Matching Items (11)

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lolal Is an Evolutionarily New Epigenetic Regulator of dpp Transcription during Dorsal–Ventral Axis Formation

Description

Secreted ligands in the Dpp/BMP family drive dorsal–ventral (D/V) axis formation in all Bilaterian species. However, maternal factors regulating Dpp/BMP transcription in this process are largely unknown. We identified the

Secreted ligands in the Dpp/BMP family drive dorsal–ventral (D/V) axis formation in all Bilaterian species. However, maternal factors regulating Dpp/BMP transcription in this process are largely unknown. We identified the BTB domain protein longitudinals lacking-like (lolal) as a modifier of decapentaplegic (dpp) mutations. We show that Lolal is evolutionarily related to the Trithorax group of chromatin regulators and that lolal interacts genetically with the epigenetic factor Trithorax-like during Dpp D/V signaling. Maternally driven Lolal[superscript HA] is found in oocytes and translocates to zygotic nuclei prior to the point at which dpp transcription begins. lolal maternal and zygotic mutant embryos display significant reductions in dpp, pMad, and zerknullt expression, but they are never absent. The data suggest that lolal is required to maintain dpp transcription during D/V patterning. Phylogenetic data revealed that lolal is an evolutionarily new gene present only in insects and crustaceans. We conclude that Lolal is the first maternal protein identified with a role in dpp D/V transcriptional maintenance, that Lolal and the epigenetic protein Trithorax-like are essential for Dpp D/V signaling and that the architecture of the Dpp D/V pathway evolved in the arthropod lineage after the separation from vertebrates via the incorporation of new genes such as lolal.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-07-08

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FlyExpress 7: An Integrated Discovery Platform To Study Coexpressed Genes Using in Situ Hybridization Images in Drosophila

Description

Gene expression patterns assayed across development can offer key clues about a gene’s function and regulatory role. Drosophila melanogaster is ideal for such investigations as multiple individual and high-throughput efforts

Gene expression patterns assayed across development can offer key clues about a gene’s function and regulatory role. Drosophila melanogaster is ideal for such investigations as multiple individual and high-throughput efforts have captured the spatiotemporal patterns of thousands of embryonic expressed genes in the form of in situ images. FlyExpress (www.flyexpress.net), a knowledgebase based on a massive and unique digital library of standardized images and a simple search engine to find coexpressed genes, was created to facilitate the analytical and visual mining of these patterns. Here, we introduce the next generation of FlyExpress resources to facilitate the integrative analysis of sequence data and spatiotemporal patterns of expression from images. FlyExpress 7 now includes over 100,000 standardized in situ images and implements a more efficient, user-defined search algorithm to identify coexpressed genes via Genomewide Expression Maps (GEMs). Shared motifs found in the upstream 5′ regions of any pair of coexpressed genes can be visualized in an interactive dotplot. Additional webtools and link-outs to assist in the downstream validation of candidate motifs are also provided. Together, FlyExpress 7 represents our largest effort yet to accelerate discovery via the development and dispersal of new webtools that allow researchers to perform data-driven analyses of coexpression (image) and genomic (sequence) data.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-06-30

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A mesh generation and machine learning framework for Drosophilagene expression pattern image analysis

Description

Background
Multicellular organisms consist of cells of many different types that are established during development. Each type of cell is characterized by the unique combination of expressed gene products as

Background
Multicellular organisms consist of cells of many different types that are established during development. Each type of cell is characterized by the unique combination of expressed gene products as a result of spatiotemporal gene regulation. Currently, a fundamental challenge in regulatory biology is to elucidate the gene expression controls that generate the complex body plans during development. Recent advances in high-throughput biotechnologies have generated spatiotemporal expression patterns for thousands of genes in the model organism fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Existing qualitative methods enhanced by a quantitative analysis based on computational tools we present in this paper would provide promising ways for addressing key scientific questions.
Results
We develop a set of computational methods and open source tools for identifying co-expressed embryonic domains and the associated genes simultaneously. To map the expression patterns of many genes into the same coordinate space and account for the embryonic shape variations, we develop a mesh generation method to deform a meshed generic ellipse to each individual embryo. We then develop a co-clustering formulation to cluster the genes and the mesh elements, thereby identifying co-expressed embryonic domains and the associated genes simultaneously. Experimental results indicate that the gene and mesh co-clusters can be correlated to key developmental events during the stages of embryogenesis we study. The open source software tool has been made available at http://compbio.cs.odu.edu/fly/.
Conclusions
Our mesh generation and machine learning methods and tools improve upon the flexibility, ease-of-use and accuracy of existing methods.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2013-12-28

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Image-level and group-level models for Drosophila gene expression pattern annotation

Description

Background
Drosophila melanogaster has been established as a model organism for investigating the developmental gene interactions. The spatio-temporal gene expression patterns of Drosophila melanogaster can be visualized by in situ

