonization was detected in normal human cells. However, this exonization was abundant in most leukemia cell lines evaluated, although the genomic sequence is unchanged in these cancerous cells compared to normal cells.
The definition of the Alu element within the TIF-IA gene as an exon is restricted to certain types of cancers; the element is not exonized in normal human cells. These results further our understanding of the delicate interplay between gene duplication and alternative splicing and of the molecular evolutionary mechanisms leading to genetic innovations. This implies the existence of purifying selection against exonization in single copy genes, with duplicate genes free from such constrains.
PMCID: PMC2231382  PMID: 18047649
14.  Evaluation and validation of candidate endogenous control genes for real-time quantitative PCR studies of breast cancer 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:107.
Real-time quantitative PCR (RQ-PCR) forms the basis of many breast cancer biomarker studies and novel prognostic assays, paving the way towards personalised cancer treatments. Normalisation of relative RQ-PCR data is required to control for non-biological variation introduced during sample preparation. Endogenous control (EC) genes, used in this context, should ideally be expressed constitutively and uniformly across treatments in all test samples. Despite widespread recognition that the accuracy of the normalised data is largely dependent on the reliability of the EC, there are no reports of the systematic validation of genes commonly used for this purpose in the analysis of gene expression by RQ-PCR in primary breast cancer tissues. The aim of this study was to identify the most suitable endogenous control genes for RQ-PCR analysis of primary breast tissue from a panel of eleven candidates in current use. Oestrogen receptor alpha (ESR1) was used a target gene to compare the effect of choice of EC on the estimate of gene quantity.
The expression and validity of candidate ECs (GAPDH, TFRC, ABL, PPIA, HPRT1, RPLP0, B2M, GUSB, MRPL19, PUM1 and PSMC4) was determined in 6 benign and 21 malignant primary breast cancer tissues. Gene expression data was analysed using two different statistical models. MRPL19 and PPIA were identified as the most stable and reliable EC genes, while GUSB, RPLP0 and ABL were least stable. There was a highly significant difference in variance between ECs. ESR1 expression was appreciably higher in malignant compared to benign tissues and there was a significant effect of EC on the magnitude of the error associated with the relative quantity of ESR1.
We have validated two endogenous control genes, MRPL19 and PPIA, for RQ-PCR analysis of gene expression in primary breast tissue. Of the genes in current use in this field, the above combination offers increased accuracy and resolution in the quantitation of gene expression data, facilitating the detection of smaller changes in gene expression than otherwise possible. The combination identified here is a good candidate for use as a two-gene endogenous control in a broad spectrum of future research and diagnostic applications in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2211316  PMID: 18042273
15.  Human NCU-G1 can function as a transcription factor and as a nuclear receptor co-activator 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:106.
Novel, uncharacterised proteins represent a challenge in biochemistry and molecular biology. In this report we present an initial functional characterization of human kidney predominant protein, NCU-G1.
NCU-G1 was found to be a highly conserved nuclear protein rich in proline with a molecular weight of approximately 44 kDa. It is localized on chromosome 1 and consists of 6 exons. Analysis of the amino acid sequence revealed no known transcription activation domains or DNA binding regions, however, four nuclear receptor boxes (LXXLL), and four SH3-interaction motives in addition to numerous potential phosphorylation sites were found. Two nuclear export signals were identified, but no nuclear localization signal. In man, NCU-G1 was found to be widely expressed at the mRNA level with especially high levels detected in prostate, liver and kidney. Electrophoretic mobility shift analysis showed specific binding of NCU-G1 to an oligonucleotide representing the footprint 1 element of the human cellular retinol-binding protein 1 gene promoter. NCU-G1 was found to activate transcription from this promoter and required presence of the footprint 1 element. In transiently transfected Drosophila Schneider S2 cells, we demonstrated that NCU-G1 functions as a co-activator for ligand-activated PPAR-alpha, resulting in an increased expression of a CAT reporter gene under control of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha responsive acyl-CoA oxidase promoter.
We propose that NCU-G1 is a dual-function protein capable of functioning as a transcription factor as well as a nuclear receptor co-activator.
PMCID: PMC2233640  PMID: 18021396
16.  Alternative polyadenylation signals and promoters act in concert to control tissue-specific expression of the Opitz Syndrome gene MID1 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:105.
