FlyRNAi (http://www.flyrnai.org), the database and website of the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center (DRSC) at Harvard Medical School, serves a dual role, tracking both production of reagents for RNA interference (RNAi) screening in Drosophila cells and RNAi screen results. The database and website is used as a platform for community availability of protocols, tools, and other resources useful to researchers planning, conducting, analyzing or interpreting the results of Drosophila RNAi screens. Based on our own experience and user feedback, we have made several changes. Specifically, we have restructured the database to accommodate new types of reagents; added information about new RNAi libraries and other reagents; updated the user interface and website; and added new tools of use to the Drosophila community and others. Overall, the result is a more useful, flexible and comprehensive website and database.
Changes in fat content have been associated with dietary restriction (DR), but whether they play a causal role in mediating various responses to DR remains unknown. We demonstrate that upon DR, Drosophila melanogaster shift their metabolism toward increasing fatty-acid synthesis and breakdown, which is required for various responses to DR. Inhibition of fatty-acid synthesis or oxidation genes specifically in the muscle tissue inhibited life-span extension upon DR. Furthermore, DR enhances spontaneous activity of flies, which was found to be dependent on the enhanced fatty-acid metabolism. This increase in activity was found to be at least partially required for the life-span extension upon DR. Overexpression of adipokinetic hormone (dAKH), the functional ortholog of glucagon, enhances fat metabolism, spontaneous activity, and life span. Together, these results suggest that enhanced fat metabolism in the muscle and physical activity play a key role in the protective effects of DR.
In Drosophila collections of green fluorescent protein (GFP) trap lines have been used to probe the endogenous expression patterns of trapped genes or the subcellular localization of their protein products. Here, we describe a method, based on nonoverlapping, highly specific, shRNA transgenes directed against GFP, that extends the utility of these collections to loss-of-function studies. Furthermore, we used a MiMIC transposon to generate GFP traps in Drosophila cell lines with distinct subcellular localization patterns, which will permit high-throughput screens using fluorescently tagged proteins. Finally, we show that fluorescent traps, paired with recombinant nanobodies and mass spectrometry, allow the study of endogenous protein complexes in Drosophila.
Although a large number of actin-binding proteins and their regulators have been identified through classical approaches, gaps in our knowledge remain. Here, we used genome-wide RNA interference as a systematic method to define metazoan actin regulators based on visual phenotype. Using comparative screens in cultured Drosophila and human cells, we generated phenotypic profiles for annotated actin regulators together with proteins bearing predicted actin-binding domains. These phenotypic clusters for the known metazoan "actinome" were used to identify putative new core actin regulators, together with a number of genes with conserved but poorly studied roles in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, several of which we studied in detail. This work suggests that although our search for new components of the core actin machinery is nearing saturation, regulation at the level of nuclear actin export, RNA splicing, ubiquitination, and other upstream processes remains an important but unexplored frontier of actin biology.
For nearly 150 years, it has been recognized that cell shape strongly influences the orientation of the mitotic cleavage plane (e.g., Hofmeister, 1863). However, we still understand little about the complex interplay between cell shape and cleavage-plane orientation in epithelia, where polygonal cell geometries emerge from multiple factors, including cell packing, cell growth, and cell division itself. Here, using mechanical simulations, we show that the polygonal shapes of individual cells can systematically bias the long-axis orientations of their adjacent mitotic neighbors. Strikingly, analyses of both animal epithelia and plant epidermis confirm a robust and nearly identical correlation between local cell topology and cleavage-plane orientation in vivo. Using simple mathematics, we show that this effect derives from fundamental packing constraints. Our results suggest that local epithelial topology is a key determinant of cleavage-plane orientation, and that cleavage-plane bias may be a widespread property of polygonal cell sheets in plants and animals.
Since the initial annotation of miRNAs from cloned short RNAs by the Ambros, Tuschl, and Bartel groups in 2001, more than a hundred studies have sought to identify additional miRNAs in various species. We report here a meta-analysis of short RNA data from Drosophila melanogaster, aggregating published libraries with 76 data sets that we generated for the modENCODE project. In total, we began with more than 1 billion raw reads from 187 libraries comprising diverse developmental stages, specific tissue- and cell-types, mutant conditions, and/or Argonaute immunoprecipitations. We elucidated several features of known miRNA loci, including multiple phased byproducts of cropping and dicing, abundant alternative 5' termini of certain miRNAs, frequent 3' untemplated additions, and potential editing events. We also identified 49 novel genomic locations of miRNA production, and 61 additional candidate loci with limited evidence for miRNA biogenesis. Although these loci broaden the Drosophila miRNA catalog, this work supports the notion that a restricted set of cellular transcripts is competent to be specifically processed by the Drosha/Dicer-1 pathway. Unexpectedly, we detected miRNA production from coding and untranslated regions of mRNAs and found the phenomenon of miRNA production from the antisense strand of known loci to be common. Altogether, this study lays a comprehensive foundation for the study of miRNA diversity and evolution in a complex animal model.
