Viswanatha R, Mameli E, Rodiger J, Merckaert P, Feitosa-Suntheimer F, Colpitts TM, et al. Bioinformatic and cell-based tools for pooled CRISPR knockout screening in mosquitos. Nat Commun [Internet]. 2021;12 (1) :6825. Open Access (PMC) ArticleAbstract
Mosquito-borne diseases present a worldwide public health burden. Current efforts to understand and counteract them have been aided by the use of cultured mosquito cells. Moreover, application in mammalian cells of forward genetic approaches such as CRISPR screens have identified essential genes and genes required for host-pathogen interactions, and in general, aided in functional annotation of genes. An equivalent approach for genetic screening of mosquito cell lines has been lacking. To develop such an approach, we design a new bioinformatic portal for sgRNA library design in several mosquito genomes, engineer mosquito cell lines to express Cas9 and accept sgRNA at scale, and identify optimal promoters for sgRNA expression in several mosquito species. We then optimize a recombination-mediated cassette exchange system to deliver CRISPR sgRNA and perform pooled CRISPR screens in an Anopheles cell line. Altogether, we provide a platform for high-throughput genome-scale screening in cell lines from disease vector species.
Parkhitko AA, Wang L, Filine E, Jouandin P, Leshchiner D, Binari R, et al. A genetic model of methionine restriction extends health- and lifespan. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021;118 (40). Abstract
Loss of metabolic homeostasis is a hallmark of aging and is characterized by dramatic metabolic reprogramming. To analyze how the fate of labeled methionine is altered during aging, we applied 13C5-Methionine labeling to Drosophila and demonstrated significant changes in the activity of different branches of the methionine metabolism as flies age. We further tested whether targeted degradation of methionine metabolism components would "reset" methionine metabolism flux and extend the fly lifespan. Specifically, we created transgenic flies with inducible expression of Methioninase, a bacterial enzyme capable of degrading methionine and revealed methionine requirements for normal maintenance of lifespan. We also demonstrated that microbiota-derived methionine is an alternative and important source in addition to food-derived methionine. In this genetic model of methionine restriction (MetR), we also demonstrate that either whole-body or tissue-specific Methioninase expression can dramatically extend Drosophila health- and lifespan and exerts physiological effects associated with MetR. Interestingly, while previous dietary MetR extended lifespan in flies only in low amino acid conditions, MetR from Methioninase expression extends lifespan independently of amino acid levels in the food. Finally, because impairment of the methionine metabolism has been previously associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease, we compared methionine metabolism reprogramming between aging flies and a Drosophila model relevant to Alzheimer's disease, and found that overexpression of human Tau caused methionine metabolism flux reprogramming similar to the changes found in aged flies. Altogether, our study highlights Methioninase as a potential agent for health- and lifespan extension.
Zirin J, Bosch J, Viswanatha R, Mohr SE, Perrimon N. State-of-the-art CRISPR for in vivo and cell-based studies in Drosophila. Trends Genet. 2021;Abstract
For more than 100 years, the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has served as a powerful model organism for biological and biomedical research due to its many genetic and physiological similarities to humans and the availability of sophisticated technologies used to manipulate its genome and genes. The Drosophila research community quickly adopted CRISPR technologies and, in the 8 years since the first clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) publications in flies, has explored and innovated methods for mutagenesis, precise genome engineering, and beyond. Moreover, the short lifespan and ease of genetics have made Drosophila an ideal testing ground for in vivo applications and refinements of the rapidly evolving set of CRISPR-associated (CRISPR-Cas) tools. Here, we review innovations in delivery of CRISPR reagents, increased efficiency of cutting and homology-directed repair (HDR), and alternatives to standard Cas9-based approaches. While the focus is primarily on in vivo systems, we also describe the role of Drosophila cultured cells as both an indispensable first step in the process of assessing new CRISPR technologies and a platform for genome-wide CRISPR pooled screens.
