Matching Items (17)

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Nucleoporin Gle1: Crystallographic Analysis and the Future of Neuron Disease Pathology

Description

Gle1 is an mRNP export mediator with major activity localized to the nuclear pore complex in eukaryotic cells. The protein's high preservation across vast phylogenetic distances allows us to approximate

Gle1 is an mRNP export mediator with major activity localized to the nuclear pore complex in eukaryotic cells. The protein's high preservation across vast phylogenetic distances allows us to approximate research on the properties of yeast Gle1 (yGle1) with those of human Gle1 (hGle1). Research at Vanderbilt University in 2016, which provides the research basis of this thesis, suggests that the coiled-coil domain of yGle1 is best crystallized in dicationic aqueous conditions of pH ~8.0 and 10\u201420% PEG 8000. Further exploration of crystallizable microconditions revealed a favorability toward lower pH and lower PEG concentration. Following the discovery of the protein's native crystallography conditions, a comprehensive meta-analysis of scientific literature on Gle1 was conducted on the association of Gle1 mutations with neuron disease.

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Date Created
  • 2016-12

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MicroRNA Function and Role in Splenocyte ST2 Expression via Cellular Transfection

Description

Stroke is a devastating disease that affects thousands of individuals each year. Stroke, specifically cerebral ischemia, and immune responses are important areas of study and focus. Previous studies on stroke

Stroke is a devastating disease that affects thousands of individuals each year. Stroke, specifically cerebral ischemia, and immune responses are important areas of study and focus. Previous studies on stroke in mouse models had shown the upregulation of a specific micro-RNA: miR-1224. We hypothesized that miR-1224 was responsible for the regulation of the ST2 receptor protein’s expression. We performed cellular transfection on murine splenocytes with four different miRNAs—miR-1224-mimic, miR-1224-inhibitor, miR-451-mimic, and a control. We predicted that transfection with 1224m would decrease ST2 expression, while transfection with 1224i would increase ST2 expression. Two complete trials were run, and analysis of the results included RT-PCR of both miRNA samples and mRNA samples to confirm transfection and controlled transcription. Reverse transcription and qPCR of miRNA was done in order to confirm that transfection was in fact successful. Reverse transcription and qPCR of the mRNA was done in order to confirm that ST2 mRNA was not altered; this allowed us to attribute any changes in ST2 protein levels to miRNA interactions, as the mRNA levels were consistent. Western blotting was done in order to assess relative protein content. We found that transfection with 1224m slightly decreased ST2 expression and transfection with 1224i slightly increased ST2 expression, however, after assessing the p-values through statistical analyses, neither difference was significant. As such, our hypothesis was rejected as it is not evident that miR-1224 plays a significant role on ST2 gene expression. Future studies are needed in order to analyze alternate protein targets to fully assess the role of miR-1224.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018-05

Characterization of mRNA Transcription Termination and Cleavage in C. elegans

Description

In eukaryotes, most messenger RNA precursors (pre-mRNA) undergo extensive processing, leading to the cleavage of the transcript followed by the addition of a poly(A) tail. This process is executed by

In eukaryotes, most messenger RNA precursors (pre-mRNA) undergo extensive processing, leading to the cleavage of the transcript followed by the addition of a poly(A) tail. This process is executed by a large complex known as the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Complex (CPC). Its central subcomplex, the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Specificity Factor (CPSF) complex is responsible for recognizing a short hexameric element AAUAAA located at the 3’end in the nascent mRNA molecule and catalyzing the pre-mRNA cleavage. In the round nematode C. elegans, the cleavage reaction is executed by a subunit of this complex named CPSF3, a highly conserved RNA endonuclease. While the crystal structure of its human ortholog CPSF73 has been recently identified, we still do not understand the molecular mechanisms and sequence specificity used by this protein to induce cleavage, which in turn would help to understand how this process is executed in detail. Additionally, we do not understand in additional factors are needed for this process. In order to address these issues, we performed a comparative analysis of the CPSF3 protein in higher eukaryotes to identify conserved functional domains. The overall percent identities for members of the CPSF complex range from 33.68% to 56.49%, suggesting that the human and C. elegans orthologs retain a high level of conservation. CPSF73 is the protein with the overall highest percent identity of the CPSF complex, with its active site-containing domain possessing 74.60% identity with CPSF3. Additionally, we gathered and expressed using a bacterial expression system CPSF3 and a mutant, which is unable to perform the cleavage reaction, and developed an in vitro cleavage assay to test whether CPSF3 activity is necessary and sufficient to induce nascent mRNA cleavage. This project establishes tools to better understand how CPSF3 functions within the CPC and sheds light on the biology surrounding the transcription process as a whole.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020-05

