Construction of marker-free transplastomic plants.
Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 18:107-14. Abstract
Because of its prokaryotic-type gene expression machinery, maternal inheritance and the opportunity to express proteins at a high level, the plastid genome (plastome or ptDNA) is an increasingly popular target for engineering. The ptDNA is present as up to 10,000 copies per cell, making selection for marker genes essential to obtain plants with uniformly transformed ptDNA. However, the marker gene is no longer desirable when homoplastomic plants are obtained. Marker-free transplastomic plants can now be obtained with four recently developed protocols: homology-based excision via directly repeated sequences, excision by phage site-specific recombinanses, transient cointegration of the marker gene, and the cotransformation-segregation approach. Marker excision technology will benefit applications in agriculture and in molecular farming.
A guide to choosing vectors for transformation of the plastid genome of higher plants.
Plant Physiol.. 145:1201-10. Abstract
Plastid transformation, originally developed in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), has recently been extended to a number of crop species enabling in vivo probing of plastid function and biotechnological applications. In this article we report new plastid vectors that enable insertion of transgenes in the inverted repeat region of the plastome between the trnV and 3'rps12 or trnI and trnA genes. Efficient recovery of transplastomic clones is ensured by selection for spectinomycin (aadA) or kanamycin (neo) resistance genes. Expression of marker genes can be verified using commercial antibodies that detect the accumulation of neomycin phosphotranseferase II, the neo gene product, or the C-terminal c-myc tag of aminoglycoside-3''-adenylytransferase, encoded by the aadA gene. Aminoglycoside-3''-adenylytransferase, the spectinomycin inactivating enzyme, is translationally fused with green fluorescent protein in two vectors so that transplastomic clones can be selected by spectinomycin resistance and visually identified by fluorescence in ultraviolet light. The marker genes in the new vectors are flanked by target sites for Cre or Int, the P1 and phiC31 phage site-specific recombinases. When uniform transformation of all plastid genomes is obtained, the marker genes can be excised by Cre or Int expressed from a nuclear gene. Choice of expression signals for the gene of interest, complications caused by the presence of plastid DNA sequences recognized by Cre, and loss of transgenes by homologous recombination via duplicated sequences are also discussed to facilitate a rational choice from among the existing vectors and to aid with new target-specific vector designs.
Plastid genomes in a regenerating tobacco shoot derive from a small number of copies selected through a stochastic process.
Plant J.. 56:975-83. Abstract
The plastid genome (ptDNA) of higher plants is highly polyploid, and the 1000-10 000 copies are compartmentalized with up to approximately 100 plastids per cell. The problem we address here is whether or not a newly arising genome can be established in a developing tobacco shoot, and be transmitted to the seed progeny. We tested this by generating two unequal ptDNA populations in a cultured tobacco cell. The parental tobacco plants in this study have an aurea (yellowish-golden) leaf color caused by the presence of a bar(au) gene in the ptDNA. In addition, the ptDNA carries an aadA gene flanked with the phiC31 phage site-specific recombinase (Int) attP/attB target sites. The genetically distinct ptDNA copies were obtained by Int, which either excised only the aadA marker gene (i.e. did not affect the aurea phenotype) or triggered the deletion of both the aadA and bar(au) transgenes, and thereby restored the green color. The ptDNA determining green plastids represented only a small fraction of the population and was not seen in a transient excision assay, and yet three out of the 53 regenerated shoots carried green plastids in all developmental layers. The remaining 49 Int-expressing plants had either exclusively aurea (24) or variegated (25) leaves with aurea and green sectors. The formation of homoplastomic green shoots with the minor green ptDNA in all developmental layers suggests that the ptDNA population in a regenerating shoot apical meristem derives from a small number of copies selected through a stochastic process.
Transformation of the plastid genome to study RNA editing.
