Model organisms are essential experimental platforms for discovering gene functions, defining protein and genetic networks, uncovering functional consequences of human genome variation, and for modeling human disease. For decades, researchers who use model organisms have relied on Model Organism Databases (MODs) and the Gene Ontology Consortium (GOC) for expertly curated annotations, and for access to integrated genomic and biological information obtained from the scientific literature and public data archives. Through the development and enforcement of data and semantic standards, these genome resources provide rapid access to the collected knowledge of model organisms in human readable and computation-ready formats that would otherwise require countless hours for individual researchers to assemble on their own. Since their inception, the MODs for the predominant biomedical model organisms [ (laboratory mouse), , , , , and ] along with the GOC have operated as a network of independent, highly collaborative genome resources. In 2016, these six MODs and the GOC joined forces as the Alliance of Genome Resources (the Alliance). By implementing shared programmatic access methods and data-specific web pages with a unified "look and feel," the Alliance is tackling barriers that have limited the ability of researchers to easily compare common data types and annotations across model organisms. To adapt to the rapidly changing landscape for evaluating and funding core data resources, the Alliance is building a modern, extensible, and operationally efficient "knowledge commons" for model organisms using shared, modular infrastructure.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful genome editing technology in which a short guide RNA (sgRNA) confers target site specificity to achieve Cas9-mediated genome editing. Numerous sgRNA design tools have been developed based on reference genomes for humans and model organisms. However, existing resources are not optimal as genetic mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the targeting region affect the efficiency of CRISPR-based approaches by interfering with guide-target complementarity. To facilitate identification of sgRNAs (1) in non-reference genomes, (2) across varying genetic backgrounds, or (3) for specific targeting of SNP-containing alleles, for example, disease relevant mutations, we developed a web tool, SNP-CRISPR (https://www.flyrnai.org/tools/snp_crispr/). SNP-CRISPR can be used to design sgRNAs based on public variant data sets or user-identified variants. In addition, the tool computes efficiency and specificity scores for sgRNA designs targeting both the variant and the reference. Moreover, SNP-CRISPR provides the option to upload multiple SNPs and target single or multiple nearby base changes simultaneously with a single sgRNA design. Given these capabilities, SNP-CRISPR has a wide range of potential research applications in model systems and potential applications for design of sgRNAs for disease-associated mutant correction.
High-throughput screens in Drosophila melanogaster cell lines have led to discovery of conserved gene functions related to signal transduction, host pathogen interactions, ion transport, and more. CRISPR/Cas9 technology has opened the door to new types of large-scale cell-based screens. Whereas array format screens require liquid handling automation and assay miniaturization, pooled-format screens, in which reagents are introduced at random and in bulk, can be done in a standard lab setting. We provide a detailed protocol for conducting and evaluating genome-wide CRISPR single guide RNA (sgRNA) pooled screens in Drosophila S2R+ cultured cells. Specifically, we provide step-by-step instructions for library design and production, optimization of cytotoxin-based selection assays, genome-scale screening, and data analysis. This type of project takes ~3 months to complete. Results can be used in follow-up studies performed in vivo in Drosophila, mammalian cells, and/or other systems.
Targeted genomic knock-ins are a valuable tool to probe gene function. However, knock-in methods involving homology-directed repair (HDR) can be laborious. Here, we adapt the mammalian CRISPaint homology-independent knock-in method for , which uses CRISPR/Cas9 and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) to insert universal donor plasmids into the genome. Using this method in cultured S2R+ cells, we efficiently tagged four endogenous proteins with the bright fluorescent protein mNeonGreen, thereby demonstrating that an existing collection of CRISPaint universal donor plasmids is compatible with insect cells. In addition, we inserted the transgenesis marker into seven genes in the fly germ line, producing heritable loss of function alleles that were isolated by simple fluorescence screening. Unlike in cultured cells, indels always occurred at the genomic insertion site, which prevents predictably matching the insert coding frame to the target gene. Despite this effect, we were able to isolate insertions in four genes that serve as in vivo expression reporters. Therefore, homology-independent insertion in is a fast and simple alternative to HDR that will enable researchers to dissect gene function.
