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.
How proteins control the biogenesis of cellular lipid droplets (LDs) is poorly understood. Using Drosophila and human cells, we show here that seipin, an ER protein implicated in LD biology, mediates a discrete step in LD formation-the conversion of small, nascent LDs to larger, mature LDs. Seipin forms discrete and dynamic foci in the ER that interact with nascent LDs to enable their growth. In the absence of seipin, numerous small, nascent LDs accumulate near the ER and most often fail to grow. Those that do grow prematurely acquire lipid synthesis enzymes and undergo expansion, eventually leading to the giant LDs characteristic of seipin deficiency. Our studies identify a discrete step of LD formation, namely the conversion of nascent LDs to mature LDs, and define a molecular role for seipin in this process, most likely by acting at ER-LD contact sites to enable lipid transfer to nascent LDs.
How food and water intake is reciprocally regulated to maintain homeostasis is unclear. New findings by Jourjine and colleagues identify four neurons in the Drosophila brain that receive both water and sugar abundance signals and oppositely regulate hunger and thirst.
Insulin regulates an essential conserved signaling pathway affecting growth, proliferation, and metabolism. To expand our understanding of the insulin pathway, we combine biochemical, genetic, and computational approaches to build a comprehensive Drosophila InR/PI3K/Akt network. First, we map the dynamic protein-protein interaction network surrounding the insulin core pathway using bait-prey interactions connecting 566 proteins. Combining RNAi screening and phospho-specific antibodies, we find that 47% of interacting proteins affect pathway activity, and, using quantitative phosphoproteomics, we demonstrate that 10% of interacting proteins are regulated by insulin stimulation at the level of phosphorylation. Next, we integrate these orthogonal datasets to characterize the structure and dynamics of the insulin network at the level of protein complexes and validate our method by identifying regulatory roles for the Protein Phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and Reptin-Pontin chromatin-remodeling complexes as negative and positive regulators of ribosome biogenesis, respectively. Altogether, our study represents a comprehensive resource for the study of the evolutionary conserved insulin network.
During development and homeostasis, cells integrate multiple signals originating either from neighboring cells or systemically. In turn, responding cells can produce signals that act in an autocrine, paracrine, or endocrine manner. Although the nature of the signals and pathways used in cell-cell communication are well characterized, we lack, in most cases, an integrative view of signaling describing the spatial and temporal interactions between pathways (e.g., whether the signals are processed sequentially or concomitantly when two pathways are required for a specific outcome). To address the extent of cross-talk between the major metazoan signaling pathways, we characterized immediate transcriptional responses to either single- or multiple pathway stimulations in homogeneous Drosophila cell lines. Our study, focusing on seven core pathways, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), Jun kinase (JNK), JAK/STAT, Notch, Insulin, and Wnt, revealed that many ligands and receptors are primary targets of signaling pathways, highlighting that transcriptional regulation of genes encoding pathway components is a major level of signaling cross-talk. In addition, we found that ligands and receptors can integrate multiple pathway activities and adjust their transcriptional responses accordingly.
Aging is a risk factor for many human pathologies and is characterized by extensive metabolic changes. Using targeted high-throughput metabolite profiling in Drosophila melanogaster at different ages, we demonstrate that methionine metabolism changes strikingly during aging. Methionine generates the methyl donor S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM), which is converted via methylation to S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH), which accumulates during aging. A targeted RNAi screen against methionine pathway components revealed significant life span extension in response to down-regulation of two noncanonical Drosophila homologs of the SAH hydrolase Ahcy (S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase [SAHH[), CG9977/dAhcyL1 and Ahcy89E/CG8956/dAhcyL2, which act as dominant-negative regulators of canonical AHCY. Importantly, tissue-specific down-regulation of dAhcyL1/L2 in the brain and intestine extends health and life span. Furthermore, metabolomic analysis of dAhcyL1-deficient flies revealed its effect on age-dependent metabolic reprogramming and H3K4 methylation. Altogether, reprogramming of methionine metabolism in young flies and suppression of age-dependent SAH accumulation lead to increased life span. These studies highlight the role of noncanonical Ahcy enzymes as determinants of healthy aging and longevity.
