MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to sequences within the 3' UTR of mRNAs. Because miRNAs bind to short sequences with partial complementarity, target identification is challenging. To complement the existing target prediction algorithms, we devised a systematic "reverse approach" screening platform that allows the empirical prediction of miRNA-target interactions. Using Drosophila cells, we screened the 3' untranslated regions (3' UTRs) of the Hedgehog pathway genes against a genome-wide miRNA library and identified both predicted and many nonpredicted miRNA-target interactions. We demonstrate that miR-14 is essential for maintaining the proper level of Hedgehog signaling activity by regulating its physiological target, hedgehog. Furthermore, elevated levels of miR-14 suppress Hedgehog signaling activity by cotargeting its apparent nonphysiological targets, patched and smoothened. Altogether, our systematic screening platform is a powerful approach to identifying both physiological and apparent nonphysiological targets of miRNAs, which are relevant in both normal and diseased tissues.
Stem cells possess the capacity to generate two cells of distinct fate upon division: one cell retaining stem cell identity and the other cell destined to differentiate. These cell fates are established by cell-type-specific genetic networks. To comprehensively identify components of these networks, we performed a large-scale RNAi screen in Drosophila female germline stem cells (GSCs) covering ∼25% of the genome. The screen identified 366 genes that affect GSC maintenance, differentiation, or other processes involved in oogenesis. Comparison of GSC regulators with neural stem cell self-renewal factors identifies common and cell-type-specific self-renewal genes. Importantly, we identify the histone methyltransferase Set1 as a GSC-specific self-renewal factor. Loss of Set1 in neural stem cells does not affect cell fate decisions, suggesting a differential requirement of H3K4me3 in different stem cell lineages. Altogether, our study provides a resource that will help to further dissect the networks underlying stem cell self-renewal.
Here we report the development of an in vivo system to study the interaction of stem cells with drugs using a tumor model in the adult Drosophila intestine. Strikingly, we find that some Food and Drug Administration-approved chemotherapeutics that can inhibit the growth of Drosophila tumor stem cells can paradoxically promote the hyperproliferation of their wild-type counterparts. These results reveal an unanticipated side effect on stem cells that may contribute to tumor recurrence. We propose that the same side effect may occur in humans based on our finding that it is driven in Drosophila by the evolutionarily conserved Janus kinase-signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK-STAT) pathway. An immediate implication of our findings is that supplementing traditional chemotherapeutics with anti-inflammatories may reduce tumor recurrence.
Our ability to modify the Drosophila genome has recently been revolutionized by the development of the CRISPR system. The simplicity and high efficiency of this system allows its widespread use for many different applications, greatly increasing the range of genome modification experiments that can be performed. Here, we first discuss some general design principles for genome engineering experiments in Drosophila and then present detailed protocols for the production of CRISPR reagents and screening strategies to detect successful genome modification events in both tissue culture cells and animals.
A characteristic feature of aged humans and other mammals is the debilitating, progressive loss of skeletal muscle function and mass that is known as sarcopenia. Age-related muscle dysfunction occurs to an even greater extent during the relatively short lifespan of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Studies in model organisms indicate that sarcopenia is driven by a combination of muscle tissue extrinsic and intrinsic factors, and that it fundamentally differs from the rapid atrophy of muscles observed following disuse and fasting. Extrinsic changes in innervation, stem cell function and endocrine regulation of muscle homeostasis contribute to muscle aging. In addition, organelle dysfunction and compromised protein homeostasis are among the primary intrinsic causes. Some of these age-related changes can in turn contribute to the induction of compensatory stress responses that have a protective role during muscle aging. In this Review, we outline how studies in Drosophila and mammalian model organisms can each provide distinct advantages to facilitate the understanding of this complex multifactorial condition and how they can be used to identify suitable therapies.
In Drosophila cells, RNA interference (RNAi) can be triggered by synthetic long double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs). For many Drosophila cell lines and cell types, passive dsRNA uptake is inefficient. More complete silencing responses can often be obtained in Drosophila S2 cells using transfection, perhaps because higher levels of intracellular dsRNA are achieved. In this protocol, S2 cells are transfected with dsRNA using QIAGEN's Effectene reagent, which has proven to be reliable for many investigators. A plasmid DNA can also be included in the transfection mix to provide additional functionality. The plasmid DNA can encode, for example, a reporter of the activity of a pathway or specific transcription factor, or a marker that allows visualization of some cellular behavior or structure. It is also useful to include a plasmid that encodes a fluorescent protein simply to monitor transfection efficiency.
The fruit fly Drosophila has contributed significantly to our general understanding of the basic principles of signaling, cell and developmental biology, and neurobiology. However, answers to questions pertaining to energy metabolism have been so far mostly addressed in more complex model organisms such as mice. We review in this article recent studies that show how the genetic tractability and simplicity of Drosophila are being used to identify novel regulatory mechanisms at the organismal level, and to query the co-ordination between energy metabolism and other processes such as neurodegeneration, circadian rhythms, immunity, and tumor biology.
