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The anchor-away technique: rapid, conditional establishment of yeast mutant phenotypes.
Mol Cell, 2008 Sep 26; 31 (6): 925-932
The anchor-away (AA) technique depletes the nucleus of Saccharomyces cerevisiae of a protein of interest (the target) by conditional tethering to an abundant cytoplasmic protein (the anchor) by appropriate gene tagging and rapamycin-dependent heterodimerization. Taking advantage of the massive flow of ribosomal proteins through the nucleus during maturation, a protein of the large subunit was chosen as the anchor. Addition of rapamycin, due to formation of the ternary complex, composed of the anchor, rapamycin, and the target, then results in the rapid depletion of the target from the nucleus. All 43 tested genes displayed on rapamycin plates the expected defective growth phenotype. In addition, when examined functionally, specific mutant phenotypes were obtained within minutes. These are genes involved in protein import, RNA export, transcription, sister chromatid cohesion, and gene silencing. The AA technique is a powerful tool for nuclear biology to dissect the function of individual or gene pairs in synthetic, lethal situations.
Nup-PI: the nucleopore-promoter interaction of genes in yeast.
Mol Cell, 2006 Feb 3; 21 (3): 379-391
Our previous work identified the inner basket of the NPC as a physical activation/protection station for force-tethered, epigenetically silenced genes. Here we show that a specific nucleopore-to-gene-promoter interaction (Nup-PI) is an early physiological event of gene activation. Nup-PI was discovered with chromatin endogenous cleavage (ChEC) experiments that mapped in vivo the genomic interaction sites of the nucleoporin Nup2p fused to microccocal nuclease (Nup2-MN). Strong Nup-PI, cleavage by Nup2-MN, is observed at the promoters of the GAL genes and at HXK1 upon activation of these genes with galactose. Nup-PI at the GAL locus requires Gal4p and the UASg and TATA box elements but not SAGA and active transcription. The physical, activation-dependent interaction of the GAL locus with the NPC basket was confirmed by imaging. Chromosome-wide ChEC studies indicated that Nup-PI occurs at numerous genes. The data identify the NPC basket as a new, integral participant in gene expression.
Chromosome structure: improved immunolabeling for electron microscopy.
Chromosoma, 2005 Nov; 114 (5): 365-375
To structurally dissect mitotic chromosomes, we aim to position along the folded chromatin fiber proteins involved in long-range order, such as topoisomerase IIalpha (topoIIalpha) and condensin. Immuno-electron microscopy (EM) of thin-sectioned chromosomes is the method of choice toward this goal. A much-improved immunoprocedure that avoids problems associated with aldehyde fixation, such as chemical translinking and networking of chromatin fibers, is reported here. We show that ultraviolet irradiation of isolated nuclei or chromosomes facilitates high-level specific immunostaining, as established by fluorescence microscopy with a variety of antibodies and especially by immuno-EM. Ultrastructural localizations of topoIIalpha and condensin I component hBarren (hBar; hCAP-H) in mitotic chromosomes were studied by immuno-EM. We show that the micrographs of thin-sectioned chromosomes map topoIIalpha and hBar to the center of the chromosomal body where the chromatin fibers generally converge. This localization is defined by many clustered gold particles with only rare individual particles in the peripheral halo. The data obtained are consistent with the view that condensin and perhaps topoIIalpha tether chromatin to loops according to a scaffolding-type model.
ChIC and ChEC; genomic mapping of chromatin proteins.
Mol Cell, 2004 Oct 8; 16 (1): 147-157
To map the genomic interaction sites of chromatin proteins, two related methods were developed and experimentally explored in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The ChIC method (chromatin immunocleavage) consists of tethering a fusion protein (pA-MN) consisting of micrococcal nuclease (MN) and staphylococcal protein A to specifically bound antibodies. The nuclease is kept inactive during the tethering process (no Ca2+). The ChEC method (chromatin endogenous cleavage) consists of expressing fusion proteins in vivo, where MN is C-terminally fused to the proteins of interest. The specifically tethered nucleases are activated with Ca2+ ions to locally introduce double-stranded DNA breaks. We demonstrate that ChIC and ChEC map proteins with a 100-200 bp resolution and excellent specificity. One version of the method is applicable to formaldehyde-fixed nuclei, another to native cells with comparable results. Among various model experiments, these methods were used to address the conformation of yeast telomeres.
