April 21, 2020  |  

Immunogenetic factors driving formation of ultralong VH CDR3 in Bos taurus antibodies.

The antibody repertoire of Bos taurus is characterized by a subset of variable heavy (VH) chain regions with ultralong third complementarity determining regions (CDR3) which, compared to other species, can provide a potent response to challenging antigens like HIV env. These unusual CDR3 can range to over seventy highly diverse amino acids in length and form unique ß-ribbon ‘stalk’ and disulfide bonded ‘knob’ structures, far from the typical antigen binding site. The genetic components and processes for forming these unusual cattle antibody VH CDR3 are not well understood. Here we analyze sequences of Bos taurus antibody VH domains and find that the subset with ultralong CDR3 exclusively uses a single variable gene, IGHV1-7 (VHBUL) rearranged to the longest diversity gene, IGHD8-2. An eight nucleotide duplication at the 3′ end of IGHV1-7 encodes a longer V-region producing an extended F ß-strand that contributes to the stalk in a rearranged CDR3. A low amino acid variability was observed in CDR1 and CDR2, suggesting that antigen binding for this subset most likely only depends on the CDR3. Importantly a novel, potentially AID mediated, deletional diversification mechanism of the B. taurus VH ultralong CDR3 knob was discovered, in which interior codons of the IGHD8-2 region are removed while maintaining integral structural components of the knob and descending strand of the stalk in place. These deletions serve to further diversify cysteine positions, and thus disulfide bonded loops. Hence, both germline and somatic genetic factors and processes appear to be involved in diversification of this structurally unusual cattle VH ultralong CDR3 repertoire.


April 21, 2020  |  

NOVA1 directs PTBP1 to hTERT pre-mRNA and promotes telomerase activity in cancer cells.

Alternative splicing is dysregulated in cancer cells, driving the production of isoforms that allow tumor cells to survive and continuously proliferate. Part of the reactivation of telomerase involves the splicing of hTERT transcripts to produce full-length (FL) TERT. Very few splicing factors to date have been described to interact with hTERT and promote the production of FL TERT. We recently described one such splicing factor, NOVA1, that acts as an enhancer of FL hTERT splicing, increases telomerase activity, and promotes telomere maintenance in cancer cells. NOVA1 is expressed primarily in neurons and is involved in neurogenesis. In the present studies, we describe that polypyrimidine-tract binding proteins (PTBPs), which are also typically involved in neurogenesis, are also participating in the splicing of hTERT to FL in cancer. Knockdown experiments of PTBP1 in cancer cells indicate that PTBP1 reduces hTERT FL splicing and telomerase activity. Stable knockdown of PTBP1 results in progressively shortened telomere length in H1299 and H920 lung cancer cells. RNA pulldown experiments reveal that PTBP1 interacts with hTERT pre-mRNA in a NOVA1 dependent fashion. Knockdown of PTBP1 increases the expression of PTBP2 which also interacts with NOVA1, potentially preventing the association of NOVA1 with hTERT pre-mRNA. These new data highlight that splicing in cancer cells is regulated by competition for splice sites and that combinations of splicing factors interact at cis regulatory sites on pre-mRNA transcripts. By employing hTERT as a model gene, we show the coordination of the splicing factors NOVA1 and PTBP1 in cancer by regulating telomerase that is expressed in the vast majority of cancer cell types.


April 21, 2020  |  

Alternative Splicing of the Delta-Opioid Receptor Gene Suggests Existence of New Functional Isoforms.

The delta-opioid receptor (DOPr) participates in mediating the effects of opioid analgesics. However, no selective agonists have entered clinical care despite potential to ameliorate many neurological and psychiatric disorders. In an effort to address the drug development challenges, the functional contribution of receptor isoforms created by alternative splicing of the three-exonic coding gene, OPRD1, has been overlooked. We report that the gene is transcriptionally more diverse than previously demonstrated, producing novel protein isoforms in humans and mice. We provide support for the functional relevance of splice variants through context-dependent expression profiling (tissues, disease model) and conservation of the transcriptional landscape in closely related vertebrates. The conserved alternative transcriptional events have two distinct patterns. First, cassette exon inclusions between exons 1 and 2 interrupt the reading frame, producing truncated receptor fragments comprising only the first transmembrane (TM) domain, despite the lack of exact exon orthologues between distant species. Second, a novel promoter and transcriptional start site upstream of exon 2 produces a transcript of an N-terminally truncated 6TM isoform. However, a fundamental difference in the exonic landscaping as well as translation and translation products poses limits for modelling the human DOPr receptor system in mice.


