Sequence-specific modification of mitochondrial DNA using a chimeric zinc finger methylase.
ABSTRACT: We used engineered zinc finger peptides (ZFPs) to bind selectively to predetermined sequences in human mtDNA. Surprisingly, we found that engineered ZFPs cannot be reliably routed to mitochondria by using only conventional mitochondrial targeting sequences. We here show that addition of a nuclear export signal allows zinc finger chimeric enzymes to be imported into human mitochondria. The selective binding of mitochondria-specific ZFPs to mtDNA was exemplified by targeting the T8993G mutation, which causes two mitochondrial diseases, neurogenic muscle weakness, ataxia, and retinitis pigmentosa (NARP) and also maternally inherited Leigh's syndrome. To develop a system that allows the monitoring of site-specific alteration of mtDNA we combined a ZFP with the easily assayed DNA-modifying activity of hDNMT3a methylase. Expression of the mutation-specific chimeric methylase resulted in the selective methylation of cytosines adjacent to the mutation site. This is a proof of principle that it is possible to target and alter mtDNA in a sequence-specific manner by using zinc finger technology.
Project description:Mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encoded subunit 6 of ATPase (ATP6) are associated with variable disease expression, ranging from adult onset neuropathy, ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa (NARP) to fatal childhood maternally inherited Leigh's syndrome (MILS). Phenotypical variations have largely been attributed to mtDNA heteroplasmy. However, there is often a discrepancy between the levels of mutant mtDNA and disease severity. Therefore, the correlation among genetic defect, bioenergetic impairment and clinical outcome in NARP/MILS remains to be elucidated. We investigated the bioenergetics of cybrids from five patients carrying different ATP6 mutations: three harboring the T8993G, one with the T8993C and one with the T9176G mutation. The bioenergetic defects varied dramatically, not only among different ATP6 mutants, but also among lines carrying the same T8993G mutation. Mutants with the most severe ATP synthesis impairment showed defective respiration and disassembly of respiratory chain complexes. This indicates that respiratory chain defects modulate the bioenergetic impairment in NARP/MILS cells. Sequencing of the entire mtDNA from the different mutant cell lines identified variations in structural genes, resulting in amino acid changes that destabilize the respiratory chain. Taken together, these results indicate that the mtDNA background plays an important role in modulating the biochemical defects and clinical outcome in NARP/MILS.
Project description:Many incurable mitochondrial disorders result from mutant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and impaired respiration. Leigh's syndrome (LS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder of infants, and Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) causes blindness in young adults. Treatment of LHON and LS cells harboring G11778A and T8993G mutant mtDNA, respectively, by >90%, with healthy donor mtDNA complexed with recombinant human mitochondrial transcription factor A (rhTFAM), improved mitochondrial respiration by ?1.2-fold in LHON cells and restored >50% ATP synthase function in LS cells. Mitochondrial replication, transcription, and translation of key respiratory genes and proteins were increased in the short term. Increased NRF1, TFAMB1, and TFAMA expression alluded to the activation of mitochondrial biogenesis as a mechanism for improving mitochondrial respiration. These results represent the development of a therapeutic approach for LHON and LS patients in the near future.
Project description:Early molecular and developmental events impacting many incurable mitochondrial disorders are not fully understood and require generation of relevant patient- and disease-specific stem cell models. In this study, we focus on the ability of a nonviral and integration-free reprogramming method for deriving clinical-grade induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) specific to Leigh's syndrome (LS), a fatal neurodegenerative mitochondrial disorder of infants. The cause of fatality could be due to the presence of high abundance of mutant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or decline in respiration levels, thus affecting early molecular and developmental events in energy-intensive tissues. LS patient fibroblasts (designated LS1 in this study), carrying a high percentage of mutant T8993G mtDNA, were reprogrammed using a combined mRNA-miRNA nonviral approach to generate human iPSCs (hiPSCs). The LS1-hiPSCs were evaluated for their self-renewal, embryoid body (EB) formation, and differentiation potential, using immunocytochemistry and gene expression profiling methods. Sanger sequencing and next-generation sequencing approaches were used to detect the mutation and quantify the percentage of mutant mtDNA in the LS1-hiPSCs and differentiated derivatives. Reprogrammed LS-hiPSCs expressed pluripotent stem cell markers including transcription factors OCT4, NANOG, and SOX2 and cell surface markers SSEA4, TRA-1-60, and TRA-1-81 at the RNA and protein level. LS1-hiPSCs also demonstrated the capacity for self-renewal and multilineage differentiation into all three embryonic germ layers. EB analysis demonstrated impaired differentiation potential in cells carrying high percentage of mutant mtDNA. Next-generation sequencing analysis confirmed the presence of high abundance of T8993G mutant mtDNA in the patient fibroblasts and their reprogrammed and differentiated derivatives. These results represent for the first time the derivation and characterization of a stable nonviral hiPSC line reprogrammed from a LS patient fibroblast carrying a high abundance of mutant mtDNA. These outcomes are important steps toward understanding disease origins and developing personalized therapies for patients suffering from mitochondrial diseases.