A two-step scaffolding model for mitotic chromosome assembly.
Dev Cell, 2003 Apr; 4 (4): 467-480
Topoisomerase IIalpha (topoIIalpha) and 13S condensin are both required for mitotic chromosome assembly. Here we show that they constitute the two main components of the chromosomal scaffold on histone-depleted chromosomes. The structural stability and chromosomal shape of the scaffolding toward harsh extraction procedures are shown to be mediated by ATP or its nonhydrolyzable analogs, but not ADP. TopoIIalpha and 13S condensin components immunolocalize to a radially restricted, longitudinal scaffolding in native-like chromosomes. Double staining for topoIIalpha and condensin generates a barber pole appearance of the scaffolding, where topoIIalpha- and condensin-enriched "beads" alternate; this structure appears to be generated by two juxtaposed, or coiled, chains. Cell cycle studies establish that 13S condensin appears not to be involved in the assembly of prophase chromatids; they lack this complex but contain a topoIIalpha-defined (-mediated?) scaffolding. Condensin associates only during the pro- to metaphase transition. This two-step assembly process is proposed to generate the barber pole appearance of the native-like scaffolding.
Structural and dynamic functions establish chromatin domains.
Mol Cell, 2003 Jan; 11 (1): 237-248
Drosophila and mammalian proteins protect genes from heterochromatic repression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by two different mechanisms. Factors termed genuine boundary activities (BAs) establish a structural, unidirectional bulwark against heterochromatin. In contrast, factors termed desilencing activities (DAs) act by the formation of a bidirectional, euchromatic island that blocks spreading of heterochromatin. The Drosophila boundary protein BEAF and, unexpectedly, the mammalian factor Sp1 exhibited a robust BA in yeast. In contrast, mammalian CTCF, Drosophila GAGA factor, yeast Gcn5p, and many mammalian transcription factors, although inactive as upregulators of nonsilenced genes, work as DAs. DAs but not BAs protect telomere-linked genes from silencing, presumably due to looping of telomeres and ensuing multidirectional silencing. The data demonstrate that "genetic autonomy" of chromatin domains is established by both passive and active mechanisms.
Chromatin boundaries in budding yeast: the nuclear pore connection.
Cell, 2002 May 31; 109 (5): 551-562
Chromatin boundary activities (BAs) were identified in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by genetic screening. Such BAs bound to sites flanking a reporter gene establish a nonsilenced domain within the silent mating-type locus HML. Interestingly, various proteins involved in nuclear-cytoplasmic traffic, such as exportins Cse1p, Mex67p, and Los1p, exhibit a robust BA. Genetic studies, immunolocalization, live imaging, and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments show that these transport proteins block spreading of heterochromatin by physical tethering of the HML locus to the Nup2p receptor of the nuclear pore complex. Genetic deletion of NUP2 abolishes the BA of all transport proteins, while direct targeting of Nup2p to the bracketing DNA elements restores activity. The data demonstrate that physical tethering of genomic loci to the NPC can dramatically alter their epigenetic activity.
Identification of a multicopy chromatin boundary element at the borders of silenced chromosomal domains.
