Monomeric site-specific nucleases for genome editing.
ABSTRACT: Targeted manipulation of complex genomes often requires the introduction of a double-strand break at defined locations by site-specific DNA endonucleases. Here, we describe a monomeric nuclease domain derived from GIY-YIG homing endonucleases for genome-editing applications. Fusion of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain to three-member zinc-finger DNA binding domains generated chimeric GIY-zinc finger endonucleases (GIY-ZFEs). Significantly, the I-TevI-derived fusions (Tev-ZFEs) function in vitro as monomers to introduce a double-strand break, and discriminate in vitro and in bacterial and yeast assays against substrates lacking a preferred 5'-CNNNG-3' cleavage motif. The Tev-ZFEs function to induce recombination in a yeast-based assay with activity on par with a homodimeric Zif268 zinc-finger nuclease. We also fused the I-TevI nuclease domain to a catalytically inactive LADGLIDADG homing endonuclease (LHE) scaffold. The monomeric Tev-LHEs are active in vivo and similarly discriminate against substrates lacking the 5'-CNNNG-3' motif. The monomeric Tev-ZFEs and Tev-LHEs are distinct from the FokI-derived zinc-finger nuclease and TAL effector nuclease platforms as the GIY-YIG domain alleviates the requirement to design two nuclease fusions to target a given sequence, highlighting the diversity of nuclease domains with distinctive biochemical properties suitable for genome-editing applications.
Project description:GIY-YIG homing endonucleases are modular proteins, with conserved N-terminal catalytic domains connected by linkers to C-terminal DNA-binding domains. I-TevI, the T4 phage GIY-YIG intron endonuclease, functions both in promoting td intron homing, and in acting as a transcriptional autorepressor. Repression is achieved by binding to an operator, which is cleaved at 100-fold reduced efficiency relative to the intronless homing site. The linker includes a zinc finger, which functions in distance determination, to constrain the catalytic domain to cleave the homing site at a fixed position. Here we show that I-BmoI, a related GIY-YIG endonuclease lacking a zinc finger, also possesses some cleavage distance discrimination. Furthermore, hybrid endonucleases constructed by swapping the domains of I-BmoI and I-TevI are active, precise and demonstrate that features other than the zinc finger facilitate distance determination. Most importantly, I-TevI zinc finger mutants cleave the operator more efficiently than the homing site, the converse of wild-type protein. These results are consistent with the zinc finger acting as a measuring device, directing efficient cleavage of the homing site to promote intron mobility, while reducing cleavage at the operator to ensure transcriptional autorepression and phage viability.
Project description:Homing endonucleases are sequence-tolerant DNA endonucleases that act as mobile genetic elements. The ability of homing endonucleases to cleave substrates with multiple nucleotide substitutions suggests a high degree of adaptability in that changing or modulating cleavage preference would require relatively few amino acid substitutions. Here, using directed evolution experiments with the GIY-YIG homing endonuclease I-TevI that targets the thymidylate synthase gene of phage T4, we readily isolated variants that dramatically broadened I-TevI cleavage preference, as well as variants that fine-tuned cleavage preference. By combining substitutions, we observed an ∼10 000-fold improvement in cleavage on some substrates not cleaved by the wild-type enzyme, correlating with a decrease in readout of information content at the cleavage site. Strikingly, we were able to change the cleavage preference of I-TevI to that of the isoschizomer I-BmoI which targets a different cleavage site in the thymidylate synthase gene, recapitulating the evolution of cleavage preference in this family of homing endonucleases. Our results define a strategy to isolate GIY-YIG nuclease domains with distinct cleavage preferences, and provide insight into how homing endonucleases may escape a dead-end life cycle in a population of saturated target sites by promoting transposition to different target sites.
Project description:The GIY-YIG nuclease domain is found within protein scaffolds that participate in diverse cellular pathways and contains a single active site that hydrolyzes DNA by a one-metal ion mechanism. GIY-YIG homing endonucleases (GIY-HEs) are two-domain proteins with N-terminal GIY-YIG nuclease domains connected to C-terminal DNA-binding and they are thought to function as monomers. Using I-BmoI as a model GIY-HE, we test mechanisms by which the single active site is used to generate a double-strand break. We show that I-BmoI is partially disordered in the absence of substrate, and that the GIY-YIG domain alone has weak affinity for DNA. Significantly, we show that I-BmoI functions as a monomer at all steps of the reaction pathway and does not transiently dimerize or use sequential transesterification reactions to cleave substrate. Our results are consistent with the I-BmoI DNA-binding domain acting as a molecular anchor to tether the GIY-YIG domain to substrate, permitting rotation of the GIY-YIG domain to sequentially nick each DNA strand. These data highlight the mechanistic differences between monomeric GIY-HEs and dimeric or tetrameric GIY-YIG restriction enzymes, and they have implications for the use of the GIY-YIG domain in genome-editing applications.
