The Rho family of small GTPases is essential for morphological changes during normal cell development and migration, as well as during disease states such as cancer. Our goal is to identify novel effectors of Rho proteins using a cell-based assay for Rho activity to perform genome-wide functional screens using double stranded RNA (dsRNAs) interference. We aim to discover genes could cause the cell phenotype changed dramatically. Biologists currently attempt to perform the genome-wide RNAi screening to identify various image phenotypes. RNAi genome-wide screening, however, could easily generate more than a million of images per study, manual analysis is thus prohibitive. Image analysis becomes a bottleneck in realizing high content imaging screens. We propose a two-step segmentation approach to solve this problem. First, we determine the center of a cell using the information in the DNA-channel by segmenting the DNA nuclei and the dissimilarity function is employed to attenuate the over-segmentation problem, then we estimate a rough boundary for each cell using a polygon. Second, we apply fuzzy c-means based multi-threshold segmentation and sharpening technology; for isolation of touching spots, marker-controlled watershed is employed to remove touching cells. Furthermore, Voronoi diagrams are employed to correct the segmentation errors caused by overlapping cells. Image features are extracted for each cell. K-nearest neighbor classifier (KNN) is employed to perform cell phenotype classification. Experimental results indicate that the proposed approach can be used to identify cell phenotypes of RNAi genome-wide screens.
Wnts [also known as Wingless (Wg)] are a family of conserved signaling molecules involved in a plethora of fundamental developmental and cell biological processes, such as cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell polarity. Dysregulation of the pathway can be detrimental, because several components are tumorigenic when mutated and are associated with hepatic, colorectal, breast, and skin cancers. First identified in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a gene family responsible for patterning the embryonic epidermis, the Wnt gene family, including Wg, encode secreted glycoproteins that activate receptor-mediated signaling pathways leading to numerous transcriptional and cellular responses. The main function of the canonical Wg pathway is to stabilize the cytoplasmic pool of a key mediator, beta-catenin [beta-catenin, known as Armadillo (Arm) in fruit flies], which is otherwise degraded by the proteasome pathway. Initially identified as a key player in stabilizing cell-cell adherens junctions, Arm is now known to also act as a transcription factor by forming a complex with the lymphoid enhancer factor (LEF)/T cell-specific transcription factor (TCF) family of high mobility group (HMG)-box transcription factors. Upon Wnt/Wg stimulation, stabilized Arm translocates to the nucleus, where, together with LEF/TCF transcription factors, it activates downstream target genes that regulate numerous cell biological processes.
Pattern formation during development is controlled to a great extent by a small number of conserved signal transduction pathways that are activated by extracellular ligands such as Hedgehog, Wingless or Decapentaplegic. Genetic experiments have identified heparan sulphate proteoglycans (HSPGs) as important regulators of the tissue distribution of these extracellular signalling molecules. Several recent reports provide important new insights into the mechanisms by which HSPGs function during development.
This chapter describes the method used to conduct high-throughput screening (HTs) by RNA interference in Drosophila tissue culture cells. It covers four main topics: (1) a brief description of the existing platforms to conduct RNAi-screens in cell-based assays; (2) a table of the Drosophila cell lines available for these screens and a brief mention of the need to establish other cell lines as well as cultures of primary cells; (3) a discussion of the considerations and protocols involved in establishing assays suitable for HTS in a 384-well format; and (A) a summary of the various ways of handling raw data from an ongoing screen, with special emphasis on how to apply normalization for experimental variation and statistical filters to sort out noise from signals.
The increasing prevalence of obesity and other nutrition-related chronic diseases has prompted considerable efforts to understand their pathogenesis and treatment. One experimental approach is to overexpress, inactivate, or manipulate specific genes that regulate energy metabolism and fat storage. Many such techniques are fully established, routine tools in Drosophila and C. elegans, which provide elegant models for dissecting endocrine problems and metabolic pathways.
BMP signaling is essential for promoting self-renewal of mouse embryonic stem cells and Drosophila germline stem cells and for repressing stem cell proliferation in the mouse intestine and skin. However, it remains unknown whether BMP signaling can promote self-renewal of adult somatic stem cells. In this study, we show that BMP signaling is necessary and sufficient for promoting self-renewal and proliferation of somatic stem cells (SSCs) in the Drosophila ovary. BMP signaling is required in SSCs to directly control their maintenance and division, but is dispensable for proliferation of their differentiated progeny. Furthermore, BMP signaling is required to control SSC self-renewal, but not survival. Moreover, constitutive BMP signaling prolongs the SSC lifespan. Therefore, our study clearly demonstrates that BMP signaling directly promotes SSC self-renewal and proliferation in the Drosophila ovary. Our work further suggests that BMP signaling could promote self-renewal of adult stem cells in other systems.