Chromosoma, 2002 Feb; 110 (8): 519-531
The insulating properties required to delimit higher-order chromosomal domains have been shown to be shared by a variety of chromatin boundary elements (BEs). Boundary elements have been described in several species, from yeast to human, and we have previously reported the existence of a class of chromatin BEs in Drosophila melanogaster whose insulating activity requires the DNA-binding protein BEAF (boundary element-associated factor). Here we focus on the characterization of a moderately repeated 1.2 kb DNA sequence that encompasses boundary element 28 (BE28). We show that it directionally blocks enhancer/promoter communication in transgenic flies. This sequence contains a BEAF-binding sequence juxtaposed to an AT-rich sequence that harbors a strong nuclease-hypersensitive site. Using a combination of DNA-protein and protein blotting techniques, we found that this region is recognized by the A+T-binding D1 non-histone chromosomal protein of D. melanogaster, and we provide evidence that D1 and BEAF physically interact. In addition, the multicopy BE28 element maps to pericentric regions of the D. melanogaster 2L, 2R and X chromosome arms to which D1 has been shown to localize. In yeast, BEs that mark the periphery of silenced chromosomal domains have recently been shown to block the spreading of heterochromatin assembly. We propose that the BE28 repeat clusters could fulfill a similar function, acting as a local boundary between hetero- and euchromatin in a process involving interactions between the BEAF and D1 proteins.
The AT-hook protein D1 is essential for Drosophila melanogaster development and is implicated in position-effect variegation.
Mol Cell Biol, 2002 Feb; 22 (4): 1218-1232
We have analyzed the expression pattern of the D1 gene and the localization of its product, the AT hook-bearing nonhistone chromosomal protein D1, during Drosophila melanogaster development. D1 mRNAs and protein are maternally contributed, and the protein localizes to discrete foci on the chromosomes of early embryos. These foci correspond to 1.672- and 1.688-g/cm(3) AT-rich satellite repeats found in the centromeric heterochromatin of the X and Y chromosomes and on chromosomes 3 and 4. D1 mRNA levels subsequently decrease throughout later development, followed by the accumulation of the D1 protein in adult gonads, where two distributions of D1 can be correlated to different states of gene activity. We show that the EP473 mutation, a P-element insertion upstream of D1 coding sequences, affects the expression of the D1 gene and results in an embryonic homozygous lethal phenotype correlated with the depletion of D1 protein during embryogenesis. Remarkably, decreased levels of D1 mRNA and protein in heterozygous flies lead to the suppression of position-effect variegation (PEV) of the white gene in the white-mottled (w(m4h)) X-chromosome inversion. Our results identify D1 as a DNA-binding protein of known sequence specificity implicated in PEV. D1 is the primary factor that binds the centromeric 1.688-g/cm(3) satellite repeats which are likely involved in white-mottled variegation. We propose that the AT-hook D1 protein nucleates heterochromatin assembly by recruiting specialized transcriptional repressors and/or proteins involved in chromosome condensation.
Specific targeting of insect and vertebrate telomeres with pyrrole and imidazole polyamides.
EMBO J, 2001 Jun 15; 20 (12): 3218-3228
DNA minor groove-binding compounds (polyamides) that target insect and vertebrate telomeric repeats with high specificity were synthesized. Base pair recognition of these polyamides is based on the presence of the heterocyclic amino acids pyrrole and imidazole. One compound (TH52B) interacts uniquely and with excellent specificity (K(d) = 0.12 nM) with two consecutive insect-type telomeric repeats (TTAGG). A related compound, TH59, displays high specificity (K(d) = 0.5 nM) for tandem vertebrate (TTAGGG) and insect telomeric repeats. The high affinity and specificity of these compounds were achieved by bidentate binding of two flexibly linked DNA-binding moieties. Epifluorescence microscopy studies show that fluorescent derivatives of TH52B and TH59 stain insect or vertebrate telomeres of chromosomes and nuclei sharply. Importantly, the telomere-specific polyamide signals of HeLa chromosomes co-localize with the immunofluorescence signals of the telomere-binding protein TRF1. Our results demonstrate that telomere-specific compounds allow rapid estimation of relative telomere length. The insect-specific compound TH52 was shown to be incorporated rapidly into growing Sf9 cells, underlining the potential of these compounds for telomere biology and possibly human medicine.
Chromatin opening of DNA satellites by targeted sequence-specific drugs.
