Understanding human gene function is fundamental to understanding and treating diseases. Research using the model organism benefits from a wealth of molecular genetic resources and information useful for efficient experimentation. Moreover, offers a balance as a relatively simple organism that nonetheless exhibits complex multicellular activities. Recent examples demonstrate the power and continued promise of research to further our understanding of conserved gene functions.
Methionine restriction (MetR) extends lifespan across different species and exerts beneficial effects on metabolic health and inflammatory responses. In contrast, certain cancer cells exhibit methionine auxotrophy that can be exploited for therapeutic treatment, as decreasing dietary methionine selectively suppresses tumor growth. Thus, MetR represents an intervention that can extend lifespan with a complementary effect of delaying tumor growth. Beyond its function in protein synthesis, methionine feeds into complex metabolic pathways including the methionine cycle, the transsulfuration pathway, and polyamine biosynthesis. Manipulation of each of these branches extends lifespan; however, the interplay between MetR and these branches during regulation of lifespan is not well understood. In addition, a potential mechanism linking the activity of methionine metabolism and lifespan is regulation of production of the methyl donor S-adenosylmethionine, which, after transferring its methyl group, is converted to S-adenosylhomocysteine. Methylation regulates a wide range of processes, including those thought to be responsible for lifespan extension by MetR. Although the exact mechanisms of lifespan extension by MetR or methionine metabolism reprogramming are unknown, it may act via reducing the rate of translation, modifying gene expression, inducing a hormetic response, modulating autophagy, or inducing mitochondrial function, antioxidant defense, or other metabolic processes. Here, we review the mechanisms of lifespan extension by MetR and different branches of methionine metabolism in different species and the potential for exploiting the regulation of methyltransferases to delay aging.
Metabolic homeostasis is under strict regulation of humoral factors across various taxa. In particular, insulin and glucagon, referred to in Drosophila as Drosophila insulin-like peptides (DILPs) and adipokinetic hormone (AKH), respectively, are key hormones that regulate metabolism in most metazoa. While much is known about the regulation of DILPs, the mechanisms regulating AKH/glucagon production is still poorly understood. In this review, we describe the various factors that regulate the production of DILPs and AKH and emphasize the need for future studies to decipher how energy homeostasis is governed in Drosophila. This article is categorized under: Invertebrate Organogenesis > Flies Signaling Pathways > Global Signaling Mechanisms.
Stem cells continuously perceive and respond to various environmental signals during development, tissue homeostasis, and pathological conditions. Mechanical force, one of the fundamental signals in the physical world, plays a vital role in the regulation of multiple functions of stem cells. The importance of cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix (ECM), cell-cell junctions, and a mechanoresponsive cell cytoskeleton has been under intensive study in the fields of stem cell biology and mechanobiology. However, the involvement of mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels in the mechanical regulation of stem cell activity has just begun to be realized. Here, we review the diversity and importance of mechanosensitive channels (MSCs), and discuss recently discovered functions of MSCs in stem cell regulation, especially in the determination of cell fate.
The Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) family of secreted proteins regulates a variety of key events in normal development and physiology. In mammals, this family, represented by 33 ligands, including TGF-β, activins, nodal, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), and growth and differentiation factors (GDFs), regulate biological processes as diverse as cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, metabolism, homeostasis, immune response, wound repair, and endocrine functions. In Drosophila, only 7 members of this family are present, with 4 TGF-β/BMP and 3 TGF-β/activin ligands. Studies in the fly have illustrated the role of TGF-β/BMP ligands during embryogenesis and organ patterning, while the TGF-β/activin ligands have been implicated in the control of wing growth and neuronal functions. In this review, we focus on the emerging roles of Drosophila TGF-β/activins in inter-organ communication via long-distance regulation, especially in systemic lipid and carbohydrate homeostasis, and discuss findings relevant to metabolic diseases in humans.
