Publications

In Press
Zhang, W, Messing J.  In Press.  PacBio RS for gene family studies. Methods in Molecular Biology. Haplotyping.
Wu, Y, Messing J.  In Press.  Understanding and improving protein traits in maize seeds. Achieving Sustainable Maize Cultivation.
2017
Garner, AL, Rammohan J, Huynh JP, Onder LM, Chen J, Bae B, Jensen D, Weiss LA, Manzano AR, Darst SA et al..  2017.  Effects of Increasing the Affinity of CarD for RNA Polymerase on Mycobacterium tuberculosis Growth, rRNA Transcription, and Virulence. Journal of Bacteriology.
2016
Gurdon, C, Svab Z, Feng Y, Kumar D, Maliga P.  2016.  Cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria in plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113:3395-400. AbstractWebsite
We report cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria through a graft junction. Mitochondrial movement was discovered in an experiment designed to select for chloroplast transfer fromNicotiana sylvestrisintoNicotiana tabacumcells. The alloplasmicN. tabacumline we used carriesNicotiana undulatacytoplasmic genomes, and its flowers are male sterile due to the foreign mitochondrial genome. Thus, rare mitochondrial DNA transfer fromN. sylvestristoN. tabacumcould be recognized by restoration of fertile flower anatomy. Analyses of the mitochondrial genomes revealed extensive recombination, tentatively linking male sterility toorf293, a mitochondrial gene causing homeotic conversion of anthers into petals. Demonstrating cell-to-cell movement of mitochondria reconstructs the evolutionary process of horizontal mitochondrial DNA transfer and enables modification of the mitochondrial genome by DNA transmitted from a sexually incompatible species. Conversion of anthers into petals is a visual marker that can be useful for mitochondrial transformation.
Sun, S, Irvine KD.  2016.  Cellular Organization and Cytoskeletal Regulation of the Hippo Signaling Network.. Trends in cell biology. 26(9):694-704. Abstract
The Hippo signaling network integrates diverse upstream signals to control cell fate decisions and regulate organ growth. Recent studies have provided new insights into the cellular organization of Hippo signaling, its relationship to cell-cell junctions, and how the cytoskeleton modulates Hippo signaling. Cell-cell junctions serve as platforms for Hippo signaling by localizing scaffolding proteins that interact with core components of the pathway. Interactions of Hippo pathway components with cell-cell junctions and the cytoskeleton also suggest potential mechanisms for the regulation of the pathway by cell contact and cell polarity. As our understanding of the complexity of Hippo signaling increases, a future challenge will be to understand how the diverse inputs into the pathway are integrated and to define their respective contributions in vivo.
Radford, SJ, McKim KS.  2016.  Techniques for Imaging Prometaphase and Metaphase of Meiosis I in Fixed Drosophila Oocytes.. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. (116) Abstract
Chromosome segregation in human oocytes is error prone, resulting in aneuploidy, which is the leading genetic cause of miscarriage and birth defects. The study of chromosome behavior in oocytes from model organisms holds much promise to uncover the molecular basis of the susceptibility of human oocytes to aneuploidy. Drosophila melanogaster is amenable to genetic manipulation, with over 100 years of research, community, and technique development. Visualizing chromosome behavior and spindle assembly in Drosophila oocytes has particular challenges, however, due primarily to the presence of membranes surrounding the oocyte that are impenetrable to antibodies. We describe here protocols for the collection, preparation, and imaging of meiosis I spindle assembly and chromosome behavior in Drosophila oocytes, which allow the molecular dissection of chromosome segregation in this important model organism.
Pan, Y, Heemskerk I, Ibar C, Shraiman BI, Irvine KD.  2016.  Differential growth triggers mechanical feedback that elevates Hippo signaling.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Abstract
Mechanical stress can influence cell proliferation in vitro, but whether it makes a significant contribution to growth control in vivo, and how it is modulated and experienced by cells within developing tissues, has remained unclear. Here we report that differential growth reduces cytoskeletal tension along cell junctions within faster-growing cells. We propose a theoretical model to explain the observed reduction of tension within faster-growing clones, supporting it by computer simulations based on a generalized vertex model. This reduced tension modulates a biomechanical Hippo pathway, decreasing recruitment of Ajuba LIM protein and the Hippo pathway kinase Warts, and decreasing the activity of the growth-promoting transcription factor Yorkie. These observations provide a specific mechanism for a mechanical feedback that contributes to evenly distributed growth, and we show that genetically suppressing mechanical feedback alters patterns of cell proliferation in the developing Drosophila wing. By providing experimental support for the induction of mechanical stress by differential growth, and a molecular mechanism linking this stress to the regulation of growth in developing organs, our results confirm and extend the mechanical feedback hypothesis.
