ABSTRACT: Studies from diverse systems have shown that distinct interchromosomal interactions are a central component of nuclear organization. In some cases, these interactions allow an enhancer to act in trans, modulating the expression of a gene encoded on a separate chromosome held in close proximity. Despite recent advances in uncovering such phenomena, our understanding of how a regulatory element acts on another chromosome remains incomplete. Here, we describe a transgenic approach to better understand enhancer action in trans in Drosophila melanogaster. Using phiC31-based recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE), we placed transgenes carrying combinations of the simple enhancer GMR, a minimal promoter, and different fluorescent reporters at equivalent positions on homologous chromosomes so that they would pair via the endogenous somatic pairing machinery of Drosophila. Our data demonstrate that the enhancer GMR is capable of activating a promoter in trans and does so in a variegated pattern, suggesting stochastic interactions between the enhancer and the promoter when they are carried on separate chromosomes. Furthermore, we quantitatively assessed the impact of two concurrent promoter targets in cis and in trans to GMR, demonstrating that each promoter is capable of competing for the enhancer's activity, with the presence of one negatively affecting expression from the other. Finally, the single-cell resolution afforded by our approach allowed us to show that promoters in cis and in trans to GMR can both be activated in the same nucleus, implying that a single enhancer can share its activity between multiple promoter targets carried on separate chromosomes.
Project description:In Drosophila melanogaster the male specific lethal (MSL) complex is required for upregulation of expression of most X-linked genes in males, thereby achieving X chromosome dosage compensation. The MSL complex is highly enriched across most active X-linked genes with a bias towards the 3' end. Previous studies have shown that gene transcription facilitates MSL complex binding but the type of promoter did not appear to be important. We have made the surprising observation that genes driven by the glass multiple reporter (GMR) enhancer-promoter are not dosage compensated at X-linked sites. The GMR promoter is active in all cells in, and posterior to, the morphogenetic furrow of the developing eye disc. Using phiC31 integrase-mediated targeted integration, we measured expression of lacZ reporter genes driven by either the GMR or armadillo (arm) promoters at each of three X-linked sites. At all sites, the arm-lacZ reporter gene was dosage compensated but GMR-lacZ was not. We have investigated why GMR-driven genes are not dosage compensated. Earlier or constitutive expression of GMR-lacZ did not affect the level of compensation. Neither did proximity to a strong MSL binding site. However, replacement of the hsp70 minimal promoter with a minimal promoter from the X-linked 6-Phosphogluconate dehydrogenase gene did restore partial dosage compensation. Similarly, insertion of binding sites for the GAGA and DREF factors upstream of the GMR promoter led to significantly higher lacZ expression in males than females. GAGA and DREF have been implicated to play a role in dosage compensation. We conclude that the gene promoter can affect MSL complex-mediated upregulation and dosage compensation. Further, it appears that the nature of the basal promoter and the presence of binding sites for specific factors influence the ability of a gene promoter to respond to the MSL complex.
Project description:Long-range associations between enhancers and their target gene promoters have been shown to play critical roles in executing genome function. Recent variations of chromosome capture technology have revealed a comprehensive view of intra- and interchromosomal contacts between specific genomic sites. The locus control region of the ?-globin genes (?-LCR) is a super-enhancer that is capable of activating all of the ?-like globin genes within the locus in cis through physical interaction by forming DNA loops. CTCF helps to mediate loop formation between LCR-HS5 and 3'HS1 in the human ?-globin locus, in this way thought to contribute to the formation of a "chromatin hub". The ?-globin locus is also in close physical proximity to other erythrocyte-specific genes located long distances away on the same chromosome. In this case, erythrocyte-specific genes gather together at a shared "transcription factory" for co-transcription. Theoretically, enhancers could also activate target gene promoters at the identical loci, yet on different chromosomes in trans, a phenomenon originally described as transvection in Drosophilla. Although close physical proximity has been reported for the ?-LCR and the ?-like globin genes when integrated at the mouse homologous loci in trans, their structural and functional interactions were found to be rare, possibly because of a lack of suitable regulatory elements that might facilitate such trans interactions. Therefore, we re-evaluated presumptive transvection-like enhancer-promoter communication by introducing CTCF binding sites and erythrocyte-specific transcription units into both LCR-enhancer and ?-promoter alleles, each inserted into the mouse ROSA26 locus on separate chromosomes. Following cross-mating of mice to place the two mutant loci at the identical chromosomal position and into active chromation in trans, their transcriptional output was evaluated. The results demonstrate that there was no significant functional association between the LCR and the ?-globin gene in trans even in this idealized experimental context.