The adult Drosophila midgut is a complex tissue with various cell types that interact closely to maintain tissue integrity and perform organ function. The gut consists of a pseudostratified epithelium, a latticework of circular and longitudinal visceral muscles that supports the epithelium, and a tracheal vascular system. The major cell types of the midgut epithelium are the absorptive enterocytes (ECs), characterized by a large nucleus and microvilli-covered luminal surface, the enteroendocrine cells (EEs) that produce various hormones, and the intestinal stem cells (ISCs) that produce ECs and EEs [1,2] . Interactions between these cell types are critical to maintaining tissue integrity and gut function. For example, ISCs proliferation and differentiation are controlled by a complex network integrating autocrine and paracrine signals [3,4] ; hormones derived from EEs regulate EC physiology; and EC-derived factors signal to ISCs following gut damage.
A synthetic lethal interaction is a type of genetic interaction where the disruption of either of two genes individually has little effect but their combined disruption is lethal. Knowledge of synthetic lethal interactions can allow for elucidation of network structure and identification of candidate drug targets for human diseases such as cancer. In , combinatorial gene disruption has been achieved previously by combining multiple RNAi reagents. Here we describe a protocol for high-throughput combinatorial gene disruption by combining CRISPR and RNAi. This approach previously resulted in the identification of highly reproducible and conserved synthetic lethal interactions (Housden , 2015).
Single-gene knockout experiments can fail to reveal function in the context of redundancy, which is frequently observed among duplicated genes (paralogs) with overlapping functions. We discuss the complexity associated with studying paralogs and outline how recent advances in CRISPR will help address the "phenotype gap" and impact biomedical research.
Characterizing the proteome composition of organelles and subcellular regions of living cells can facilitate the understanding of cellular organization as well as protein interactome networks. Proximity labeling-based methods coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) offer a high-throughput approach for systematic analysis of spatially restricted proteomes. Proximity labeling utilizes enzymes that generate reactive radicals to covalently tag neighboring proteins with biotin. The biotinylated endogenous proteins can then be isolated for further analysis by MS. To analyze protein-protein interactions or identify components that localize to discrete subcellular compartments, spatial expression is achieved by fusing the enzyme to specific proteins or signal peptides that target to particular subcellular regions. Although these technologies have only been introduced recently, they have already provided deep insights into a wide range of biological processes. Here, we describe and compare current methods of proximity labeling as well as their applications. As each method has its own unique features, the goal of this review is to describe how different proximity labeling methods can be used to answer different biological questions. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.
THADA has been associated with cold adaptation and diabetes in humans, but the cellular and molecular basis of its function has been unknown. Moraru and colleagues (2017) report in this issue of Developmental Cell that it triggers thermogenesis by uncoupling ATP hydrolysis from calcium transport into the endoplasmic reticulum.
A synthetic lethal interaction is a type of genetic interaction where the disruption of either of two genes individually has little effect but their combined disruption is lethal. Knowledge of synthetic lethal interactions can allow for elucidation of network structure and identification of candidate drug targets for human diseases such as cancer. In Drosophila, combinatorial gene disruption has been achieved previously by combining multiple RNAi reagents. Here we describe a protocol for high-throughput combinatorial gene disruption by combining CRISPR and RNAi. This approach previously resulted in the identification of highly reproducible and conserved synthetic lethal interactions (Housden et al., 2015).
Our understanding of the genetic mechanisms that underlie biological processes has relied extensively on loss-of-function (LOF) analyses. LOF methods target DNA, RNA or protein to reduce or to ablate gene function. By analysing the phenotypes that are caused by these perturbations the wild-type function of genes can be elucidated. Although all LOF methods reduce gene activity, the choice of approach (for example, mutagenesis, CRISPR-based gene editing, RNA interference, morpholinos or pharmacological inhibition) can have a major effect on phenotypic outcomes. Interpretation of the LOF phenotype must take into account the biological process that is targeted by each method. The practicality and efficiency of LOF methods also vary considerably between model systems. We describe parameters for choosing the optimal combination of method and system, and for interpreting phenotypes within the constraints of each method.