Misra, JR, Irvine KD.  2016.  Vamana Couples Fat Signaling to the Hippo Pathway.. Developmental cell. 39(2):254-266. Abstract
The protocadherins Dachsous and Fat initiate a signaling pathway that controls growth and planar cell polarity by regulating the membrane localization of the atypical myosin Dachs. How Dachs is regulated by Fat signaling has remained unclear. Here we identify the vamana gene as playing a crucial role in regulating membrane localization of Dachs and in linking Fat and Dachsous to Dachs regulation. Vamana, an SH3-domain-containing protein, physically associates with and co-localizes with Dachs and promotes its membrane localization. Vamana also associates with the Dachsous intracellular domain and with a region of the Fat intracellular domain that is essential for controlling Hippo signaling and levels of Dachs. Epistasis experiments, structure-function analysis, and physical interaction experiments argue that Fat negatively regulates Dachs in a Vamana-dependent process. Our findings establish Vamana as a crucial component of the Dachsous-Fat pathway that transmits Fat signaling by regulating Dachs.
Radford, SJ, Nguyen AL, Schindler K, McKim KS.  2016.  The chromosomal basis of meiotic acentrosomal spindle assembly and function in oocytes.. Chromosoma. Abstract
Several aspects of meiosis are impacted by the absence of centrosomes in oocytes. Here, we review four aspects of meiosis I that are significantly affected by the absence of centrosomes in oocyte spindles. One, microtubules tend to assemble around the chromosomes. Two, the organization of these microtubules into a bipolar spindle is directed by the chromosomes. Three, chromosome bi-orientation and attachment to microtubules from the correct pole require modification of the mechanisms used in mitotic cells. Four, chromosome movement to the poles at anaphase cannot rely on polar anchoring of spindle microtubules by centrosomes. Overall, the chromosomes are more active participants during acentrosomal spindle assembly in oocytes, compared to mitotic and male meiotic divisions where centrosomes are present. The chromosomes are endowed with information that can direct the meiotic divisions and dictate their own behavior in oocytes. Processes beyond those known from mitosis appear to be required for their bi-orientation at meiosis I. As mitosis occurs without centrosomes in many systems other than oocytes, including all plants, the concepts discussed here may not be limited to oocytes. The study of meiosis in oocytes has revealed mechanisms that are operating in mitosis and will probably continue to do so.
Vvedenskaya, IO, Vahedian-Movahed H, Zhang Y, Taylor DM, Ebright RH, Nickels BE.  2016.  Interactions between RNA polymerase and the core recognition element are a determinant of transcription start site selection.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113:E2899-E2905. Abstract
During transcription initiation, RNA polymerase (RNAP) holoenzyme unwinds ∼13 bp of promoter DNA, forming an RNAP-promoter open complex (RPo) containing a single-stranded transcription bubble, and selects a template-strand nucleotide to serve as the transcription start site (TSS). In RPo, RNAP core enzyme makes sequence-specific protein-DNA interactions with the downstream part of the nontemplate strand of the transcription bubble ("core recognition element," CRE). Here, we investigated whether sequence-specific RNAP-CRE interactions affect TSS selection. To do this, we used two next-generation sequencing-based approaches to compare the TSS profile of WT RNAP to that of an RNAP derivative defective in sequence-specific RNAP-CRE interactions. First, using massively systematic transcript end readout, MASTER, we assessed effects of RNAP-CRE interactions on TSS selection in vitro and in vivo for a library of 4(7) (∼16,000) consensus promoters containing different TSS region sequences, and we observed that the TSS profile of the RNAP derivative defective in RNAP-CRE interactions differed from that of WT RNAP, in a manner that correlated with the presence of consensus CRE sequences in the TSS region. Second, using 5' merodiploid native-elongating-transcript sequencing, 5' mNET-seq, we assessed effects of RNAP-CRE interactions at natural promoters in Escherichia coli, and we identified 39 promoters at which RNAP-CRE interactions determine TSS selection. Our findings establish RNAP-CRE interactions are a functional determinant of TSS selection. We propose that RNAP-CRE interactions modulate the position of the downstream end of the transcription bubble in RPo, and thereby modulate TSS selection, which involves transcription bubble expansion or transcription bubble contraction (scrunching or antiscrunching).