Project description:How remote enhancers interact with appropriate target genes persists as a central mystery in gene regulation. Here, we exploit the properties of transvection to explore enhancer-promoter communication between homologous chromosomes in living Drosophila embryos. We successfully visualized the activation of an MS2-tagged reporter gene by a defined developmental enhancer located in trans on the other homolog. This trans-homolog activation depends on insulator DNAs, which increase the stability-but not the frequency-of homolog pairing. A pair of heterotypic insulators failed to mediate transvection, raising the possibility that insulator specificity underlies the formation of chromosomal loop domains. Moreover, we found that a shared enhancer co-activates separate PP7 and MS2 reporter genes incis and intrans. Transvecting alleles weakly compete with one another, raising the possibility that they share a common pool of the transcription machinery. We propose that transvecting alleles form a trans-homolog "hub," which serves as a scaffold for the accumulation of transcription complexes.
Project description:Enhancers activate gene transcription in spatial and temporal patterns by interactions with gene promoters. These elements typically reside distal to their target promoter, with which they must interact selectively. Additional elements may contribute to enhancer-promoter specificity, including remote control element sequences within enhancers, tethering elements near promoters, and insulator/boundary elements that disrupt off-target interactions. However, few of these elements have been mapped, and as a result, the mechanisms by which these elements interact remain poorly understood. One impediment is their method of study, namely reporter transgenes in which enhancers are placed adjacent to a heterologous promoter, which may circumvent mechanisms controlling enhancer-promoter specificity and long-range interactions. Here, we report an optimized dual reporter transgene system in Drosophila melanogaster that allows the simultaneous comparison of an enhancer's ability to activate proximal and distal fluorescent reporter genes. Testing a panel of fluorescent transgenes in vivo, we found a two-protein combination that allows simultaneous measurement with minimal detection interference. We note differences among four tested enhancers in their ability to regulate a distally placed reporter transgene. These results suggest that enhancers differ in their requirements for promoter interaction and raise important practical considerations when studying enhancer function.
Project description:Site-specific genome modification (SSM) is an important tool for mosquito functional genomics and comparative gene expression studies, which contribute to a better understanding of mosquito biology and are thus a key to finding new strategies to eliminate vector-borne diseases. Moreover, it allows for the creation of advanced transgenic strains for vector control programs. SSM circumvents the drawbacks of transposon-mediated transgenesis, where random transgene integration into the host genome results in insertional mutagenesis and variable position effects. We applied the Cre/lox recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) system to Aedes aegypti, the vector of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. In this context we created four target site lines for RMCE and evaluated their fitness costs. Cre-RMCE is functional in a two-step mechanism and with good efficiency in Ae. aegypti. The advantages of Cre-RMCE over existing site-specific modification systems for Ae. aegypti, phiC31-RMCE and CRISPR, originate in the preservation of the recombination sites, which 1) allows successive modifications and rapid expansion or adaptation of existing systems by repeated targeting of the same site; and 2) provides reversibility, thus allowing the excision of undesired sequences. Thereby, Cre-RMCE complements existing genomic modification tools, adding flexibility and versatility to vector genome targeting.
Project description:Higher-order genome organization plays an important role in transcriptional regulation. In Drosophila, somatic pairing of homologous chromosomes can lead to transvection, by which the regulatory region of a gene can influence transcription in trans. We observe transvection between transgenes inserted at commonly used phiC31 integration sites in the Drosophila genome. When two transgenes that carry endogenous regulatory elements driving the expression of either LexA or GAL4 are inserted at the same integration site and paired, the enhancer of one transgene can drive or repress expression of the paired transgene. These transvection effects depend on compatibility between regulatory elements and are often restricted to a subset of cell types within a given expression pattern. We further show that activated UAS transgenes can also drive transcription in trans. We discuss the implication of these findings for (1) understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie transvection and (2) the design of experiments that utilize site-specific integration.