Project description:Homing endonucleases are site-specific DNA endonucleases that function as mobile genetic elements by introducing double-strand breaks or nicks at defined locations. Of the major families of homing endonucleases, the modular GIY-YIG endonucleases are least understood in terms of mechanism. The GIY-YIG homing endonuclease I-BmoI generates a double-strand break by sequential nicking reactions during which the single active site of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain must undergo a substantial reorganization. Here, we show that divalent metal ion plays a significant role in regulating the two independent nicking reactions by I-BmoI. Rate constant determination for each nicking reaction revealed that limiting divalent metal ion has a greater impact on the second strand than the first strand nicking reaction. We also show that substrate mutations within the I-BmoI cleavage site can modulate the first strand nicking reaction over a 314-fold range. Additionally, in-gel DNA footprinting with mutant substrates and modeling of an I-BmoI-substrate complex suggest that amino acid contacts to a critical GC-2 base pair are required to induce a bottom-strand distortion that likely directs conformational changes for reaction progress. Collectively, our data implies mechanistic roles for divalent metal ion and substrate bases, suggesting that divalent metal ion facilitates the re-positioning of the GIY-YIG nuclease domain between sequential nicking reactions.
Project description:Phage T4 endonuclease II (EndoII), a GIY-YIG endonuclease lacking a carboxy-terminal DNA-binding domain, was subjected to site-directed mutagenesis to investigate roles of individual amino acids in substrate recognition, binding, and catalysis. The structure of EndoII was modeled on that of UvrC. We found catalytic roles for residues in the putative catalytic surface (G49, R57, E118, and N130) similar to those described for I-TevI and UvrC; in addition, these residues were found to be important for substrate recognition and binding. The conserved glycine (G49) and arginine (R57) were essential for normal sequence recognition. Our results are in agreement with a role for these residues in forming the DNA-binding surface and exposing the substrate scissile bond at the active site. The conserved asparagine (N130) and an adjacent proline (P127) likely contribute to positioning the catalytic domain correctly. Enzymes in the EndoII subfamily of GIY-YIG endonucleases share a strongly conserved middle region (MR, residues 72 to 93, likely helical and possibly substituting for heterologous helices in I-TevI and UvrC) and a less strongly conserved N-terminal region (residues 12 to 24). Most of the conserved residues in these two regions appeared to contribute to binding strength without affecting the mode of substrate binding at the catalytic surface. EndoII K76, part of a conserved NUMOD3 DNA-binding motif of homing endonucleases found to overlap the MR, affected both sequence recognition and catalysis, suggesting a more direct involvement in positioning the substrate. Our data thus suggest roles for the MR and residues conserved in GIY-YIG enzymes in recognizing and binding the substrate.
Project description:The GIY-YIG domain was initially identified in homing endonucleases and later in other selfish mobile genetic elements (including restriction enzymes and non-LTR retrotransposons) and in enzymes involved in DNA repair and recombination. However, to date no systematic search for novel members of the GIY-YIG superfamily or comparative analysis of these enzymes has been reported.We carried out database searches to identify all members of known GIY-YIG nuclease families. Multiple sequence alignments together with predicted secondary structures of identified families were represented as Hidden Markov Models (HMM) and compared by the HHsearch method to the uncharacterized protein families gathered in the COG, KOG, and PFAM databases. This analysis allowed for extending the GIY-YIG superfamily to include members of COG3680 and a number of proteins not classified in COGs and to predict that these proteins may function as nucleases, potentially involved in DNA recombination and/or repair. Finally, all old and new members of the GIY-YIG superfamily were compared and analyzed to infer the phylogenetic tree.An evolutionary classification of the GIY-YIG superfamily is presented for the very first time, along with the structural annotation of all (sub)families. It provides a comprehensive picture of sequence-structure-function relationships in this superfamily of nucleases, which will help to design experiments to study the mechanism of action of known members (especially the uncharacterized ones) and will facilitate the prediction of function for the newly discovered ones.