Project description:Mutations in the ATP6 gene of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) have been shown to cause several different neurological disorders. The product of this gene is ATPase 6, an essential component of the F1F0-ATPase. In the present study we show that the function of the F1F0-ATPase is impaired in lymphocytes from ten individuals harbouring the mtDNA T8993G point mutation associated with NARP (neuropathy, ataxia and retinitis pigmentosa) and Leigh syndrome. We show that the impaired function of both the ATP synthase and the proton transport activity of the enzyme correlates with the amount of the mtDNA that is mutated, ranging from 13-94%. The fluorescent dye RH-123 (Rhodamine-123) was used as a probe to determine whether or not passive proton flux (i.e. from the intermembrane space to the matrix) is affected by the mutation. Under state 3 respiratory conditions, a slight difference in RH-123 fluorescence quenching kinetics was observed between mutant and control mitochondria that suggests a marginally lower F0 proton flux capacity in cells from patients. Moreover, independent of the cellular mutant load the specific inhibitor oligomycin induced a marked enhancement of the RH-123 quenching rate, which is associated with a block in proton conductivity through F0 [Linnett and Beechey (1979) Inhibitors of the ATP synthethase system. Methods Enzymol. 55, 472-518]. Overall, the results rule out the previously proposed proton block as the basis of the pathogenicity of the mtDNA T8993G mutation. Since the ATP synthesis rate was decreased by 70% in NARP patients compared with controls, we suggest that the T8993G mutation affects the coupling between proton translocation through F0 and ATP synthesis on F1. We discuss our findings in view of the current knowledge regarding the rotary mechanism of catalysis of the enzyme.
Project description:Site-specific recombinases are powerful tools for genome engineering. Hyperactivated variants of the resolvase/invertase family of serine recombinases function without accessory factors, and thus can be re-targeted to sequences of interest by replacing native DNA-binding domains (DBDs) with engineered zinc-finger proteins (ZFPs). However, imperfect modularity with particular domains, lack of high-affinity binding to all DNA triplets, and difficulty in construction has hindered the widespread adoption of ZFPs in unspecialized laboratories. The discovery of a novel type of DBD in transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins from Xanthomonas provides an alternative to ZFPs. Here we describe chimeric TALE recombinases (TALERs): engineered fusions between a hyperactivated catalytic domain from the DNA invertase Gin and an optimized TALE architecture. We use a library of incrementally truncated TALE variants to identify TALER fusions that modify DNA with efficiency and specificity comparable to zinc-finger recombinases in bacterial cells. We also show that TALERs recombine DNA in mammalian cells. The TALER architecture described herein provides a platform for insertion of customized TALE domains, thus significantly expanding the targeting capacity of engineered recombinases and their potential applications in biotechnology and medicine.
Project description:The selective degradation of mutated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) molecules is a potential strategy to re-populate cells with wild-type (wt) mtDNA molecules and thereby alleviate the defective mitochondrial function that underlies mtDNA diseases. Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), which are nucleases conjugated to a zinc-finger peptide (ZFP) engineered to bind a specific DNA sequence, could be useful for the selective degradation of particular mtDNA sequences. Typically, pairs of complementary ZFNs are used that heterodimerize on the target DNA sequence; however, conventional ZFNs were ineffective in our system. To overcome this, we created single-chain ZFNs by conjugating two FokI nuclease domains, connected by a flexible linker, to a ZFP with an N-terminal mitochondrial targeting sequence. Here we show that these ZFNs are efficiently transported into mitochondria in cells and bind mtDNA in a sequence-specific manner discriminating between two 12-bp long sequences that differ by a single base pair. Due to their selective binding they cleave dsDNA at predicted sites adjacent to the mutation. When expressed in heteroplasmic cells containing a mixture of mutated and wt mtDNA these ZFNs selectively degrade mutated mtDNA, thereby increasing the proportion of wt mtDNA molecules in the cell. Therefore, mitochondria-targeted single-chain ZFNs are a promising candidate approach for the treatment of mtDNA diseases.
