In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (15)

Articles by Zengrong Zhu in JoVE

Other articles by Zengrong Zhu on PubMed

Functional Analysis of Rice NPR1-like Genes Reveals That OsNPR1/NH1 is the Rice Orthologue Conferring Disease Resistance with Enhanced Herbivore Susceptibility

Plant Biotechnology Journal. Mar, 2007  |  Pubmed ID: 17309686

The key regulator of salicylic acid (SA)-mediated resistance, NPR1, is functionally conserved in diverse plant species, including rice (Oryza sativa L.). Investigation in depth is needed to provide an understanding of NPR1-mediated resistance and a practical strategy for the improvement of disease resistance in the model crop rice. The rice genome contains five NPR1-like genes. In our study, three rice homologous genes, OsNPR1/NH1, OsNPR2/NH2 and OsNPR3, were found to be induced by rice bacterial blight Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae and rice blast Magnaporthe grisea, and the defence molecules benzothiadiazole, methyl jasmonate and ethylene. We confirmed that OsNPR1 is the rice orthologue by complementing the Arabidopsis npr1 mutant. Over-expression of OsNPR1 conferred disease resistance to bacterial blight, but also enhanced herbivore susceptibility in transgenic plants. The OsNPR1-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion protein was localized in the cytoplasm and moved into the nucleus after redox change. Mutations in its conserved cysteine residues led to the constitutive localization of OsNPR1(2CA)-GFP in the nucleus and also abolished herbivore hypersensitivity in transgenic rice. Different subcellular localizations of OsNPR1 antagonistically regulated SA- and jasmonic acid (JA)-responsive genes, but not SA and JA levels, indicating that OsNPR1 might mediate antagonistic cross-talk between the SA- and JA-dependent pathways in rice. This study demonstrates that rice has evolved an SA-mediated systemic acquired resistance similar to that in Arabidopsis, and also provides a practical approach for the improvement of disease resistance without the penalty of decreased herbivore resistance in rice.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction Enhances Susceptibility to Oxidative Stress by Down-regulation of Thioredoxin in Human Neuroblastoma Cells

Neurochemical Research. Jan, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 17616813

Increasing evidence suggests that Alzheimer's disease is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative damage. To develop a cellular model of Alzheimer's disease, we investigated the effects of thioredoxin (Trx) expression in the response to mitochondrial dysfunction-enhanced oxidative stress in the SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. Treatment of SH-SY5Y cells with 15 mM of NaN3, an inhibitor of cytochrome c oxidase (complex IV), led to alteration of mitochondrial membrane potential but no significant changes in cell viability. Therefore, cells were first treated with 15 mM NaN3 to induce mitochondrial dysfunction, then, exposed to different concentrations of H2O2. Cell susceptibility was assessed by 3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide assay and morphological observation. Expressions of Trx mRNA and protein were determined by RT-PCR; and Western-blot analysis, respectively. It was found that the SH-SY5Y cells with mitochondrial impairment had lower levels of Trx mRNA and protein, and were significantly more vulnerable than the normal cells after exposure to H2O2 while no significant changes of Trx mRNA and protein in SH-SY5Y cells exposed to H2O2 but without mitochondrial complex IV inhibition. These results, together with our previous study in primary cultured neurons, demonstrated that the increased susceptibility to oxidative stress is induced at least in part by the down-regulation of Trx in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells with mitochondrial impairment and also suggest the mitochondrial dysfunction-enhanced oxidative stress could be used as a cellular model to study the mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease and agents for prevention and treatment.

A Molecular Mechanism of Azoxystrobin Resistance in Penicillium Digitatum UV Mutants and a PCR-based Assay for Detection of Azoxystrobin-resistant Strains in Packing- or Store-house Isolates

International Journal of Food Microbiology. May, 2009  |  Pubmed ID: 19307035

Sixty-five isolates of Pencillium digitatum (Pers.:Fr) Sacc., a causative agent of green mold of postharvest citrus, were collected from various locations in Zhejiang province in 2000, 2005 and 2006, and assayed for their sensitivity to the quinone outside inhibitor (QoI) fungicide azoxystrobin. The results showed that azoxystrobin is highly effective against P. digitatum, in vitro, and that the effective concentrations resulting in reduction of conidial germination and mycelial growth by 50% (EC(50)) averaged 0.0426 microg/ml and 0.0250 microg/ml, respectively. Twenty-eight azoxystrobin-resistant mutants were obtained by UV mutagenesis and subsequent selection on medium amended with azoxystrobin (12 microg/ml) and salicylhydroxamic acid. All obtained mutants were highly resistant to azoxystrobin and their resistance was genetically stable. Analysis of the cytochrome b gene structure of P. digitatum (Pdcyt b) showed the absence of type I intron in the first hot spot region of mutation. These results indicate that P. digitatum is likely to evolve high levels of resistance to azoxystrobin after its application. Analysis of partial sequences of Pdcyt b from both the azoxystrobin-sensitive parental isolate and the 28 azoxystrobin-resistant mutants revealed that a point mutation, which leads to the substitution at code 143 of alanine for glycine (G143A), is responsible for the observed azoxystrobin resistance in the laboratory mutants. Based on this point mutation, two allele-specific PCR primers were designed and optimized for allele-specific PCR detection of azoxystrobin-resistant isolates of P. digitatum.