April 21, 2020  |  

NCF1 (p47phox)-deficient chronic granulomatous disease: comprehensive genetic and flow cytometric analysis.

Mutations in NCF1 (p47phox) cause autosomal recessive chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) with abnormal dihydrorhodamine (DHR) assay and absent p47phox protein. Genetic identification of NCF1 mutations is complicated by adjacent highly conserved (>98%) pseudogenes (NCF1B and NCF1C). NCF1 has GTGT at the start of exon 2, whereas the pseudogenes each delete 1 GT (?GT). In p47phox CGD, the most common mutation is ?GT in NCF1 (c.75_76delGT; p.Tyr26fsX26). Sequence homology between NCF1 and its pseudogenes precludes reliable use of standard Sanger sequencing for NCF1 mutations and for confirming carrier status. We first established by flow cytometry that neutrophils from p47phox CGD patients had negligible p47phox expression, whereas those from p47phox CGD carriers had ~60% of normal p47phox expression, independent of the specific mutation in NCF1 We developed a droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) with 2 distinct probes, recognizing either the wild-type GTGT sequence or the ?GT sequence. A second ddPCR established copy number by comparison with the single-copy telomerase reverse transcriptase gene, TERT We showed that 84% of p47phox CGD patients were homozygous for ?GT NCF1 The ddPCR assay also enabled determination of carrier status of relatives. Furthermore, only 79.2% of normal volunteers had 2 copies of GTGT per 6 total (NCF1/NCF1B/NCF1C) copies, designated 2/6; 14.7% had 3/6, and 1.6% had 4/6 GTGT copies. In summary, flow cytometry for p47phox expression quickly identifies patients and carriers of p47phox CGD, and genomic ddPCR identifies patients and carriers of ?GT NCF1, the most common mutation in p47phox CGD.


April 21, 2020  |  

5’UTR-mediated regulation of Ataxin-1 expression.

Expression of mutant Ataxin-1 with an abnormally expanded polyglutamine domain is necessary for the onset and progression of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Understanding how Ataxin-1 expression is regulated in the human brain could inspire novel molecular therapies for this fatal, dominantly inherited neurodegenerative disease. Previous studies have shown that the ATXN1 3’UTR plays a key role in regulating the Ataxin-1 cellular pool via diverse post-transcriptional mechanisms. Here we show that elements within the ATXN1 5’UTR also participate in the regulation of Ataxin-1 expression. PCR and PacBio sequencing analysis of cDNA obtained from control and SCA1 human brain samples revealed the presence of three major, alternatively spliced ATXN1 5’UTR variants. In cell-based assays, fusion of these variants upstream of an EGFP reporter construct revealed significant and differential impacts on total EGFP protein output, uncovering a type of genetic rheostat-like function of the ATXN1 5’UTR. We identified ribosomal scanning of upstream AUG codons and increased transcript instability as potential mechanisms of regulation. Importantly, transcript-based analyses revealed significant differences in the expression pattern of ATXN1 5’UTR variants between control and SCA1 cerebellum. Together, the data presented here shed light into a previously unknown role for the ATXN1 5’UTR in the regulation of Ataxin-1 and provide new opportunities for the development of SCA1 therapeutics. Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.


April 21, 2020  |  

Programmable mutually exclusive alternative splicing for generating RNA and protein diversity.

Alternative splicing performs a central role in expanding genomic coding capacity and proteomic diversity. However, programming of splicing patterns in engineered biological systems remains underused. Synthetic approaches thus far have predominantly focused on controlling expression of a single protein through alternative splicing. Here, we describe a modular and extensible platform for regulating four programmable exons that undergo a mutually exclusive alternative splicing event to generate multiple functionally-distinct proteins. We present an intron framework that enforces the mutual exclusivity of two internal exons and demonstrate a graded series of consensus sequence elements of varying strengths that set the ratio of two mutually exclusive isoforms. We apply this framework to program the DNA-binding domains of modular transcription factors to differentially control downstream gene activation. This splicing platform advances an approach for generating diverse isoforms and can ultimately be applied to program modular proteins and increase coding capacity of synthetic biological systems.


October 23, 2019  |  

Nuclease-mediated gene editing by homologous recombination of the human globin locus.