Methods in Enzymology. 424:501-18. Abstract
In this chapter we provide an overview of cytosine-to-uridine (C-to-U) RNA editing in the plastids of higher plants. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role plastid transformation played in understanding the editing process. We discuss how plastid transformation enabled identification of mRNA cis elements for editing and gave the first insight into the role of editing trans factors. The introduction will be followed by a protocol for plastid transformation, including vector design employed to identify editing cis elements. We also discuss how to test RNA editing in vivo by cDNA sequencing. At the end, we summarize the status of the field and outline future directions.
Transplastomics in Arabidopsis: progress toward developing an efficient method.
Methods in Molecular Biology. 774:133-47. Abstract
Protocols developed for plastome engineering in Nicotiana tabacum rely on biolistic delivery of the transforming DNA to chloroplasts in intact leaf tissue; integration of the foreign DNA into the plastid genome by homologous recombination via flanking plastid DNA (ptDNA) targeting regions; and gradual dilution of non-transformed ptDNA during cultivation in vitro. Plastid transformation in Arabidopsis was obtained by combining the tobacco leaf transformation protocol with Arabidopsis-specific tissue culture and plant regeneration protocols. Because the leaf cells in Arabidopsis are polyploid, this protocol yielded sterile plants. Meristematic cells in a shoot apex or cells of a developing embryo are diploid. Therefore, we developed a regulated embryogenic root culture system that will generate diploid tissue for plastid transformation. This embryogenic culture system is created by steroid-inducible expression of the BABY BOOM transcription factor. Plastid transformation in Arabidopsis will enable the probing of plastid gene function, and the characterization of posttranscriptional mechanisms of gene regulation and the regulatory interactions of plastid and nuclear genes.
Endosperm-specific demethylation and activation of specific alleles of alpha-tubulin genes of Zea mays L.
Molecular & general genetics : MGG. 246:716-22. Abstract
We have investigated the methylation status of the alpha-tubulin genes, and the degree of accumulation of their mRNAs in endosperm, embryo and seedling tissues of Zea mays L. We have found that many of the alpha-tubulin genes are differentially demethylated in the endosperm relative to the embryo and seedling. However, only for tub alpha 2 and tub alpha 4 could a correlation between DNA demethylation and increased RNA accumulation be detected. By analyzing the inbred lines W64A and A69Y and their reciprocal crosses, we have also identified in the endosperm two alpha-tubulin genes, tub alpha 3 and tub alpha 4, that are differentially demethylated if transmitted by the maternal germline, but that remain hypermethylated when transmitted by the paternal germline.
The sequence of a large L1Md element reveals a tandemly repeated 5' end and several features found in retrotransposons.
Mol Cell Biol. 6:168-82. Abstract
The complete nucleotide sequence of a 6,851-base pair (bp) member of the L1Md repetitive family from a selected random isolate of the BALB/c mouse genome is reported here. Five kilobases of the element contains two overlapping reading frames of 1,137 and 3,900 bp. The entire 3,900-bp frame and the 3' 600 bp of the 1,137-bp frame, when compared with a composite consensus primate L1 sequence, show a ratio of replacement to silent site differences characteristic of protein coding sequences. This more closely defines the protein coding capacity of this repetitive family, which was previously shown to possess a large open reading frame of undetermined extent. The relative organization of the 1,137- and 3,900-bp reading frames, which overlap by 14 bp, bears resemblance to protein-coding, mobile genetic elements. Homology can be found between the amino acid sequence of the 3,900-bp frame and selected domains of several reverse transcriptases. The 5' ends of the two L1Md elements described in this report have multiple copies, 4 2/3 copies and 1 2/3 copy, of a 208-bp direct tandem repeat. The sequence of this 208-bp element differs from the sequence of a previously defined 5' end for an L1Md element, indicating that there are at least two different 5' end motifs for L1Md.
Requirement for two copies of RNA polymerase alpha subunit C-terminal domain for synergistic transcription activation at complex bacterial promoters..