Tattikota SG, Perrimon N. Preparation of Drosophila Larval Blood Cells for Single-cell RNA Sequencing. Bio-Protocol. 2021;11 (16). 2021_Bio-Protocol_Tattikota.pdf
Ding G, Xiang X, Hu Y, Xiao G, Chen Y, Binari R, et al. Coordination of tumor growth and host wasting by tumor-derived Upd3. Cell Rep. 2021;36 (7) :109553. Abstract
yki-induced gut tumors in Drosophila are associated with host wasting, including muscle dysfunction, lipid loss, and hyperglycemia, a condition reminiscent of human cancer cachexia. We previously used this model to identify tumor-derived ligands that contribute to host wasting. To identify additional molecular networks involved in host-tumor interactions, we develop PathON, a web-based tool analyzing the major signaling pathways in Drosophila, and uncover the Upd3/Jak/Stat axis as an important modulator. We find that yki-gut tumors secrete Upd3 to promote self-overproliferation and enhance Jak/Stat signaling in host organs to cause wasting, including muscle dysfunction, lipid loss, and hyperglycemia. We further reveal that Upd3/Jak/Stat signaling in the host organs directly triggers the expression of ImpL2, an antagonistic binding protein for insulin-like peptides, to impair insulin signaling and energy balance. Altogether, our results demonstrate that yki-gut tumors produce a Jak/Stat pathway ligand, Upd3, that regulates both self-growth and host wasting.
Cable J, Pourquié O, Wellen KE, Finley LWS, Aulehla A, Gould AP, et al. Metabolic decisions in development and disease-a Keystone Symposia report. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2021;Abstract
There is an increasing appreciation for the role of metabolism in cell signaling and cell decision making. Precise metabolic control is essential in development, as evident by the disorders caused by mutations in metabolic enzymes. The metabolic profile of cells is often cell-type specific, changing as cells differentiate or during tumorigenesis. Recent evidence has shown that changes in metabolism are not merely a consequence of changes in cell state but that metabolites can serve to promote and/or inhibit these changes. Metabolites can link metabolic pathways with cell signaling pathways via several mechanisms, for example, by serving as substrates for protein post-translational modifications, by affecting enzyme activity via allosteric mechanisms, or by altering epigenetic markers. Unraveling the complex interactions governing metabolism, gene expression, and protein activity that ultimately govern a cell's fate will require new tools and interactions across disciplines. On March 24 and 25, 2021, experts in cell metabolism, developmental biology, and human disease met virtually for the Keystone eSymposium, "Metabolic Decisions in Development and Disease." The discussions explored how metabolites impact cellular and developmental decisions in a diverse range of model systems used to investigate normal development, developmental disorders, dietary effects, and cancer-mediated changes in metabolism.
Conard AM, Goodman N, Hu Y, Perrimon N, Singh R, Lawrence C, et al. TIMEOR: a web-based tool to uncover temporal regulatory mechanisms from multi-omics data. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021;Abstract
Uncovering how transcription factors regulate their targets at DNA, RNA and protein levels over time is critical to define gene regulatory networks (GRNs) and assign mechanisms in normal and diseased states. RNA-seq is a standard method measuring gene regulation using an established set of analysis stages. However, none of the currently available pipeline methods for interpreting ordered genomic data (in time or space) use time-series models to assign cause and effect relationships within GRNs, are adaptive to diverse experimental designs, or enable user interpretation through a web-based platform. Furthermore, methods integrating ordered RNA-seq data with protein-DNA binding data to distinguish direct from indirect interactions are urgently needed. We present TIMEOR (Trajectory Inference and Mechanism Exploration with Omics data in R), the first web-based and adaptive time-series multi-omics pipeline method which infers the relationship between gene regulatory events across time. TIMEOR addresses the critical need for methods to determine causal regulatory mechanism networks by leveraging time-series RNA-seq, motif analysis, protein-DNA binding data, and protein-protein interaction networks. TIMEOR's user-catered approach helps non-coders generate new hypotheses and validate known mechanisms. We used TIMEOR to identify a novel link between insulin stimulation and the circadian rhythm cycle. TIMEOR is available at and
Chatterjee N, Perrimon N. What fuels the fly: Energy metabolism in and its application to the study of obesity and diabetes. Sci Adv. 2021;7 (24). Abstract
The organs and metabolic pathways involved in energy metabolism, and the process of ATP production from nutrients, are comparable between humans and Drosophila melanogaster This level of conservation, together with the power of Drosophila genetics, makes the fly a very useful model system to study energy homeostasis. Here, we discuss the major organs involved in energy metabolism in Drosophila and how they metabolize different dietary nutrients to generate adenosine triphosphate. Energy metabolism in these organs is controlled by cell-intrinsic, paracrine, and endocrine signals that are similar between Drosophila and mammals. We describe how these signaling pathways are regulated by several physiological and environmental cues to accommodate tissue-, age-, and environment-specific differences in energy demand. Last, we discuss several genetic and diet-induced fly models of obesity and diabetes that can be leveraged to better understand the molecular basis of these metabolic diseases and thereby promote the development of novel therapies.