We previously reported a CRISPR-mediated knock-in strategy into introns of genes, generating an - transgenic library for multiple uses (Lee et al., 2018b). The method relied on double stranded DNA (dsDNA) homology donors with ~1 kb homology arms. Here, we describe three new simpler ways to edit genes in flies. We create single stranded DNA (ssDNA) donors using PCR and add 100 nt of homology on each side of an integration cassette, followed by enzymatic removal of one strand. Using this method, we generated GFP-tagged proteins that mark organelles in S2 cells. We then describe two dsDNA methods using cheap synthesized donors flanked by 100 nt homology arms and gRNA target sites cloned into a plasmid. Upon injection, donor DNA (1 to 5 kb) is released from the plasmid by Cas9. The cassette integrates efficiently and precisely . The approach is fast, cheap, and scalable.
Inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene is the signature initiating event in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), the most common form of kidney cancer, and causes the accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF-2α). HIF-2α inhibitors are effective in some ccRCC cases, but both de novo and acquired resistance have been observed in the laboratory and in the clinic. Here, we identified synthetic lethality between decreased activity of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) and inactivation in two species (human and ) and across diverse human ccRCC cell lines in culture and xenografts. Although HIF-2α transcriptionally induced the CDK4/6 partner cyclin D1, HIF-2α was not required for the increased CDK4/6 requirement of ccRCC cells. Accordingly, the antiproliferative effects of CDK4/6 inhibition were synergistic with HIF-2α inhibition in HIF-2α-dependent ccRCC cells and not antagonistic with HIF-2α inhibition in HIF-2α-independent cells. These findings support testing CDK4/6 inhibitors as treatments for ccRCC, alone and in combination with HIF-2α inhibitors.
The Alliance of Genome Resources (Alliance) is a consortium of the major model organism databases and the Gene Ontology that is guided by the vision of facilitating exploration of related genes in human and well-studied model organisms by providing a highly integrated and comprehensive platform that enables researchers to leverage the extensive body of genetic and genomic studies in these organisms. Initiated in 2016, the Alliance is building a central portal (www.alliancegenome.org) for access to data for the primary model organisms along with gene ontology data and human data. All data types represented in the Alliance portal (e.g. genomic data and phenotype descriptions) have common data models and workflows for curation. All data are open and freely available via a variety of mechanisms. Long-term plans for the Alliance project include a focus on coverage of additional model organisms including those without dedicated curation communities, and the inclusion of new data types with a particular focus on providing data and tools for the non-model-organism researcher that support enhanced discovery about human health and disease. Here we review current progress and present immediate plans for this new bioinformatics resource.
The spatio-temporal regulation of small Rho GTPases is crucial for the dynamic stability of epithelial tissues. However, how RhoGTPase activity is controlled during development remains largely unknown. To explore the regulation of Rho GTPases in vivo, we analyzed the Rho GTPase guanine nucleotide exchange factor (RhoGEF) Cysts, the orthologue of mammalian p114RhoGEF, GEF-H1, p190RhoGEF, and AKAP-13. Loss of Cysts causes a phenotype that closely resembles the mutant phenotype of the apical polarity regulator Crumbs. This phenotype can be suppressed by the loss of basolateral polarity proteins, suggesting that Cysts is an integral component of the apical polarity protein network. We demonstrate that Cysts is recruited to the apico-lateral membrane through interactions with the Crumbs complex and Bazooka/Par3. Cysts activates Rho1 at adherens junctions and stabilizes junctional myosin. Junctional myosin depletion is similar in Cysts- and Crumbs-compromised embryos. Together, our findings indicate that Cysts is a downstream effector of the Crumbs complex and links apical polarity proteins to Rho1 and myosin activation at adherens junctions, supporting junctional integrity and epithelial polarity.
Aberrant MYC oncogene activation is one of the most prevalent characteristics of cancer. By overlapping datasets of genes that are insulin-responsive and also regulate nucleolus size, we enriched for Myc target genes required for cellular biosynthesis. Among these, we identified the aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) as essential mediators of Myc growth control in and found that their pharmacologic inhibition is sufficient to kill MYC-overexpressing human cells, indicating that aaRS inhibitors might be used to selectively target MYC-driven cancers. We suggest a general principle in which oncogenic increases in cellular biosynthesis sensitize cells to disruption of protein homeostasis.