Genes & development. 16(19):2557-65. Abstract
Transcription activation by the Escherichia coli cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) at different promoters has been studied using RNA polymerase holoenzyme derivatives containing two full-length alpha subunits, or containing one full-length alpha subunit and one truncated alpha subunit lacking the alpha C-terminal domain (alpha CTD). At a promoter having a single DNA site for CRP, activation requires only one full-length alpha subunit. Likewise, at a promoter having a single DNA site for CRP and one adjacent UP-element subsite (high-affinity DNA site for alpha CTD), activation requires only one full-length alpha subunit. In contrast, at promoters having two DNA sites for CRP, or one DNA site for CRP and two UP-element subsites, activation requires two full-length alpha subunits. We conclude that a single copy of alpha CTD is sufficient to interact with one CRP molecule and one adjacent UP-element subsite, but two copies of alpha CTD are required to interact with two CRP molecules or with one CRP molecule and two UP-element subsites.
Amplicons of maize zein genes are conserved within genic but expanded and constricted in intergenic regions.
The Plant journal : for cell and molecular biology. 15:211-20. Abstract
The 78,101 base pair long sequence of a cluster of 22-kDa alpha zein genes in the maize inbred BSSS53 was determined. Each zein gene is contained within a repeat unit that varies in length. If such a repeat, or amplicon, is aligned along the entire sequence, a 10.5-fold sequence amplification is delineated. Because of insertions and deletions in intergenic regions, many of the zein genes are spaced over different distances. Only three out of 10 zein-related sequences have an intact open reading frame, indicating an unusual large number of genes unable to contribute to the accumulation of normal-size 22-kDa zein proteins. It is proposed that the seven remaining zein-related sequences be considered gene reserves because of their potential to be restored by gene conversion. Intergenic insertions in the cluster range from 1098 to 14,896 base pairs. Although they are composed of transposable element sequences, they also contain additional open reading frames, two of them showing homology to rice cDNA sequences. The average amplicon is 4423 base pairs long, with the sequence surrounding each zein gene more than 90% conserved. Coincidently, the size of the amplicon is equivalent to the average gene density (one gene within 4640 bp) in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome, one of the smallest in plants. Successive steps of amplification and insertion of DNA might explain to a certain degree how genome size variation has been generated in plants.
EGF signalling activates the ubiquitin proteasome system to modulate C. elegans lifespan.
EMBO J. 30:2990-3003. Abstract
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) signalling regulates growth and differentiation. Here, we examine the function of EGF signalling in Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan. We find that EGF signalling regulates lifespan via the Ras-MAPK pathway and the PLZF transcription factors EOR-1 and EOR-2. As animals enter adulthood, EGF signalling upregulates the expression of genes involved in the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), including the Skp1-like protein SKR-5, while downregulating the expression of HSP16-type chaperones. Using reporters for global UPS activity, protein aggregation, and oxidative stress, we find that EGF signalling alters protein homoeostasis in adults by increasing UPS activity and polyubiquitination, while decreasing protein aggregation. We show that SKR-5 and the E3/E4 ligases that comprise the ubiquitin fusion degradation (UFD) complex are required for the increase in UPS activity observed in adults, and that animals that lack SKR-5 or the UFD have reduced lifespans and indications of oxidative stress. We propose that as animals enter fertile adulthood, EGF signalling switches the mechanism for maintaining protein homoeostasis from a chaperone-based approach to an approach involving protein elimination via augmented UPS activity.
FMRFamide-like Neuropeptides and Mechanosensory Touch Receptor Neurons Regulate male Sexual Turning Behavior in Caenorhabditis Elegans.
J Neurosci. 27:7174-7182. Abstract
Caenorhabditis elegans male mating provides a powerful model to study the relationship between the nervous system, genes, and innate sexual behaviors. Male mating is the most complex behavior exhibited by the nematode C. elegans and involves the steps of response, backing, turning, vulva location, spicule insertion, and sperm transfer. Because neuropeptides are important neural regulators of many complex animal behaviors, we explored the function of the FMRFamide-like neuropeptide (flp) gene family in regulating male copulation. We found that peptidergic signaling mediated by FMRF-amide like neuropeptides (FLPs) FLP-8, FLP-10, FLP-12, and FLP-20 is required for the sensory transduction involved in male turning behavior. flp-8, flp-10, flp-12, and flp-20 mutant males significantly increase repetition of substep(s) of turning behavior compared with wild-type males. Genes controlling neuropeptide processing and secretion in general, including egl-3, egl-21, ida-1, and unc-31, are also required for inhibiting repetitive turning behavior. Neuropeptidergic signaling adjusts the repetitiveness of turning independently of serotonergic modulation of the timing of turning. Surprisingly, the mechanosensitive touch receptor neurons are found to be part of the neural circuitry regulating male turning behavior, indicating the existence of functional dimorphisms in the nervous system with regard to sex-specific behaviors.