Mol Cell, 2000 Nov; 6 (5): 999-1011
There are few tools available for dissecting and elucidating the functions of DNA satellites and other nongenic DNA. To address this, we have explored the experimental potential of DNA sequence-specific drugs containing pyrrole and imidazole amino acids (polyamides). Compounds were synthesized that target different Drosophila melanogaster satellites. Dimeric oligopyrroles were shown to target the AT-rich satellites I, III, and SARs (scaffold associated regions). One polyamide (P31) specifically binds the GAGAA satellite V. Specificity of targeting was established by footprinting, epifluorescence of nuclei, and polytene chromosomes stained with fluorescent derivatives. These polyamides were shown to mediate satellite-specific chromatin opening of the chromatin fiber. Remarkably, certain polyamides induced defined gain or loss-of-function phenotypes when fed to Drosophila melanogaster.
Specific gain- and loss-of-function phenotypes induced by satellite-specific DNA-binding drugs fed to Drosophila melanogaster.
Mol Cell, 2000 Nov; 6 (5): 1013-1024
DNA-binding pyrrole-imidazole compounds were synthesized that target different Drosophila melanogaster satellites. Compound P31 specifically binds the GAGAA satellite V, and P9 targets the AT-rich satellites I and III. Remarkably, these drugs, when fed to developing Drosophila flies, caused gain- or loss-of-function phenotypes. While polyamide P9 (not P31) suppressed PEV of white-mottled flies (increased gene expression), P31 (not P9) mediated three well-defined, homeotic transformations (loss-of-function) exclusively in brown-dominant flies. Both phenomena are explained at the molecular level by chromatin opening (increased accessibility) of the targeted DNA satellites. Chromatin opening of satellite III by P9 is proposed to suppress PEV of white-mottled flies, whereas chromatin opening of satellite V by P31 is proposed to create an inopportune "sink" for the GAGA factor (GAF).
Identification of a class of chromatin boundary elements.
Mol Cell Biol, 1998 Dec; 18 (12): 7478-7486
Boundary elements are thought to define the ends of functionally independent domains of genetic activity. An assay for boundary activity based on this concept measures the ability to insulate a bracketed, chromosomally integrated reporter gene from position effects. Despite their presumed importance, the few examples identified to date apparently do not share sequence motifs or DNA binding proteins. The Drosophila protein BEAF binds the scs' boundary element of the 87A7 hsp70 locus and roughly half of polytene chromosome interband loci. To see if these sites represent a class of boundary elements that have BEAF in common, we have isolated and studied several genomic BEAF binding sites as candidate boundary elements (cBEs). BEAF binds with high affinity to clustered, variably arranged CGATA motifs present in these cBEs. No other sequence homologies were found. Two cBEs were tested and found to confer position-independent expression on a mini-white reporter gene in transgenic flies. Furthermore, point mutations in CGATA motifs that eliminate binding by BEAF also eliminate the ability to confer position-independent expression. Taken together, these findings suggest that clustered CGATA motifs are a hallmark of a BEAF-utilizing class of boundary elements found at many loci. This is the first example of a class of boundary elements that share a sequence motif and a binding protein.
In vivo analysis of scaffold-associated regions in Drosophila: a synthetic high-affinity SAR binding protein suppresses position effect variegation.
EMBO J, 1998 Apr 1; 17 (7): 2079-2085
Scaffold-associated regions (SARs) were studied in Drosophila melanogaster by expressing a synthetic, high-affinity SAR-binding protein called MATH (multi-AT-hook), which consists of reiterated AT-hook peptide motifs; each motif is known to recognize a wide variety of short AT-rich sequences. MATH proteins were expressed specifically in the larval eye imaginal discs by means of the tetracycline-regulated transactivation system and tested for their effect on position effect variegation (PEV). MATH20, a highly potent SAR ligand consisting of 20 AT-hooks, was found to suppress whitemottled 4 variegation. This suppression required MATH20 expression at an early larval developmental stage. Our data suggest an involvement of the high AT-rich SARs in higher order chromatin structure and gene expression.