Hu Y, Tattikota SG, Liu Y, Comjean A, Gao Y, Forman C, et al. DRscDB: A single-cell RNA-seq resource for data mining and data comparison across species. Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2021;19 :2018-2026. Abstract
With the advent of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technologies, there has been a spike in studies involving scRNA-seq of several tissues across diverse species including Drosophila. Although a few databases exist for users to query genes of interest within the scRNA-seq studies, search tools that enable users to find orthologous genes and their cell type-specific expression patterns across species are limited. Here, we built a new search database, DRscDB (, to address this need. DRscDB serves as a comprehensive repository for published scRNA-seq datasets for Drosophila and relevant datasets from human and other model organisms. DRscDB is based on manual curation of Drosophila scRNA-seq studies of various tissue types and their corresponding analogous tissues in vertebrates including zebrafish, mouse, and human. Of note, our search database provides most of the literature-derived marker genes, thus preserving the original analysis of the published scRNA-seq datasets. Finally, DRscDB serves as a web-based user interface that allows users to mine gene expression data from scRNA-seq studies and perform cell cluster enrichment analyses pertaining to various scRNA-seq studies, both within and across species.
Feng X, López Del Amo V, Mameli E, Lee M, Bishop AL, Perrimon N, et al. Optimized CRISPR tools and site-directed transgenesis towards gene drive development in Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes. Nat Commun. 2021;12 (1) :2960. Abstract
Culex mosquitoes are a global vector for multiple human and animal diseases, including West Nile virus, lymphatic filariasis, and avian malaria, posing a constant threat to public health, livestock, companion animals, and endangered birds. While rising insecticide resistance has threatened the control of Culex mosquitoes, advances in CRISPR genome-editing tools have fostered the development of alternative genetic strategies such as gene drive systems to fight disease vectors. However, though gene-drive technology has quickly progressed in other mosquitoes, advances have been lacking in Culex. Here, we develop a Culex-specific Cas9/gRNA expression toolkit and use site-directed homology-based transgenesis to generate and validate a Culex quinquefasciatus Cas9-expressing line. We show that gRNA scaffold variants improve transgenesis efficiency in both Culex quinquefasciatus and Drosophila melanogaster and boost gene-drive performance in the fruit fly. These findings support future technology development to control Culex mosquitoes and provide valuable insight for improving these tools in other species.
Droujinine IA, Meyer AS, Wang D, Udeshi ND, Hu Y, Rocco D, et al. Proteomics of protein trafficking by in vivo tissue-specific labeling. Nat Commun. 2021;12 (1) :2382. Abstract
Conventional approaches to identify secreted factors that regulate homeostasis are limited in their abilities to identify the tissues/cells of origin and destination. We established a platform to identify secreted protein trafficking between organs using an engineered biotin ligase (BirA*G3) that biotinylates, promiscuously, proteins in a subcellular compartment of one tissue. Subsequently, biotinylated proteins are affinity-enriched and identified from distal organs using quantitative mass spectrometry. Applying this approach in Drosophila, we identify 51 muscle-secreted proteins from heads and 269 fat body-secreted proteins from legs/muscles, including CG2145 (human ortholog ENDOU) that binds directly to muscles and promotes activity. In addition, in mice, we identify 291 serum proteins secreted from conditional BirA*G3 embryo stem cell-derived teratomas, including low-abundance proteins with hormonal properties. Our findings indicate that the communication network of secreted proteins is vast. This approach has broad potential across different model systems to identify cell-specific secretomes and mediators of interorgan communication in health or disease.
Mohr SE, Tattikota SG, Xu J, Zirin J, Hu Y, Perrimon N. Methods and tools for spatial mapping of single-cell RNAseq clusters in Drosophila. Genetics. 2021;Abstract
Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) experiments provide a powerful means to identify clusters of cells that share common gene expression signatures. A major challenge in scRNAseq studies is to map the clusters to specific anatomical regions along the body and within tissues. Existing data, such as information obtained from large-scale in situ RNA hybridization studies, cell type specific transcriptomics, gene expression reporters, antibody stainings, and fluorescent tagged proteins, can help to map clusters to anatomy. However, in many cases, additional validation is needed to precisely map the spatial location of cells in clusters. Several approaches are available for spatial resolution in Drosophila, including mining of existing datasets, and use of existing or new tools for direct or indirect detection of RNA, or direct detection of proteins. Here, we review available resources and emerging technologies that will facilitate spatial mapping of scRNAseq clusters at high resolution in Drosophila. Importantly, we discuss the need, available approaches, and reagents for multiplexing gene expression detection in situ, as in most cases scRNAseq clusters are defined by the unique coexpression of sets of genes.