Drosophila melanogaster is one of the most well studied genetic model organisms; nonetheless, its genome still contains unannotated coding and non-coding genes, transcripts, exons and RNA editing sites. Full discovery and annotation are pre-requisites for understanding how the regulation of transcription, splicing and RNA editing directs the development of this complex organism. Here we used RNA-Seq, tiling microarrays and cDNA sequencing to explore the transcriptome in 30 distinct developmental stages. We identified 111,195 new elements, including thousands of genes, coding and non-coding transcripts, exons, splicing and editing events, and inferred protein isoforms that previously eluded discovery using established experimental, prediction and conservation-based approaches. These data substantially expand the number of known transcribed elements in the Drosophila genome and provide a high-resolution view of transcriptome dynamics throughout development.
BACKGROUND: High-throughput screening using RNAi is a powerful gene discovery method but is often complicated by false positive and false negative results. Whereas false positive results associated with RNAi reagents has been a matter of extensive study, the issue of false negatives has received less attention. RESULTS: We performed a meta-analysis of several genome-wide, cell-based Drosophila RNAi screens, together with a more focused RNAi screen, and conclude that the rate of false negative results is at least 8%. Further, we demonstrate how knowledge of the cell transcriptome can be used to resolve ambiguous results and how the number of false negative results can be reduced by using multiple, independently-tested RNAi reagents per gene. CONCLUSIONS: RNAi reagents that target the same gene do not always yield consistent results due to false positives and weak or ineffective reagents. False positive results can be partially minimized by filtering with transcriptome data. RNAi libraries with multiple reagents per gene also reduce false positive and false negative outcomes when inconsistent results are disambiguated carefully.
The DNA damage checkpoint, the first pathway known to be activated in response to DNA damage, is a mechanism by which the cell cycle is temporarily arrested to allow DNA repair. The checkpoint pathway transmits signals from the sites of DNA damage to the cell cycle machinery through the evolutionarily conserved ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and ATR (ATM- and Rad3-related) kinase cascades. We conducted a genome-wide RNAi (RNA interference) screen in Drosophila cells to identify previously unknown genes and pathways required for the G₂-M checkpoint induced by DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Our large-scale analysis provided a systems-level view of the G₂-M checkpoint and revealed the coordinated actions of particular classes of proteins, which include those involved in DNA repair, DNA replication, cell cycle control, chromatin regulation, and RNA processing. Further, from the screen and in vivo analysis, we identified previously unrecognized roles of two DNA damage response genes, mus101 and mus312. Our results suggest that the DNA replication preinitiation complex, which includes MUS101, and the MUS312-containing nuclease complexes, which are important for DSB repair, also function in the G₂-M checkpoint. Our results provide insight into the diverse mechanisms that link DNA damage and the checkpoint signaling pathway.
Drosophila melanogaster cell lines are important resources for cell biologists. Here, we catalog the expression of exons, genes, and unannotated transcriptional signals for 25 lines. Unannotated transcription is substantial (typically 19% of euchromatic signal). Conservatively, we identify 1405 novel transcribed regions; 684 of these appear to be new exons of neighboring, often distant, genes. Sixty-four percent of genes are expressed detectably in at least one line, but only 21% are detected in all lines. Each cell line expresses, on average, 5885 genes, including a common set of 3109. Expression levels vary over several orders of magnitude. Major signaling pathways are well represented: most differentiation pathways are "off" and survival/growth pathways "on." Roughly 50% of the genes expressed by each line are not part of the common set, and these show considerable individuality. Thirty-one percent are expressed at a higher level in at least one cell line than in any single developmental stage, suggesting that each line is enriched for genes characteristic of small sets of cells. Most remarkable is that imaginal disc-derived lines can generally be assigned, on the basis of expression, to small territories within developing discs. These mappings reveal unexpected stability of even fine-grained spatial determination. No two cell lines show identical transcription factor expression. We conclude that each line has retained features of an individual founder cell superimposed on a common "cell line" gene expression pattern.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate numerous biological processes by base-pairing with target messenger RNAs (mRNAs), primarily through sites in 3' untranslated regions (UTRs), to direct the repression of these targets. Although miRNAs have sometimes been observed to target genes through sites in open reading frames (ORFs), large-scale studies have shown such targeting to be generally less effective than 3' UTR targeting. Here, we show that several miRNAs each target significant groups of genes through multiple sites within their coding regions. This ORF targeting, which mediates both predictable and effective repression, arises from highly repeated sequences containing miRNA target sites. We show that such sequence repeats largely arise through evolutionary duplications and occur particularly frequently within families of paralogous C(2)H(2) zinc-finger genes, suggesting the potential for their coordinated regulation. Examples of ORFs targeted by miR-181 include both the well-known tumor suppressor RB1 and RBAK, encoding a C(2)H(2) zinc-finger protein and transcriptional binding partner of RB1. Our results indicate a function for repeat-rich coding sequences in mediating post-transcriptional regulation and reveal circumstances in which miRNA-mediated repression through ORF sites can be reliably predicted.
Polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases are a group of late-onset, progressive neurodegenerative disorders caused by CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion in the coding region of disease genes. The cell nucleus is an important site of pathology in polyQ diseases, and transcriptional dysregulation is one of the pathologic hallmarks observed. In this study, we showed that exportin-1 (Xpo1) regulates the nucleocytoplasmic distribution of expanded polyQ protein. We found that expanded polyQ protein, but not its unexpanded form, possesses nuclear export activity and interacts with Xpo1. Genetic manipulation of Xpo1 expression levels in transgenic Drosophila models of polyQ disease confirmed the specific nuclear export role of Xpo1 on expanded polyQ protein. Upon Xpo1 knockdown, the expanded polyQ protein was retained in the nucleus. The nuclear disease protein enhanced polyQ toxicity by binding to heat shock protein (hsp) gene promoter and abolished hsp gene induction. Further, we uncovered a developmental decline of Xpo1 protein levels in vivo that contributes to the accumulation of expanded polyQ protein in the nucleus of symptomatic polyQ transgenic mice. Taken together, we first showed that Xpo1 is a nuclear export receptor for expanded polyQ domain, and our findings establish a direct link between protein nuclear export and the progressive nature of polyQ neurodegeneration.
Existing transgenic RNAi resources in Drosophila melanogaster based on long double-stranded hairpin RNAs are powerful tools for functional studies, but they are ineffective in gene knockdown during oogenesis, an important model system for the study of many biological questions. We show that shRNAs, modeled on an endogenous microRNA, are extremely effective at silencing gene expression during oogenesis. We also describe our progress toward building a genome-wide shRNA resource.
The adult Drosophila midgut is thought to arise from an endodermal rudiment specified during embryogenesis. Previous studies have reported the presence of individual cells termed adult midgut precursors (AMPs) as well as "midgut islands" or "islets" in embryonic and larval midgut tissue. Yet the precise relationship between progenitor cell populations and the cells of the adult midgut has not been characterized. Using a combination of molecular markers and directed cell lineage tracing, we provide evidence that the adult midgut arises from a molecularly distinct population of single cells present by the embryonic/larval transition. AMPs reside in a distinct basal position in the larval midgut where they remain through all subsequent larval and pupal stages and into adulthood. At least five phases of AMP activity are associated with the stepwise process of midgut formation. Our data shows that during larval stages AMPs give rise to the presumptive adult epithelium; during pupal stages AMPs contribute to the final size, cell number and form. Finally, a genetic screen has led to the identification of the Ecdysone receptor as a regulator of AMP expansion.
BACKGROUND: Mapping of orthologous genes among species serves an important role in functional genomics by allowing researchers to develop hypotheses about gene function in one species based on what is known about the functions of orthologs in other species. Several tools for predicting orthologous gene relationships are available. However, these tools can give different results and identification of predicted orthologs is not always straightforward. RESULTS: We report a simple but effective tool, the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center Integrative Ortholog Prediction Tool (DIOPT; http://www.flyrnai.org/diopt), for rapid identification of orthologs. DIOPT integrates existing approaches, facilitating rapid identification of orthologs among human, mouse, zebrafish, C. elegans, Drosophila, and S. cerevisiae. As compared to individual tools, DIOPT shows increased sensitivity with only a modest decrease in specificity. Moreover, the flexibility built into the DIOPT graphical user interface allows researchers with different goals to appropriately 'cast a wide net' or limit results to highest confidence predictions. DIOPT also displays protein and domain alignments, including percent amino acid identity, for predicted ortholog pairs. This helps users identify the most appropriate matches among multiple possible orthologs. To facilitate using model organisms for functional analysis of human disease-associated genes, we used DIOPT to predict high-confidence orthologs of disease genes in Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) and genes in genome-wide association study (GWAS) data sets. The results are accessible through the DIOPT diseases and traits query tool (DIOPT-DIST; http://www.flyrnai.org/diopt-dist). CONCLUSIONS: DIOPT and DIOPT-DIST are useful resources for researchers working with model organisms, especially those who are interested in exploiting model organisms such as Drosophila to study the functions of human disease genes.
