Enhanced group II intron retrohoming in magnesium-deficient Escherichia coli via selection of mutations in the ribozyme core
Mobile group II introns are bacterial retrotransposons thought to be evolutionary ancestors of spliceosomal introns and retroelements in eukaryotes. They consist of a catalytically active intron RNA ("ribozyme") and an intron-encoded reverse transcriptase, which function together to promote RNA splicing and intron mobility via reverse splicing of the intron RNA into new DNA sites ("retrohoming"). Although group II introns are active in bacteria, their natural hosts, they function inefficiently in eukaryotes, where lower free Mg(2+) concentrations decrease their ribozyme activity and constitute a natural barrier to group II intron proliferation within nuclear genomes. Here, we show that retrohoming of the Ll.LtrB group II intron is strongly inhibited in an Escherichia coli mutant lacking the Mg(2+) transporter MgtA, and we use this system to select mutations in catalytic core domain V (DV) that partially rescue retrohoming at low Mg(2+) concentrations. We thus identified mutations in the distal stem of DV that increase retrohoming efficiency in the MgtA mutant up to 22-fold. Biochemical assays of splicing and reverse splicing indicate that the mutations increase the fraction of intron RNA that folds into an active conformation at low Mg(2+) concentrations, and terbium-cleavage assays suggest that this increase is due to enhanced Mg(2+) binding to the distal stem of DV. Our findings indicate that DV is involved in a critical Mg(2+)-dependent RNA folding step in group II introns and demonstrate the feasibility of selecting intron variants that function more efficiently at low Mg(2+) concentrations, with implications for evolution and potential applications in gene targeting.
Genetic and biochemical assays reveal a key role for replication restart proteins in group II intron retrohoming
Mobile group II introns retrohome by an RNP-based mechanism in which the intron RNA reverse splices into a DNA site and is reverse transcribed by the associated intron-encoded protein. The resulting intron cDNA is then integrated into the genome by cellular mechanisms that have remained unclear. Here, we used an Escherichia coli genetic screen and Taqman qPCR assay that mitigate indirect effects to identify host factors that function in retrohoming. We then analyzed mutants identified in these and previous genetic screens by using a new biochemical assay that combines group II intron RNPs with cellular extracts to reconstitute the complete retrohoming reaction in vitro. The genetic and biochemical analyses indicate a retrohoming pathway involving degradation of the intron RNA template by a host RNase H and second-strand DNA synthesis by the host replicative DNA polymerase. Our results reveal ATP-dependent steps in both cDNA and second-strand synthesis and a surprising role for replication restart proteins in initiating second-strand synthesis in the absence of DNA replication. We also find an unsuspected requirement for host factors in initiating reverse transcription and a new RNA degradation pathway that suppresses retrohoming. Key features of the retrohoming mechanism may be used by human LINEs and other non-LTR-retrotransposons, which are related evolutionarily to mobile group II introns. Our findings highlight a new role for replication restart proteins, which function not only to repair DNA damage caused by mobile element insertion, but have also been co-opted to become an integral part of the group II intron retrohoming mechanism.
Analysis of three-dimensional systems for developing and mature kidneys clarifies the role of OAT1 and OAT3 in antiviral handling
The organic anion transporters OAT1 (SLC22A6, originally identified by us as NKT) and OAT3 (SLC22A8) are critical for handling many toxins, metabolites, and drugs, including antivirals (Truong, D. M., Kaler, G., Khandelwal, A., Swaan, P. W., and Nigam, S. K. (2008) J. Biol. Chem. 283, 8654-8663). Although microinjected Xenopus oocytes and/or transfected cells indicate overlapping specificities, the individual contributions of these transporters in the three-dimensional context of the tissues in which they normally function remain unclear. Here, handling of HIV antivirals (stavudine, tenofovir, lamivudine, acyclovir, and zidovudine) was analyzed with three-dimensional ex vivo functional assays using knock-out tissue. To investigate the contribution of OAT1 and OAT3 in various nephron segments, the OAT-selective fluorescent tracer substrates 5-carboxyfluorescein and 6-carboxyfluorescein were used. Although OAT1 function (uptake in oat3(-/-) tissue) was confined to portions of the cortex, consistent with a proximal tubular localization, OAT3 function (uptake in oat1(-/-) tissue) was apparent throughout the cortex, indicating localization in the distal as well as proximal nephron. This functional localization indicates a complex three-dimensional context, which needs to be considered for metabolites, toxins, and drugs (e.g. antivirals) handled by both transporters. These results also raise the possibility of functional differences in the relative importance of OAT1 and OAT3 in antiviral handling in developing and mature tissue. Because the HIV antivirals are used in pregnant women, the results may also help in understanding how these drugs are handled by developing organs.
