Recent genome sequencing studies have identified several classes of complex genomic rearrangements that appear to be derived from a single catastrophic event. These discoveries identify ways that genomes can be altered in single large jumps rather than by many incremental steps. Here we compare and contrast these phenomena and examine the evidence that they arise "all at once." We consider the impact of massive chromosomal change for the development of diseases such as cancer and for evolution more generally. Finally, we summarize current models for underlying mechanisms and discuss strategies for testing these models.
The Fbw7 tumor suppressor targets a broad network of proteins for ubiquitylation. Here we show critical functions for Fbw7 dimerization in regulating the specificity and robustness of degradation. Dimerization enables Fbw7 to target substrates through concerted binding to two suboptimal and independent recognition sites. Accordingly, an endogenous dimerization-deficient Fbw7 mutation stabilizes suboptimal substrates. Dimerization increases Fbw7's robustness by preserving its function in the setting of mutations that disable Fbw7 monomers, thereby buffering against pathogenic mutations. Finally, dimerization regulates Fbw7 stability, and this likely involves Fbw7 trans-autoubiquitylation. Our study reveals novel functions of Fbw7 dimerization and an unanticipated complexity in substrate degradation.
Deregulated origin licensing and rereplication promote genome instability and tumorigenesis by largely elusive mechanisms. Investigating the consequences of Early mitotic inhibitor 1 (Emi1) depletion in human cells, previously associated with rereplication, we show by DNA fiber labeling that origin reactivation occurs rapidly, well before accumulation of cells with >4N DNA, and is associated with checkpoint-blind ssDNA gaps and replication fork reversal. Massive RPA chromatin loading, formation of small chromosomal fragments, and checkpoint activation occur only later, once cells complete bulk DNA replication. We propose that deregulated origin firing leads to undetected discontinuities on newly replicated DNA, which ultimately cause breakage of rereplicating forks.
Insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2), a developmentally regulated and maternally imprinted gene, is frequently overexpressed in pediatric cancers. Although loss of imprinting (LOI) at fetal promoters contributes to increased IGF2 in tumors, the magnitude of IGF2 expression suggests the involvement of additional regulatory mechanisms. A microRNA (miRNA) screen of primary Wilms' tumors identified specific overexpression of miR-483-5p, which is embedded within the IGF2 gene. Unexpectedly, the IGF2 mRNA itself is transcriptionally up-regulated by miR-483-5p. A nuclear pool of miR-483-5p binds directly to the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of fetal IGF2 mRNA, enhancing the association of the RNA helicase DHX9 to the IGF2 transcript and promoting IGF2 transcription. Ectopic expression of miR-483-5p in IGF2-dependent sarcoma cells is correlated with increased tumorigenesis in vivo. Together, these observations suggest a functional positive feedback loop of an intronic miRNA on transcription of its host gene.
Mediator is a large multiprotein complex conserved in all eukaryotes. The crucial function of Mediator in transcription is now largely established. However, we found that this complex also plays an important role by connecting transcription with DNA repair. We identified a functional contact between the Med17 Mediator subunit and Rad2/XPG, the 3' endonuclease involved in nucleotide excision DNA repair. Genome-wide location analyses revealed that Rad2 is associated with RNA polymerase II (Pol II)- and Pol III-transcribed genes and telomeric regions in the absence of exogenous genotoxic stress. Rad2 occupancy of Pol II-transcribed genes is transcription-dependent. Genome-wide Rad2 occupancy of class II gene promoters is well correlated with that of Mediator. Furthermore, UV sensitivity of med17 mutants is correlated with reduced Rad2 occupancy of class II genes and concomitant decrease of Mediator interaction with Rad2 protein. Our results suggest that Mediator is involved in DNA repair by facilitating Rad2 recruitment to transcribed genes.
