Paralogs are genes which arose via gene duplication, and when such paralogs retain overlapping or redundant function, this poses a challenge to functional genetics research. Recent technological advancements have made it possible to systematically probe gene function for redundant genes using dual or multiplex gene perturbation, and there is a need for a simple bioinformatic tool to identify putative paralogs of a gene(s) of interest. We have developed Paralog Explorer (https://www.flyrnai.org/tools/paralogs/), an online resource that allows researchers to quickly and accurately identify candidate paralogous genes in the genomes of the model organisms D. melanogaster, C. elegans, D. rerio, M. musculus, and H. sapiens. Paralog Explorer deploys an effective between-species ortholog prediction software, DIOPT, to analyze within-species paralogs. Paralog Explorer allows users to identify candidate paralogs, and to navigate relevant databases regarding gene co-expression, protein–protein and genetic interaction, as well as gene ontology and phenotype annotations. Altogether, this tool extends the value of current ortholog prediction resources by providing sophisticated features useful for identification and study of paralogous genes. 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Research Network of Computational and Structural Biotechnology. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/liscenses/by/4.0/).
Partial loss-of-function mutations in glycosylation pathways underlie a set of rare diseases called Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDGs). In particular, DPAGT1-CDG is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the first step in N-glycosylation, DPAGT1, and this disorder currently lacks effective therapies. To identify potential therapeutic targets for DPAGT1- CDG, we performed CRISPR knockout screens in Drosophila cells for genes associated with better survival and glycoprotein levels under DPAGT1 inhibition. We identified hundreds of candidate genes that may be of therapeutic benefit. Intriguingly, inhibition of the mannosyltransferase Dpm1, or its downstream glycosylation pathways, could rescue two in vivo models of DPAGT1 inhibition and ER stress, even though impairment of these pathways alone usually causes CDGs. While both in vivo models ostensibly cause cellular stress (through DPAGT1 inhibition or a misfolded protein), we found a novel difference in fructose metabolism that may indicate glycolysis as a modulator of DPAGT1-CDG. Our results provide new therapeutic targets for DPAGT1-CDG, include the unique finding of Dpm1-related pathways rescuing DPAGT1 inhibition, and reveal a novel interaction between fructose metabolism and ER stress.
Proper regulation of ion balance across the intestinal epithelium is essential for physiological functions, while ion imbalance causes intestinal disorders with dire health consequences. Ion channels, pumps, and exchangers are vital for regulating ion movements (i.e., bioelectric currents) that control epithelial absorption and secretion. Recent in vivo studies used the Drosophila gut to identify conserved pathways that link regulators of Ca2+, Na+ and Cl- with intestinal stem cell (ISC) proliferation. These studies laid a foundation for using the Drosophila gut to identify conserved proliferative responses triggered by bioelectric regulators. Here, we review these studies, discuss their significance, as well as the advantages of using Drosophila to unravel conserved bioelectrically induced molecular pathways in the intestinal epithelium under physiological, pathophysiological, and regenerative conditions.
Keywords: Drosophila; bioelectric signaling; gut; intestinal stem cells; ion channels.
Naturally produced peptides (<100 amino acids) are important regulators of physiology, development, and metabolism. Recent studies have predicted that thousands of peptides may be translated from transcripts containing small open reading frames (smORFs). Here, we describe two peptides in Drosophila encoded by conserved smORFs, Sloth1 and Sloth2. These peptides are translated from the same bicistronic transcript and share sequence similarities, suggesting that they encode paralogs. Yet, Sloth1 and Sloth2 are not functionally redundant, and loss of either peptide causes animal lethality, reduced neuronal function, impaired mitochondrial function, and neurodegeneration. We provide evidence that Sloth1/2 are highly expressed in neurons, imported to mitochondria, and regulate mitochondrial complex III assembly. These results suggest that phenotypic analysis of smORF genes in Drosophila can provide a wealth of information on the biological functions of this poorly characterized class of genes.