Characterizing the extent and logic of signaling networks is essential to understanding specificity in such physiological and pathophysiological contexts as cell fate decisions and mechanisms of oncogenesis and resistance to chemotherapy. Cell-based RNA interference (RNAi) screens enable the inference of large numbers of genes that regulate signaling pathways, but these screens cannot provide network structure directly. We describe an integrated network around the canonical receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)-Ras-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway, generated by combining parallel genome-wide RNAi screens with protein-protein interaction (PPI) mapping by tandem affinity purification-mass spectrometry. We found that only a small fraction of the total number of PPI or RNAi screen hits was isolated under all conditions tested and that most of these represented the known canonical pathway components, suggesting that much of the core canonical ERK pathway is known. Because most of the newly identified regulators are likely cell type- and RTK-specific, our analysis provides a resource for understanding how output through this clinically relevant pathway is regulated in different contexts. We report in vivo roles for several of the previously unknown regulators, including CG10289 and PpV, the Drosophila orthologs of two components of the serine/threonine-protein phosphatase 6 complex; the Drosophila ortholog of TepIV, a glycophosphatidylinositol-linked protein mutated in human cancers; CG6453, a noncatalytic subunit of glucosidase II; and Rtf1, a histone methyltransferase.
To gain insight into how genomic information is translated into cellular and developmental programs, the Drosophila model organism Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (modENCODE) project is comprehensively mapping transcripts, histone modifications, chromosomal proteins, transcription factors, replication proteins and intermediates, and nucleosome properties across a developmental time course and in multiple cell lines. We have generated more than 700 data sets and discovered protein-coding, noncoding, RNA regulatory, replication, and chromatin elements, more than tripling the annotated portion of the Drosophila genome. Correlated activity patterns of these elements reveal a functional regulatory network, which predicts putative new functions for genes, reveals stage- and tissue-specific regulators, and enables gene-expression prediction. Our results provide a foundation for directed experimental and computational studies in Drosophila and related species and also a model for systematic data integration toward comprehensive genomic and functional annotation.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of short noncoding RNAs that regulate protein-coding genes posttranscriptionally. In animals, most known miRNA targeting occurs within the 3'UTR of mRNAs, but the extent of biologically relevant targeting in the ORF or 5'UTR of mRNAs remains unknown. Here, we develop an algorithm (MinoTar-miRNA ORF Targets) to identify conserved regulatory motifs within protein-coding regions and use it to estimate the number of preferentially conserved miRNA-target sites in ORFs. We show that, in Drosophila, preferentially conserved miRNA targeting in ORFs is as widespread as it is in 3'UTRs and that, while far less abundant, conserved targets in Drosophila 5'UTRs number in the hundreds. Using our algorithm, we predicted a set of high-confidence ORF targets and selected seven miRNA-target pairs from among these for experimental validation. We observed down-regulation by the miRNA in five out of seven cases, indicating our approach can recover functional sites with high confidence. Additionally, we observed additive targeting by multiple sites within a single ORF. Altogether, our results demonstrate that the scale of biologically important miRNA targeting in ORFs is extensive and that computational tools such as ours can aid in the identification of such targets. Further evidence suggests that our results extend to mammals, but that the extent of ORF and 5'UTR targeting relative to 3'UTR targeting may be greater in Drosophila.
Adult structures in holometabolous insects such as Drosophila are generated by groups of imaginal cells dedicated to the formation of different organs. Imaginal cells are specified in the embryo and remain quiescent until the larval stages, when they proliferate and differentiate to form organs. The Drosophila tracheal system is extensively remodeled during metamorphosis by a small number of airway progenitors. Among these, the spiracular branch tracheoblasts are responsible for the generation of the pupal and adult abdominal airways. To understand the coordination of proliferation and differentiation during organogenesis of tubular organs, we analyzed the remodeling of Drosophila airways during metamorphosis. We show that the embryonic spiracular branch tracheoblasts are multipotent cells that express the homeobox transcription factor Cut, which is necessary for their survival and normal development. They give rise to three distinct cell populations at the end of larval development, which generate the adult tracheal tubes, the spiracle and the epidermis surrounding the spiracle. Our study establishes the series of events that lead to the formation of an adult tubular structure in Drosophila.
Predicting gene functions by integrating large-scale biological data remains a challenge for systems biology. Here we present a resource for Drosophila melanogaster gene function predictions. We trained function-specific classifiers to optimize the influence of different biological datasets for each functional category. Our model predicted GO terms and KEGG pathway memberships for Drosophila melanogaster genes with high accuracy, as affirmed by cross-validation, supporting literature evidence, and large-scale RNAi screens. The resulting resource of prioritized associations between Drosophila genes and their potential functions offers a guide for experimental investigations.