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Manipulating the 3D organization of the largest synthetic yeast chromosome

Zhang, Weimin; Lazar-Stefanita, Luciana; Yamashita, Hitoyoshi; Shen, Michael J; Mitchell, Leslie A; Kurasawa, Hikaru; Lobzaev, Evgenii; Fanfani, Viola; Haase, Max A B; Sun, Xiaoji; Jiang, Qingwen; Goldberg, Gregory W; Ichikawa, David M; Lauer, Stephanie L; McCulloch, Laura H; Easo, Nicole; Lin, S Jiaming; Camellato, Brendan R; Zhu, Yinan; Cai, Jitong; Xu, Zhuwei; Zhao, Yu; Sacasa, Maya; ,; Noyes, Marcus B; Bader, Joel S; Deutsch, Samuel; Stracquadanio, Giovanni; Aizawa, Yasunori; Dai, Junbiao; Boeke, Jef D
Whether synthetic genomes can power life has attracted broad interest in the synthetic biology field. Here, we report de novo synthesis of the largest eukaryotic chromosome thus far, synIV, a 1,454,621-bp yeast chromosome resulting from extensive genome streamlining and modification. We developed megachunk assembly combined with a hierarchical integration strategy, which significantly increased the accuracy and flexibility of synthetic chromosome construction. Besides the drastic sequence changes, we further manipulated the 3D structure of synIV to explore spatial gene regulation. Surprisingly, we found few gene expression changes, suggesting that positioning inside the yeast nucleoplasm plays a minor role in gene regulation. Lastly, we tethered synIV to the inner nuclear membrane via its hundreds of loxPsym sites and observed transcriptional repression of the entire chromosome, demonstrating chromosome-wide transcription manipulation without changing the DNA sequences. Our manipulation of the spatial structure of synIV sheds light on higher-order architectural design of the synthetic genomes.
PMID: 37944526
ISSN: 1097-4164
CID: 5612832

Engineered transcription-associated Cas9 targeting in eukaryotic cells

Goldberg, Gregory W; Kogenaru, Manjunatha; Keegan, Sarah; Haase, Max A B; Kagermazova, Larisa; Arias, Mauricio A; Onyebeke, Kenenna; Adams, Samantha; Fenyö, David; Noyes, Marcus B; Boeke, Jef D
DNA targeting Class 2 CRISPR-Cas effector nucleases, including the well-studied Cas9 proteins, evolved protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM) and guide RNA interactions that sequentially license their binding and cleavage activities at protospacer target sites. Both interactions are nucleic acid sequence specific but function constitutively; thus, they provide intrinsic spatial control over DNA targeting activities but naturally lack temporal control. Here we show that engineered Cas9 fusion proteins which bind to nascent RNAs near a protospacer can facilitate spatiotemporal coupling between transcription and DNA targeting at that protospacer: Transcription-associated Cas9 Targeting (TraCT). Engineered TraCT is enabled when suboptimal PAM interactions limit basal activity in vivo and when one or more nascent RNA substrates are still tethered to the actively transcribing target DNA in cis. We further show that this phenomenon can be exploited for selective editing at one of two identical targets in distinct gene loci, or, in diploid allelic loci that are differentially transcribed. Our work demonstrates that temporal control over Cas9's targeting activity at specific DNA sites may be engineered without modifying Cas9's core domains and guide RNA components or their expression levels. More broadly, it establishes RNA binding in cis as a mechanism that can conditionally stimulate CRISPR-Cas DNA targeting in eukaryotes.
PMID: 37781609
CID: 5606662

A universal deep-learning model for zinc finger design enables transcription factor reprogramming

Ichikawa, David M; Abdin, Osama; Alerasool, Nader; Kogenaru, Manjunatha; Mueller, April L; Wen, Han; Giganti, David O; Goldberg, Gregory W; Adams, Samantha; Spencer, Jeffrey M; Razavi, Rozita; Nim, Satra; Zheng, Hong; Gionco, Courtney; Clark, Finnegan T; Strokach, Alexey; Hughes, Timothy R; Lionnet, Timothee; Taipale, Mikko; Kim, Philip M; Noyes, Marcus B
Cys2His2 zinc finger (ZF) domains engineered to bind specific target sequences in the genome provide an effective strategy for programmable regulation of gene expression, with many potential therapeutic applications. However, the structurally intricate engagement of ZF domains with DNA has made their design challenging. Here we describe the screening of 49 billion protein-DNA interactions and the development of a deep-learning model, ZFDesign, that solves ZF design for any genomic target. ZFDesign is a modern machine learning method that models global and target-specific differences induced by a range of library environments and specifically takes into account compatibility of neighboring fingers using a novel hierarchical transformer architecture. We demonstrate the versatility of designed ZFs as nucleases as well as activators and repressors by seamless reprogramming of human transcription factors. These factors could be used to upregulate an allele of haploinsufficiency, downregulate a gain-of-function mutation or test the consequence of regulation of a single gene as opposed to the many genes that a transcription factor would normally influence.
PMID: 36702896
ISSN: 1546-1696
CID: 5594812