Certain pathogens, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, survive within the hostile intracellular environment of a macrophage. To identify host factors required for mycobacterial entry and survival within macrophages, we performed a genomewide RNA interference screen in Drosophila macrophage-like cells, using Mycobacterium fortuitum. We identified factors required for general phagocytosis, as well as those needed specifically for mycobacterial infection. One specific factor, Peste (Pes), is a CD36 family member required for uptake of mycobacteria, but not Escherichia coli or Staphylococcus aureus. Moreover, mammalian class B scavenger receptors (SRs) conferred uptake of bacteria into nonphagocytic cells, with SR-BI and SR-BII uniquely mediating uptake of M. fortuitum, which suggests a conserved role for class B SRs in pattern recognition and innate immunity.
During animal development, epithelial cell fates are specified according to spatial position by extracellular signaling pathways. Among these, the transforming growth factor beta/bone morphogenetic protein (TGF-beta/BMP) pathways are evolutionarily conserved and play crucial roles in the development and homeostasis of a wide range of multicellular tissues. Here we show that in the developing Drosophila wing imaginal epithelium, cell clones deprived of the BMP-like ligand Decapentaplegic (DPP) do not die as previously thought but rather extrude from the cell layer as viable cysts exhibiting marked abnormalities in cell shape and cytoskeletal organization. We propose that in addition to assigning cell fates, a crucial developmental function of DPP/BMP signaling is the position-specific control of epithelial architecture.
Invasive cell migration in both normal development and metastatic cancer is regulated by various signaling pathways, transcription factors and cell-adhesion molecules. The coordination between these activities in the context of cell migration is poorly understood. During Drosophila oogenesis, a small group of cells called border cells exit the follicular epithelium to perform a stereotypic, invasive migration. We find that the ETS transcription factor Yan is required for border cell migration and that Yan expression is spatiotemporally regulated as border cells migrate from the anterior pole of the egg chamber towards the nurse cell-oocyte boundary. Yan expression is dependent on inputs from the JAK/STAT, Notch and Receptor Tyrosine Kinase pathways in border cells. Mechanistically, Yan functions to modulate the turnover of DE-Cadherin-dependent adhesive complexes to facilitate border cell migration. Our results suggest that Yan acts as a pivotal link between signal transduction, cell adhesion and invasive cell migration in Drosophila border cells.
The Wnt-Wingless (Wg) pathway is one of a core set of evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways that regulates many aspects of metazoan development. Aberrant Wnt signaling has been linked to human disease. In the present study, we used a genomewide RNA interference (RNAi) screen in Drosophila cells to screen for regulators of the Wnt pathway. We identified 238 potential regulators, which include known pathway components, genes with functions not previously linked to this pathway, and genes with no previously assigned functions. Reciprocal-Best-Blast analyses reveal that 50% of the genes identified in the screen have human orthologs, of which approximately 18% are associated with human disease. Functional assays of selected genes from the cell-based screen in Drosophila, mammalian cells, and zebrafish embryos demonstrated that these genes have evolutionarily conserved functions in Wnt signaling. High-throughput RNAi screens in cultured cells, followed by functional analyses in model organisms, prove to be a rapid means of identifying regulators of signaling pathways implicated in development and disease.
Members of the Hedgehog (Hh) family of signaling proteins are powerful regulators of developmental processes in many organisms and have been implicated in many human disease states. Here we report the results of a genome-wide RNA interference screen in Drosophila melanogaster cells for new components of the Hh signaling pathway. The screen identified hundreds of potential new regulators of Hh signaling, including many large protein complexes with pleiotropic effects, such as the coat protein complex I (COPI) complex, the ribosome and the proteasome. We identified the multimeric protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and two new kinases, the D. melanogaster orthologs of the vertebrate PITSLRE and cyclin-dependent kinase-9 (CDK9) kinases, as Hh regulators. We also identified a large group of constitutive and alternative splicing factors, two nucleoporins involved in mRNA export and several RNA-regulatory proteins as potent regulators of Hh signal transduction, indicating that splicing regulation and mRNA transport have a previously unrecognized role in Hh signaling. Finally, we showed that several of these genes have conserved roles in mammalian Hh signaling.
Most studies of host-pathogen interactions have focused on pathogen-specific virulence determinants. Here, we report a genome-wide RNA interference screen to identify host factors required for intracellular bacterial pathogenesis. Using Drosophila cells and the cytosolic pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, we identified 305 double-stranded RNAs targeting a wide range of cellular functions that altered L. monocytogenes infection. Comparison to a similar screen with Mycobacterium fortuitum, a vacuolar pathogen, identified host factors that may play a general role in intracellular pathogenesis and factors that specifically affect access to the cytosol by L. monocytogenes.