The Hem Protein Mediates Neuronal Migration by Inhibiting WAVE Degradation and Functions Opposite of Abelson Tyrosine Kinase

Developmental Biology. Sep, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21726548

In the nervous system, neurons form in different regions, then they migrate and occupy specific positions. We have previously shown that RP2/sib, a well-studied neuronal pair in the Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC), has a complex migration route. Here, we show that the Hem protein, via the WAVE complex, regulates migration of GMC-1 and its progeny RP2 neuron. In Hem or WAVE mutants, RP2 neuron either abnormally migrates, crossing the midline from one hemisegment to the contralateral hemisegment, or does not migrate at al and fail to send out its axon projection. We report that Hem regulates neuronal migration through stabilizing WAVE. Since Hem and WAVE normally form a complex, our data argues that in the absence of Hem, WAVE, which is presumably no longer in a complex, becomes susceptible to degradation. We also find that Abelson tyrosine kinase affects RP2 migration in a similar manner as Hem and WAVE, and appears to operate via WAVE. However, while Abl negatively regulates the levels of WAVE, it regulates migration via regulating the activity of WAVE. Our results also show that during the degradation of WAVE, Hem function is opposite to that of and downstream of Abl.

The Drosophila Hem/Kette/Nap1 Protein Regulates Asymmetric Division of Neural Precursor Cells by Regulating Localization of Inscuteable and Numb

Mechanisms of Development. Sep-Dec, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21996673

The Hem/Kette/Nap1 protein is involved in many biological processes. We have recently reported that Hem is required for the normal migration of neurons in the Drosophila embryo. In this paper, we report that Hem regulates the asymmetric division of neural precursor cells. We find that a well-studied Hem/Kette mutant allele produces at least two main, but possibly more, phenotypic classes of mutant embryos, and these phenotypes correlate with variable levels of maternal wild type Hem protein in the developing embryo. While the weaker class exhibits weak axon guidance defect and the mis-migration of neurons, the stronger class causes severe axon guidance defects, mis-migration of neurons and symmetric division of ganglion mother cells (GMC) of the RP2/sib lineage. We also show that the basis for the loss of asymmetric division is due to non-localization of Inscuteable and Numb in GMC-1. A non-asymmetric Numb segregates to both daughter cells of GMC-1, which then prevents Notch signaling from specifying a sib fate. This causes both cells to adopt an RP2 fate. Furthermore, loss of function for Abelson tyrosine kinase also causes loss of asymmetric localization of Inscuteable and Numb and symmetric division of GMC-1, the loss of function for WAVE has a very weakly penetrant loss of asymmetry defect. These results define another role for Hem/Kette/Nap1 in a neural precursor cell during neurogenesis.

Human Pluripotent Stem Cells: an Emerging Model in Developmental Biology

Development (Cambridge, England). Feb, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23362344

Developmental biology has long benefited from studies of classic model organisms. Recently, human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), including human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells, have emerged as a new model system that offers unique advantages for developmental studies. Here, we discuss how studies of hPSCs can complement classic approaches using model organisms, and how hPSCs can be used to recapitulate aspects of human embryonic development 'in a dish'. We also summarize some of the recently developed genetic tools that greatly facilitate the interrogation of gene function during hPSC differentiation. With the development of high-throughput screening technologies, hPSCs have the potential to revolutionize gene discovery in mammalian development.

An ICRISPR Platform for Rapid, Multiplexable, and Inducible Genome Editing in Human Pluripotent Stem Cells

Cell Stem Cell. Aug, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24931489

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) offer a unique platform for elucidating the genes and molecular pathways that underlie complex traits and diseases. To realize this promise, methods for rapid and controllable genetic manipulations are urgently needed. By combining two newly developed gene-editing tools, the TALEN and CRISPR/Cas systems, we have developed a genome-engineering platform in hPSCs, which we named iCRISPR. iCRISPR enabled rapid and highly efficient generation of biallelic knockout hPSCs for loss-of-function studies, as well as homozygous knockin hPSCs with specific nucleotide alterations for precise modeling of disease conditions. We further demonstrate efficient one-step generation of double- and triple-gene knockout hPSC lines, as well as stage-specific inducible gene knockout during hPSC differentiation. Thus the iCRISPR platform is uniquely suited for dissection of complex genetic interactions and pleiotropic gene functions in human disease studies and has the potential to support high-throughput genetic analysis in hPSCs.