Project description:Glutaredoxins (Grxs) have been identified across taxa as important mediators in various physiological functions. A chloroplastic monothiol glutaredoxin, AtGRXS16 from Arabidopsis thaliana, comprises two distinct functional domains, an N-terminal domain (NTD) with GlyIleTyr-TyrIleGly (GIY-YIG) endonuclease motif and a C-terminal Grx module, to coordinate redox regulation and DNA cleavage in chloroplasts. Structural determination of AtGRXS16-NTD showed that it possesses a GIY-YIG endonuclease fold, but the critical residues for the nuclease activity are different from typical GIY-YIG endonucleases. AtGRXS16-NTD was able to cleave λDNA and chloroplast genomic DNA, and the nuclease activity was significantly reduced in AtGRXS16. Functional analysis indicated that AtGRXS16-NTD could inhibit the ability of AtGRXS16 to suppress the sensitivity of yeast grx5 cells to oxidative stress; however, the C-terminal Grx domain itself and AtGRXS16 with a Cys123Ser mutation were active in these cells and able to functionally complement a Grx5 deficiency in yeast. Furthermore, the two functional domains were shown to be negatively regulated through the formation of an intramolecular disulfide bond. These findings unravel a manner of regulation for Grxs and provide insights into the mechanistic link between redox regulation and DNA metabolism in chloroplasts.
Project description:Precise genome editing in complex genomes is enabled by engineered nucleases that can be programmed to cleave in a site-specific manner. Here, we fused the small, sequence-tolerant monomeric nuclease domain from the homing endonuclease I-TevI to transcription-like activator effectors (TALEs) to create monomeric Tev-TALE nucleases (Tev-mTALENs). Using the PthXo1 TALE scaffold to optimize the Tev-mTALEN architecture, we found that choice of the N-terminal fusion point on the TALE greatly influenced activity in yeast-based assays, and that the length of the linker used affected the optimal spacing of the TALE binding site from the I-TevI cleavage site, specified by the motif 5'-CNNNG-3'. By assaying activity on all 64 possible sequence variants of this motif, we discovered that in the Tev-mTALEN context, I-TevI prefers A/T-rich triplets over G/C-rich ones at the cleavage site. Profiling of nucleotide requirements in the DNA spacer that separates the CNNNG motif from the TALE binding site revealed substantial, but not complete, tolerance to sequence variation. Tev-mTALENs showed robust mutagenic activity on an episomal target in HEK 293T cells consistent with specific cleavage followed by nonhomologous end-joining repair. Our data substantiate the applicability of Tev-mTALENs as genome-editing tools but highlight DNA spacer and cleavage site nucleotide preferences that, while enhancing specificity, do confer moderate targeting constraints.
Project description:Pathogenic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations often co-exist with wild-type molecules (mtDNA heteroplasmy). Phenotypes manifest when the percentage of mutant mtDNA is high (70-90%). Previously, our lab showed that mitochondria-targeted transcription activator-like effector nucleases (MitoTALENs) can eliminate mutant mtDNA from heteroplasmic cells. However, mitoTALENs are dimeric and relatively large, making it difficult to package their coding genes into viral vectors, limiting their clinical application. The smaller monomeric GIY-YIG homing nuclease from T4 phage (I-TevI) provides a potential alternative. We tested whether molecular hybrids (mitoTev-TALEs) could specifically bind and cleave mtDNA of patient-derived cybrids harboring different levels of the m.8344A>G mtDNA point mutation, associated with Myoclonic epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRF). We tested two mitoTev-TALE designs, one of which robustly shifted the mtDNA ratio towards the wild type. When this mitoTev-TALE was tested in a clone with high levels of the MERRF mutation (91% mutant), the shift in heteroplasmy resulted in an improvement of oxidative phosphorylation function. MitoTev-TALE provides an effective architecture for mtDNA editing that could facilitate therapeutic delivery of mtDNA editing enzymes to affected tissues.
Project description:Pathogenic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations often co-exist with wild-type molecules (mtDNA heteroplasmy). Phenotypes manifest when the percentage of mutant mtDNA is high (70-90%). Previously, our laboratory showed that mitochondria-targeted transcription activator-like effector nucleases (mitoTALENs) can eliminate mutant mtDNA from heteroplasmic cells. However, mitoTALENs are dimeric and relatively large, making it difficult to package their coding genes into viral vectors, limiting their clinical application. The smaller monomeric GIY-YIG homing nuclease from T4 phage (I-TevI) provides a potential alternative. We tested whether molecular hybrids (mitoTev-TALEs) could specifically bind and cleave mtDNA of patient-derived cybrids harboring different levels of the m.8344A>G mtDNA point mutation, associated with myoclonic epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRF). We tested two mitoTev-TALE designs, one of which robustly shifted the mtDNA ratio toward the wild type. When this mitoTev-TALE was tested in a clone with high levels of the MERRF mutation (91% mutant), the shift in heteroplasmy resulted in an improvement of oxidative phosphorylation function. mitoTev-TALE provides an effective architecture for mtDNA editing that could facilitate therapeutic delivery of mtDNA editing enzymes to affected tissues.