Project description:Cys2-His2 zinc finger proteins (ZFPs) are the largest group of transcription factors in higher metazoans. A complete characterization of these ZFPs and their associated target sequences is pivotal to fully annotate transcriptional regulatory networks in metazoan genomes. As a first step in this process, we have characterized the DNA-binding specificities of 129 zinc finger sets from Drosophila using a bacterial one-hybrid system. This data set contains the DNA-binding specificities for at least one encoded ZFP from 70 unique genes and 23 alternate splice isoforms representing the largest set of characterized ZFPs from any organism described to date. These recognition motifs can be used to predict genomic binding sites for these factors within the fruit fly genome. Subsets of fingers from these ZFPs were characterized to define their orientation and register on their recognition sequences, thereby allowing us to define the recognition diversity within this finger set. We find that the characterized fingers can specify 47 of the 64 possible DNA triplets. To confirm the utility of our finger recognition models, we employed subsets of Drosophila fingers in combination with an existing archive of artificial zinc finger modules to create ZFPs with novel DNA-binding specificity. These hybrids of natural and artificial fingers can be used to create functional zinc finger nucleases for editing vertebrate genomes.
Project description:Tandem C2H2-type zinc finger proteins (ZFPs) constitute the largest transcription factor family in animals. Tandem-ZFPs bind DNA in a sequence-specific manner through arrays of multiple zinc finger domains that allow high flexibility and specificity in target recognition. In tetrapods, a large proportion of tandem-ZFPs contain Krüppel-associated-box (KRAB) repression domains, which are able to induce epigenetic silencing through the KAP1 corepressor. The KRAB-ZFP family continuously amplified in tetrapods through segmental gene duplications, often accompanied by deletions, duplications, and mutations of the zinc finger domains. As a result, tetrapod genomes contain unique sets of KRAB-ZFP genes, consisting of ancient and recently evolved family members. Although several hundred human and mouse KRAB-ZFPs have been identified or predicted, the biological functions of most KRAB-ZFP family members have gone unexplored. Furthermore, the evolutionary forces driving the extraordinary KRAB-ZFP expansion and diversification have remained mysterious for decades. In this review, we highlight recent studies that associate KRAB-ZFPs with the repression of parasitic DNA elements in the mammalian germ line and discuss the hypothesis that the KRAB-ZFP family primarily evolved as an adaptive genomic surveillance system against foreign DNA. Finally, we comment on the computational, genetic, and biochemical challenges of studying KRAB-ZFPs and attempt to predict how these challenges may be soon overcome.
Project description:C2H2 zinc-finger proteins (ZFPs) constitute the largest family of nucleic acid binding factors in higher eukaryotes. In silico analysis identified a total of 326 putative ZFP genes in the Drosophila genome, corresponding to approximately 2.3% of the annotated genes. Approximately 29% of the Drosophila ZFPs are evolutionary conserved in humans and/or Caenorhabditis elegans. In addition, approximately 28% of the ZFPs contain an N-terminal zinc-finger-associated C4DM domain (ZAD) consisting of approximately 75 amino acid residues. The ZAD is restricted to ZFPs of dipteran and closely related insects. The evolutionary restriction, an expansion of ZAD-containing ZFP genes in the Drosophila genome and their clustering at few chromosomal sites are features reminiscent of vertebrate KRAB-ZFPs. ZADs are likely to represent protein-protein interaction domains. We propose that ZAD-containing ZFP genes participate in transcriptional regulation either directly or through site-specific modification and/or regulation of chromatin.
Project description:Zinc-finger proteins (ZFPs) have long been recognized for their potential to manipulate genetic information because they can be engineered to bind novel DNA targets. Individual zinc-finger domains (ZFDs) bind specific DNA triplet sequences; their apparent modularity has led some groups to propose methods that allow virtually any desired DNA motif to be targeted in vitro. In practice, however, ZFPs engineered using this 'modular assembly' approach do not always function well in vivo. Here we report a modular assembly scoring strategy that both identifies combinations of modules least likely to function efficiently in vivo and provides accurate estimates of their relative binding affinities in vitro. Predicted binding affinities for 53 'three-finger' ZFPs, computed based on energy contributions of the constituent modules, were highly correlated (r = 0.80) with activity levels measured in bacterial two-hybrid assays. Moreover, K(d) values for seven modularly assembled ZFPs and their intended targets, measured using fluorescence anisotropy, were also highly correlated with predictions (r = 0.91). We propose that success rates for ZFP modular assembly can be significantly improved by exploiting the score-based strategy described here.