The ICRISPR Platform for Rapid Genome Editing in Human Pluripotent Stem Cells

Methods in Enzymology. 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25398343

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have the potential to generate all adult cell types, including rare or inaccessible human cell populations, thus providing a unique platform for disease studies. To realize this promise, it is essential to develop methods for efficient genetic manipulations in hPSCs. Established using TALEN (transcription activator-like effector nuclease) and CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas (CRISPR-associated) systems, the iCRISPR platform supports a variety of genome-engineering approaches with high efficiencies. Here, we first describe the establishment of the iCRISPR platform through TALEN-mediated targeting of inducible Cas9 expression cassettes into the AAVS1 locus. Next, we provide a series of technical procedures for using iCRISPR to achieve one-step knockout of one or multiple gene(s), "scarless" introduction of precise nucleotide alterations, as well as inducible knockout during hPSC differentiation. We present an optimized workflow, as well as guidelines for the selection of CRISPR targeting sequences and the design of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) homology-directed DNA repair templates for the introduction of specific nucleotide alterations. We have successfully used these protocols in four different hPSC lines, including human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Once the iCRISPR platform is established, clonal lines with desired genetic modifications can be established in as little as 1 month. The methods described here enable a wide range of genome-engineering applications in hPSCs, thus providing a valuable resource for the creation of diverse hPSC-based disease models with superior speed and ease.

Efficient Generation of Marker-free Transgenic Rice Plants Using an Improved Transposon-mediated Transgene Reintegration Strategy

Plant Physiology. Jan, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25371551

Marker-free transgenic plants can be developed through transposon-mediated transgene reintegration, which allows intact transgene insertion with defined boundaries and requires only a few primary transformants. In this study, we improved the selection strategy and validated that the maize (Zea mays) Activator/Dissociation (Ds) transposable element can be routinely used to generate marker-free transgenic plants. A Ds-based gene of interest was linked to green fluorescent protein in transfer DNA (T-DNA), and a green fluorescent protein-aided counterselection against T-DNA was used together with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based positive selection for the gene of interest to screen marker-free progeny. To test the efficacy of this strategy, we cloned the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) δ-endotoxin gene into the Ds elements and transformed transposon vectors into rice (Oryza sativa) cultivars via Agrobacterium tumefaciens. PCR assays of the transposon empty donor site exhibited transposition in somatic cells in 60.5% to 100% of the rice transformants. Marker-free (T-DNA-free) transgenic rice plants derived from unlinked germinal transposition were obtained from the T1 generation of 26.1% of the primary transformants. Individual marker-free transgenic rice lines were subjected to thermal asymmetric interlaced-PCR to determine Ds(Bt) reintegration positions, reverse transcription-PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect Bt expression levels, and bioassays to confirm resistance against the striped stem borer Chilo suppressalis. Overall, we efficiently generated marker-free transgenic plants with optimized transgene insertion and expression. The transposon-mediated marker-free platform established in this study can be used in rice and possibly in other important crops.

A CRISPR/Cas-Mediated Selection-free Knockin Strategy in Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Stem Cell Reports. Jun, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26028531

The development of new gene-editing tools, in particular the CRISPR/Cas system, has greatly facilitated site-specific mutagenesis in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), including the introduction or correction of patient-specific mutations for disease modeling. However, integration of a reporter gene into an endogenous locus in hESCs still requires a lengthy and laborious two-step strategy that involves first drug selection to identify correctly targeted clones and then excision of the drug-resistance cassette. Through the use of iCRISPR, an efficient gene-editing platform we recently developed, this study demonstrates a knockin strategy without drug selection for both active and silent genes in hESCs. Lineage-specific hESC reporter lines are useful for real-time monitoring of cell-fate decisions and lineage tracing, as well as enrichment of specific cell populations during hESC differentiation. Thus, this selection-free knockin strategy is expected to greatly facilitate the use of hESCs for developmental studies, disease modeling, and cell-replacement therapy.

Development of Photoperiod- and Thermo-sensitive Male Sterility Rice Expressing Transgene Bacillus Thuringiensis

Breeding Science. Sep, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26366116

Stem borers and leaffolders are the main pests that cause severe damage in rice (Oryza sativa L.) production worldwide. We developed the first photoperiod- and thermo-sensitive male sterility (PTSMS) rice 208S with the cry1Ab/1Ac Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) gene, through sexual crossing with Huahui 1 (elite line with the cry1Ab/1Ac gene). The novel 208S and its hybrids presented high and stable resistance to stem borers and leaffolders, and the content of Cry1Ab/1Ac protein in chlorophyllous tissues achieved the identical level as donor and showed little accumulation in non-chlorophyllous tissue. No dominant dosage effect in the Bt gene was observed in 208S and its derived hybrids. An analysis of fertility transition traits indicated that 208S was completely sterile under long day length/high temperature, but partially fertile under short day length/low temperature. With fine grain quality and favorable combining ability, 208S had no observed negative effects on fertility and agronomic traits from Bt (cry1Ab/1Ac). Additionally, 208S as a male sterile line showed no fertility decrease caused by Bt transgenic process, as it is the case in Huahui 1. Thus, 208S has great application value in two-line hybrid production for insect resistance, and can also be used as a bridge material in rice Bt transgenic breeding.

