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Synthetic refactor of essential genes decodes functionally constrained sequences in yeast genome

Liang, Zhenzhen; Luo, Zhouqing; Zhang, Weimin; Yu, Kang; Wang, Hui; Geng, Binan; Yang, Qing; Ni, Zuoyu; Zeng, Cheng; Zheng, Yihui; Li, Chunyuan; Yang, Shihui; Ma, Yingxin; Dai, Junbiao
The relationship between gene sequence and function matters for fundamental and practical reasons. Here, yeast essential genes were systematically refactored to identify invariable sequences in the coding and regulatory regions. The coding sequences were synonymously recoded with all optimal codons to explore the importance of codon choice. The promoters and terminators were swapped with well-characterized CYC1 promoter and terminator to examine whether a specialized expression is required for the function of a specific gene. Among the 10 essential genes from Chr.XIIL, this scheme successfully generated 7 refactored genes that can effectively support wild-type-like fitness under various conditions, thereby revealing amazing sequence plasticity of yeast genes. Moreover, different invariable elements were identified from the remaining 3 genes, exampling the logics for genetic information encoding and regulation. Further refactoring of all essential genes using this strategy will generate comprehensive understanding of gene sequence choice, thereby guiding its design in various applications.
PMID: 36093046
ISSN: 2589-0042
CID: 5336072

A conditional counterselectable Piga knockout in mouse embryonic stem cells for advanced genome writing applications

Zhang, Weimin; Brosh, Ran; McCulloch, Laura H; Zhu, Yinan; Ashe, Hannah; Ellis, Gwen; Camellato, Brendan R; Kim, Sang Yong; Maurano, Matthew T; Boeke, Jef D
Overwriting counterselectable markers is an efficient strategy for removing wild-type DNA or replacing it with payload DNA of interest. Currently, one bottleneck of efficient genome engineering in mammals is the shortage of counterselectable (negative selection) markers that work robustly without affecting organismal developmental potential. Here, we report a conditional Piga knockout strategy that enables efficient proaerolysin-based counterselection in mouse embryonic stem cells. The conditional Piga knockout cells show similar proaerolysin resistance as full (non-conditional) Piga deletion cells, which enables the use of a PIGA transgene as a counterselectable marker for genome engineering purposes. Native Piga function is readily restored in conditional Piga knockout cells to facilitate subsequent mouse development. We also demonstrate the generality of our strategy by engineering a conditional knockout of endogenous Hprt. Taken together, our work provides a new tool for advanced mouse genome writing and mouse model establishment.
PMID: 35692632
ISSN: 2589-0042
CID: 5282452

Synthetic Genomes

Zhang, Weimin; Mitchell, Leslie A; Bader, Joel S; Boeke, Jef D
DNA synthesis technology has progressed to the point that it is now practical to synthesize entire genomes. Quite a variety of methods have been developed, first to synthesize single genes but ultimately to massively edit or write from scratch entire genomes. Synthetic genomes can essentially be clones of native sequences, but this approach does not teach us much new biology. The ability to endow genomes with novel properties offers special promise for addressing questions not easily approachable with conventional gene-at-a-time methods. These include questions about evolution and about how genomes are fundamentally wired informationally, metabolically, and genetically. The techniques and technologies relating to how to design, build, and deliver big DNA at the genome scale are reviewed here. A fuller understanding of these principles may someday lead to the ability to truly design genomes from scratch.
PMID: 32569517
ISSN: 1545-4509
CID: 4492862

Dissecting PCNA function with a systematically designed mutant library in yeast

Jiang, Qingwen; Zhang, Weimin; Liu, Chenghao; Lin, Yicong; Wu, Qingyu; Dai, Junbiao
Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), encoded by POL30 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is a key component of DNA metabolism. Here, a library consisting of 304 PCNA mutants was designed and constructed to probe the contribution of each residue to the biological function of PCNA. Five regions with elevated sensitivity to DNA damaging reagents were identified using high-throughput phenotype screening. Using a series of genetic and biochemical analyses, we demonstrated that one particular mutant, K168A, has defects in the DNA damage tolerance (DDT) pathway by disrupting the interaction between PCNA and Rad5. Subsequent domain analysis showed that the PCNA-Rad5 interaction is a prerequisite for the function of Rad5 in DDT. Our study not only provides a resource in the form of a library of versatile mutants to study the functions of PCNA, but also reveals a key residue on PCNA (K168) which highlights the importance of the PCNA-Rad5 interaction in the template switching (TS) pathway.
PMID: 31281030
ISSN: 1673-8527
CID: 5606502

Probing the Function of Metazoan Histones with a Systematic Library of H3 and H4 Mutants