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Study of the Requirements of RNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation in C. elegans

Description

Cleavage and polyadenylation is a step in mRNA processing in which the 3’UTR is cleaved and a polyA tail is added to create a final mature transcript. This process relies

Cleavage and polyadenylation is a step in mRNA processing in which the 3’UTR is cleaved and a polyA tail is added to create a final mature transcript. This process relies on RNA sequence elements that guide a large multimeric protein complex named the Cleavage and Polyadenylation Complex to dock on the 3’UTR and execute the cleavage reaction. Interactions of the complex with the RNA and specific dynamics of complex recruitment and formation still remain largely uncharacterized. In our lab we have identified an Adenosine residue as the nucleotide most often present at the cleavage site, although it is unclear whether this specific element is a required instructor of cleavage and polyadenylation. To address whether the Adenosine residue is necessary and sufficient for the cleavage and polyadenylation reaction, we mutated this nucleotide at the cleavage site in three C. elegans protein coding genes, forcing the expression of these wt and mutant 3’UTRs, and studied how the cleavage and polyadenylation machinery process these genes in vivo. We found that interrupting the wt sequence elements found at the cleavage site interferes with the cleavage and polyadenylation reaction, suggesting that the sequence close to the end of the transcript plays a role in modulating the site of the RNA cleavage. This activity is also gene-specific. Genes such as ges-1 showed little disruption in the cleavage of the transcript, with similar location occurring in both the wt and mutant 3’UTRs. On the other hand, mutation of the cleavage site in genes such as Y106G6H.9 caused the activation of new cryptic cleavage sites within the transcript. Taken together, my experiments suggest that the sequence elements at the cleavage site somehow participate in the reaction to guide the cleavage reaction to occur at an exact site. This work will help to better understand the mechanisms of transcription termination in vivo and will push forward research aimed to study post-transcriptional gene regulation in eukaryotes.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019-05

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Development of CRISPR-RNA guided recombinases for genome engineering

Description

Recombinases are powerful tools for genome engineering and synthetic biology, however recombinases are limited by a lack of user-programmability and often require complex directed-evolution experiments to retarget specificity. Conversely, CRISPR

Recombinases are powerful tools for genome engineering and synthetic biology, however recombinases are limited by a lack of user-programmability and often require complex directed-evolution experiments to retarget specificity. Conversely, CRISPR systems have extreme versatility yet can induce off-target mutations and karyotypic destabilization. To address these constraints we developed an RNA-guided recombinase protein by fusing a hyperactive mutant resolvase from transposon TN3 to catalytically inactive Cas9. We validated recombinase-Cas9 (rCas9) function in model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae using a chromosomally integrated fluorescent reporter. Moreover, we demonstrated cooperative targeting by CRISPR RNAs at spacings of 22 or 40bps is necessary for directing recombination. Using PCR and Sanger sequencing, we confirmed rCas9 targets DNA recombination. With further development we envision rCas9 becoming useful in the development of RNA-programmed genetic circuitry as well as high-specificity genome engineering.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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The functional evolution of human microRNA families

Description

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that play key roles during metazoan development, and are frequently misregulated in human disease. MiRNAs regulate gene output by targeting degenerate elements primarily in

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that play key roles during metazoan development, and are frequently misregulated in human disease. MiRNAs regulate gene output by targeting degenerate elements primarily in the 3´ untranslated regions of mRNAs. MiRNAs are often deeply conserved, but have undergone drastic expansions in higher metazoans, leading to families of miRNAs with highly similar sequences. The evolutionary advantage of maintaining multiple copies of duplicated miRNAs is not well understood, nor has the distinct functions of miRNA family members been systematically studied. Furthermore, the unbiased and high-throughput discovery of targets remains a major challenge, yet is required to understand the biological function of a given miRNA.