Two genes required for meiotic recombination in Drosophila are expressed from a dicistronic message.
Genetics. 154:1735-46. Abstract
We have isolated two alleles of a previously unidentified meiotic recombination gene, mei-217. Genetic analysis of these mutants shows that mei-217 is a typical "precondition" gene. The phenotypes of the mutants are meiosis specific. The strongest allele has 10% of the normal level of crossing over, and the residual events are distributed abnormally. We have used double mutant analysis to position mei-217 in the meiotic recombination pathway. In general, mutations causing defects in the initiation of meiotic recombination are epistatic to mutations in mei-41 and spnB. These two mutations, however, are epistatic to mei-217, suggesting that recombination is initiated normally in mei-217 mutants. It is likely that mei-217 mutants are able to make Holliday junction intermediates but are defective in the production of crossovers. These phenotypes are most similar to mutants of the mei-218 gene. This is striking because mei-217 and mei-218 are part of the same transcription unit and are most likely produced from a dicistronic message.
Roles for scalloped and vestigial in regulating cell affinity and interactions between the wing blade and the wing hinge.
Developmental biology. 228:287-303. Abstract
The scalloped and vestigial genes are both required for the formation of the Drosophila wing, and recent studies have indicated that they can function as a heterodimeric complex to regulate the expression of downstream target genes. We have analyzed the consequences of complete loss of scalloped function, ectopic expression of scalloped, and ectopic expression of vestigial on the development of the Drosophila wing imaginal disc. Clones of cells mutant for a strong allele of scalloped fail to proliferate within the wing pouch, but grow normally in the wing hinge and notum. Cells overexpressing scalloped fail to proliferate in both notal and wing-blade regions of the disc, and this overexpression induces apoptotic cell death. Clones of cells overexpressing vestigial grow smaller or larger than control clones, depending upon their distance from the dorsal-ventral compartment boundary. These studies highlight the importance of correct scalloped and vestigial expression levels to normal wing development. Our studies of vestigial-overexpressing clones also reveal two further aspects of wing development. First, in the hinge region vestigial exerts both a local inhibition and a long-range induction of wingless expression. These and other observations imply that vestigial-expressing cells in the wing blade organize the development of surrounding wing-hinge cells. Second, clones of cells overexpressing vestigial exhibit altered cell affinities. Our analysis of these clones, together with studies of scalloped mutant clones, implies that scalloped- and vestigial-dependent cell adhesion contributes to separation of the wing blade from the wing hinge and to a gradient of cell affinities along the dorsal-ventral axis of the wing.
Characterization of the monoterpene synthase gene tps26, the ortholog of a gene induced by insect herbivory in maize.