Cho S, Lee G, Pickering BF, Jang C, Park JH, He L, et al. mTORC1 promotes cell growth via mA-dependent mRNA degradation. Mol Cell. 2021;Abstract
Dysregulated mTORC1 signaling alters a wide range of cellular processes, contributing to metabolic disorders and cancer. Defining the molecular details of downstream effectors is thus critical for uncovering selective therapeutic targets. We report that mTORC1 and its downstream kinase S6K enhance eIF4A/4B-mediated translation of Wilms' tumor 1-associated protein (WTAP), an adaptor for the N-methyladenosine (mA) RNA methyltransferase complex. This regulation is mediated by 5' UTR of WTAP mRNA that is targeted by eIF4A/4B. Single-nucleotide-resolution mA mapping revealed that MAX dimerization protein 2 (MXD2) mRNA contains mA, and increased mA modification enhances its degradation. WTAP induces cMyc-MAX association by suppressing MXD2 expression, which promotes cMyc transcriptional activity and proliferation of mTORC1-activated cancer cells. These results elucidate a mechanism whereby mTORC1 stimulates oncogenic signaling via mA RNA modification and illuminates the WTAP-MXD2-cMyc axis as a potential therapeutic target for mTORC1-driven cancers.
Parkhitko AA, Singh A, Hsieh S, Hu Y, Binari R, Lord CJ, et al. Cross-species identification of PIP5K1-, splicing- and ubiquitin-related pathways as potential targets for RB1-deficient cells. PLoS Genet. 2021;17 (2) :e1009354. Abstract
The RB1 tumor suppressor is recurrently mutated in a variety of cancers including retinoblastomas, small cell lung cancers, triple-negative breast cancers, prostate cancers, and osteosarcomas. Finding new synthetic lethal (SL) interactions with RB1 could lead to new approaches to treating cancers with inactivated RB1. We identified 95 SL partners of RB1 based on a Drosophila screen for genetic modifiers of the eye phenotype caused by defects in the RB1 ortholog, Rbf1. We validated 38 mammalian orthologs of Rbf1 modifiers as RB1 SL partners in human cancer cell lines with defective RB1 alleles. We further show that for many of the RB1 SL genes validated in human cancer cell lines, low activity of the SL gene in human tumors, when concurrent with low levels of RB1 was associated with improved patient survival. We investigated higher order combinatorial gene interactions by creating a novel Drosophila cancer model with co-occurring Rbf1, Pten and Ras mutations, and found that targeting RB1 SL genes in this background suppressed the dramatic tumor growth and rescued fly survival whilst having minimal effects on wild-type cells. Finally, we found that drugs targeting the identified RB1 interacting genes/pathways, such as UNC3230, PYR-41, TAK-243, isoginkgetin, madrasin, and celastrol also elicit SL in human cancer cell lines. In summary, we identified several high confidence, evolutionarily conserved, novel targets for RB1-deficient cells that may be further adapted for the treatment of human cancer.
2021_PLOS Gen_Parkhitko.pdf 2021_PLOS
Hung R-J, Li JSS, Liu Y, Perrimon N. Defining cell types and lineage in the Drosophila midgut using single cell transcriptomics. Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2021;47 :12-17. Abstract
The Drosophila midgut has emerged in recent years as a model system to study stem cell renewal and differentiation and tissue homeostasis. Histological, genetic and gene expression studies have provided a wealth of information on gut cell types, regionalization, genes and pathways involved in cell proliferation and differentiation, stem cell renewal, and responses to changes in environmental factors such as the microbiota and nutrients. Here, we review the contribution of single cell transcriptomic methods to our understanding of gut cell type diversity, lineage and behavior.