Beta1-integrin is required for kidney collecting duct morphogenesis and maintenance of renal function
Deletion of integrin-beta1 (Itgb1) in the kidney collecting system led to progressive renal dysfunction and polyuria. The defect in the concentrating ability of the kidney was concomitant with decreased medullary collecting duct expression of aquaporin-2 and arginine vasopressin receptor 2, while histological examination revealed hypoplastic renal medullary collecting ducts characterized by increased apoptosis, ectasia and cyst formation. In addition, a range of defects from small kidneys with cysts and dilated tubules to bilateral renal agenesis was observed. This was likely due to altered growth and branching morphogenesis of the ureteric bud (the progenitor tissue of the renal collecting system), despite the apparent ability of the ureteric bud-derived cells to induce differentiation of the metanephric mesenchyme. These data not only support a role for Itgb1 in the development of the renal collecting system but also raise the possibility that Itgb1 links morphogenesis to terminal differentiation and ultimately collecting duct function and/or maintenance.
Organic anion transporter 3 contributes to the regulation of blood pressure
Renal organic anion transporters (OAT) are known to mediate the excretion of many drugs, but their function in normal physiology is not well understood. In this study, mice lacking organic anion transporter 3 (Oat3) had a 10 to 15% lower BP than wild-type mice, raising the possibility that Oat3 transports an endogenous regulator of BP. The aldosterone response to a low-salt diet was blunted in Oat3-null mice, but baseline aldosterone concentration was higher in these mice, suggesting that aldosterone dysregulation does not fully explain the lower BP in the basal state; therefore, both targeted and global metabolomic analyses of plasma and urine were performed, and several potential endogenous substrates of Oat3 were found to accumulate in the plasma of Oat3-null mice. One of these substrates, thymidine, was transported by Oat3 expressed in vitro. In vivo, thymidine, as well as two of the most potent Oat3 inhibitors that were characterized, reduced BP by 10 to 15%; therefore, Oat3 seems to regulate BP, and Oat3 inhibitors might be therapeutically useful antihypertensive agents. Moreover, polymorphisms in human OAT3 might contribute to the genetic variation in susceptibility to hypertension.