Entomopathogenic nematodes are widely used as biopesticides1,2. Their insecticidal activity depends on symbiotic bacteria such as Photorhabdus luminescens, which produces toxin complex (Tc) toxins as major virulence factors3-6. No protein receptors are known for any Tc toxins, which limits our understanding of their specificity and pathogenesis. Here we use genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9-mediated knockout screening in Drosophila melanogaster S2R+ cells and identify Visgun (Vsg) as a receptor for an archetypal P. luminescens Tc toxin (pTc). The toxin recognizes the extracellular O-glycosylated mucin-like domain of Vsg that contains high-density repeats of proline, threonine and serine (HD-PTS). Vsg orthologues in mosquitoes and beetles contain HD-PTS and can function as pTc receptors, whereas orthologues without HD-PTS, such as moth and human versions, are not pTc receptors. Vsg is expressed in immune cells, including haemocytes and fat body cells. Haemocytes from Vsg knockout Drosophila are resistant to pTc and maintain phagocytosis in the presence of pTc, and their sensitivity to pTc is restored through the transgenic expression of mosquito Vsg. Last, Vsg knockout Drosophila show reduced bacterial loads and lethality from P. luminescens infection. Our findings identify a proteinaceous Tc toxin receptor, reveal how Tc toxins contribute to P. luminescens pathogenesis, and establish a genome-wide CRISPR screening approach for investigating insecticidal toxins and pathogens.
Whole-exome sequencing of two patients with idiopathic complex neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD) identified biallelic variants of unknown significance within FIBCD1, encoding an endocytic acetyl group-binding transmembrane receptor with no known function in the central nervous system. We found that FIBCD1 preferentially binds and endocytoses glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chondroitin sulphate-4S (CS-4S) and regulates GAG content of the brain extracellular matrix (ECM). In silico molecular simulation studies and GAG binding analyses of patient variants determined that such variants are loss-of-function by disrupting FIBCD1-CS-4S association. Gene knockdown in flies resulted in morphological disruption of the neuromuscular junction and motor-related behavioural deficits. In humans and mice, FIBCD1 is expressed in discrete brain regions, including the hippocampus. Fibcd1 KO mice exhibited normal hippocampal neuronal morphology but impaired hippocampal-dependent learning. Further, hippocampal synaptic remodelling in acute slices from Fibcd1 KO mice was deficient but restored upon enzymatically modulating the ECM. Together, we identified FIBCD1 as an endocytic receptor for GAGs in the brain ECM and a novel gene associated with an NDD, revealing a critical role in nervous system structure, function and plasticity.
Organ functions are highly specialized and interdependent. Secreted factors regulate organ development and mediate homeostasis through serum trafficking and inter-organ communication. Enzyme-catalysed proximity labelling enables the identification of proteins within a specific cellular compartment. Here, we report a BirA*G3 mouse strain that enables CRE-dependent promiscuous biotinylation of proteins trafficking through the endoplasmic reticulum. When broadly activated throughout the mouse, widespread labelling of proteins was observed within the secretory pathway. Streptavidin affinity purification and peptide mapping by quantitative mass spectrometry (MS) proteomics revealed organ-specific secretory profiles and serum trafficking. As expected, secretory proteomes were highly enriched for signal peptide-containing proteins, highlighting both conventional and non-conventional secretory processes, and ectodomain shedding. Lower-abundance proteins with hormone-like properties were recovered and validated using orthogonal approaches. Hepatocyte-specific activation of BirA*G3 highlighted liver-specific biotinylated secretome profiles. The BirA*G3 mouse model demonstrates enhanced labelling efficiency and tissue specificity over viral transduction approaches and will facilitate a deeper understanding of secretory protein interplay in development, and in healthy and diseased adult states.
Animal cell lines often undergo extreme genome restructuring events, including polyploidy and segmental aneuploidy that can impede de novo whole-genome assembly (WGA). In some species like Drosophila, cell lines also exhibit massive proliferation of transposable elements (TEs). To better understand the role of transposition during animal cell culture, we sequenced the genome of the tetraploid Drosophila S2R+ cell line using long-read and linked-read technologies. WGAs for S2R+ were highly fragmented and generated variable estimates of TE content across sequencing and assembly technologies. We therefore developed a novel WGA-independent bioinformatics method called TELR that identifies, locally assembles, and estimates allele frequency of TEs from long-read sequence data (https://github.com/bergmanlab/telr). Application of TELR to a ∼130x PacBio dataset for S2R+ revealed many haplotype-specific TE insertions that arose by transposition after initial cell line establishment and subsequent tetraploidization. Local assemblies from TELR also allowed phylogenetic analysis of paralogous TEs, which revealed that proliferation of TE families in vitro can be driven by single or multiple source lineages. Our work provides a model for the analysis of TEs in complex heterozygous or polyploid genomes that are recalcitrant to WGA and yields new insights into the mechanisms of genome evolution in animal cell culture.