Oncogenic inspiration for programmable activators

Ichikawa, David; Noyes, Marcus
The discovery of regulatory domains has been limited to the investigation of transcription factors and homologous protein sequences. In this issue of Cell Genomics, motivated by an oncogenic protein fusion, Tak et al.1 direct the regulatory potential of a nontraditional effector domain to novel genomic loci with fusions to programmable DNA-binding domains.
ISSN: 2666-979x
CID: 5446412

Engineered dual selection for directed evolution of SpCas9 PAM specificity

Goldberg, Gregory W; Spencer, Jeffrey M; Giganti, David O; Camellato, Brendan R; Agmon, Neta; Ichikawa, David M; Boeke, Jef D; Noyes, Marcus B
The widely used Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9 (SpCas9) nuclease derives its DNA targeting specificity from protein-DNA contacts with protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) sequences, in addition to base-pairing interactions between its guide RNA and target DNA. Previous reports have established that the PAM specificity of SpCas9 can be altered via positive selection procedures for directed evolution or other protein engineering strategies. Here we exploit in vivo directed evolution systems that incorporate simultaneous positive and negative selection to evolve SpCas9 variants with commensurate or improved activity on NAG PAMs relative to wild type and reduced activity on NGG PAMs, particularly YGG PAMs. We also show that the PAM preferences of available evolutionary intermediates effectively determine whether similar counterselection PAMs elicit different selection stringencies, and demonstrate that negative selection can be specifically increased in a yeast selection system through the fusion of compensatory zinc fingers to SpCas9.
PMID: 33441553
ISSN: 2041-1723
CID: 4747022

The geometric influence on the Cys2His2 zinc finger domain and functional plasticity

Mueller, April L; Corbi-Verge, Carles; Giganti, David O; Ichikawa, David M; Spencer, Jeffrey M; MacRae, Mark; Garton, Michael; Kim, Philip M; Noyes, Marcus B
The Cys2His2 zinc finger is the most common DNA-binding domain expanding in metazoans since the fungi human split. A proposed catalyst for this expansion is an arms race to silence transposable elements yet it remains poorly understood how this domain is able to evolve the required specificities. Likewise, models of its DNA binding specificity remain error prone due to a lack of understanding of how adjacent fingers influence each other's binding specificity. Here, we use a synthetic approach to exhaustively investigate binding geometry, one of the dominant influences on adjacent finger function. By screening over 28 billion protein-DNA interactions in various geometric contexts we find the plasticity of the most common natural geometry enables more functional amino acid combinations across all targets. Further, residues that define this geometry are enriched in genomes where zinc fingers are prevalent and specificity transitions would be limited in alternative geometries. Finally, these results demonstrate an exhaustive synthetic screen can produce an accurate model of domain function while providing mechanistic insight that may have assisted in the domains expansion.
PMID: 32383734
ISSN: 1362-4962
CID: 4437312

A yeast optogenetic toolkit (yOTK) for gene expression control in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

An-Adirekkun, Jidapas My; Stewart, Cameron J; Geller, Stephanie H; Patel, Michael T; Melendez, Justin; Oakes, Benjamin L; Noyes, Marcus B; McClean, Megan N
Optogenetic tools for controlling gene expression are ideal for tuning synthetic biological networks due to the exquisite spatiotemporal control available with light. Here we develop an optogenetic system for gene expression control integrated with an existing yeast toolkit allowing for rapid, modular assembly of light-controlled circuits in the important chassis organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We reconstitute activity of a split synthetic zinc-finger transcription factor (TF) using light-induced dimerization mediated by the proteins CRY2 and CIB1. We optimize function of this split TF and demonstrate the utility of the toolkit workflow by assembling cassettes expressing the TF activation domain and DNA-binding domain at different levels. Utilizing this TF and a synthetic promoter we demonstrate that light-intensity and duty-cycle can be used to modulate gene expression over the range currently available from natural yeast promoters. This work allows for rapid generation and prototyping of optogenetic circuits to control gene expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
PMID: 31788779
ISSN: 1097-0290
CID: 4240652