Mitochondrial abundance and function are tightly controlled during metabolic adaptation but dysregulated in pathological states such as diabetes, neurodegeneration, cancer, and kidney disease. We show here that translation of PGC1α, a key governor of mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism, is negatively regulated by an upstream open reading frame (uORF) in the 5' untranslated region of its gene (PPARGC1A). We find that uORF-mediated translational repression is a feature of PPARGC1A orthologs from human to fly. Strikingly, whereas multiple inhibitory uORFs are broadly present in fish PPARGC1A orthologs, they are completely absent in the Atlantic bluefin tuna, an animal with exceptionally high mitochondrial content. In mice, an engineered mutation disrupting the PPARGC1A uORF increases PGC1α protein levels and oxidative metabolism and confers protection from acute kidney injury. These studies identify a translational regulatory element governing oxidative metabolism and highlight its potential contribution to the evolution of organismal mitochondrial function.
Fluorescent transcriptional reporters are widely used as signaling reporters and biomarkers to monitor pathway activities and determine cell type identities. However, a large amount of dynamic information is lost due to the long half-life of the fluorescent proteins. To better detect dynamics, fluorescent transcriptional reporters can be destabilized to shorten their half-lives. However, applications of this approach are limited due to significant reduction of signal intensities. To overcome this limitation, we enhanced translation of a destabilized fluorescent protein and demonstrate the advantages of this approach by characterizing spatio-temporal changes of transcriptional activities in . In addition, by combining a fast-folding destabilized fluorescent protein and a slow-folding long-lived fluorescent protein, we generated a dual-color transcriptional timer that provides spatio-temporal information about signaling pathway activities. Finally, we demonstrate the use of this transcriptional timer to identify new genes with dynamic expression patterns.
Protein phosphorylation is the best characterized post-translational modification that regulates almost all cellular processes through diverse mechanisms such as changing protein conformations, interactions, and localization. While the inventory for phosphorylation sites across different species has rapidly expanded, their functional role remains poorly investigated. Here, we combine 537,321 phosphosites from 40 eukaryotic species to identify highly conserved phosphorylation hotspot regions within domain families. Mapping these regions onto structural data reveals that they are often found at interfaces, near catalytic residues and tend to harbor functionally important phosphosites. Notably, functional studies of a phospho-deficient mutant in the C-terminal hotspot region within the ribosomal S11 domain in the yeast ribosomal protein uS11 shows impaired growth and defective cytoplasmic 20S pre-rRNA processing at 16 °C and 20 °C. Altogether, our study identifies phosphorylation hotspots for 162 protein domains suggestive of an ancient role for the control of diverse eukaryotic domain families.
BACKGROUND: Notch-Delta signaling functions across a wide array of animal systems to break symmetry in a sheet of undifferentiated cells and generate cells with different fates, a process known as lateral inhibition. Unlike many other signaling systems, however, since both the ligand and receptor are transmembrane proteins, the activation of Notch by Delta depends strictly on cell-cell contact. Furthermore, the binding of the ligand to the receptor may not be sufficient to induce signaling, since recent work in cell culture suggests that ligand-induced Notch signaling also requires a mechanical pulling force. This tension exposes a cleavage site in Notch that, when cut, activates signaling. Although it is not known if mechanical tension contributes to signaling in vivo, others have suggested that this is how endocytosis of the receptor-ligand complex contributes to the cleavage and activation of Notch. In a similar way, since Notch-mediated lateral inhibition at a distance in the dorsal thorax of the pupal fly is mediated via actin-rich protrusions, it is possible that cytoskeletal forces generated by networks of filamentous actin and non-muscle myosin during cycles of protrusion extension and retraction also contribute to Notch signaling. RESULTS: To test this hypothesis, we carried out a detailed analysis of the role of myosin II-dependent tension in Notch signaling in the developing fly and in cell culture. Using dynamic fluorescence-based reporters of Notch, we found that myosin II is important for signaling in signal sending and receiving cells in both systems-as expected if myosin II-dependent tension across the Notch-Delta complex contributes to Notch activation. While myosin II was found to contribute most to signaling at a distance, it was also required for maximal signaling between adjacent cells that share lateral contacts and for signaling between cells in culture. CONCLUSIONS: Together these results reveal a previously unappreciated role for non-muscle myosin II contractility in Notch signaling, providing further support for the idea that force contributes to the cleavage and activation of Notch in the context of ligand-dependent signaling, and a new paradigm for actomyosin-based mechanosensation.