Background
Drosophila melanogaster has been established as a model organism for investigating the developmental gene interactions. The spatio-temporal gene expression patterns of Drosophila melanogaster can be visualized by in situ hybridization and documented as digital images. Automated and efficient tools for analyzing these expression images will provide biological insights into the gene functions, interactions, and networks. To facilitate pattern recognition and comparison, many web-based resources have been created to conduct comparative analysis based on the body part keywords and the associated images. With the fast accumulation of images from high-throughput techniques, manual inspection of images will impose a serious impediment on the pace of biological discovery. It is thus imperative to design an automated system for efficient image annotation and comparison.
Results
We present a computational framework to perform anatomical keywords annotation for Drosophila gene expression images. The spatial sparse coding approach is used to represent local patches of images in comparison with the well-known bag-of-words (BoW) method. Three pooling functions including max pooling, average pooling and Sqrt (square root of mean squared statistics) pooling are employed to transform the sparse codes to image features. Based on the constructed features, we develop both an image-level scheme and a group-level scheme to tackle the key challenges in annotating Drosophila gene expression pattern images automatically. To deal with the imbalanced data distribution inherent in image annotation tasks, the undersampling method is applied together with majority vote. Results on Drosophila embryonic expression pattern images verify the efficacy of our approach.
Conclusion
In our experiment, the three pooling functions perform comparably well in feature dimension reduction. The undersampling with majority vote is shown to be effective in tackling the problem of imbalanced data. Moreover, combining sparse coding and image-level scheme leads to consistent performance improvement in keywords annotation.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2013-12-03

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Hippo Pathway Phylogenetics Predicts Monoubiquitylation of Salvador and Merlin/Nf2

Description

Recently we employed phylogenetics to predict that the cellular interpretation of TGF-β signals is modulated by monoubiquitylation cycles affecting the Smad4 signal transducer/tumor suppressor. This prediction was subsequently validated by

Recently we employed phylogenetics to predict that the cellular interpretation of TGF-β signals is modulated by monoubiquitylation cycles affecting the Smad4 signal transducer/tumor suppressor. This prediction was subsequently validated by experiments in flies, frogs and mammalian cells. Here we apply a phylogenetic approach to the Hippo pathway and predict that two of its signal transducers, Salvador and Merlin/Nf2 (also a tumor suppressor) are regulated by monoubiquitylation. This regulatory mechanism does not lead to protein degradation but instead serves as a highly efficient “off/on” switch when the protein is subsequently deubiquitylated. Overall, our study shows that the creative application of phylogenetics can predict new roles for pathway components and new mechanisms for regulating intercellular signaling pathways.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2012-12-14

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Drosophila as a translational model for MECP2 gain-of-function in neurons

Description

Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) is a widely abundant, multifunctional regulator of gene expression with highest levels of expression in mature neurons. In humans, both loss- and gain-of-function mutations of

Methyl-CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) is a widely abundant, multifunctional regulator of gene expression with highest levels of expression in mature neurons. In humans, both loss- and gain-of-function mutations of MECP2 cause mental retardation and motor dysfunction classified as either Rett Syndrome (RTT, loss-of-function) or MECP2 Duplication Syndrome (MDS, gain-of-function). At the cellular level, MECP2 mutations cause both synaptic and dendritic defects. Despite identification of MECP2 as a cause for RTT nearly 16 years ago, little progress has been made in identifying effective treatments. Investigating major cellular and molecular targets of MECP2 in model systems can help elucidate how mutation of this single gene leads to nervous system and behavioral defects, which can ultimately lead to novel therapeutic strategies for RTT and MDS. In the work presented here, I use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model system to study specific cellular and molecular functions of MECP2 in neurons. First, I show that targeted expression of human MECP2 in Drosophila flight motoneurons causes impaired dendritic growth and flight behavioral performance. These effects are not caused by a general toxic effect of MECP2 overexpression in Drosophila neurons, but are critically dependent on the methyl-binding domain of MECP2. This study shows for the first time cellular consequences of MECP2 gain-of-function in Drosophila neurons. Second, I use RNA-Seq to identify KIBRA, a gene associated with learning and memory in humans, as a novel target of MECP2 involved in the dendritic growth phenotype. I confirm bidirectional regulation of Kibra by Mecp2 in mouse, highlighting the translational utility of the Drosophila model. Finally, I use this system to identify a novel role for the C-terminus in regulating the function of MECP in apoptosis and verify this finding in mammalian cell culture. In summary, this work has established Drosophila as a translational model to study the cellular effects of MECP2 gain-of-function in neurons, and provides insight into the function of MECP2 in dendritic growth and apoptosis.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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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.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Beyond reductionism and emergence: study of the epistemic practices in gene expression research

Description

A central task for historians and philosophers of science is to characterize and analyze the epistemic practices in a given science. The epistemic practice of a science includes its explanatory

A central task for historians and philosophers of science is to characterize and analyze the epistemic practices in a given science. The epistemic practice of a science includes its explanatory goals as well as the methods used to achieve these goals. This dissertation addresses the epistemic practices in gene expression research spanning the mid-twentieth century to the twenty-first century. The critical evaluation of the standard historical narratives of the molecular life sciences clarifies certain philosophical problems with respect to reduction, emergence, and representation, and offers new ways with which to think about the development of scientific research and the nature of scientific change.