Notch1 is a rational therapeutic target in several human cancers, but as a transcriptional regulator, it poses a drug discovery challenge. To identify Notch1 modulators, we performed two cell-based, high-throughput screens for small-molecule inhibitors and cDNA enhancers of a NOTCH1 allele bearing a leukemia-associated mutation. Sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA) channels emerged at the intersection of these complementary screens. SERCA inhibition preferentially impairs the maturation and activity of mutated Notch1 receptors and induces a G0/G1 arrest in NOTCH1-mutated human leukemia cells. A small-molecule SERCA inhibitor has on-target activity in two mouse models of human leukemia and interferes with Notch signaling in Drosophila. These studies "credential" SERCA as a therapeutic target in cancers associated with NOTCH1 mutations.
The intestine has evolved under constant environmental stresses, because an animal may ingest harmful pathogens or chemicals at any time during its lifespan. Following damage, intestinal stem cells (ISCs) regenerate the intestine by proliferating to replace dying cells. ISCs from diverse animals are remarkably similar, and the Wnt, Notch, and Hippo signaling pathways, important regulators of mammalian ISCs, are conserved from flies to humans. Unexpectedly, we identified the transcription factor period, a component of the circadian clock, to be critical for regeneration, which itself follows a circadian rhythm. We discovered hundreds of transcripts that are regulated by the clock during intestinal regeneration, including components of stress response and regeneration pathways. Disruption of clock components leads to arrhythmic ISC divisions, revealing their underappreciated role in the healing process.
Regulation of cell growth is a fundamental process in development and disease that integrates a vast array of extra- and intracellular information. A central player in this process is RNA polymerase I (Pol I), which transcribes ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes in the nucleolus. Rapidly growing cancer cells are characterized by increased Pol I-mediated transcription and, consequently, nucleolar hypertrophy. To map the genetic network underlying the regulation of nucleolar size and of Pol I-mediated transcription, we performed comparative, genome-wide loss-of-function analyses of nucleolar size in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila melanogaster coupled with mass spectrometry-based analyses of the ribosomal DNA (rDNA) promoter. With this approach, we identified a set of conserved and nonconserved molecular complexes that control nucleolar size. Furthermore, we characterized a direct role of the histone information regulator (HIR) complex in repressing rRNA transcription in yeast. Our study provides a full-genome, cross-species analysis of a nuclear subcompartment and shows that this approach can identify conserved molecular modules.
RNAi is an evolutionarily conserved gene regulatory process that operates in a wide variety of organisms. During RNAi, long double-stranded RNA precursors are processed by Dicer proteins into ∼21-nt siRNAs. Subsequently, siRNAs are incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs) that contain Argonaute-family proteins and guide RISC to target RNAs via complementary base pairing, leading to posttranscriptional gene silencing. Select pre-mRNA splicing factors have been implicated in RNAi in fission yeast, worms, and flies, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we show that SmD1, a core component of the Drosophila small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle implicated in splicing, is required for RNAi and antiviral immunity in cultured cells and in vivo. SmD1 interacts with both Dicer-2 and dsRNA precursors and is indispensable for optimal siRNA biogenesis. Depletion of SmD1 impairs the assembly and function of the small interfering RISC without significantly affecting the expression of major canonical siRNA pathway components. Moreover, SmD1 physically and functionally associates with components of the small interfering RISC, including Argonaute 2, both in flies and in humans. Notably, RNAi defects resulting from SmD1 silencing can be uncoupled from defects in pre-mRNA splicing, and the RNAi and splicing machineries are physically and functionally distinct entities. Our results suggest that Drosophila SmD1 plays a direct role in RNAi-mediated gene silencing independently of its pre-mRNA splicing activity and indicate that the dual roles of splicing factors in posttranscriptional gene regulation may be evolutionarily widespread.
The Hippo pathway controls metazoan organ growth by regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis. Many components have been identified, but our knowledge of the composition and structure of this pathway is still incomplete. Using existing pathway components as baits, we generated by mass spectrometry a high-confidence Drosophila Hippo protein-protein interaction network (Hippo-PPIN) consisting of 153 proteins and 204 interactions. Depletion of 67% of the proteins by RNA interference regulated the transcriptional coactivator Yorkie (Yki) either positively or negatively. We selected for further characterization a new member of the alpha-arrestin family, Leash, and show that it promotes degradation of Yki through the lysosomal pathway. Given the importance of the Hippo pathway in tumor development, the Hippo-PPIN will contribute to our understanding of this network in both normal growth and cancer.