Multi-level analysis of organic anion transporters 1, 3, and 6 reveals major differences in structural determinants of antiviral discrimination
Long-term exposure to antivirals is associated with serious cellular toxicity to the kidney and other tissues. Organic anion transporters (OATs) are believed to mediate the cellular uptake, and hence cytotoxicity, of many antivirals. However, a systematic in vitro and ex vivo analysis of interactions between these compounds with various OAT isoforms has been lacking. To characterize substrate interactions with mOat1, mOat3, and mOat6, a fluorescence-based competition assay in Xenopus oocytes as well as wild-type and knock-out whole embryonic kidney (WEK) organ culture systems was developed using 6-carboxyfluorescein, 5-carboxyfluorescein, and fluorescein. Of nine common antiviral drugs assessed in oocytes, many manifested higher affinity for SLC22a6 (mOat1), originally identified as NKT (e.g. adefovir and cidofovir), two (ddC and ddI) manifested significantly higher affinity for mOat3, while mOat6 had comparatively low but measurable affinity for certain antivirals. A live organ staining approach combined with fluorescent uptake in WEK cultures allowed the visualization of OAT-mediated uptake ex vivo into developing proximal tubule-like structures, as well as quantification of substrate interactions of individual OAT isoforms. In general, antiviral specificity of SLC22a6 (Oat1) (in Oat3(-/-) WEK culture) and SLC22a8 (Oat3) (in Oat1(-/-) WEK culture) was consistent with the Xenopus oocyte data. The combined observations suggest SLC22a8 (Oat3) is the major transporter interacting with ddC and ddI. Finally, quantitative structure-activity relationship analysis of the nine antivirals' physicochemical descriptors with their OAT affinity indicates that antiviral preferences of mOat1 are explained by high polar surface areas (e.g. phosphate groups), whereas mOat3 prefers hydrogen bond acceptors (e.g. amines, ketones) and low rotatable bond numbers. In contrast, hydrogen bond donors (e.g. amides, alcohols) diminish binding to mOat6. This suggests that, despite sharing close overall sequence homology, Oat1, Oat3, and Oat6 have signficantly different binding pockets. Taken together, the data provide a basis for understanding potential drug interactions in combination antiviral therapy, as well as suggesting structural mdifications for drug design, especially in the context of targeting toward or away from specific tissues.
Structural variation governs substrate specificity for organic anion transporter (OAT) homologs. Potential remote sensing by OAT family members
Organic anion transporters (OATs, SLC22) interact with a remarkably diverse array of endogenous and exogenous organic anions. However, little is known about the structural features that determine their substrate selectivity. We examined the substrate binding preferences and transport function of olfactory organic anion transporter, Oat6, in comparison with the more broadly expressed transporter, Oat1 (first identified as NKT). In analyzing interactions of both transporters with over 40 structurally diverse organic anions, we find a correlation between organic anion potency (pKi) and hydrophobicity (logP) suggesting a hydrophobicity-driven association with transporter-binding sites, which appears particularly prominent for Oat6. On the other hand, organic anion binding selectivity between Oat6 and Oat1 is influenced by the anion mass and net charge. Smaller mono-anions manifest greater potency for Oat6 and di-anions for Oat1. Comparative molecular field analysis confirms these mechanistic insights and provides a model for predicting new OAT substrates. By comparative molecular field analysis, both hydrophobic and charged interactions contribute to Oat1 binding, although it is predominantly the former that contributes to Oat6 binding. Together, the data suggest that, although the three-dimensional structures of these two transporters may be very similar, the binding pockets exhibit crucial differences. Furthermore, for six radiolabeled substrates, we assessed transport efficacy (Vmax) for Oat6 and Oat1. Binding potency and transport efficacy had little correlation, suggesting that different molecular interactions are involved in substrate binding to the transporter and translocation across the membrane. Substrate specificity for a particular transporter may enable design of drugs for targeting to specific tissues (e.g. olfactory mucosa). We also discuss how these data suggest a possible mechanism for remote sensing between OATs in different tissue compartments (e.g. kidney, olfactory mucosa) via organic anions.
Olfactory mucosa-expressed organic anion transporter, Oat6, manifests high affinity interactions with odorant organic anions
We have characterized the expression of organic anion transporter 6, Oat6 (slc22a20), in olfactory mucosa, as well as its interaction with several odorant organic anions. In situ hybridization reveals diffuse Oat6 expression throughout olfactory epithelium, yet olfactory neurons laser-capture microdissected from either the main olfactory epithelium (MOE) or the vomeronasal organ (VNO) did not express Oat6 mRNA. These data suggest that Oat6 is expressed in non-neuronal cells of olfactory tissue, such as epithelial and/or other supporting cells. We next investigated interaction of Oat6 with several small organic anions that have previously been identified as odortype components in mouse urine. We find that each of these compounds, propionate, 2- and 3-methylbutyrate, benzoate, heptanoate, and 2-ethylhexanoate, inhibits Oat6-mediated uptake of a labeled tracer, estrone sulfate, consistent with their being Oat6 substrates. Previously, we noted defects in the renal elimination of odortype and odortype-like molecules in Oat1 knockout mice. The finding that such molecules interact with Oat6 raises the possibility that odorants secreted into the urine through one OAT-mediated mechanism (Eraly et al., JBC 2006) are transported through the olfactory mucosa through another OAT-mediated mechanism. Oat6 might play a direct or indirect role in olfaction, such as modulation of the availability of odorant organic anions at the mucosal surface for presentation to olfactory neurons or facilitation of delivery to a distal site of chemosensation, among other possibilities that we discuss.