Tal-effector nucleases (TALENs) are engineered proteins that can stimulate precise genome editing through specific DNA double-strand breaks. Sickle cell disease and ß-thalassemia are common genetic disorders caused by mutations in ß-globin, and we engineered a pair of highly active TALENs that induce modification of 54% of human ß-globin alleles near the site of the sickle mutation. These TALENS stimulate targeted integration of therapeutic, full-length beta-globin cDNA to the endogenous ß-globin locus in 19% of cells prior to selection as quantified by single molecule real-time sequencing. We also developed highly active TALENs to human ?-globin, a pharmacologic target in sickle cell disease therapy. Using the ß-globin and ?-globin TALENs, we generated cell lines that express GFP under the control of the endogenous ß-globin promoter and tdTomato under the control of the endogenous ?-globin promoter. With these fluorescent reporter cell lines, we screened a library of small molecule compounds for their differential effect on the transcriptional activity of the endogenous ß- and ?-globin genes and identified several that preferentially upregulate ?-globin expression.


September 22, 2019  |  

Characterization of four C1q/TNF-related proteins (CTRPs) from red-lip mullet (Liza haematocheila) and their transcriptional modulation in response to bacterial and pathogen-associated molecular pattern stimuli.

The structural and evolutionary linkage between tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and the globular C1q (gC1q) domain defines the C1q and TNF-related proteins (CTRPs), which are involved in diverse functions such as immune defense, inflammation, apoptosis, autoimmunity, and cell differentiation. In this study, red-lip mullet (Liza haematocheila) CTRP4-like (MuCTRP4-like), CTRP5 (MuCTRP5), CTRP6 (MuCTRP6), and CTRP7 (MuCTRP7) were identified from the red-lip mullet transcriptome database and molecularly characterized. According to in silico analysis, coding sequences of MuCTRP4-like, MuCTRP5, MuCTRP6, and MuCTRP7 consisted of 1128, 753, 729, and 888 bp open reading frames (ORF), respectively and encoded 375, 250, 242, and 295 amino acids, respectively. All CTRPs possessed a putative C1q domain. Additionally, MuCTRP5, MuCTRP6, and MuCTRP7 consisted of a collagen region. Phylogenetic analysis exemplified that MuCTRPs were distinctly clustered with the respective CTRP orthologs. Tissue-specific expression analysis demonstrated that MuCTRP4-like was mostly expressed in the blood and intestine. Moreover, MuCTRP6 was highly expressed in the blood, whereas MuCTRP5 and MuCTRP7 were predominantly expressed in the muscle and stomach, respectively. According to the temporal expression in blood, all MuCTRPs exhibited significant modulations in response to polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid (poly I:C) and Lactococcus garvieae (L. garvieae). MuCTRP4-like, MuCTRP5, and MuCTRP6 showed significant upregulation in response to lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The results of this study suggest the potential involvement of Mullet CTRPs in post-immune responses. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


September 22, 2019  |  

Differential increases of specific FMR1 mRNA isoforms in premutation carriers.

Over 40% of male and ~16% of female carriers of a premutation FMR1 allele (55-200 CGG repeats) will develop fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome, an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder, while about 20% of female carriers will develop fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency. Marked elevation in FMR1 mRNA transcript levels has been observed with premutation alleles, and RNA toxicity due to increased mRNA levels is the leading molecular mechanism proposed for these disorders. However, although the FMR1 gene undergoes alternative splicing, it is unknown whether all or only some of the isoforms are overexpressed in premutation carriers and which isoforms may contribute to the premutation pathology.To address this question, we have applied a long-read sequencing approach using single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing and qRT-PCR. Our SMRT sequencing analysis performed on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, fibroblasts and brain tissue samples derived from premutation carriers and controls revealed the existence of 16 isoforms of 24 predicted variants. Although the relative abundance of all mRNA isoforms was significantly increased in the premutation group, as expected based on the bulk increase in mRNA levels, there was a disproportionate (fourfold to sixfold) increase, relative to the overall increase in mRNA, in the abundance of isoforms spliced at both exons 12 and 14, specifically Iso10 and Iso10b, containing the complete exon 15 and differing only in splicing in exon 17.These findings suggest that RNA toxicity may arise from a relative increase of all FMR1 mRNA isoforms. Interestingly, the Iso10 and Iso10b mRNA isoforms, lacking the C-terminal functional sites for fragile X mental retardation protein function, are the most increased in premutation carriers relative to normal, suggesting a functional relevance in the pathology of FMR1-associated disorders. Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.