Zhang, Weimin; Zhang, Xuedi; Xue, Zhaoyu; Li, Yijie; Ma, Qing; Ren, Xiangle; Zhang, Jiaying; Yang, Songhua; Yang, Lijuan; Wu, Menghua; Ren, Mengda; Xi, Rongwen; Wu, Zheng; Liu, Ji-Long; Matunis, Erika; Dai, Junbiao; Gao, Guanjun
Replication-dependent histone genes often reside in tandemly arrayed gene clusters, hindering systematic loss-of-function analyses. Here, we used CRISPR/Cas9 and the attP/attB double-integration system to alter numbers and sequences of histone genes in their original genomic context in Drosophila melanogaster. As few as 8 copies of the histone gene unit supported embryo development and adult viability, whereas flies with 20 copies were indistinguishable from wild-types. By hierarchical assembly, 40 alanine-substitution mutations (covering all known modified residues in histones H3 and H4) were introduced and characterized. Mutations at multiple residues compromised viability, fertility, and DNA-damage responses. In particular, H4K16 was necessary for expression of male X-linked genes, male viability, and maintenance of ovarian germline stem cells, whereas H3K27 was essential for late embryogenesis. Simplified mosaic analysis showed that H3R26 is required for H3K27 trimethylation. We have developed a powerful strategy and valuable reagents to systematically probe histone functions in D. melanogaster.
PMID: 30595536
ISSN: 1878-1551
CID: 5606402

Identifying and characterizing SCRaMbLEd synthetic yeast using ReSCuES

Luo, Zhouqing; Wang, Lihui; Wang, Yun; Zhang, Weimin; Guo, Yakun; Shen, Yue; Jiang, Linghuo; Wu, Qingyu; Zhang, Chong; Cai, Yizhi; Dai, Junbiao
SCRaMbLE is a novel system implemented in the synthetic yeast genome, enabling massive chromosome rearrangements to produce strains with a large genotypic diversity upon induction. Here we describe a reporter of SCRaMbLEd cells using efficient selection, termed ReSCuES, based on a loxP-mediated switch of two auxotrophic markers. We show that all randomly isolated clones contained rearrangements within the synthetic chromosome, demonstrating high efficiency of selection. Using ReSCuES, we illustrate the ability of SCRaMbLE to generate strains with increased tolerance to several stress factors, such as ethanol, heat and acetic acid. Furthermore, by analyzing the tolerant strains, we are able to identify ACE2, a transcription factor required for septum destruction after cytokinesis, as a negative regulator of ethanol tolerance. Collectively, this work not only establishes a generic platform to rapidly identify strains of interest by SCRaMbLE, but also provides methods to dissect the underlying mechanisms of resistance.
PMID: 29789541
ISSN: 2041-1723
CID: 5606382

3D organization of synthetic and scrambled chromosomes

Mercy, Guillaume; Mozziconacci, Julien; Scolari, Vittore F; Yang, Kun; Zhao, Guanghou; Thierry, Agnes; Luo, Yisha; Mitchell, Leslie A; Shen, Michael; Shen, Yue; Walker, Roy; Zhang, Weimin; Wu, Yi; Xie, Ze-Xiong; Luo, Zhouqing; Cai, Yizhi; Dai, Junbiao; Yang, Huanming; Yuan, Ying-Jin; Boeke, Jef D; Bader, Joel S; Muller, Heloise; Koszul, Romain
Although the design of the synthetic yeast genome Sc2.0 is highly conservative with respect to gene content, the deletion of several classes of repeated sequences and the introduction of thousands of designer changes may affect genome organization and potentially alter cellular functions. We report here the Hi-C-determined three-dimensional (3D) conformations of Sc2.0 chromosomes. The absence of repeats leads to a smoother contact pattern and more precisely tractable chromosome conformations, and the large-scale genomic organization is globally unaffected by the presence of synthetic chromosome(s). Two exceptions are synIII, which lacks the silent mating-type cassettes, and synXII, specifically when the ribosomal DNA is moved to another chromosome. We also exploit the contact maps to detect rearrangements induced in SCRaMbLE (synthetic chromosome rearrangement and modification by loxP-mediated evolution) strains.
PMID: 28280150
ISSN: 1095-9203
CID: 2477382