Plant Physiol.. 146:940–951. Abstract
Plants damaged by insects can synthesize and release volatile chemicals that attract natural enemies of the herbivore. The maize (Zea mays subsp. mays) terpene synthase gene stc1 is part of that indirect defense response, being induced in seedling blades in response to herbivory by beet army worm. Many genes in maize are duplicated because of a past whole-genome duplication event, and several of these orthologs display different expression patterns. We report here the isolation and characterization of tps26 and confirm by homology and synteny criteria that it is the ortholog of stc1. Prior genetic analysis revealed that the stc1 function is not duplicated, raising the interesting question of how the two orthologs have become differentiated in their expression. tps26 encodes a 633-amino acid protein that is highly conserved with STC1. Like stc1, tps26 is induced by wounding, but in the roots and leaf sheath, instead of the blade, and not in response to beet army worm feeding. tps26 maps near a quantitative trait locus for Southwestern corn borer resistance, making it a plausible candidate gene for that quantitative trait locus. However, while possessing highly polymorphic tps26 alleles, the resistant and susceptible parents of the mapping population do not differ in levels of tps26 expression. Moreover, tps26 is not induced specifically by Southwestern corn borer feeding. Therefore, although they share a wounding response, the stc1 and tps26 maize orthologs differ in their tissue specificity and their induction by insect herbivores. The N termini of STC1 and TPS26 are predicted to encode plastid transit peptides; fusion proteins of green fluorescent protein to either N terminus localized to the plastid, confirming that prediction. The mature proteins, but not the respective complete proteins, were active and synthesized a blend of monoterpenes, indicating that they are monoterpene synthases. A gene closely related to stc1/tps26 is found in the sorghum (Sorghum spp.) genome at a location that is not orthologous with stc1. The possible origin of stc1-like genes is discussed.
Requirement for a core 1 galactosyltransferase in the Drosophila nervous system.
Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 237:3703-14. Abstract
Mucin type O-glycosylation is a widespread modification of eukaryotic proteins, but its functional requirements remain incompletely understood. It is initiated by the attachment of N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) to Ser or Thr residues, and then elongated by additional sugars. We have examined requirements for mucin-type glycosylation in Drosophila by characterizing the expression and phenotypes of core 1 galactosyltransferases (core 1 GalTs), which elongate O-GalNAc by adding galactose in a beta1,3 linkage. Drosophila encode several putative core 1 GalTs, each expressed in distinct patterns. CG9520 (C1GalTA) is expressed in the amnioserosa and central nervous system. A null mutation in C1GalTA is lethal, and mutant animals exhibit a striking morphogenetic defect in which the ventral nerve cord is greatly elongated and the brain hemispheres are misshapen. Lectin staining and blotting experiments confirmed that C1GalTA contributes to the synthesis of Gal-beta1,3-GalNAc in vivo. Our results identify a role for mucin-type O-glycosylation during neural development in Drosophila.
Notch activity in neural cells triggered by a mutant allele with altered glycosylation.
Development (Cambridge, England). 130:2829-40. Abstract
The receptor protein Notch is inactive in neural precursor cells despite neighboring cells expressing ligands. We investigated specification of the R8 neural photoreceptor cells that initiate differentiation of each Drosophila ommatidium. The ligand Delta was required in R8 cells themselves, consistent with a lateral inhibitor function for Delta. By contrast, Delta expressed in cells adjacent to R8 could not activate Notch in R8 cells. The split mutation of Notch was found to activate signaling in R8 precursor cells, blocking differentiation and leading to altered development and neural cell death. split did not affect other, inductive functions of Notch. The Ile578-->Thr578 substitution responsible for the split mutation introduced a new site for O-fucosylation on EGF repeat 14 of the Notch extracellular domain. The O-fucose monosaccharide did not require extension by Fringe to confer the phenotype. Our results suggest functional differences between Notch in neural and non-neural cells. R8 precursor cells are protected from lateral inhibition by Delta. The protection is affected by modifications of a particular EGF repeat in the Notch extracellular domain. These results suggest that the pattern of neurogenesis is determined by blocking Notch signaling, as well as by activating Notch signaling.
Crystal Structure of the MATa1/MATalpha2 Homeodomain Heterodimer in Complex with DNa Containing an A-tract.