The first chapter revisits some of the key experiments that contributed to the development of the repression model of genetic regulation in the lac operon and concludes that the early research on gene expression and genetic regulation depict an iterative and integrative process, which was neither reductionist nor holist. In doing so, it challenges a common application of a conceptual framework in the history of biology and offers an alternative framework. The second chapter argues that the concept of emergence in the history and philosophy of biology is too ambiguous to account for the current research in post-genomic molecular biology and it is often erroneously used to argue against some reductionist theses. The third chapter investigates the use of network representations of gene expression in developmental evolution research and takes up some of the conceptual and methodological problems it has generated. The concluding comments present potential avenues for future research arising from each substantial chapter.

In sum, this dissertation argues that the epistemic practices of gene expression research are an iterative and integrative process, which produces theoretical representations of the complex interactions in gene expression as networks. Moreover, conceptualizing these interactions as networks constrains empirical research strategies by the limited number of ways in which gene expression can be controlled through general rules of network interactions. Making these strategies explicit helps to clarify how they can explain the dynamic and adaptive features of genomes.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Using a computational approach to study the history of systems biology: from systems to biology, 1992-2013

Description

Systems biology studies complex biological systems. It is an interdisciplinary field, with biologists working with non-biologists such as computer scientists, engineers, chemists, and mathematicians to address research problems applying systems’

Systems biology studies complex biological systems. It is an interdisciplinary field, with biologists working with non-biologists such as computer scientists, engineers, chemists, and mathematicians to address research problems applying systems’ perspectives. How these different researchers and their disciplines differently contributed to the advancement of this field over time is a question worth examining. Did systems biology become a systems-oriented science or a biology-oriented science from 1992 to 2013?

This project utilized computational tools to analyze large data sets and interpreted the results from historical and philosophical perspectives. Tools deployed were derived from scientometrics, corpus linguistics, text-based analysis, network analysis, and GIS analysis to analyze more than 9000 articles (metadata and text) on systems biology. The application of these tools to a HPS project represents a novel approach.

The dissertation shows that systems biology has transitioned from a more mathematical, computational, and engineering-oriented discipline focusing on modeling to a more biology-oriented discipline that uses modeling as a means to address real biological problems. Also, the results show that bioengineering and medical research has increased within systems biology. This is reflected in the increase of the centrality of biology-related concepts such as cancer, over time. The dissertation also compares the development of systems biology in China with some other parts of the world, and reveals regional differences, such as a unique trajectory of systems biology in China related to a focus on traditional Chinese medicine.

This dissertation adds to the historiography of modern biology where few studies have focused on systems biology compared with the history of molecular biology and evolutionary biology.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Involvement of PKCzeta, GSK3beta, and MAPK in maintenance of the mitotic spindle

Description

In somatic cells, the mitotic spindle apparatus is centrosomal and several isoforms of Protein Kinase C (PKC) have been associated with the mitotic spindle, but their role in stabilizing the

In somatic cells, the mitotic spindle apparatus is centrosomal and several isoforms of Protein Kinase C (PKC) have been associated with the mitotic spindle, but their role in stabilizing the mitotic spindle is unclear. Other protein kinases such as, Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3â (GSK3â) also have been shown to be associated with the mitotic spindle. In the study in chapter 2, we show the enrichment of active (phosphorylated) PKCæ at the centrosomal region of the spindle apparatus in metaphase stage of 3T3 cells. In order to understand whether the two kinases, PKC and GSK3â are associated with the mitotic spindle, first, the co-localization and close molecular proximity of PKC isoforms with GSK3â was studied in metaphase cells. Second, the involvement of inactive GSK3â in maintaining an intact mitotic spindle was shown. Third, this study showed that addition of a phospho-PKCæ specific inhibitor to cells can disrupt the mitotic spindle microtubules. The mitotic spindle at metaphase in mouse fibroblasts appears to be maintained by PKCæ acting through GSK3â. The MAPK pathway has been implicated in various functions related to cell cycle regulation. MAPKK (MEK) is part of this pathway and the extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) is its known downstream target. GSK3â and PKCæ also have been implicated in cell cycle regulation. In the study in chapter 3, we tested the effects of inhibiting MEK on the activities of ERK, GSK3â, PKCæ, and á-tubulin. Results from this study indicate that inhibition of MEK did not inhibit GSK3â and PKCæ enrichment at the centrosomes. However, the mitotic spindle showed a reduction in the pixel intensity of microtubules and also a reduction in the number of cells in each of the M-phase stages. A peptide activation inhibitor of ERK was also used. Our results indicated a decrease in mitotic spindle microtubules and an absence of cells in most of the M-phase stages. GSK3â and PKCæ enrichment were however not inhibited at the centrosomes. Taken together, the kinases GSK3â and PKCæ may not function as a part of the MAPK pathway to regulate the mitotic spindle.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012