Mao, Y, Kuta A, Crespo-Enriquez I, Whiting D, Martin T, Mulvaney J, Irvine KD, Francis-West P.  2016.  Dchs1-Fat4 regulation of polarized cell behaviours during skeletal morphogenesis.. Nature communications. 7:11469. Abstract
Skeletal shape varies widely across species as adaptation to specialized modes of feeding and locomotion, but how skeletal shape is established is unknown. An example of extreme diversity in the shape of a skeletal structure can be seen in the sternum, which varies considerably across species. Here we show that the Dchs1-Fat4 planar cell polarity pathway controls cell orientation in the early skeletal condensation to define the shape and relative dimensions of the mouse sternum. These changes fit a model of cell intercalation along differential Dchs1-Fat4 activity that drives a simultaneous narrowing, thickening and elongation of the sternum. Our results identify the regulation of cellular polarity within the early pre-chondrogenic mesenchyme, when skeletal shape is established, and provide the first demonstration that Fat4 and Dchs1 establish polarized cell behaviour intrinsically within the mesenchyme. Our data also reveal the first indication that cell intercalation processes occur during ventral body wall elongation and closure.
Winkelman, JT, Vvedenskaya IO, Zhang Y, Zhang Y, Bird JG, Taylor DM, Gourse RL, Ebright RH, Nickels BE.  2016.  Multiplexed protein-DNA cross-linking: Scrunching in transcription start site selection.. Science (New York, N.Y.). 351(6277):1090-3. Abstract
In bacterial transcription initiation, RNA polymerase (RNAP) selects a transcription start site (TSS) at variable distances downstream of core promoter elements. Using next-generation sequencing and unnatural amino acid-mediated protein-DNA cross-linking, we have determined, for a library of 4(10) promoter sequences, the TSS, the RNAP leading-edge position, and the RNAP trailing-edge position. We find that a promoter element upstream of the TSS, the "discriminator," participates in TSS selection, and that, as the TSS changes, the RNAP leading-edge position changes, but the RNAP trailing-edge position does not change. Changes in the RNAP leading-edge position, but not the RNAP trailing-edge position, are a defining hallmark of the "DNA scrunching" that occurs concurrent with RNA synthesis in initial transcription. We propose that TSS selection involves DNA scrunching prior to RNA synthesis.
Joshi, KK, Matlack TL, Rongo C.  2016.  Dopamine signaling promotes the xenobiotic stress response and protein homeostasis.. The EMBO journal. Abstract
Multicellular organisms encounter environmental conditions that adversely affect protein homeostasis (proteostasis), including extreme temperatures, toxins, and pathogens. It is unclear how they use sensory signaling to detect adverse conditions and then activate stress response pathways so as to offset potential damage. Here, we show that dopaminergic mechanosensory neurons in C. elegans release the neurohormone dopamine to promote proteostasis in epithelia. Signaling through the DA receptor DOP-1 activates the expression of xenobiotic stress response genes involved in pathogenic resistance and toxin removal, and these genes are required for the removal of unstable proteins in epithelia. Exposure to a bacterial pathogen (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) results in elevated removal of unstable proteins in epithelia, and this enhancement requires DA signaling. In the absence of DA signaling, nematodes show increased sensitivity to pathogenic bacteria and heat-shock stress. Our results suggest that dopaminergic sensory neurons, in addition to slowing down locomotion upon sensing a potential bacterial feeding source, also signal to frontline epithelia to activate the xenobiotic stress response so as to maintain proteostasis and prepare for possible infection.