Genome Editing of Lineage Determinants in Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Reveals Mechanisms of Pancreatic Development and Diabetes

Cell Stem Cell. Jun, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27133796

Directed differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into somatic counterparts is a valuable tool for studying disease. However, examination of developmental mechanisms in hPSCs remains challenging given complex multi-factorial actions at different stages. Here, we used TALEN and CRISPR/Cas-mediated gene editing and hPSC-directed differentiation for a systematic analysis of the roles of eight pancreatic transcription factors (PDX1, RFX6, PTF1A, GLIS3, MNX1, NGN3, HES1, and ARX). Our analysis not only verified conserved gene requirements between mice and humans but also revealed a number of previously unsuspected developmental mechanisms with implications for type 2 diabetes. These include a role of RFX6 in regulating the number of pancreatic progenitors, a haploinsufficient requirement for PDX1 in pancreatic β cell differentiation, and a potentially divergent role of NGN3 in humans and mice. Our findings support use of systematic genome editing in hPSCs as a strategy for understanding mechanisms underlying congenital disorders.

Multi-country Evidence That Crop Diversification Promotes Ecological Intensification of Agriculture

Nature Plants. Feb, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27249349

Global food security requires increased crop productivity to meet escalating demand(1-3). Current food production systems are heavily dependent on synthetic inputs that threaten the environment and human well-being(2,4,5). Biodiversity, for instance, is key to the provision of ecosystem services such as pest control(6,7), but is eroded in conventional agricultural systems. Yet the conservation and reinstatement of biodiversity is challenging(5,8,9), and it remains unclear whether the promotion of biodiversity can reduce reliance on inputs without penalizing yields on a regional scale. Here we present results from multi-site field studies replicated in Thailand, China and Vietnam over a period of four years, in which we grew nectar-producing plants around rice fields, and monitored levels of pest infestation, insecticide use and yields. Compiling the data from all sites, we report that this inexpensive intervention significantly reduced populations of two key pests, reduced insecticide applications by 70%, increased grain yields by 5% and delivered an economic advantage of 7.5%. Additional field studies showed that predators and parasitoids of the main rice pests, together with detritivores, were more abundant in the presence of nectar-producing plants. We conclude that a simple diversification approach, in this case the growth of nectar-producing plants, can contribute to the ecological intensification of agricultural systems.

CRISPR/Cas-Mediated Knockin in Human Pluripotent Stem Cells

Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 27807834

Fluorescent reporter and epitope-tagged human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) greatly facilitate studies on the pluripotency and differentiation characteristics of these cells. Unfortunately traditional procedures to generate such lines are hampered by a low targeting efficiency that necessitates a lengthy process of selection followed by the removal of the selection cassette. Here we describe a procedure to generate fluorescent reporter and epitope tagged hPSCs in an efficient one-step process using the CRISPR/Cas technology. Although the method described uses our recently developed iCRISPR platform, the protocols can be adapted for general use with CRISPR/Cas or other engineered nucleases. The transfection procedures described could also be used for additional applications, such as overexpression or lineage tracing studies.

Genome Editing in HPSCs Reveals GATA6 Haploinsufficiency and a Genetic Interaction with GATA4 in Human Pancreatic Development

Cell Stem Cell. Feb, 2017  |  Pubmed ID: 28196600

Human disease phenotypes associated with haploinsufficient gene requirements are often not recapitulated well in animal models. Here, we have investigated the association between human GATA6 haploinsufficiency and a wide range of clinical phenotypes that include neonatal and adult-onset diabetes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat)/Cas9-mediated genome editing coupled with human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) directed differentiation. We found that loss of one GATA6 allele specifically affects the differentiation of human pancreatic progenitors from the early PDX1+ stage to the more mature PDX1+NKX6.1+ stage, leading to impaired formation of glucose-responsive β-like cells. In addition to this GATA6 haploinsufficiency, we also identified dosage-sensitive requirements for GATA6 and GATA4 in the formation of both definitive endoderm and pancreatic progenitor cells. Our work expands the application of hPSCs from studying the impact of individual gene loci to investigation of multigenic human traits, and it establishes an approach for identifying genetic modifiers of human disease.

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