Mutations in the X-linked MID1 gene are responsible for Opitz G/BBB syndrome, a malformation disorder of developing midline structures. Previous Northern blot analyses revealed the existence of at least three MID1 transcripts of differing lengths.
Here we show that alternative polyadenylation generates the size differences observed in the Northern blot analyses. Analysis of EST data together with additional Northern blot analyses proved tissue-specific usage of the alternative polyadenylation sites. Bioinformatic characterization of the different 3'UTRs of MID1 revealed numerous RNA-protein interaction motifs, several of which turned out to be conserved between different species. Furthermore, our data suggest that mRNA termination at different polyadenylation sites is predetermined by the choice of alternative 5'UTRs and promoters of the MID1 gene, a mechanism that efficiently allows synergistic function of 5' and 3'UTRs.
MID1 expression is tightly regulated through concerted action of alternative promoters and alternative polyadenylation signals both during embryonic development and in the adult.
PMCID: PMC2248598  PMID: 18005432
17.  The DeoR-type transcriptional regulator SugR acts as a repressor for genes encoding the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) in Corynebacterium glutamicum 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:104.
The major uptake system responsible for the transport of fructose, glucose, and sucrose in Corynebacterium glutamicum ATCC 13032 is the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS). The genes encoding PTS components, namely ptsI, ptsH, and ptsF belong to the fructose-PTS gene cluster, whereas ptsG and ptsS are located in two separate regions of the C. glutamicum genome. Due to the localization within and adjacent to the fructose-PTS gene cluster, two genes coding for DeoR-type transcriptional regulators, cg2118 and sugR, are putative candidates involved in the transcriptional regulation of the fructose-PTS cluster genes.
Four transcripts of the extended fructose-PTS gene cluster that comprise the genes sugR-cg2116, ptsI, cg2118-fruK-ptsF, and ptsH, respectively, were characterized. In addition, it was shown that transcription of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is enhanced during growth on glucose or fructose when compared to acetate. Subsequently, the two genes sugR and cg2118 encoding for DeoR-type regulators were mutated and PTS gene transcription was found to be strongly enhanced in the presence of acetate only in the sugR deletion mutant. The SugR regulon was further characterized by microarray hybridizations using the sugR mutant and its parental strain, revealing that also the PTS genes ptsG and ptsS belong to this regulon. Binding of purified SugR repressor protein to a 21 bp sequence identified the SugR binding site as an AC-rich motif. The two experimentally identified SugR binding sites in the fructose-PTS gene cluster are located within or downstream of the mapped promoters, typical for transcriptional repressors. Effector studies using electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) revealed the fructose PTS-specific metabolite fructose-1-phosphate (F-1-P) as a highly efficient, negative effector of the SugR repressor, acting in the micromolar range. Beside F-1-P, other sugar-phosphates like fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (F-1,6-P) and glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P) also negatively affect SugR-binding, but in millimolar concentrations.
In C. glutamicum ATCC 13032 the DeoR-type regulator SugR acts as a pleiotropic transcriptional repressor of all described PTS genes. Thus, in contrast to most DeoR-type repressors described, SugR is able to act also on the transcription of the distantly located genes ptsG and ptsS of C. glutamicum. Transcriptional repression of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is observed during growth on acetate and transcription is derepressed in the presence of the PTS sugars glucose and fructose. This derepression of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is mainly modulated by the negative effector F-1-P, but reduced sensitivity to the other effectors, F-1,6-P or G-6-P might cause differential transcriptional regulation of genes of the general part of the PTS (ptsI, ptsH) and associated genes encoding sugar-specific functions (ptsF, ptsG, ptsS).
PMCID: PMC2222622  PMID: 18005413
18.  Detection of short repeated genomic sequences on metaphase chromosomes using padlock probes and target primed rolling circle DNA synthesis 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:103.
In situ detection of short sequence elements in genomic DNA requires short probes with high molecular resolution and powerful specific signal amplification. Padlock probes can differentiate single base variations. Ligated padlock probes can be amplified in situ by rolling circle DNA synthesis and detected by fluorescence microscopy, thus enhancing PRINS type reactions, where localized DNA synthesis reports on the position of hybridization targets, to potentially reveal the binding of single oligonucleotide-size probe molecules. Such a system has been presented for the detection of mitochondrial DNA in fixed cells, whereas attempts to apply rolling circle detection to metaphase chromosomes have previously failed, according to the literature.