Studies in mammals and Drosophila have demonstrated the existence and significance of secreted factors involved in communication between distal organs. In this review, primarily focusing on Drosophila, we examine the known interorgan communication factors and their functions, physiological inducers, and integration in regulating physiology. Moreover, we describe how organ-sensing screens in Drosophila can systematically identify novel conserved interorgan communication factors. Finally, we discuss how interorgan communication enabled and evolved as a result of specialization of organs. Together, we anticipate that future studies will establish a model for metazoan interorgan communication network (ICN) and how it is deregulated in disease. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genetics Volume 50 is November 23, 2016. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
The recent development of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome engineering has revolutionized our ability to modify the endogenous DNA sequence of many organisms, including Drosophila This system allows alteration of DNA sequences in situ with single base-pair precision and is now being used for a wide variety of applications. To use the CRISPR system effectively, various design parameters must be considered, including single guide RNA target site selection and identification of successful editing events. Here, we review recent advances in CRISPR methodology in Drosophila and introduce protocols for some of the more difficult aspects of CRISPR implementation: designing and generating CRISPR reagents and detecting indel mutations by high-resolution melt analysis.
The generation of precise alterations to the genome using CRISPR requires the combination of CRISPR and a donor construct containing homology to the target site. A double-strand break is first generated at the target locus using CRISPR. It is then repaired using the endogenous homologous recombination (HR) pathway. When a donor construct is provided, it can be used as a template for HR repair and can therefore be exploited to introduce alterations in the genomic sequence with single base-pair precision. Here we describe a protocol for the generation of donor constructs using Golden Gate assembly and discuss some key considerations for donor construct design for use in Drosophila.
The recent advances in CRISPR-based genome engineering have enabled a plethora of new experiments to study a wide range of biological questions. The major attraction of this system over previous methods is its high efficiency and simplicity of use. For example, whereas previous genome engineering technologies required the generation of new proteins to target each new locus, CRISPR requires only the expression of a different single guide RNA (sgRNA). This sgRNA binds to the Cas9 endonuclease protein and directs the generation of a double-strand break to a highly specific genomic site determined by the sgRNA sequence. In addition, the relative simplicity of the Drosophila genome is a particular advantage, as possible sgRNA off-target sites can easily be avoided. Here, we provide a step-by-step protocol for designing sgRNA target sites using the Drosophila RNAi Screening Center (DRSC) Find CRISPRs tool (version 2). We also describe the generation of sgRNA expression plasmids for the use in cultured Drosophila cells or in vivo. Finally, we discuss specific design requirements for various genome engineering applications.
Although CRISPR technology allows specific genome alterations to be created with relative ease, detection of these events can be problematic. For example, CRISPR-induced double-strand breaks are often repaired imprecisely to generate unpredictable short indel mutations. Detection of these events requires the use of molecular screening techniques such as endonuclease assays, restriction profiling, or high-resolution melt analysis (HRMA). Here, we provide detailed protocols for HRMA-based mutation screening in Drosophila and analysis of the resulting data using the online tool HRMAnalyzer.
On March 10 to March 12, 2015, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance sponsored a workshop in Bethesda, Maryland, to assess progress and new opportunities for research in tuberous sclerosis complex with the goal of updating the 2003 Research Plan for Tuberous Sclerosis (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/about_ninds/plans/tscler_research_plan.htm). In addition to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, participants in the strategic planning effort and workshop included representatives from six other Institutes of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program, and a broad cross-section of basic scientists and clinicians with expertise in tuberous sclerosis complex along with representatives from the pharmaceutical industry. Here we summarize the outcomes from the extensive premeeting deliberations and final workshop recommendations, including (1) progress in the field since publication of the initial 2003 research plan for tuberous sclerosis complex, (2) the key gaps, needs, and challenges that hinder progress in tuberous sclerosis complex research, and (3) a new set of research priorities along with specific recommendations for addressing the major challenges in each priority area. The new research plan is organized around both short-term and long-term goals with the expectation that progress toward specific objectives can be achieved within a five to ten year time frame.