A fundamental question in developmental biology is how tissue growth and patterning are coordinately regulated to generate complex organs with characteristic shapes and sizes. We showed that in the developing primordium that produces the Drosophila adult trachea, the homeobox transcription factor Cut regulates both growth and patterning, and its effects depend on its abundance. Quantification of the abundance of Cut in the developing airway progenitors during late larval stage 3 revealed that the cells of the developing trachea had different amounts of Cut, with the most proliferative region having an intermediate amount of Cut and the region lacking Cut exhibiting differentiation. By manipulating Cut abundance, we showed that Cut functioned in different regions to regulate proliferation or patterning. Transcriptional profiling of progenitor populations with different amounts of Cut revealed the Wingless (known as Wnt in vertebrates) and Notch signaling pathways as positive and negative regulators of cut expression, respectively. Furthermore, we identified the gene encoding the receptor Breathless (Btl, known as fibroblast growth factor receptor in vertebrates) as a transcriptional target of Cut. Cut inhibited btl expression and tracheal differentiation to maintain the developing airway cells in a progenitor state. Thus, Cut functions in the integration of patterning and growth in a developing epithelial tissue.
The ability to engineer genomes in a specific, systematic, and cost-effective way is critical for functional genomic studies. Recent advances using the CRISPR-associated single-guide RNA system (Cas9/sgRNA) illustrate the potential of this simple system for genome engineering in a number of organisms. Here we report an effective and inexpensive method for genome DNA editing in Drosophila melanogaster whereby plasmid DNAs encoding short sgRNAs under the control of the U6b promoter are injected into transgenic flies in which Cas9 is specifically expressed in the germ line via the nanos promoter. We evaluate the off-targets associated with the method and establish a Web-based resource, along with a searchable, genome-wide database of predicted sgRNAs appropriate for genome engineering in flies. Finally, we discuss the advantages of our method in comparison with other recently published approaches.
BACKGROUND: Tandem affinity purification coupled with mass-spectrometry (TAP/MS) analysis is a popular method for the identification of novel endogenous protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in large-scale. Computational analysis of TAP/MS data is a critical step, particularly for high-throughput datasets, yet it remains challenging due to the noisy nature of TAP/MS data. RESULTS: We investigated several major TAP/MS data analysis methods for identifying PPIs, and developed an advanced method, which incorporates an improved statistical method to filter out false positives from the negative controls. Our method is named PPIRank that stands for PPI ranking in TAP/MS data. We compared PPIRank with several other existing methods in analyzing two pathway-specific TAP/MS PPI datasets from Drosophila. CONCLUSION: Experimental results show that PPIRank is more capable than other approaches in terms of identifying known interactions collected in the BioGRID PPI database. Specifically, PPIRank is able to capture more true interactions and simultaneously less false positives in both Insulin and Hippo pathways of Drosophila Melanogaster.
Several myopathies are associated with defects in autophagic and lysosomal degradation of glycogen, but it remains unclear how glycogen is targeted to the lysosome and what significance this process has for muscle cells. We have established a Drosophila melanogaster model to study glycogen autophagy in skeletal muscles, using chloroquine (CQ) to simulate a vacuolar myopathy that is completely dependent on the core autophagy genes. We show that autophagy is required for the most efficient degradation of glycogen in response to starvation. Furthermore, we show that CQ-induced myopathy can be improved by reduction of either autophagy or glycogen synthesis, the latter possibly due to a direct role of Glycogen Synthase in regulating autophagy through its interaction with Atg8.
In a developing Drosophila melanogaster embryo, mRNAs have a maternal origin, a zygotic origin, or both. During the maternal-zygotic transition, maternal products are degraded and gene expression comes under the control of the zygotic genome. To interrogate the function of mRNAs that are both maternally and zygotically expressed, it is common to examine the embryonic phenotypes derived from female germline mosaics. Recently, the development of RNAi vectors based on short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) effective during oogenesis has provided an alternative to producing germline clones. Here, we evaluate the efficacies of: (1) maternally loaded shRNAs to knockdown zygotic transcripts and (2) maternally loaded Gal4 protein to drive zygotic shRNA expression. We show that, while Gal4-driven shRNAs in the female germline very effectively generate phenotypes for genes expressed maternally, maternally loaded shRNAs are not very effective at generating phenotypes for early zygotic genes. However, maternally loaded Gal4 protein is very efficient at generating phenotypes for zygotic genes expressed during mid-embryogenesis. We apply this powerful and simple method to unravel the embryonic functions of a number of pleiotropic genes.
One of the most dramatic examples of programmed cell death occurs during Drosophila metamorphosis, when most of the larval tissues are destroyed in a process termed histolysis. Much of our understanding of this process comes from analyses of salivary gland and midgut cell death. In contrast, relatively little is known about the degradation of the larval musculature. Here, we analyze the programmed destruction of the abdominal dorsal exterior oblique muscle (DEOM) which occurs during the first 24h of metamorphosis. We find that ecdysone signaling through Ecdysone receptor isoform B1 is required cell autonomously for the muscle death. Furthermore, we show that the orphan nuclear receptor FTZ-F1, opposed by another nuclear receptor, HR39, plays a critical role in the timing of DEOM histolysis. Finally, we show that unlike the histolysis of salivary gland and midgut, abdominal muscle death occurs by apoptosis, and does not require autophagy. Thus, there is no set rule as to the role of autophagy and apoptosis during Drosophila histolysis.