Decreased renal organic anion secretion and plasma accumulation of endogenous organic anions in OAT1 knock-out mice
The "classical" organic anion secretory pathway of the renal proximal tubule is critical for the renal excretion of the prototypic organic anion, para-aminohippurate, as well as of a large number of commonly prescribed drugs among other significant substrates. Organic anion transporter 1 (OAT1), originally identified as NKT (Lopez-Nieto, C. E., You, G., Bush, K. T., Barros, E. J. G., Beier, D. R., and Nigam, S. K. (1997) J. Biol. Chem. 272, 6471-6478), has physiological properties consistent with a role in this pathway. However, several other transporters (e.g. OAT2, OAT3, and MRP1) have also been proposed as important PAH transporters on the basis of in vitro studies; therefore, the relative contribution of OAT1 has remained unclear. We have now generated a colony of OAT1 knock-out mice, permitting elucidation of the role of OAT1 in the context of these other potentially functionally redundant transporters. We find that the knock-out mice manifest a profound loss of organic anion transport (e.g. para-aminohippurate) both ex vivo (in isolated renal slices) as well as in vivo (as indicated by loss of renal secretion). In the case of the organic anion, furosemide, loss of renal secretion in the knock-out results in impaired diuretic responsiveness to this drug. These results indicate a critical role for OAT1 in the functioning of the classical pathway. In addition, we have determined the levels of approximately 60 endogenous organic anions in the plasma and urine of wild-type and knock-out mice. This has led to identification of several compounds with significantly higher plasma concentrations and/or lower urinary concentrations in knock-out mice, suggesting the involvement of OAT1 in their renal secretion. We have also demonstrated in xenopus oocytes that some of these compounds interact with OAT1 in vitro. Thus, these latter compounds might represent physiological substrates of OAT1.
Analyses of 5' regulatory region polymorphisms in human SLC22A6 (OAT1) and SLC22A8 (OAT3)
Kidney excretion of numerous organic anionic drugs and endogenous metabolites is carried out by a family of multispecific organic anion transporters (OATs). Two closely related transporters, SLC22A6, initially identified by us as NKT and also known as OAT1, and SLC22A8, also known as OAT3 and ROCT, are thought to mediate the initial steps in the transport of organic anionic drugs between the blood and proximal tubule cells of the kidney. Coding region polymorphisms in these genes are infrequent and pairing of these genes in the genome suggests they may be coordinately regulated. Hence, 5' regulatory regions of these genes may be important factors in human variation in organic anionic drug handling. We have analyzed novel single nucleotide polymorphisms in the evolutionarily conserved 5' regulatory regions of the SLC22A6 and SLC22A8 genes (phylogenetic footprints) in an ethnically diverse sample of 96 individuals (192 haploid genomes). Only one polymorphism was found in the SLC22A6 5' regulatory region. In contrast, seven polymorphisms were found in the SLC22A8 5' regulatory region, two of which were common to all ethnic groups studied. Computational analysis permitted phase and haplotype reconstruction. Proximity of these non-coding polymorphisms to transcriptional regulatory elements (including potential sex steroid response elements) suggests a potential influence on the level of transcription of the SLC22A6 and/or SLC22A8 genes and will help define their role in variation in human drug, metabolite and toxin excretion. The clustering of OAT genes in the genome raises the possibility that nucleotide polymorphisms in SLC22A6 could also effect SLC22A8 expression, and vice versa.