Components of the prokaryotic clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) loci have recently been repurposed for use in mammalian cells. The CRISPR-associated (Cas)9 can be programmed with a single guide RNA (sgRNA) to generate site-specific DNA breaks, but there are few known rules governing on-target efficacy of this system. We created a pool of sgRNAs, tiling across all possible target sites of a panel of six endogenous mouse and three endogenous human genes and quantitatively assessed their ability to produce null alleles of their target gene by antibody staining and flow cytometry. We discovered sequence features that improved activity, including a further optimization of the protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM) of Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9. The results from 1,841 sgRNAs were used to construct a predictive model of sgRNA activity to improve sgRNA design for gene editing and genetic screens. We provide an online tool for the design of highly active sgRNAs for any gene of interest.
Differentiation of erythroblasts to mature red blood cells involves dynamic changes of the membrane and cytoskeleton networks that are not fully characterized. Using a mouse fetal liver erythroblast culture system and a targeted shRNA functional screening strategy, we identified a critical role of pleckstrin-2 in actin dynamics and protection of early stage terminal erythroblasts from oxidative damage. Knockdown of pleckstrin-2 in the early stage of terminal erythropoiesis disrupted the actin cytoskeleton and led to differentiation inhibition and apoptosis. This pro-survival and differentiation function of pleckstrin-2 was mediated through its interaction with cofilin, by preventing cofilin's mitochondrial entry when the intracellular level of reactive oxygen species was higher in the early stage of terminal erythropoiesis. Treatment of the cells with a scavenger of reactive oxygen species rescued cofilin's mitochondrial entry and differentiation inhibition induced by pleckstrin-2 knockdown. In contrast, pleckstrin-2 knockdown in late stage terminal erythroblasts had no effect on survival or differentiation but blocked enucleation due to disorganized actin cytoskeleton. Thus, our study identified a dual function of pleckstrin-2 in the early and late stages of terminal erythropoiesis through its regulations of actin dynamics and cofilin's mitochondrial localization, which reflects intracellular level of reactive oxygen species in different developmental stages.
The simplicity of programming the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-associated nuclease Cas9 to modify specific genomic loci suggests a new way to interrogate gene function on a genome-wide scale. We show that lentiviral delivery of a genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 knockout (GeCKO) library targeting 18,080 genes with 64,751 unique guide sequences enables both negative and positive selection screening in human cells. First, we used the GeCKO library to identify genes essential for cell viability in cancer and pluripotent stem cells. Next, in a melanoma model, we screened for genes whose loss is involved in resistance to vemurafenib, a therapeutic RAF inhibitor. Our highest-ranking candidates include previously validated genes NF1 and MED12, as well as novel hits NF2, CUL3, TADA2B, and TADA1. We observe a high level of consistency between independent guide RNAs targeting the same gene and a high rate of hit confirmation, demonstrating the promise of genome-scale screening with Cas9.
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a biologically heterogeneous and clinically aggressive disease. Here, we explore the role of bromodomain and extra-terminal domain (BET) proteins in DLBCL, using integrative chemical genetics and functional epigenomics. We observe highly asymmetric loading of bromodomain 4 (BRD4) at enhancers, with approximately 33% of all BRD4 localizing to enhancers at 1.6% of occupied genes. These super-enhancers prove particularly sensitive to bromodomain inhibition, explaining the selective effect of BET inhibitors on oncogenic and lineage-specific transcriptional circuits. Functional study of genes marked by super-enhancers identifies DLBCLs dependent on OCA-B and suggests a strategy for discovering unrecognized cancer dependencies. Translational studies performed on a comprehensive panel of DLBCLs establish a therapeutic rationale for evaluating BET inhibitors in this disease.
B cell receptor (BCR) signaling pathway components represent promising treatment targets in diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and additional B cell tumors. BCR signaling activates spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) and downstream pathways including PI3K/AKT and NF-?B. In previous studies, chemical SYK blockade selectively decreased BCR signaling and induced apoptosis of BCR-dependent DLBCLs. Herein, we characterize distinct SYK/PI3K-dependent survival pathways in DLBCLs with high or low baseline NF-?B activity including selective repression of the pro-apoptotic HRK protein in NF-?B-low tumors. We also define SYK/PI3K-dependent cholesterol biosynthesis as a feed-forward mechanism of maintaining the integrity of BCRs in lipid rafts in DLBCLs with low or high NF-?B. In addition, SYK amplification and PTEN deletion are identified as selective genetic alterations in primary "BCR"-type DLBCLs.
The innate immune system senses viral DNA that enters mammalian cells, or in aberrant situations self-DNA, and triggers type I interferon production. Here we present an integrative approach that combines quantitative proteomics, genomics and small molecule perturbations to identify genes involved in this pathway. We silenced 809 candidate genes, measured the response to dsDNA and connected resulting hits with the known signaling network. We identified ABCF1 as a critical protein that associates with dsDNA and the DNA-sensing components HMGB2 and IFI204. We also found that CDC37 regulates the stability of the signaling molecule TBK1 and that chemical inhibition of the CDC37-HSP90 interaction and several other pathway regulators potently modulates the innate immune response to DNA and retroviral infection.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate physiological and pathological processes by inducing posttranscriptional repression of target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) via incompletely understood mechanisms. To discover factors required for human miRNA activity, we performed an RNAi screen using a reporter cell line of miRNA-mediated repression of translation initiation. We report that reduced expression of ribosomal protein genes (RPGs) dissociated miRNA complexes from target mRNAs, leading to increased polysome association, translation, and stability of miRNA-targeted mRNAs relative to untargeted mRNAs. RNA sequencing of polysomes indicated substantial overlap in sets of genes exhibiting increased or decreased polysomal association after Argonaute or RPG knockdowns, suggesting similarity in affected pathways. miRNA profiling of monosomes and polysomes demonstrated that miRNAs cosediment with ribosomes. RPG knockdowns decreased miRNAs in monosomes and increased their target mRNAs in polysomes. Our data show that most miRNAs repress translation and that the levels of RPGs modulate miRNA-mediated repression of translation initiation.
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