Nucleic Acids Res. 26:5707-5718. Abstract
The crystal structure of the heterodimer formed by the DNA binding domains of the yeast mating type transcription factors, MATa1 and MATalpha2, bound to a 21 bp DNA fragment has been determined at 2.5 A resolution. The DNA fragment in the present study differs at four central base pairs from the DNA sequence used in the previously studied ternary complex. These base pair changes give rise to a (dA5).(dT5) tract without changing the overall base composition of the DNA. The resulting A-tract occurs near the center of the overall 60 degrees bend in the DNA. Comparison of the two structures shows that the structural details of the DNA bend are maintained despite the DNA sequence changes. Analysis of the A5-tract DNA subfragment shows that it contains a bend toward the minor groove centered at one end of the A-tract. The observed bend is larger than that observed in the crystal structures of A-tracts embedded in uncomplexed DNA, which are straight and have been presumed to be quite rigid. Variation of the central DNA base sequence reverses the two AT base pairs contacted in the minor groove by Arg7 of the alpha2 N-terminal arm without significantly altering the DNA binding affinity of the a1/alpha2 heterodimer. The Arg7 side chain accommodates the sequence change by forming alternate H bond interactions, in agreement with the proposal that minor groove base pair recognition is insensitive to base pair reversal. Furthermore, the minor groove spine of hydration, which stabilizes the narrowed minor groove caused by DNA bending, is conserved in both structures. We also find that many of the water-mediated hydrogen bonds between the a1 and alpha2 homeodomains and the DNA are highly conserved, indicating an important role for water in stabilization of the a1/alpha2-DNA complex.
Excision of Helitron transposons in maize.
Genetics. 182:399–402. Abstract
Helitrons are novel transposons discovered by bioinformatic analysis of eukaryotic genome sequences. They are believed to move by rolling circle (RC) replication because their predicted transposases are homologous to those of bacterial RC transposons. We report here evidence of somatic Helitron excision in maize, an unexpected finding suggesting that Helitrons can exhibit an excisive mode of transposition.
Translational fusion of chloroplast-expressed human papillomavirus type 16 L1 capsid protein enhances antigen accumulation in transplastomic tobacco.
Transgenic Research. 17:1091-102. Abstract
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the causal agent of cervical cancer, one of the most common causes of death for women. The major capsid L1 protein self-assembles in Virus Like Particles (VLPs), which are highly immunogenic and suitable for vaccine production. In this study, a plastid transformation approach was assessed in order to produce a plant-based HPV-16 L1 vaccine. Transplastomic plants were obtained after transformation with vectors carrying a chimeric gene encoding the L1 protein either as the native viral (L1(v) gene) or a synthetic sequence optimized for expression in plant plastids (L1(pt) gene) under control of plastid expression signals. The L1 mRNA was detected in plastids and the L1 antigen accumulated up to 1.5% total leaf proteins only when vectors included the 5'-UTR and a short N-terminal coding segment (Downstream Box) of a plastid gene. The half-life of the engineered L1 protein, determined by pulse-chase experiments, is at least 8 h. Formation of immunogenic VLPs in chloroplasts was confirmed by capture ELISA assay using antibodies recognizing conformational epitopes and by electron microscopy.
An O-fucose site in the ligand binding domain inhibits Notch activation.
Development (Cambridge, England). 130:6411-21. Abstract
Two glycosyltransferases that transfer sugars to EGF domains, OFUT1 and Fringe, regulate Notch signaling. However, sites of O-fucosylation on Notch that influence Notch activation have not been previously identified. Moreover, the influences of OFUT1 and Fringe on Notch activation can be positive or negative, depending on their levels of expression and on whether Delta or Serrate is signaling to Notch. Here, we describe the consequences of eliminating individual, highly conserved sites of O-fucose attachment to Notch. Our results indicate that glycosylation of an EGF domain proposed to be essential for ligand binding, EGF12, is crucial to the inhibition of Serrate-to-Notch signaling by Fringe. Expression of an EGF12 mutant of Notch (N-EGF12f) allows Notch activation by Serrate even in the presence of Fringe. By contrast, elimination of three other highly conserved sites of O-fucosylation does not have detectable effects. Binding assays with a soluble Notch extracellular domain fusion protein and ligand-expressing cells indicate that the NEGF12f mutation can influence Notch activation by preventing Fringe from blocking Notch-Serrate binding. The N-EGF12f mutant can substitute for endogenous Notch during embryonic neurogenesis, but not at the dorsoventral boundary of the wing. Thus, inhibition of Notch-Serrate binding by O-fucosylation of EGF12 might be needed in certain contexts to allow efficient Notch signaling.