Wang, W, Wu Y, Messing J.  2016.  Genome-wide analysis of pentatricopeptide-repeat proteins of an aquatic plant.. Planta. Abstract
A large proportion of genes in plant genomes are organized as gene families. Whereas most gene families in the aquative plant Spirodela are reduced in their copy number, the PPR gene family is expanded, which match the RNA editing sites in organelles, providing us with new insights in the evolution of flowering plants. Pentatricopeptide-repeat proteins (PPRs) are nuclear-encoded proteins that are targeted to mitochondria and plastids to stabilize and edit mRNA transcribed from organellar genomes. They have been described for many terrestrial plant species from a diverse spectrum of sequenced genomes. To further increase our understanding of the evolution of this gene family across angiosperms, we analyzed the PPR genes in the aquatic species Spirodela polyrhiza in the order of the Alismatales (monocotyledonous plants). Because we had generated next generation sequencing data from transcripts and had sequenced the genome of Spirodela polyrhiza, we were able to identify its PPR genes and determine the level of their expression. In total, we could identify 556 PPR proteins, of which 238 members belong to the P (P motif) subfamily that is mainly involved in RNA stabilization and 318 ones to the PLS (P, Longer P, shorter P motif) subfamily responsible for RNA editing. Compared to other angiosperms, this is a large increase in the copy number of the PLS-PPRs subfamily and the expansion correlates with the increase of the number of RNA editing sites of organellar transcripts. Expression of PPR was generally stable even during growing and dormant stages, indicating that their function was critical throughout development. However, PPRs, especially those of the PLS subfamily, were expressed at relatively low levels, suggesting a delicate fine-tuning of its trans-acting function in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Thus, understanding PPR evolution and expression will help decipher the PPR code for their binding sites, which could genetically engineer RNA-binding proteins toward desired sequence.
Feng, Y, Zhang Y, Ebright RH.  2016.  Structural basis of transcription activation.. Science (New York, N.Y.). 352(6291):1330-3. AbstractWebsite
Class II transcription activators function by binding to a DNA site overlapping a core promoter and stimulating isomerization of an initial RNA polymerase (RNAP)-promoter closed complex into a catalytically competent RNAP-promoter open complex. Here, we report a 4.4 angstrom crystal structure of an intact bacterial class II transcription activation complex. The structure comprises Thermus thermophilus transcription activator protein TTHB099 (TAP) [homolog of Escherichia coli catabolite activator protein (CAP)], T. thermophilus RNAP σ(A) holoenzyme, a class II TAP-dependent promoter, and a ribotetranucleotide primer. The structure reveals the interactions between RNAP holoenzyme and DNA responsible for transcription initiation and reveals the interactions between TAP and RNAP holoenzyme responsible for transcription activation. The structure indicates that TAP stimulates isomerization through simple, adhesive, stabilizing protein-protein interactions with RNAP holoenzyme.
Messing, J.  2016.  Phage M13 for the treatment of Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.. Gene. 583(2):85-9. Abstract
The studies of microbes have been instrumental in combatting infectious diseases, but they have also led to great insights into basic biological mechanism like DNA replication, transcription, and translation of mRNA. In particular, the studies of bacterial viruses, also called bacteriophage, have been quite useful to study specific cellular processes because of the ease to isolate their DNA, mRNA, and proteins. Here, I review the recent discovery of how properties of the filamentous phage M13 emerge as a novel approach to combat neurodegenerative diseases.
Bird, JG, Zhang Y, Tian Y, Panova N, Barvík I, Greene L, Liu M, Buckley B, Krásný L, Lee JK et al..  2016.  The mechanism of RNA 5' capping with NAD(+), NADH and desphospho-CoA.. Nature. 525(7612):444-447. Abstract
The chemical nature of the 5' end of RNA is a key determinant of RNA stability, processing, localization and translation efficiency, and has been proposed to provide a layer of 'epitranscriptomic' gene regulation. Recently it has been shown that some bacterial RNA species carry a 5'-end structure reminiscent of the 5' 7-methylguanylate 'cap' in eukaryotic RNA. In particular, RNA species containing a 5'-end nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+)) or 3'-desphospho-coenzyme A (dpCoA) have been identified in both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. It has been proposed that NAD(+), reduced NAD(+) (NADH) and dpCoA caps are added to RNA after transcription initiation, in a manner analogous to the addition of 7-methylguanylate caps. Here we show instead that NAD(+), NADH and dpCoA are incorporated into RNA during transcription initiation, by serving as non-canonical initiating nucleotides (NCINs) for de novo transcription initiation by cellular RNA polymerase (RNAP). We further show that both bacterial RNAP and eukaryotic RNAP II incorporate NCIN caps, that promoter DNA sequences at and upstream of the transcription start site determine the efficiency of NCIN capping, that NCIN capping occurs in vivo, and that NCIN capping has functional consequences. We report crystal structures of transcription initiation complexes containing NCIN-capped RNA products. Our results define the mechanism and structural basis of NCIN capping, and suggest that NCIN-mediated 'ab initio capping' may occur in all organisms.