The pathophysiological effects of a number of metabolic and age-related disorders can be prevented to some extent by exercise and increased physical activity. However, the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the beneficial effects of muscle activity remain poorly explored. Availability of a fast, inexpensive, and genetically tractable model system for muscle activity and exercise will allow the rapid identification and characterization of molecular mechanisms that mediate the beneficial effects of exercise. Here, we report the development and characterization of an optogenetically-inducible muscle contraction (OMC) model in Drosophila larvae that we used to study acute exercise-like physiological responses. To characterize muscle-specific transcriptional responses to acute exercise, we performed bulk mRNA-sequencing, revealing striking similarities between acute exercise-induced genes in flies and those previously identified in humans. Our larval muscle contraction model opens a path for rapid identification and characterization of exercise-induced factors.
Editing the Drosophila genome is incredibly useful for gene functional analysis. However, compared to gene knockouts, precise gene editing is difficult to achieve. Prime editing, a recently described CRISPR/Cas9-based technique, has the potential to make precise editing simpler and faster, and produce less errors than traditional methods. Initially described in mammalian cells, prime editing is functional in Drosophila somatic and germ cells. Here, we outline steps to design, generate, and express prime editing components in transgenic flies. Furthermore, we highlight a crossing scheme to produce edited fly stocks in less than 3 months.
Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) regulates cell growth and metabolism in response to multiple nutrients, including the essential amino acid leucine1. Recent work in cultured mammalian cells established the Sestrins as leucine-binding proteins that inhibit mTORC1 signalling during leucine deprivation2,3, but their role in the organismal response to dietary leucine remains elusive. Here we find that Sestrin-null flies (Sesn-/-) fail to inhibit mTORC1 or activate autophagy after acute leucine starvation and have impaired development and a shortened lifespan on a low-leucine diet. Knock-in flies expressing a leucine-binding-deficient Sestrin mutant (SesnL431E) have reduced, leucine-insensitive mTORC1 activity. Notably, we find that flies can discriminate between food with or without leucine, and preferentially feed and lay progeny on leucine-containing food. This preference depends on Sestrin and its capacity to bind leucine. Leucine regulates mTORC1 activity in glial cells, and knockdown of Sesn in these cells reduces the ability of flies to detect leucine-free food. Thus, nutrient sensing by mTORC1 is necessary for flies not only to adapt to, but also to detect, a diet deficient in an essential nutrient.
Previously, we described a large collection of Drosophila strains that each carry an artificial exon containing a T2AGAL4 cassette inserted in an intron of a target gene based on CRISPR-mediated homologous recombination. These alleles permit numerous applications and have proven to be very useful. Initially, the homologous recombination-based donor constructs had long homology arms (>500 bps) to promote precise integration of large constructs (>5 kb). Recently, we showed that in vivo linearization of the donor constructs enables insertion of large artificial exons in introns using short homology arms (100-200 bps). Shorter homology arms make it feasible to commercially synthesize homology donors and minimize the cloning steps for donor construct generation. Unfortunately, about 58% of Drosophila genes lack a suitable coding intron for integration of artificial exons in all of the annotated isoforms. Here, we report the development of new set of constructs that allow the replacement of the coding region of genes that lack suitable introns with a KozakGAL4 cassette, generating a knock-out/knock-in allele that expresses GAL4 similarly as the targeted gene. We also developed custom vector backbones to further facilitate and improve transgenesis. Synthesis of homology donor constructs in custom plasmid backbones that contain the target gene sgRNA obviates the need to inject a separate sgRNA plasmid and significantly increases the transgenesis efficiency. These upgrades will enable the targeting of nearly every fly gene, regardless of exon-intron structure, with a 70-80% success rate.