Synchronized cultured cells were fixed with methanol/acetic acid to prepare chromosome spreads in teflon-coated diagnostic well-slides. Apart from the slide format and the chromosome spreading everything was done essentially according to standard protocols. Hybridization targets were detected in situ with padlock probes, which were ligated and amplified using target primed rolling circle DNA synthesis, and detected by fluorescence labeling.
An optimized protocol for the spreading of condensed metaphase chromosomes in teflon-coated diagnostic well-slides was developed. Applying this protocol we generated specimens for target primed rolling circle DNA synthesis of padlock probes recognizing a 40 nucleotide sequence in the male specific repetitive satellite I sequence (DYZ1) on the Y-chromosome and a 32 nucleotide sequence in the repetitive kringle IV domain in the apolipoprotein(a) gene positioned on the long arm of chromosome 6. These targets were detected with good efficiency, but the efficiency on other target sites was unsatisfactory.
Our aim was to test the applicability of the method used on mitochondrial DNA to the analysis of nuclear genomes, in particular as represented by metaphase spreads. An optimized protocol for chromosome spreading in diagnostic well-slides was used for the detection of circularized padlock probes amplified by target primed rolling circle DNA synthesis from condensed metaphase chromosomes. We were able to detect a 40 nucleotide sequence in the male specific repetitive satellite I sequence and a 32 nucleotide sequence in the repetitive kringle IV domain in the apolipoprotein(a) gene. Our overall conclusion is that whilst this type of reaction indeed can be brought to work on nuclear genomes, including metaphase chromosomes, the total efficiency of this multistep reaction is at present relatively low (1–10% of target sites picked up), meaning that it is best suited for the detection of targets that exist in multiple copies per cell. Changing this will require substantial efforts to systematically increase the efficiency in each step.
PMCID: PMC2212658  PMID: 17997865
19.  Localization of TFIIB binding regions using serial analysis of chromatin occupancy 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:102.
RNA Polymerase II (RNAP II) is recruited to core promoters by the pre-initiation complex (PIC) of general transcription factors. Within the PIC, transcription factor for RNA polymerase IIB (TFIIB) determines the start site of transcription. TFIIB binding has not been localized, genome-wide, in metazoans. Serial analysis of chromatin occupancy (SACO) is an unbiased methodology used to empirically identify transcription factor binding regions. In this report, we use TFIIB and SACO to localize TFIIB binding regions across the rat genome.
A sample of the TFIIB SACO library was sequenced and 12,968 TFIIB genomic signature tags (GSTs) were assigned to the rat genome. GSTs are 20–22 base pair fragments that are derived from TFIIB bound chromatin. TFIIB localized to both non-protein coding and protein-coding loci. For 21% of the 1783 protein-coding genes in this sample of the SACO library, TFIIB binding mapped near the characterized 5' promoter that is upstream of the transcription start site (TSS). However, internal TFIIB binding positions were identified in 57% of the 1783 protein-coding genes. Internal positions are defined as those within an inclusive region greater than 2.5 kb downstream from the 5' TSS and 2.5 kb upstream from the transcription stop. We demonstrate that both TFIIB and TFIID (an additional component of PICs) bound to internal regions using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). The 5' cap of transcripts associated with internal TFIIB binding positions were identified using a cap-trapping assay. The 5' TSSs for internal transcripts were confirmed by primer extension. Additionally, an analysis of the functional annotation of mouse 3 (FANTOM3) databases indicates that internally initiated transcripts identified by TFIIB SACO in rat are conserved in mouse.
Our findings that TFIIB binding is not restricted to the 5' upstream region indicates that the propensity for PIC to contribute to transcript diversity is far greater than previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC2211499  PMID: 17997859
20.  Hepatoma derived growth factor binds DNA through the N-terminal PWWP domain 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:101.
Hepatoma Derived Growth Factor (HDGF) is a nuclear protein with nuclear targeting required for mitogenic activity. Recently we demonstrated that HDGF is a transcriptional repressor, but whether HDGF binds DNA, the specificity of DNA binding and what protein domain is required are still unknown. In this study, we aimed to identify if HDGF is a DNA binding protein, map the functional DNA binding domain and DNA binding element for HDGF.
Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) of human DNA, we isolated 10 DNA sequences sharing a conserved ~200 bp element. Homology analysis identified the binding sequences as a motif within the promoter of the SMYD1 gene, a HDGF target gene. Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assays (EMSA) confirmed the binding of HDGF to this conserved sequence. As a result, an 80 bp conserved sequence located in the SMYD1 promoter bound GST-HDGF tightly. The binding core sequence for HDGF was narrowed down to 37 bp using a deletion mapping strategy from both the 5' and 3' ends. Moreover, ChIP and DNase I footprinting analysis revealed that HDGF binds this 80 bp DNA fragment specifically. Functionally overexpression of HDGF represses a reporter gene which is controlled by an SV-40 promoter containing the 80 bp DNA element. Using serial truncations of GST-HDGF, we mapped the DNA binding domain of HDGF to the N-terminal PWWP domain.
HDGF is a DNA binding protein, binds DNA specifically, and prefers a minimum of 37 bp long DNA fragment. The N-terminal PWWP domain of HDGF is required for DNA binding. HDGF exerts its transcription repressive effect through binding to a conserved DNA element in the promoter of target genes.
PMCID: PMC2176068  PMID: 17974029
21.  Translation initiation region sequence preferences in Escherichia coli 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:100.
The mRNA translation initiation region (TIR) comprises the initiator codon, Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence and translational enhancers. Probably the most abundant class of enhancers contains A/U-rich sequences. We have tested the influence of SD sequence length and the presence of enhancers on the efficiency of translation initiation.
We found that during bacterial growth at 37°C, a six-nucleotide SD (AGGAGG) is more efficient than shorter or longer sequences. The A/U-rich enhancer contributes strongly to the efficiency of initiation, having the greatest stimulatory effect in the exponential growth phase of the bacteria. The SD sequences and the A/U-rich enhancer stimulate translation co-operatively: strong SDs are stimulated by the enhancer much more than weak SDs. The bacterial growth rate does not have a major influence on the TIR selection pattern. On the other hand, temperature affects the TIR preference pattern: shorter SD sequences are preferred at lower growth temperatures. We also performed an in silico analysis of the TIRs in all E. coli mRNAs. The base pairing potential of the SD sequences does not correlate with the codon adaptation index, which is used as an estimate of gene expression level.
In E. coli the SD selection preferences are influenced by the growth temperature and not influenced by the growth rate. The A/U rich enhancers stimulate translation considerably by acting co-operatively with the SD sequences.
PMCID: PMC2176067  PMID: 17973990
22.  The Varicella-Zoster Virus Immediate-Early 63 protein affects chromatin controlled gene transcription in a cell-type dependent manner 
Varicella Zoster Virus Immediate Early 63 protein (IE63) has been shown to be essential for VZV replication, and critical for latency establishment. The activity of the protein as a transcriptional regulator is not fully clear yet. Using transient transfection assays, IE63 has been shown to repress viral and cellular promoters containing typical TATA boxes by interacting with general transcription factors.
In this paper, IE63 regulation properties on endogenous gene expression were evaluated using an oligonucleotide-based micro-array approach. We found that IE63 modulates the transcription of only a few genes in HeLa cells including genes implicated in transcription or immunity. Furthermore, we showed that this effect is mediated by a modification of RNA POL II binding on the promoters tested and that IE63 phosphorylation was essential for these effects. In MeWo cells, the number of genes whose transcription was modified by IE63 was somewhat higher, including genes implicated in signal transduction, transcription, immunity, and heat-shock signalling. While IE63 did not modify the basal expression of several NF-κB dependent genes such as IL-8, ICAM-1, and IκBα, it modulates transcription of these genes upon TNFα induction. This effect was obviously correlated with the amount of p65 binding to the promoter of these genes and with histone H3 acetylation and HDAC-3 removal.
While IE63 only affected transcription of a small number of cellular genes, it interfered with the TNF-inducibility of several NF-κB dependent genes by the accelerated resynthesis of the inhibitor IκBα.
PMCID: PMC2176069  PMID: 17971236
23.  A versatile approach to multiple gene RNA interference using microRNA-based short hairpin RNAs 
Effective and stable knockdown of multiple gene targets by RNA interference is often necessary to overcome isoform redundancy, but it remains a technical challenge when working with intractable cell systems.