Dong, J, Feng Y, Kumar D, Zhang W, Zhu T, Luo M-C, Messing J.  2016.  Analysis of tandem gene copies in maize chromosomal regions reconstructed from long sequence reads.. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113(29):7949-56. Abstract
Haplotype variation not only involves SNPs but also insertions and deletions, in particular gene copy number variations. However, comparisons of individual genomes have been difficult because traditional sequencing methods give too short reads to unambiguously reconstruct chromosomal regions containing repetitive DNA sequences. An example of such a case is the protein gene family in maize that acts as a sink for reduced nitrogen in the seed. Previously, 41-48 gene copies of the alpha zein gene family that spread over six loci spanning between 30- and 500-kb chromosomal regions have been described in two Iowa Stiff Stalk (SS) inbreds. Analyses of those regions were possible because of overlapping BAC clones, generated by an expensive and labor-intensive approach. Here we used single-molecule real-time (Pacific Biosciences) shotgun sequencing to assemble the six chromosomal regions from the Non-Stiff Stalk maize inbred W22 from a single DNA sequence dataset. To validate the reconstructed regions, we developed an optical map (BioNano genome map; BioNano Genomics) of W22 and found agreement between the two datasets. Using the sequences of full-length cDNAs from W22, we found that the error rate of PacBio sequencing seemed to be less than 0.1% after autocorrection and assembly. Expressed genes, some with premature stop codons, are interspersed with nonexpressed genes, giving rise to genotype-specific expression differences. Alignment of these regions with those from the previous analyzed regions of SS lines exhibits in part dramatic differences between these two heterotic groups.
Gyuricza, MR, Manheimer KB, Apte V, Krishnan B, Joyce EF, McKee BD, McKim KS.  2016.  Dynamic and Stable Cohesins Regulate Synaptonemal Complex Assembly and Chromosome Segregation.. Current biology : CB. 26(13):1688-1698. Abstract
Assembly of the synaptonemal complex (SC) in Drosophila depends on two independent pathways defined by the chromosome axis proteins C(2)M and ORD. Because C(2)M encodes a Kleisin-like protein and ORD is required for sister-chromatid cohesion, we tested the hypothesis that these two SC assembly pathways depend on two cohesin complexes. Through single- and double-mutant analysis to study the mitotic cohesion proteins Stromalin (SA) and Nipped-B (SCC2) in meiosis, we provide evidence that there are at least two meiosis-specific cohesin complexes. One complex depends on C(2)M, SA, and Nipped-B. Despite the presence of mitotic cohesins SA and Nipped-B, this pathway has only a minor role in meiotic sister-centromere cohesion and is primarily required for homolog interactions. C(2)M is continuously incorporated into pachytene chromosomes even though SC assembly is complete. In contrast, the second complex, which depends on meiosis-specific proteins SOLO, SUNN, and ORD is required for sister-chromatid cohesion, localizes to the centromeres and is not incorporated during prophase. Our results show that the two cohesin complexes have unique functions and are regulated differently. Multiple cohesin complexes may provide the diversity of activities required by the meiotic cell. For example, a dynamic complex may allow the chromosomes to regulate meiotic recombination, and a stable complex may be required for sister-chromatid cohesion.