Hippo signaling and the activity of its transcriptional coactivator, Yorkie (Yki), are conserved and crucial regulators of tissue homeostasis. In the Drosophila midgut, after tissue damage, Yki activity increases to stimulate stem cell proliferation, but how Yki activity is turned off once the tissue is repaired is unknown. From an RNAi screen, we identified the septate junction (SJ) protein tetraspanin 2A (Tsp2A) as a tumor suppressor. Tsp2A undergoes internalization to facilitate the endocytic degradation of atypical protein kinase C (aPKC), a negative regulator of Hippo signaling. In the Drosophila midgut epithelium, adherens junctions (AJs) and SJs are prominent in intestinal stem cells or enteroblasts (ISCs or EBs) and enterocytes (ECs), respectively. We show that when ISCs differentiate toward ECs, Tsp2A is produced, participates in SJ assembly, and turns off aPKC and Yki-JAK-Stat activity. Altogether, our study uncovers a mechanism allowing the midgut to restore Hippo signaling and restrict proliferation once tissue repair is accomplished.
Interactions between tumors and host tissues play essential roles in tumor-induced systemic wasting and cancer cachexia, including muscle wasting and lipid loss. However, the pathogenic molecular mechanisms of wasting are still poorly understood. Using a fly model of tumor-induced organ wasting, we observed aberrant MEK activation in both tumors and host tissues of flies bearing gut-yki tumors. We found that host MEK activation results in muscle wasting and lipid loss, while tumor MEK activation is required for tumor growth. Strikingly, host MEK suppression alone is sufficient to abolish the wasting phenotypes without affecting tumor growth. We further uncovered that yki tumors produce the vein (vn) ligand to trigger autonomous Egfr/MEK-induced tumor growth and produce the PDGF- and VEGF-related factor 1 (Pvf1) ligand to non-autonomously activate host Pvr/MEK signaling and wasting. Altogether, our results demonstrate the essential roles and molecular mechanisms of differential MEK activation in tumor-induced host wasting.
Post-translational modification (PTM) serves as a regulatory mechanism for protein function, influencing their stability, interactions, activity and localization, and is critical in many signaling pathways. The best characterized PTM is phosphorylation, whereby a phosphate is added to an acceptor residue, most commonly serine, threonine and tyrosine in metazoans. As proteins are often phosphorylated at multiple sites, identifying those sites that are important for function is a challenging problem. Considering that any given phosphorylation site might be non-functional, prioritizing evolutionarily conserved phosphosites provides a general strategy to identify the putative functional sites. To facilitate the identification of conserved phosphosites, we generated a large-scale phosphoproteomics dataset from embryos collected from six closely-related species. We built iProteinDB (https://www.flyrnai.org/tools/iproteindb/), a resource integrating these data with other high-throughput PTM datasets, including vertebrates, and manually curated information for At iProteinDB, scientists can view the PTM landscape for any protein and identify predicted functional phosphosites based on a comparative analysis of data from closely-related species. Further, iProteinDB enables comparison of PTM data from to that of orthologous proteins from other model organisms, including human, mouse, rat, , and
Epithelial homeostasis requires the precise balance of epithelial stem/progenitor proliferation and differentiation. While many signaling pathways that regulate epithelial stem cells have been identified, it is probable that other regulators remain unidentified. Here, we use gene-expression profiling by targeted DamID to identify the stem/progenitor-specific transcription and signaling factors in the midgut. Many signaling pathway components, including ligands of most major pathways, exhibit stem/progenitor-specific expression and have regulatory regions bound by both intrinsic and extrinsic transcription factors. In addition to previously identified stem/progenitor-derived ligands, we show that both the insulin-like factor Ilp6 and TNF ligand eiger are specifically expressed in the stem/progenitors and regulate normal tissue homeostasis. We propose that intestinal stem cells not only integrate multiple signals but also contribute to and regulate the homeostatic signaling microenvironmental niche through the expression of autocrine and paracrine factors.
The circadian clock is a molecular pacemaker that produces 24-hr physiological cycles known as circadian rhythms. How the clock regulates stem cells is an emerging area of research with many outstanding questions. We tested clock function in vivo at the single cell resolution in the Drosophila intestine, a tissue that is exquisitely sensitive to environmental cues and has circadian rhythms in regeneration. Our results indicate that circadian clocks function in intestinal stem cells and enterocytes but are downregulated during enteroendocrine cell differentiation. Drosophila intestinal cells are principally synchronized by the photoperiod, but intestinal stem cell clocks are highly responsive to signaling pathways that comprise their niche, and we find that the Wnt and Hippo signaling pathways positively regulate stem cell circadian clock function. These data reveal that intestinal stem cell circadian rhythms are regulated by cellular signaling and provide insight as to how clocks may be altered during physiological changes such as regeneration and aging.