Recent advances in single-cell sequencing provide a unique opportunity to gain novel insights into the diversity, lineage, and functions of cell types constituting a tissue/organ. Here, we performed a single-nucleus study of the adult Drosophila renal system, consisting of Malpighian tubules and nephrocytes, which shares similarities with the mammalian kidney. We identified 11 distinct clusters representing renal stem cells, stellate cells, regionally specific principal cells, garland nephrocyte cells, and pericardial nephrocytes. Characterization of the transcription factors specific to each cluster identified fruitless (fru) as playing a role in stem cell regeneration and Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 (Hnf4) in regulating glycogen and triglyceride metabolism. In addition, we identified a number of genes, including Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor at 64C (RhoGEF64c), Frequenin 2 (Frq2), Prip, and CG1093 that are involved in regulating the unusual star shape of stellate cells. Importantly, the single-nucleus dataset allows visualization of the expression at the organ level of genes involved in ion transport and junctional permeability, providing a systems-level view of the organization and physiological roles of the tubules. Finally, a cross-species analysis allowed us to match the fly kidney cell types to mouse kidney cell types and planarian protonephridia, knowledge that will help the generation of kidney disease models. Altogether, our study provides a comprehensive resource for studying the fly kidney.
Insulin signaling promotes anabolic metabolism to regulate cell growth through multi-omic interactions. To obtain a comprehensive view of the cellular responses to insulin, we constructed a trans-omic network of insulin action in Drosophila cells that involves the integration of multi-omic data sets. In this network, 14 transcription factors, including Myc, coordinately upregulate the gene expression of anabolic processes such as nucleotide synthesis, transcription, and translation, consistent with decreases in metabolites such as nucleotide triphosphates and proteinogenic amino acids required for transcription and translation. Next, as cell growth is required for cell proliferation and insulin can stimulate proliferation in a context-dependent manner, we integrated the trans-omic network with results from a CRISPR functional screen for cell proliferation. This analysis validates the role of a Myc-mediated subnetwork that coordinates the activation of genes involved in anabolic processes required for cell growth.
Oenocytes are large secretory cells present in the abdomen of insects known to synthesize very-long-chain fatty acids to produce hydrocarbons and pheromones that mediate courtship behavior in adult flies. In recent years, oenocytes have been implicated in the regulation of energy metabolism. These hepatocyte-like cells accumulate lipid droplets under starvation and can non-autonomously regulate tracheal waterproofing and adipocyte lipid composition. Here, we summarize evidence, mostly from Drosophila, establishing that oenocytes perform liver-like functions. We also compare the functional differences in oenocytes and the fat body, another lipid storage tissue which also performs liver-like functions. Lastly, we examine signaling pathways that regulate oenocyte metabolism derived from other metabolic tissues, as well as oenocyte-derived signals that regulate energy homeostasis.
Regulating energy utilization and storage is central to animal physiology and adaptation to environmental challenges. Under conditions of nutrition surplus, glucose is converted to fatty acids, which are then synthesized into triglycerides (TGs) and stored as lipid droplets. Excessive lipid stores can be detrimental and have been associated with various metabolic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), obesity and insulin resistance, making understanding lipid metabolism of great importance to human health.
The liver is the major detoxifying organ of the body and plays a central role in regulating the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Moreover, the liver is the major site for glycogen storage and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) secretion (1, 2). During starvation, adipocytes undergo lipolysis to produce free fatty acids (FFAs). FFAs are processed by hepatic oxidation to generate ketone bodies in the liver which are then used as fuels for other tissues. If mobilization of FFAs exceeds the rate of lipid oxidation, re-esterification of surplus FFAs to TGs occurs in the liver, leading to an increase in intrahepatic TG content, i.e., steatosis. NAFLD, a common manifestation of the metabolic syndrome, is characterized by steatosis in the absence of starvation. Nonalcoholic hepatic steatosis is present in approximately 25% of the adult population worldwide, and NAFLD is the most common liver disease in Western societies. Thus, understanding how hepatic diseases regulate cellular processes in peripheral organs and how other organs contribute to steatosis is of interest to human metabolic diseases.