Kuta, A, Mao Y, Martin T, Ferreira de Sousa C, Whiting D, Zakaria S, Crespo-Enriquez I, Evans P, Balczerski B, Mankoo B et al..  2016.  Fat4-Dchs1 signalling controls cell proliferation in developing vertebrae.. Development (Cambridge, England). 143(13):2367-75. Abstract
The protocadherins Fat4 and Dchs1 act as a receptor-ligand pair to regulate many developmental processes in mice and humans, including development of the vertebrae. Based on conservation of function between Drosophila and mammals, Fat4-Dchs1 signalling has been proposed to regulate planar cell polarity (PCP) and activity of the Hippo effectors Yap and Taz, which regulate cell proliferation, survival and differentiation. There is strong evidence for Fat regulation of PCP in mammals but the link with the Hippo pathway is unclear. In Fat4(-/-) and Dchs1(-/-) mice, many vertebrae are split along the midline and fused across the anterior-posterior axis, suggesting that these defects might arise due to altered cell polarity and/or changes in cell proliferation/differentiation. We show that the somite and sclerotome are specified appropriately, the transcriptional network that drives early chondrogenesis is intact, and that cell polarity within the sclerotome is unperturbed. We find that the key defect in Fat4 and Dchs1 mutant mice is decreased proliferation in the early sclerotome. This results in fewer chondrogenic cells within the developing vertebral body, which fail to condense appropriately along the midline. Analysis of Fat4;Yap and Fat4;Taz double mutants, and expression of their transcriptional target Ctgf, indicates that Fat4-Dchs1 regulates vertebral development independently of Yap and Taz. Thus, we have identified a new pathway crucial for the development of the vertebrae and our data indicate that novel mechanisms of Fat4-Dchs1 signalling have evolved to control cell proliferation within the developing vertebrae.
Cao, H X, Vu G T H, Wang W, Appenroth KJ, Messing J, Schubert I.  2016.  The map-based genome sequence of Spirodela polyrhiza aligned with its chromosomes, a reference for karyotype evolution.. The New phytologist. 209(1):354-63. Abstract
Duckweeds are aquatic monocotyledonous plants of potential economic interest with fast vegetative propagation, comprising 37 species with variable genome sizes (0.158-1.88 Gbp). The genomic sequence of Spirodela polyrhiza, the smallest and the most ancient duckweed genome, needs to be aligned to its chromosomes as a reference and prerequisite to study the genome and karyotype evolution of other duckweed species. We selected physically mapped bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) containing Spirodela DNA inserts with little or no repetitive elements as probes for multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (mcFISH), using an optimized BAC pooling strategy, to validate its physical map and correlate it with its chromosome complement. By consecutive mcFISH analyses, we assigned the originally assembled 32 pseudomolecules (supercontigs) of the genomic sequences to the 20 chromosomes of S. polyrhiza. A Spirodela cytogenetic map containing 96 BAC markers with an average distance of 0.89 Mbp was constructed. Using a cocktail of 41 BACs in three colors, all chromosome pairs could be individualized simultaneously. Seven ancestral blocks emerged from duplicated chromosome segments of 19 Spirodela chromosomes. The chromosomally integrated genome of S. polyrhiza and the established prerequisites for comparative chromosome painting enable future studies on the chromosome homoeology and karyotype evolution of duckweed species.
Das, A, Shah SJ, Fan B, Paik D, DiSanto DJ, Hinman A M, Cesario JM, Battaglia RA, Demos N, McKim KS.  2016.  Spindle Assembly and Chromosome Segregation Requires Central Spindle Proteins in Drosophila Oocytes.. Genetics. 202(1):61-75. Abstract
Oocytes segregate chromosomes in the absence of centrosomes. In this situation, the chromosomes direct spindle assembly. It is still unclear in this system which factors are required for homologous chromosome bi-orientation and spindle assembly. The Drosophila kinesin-6 protein Subito, although nonessential for mitotic spindle assembly, is required to organize a bipolar meiotic spindle and chromosome bi-orientation in oocytes. Along with the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC), Subito is an important part of the metaphase I central spindle. In this study we have conducted genetic screens to identify genes that interact with subito or the CPC component Incenp. In addition, the meiotic mutant phenotype for some of the genes identified in these screens were characterized. We show, in part through the use of a heat-shock-inducible system, that the Centralspindlin component RacGAP50C and downstream regulators of cytokinesis Rho1, Sticky, and RhoGEF2 are required for homologous chromosome bi-orientation in metaphase I oocytes. This suggests a novel function for proteins normally involved in mitotic cell division in the regulation of microtubule-chromosome interactions. We also show that the kinetochore protein, Polo kinase, is required for maintaining chromosome alignment and spindle organization in metaphase I oocytes. In combination our results support a model where the meiotic central spindle and associated proteins are essential for acentrosomal chromosome segregation.
