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.
The Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) nuclease can be efficiently targeted to genomic loci by means of single-guide RNAs (sgRNAs) to enable genome editing. Here, we characterize SpCas9 targeting specificity in human cells to inform the selection of target sites and avoid off-target effects. Our study evaluates >700 guide RNA variants and SpCas9-induced indel mutation levels at >100 predicted genomic off-target loci in 293T and 293FT cells. We find that SpCas9 tolerates mismatches between guide RNA and target DNA at different positions in a sequence-dependent manner, sensitive to the number, position and distribution of mismatches. We also show that SpCas9-mediated cleavage is unaffected by DNA methylation and that the dosage of SpCas9 and sgRNA can be titrated to minimize off-target modification. To facilitate mammalian genome engineering applications, we provide a web-based software tool to guide the selection and validation of target sequences as well as off-target analyses.
A full understanding of gene regulation requires an understanding of the contributions that the various regulatory regions have on gene expression. Although it is well established that sequences downstream of the main promoter can affect expression, our understanding of the scale of this effect and how it is encoded in the DNA is limited. Here, to measure the effect of native S. cerevisiae 3 end sequences on expression, we constructed a library of 85 fluorescent reporter strains that differ only in their 3 end region. Notably, despite being driven by the same strong promoter, our library spans a continuous twelve-fold range of expression values. These measurements correlate with endogenous mRNA levels, suggesting that the 3 end contributes to constitutive differences in mRNA levels. We used deep sequencing to map the 3UTR ends of our strains and show that determination of polyadenylation sites is intrinsic to the local 3 end sequence. Polyadenylation mapping was followed by sequence analysis, we found that increased A/T content upstream of the main polyadenylation site correlates with higher expression, both in the library and genome-wide, suggesting that native genes differ by the encoded efficiency of 3 end processing. Finally, we use single cells fluorescence measurements, in different promoter activation levels, to show that 3 end sequences modulate protein expression dynamics differently than promoters, by predominantly affecting the size of protein production bursts as opposed to the frequency at which these bursts occur. Altogether, our results lead to a more complete understanding of gene regulation by demonstrating that 3 end regions have a unique and sequence dependent effect on gene expression.
Transcriptome dynamics is governed by two opposing processes, mRNA production and degradation. Recent studies found that changes in these processes are frequently coordinated and that the relationship between them shapes transcriptome kinetics. Specifically, when transcription changes are counter-acted with changes in mRNA stability, transient fast-relaxing transcriptome kinetics is observed. A possible molecular mechanism underlying such coordinated regulation might lay in two RNA polymerase (Pol II) subunits, Rpb4 and Rpb7, which are recruited to mRNAs during transcription and later affect their degradation in the cytoplasm. Here we used a yeast strain carrying a mutant Pol II which poorly recruits these subunits. We show that this mutant strain is impaired in its ability to modulate mRNA stability in response to stress. The normal negative coordinated regulation is lost in the mutant, resulting in abnormal transcriptome profiles both with respect to magnitude and kinetics of responses. These results reveal an important role for Pol II, in regulation of both mRNA synthesis and degradation, and also in coordinating between them. We propose a simple model for production-degradation coupling that accounts for our observations. The model shows how a simple manipulation of the rates of co-transcriptional mRNA imprinting by Pol II may govern genome-wide transcriptome kinetics in response to environmental changes.
Retrograde signaling from axon to soma activates intrinsic regeneration mechanisms in lesioned peripheral sensory neurons; however, the links between axonal injury signaling and the cell body response are not well understood. Here, we used phosphoproteomics and microarrays to implicate approximately 900 phosphoproteins in retrograde injury signaling in rat sciatic nerve axons in vivo and approximately 4500 transcripts in the in vivo response to injury in the dorsal root ganglia. Computational analyses of these data sets identified approximately 400 redundant axonal signaling networks connected to 39 transcription factors implicated in the sensory neuron response to axonal injury. Experimental perturbation of individual overrepresented signaling hub proteins, including Abl, AKT, p38, and protein kinase C, affected neurite outgrowth in sensory neurons. Paradoxically, however, combined perturbation of Abl together with other hub proteins had a reduced effect relative to perturbation of individual proteins. Our data indicate that nerve injury responses are controlled by multiple regulatory components, and suggest that network redundancies provide robustness to the injury response.
BACKGROUND: Previous work showed that mRNA degradation is coordinated with transcription in yeast, and in several genes the control of mRNA degradation was linked to promoter elements through two different mechanisms. Here we show at the genomic scale that the coordination of transcription and mRNA degradation is promoter-dependent in yeast and is also observed in humans. RESULTS: We first demonstrate that swapping upstream cis-regulatory sequences between two yeast species affects both transcription and mRNA degradation and suggest that while some cis-regulatory elements control either transcription or degradation, multiple other elements enhance both processes. Second, we show that adjacent yeast genes that share a promoter (through divergent orientation) have increased similarity in their patterns of mRNA degradation, providing independent evidence for the promoter-mediated coupling of transcription to mRNA degradation. Finally, analysis of the differences in mRNA degradation rates between mammalian cell types or mammalian species suggests a similar coordination between transcription and mRNA degradation in humans. CONCLUSIONS: Our results extend previous studies and suggest a pervasive promoter-mediated coordination between transcription and mRNA degradation in yeast. The diverse genes and regulatory elements associated with this coordination suggest that it is generated by a global mechanism of gene regulation and modulated by gene-specific mechanisms. The observation of a similar coupling in mammals raises the possibility that coupling of transcription and mRNA degradation may reflect an evolutionarily conserved phenomenon in gene regulation.
Retrograde axonal injury signalling stimulates cell body responses in lesioned peripheral neurons. The involvement of importins in retrograde transport suggests that transcription factors (TFs) might be directly involved in axonal injury signalling. Here, we show that multiple TFs are found in axons and associate with dynein in axoplasm from injured nerve. Biochemical and functional validation for one TF family establishes that axonal STAT3 is locally translated and activated upon injury, and is transported retrogradely with dynein and importin ?5 to modulate survival of peripheral sensory neurons after injury. Hence, retrograde transport of TFs from axonal lesion sites provides a direct link between axon and nucleus.
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