A small number of developmental signaling pathways are used repeatedly throughout development in many different contexts. How these pathways interact with each other and the specific cell context to generate a wide range of appropriate responses remains an important question. The application of genomic and proteomic approaches and imaging at high spatiotemporal resolution are providing answers to this question and revealing new levels of complexity. Here, we discuss pathways as complex networks and examples of how signaling outcomes can be influenced by the temporal nature of the signal, its spatial regulation, and the cell context.
Several programmable transcription factors exist based on the versatile Cas9 protein, yet their relative potency and effectiveness across various cell types and species remain unexplored. Here, we compare Cas9 activator systems and examine their ability to induce robust gene expression in several human, mouse, and fly cell lines. We also explore the potential for improved activation through the combination of the most potent activator systems, and we assess the role of cooperativity in maximizing gene expression.
The protein-protein interaction (PPI) network is crucial for cellular information processing and decision-making. With suitable inputs, PPI networks drive the cells to diverse functional outcomes such as cell proliferation or cell death. Here, we characterize the structural controllability of a large directed human PPI network comprising 6,339 proteins and 34,813 interactions. This network allows us to classify proteins as "indispensable," "neutral," or "dispensable," which correlates to increasing, no effect, or decreasing the number of driver nodes in the network upon removal of that protein. We find that 21% of the proteins in the PPI network are indispensable. Interestingly, these indispensable proteins are the primary targets of disease-causing mutations, human viruses, and drugs, suggesting that altering a network's control property is critical for the transition between healthy and disease states. Furthermore, analyzing copy number alterations data from 1,547 cancer patients reveals that 56 genes that are frequently amplified or deleted in nine different cancers are indispensable. Among the 56 genes, 46 of them have not been previously associated with cancer. This suggests that controllability analysis is very useful in identifying novel disease genes and potential drug targets.
Coordinating cell differentiation with cell growth and division is crucial for the successful development, homeostasis and regeneration of multicellular tissues. Here, we use bristle patterning in the fly notum as a model system to explore the regulatory and functional coupling of cell cycle progression and cell fate decision-making. The pattern of bristles and intervening epithelial cells (ECs) becomes established through Notch-mediated lateral inhibition during G2 phase of the cell cycle, as neighbouring cells physically interact with each other via lateral contacts and/or basal protrusions. Since Notch signalling controls cell division timing downstream of Cdc25, ECs in lateral contact with a Delta-expressing cell experience higher levels of Notch signalling and divide first, followed by more distant neighbours, and lastly Delta-expressing cells. Conversely, mitotic entry and cell division makes ECs refractory to lateral inhibition signalling, fixing their fate. Using a combination of experiments and computational modelling, we show that this reciprocal relationship between Notch signalling and cell cycle progression acts like a developmental clock, providing a delimited window of time during which cells decide their fate, ensuring efficient and orderly bristle patterning.
The rapid rise of CRISPR as a technology for genome engineering and related research applications has created a need for algorithms and associated online tools that facilitate design of on-target and effective guide RNAs (gRNAs). Here, we review the state-of-the-art in CRISPR gRNA design for research applications of the CRISPR-Cas9 system, including knockout, activation and inhibition. Notably, achieving good gRNA design is not solely dependent on innovations in CRISPR technology. Good design and design tools also rely on availability of high-quality genome sequence and gene annotations, as well as on availability of accumulated data regarding off-targets and effectiveness metrics. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Using a series of immunoprecipitation (IP)-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) experiments and reciprocal BLAST, we conducted a fly-human cross-species comparison of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) interactome in a drosophila S2R+ cell line and several NSCLC and human multiple myeloma cell lines to identify conserved interacting proteins to PI3K, a critical signaling regulator of the AKT pathway. Using H929 human cancer cells and drosophila S2R+ cells, our data revealed an unexpected direct binding of Corkscrew, the drosophila ortholog of the non-receptor protein tyrosine phosphatase type II (SHP2) to the Pi3k21B (p60) regulatory subunit of PI3K (p50/p85 human ortholog) but no association with Pi3k92e, the human ortholog of the p110 catalytic subunit. The p85-SHP2 association was validated in human cell lines, and formed a ternary regulatory complex with GRB2-associated-binding protein 2 (GAB2). Validation experiments with knockdown of GAB2 and Far-Western blots proved the direct interaction of SHP2 with p85, independent of adaptor proteins and transfected FLAG-p85 provided evidence that SHP2 binding on p85 occurred on the SH2 domains. A disruption of the SHP2-p85 complex took place after insulin/IGF1 stimulation or imatinib treatment, suggesting that the direct SHP2-p85 interaction was both independent of AKT activation and positively regulates the ERK signaling pathway.