Project description:Here we describe a simple method for generating donor vectors suitable for targeted transgenesis via recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) using the PhiC31 integrase. This PCR-based strategy employs small attB "tails" on the primers used to amplify a sequence of interest, permitting the rapid creation of transgenes for in vivo analysis.
Project description:Chromatin topology is intricately linked to gene expression, yet its functional requirement remains unclear. Here, we comprehensively assessed the interplay between genome topology and gene expression using highly rearranged chromosomes (balancers) spanning ~75% of the Drosophila genome. Using transheterozyte (balancer/wild-type) embryos, we measured allele-specific changes in topology and gene expression in cis, while minimizing trans effects. Through genome sequencing, we resolved eight large nested inversions, smaller inversions, duplications and thousands of deletions. These extensive rearrangements caused many changes to chromatin topology, disrupting long-range loops, topologically associating domains (TADs) and promoter interactions, yet these are not predictive of changes in expression. Gene expression is generally not altered around inversion breakpoints, indicating that mis-appropriate enhancer-promoter activation is a rare event. Similarly, shuffling or fusing TADs, changing intra-TAD connections and disrupting long-range inter-TAD loops does not alter expression for the majority of genes. Our results suggest that properties other than chromatin topology ensure productive enhancer-promoter interactions.
Project description:For many genes, proper gene expression requires coordinated and dynamic interactions between multiple regulatory elements, each of which can either promote or silence transcription. In Drosophila, the complexity of the regulatory landscape is further complicated by the tight physical pairing of homologous chromosomes, which can permit regulatory elements to interact in trans, a phenomenon known as transvection. To better understand how gene expression can be programmed through cis- and trans-regulatory interactions, we analyzed transvection effects for a collection of alleles of the eyes absent (eya) gene. We find that trans-activation of a promoter by the eya eye-specific enhancers is broadly supported in many allelic backgrounds, and that the availability of an enhancer to act in trans can be predicted based on the molecular lesion of an eya allele. Furthermore, by manipulating promoter availability in cis and in trans, we demonstrate that the eye-specific enhancers of eya show plasticity in their promoter preference between two different transcriptional start sites, which depends on promoter competition between the two potential targets. Finally, we show that certain alleles of eya demonstrate pairing-sensitive silencing resulting from trans-interactions between Polycomb Response Elements (PREs), and genetic and genomic data support a general role for PcG proteins in mediating transcriptional silencing at eya. Overall, our data highlight how eya gene regulation relies upon a complex but plastic interplay between multiple enhancers, promoters, and PREs.
Project description:We developed an efficient strategy that combines a method for the post-integration elimination of all transposon sequences, a site-specific recombination system, and an optimized fibroin H-chain expression system to produce a stable, replaceable, highly efficient transgene expression system in the silkworm (Bombyx mori) that overcomes the disadvantages of random insertion and post-integration instability of transposons. Here, we generated four different transgenic silkworm strains, and of one the transgenic strains, designated TS1-RgG2, with up to 16% (w/w) of the target protein in the cocoons, was selected. The subsequent elimination of all the transposon sequences from TS1-RgG2 was completed by the heat-shock-induced expression of the transposase in vivo. The resulting transgenic silkworm strain was designated TS3-g2 and contained only the attP-flanked optimized fibroin H-chain expression cassette in its genome. A phiC31/att-system-based recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) method could be used to integrate other genes of interest into the same genome locus between the attP sites in TS3-g2. Controlling for position effects with phiC31-mediated RMCE will also allow the optimization of exogenous protein expression and fine gene function analyses in the silkworm. The strategy developed here is also applicable to other lepidopteran insects, to improve the ecological safety of transgenic strains in biocontrol programs.