Precise functioning of the pancreatic β cell is paramount to whole-body glucose homeostasis, and β-cell dysfunction contributes significantly to diabetes mellitus. Using transgenic mouse models, we demonstrate that deletion of the von Hippel-Lindau (Vhlh) gene (encoding an E3 ubiquitin ligase implicated in, among other functions, oxygen sensing in pancreatic β cells) is deleterious to canonical β-cell gene expression. This triggers erroneous expression of factors normally active in progenitor cells, including effectors of the Notch, Wnt, and Hedgehog signaling cascades. Significantly, an up-regulation of the transcription factor Sox9, normally excluded from functional β cells, occurs upon deletion of Vhlh. Sox9 plays important roles during pancreas development but does not have a described role in the adult β cell. β-Cell-specific ectopic expression of Sox9 results in diabetes mellitus from similar perturbations in β-cell identity. These findings reveal that assaults on the β cell that impact the differentiation state of the cell have clear implications toward our understanding of diabetes mellitus.
B-class ephrins, ligands for EphB receptor tyrosine kinases, are critical regulators of growth and patterning processes in many organs and species. In the endothelium of the developing vasculature, ephrin-B2 controls endothelial sprouting and proliferation, which has been linked to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor endocytosis and signaling. Ephrin-B2 also has essential roles in supporting mural cells (namely, pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells [VSMCs]), but the underlying mechanism is not understood. Here, we show that ephrin-B2 controls platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (PDGFRβ) distribution in the VSMC plasma membrane, endocytosis, and signaling in a fashion that is highly distinct from its role in the endothelium. Absence of ephrin-B2 in cultured VSMCs led to the redistribution of PDGFRβ from caveolin-positive to clathrin-associated membrane fractions, enhanced PDGF-B-induced PDGFRβ internalization, and augmented downstream mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation but impaired Tiam1–Rac1 signaling and proliferation. Accordingly, mutant mice lacking ephrin-B2 expression in vascular smooth muscle developed vessel wall defects and aortic aneurysms, which were associated with impaired Tiam1 expression and excessive activation of MAP kinase and JNK. Our results establish that ephrin-B2 is an important regulator of PDGFRβ endocytosis and thereby acts as a molecular switch controlling the downstream signaling activity of this receptor in mural cells.
The aquaglyceroprin Fps1 is responsible for glycerol transport in yeast in response to changes in extracellular osmolarity. Control of Fps1 channel activity in response to hyperosmotic shock involves a redundant pair of regulators, Rgc1 (regulator of the glycerol channel 1) and Rgc2, and the MAPK Hog1 (high-osmolarity glycerol response 1). However, the mechanism by which these factors influence channel activity is unknown. We show that Rgc2 maintains Fps1 in the open channel state in the absence of osmotic stress by binding to its C-terminal cytoplasmic domain. This interaction involves a tripartite pleckstrin homology (PH) domain within Rgc2 and a partial PH domain within Fps1. Activation of Hog1 in response to hyperosmotic shock induces the rapid eviction of Rgc2 from Fps1 and consequent channel closure. Hog1 was recruited to the N-terminal cytoplasmic domain of Fps1, which it uses as a platform from which to multiply phosphorylate Rgc2. Thus, these results reveal the mechanism by which Hog1 regulates Fps1 in response to hyperosmotic shock.
RNAi combined with next-generation sequencing has proven to be a powerful and cost-effective genetic screening platform in mammalian cells. Still, this technology has its limitations and is incompatible with in situ mutagenesis screens on a genome-wide scale. Using p53 as a proof-of-principle target, we readapted the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas9 (CRISPR associated 9) genome-editing system to demonstrate the feasibility of this methodology for targeted gene disruption positive selection assays. By using novel "all-in-one" lentiviral and retroviral delivery vectors heterologously expressing both a codon-optimized Cas9 and its synthetic guide RNA (sgRNA), we show robust selection for the CRISPR-modified Trp53 locus following drug treatment. Furthermore, by linking Cas9 expression to GFP fluorescence, we use an "all-in-one" system to track disrupted Trp53 in chemoresistant lymphomas in the Eμ-myc mouse model. Deep sequencing analysis of the tumor-derived endogenous Cas9-modified Trp53 locus revealed a wide spectrum of mutants that were enriched with seemingly limited off-target effects. Taken together, these results establish Cas9 genome editing as a powerful and practical approach for positive in situ genetic screens.