Cellular and systemic responses to low oxygen levels are principally mediated by Hypoxia Inducible Factors (HIFs), a family of evolutionary conserved heterodimeric transcription factors, whose alpha- and beta-subunits belong to the bHLH-PAS family. In normoxia, HIFα is hydroxylated by specific prolyl-4-hydroxylases, targeting it for proteasomal degradation, while in hypoxia the activity of these hydroxylases decreases due to low oxygen availability, leading to HIFα accumulation and expression of HIF target genes. To identify microRNAs required for maximal HIF activity, we conducted an overexpression screen in Drosophila melanogaster, evaluating the induction of a HIF transcriptional reporter. miR-190 overexpression enhanced HIF-dependent biological responses, including terminal sprouting of the tracheal system, while in miR-190 loss of function embryos the hypoxic response was impaired. In hypoxic conditions, miR-190 expression was upregulated and required for induction of HIF target genes by directly inhibiting the HIF prolyl-4-hydroxylase Fatiga. Thus, miR-190 is a novel regulator of the hypoxia response that represses the oxygen sensor Fatiga, leading to HIFα stabilization and enhancement of hypoxic responses.
Postsynaptic cells can induce synaptic plasticity through the release of activity-dependent retrograde signals. We previously described a Ca(2+)-dependent retrograde signaling pathway mediated by postsynaptic Synaptotagmin 4 (Syt4). To identify proteins involved in postsynaptic exocytosis, we conducted a screen for candidates that disrupted trafficking of a pHluorin-tagged Syt4 at Drosophila neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Here we characterize one candidate, the postsynaptic t-SNARE Syntaxin 4 (Syx4). Analysis of Syx4 mutants reveals that Syx4 mediates retrograde signaling, modulating the membrane levels of Syt4 and the transsynaptic adhesion protein Neuroligin 1 (Nlg1). Syx4-dependent trafficking regulates synaptic development, including controlling synaptic bouton number and the ability to bud new varicosities in response to acute neuronal stimulation. Genetic interaction experiments demonstrate Syx4, Syt4, and Nlg1 regulate synaptic growth and plasticity through both shared and parallel signaling pathways. Our findings suggest a conserved postsynaptic SNARE machinery controls multiple aspects of retrograde signaling and cargo trafficking within the postsynaptic compartment.
Adult stem cells or residential progenitor cells are critical to maintain the structure and function of adult tissues (homeostasis) throughout the lifetime of an individual. Mis-regulation of stem cell proliferation and differentiation often leads to diseases including cancer, however, how wildtype adult stem cells and cancer cells respond to cellular damages remains unclear. We find that in the adult Drosophila midgut, intestinal stem cells (ISCs), unlike tumor intestinal cells, are resistant to various cellular damages. Tumor intestinal cells, unlike wildtype ISCs, are easily eliminated by apoptosis. Further, their proliferation is inhibited upon autophagy induction, and autophagy-mediated tumor inhibition is independent of caspase-dependent apoptosis. Interestingly, inhibition of tumorigenesis by autophagy is likely through the sequestration and degradation of mitochondria, as compromising mitochondria activity in these tumor models mimics the induction of autophagy and increasing the production of mitochondria alleviates the tumor-suppression capacity of autophagy. Together, these data demonstrate that wildtype adult stem cells and tumor cells show dramatic differences in sensitivity to cellular damages, thus providing potential therapeutic implications targeting tumorigenesis.