The cytokine-activated Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathway plays an important role in the control of a wide variety of biological processes. When misregulated, JAK/STAT signaling is associated with various human diseases, such as immune disorders and tumorigenesis. To gain insights into the mechanisms by which JAK/STAT signaling participates in these diverse biological responses, we carried out a genome-wide RNA interference (RNAi) screen in cultured Drosophila cells. We identified 121 genes whose double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-mediated knockdowns affected STAT92E activity. Of the 29 positive regulators, 13 are required for the tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT92E. Furthermore, we found that the Drosophila homologs of RanBP3 and RanBP10 are negative regulators of JAK/STAT signaling through their control of nucleocytoplasmic transport of STAT92E. In addition, we identified a key negative regulator of Drosophila JAK/STAT signaling, protein tyrosine phosphatase PTP61F, and showed that it is a transcriptional target of JAK/STAT signaling, thus revealing a novel negative feedback loop. Our study has uncovered many uncharacterized genes required for different steps of the JAK/STAT signaling pathway.
The widespread class of RNA viruses that utilize internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) for translation include poliovirus and Hepatitis C virus. To identify host factors required for IRES-dependent translation and viral replication, we performed a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila cells infected with Drosophila C virus (DCV). We identified 66 ribosomal proteins that, when depleted, specifically inhibit DCV growth, but not a non-IRES-containing RNA virus. Moreover, treatment of flies with a translation inhibitor is protective in vivo. Finally, this increased sensitivity to ribosome levels also holds true for poliovirus infection of human cells, demonstrating the generality of these findings.
The establishment and stability of cell fates during development depend on the integration of multiple signals, which ultimately modulate specific patterns of gene expression. While there is ample evidence for this integration at the level of gene regulatory sequences, little is known about its operation at other levels of cellular activity. Wnt and Notch signalling are important elements of the circuitry that regulates gene expression in development and disease. Genetic analysis has suggested that in addition to convergence on the transcription of specific genes, there are modulatory cross-regulatory interactions between these signalling pathways. We report that the nodal point of these interactions is an activity of Notch that regulates the activity and the amount of the active/oncogenic form of Armadillo/beta-catenin. This activity of Notch is independent of that induced upon cleavage of its intracellular domain and which mediates transcription through Su(H)/CBF1. The modulatory function of Notch described here, contributes to the establishment of a robust threshold for Wnt signalling which is likely to play important roles in both normal and pathological situations.
The availability of complete genome sequences from many organisms has yielded the ability to perform high-throughput, genome-wide screens of gene function. Within the past year, rapid advances have been made towards this goal in many major model systems, including yeast, worms, flies, and mammals. Yeast genome-wide screens have taken advantage of libraries of deletion strains, but RNA-interference has been used in other organisms to knockdown gene function. Examples of recent large-scale functional genetic screens include drug-target identification in yeast, regulators of fat accumulation in worms, growth and viability in flies, and proteasome-mediated degradation in mammalian cells. Within the next five years, such screens are likely to lead to annotation of function of most genes across multiple organisms. Integration of such data with other genomic approaches will extend our understanding of cellular networks.
Innate immune responses are mediated by the activation of various signaling processes. Here, we describe our current knowledge on Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) signaling in the Drosophila immune response. First, we briefly introduce the main effectors involved in the humoral and cellular responses, such as anti-bacterial peptides and hemocytes. Second, we describe the canonical JAK/STAT-signaling pathway, as established from extensive studies in mammalian systems, and we introduce the Drosophila components of the JAK/STAT pathway, as discovered from studies on embryonic development. Third, we describe the various roles of JAK/STAT signaling in both humoral and cellular responses. We present the JAK/STAT-dependent humoral factors, such as the thioester-containing proteins and the Tot peptides, produced by the fat body in response to septic injury. We also discuss the possible involvement of the JAK/STAT pathway in cellular responses, including hemocyte proliferation and differentiation. Finally, we present how cytokines, such as Upd3, might contribute to the integration of the immune responses at the organism level by orchestrating the response of various immune cells and organs, such as fat body, hemocytes, and lymph glands.
The completion of whole-genome sequencing of various model organisms and the recent explosion of new technologies in the field of Functional Genomics and Proteomics is poised to revolutionize the way scientists identify and characterize gene function. One of the most significant advances in recent years has been the application of RNA interference (RNAi) as a means of assaying gene function. In the post-genomic era, advances in the field of cancer biology will rely upon the rapid identification and characterization of genes that regulate cell growth, proliferation, and apoptosis. Significant efforts are being directed towards cancer therapy and devising efficient means of selectively delivering drugs to cancerous cells. In this review, we discuss the promise of integrating genome-wide RNAi screens with proteomic approaches and small-molecule chemical genetic screens, towards improving our ability to understand and treat cancer.