Engineering the ribosomal DNA in a megabase synthetic chromosome

Zhang, Weimin; Zhao, Guanghou; Luo, Zhouqing; Lin, Yicong; Wang, Lihui; Guo, Yakun; Wang, Ann; Jiang, Shuangying; Jiang, Qingwen; Gong, Jianhui; Wang, Yun; Hou, Sha; Huang, Jing; Li, Tianyi; Qin, Yiran; Dong, Junkai; Qin, Qin; Zhang, Jiaying; Zou, Xinzhi; He, Xi; Zhao, Li; Xiao, Yibo; Xu, Meng; Cheng, Erchao; Huang, Ning; Zhou, Tong; Shen, Yue; Walker, Roy; Luo, Yisha; Kuang, Zheng; Mitchell, Leslie A; Yang, Kun; Richardson, Sarah M; Wu, Yi; Li, Bing-Zhi; Yuan, Ying-Jin; Yang, Huanming; Lin, Jiwei; Chen, Guo-Qiang; Wu, Qingyu; Bader, Joel S; Cai, Yizhi; Boeke, Jef D; Dai, Junbiao
We designed and synthesized a 976,067-base pair linear chromosome, synXII, based on native chromosome XII in Saccharomyces cerevisiae SynXII was assembled using a two-step method, specified by successive megachunk integration and meiotic recombination-mediated assembly, producing a functional chromosome in S. cerevisiae. Minor growth defect "bugs" detected in synXII, caused by deletion of tRNA genes, were rescued by introducing an ectopic copy of a single tRNA gene. The ribosomal gene cluster (rDNA) on synXII was left intact during the assembly process and subsequently replaced by a modified rDNA unit used to regenerate rDNA at three distinct chromosomal locations. The signature sequences within rDNA, which can be used to determine species identity, were swapped to generate a Saccharomyces synXII strain that would be identified as Saccharomyces bayanus by standard DNA barcoding procedures.
PMID: 28280149
ISSN: 1095-9203
CID: 2477372

Critical roles of long noncoding RNAs in Drosophila spermatogenesis

Wen, Kejia; Yang, Lijuan; Xiong, Tuanlin; Di, Chao; Ma, Danhui; Wu, Menghua; Xue, Zhaoyu; Zhang, Xuedi; Long, Li; Zhang, Weimin; Zhang, Jiaying; Bi, Xiaolin; Dai, Junbiao; Zhang, Qiangfeng; Lu, Zhi John; Gao, Guanjun
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), a recently discovered class of cellular RNAs, play important roles in the regulation of many cellular developmental processes. Although lncRNAs have been systematically identified in various systems, most of them have not been functionally characterized in vivo in animal models. In this study, we identified 128 testis-specific Drosophila lncRNAs and knocked out 105 of them using an optimized three-component CRISPR/Cas9 system. Among the lncRNA knockouts, 33 (31%) exhibited a partial or complete loss of male fertility, accompanied by visual developmental defects in late spermatogenesis. In addition, six knockouts were fully or partially rescued by transgenes in a trans configuration, indicating that those lncRNAs primarily work in trans Furthermore, gene expression profiles for five lncRNA mutants revealed that testis-specific lncRNAs regulate global gene expression, orchestrating late male germ cell differentiation. Compared with coding genes, the testis-specific lncRNAs evolved much faster. Moreover, lncRNAs of greater functional importance exhibited higher sequence conservation, suggesting that they are under constant evolutionary selection. Collectively, our results reveal critical functions of rapidly evolving testis-specific lncRNAs in late Drosophila spermatogenesis.
PMID: 27516619
ISSN: 1549-5469
CID: 5606362

YeastFab: the design and construction of standard biological parts for metabolic engineering in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Guo, Yakun; Dong, Junkai; Zhou, Tong; Auxillos, Jamie; Li, Tianyi; Zhang, Weimin; Wang, Lihui; Shen, Yue; Luo, Yisha; Zheng, Yijing; Lin, Jiwei; Chen, Guo-Qiang; Wu, Qingyu; Cai, Yizhi; Dai, Junbiao
It is a routine task in metabolic engineering to introduce multicomponent pathways into a heterologous host for production of metabolites. However, this process sometimes may take weeks to months due to the lack of standardized genetic tools. Here, we present a method for the design and construction of biological parts based on the native genes and regulatory elements in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We have developed highly efficient protocols (termed YeastFab Assembly) to synthesize these genetic elements as standardized biological parts, which can be used to assemble transcriptional units in a single-tube reaction. In addition, standardized characterization assays are developed using reporter constructs to calibrate the function of promoters. Furthermore, the assembled transcription units can be either assayed individually or applied to construct multi-gene metabolic pathways, which targets a genomic locus or a receiving plasmid effectively, through a simple in vitro reaction. Finally, using β-carotene biosynthesis pathway as an example, we demonstrate that our method allows us not only to construct and test a metabolic pathway in several days, but also to optimize the production through combinatorial assembly of a pathway using hundreds of regulatory biological parts.
PMID: 25956650
ISSN: 1362-4962
CID: 5606322