We have developed a flexible platform using RNA polymerase II promoter-driven expression of microRNA-like short hairpin RNAs which permits robust depletion of multiple target genes from a single transcript. Recombination-based subcloning permits expression of multi-shRNA transcripts from a comprehensive range of plasmid or viral vectors. Retroviral delivery of transcripts targeting isoforms of cAMP-dependent protein kinase in the RAW264.7 murine macrophage cell line emphasizes the utility of this approach and provides insight to cAMP-dependent transcription.
We demonstrate functional consequences of depleting multiple endogenous target genes using miR-shRNAs, and highlight the versatility of the described vector platform for multiple target gene knockdown in mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC2194719  PMID: 17971228
24.  Extensive ssDNA end formation at DNA double-strand breaks in non-homologous end-joining deficient cells during the S phase 
Efficient and correct repair of DNA damage, especially DNA double-strand breaks, is critical for cellular survival. Defects in the DNA repair may lead to cell death or genomic instability and development of cancer. Non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ) is the major repair pathway for DNA double-strand breaks in mammalian cells. The ability of other repair pathways, such as homologous recombination, to compensate for loss of NHEJ and the ways in which contributions of different pathways are regulated are far from fully understood.
In this report we demonstrate that long single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) ends are formed at radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks in NHEJ deficient cells. At repair times ≥ 1 h, processing of unrejoined DNA double-strand breaks generated extensive ssDNA at the DNA ends in cells lacking the NHEJ protein complexes DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) or DNA Ligase IV/XRCC4. The ssDNA formation was cell cycle dependent, since no ssDNA ends were observed in G1-synchronized NHEJ deficient cells. Furthermore, in wild type cells irradiated in the presence of DNA-PKcs (catalytic subunit of DNA-PK) inhibitors, or in DNA-PKcs deficient cells complemented with DNA-PKcs mutated in six autophosphorylation sites (ABCDE), no ssDNA was formed. The ssDNA generation also greatly influences DNA double-strand break quantification by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, resulting in overestimation of the DNA double-strand break repair capability in NHEJ deficient cells when standard protocols for preparing naked DNA (i. e., lysis at 50°C) are used.
We provide evidence that DNA Ligase IV/XRCC4 recruitment by DNA-PK to DNA double-strand breaks prevents the formation of long ssDNA ends at double-strand breaks during the S phase, indicating that NHEJ components may downregulate an alternative repair process where ssDNA ends are required.
PMCID: PMC2174948  PMID: 17963495
25.  Control of gag-pol gene expression in the Candida albicans retrotransposon Tca2 
In the C. albicans retrotransposon Tca2, the gag and pol ORFs are separated by a UGA stop codon, 3' of which is a potential RNA pseudoknot. It is unclear how the Tca2 gag UGA codon is bypassed to allow pol expression. However, in other retroelements, translational readthrough of the gag stop codon can be directed by its flanking sequence, including a 3' pseudoknot.
The hypothesis was tested that in Tca2, gag stop codon flanking sequences direct translational readthrough and synthesis of a gag-pol fusion protein. Sequence from the Tca2 gag-UGA-pol junction (300 nt) was inserted between fused lacZ and luciferase (luc) genes in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae dual reporter construct. Although downstream of UGA, luc was expressed, but its expression was unaffected by inserting additional stop codons at the 3' end of lacZ. Luc expression was instead being driven by a previously unknown minor promoter activity within the gag-pol junction region. Evidence together indicated that junction sequence alone cannot direct UGA readthrough. Using reporter genes in C. albicans, the activities of this gag-pol junction promoter and the Tca2 long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter were compared. Of the two promoters, only the LTR promoter was induced by heat-shock, which also triggers retrotransposition. Tca2 pol protein, epitope-tagged in C. albicans to allow detection, was also heat-shock induced, indicating that pol proteins were expressed from a gag-UGA-pol RNA.
This is the first demonstration that the LTR promoter directs Tca2 pol protein expression, and that pol proteins are translated from a gag-pol RNA, which thus requires a mechanism for stop codon bypass. However, in contrast to most other retroelement and viral readthrough signals, immediate gag UGA-flanking sequences were insufficient to direct stop readthrough in S. cerevisiae, indicating non-canonical mechanisms direct gag UGA bypass in Tca2.
PMCID: PMC2194720  PMID: 17961216

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