Wang W, Li J, Tan J, Wang M, Yang J, Zhang Z-M, et al. Endonuclease G promotes autophagy by suppressing mTOR signaling and activating the DNA damage response. Nat Commun. 2021;12 (1) :476. Abstract
Endonuclease G (ENDOG), a mitochondrial nuclease, is known to participate in many cellular processes, including apoptosis and paternal mitochondrial elimination, while its role in autophagy remains unclear. Here, we report that ENDOG released from mitochondria promotes autophagy during starvation, which we find to be evolutionally conserved across species by performing experiments in human cell lines, mice, Drosophila and C. elegans. Under starvation, Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta-mediated phosphorylation of ENDOG at Thr-128 and Ser-288 enhances its interaction with 14-3-3γ, which leads to the release of Tuberin (TSC2) and Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase catalytic subunit type 3 (Vps34) from 14-3-3γ, followed by mTOR pathway suppression and autophagy initiation. Alternatively, ENDOG activates DNA damage response and triggers autophagy through its endonuclease activity. Our results demonstrate that ENDOG is a crucial regulator of autophagy, manifested by phosphorylation-mediated interaction with 14-3-3γ, and its endonuclease activity-mediated DNA damage response.
2021_Nat Comm_Wang.pdf Supplement.pdf
Tang H-W, Weng J-H, Lee WX, Hu Y, Gu L, Cho S, et al. mTORC1-chaperonin CCT signaling regulates mA RNA methylation to suppress autophagy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021;118 (10). Abstract
Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1) is a central regulator of cell growth and metabolism that senses and integrates nutritional and environmental cues with cellular responses. Recent studies have revealed critical roles of mTORC1 in RNA biogenesis and processing. Here, we find that the mA methyltransferase complex (MTC) is a downstream effector of mTORC1 during autophagy in and human cells. Furthermore, we show that the Chaperonin Containing Tailless complex polypeptide 1 (CCT) complex, which facilitates protein folding, acts as a link between mTORC1 and MTC. The mTORC1 activates the chaperonin CCT complex to stabilize MTC, thereby increasing mA levels on the messenger RNAs encoding autophagy-related genes, leading to their degradation and suppression of autophagy. Altogether, our study reveals an evolutionarily conserved mechanism linking mTORC1 signaling with mA RNA methylation and demonstrates their roles in suppressing autophagy.
Larkin A, Marygold SJ, Antonazzo G, Attrill H, Dos Santos G, Garapati PV, et al. FlyBase: updates to the Drosophila melanogaster knowledge base. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021;49 (D1) :D899-D907. Abstract
FlyBase ( is an essential online database for researchers using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism, facilitating access to a diverse array of information that includes genetic, molecular, genomic and reagent resources. Here, we describe the introduction of several new features at FlyBase, including Pathway Reports, paralog information, disease models based on orthology, customizable tables within reports and overview displays ('ribbons') of expression and disease data. We also describe a variety of recent important updates, including incorporation of a developmental proteome, upgrades to the GAL4 search tab, additional Experimental Tool Reports, migration to JBrowse for genome browsing and improvements to batch queries/downloads and the Fast-Track Your Paper tool.
Bosch JA, Birchak G, Perrimon N. Precise genome engineering in using prime editing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021;118 (1). Abstract
Precise genome editing is a valuable tool to study gene function in model organisms. Prime editing, a precise editing system developed in mammalian cells, does not require double-strand breaks or donor DNA and has low off-target effects. Here, we applied prime editing for the model organism and developed conditions for optimal editing. By expressing prime editing components in cultured cells or somatic cells of transgenic flies, we precisely introduce premature stop codons in three classical visible marker genes, , , and Furthermore, by restricting editing to germ cells, we demonstrate efficient germ-line transmission of a precise edit in to 36% of progeny. Our results suggest that prime editing is a useful system in to study gene function, such as engineering precise point mutations, deletions, or epitope tags.
2021_PNAS_Bosch.pdf 2021_PNAS_Bosch_Supp.pdf
Hu Y, Comjean A, Rodiger J, Liu Y, Gao Y, Chung V, et al. database of the Drosophila RNAi screening center and transgenic RNAi project: 2021 update. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021;49 (D1) :D908-D915. Abstract
The FlyRNAi database at the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center and Transgenic RNAi Project (DRSC/TRiP) provides a suite of online resources that facilitate functional genomics studies with a special emphasis on Drosophila melanogaster. Currently, the database provides: gene-centric resources that facilitate ortholog mapping and mining of information about orthologs in common genetic model species; reagent-centric resources that help researchers identify RNAi and CRISPR sgRNA reagents or designs; and data-centric resources that facilitate visualization and mining of transcriptomics data, protein modification data, protein interactions, and more. Here, we discuss updated and new features that help biological and biomedical researchers efficiently identify, visualize, analyze, and integrate information and data for Drosophila and other species. Together, these resources facilitate multiple steps in functional genomics workflows, from building gene and reagent lists to management, analysis, and integration of data.