Radford, SJ, Go A MM, McKim KS.  2016.  Cooperation Between Kinesin Motors Promotes Spindle Symmetry and Chromosome Organization in Oocytes.. Genetics. Abstract
The oocyte spindle in most animal species is assembled in the absence of the microtubule-organizing centers called centrosomes. Without the organization provided by centrosomes, acentrosomal meiotic spindle organization may rely heavily on the bundling of microtubules by kinesin motor proteins. Indeed, the minus-end directed kinesin-14 NCD and the plus-end directed kinesin-6 Subito are known to be required for oocyte spindle organization in Drosophila melanogaster How multiple microtubule-bundling kinesins interact to produce a functional acentrosomal spindle is not known. In addition, there have been few studies on the meiotic function of one of the most important microtubule-bundlers in mitotic cells, the kinesin-5 KLP61F. We have found that the kinesin-5 KLP61F is required for spindle and centromere symmetry in oocytes. The asymmetry observed in the absence of KLP61F depends on NCD, the kinesin-12 KLP54D, and the microcephaly protein ASP. In contrast, KLP61F and Subito work together in maintaining a bipolar spindle. We propose that the prominent central spindle, stabilized by Subito, provides the framework for the coordination of multiple microtubule-bundling activities. The activities of several proteins, including NCD, KLP54D, and ASP, generate asymmetries within the acentrosomal spindle, while KLP61F and Subito balance these forces resulting in the capacity to accurately segregate chromosomes.
Park, GS, Oh H, Kim M, Kim T, Johnson RL, Irvine KD, Lim D-S.  2016.  An evolutionarily conserved negative feedback mechanism in the Hippo pathway reflects functional difference between LATS1 and LATS2.. Oncotarget. 7(17):24063-75. Abstract
The Hippo pathway represses YAP oncoprotein activity through phosphorylation by LATS kinases. Although variety of upstream components has been found to participate in the Hippo pathway, the existence and function of negative feedback has remained uncertain. We found that activated YAP, together with TEAD transcription factors, directly induces transcription of LATS2, but not LATS1, to form a negative feedback loop. We also observed increased mRNA levels of Hippo upstream components upon YAP activation. To reveal the physiological role of this negative feedback regulation, we deleted Lats2 or Lats1 in the liver-specific Sav1-knockout mouse model which develops a YAP-induced tumor. Additional deletion of Lats2 severely enhanced YAP-induced tumorigenic phenotypes in a liver specific Sav1 knock-out mouse model while additional deletion of Lats1 mildly affected the phenotype. Only Sav1 and Lats2 double knock-down cells formed larger colonies in soft agar assay, thereby recapitulating accelerated tumorigenesis seen in vivo. Importantly, this negative feedback is evolutionarily conserved, as Drosophila Yorkie (YAP ortholog) induces transcription of Warts (LATS2 ortholog) with Scalloped (TEAD ortholog). Collectively, we demonstrated the existence and function of an evolutionarily conserved negative feedback mechanism in the Hippo pathway, as well as the functional difference between LATS1 and LATS2 in regulation of YAP.
Xu, J-H, Wang R, Li X, Miclaus M, Messing J.  2016.  Locus- and Site-Specific DNA Methylation of 19 kDa Zein Genes in Maize.. PloS one. 11(1):e0146416. Abstract
An interesting question in maize development is why only a single zein gene is highly expressed in each of the 19-kDa zein gene clusters (A and B types), z1A2-1 and z1B4, in the immature endosperm. For instance, epigenetic marks could provide a structural difference. Therefore, we investigated the DNA methylation of the arrays of gene copies in both promoter and gene body regions of leaf (non-expressing tissue as a control), normal endosperm, and cultured endosperm. Although we could show that expressed genes have much lower methylation levels in promoter regions than silent ones in both leaf and normal endosperm, there was surprisingly also a difference in the pattern of the z1A and z1B gene clusters. The expression of z1B gene is suppressed by increased DNA methylation and activated with reduced DNA methylation, whereas z1A gene expression is not. DNA methylation in gene coding regions is higher in leaf than in endosperm, whereas no significant difference is observed in gene bodies between expressed and non-expressed gene copies. A median CHG methylation (25-30%) appears to be optimal for gene expression. Moreover, tissue-cultured endosperm can reset the DNA methylation pattern and tissue-specific gene expression. These results reveal that DNA methylation changes of the 19-kDa zein genes is subject to plant development and tissue culture treatment, but varies in different chromosomal locations, indicating that DNA methylation changes do not apply to gene expression in a uniform fashion. Because tissue culture is used to produce transgenic plants, these studies provide new insights into variation of gene expression of integrated sequences.