I hypothesize that duplication events grant miRNA families with enhanced regulatory capabilities, specifically through distinct targeting preferences by family members. This has relevance for our understanding of vertebrate evolution, as well disease detection and personalized medicine. To test this hypothesis, I apply a conjunction of bioinformatic and experimental approaches, and design a novel high-throughput screening platform to identify human miRNA targets. Combined with conventional approaches, this tool allows systematic testing for functional targets of human miRNAs, and the identification of novel target genes on an unprecedented scale.

In this dissertation, I explore evolutionary signatures of 62 deeply conserved metazoan miRNA families, as well as the targeting preferences for several human miRNAs. I find that constraints on miRNA processing impact sequence evolution, creating evolutionary hotspots within families that guide distinct target preferences. I apply our novel screening platform to two cancer-relevant miRNAs, and identify hundreds of previously undescribed targets. I also analyze critical features of functional miRNA target sites, finding that each miRNA recognizes surprisingly distinct features of targets. To further explore the functional distinction between family members, I analyze miRNA expression patterns in multiple contexts, including mouse embryogenesis, RNA-seq data from human tissues, and cancer cell lines. Together, my results inform a model that describes the evolution of metazoan miRNAs, and suggests that highly similar miRNA family members possess distinct functions. These findings broaden our understanding of miRNA function in vertebrate evolution and development, and how their misexpression contributes to human disease.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Highly multiplexed single cell in situ transcriptomic analysis

Description

Spatial resolved detection and quantification of ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules in single cell is crucial for the understanding of inherent biological issues, like mechanism of gene regulation or the development

Spatial resolved detection and quantification of ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules in single cell is crucial for the understanding of inherent biological issues, like mechanism of gene regulation or the development and maintenance of cell fate. Conventional methods for single cell RNA profiling, like single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) or single-molecule fluorescent in situ hybridization (smFISH), suffer either from the loss of spatial information or the low detection throughput. In order to advance single-cell analysis, new approaches need to be developed with the ability to perform high-throughput detection while preserving spatial information of the subcellular location of target RNA molecules.

Novel approaches for highly multiplexed single cell in situ transcriptomic analysis were developed by our group to enable single-cell comprehensive RNA profiling in their native spatial contexts. Reiterative FISH was demonstrated to be able to detect >100 RNA species in single cell in situ, while more sophisticated approaches, consecutive FISH (C-FISH) and switchable fluorescent oligonucleotide based FISH (SFO-FISH), have the potential for whole transcriptome profiling at the single molecule sensitivity. The introduction of a cleavable fluorescent tyramide even enables sensitive RNA profiling in intact tissues with high throughput. These approaches will have wide applications in studies of systems biology, molecular diagnosis and targeted therapies.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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An integrative analysis of alternative polyadenylation and microRNA regulation in Caenorhabditis elegans

Description

One of the fundamental questions in molecular biology is how genes and the control of their expression give rise to so many diverse phenotypes in nature. The mRNA molecule plays

One of the fundamental questions in molecular biology is how genes and the control of their expression give rise to so many diverse phenotypes in nature. The mRNA molecule plays a key role in this process as it directs the spatial and temporal expression of genetic information contained in the DNA molecule to precisely instruct biological processes in living organisms. The region located between the STOP codon and the poly(A)-tail of the mature mRNA, known as the 3′Untranslated Region (3′UTR), is a key modulator of these activities. It contains numerous sequence elements that are targeted by trans-acting factors that dose gene expression, including the repressive small non-coding RNAs, called microRNAs.

Recent transcriptome data from yeast, worm, plants, and humans has shown that alternative polyadenylation (APA), a mechanism that enables expression of multiple 3′UTR isoforms for the same gene, is widespread in eukaryotic organisms. It is still poorly understood why metazoans require multiple 3′UTRs for the same gene, but accumulating evidence suggests that APA is largely regulated at a tissue-specific level. APA may direct combinatorial variation between cis-elements and microRNAs, perhaps to regulate gene expression in a tissue-specific manner. Apart from a few single gene anecdotes, this idea has not been systematically explored.