A Multireporter Bacterial 2-Hybrid Assay for the High-Throughput and Dynamic Assay of PDZ Domain-Peptide Interactions

Ichikawa, David M; Corbi-Verge, Carles; Shen, Michael J; Snider, Jamie; Wong, Victoria; Stagljar, Igor; Kim, Philip M; Noyes, Marcus B
The accurate determination of protein-protein interactions has been an important focus of molecular biology toward which much progress has been made due to the continuous development of existing and new technologies. However, current methods can have limitations, including scale and restriction to high affinity interactions, limiting our understanding of a large subset of these interactions. Here, we describe a modified bacterial-hybrid assay that employs combined selectable and scalable reporters that enable the sensitive screening of large peptide libraries followed by the sorting of positive interactions by the level of reporter output. We have applied this tool to characterize a set of human and E. coli PDZ domains. Our results are consistent with prior characterization of these proteins, and the improved sensitivity increases our ability to predict known and novel in vivo binding partners. This approach allows for the recovery of a wide range of affinities with a high throughput method that does not sacrifice the scale of the screen.
PMID: 30969105
ISSN: 2161-5063
CID: 3903252

Lineage context switches the function of a C. elegans Pax6 homolog in determining a neuronal fate

Brandt, Julia P; Rossillo, Mary; Zhuo, Du; Ichikawa, David; Barnes, Kristopher; Chen, Allison; Noyes, Marcus; Bao, Zhirong; Ringstad, Niels
The sensory nervous system of C. elegans comprises cells with varied molecular and functional characteristics and is, therefore, a powerful model for understanding mechanisms that generate neuronal diversity. We report here that VAB-3, a C. elegans homolog of the homeodomain-containing protein Pax6, has opposing functions in regulating expression of a specific chemosensory fate. A homeodomain-only short isoform of VAB-3 is expressed in BAG chemosensory neurons, where it promotes gene expression and cell function. In other cells, a long isoform of VAB-3 comprised of a Paired homology domain and a homeodomain represses expression of ETS-5, a transcription factor required for expression of BAG fate. Repression of ets-5 requires the Eyes Absent homolog EYA-1 and the Six-class homeodomain protein CEH-32. We determined sequences that mediate high-affinity binding of ETS-5, VAB-3, and CEH-32. The ets-5 locus is enriched for ETS-5-binding sites but lacks sequences that bind VAB-3 and CEH-32, suggesting that these factors do not directly repress ets-5 expression. We propose that a promoter-selection system together with lineage-specific expression of accessory factors allows VAB-3/Pax6 to either promote or repress expression of specific cell fates in a context-dependent manner.
PMID: 30890567
ISSN: 1477-9129
CID: 3735072

Linking the environment, DAF-7/TGFbeta signaling and LAG-2/DSL ligand expression in the germline stem cell niche

Pekar, Olga; Ow, Maria C; Hui, Kailyn Y; Noyes, Marcus B; Hall, Sarah E; Hubbard, E Jane Albert
The developmental accumulation of proliferative germ cells in the C. elegans hermaphrodite is sensitive to the organismal environment. Previously, we found that the TGFbeta signaling pathway links the environment and proliferative germ cell accumulation. Neuronal DAF-7/TGFbeta causes a DAF-1/TGFbetaR signaling cascade in the gonadal distal tip cell (DTC), the germline stem cell niche, where it negatively regulates a DAF-3 SMAD and DAF-5 Sno-Ski. LAG-2, a founding DSL ligand family member, is produced in the DTC and activates the GLP-1/Notch receptor on adjacent germ cells to maintain germline stem cell fate. Here, we show that DAF-7/TGFbeta signaling promotes expression of lag-2 in the DTC in a daf-3-dependent manner. Using ChIP and one-hybrid assays, we find evidence for direct interaction between DAF-3 and the lag-2 promoter. We further identify a 25 bp DAF-3 binding element required for the DTC lag-2 reporter response to the environment and to DAF-7/TGFbeta signaling. Our results implicate DAF-3 repressor complex activity as a key molecular mechanism whereby the environment influences DSL ligand expression in the niche to modulate developmental expansion of the germline stem cell pool.
PMID: 28811311
ISSN: 1477-9129
CID: 2669152