September 22, 2019  |  

The role of MHC-E in T cell immunity is conserved among humans, rhesus macaques, and cynomolgus macaques.

MHC-E is a highly conserved nonclassical MHC class Ib molecule that predominantly binds and presents MHC class Ia leader sequence-derived peptides for NK cell regulation. However, MHC-E also binds pathogen-derived peptide Ags for presentation to CD8+ T cells. Given this role in adaptive immunity and its highly monomorphic nature in the human population, HLA-E is an attractive target for novel vaccine and immunotherapeutic modalities. Development of HLA-E-targeted therapies will require a physiologically relevant animal model that recapitulates HLA-E-restricted T cell biology. In this study, we investigated MHC-E immunobiology in two common nonhuman primate species, Indian-origin rhesus macaques (RM) and Mauritian-origin cynomolgus macaques (MCM). Compared to humans and MCM, RM expressed a greater number of MHC-E alleles at both the population and individual level. Despite this difference, human, RM, and MCM MHC-E molecules were expressed at similar levels across immune cell subsets, equivalently upregulated by viral pathogens, and bound and presented identical peptides to CD8+ T cells. Indeed, SIV-specific, Mamu-E-restricted CD8+ T cells from RM recognized antigenic peptides presented by all MHC-E molecules tested, including cross-species recognition of human and MCM SIV-infected CD4+ T cells. Thus, MHC-E is functionally conserved among humans, RM, and MCM, and both RM and MCM represent physiologically relevant animal models of HLA-E-restricted T cell immunobiology. Copyright © 2017 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.


September 22, 2019  |  

Revertant mosaicism repairs skin lesions in a patient with keratitis-ichthyosis-deafness syndrome by second-site mutations in connexin 26.

Revertant mosaicism (RM) is a naturally occurring phenomenon where the pathogenic effect of a germline mutation is corrected by a second somatic event. Development of healthy-looking skin due to RM has been observed in patients with various inherited skin disorders, but not in connexin-related disease. We aimed to clarify the underlying molecular mechanisms of suspected RM in the skin of a patient with keratitis-ichthyosis-deafness (KID) syndrome. The patient was diagnosed with KID syndrome due to characteristic skin lesions, hearing deficiency and keratitis. Investigation of GJB2 encoding connexin (Cx) 26 revealed heterozygosity for the recurrent de novo germline mutation, c.148G?>?A, p.Asp50Asn. At age 20, the patient developed spots of healthy-looking skin that grew in size and number within widespread erythrokeratodermic lesions. Ultra-deep sequencing of two healthy-looking skin biopsies identified five somatic nonsynonymous mutations, independently present in cis with the p.Asp50Asn mutation. Functional studies of Cx26 in HeLa cells revealed co-expression of Cx26-Asp50Asn and wild-type Cx26 in gap junction channel plaques. However, Cx26-Asp50Asn with the second-site mutations identified in the patient displayed no formation of gap junction channel plaques. We argue that the second-site mutations independently inhibit Cx26-Asp50Asn expression in gap junction channels, reverting the dominant negative effect of the p.Asp50Asn mutation. To our knowledge, this is the first time RM has been reported to result in the development of healthy-looking skin in a patient with KID syndrome. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press.


September 22, 2019  |  

Fine mapping and candidate gene identification of the genic male-sterile gene ms3 in cabbage 51S.

The ms3 gene responsible for a male-sterile phenotype in cabbage was mapped to a 187.4-kb genomic fragment. The gene BoTPD1, a homolog of Arabidopsis TPD1, was identified as a strong candidate gene. Cabbage 51S is a spontaneous male-sterile mutant. Phenotypic investigation revealed defects in anther cell differentiation, with failure to form the tapetum layer and complete abortion of microsporocytes before the tetrad stage. Genetic analysis indicated that this male sterility was controlled by a single recessive gene, ms3. Using an F2 population, we mapped ms3 to a 187.4-kb interval. BoTPD1 was identified as a candidate from this interval. Sequence analysis revealed an intronic 182-bp insertion in 51S that interrupted the conserved motif at the 5′ splicing site of the third intron, possibly resulting in a truncated transcript. Analyses of BoTPD1 homologous proteins revealed evolutionarily conserved roles in anther cell fate determination during reproductive development. RT-PCR showed that BoTPD1 was expressed in various tissues, excluding the root, and high expression levels were detected in anthers and buds. A BoTPD1-specific marker based on the 182-bp insertion cosegregated with male sterility and can be used for marker-assisted selection.


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