Major metabolic and endocrine pathways are conserved in Drosophila, making this model organism well suited to dissect the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying physiology (3–5). The fly fat body is equivalent to the vertebrate white adipose tissue (WAT), which stores excess fat as TGs. In addition, fly oenocytes, which are similar to hepatocyte cells, are important for mobilizing stored lipids from the fly fat body (6). Like mammals, flies convert excess carbohydrates into TGs through de novo lipogenesis (7, 8). In addition, excess carbohydrates and amino acids can also be processed into UDP-glucose, which fuels glycogen synthesis (9). Regulation of energy storage in flies involves several signaling pathways, including insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling, which is similar to the insulin signaling in mammals (10). However, unlike mammals, there are eight different Drosophila insulin-like peptides (dILPs). Most of these modulate the IGF pathway through a single insulin receptor, InR (10, 11). Under nutrient-deprivation or energy demanding conditions, lipids are released from the fat body through increased lipolysis (12), and are further processed in oenocytes (6, 13). Signaling that regulates catabolism of lipids and carbohydrates include adipokinetic hormone (Akh), which is similar to glucagon in mammals and ecdysone, which antagonizes insulin signaling (14, 15).
In this review, we explore the potential of Drosophila oenocytes as a model for hepatic diseases. We summarize the different roles of oenocytes and the fat body in regulating carbohydrate and lipid metabolism under normal or starved conditions. We also discuss the intricate interplay of oenocytes with other tissues, including the fat body and muscles, in shaping organismal lipid storage.
Cachexia, a wasting syndrome that is often associated with cancer, is one of the primary causes of death in cancer patients. Cancer cachexia occurs largely due to systemic metabolic alterations stimulated by tumors. Despite the prevalence of cachexia, our understanding of how tumors interact with host tissues and how they affect metabolism is limited. Among the challenges of studying tumor-host tissue crosstalk are the complexity of cancer itself and our insufficient knowledge of the factors that tumors release into the blood. Drosophila is emerging as a powerful model in which to identify tumor-derived factors that influence systemic metabolism and tissue wasting. Strikingly, studies that are characterizing factors derived from different fly tumor cachexia models are identifying both common and distinct cachectic molecules, suggesting that cachexia is more than one disease and that fly models can help identify these differences. Here, we review what has been learned from studies of tumor-induced organ wasting in Drosophila and discuss the open questions.
The Alliance of Genome Resources (the Alliance) is a combined effort of 7 knowledgebase projects: Saccharomyces Genome Database, WormBase, FlyBase, Mouse Genome Database, the Zebrafish Information Network, Rat Genome Database, and the Gene Ontology Resource. The Alliance seeks to provide several benefits: better service to the various communities served by these projects; a harmonized view of data for all biomedical researchers, bioinformaticians, clinicians, and students; and a more sustainable infrastructure. The Alliance has harmonized cross-organism data to provide useful comparative views of gene function, gene expression, and human disease relevance. The basis of the comparative views is shared calls of orthology relationships and the use of common ontologies. The key types of data are alleles and variants, gene function based on gene ontology annotations, phenotypes, association to human disease, gene expression, protein-protein and genetic interactions, and participation in pathways. The information is presented on uniform gene pages that allow facile summarization of information about each gene in each of the 7 organisms covered (budding yeast, roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, fruit fly, house mouse, zebrafish, brown rat, and human). The harmonized knowledge is freely available on the alliancegenome.org portal, as downloadable files, and by APIs. We expect other existing and emerging knowledge bases to join in the effort to provide the union of useful data and features that each knowledge base currently provides.
For more than 100 years, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has been one of the most studied model organisms. Here, we present a single-cell atlas of the adult fly, Tabula Drosophilae, that includes 580,000 nuclei from 15 individually dissected sexed tissues as well as the entire head and body, annotated to >250 distinct cell types. We provide an in-depth analysis of cell type-related gene signatures and transcription factor markers, as well as sexual dimorphism, across the whole animal. Analysis of common cell types between tissues, such as blood and muscle cells, reveals rare cell types and tissue-specific subtypes. This atlas provides a valuable resource for the Drosophila community and serves as a reference to study genetic perturbations and disease models at single-cell resolution.