This dissertation research employs a systems biology approach to study the somatic tissue dynamics of APA and its impact on microRNA targeting networks in the small nematode C. elegans. In the first aim, tools were developed and applied to isolate and sequence mRNA from worm intestine and muscle tissues, which revealed pervasive tissue-specific APA correlated with microRNA regulation. The second aim provides genetic evidence that two worm genes use APA to escape repression by microRNAs in the body muscle. Finally, in aim three, mRNA from five additional somatic worm tissues was sequenced and their 3′ends mapped, allowing for an integrative study of APA and microRNA targeting dynamics in worms. Together, this work provides evidence that APA is a pervasive mechanism operating in somatic tissues of C. elegans with the potential to significantly rearrange their microRNA regulatory networks and precisely dose their gene expression.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Identification, characterization and evolution of invertebrate telomerase RNA

Description

Telomerase is a specialized enzyme that adds telomeric DNA repeats to the chromosome ends to counterbalance the progressive telomere shortening over cell divisions. It has two essential core components, a

Telomerase is a specialized enzyme that adds telomeric DNA repeats to the chromosome ends to counterbalance the progressive telomere shortening over cell divisions. It has two essential core components, a catalytic telomerase reverse transcriptase protein (TERT), and a telomerase RNA (TR). TERT synthesizes telomeric DNA by reverse transcribing a short template sequence in TR. Unlike TERT, TR is extremely divergent in size, sequence and structure and has only been identified in three evolutionarily distant groups. The lack of knowledge on TR from important model organisms has been a roadblock for vigorous studies on telomerase regulation. To address this issue, a novel in vitro system combining deep-sequencing and bioinformatics search was developed to discover TR from new phylogenetic groups. The system has been validated by the successful identification of TR from echinoderm purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. The sea urchin TR (spTR) is the first invertebrate TR that has been identified and can serve as a model for understanding how the vertebrate TR evolved with vertebrate-specific traits. By using phylogenetic comparative analysis, the secondary structure of spTR was determined. The spTR secondary structure reveals unique sea urchin specific structure elements as well as homologous structural features shared by TR from other organisms. This study enhanced the understanding of telomerase mechanism and the evolution of telomerase RNP. The system that was used to identity telomerase RNA can be employed for the discovery of other TR as well as the discovery of novel RNA from other RNP complex.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Structure-function study of telomerase RNA from evolutionary disparate species: remarkable divergence in gross architecture with the preservation of critical universal structural elements

Description

Telomerase enzyme is a truly remarkable enzyme specialized for the addition of short, highly repetitive DNA sequences onto linear eukaryotic chromosome ends. The telomerase enzyme functions as a ribonucleoprotein,

Telomerase enzyme is a truly remarkable enzyme specialized for the addition of short, highly repetitive DNA sequences onto linear eukaryotic chromosome ends. The telomerase enzyme functions as a ribonucleoprotein, minimally composed of the highly conserved catalytic telomerase reverse transcriptase and essential telomerase RNA component containing an internalized short template region within the vastly larger non-coding RNA. Even among closely related groups of species, telomerase RNA is astonishingly divergent in sequence, length, and secondary structure. This massive disparity is highly prohibitive for telomerase RNA identification from previously unexplored groups of species, which is fundamental for secondary structure determination. Combined biochemical enrichment and computational screening methods were employed for the discovery of numerous telomerase RNAs from the poorly characterized echinoderm lineage. This resulted in the revelation that--while closely related to the vertebrate lineage and grossly resembling vertebrate telomerase RNA--the echinoderm telomerase RNA central domain varies extensively in structure and sequence, diverging even within echinoderms amongst sea urchins and brittle stars. Furthermore, the origins of telomerase RNA within the eukaryotic lineage have remained a persistent mystery. The ancient Trypanosoma telomerase RNA was previously identified, however, a functionally verified secondary structure remained elusive. Synthetic Trypanosoma telomerase was generated for molecular dissection of Trypanosoma telomerase RNA revealing two RNA domains functionally equivalent to those found in known telomerase RNAs, yet structurally distinct. This work demonstrates that telomerase RNA is uncommonly divergent in gross architecture, while retaining critical universal elements.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015