An internal ribosome entry site (IRES) mutant library for tuning expression level of multiple genes in mammalian cells.
ABSTRACT: A set of mutated Encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements with varying strengths is generated by mutating the translation initiation codons of 10(th), 11(th), and 12(th) AUG to non-AUG triplets. They are able to control the relative expression of multiple genes over a wide range in mammalian cells in both transient and stable transfections. The relative strength of each IRES mutant remains similar in different mammalian cell lines and is not gene specific. The expressed proteins have correct molecular weights. Optimization of light chain over heavy chain expression by these IRES mutants enhances monoclonal antibody expression level and quality in stable transfections. Uses of this set of IRES mutants can be extended to other applications such as synthetic biology, investigating interactions between proteins and its complexes, cell engineering, multi-subunit protein production, gene therapy, and reprogramming of somatic cells into stem cells.
Project description:Nonsense-mediated messenger RNA decay (NMD) generally degrades mRNAs that prematurely terminate translation as a means of quality control. NMD in mammalian cells targets newly spliced mRNA that is bound by the cap-binding protein heterodimer CBP80/20 and one or more post-splicing exon junction complexes during a pioneer round of translation. NMD targets mRNA that initiates translation using the encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES), therefore NMD might target not only CBP80/20-bound mRNA but also its remodelled product, eIF4E-bound mRNA. Here, we provide evidence that NMD triggered by translation initiation at the EMCV IRES, similar to NMD triggered by translation initiation at an mRNA cap, targets CBP80/20-bound mRNA but does not detectably target eIF4E-bound mRNA. We show that EMCV IRES-initiated translation undergoes a CBP80/20-associated pioneer round of translation that results in CBP80/20-dependent and Upf factor-dependent NMD when translation terminates prematurely.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES)-based bicistronic vectors are important tools in today's cell biology. Among applications, the expression of two proteins under the control of a unique promoter permits the monitoring of expression of a protein whose biological function is being investigated through the observation of an easily detectable tracer, such as Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). However, analysis of published results making use of bicistronic vectors indicates that the efficiency of the IRES-controlled expression can vary widely from one vector to another, despite their apparent identical IRES sequences. We investigated the molecular basis for these discrepancies. RESULTS: We observed up to a 10 fold difference in IRES-controlled expression from distinct bicistronic expression vectors harboring the same apparent IRES sequences. We show that the insertion of a HindIII site, in place of the initiating AUG codon of the wild type EMCV IRES, is responsible for the dramatic loss of expression from the second cistron, whereas expression from the first cistron remains unaffected. Thus, while the replacement of the authentic viral initiating AUG by a HindIII site results in the theoretical usage of the initiation codon of the HindIII-subcloned cDNA, the subsequent drop of expression dramatically diminishes the interest of the bicistronic structure. Indeed, insertion of the HindIII site has such a negative effect on IRES function that detection of the IRES-controlled product can be difficult, and sometimes even below the levels of detection. It is striking to observe that this deleterious modification is widely found in available IRES-containing vectors, including commercial ones, despite early reports in the literature stating the importance of the integrity of the initiation codon for optimal IRES function. CONCLUSION: From these observations, we engineered a new vector family, pPRIG, which respects the EMCV IRES structure, and permits easy cloning, tagging, sequencing, and expression of any cDNA in the first cistron, while keeping a high level of expression from its IRES-dependent second cistron (here encoding eGFP).
Project description:The internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements of cardioviruses (e.g., encephalomyocarditis virus [EMCV] and foot-and-mouth disease virus) are predicted to have very similar secondary structures. Among these complex RNA structures there is only rather limited complete sequence conservation. Within the J domain of the EMCV IRES there are four highly conserved nucleotides (A704, C705, G723, and A724)., which are predicted to be unpaired and have been targeted for mutagenesis. Using an IRES-dependent cell selection system, we have isolated functional IRES elements from a pool of up to 256 mutants. All changes to these conserved nucleotides resulted in IRES elements that were less efficient at directing internal initiation of translation than the wild-type element, and even some of the single point mutants were highly defective. Each of the mutations adversely affected the ability of the RNAs to interact with the translation initiation factor eIF4G.
Project description:Many viruses bypass canonical cap-dependent translation in host cells by using internal ribosomal entry sites (IRESs) in their transcripts; IRESs hijack initiation factors for the assembly of initiation complexes. However, it is currently unknown how IRES RNAs recognize initiation factors that have no endogenous RNA binding partners; in a prominent example, the IRES of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) interacts with the HEAT-1 domain of eukaryotic initiation factor 4G (eIF4G). Here we report the solution structure of the J-K region of this IRES and show that its stems are precisely organized to position protein-recognition bulges. This multisite interaction mechanism operates on an all-or-nothing principle in which all domains are required. This preorganization is accomplished by an 'adjuster module': a pentaloop motif that acts as a dual-sided docking station for base-pair receptors. Because subtle changes in the orientation abrogate protein capture, our study highlights how a viral RNA acquires affinity for a target protein.
Project description:Recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) has been used to deliver vaccine candidate antigens against infectious diseases and cancer. MVA is a potent viral vector for inducing high magnitudes of antigen-specific CD8+ T cells; however the cellular immune responses to a recombinant antigen in MVA could be further enhanced by increasing transgene expression. Previous reports showed the importance of utilizing an early poxviral promoter for increasing transgene expression and therefore enhancing cellular immune responses. However, the vaccinia D10 decapping enzyme is reported to target and decap vaccinia virus early transcripts - a mechanism that could limit the usefulness of early promoters in MVA viral vectors if this enzyme shows the same activity in this closely related virus. Therefore, we attempted to increase transgene expression in recombinant MVA by inserting the encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) upstream of a transgene sequence that is controlled by the B8R early promoter, and assessed D10 enzyme decapping activity in MVA. The aim of the IRES element was to initiate translation of the transgene transcript (after the removal of the cap structure by the D10 decapping protein) in a cap-independent manner. Here, we report that overexpression of the D10 decapping protein, in trans, in MVA reduced growth and transgene expression; however, the IRES element was not able to compensate for the negative effect of the D10 decapping protein. Recombinant MVA with EMCV IRES induced levels of both gene expression and transcription that were similar to the control recombinant MVA, encoding the same transgene but without the IRES element. Both viruses were tested in BALB/c mice and induced similar magnitudes of epitope-specific CD8+ T cells. This work indicates that the MVA version of the D10 decapping enzyme, overexpressed using a plasmid, is functional, but its negative effect on transgene expression by recombinant MVA cannot be overcome by the use of the EMCV IRES inserted upstream of the transgene initiation codon.
Project description:The virion host shutoff protein (vhs) of herpes simplex virus triggers accelerated degradation of cellular and viral mRNAs while sparing other cytoplasmic RNA species. Previous work has shown that vhs forms a complex with translation initiation factor eIF4H, which displays detectable RNase activity in the absence of other viral or host proteins. However, the contributions of eIF4H and other host factors to the activity and mRNA targeting properties of vhs have not yet been directly examined. An earlier report from our laboratory demonstrated that rabbit reticulocyte lysate (RRL) contains one or more factors that strongly stimulate the RNase activity of vhs produced in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We report here that such yeast extracts display significant vhs-dependent RNase activity in the absence of mammalian factors. This activity differs from that displayed by vhs generated in RRL in that it is not targeted to the encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES). Activity was strongly enhanced by the addition of RRL, eIF4H, or the related translation factor eIF4B. RRL also reconstituted strong targeting to the EMCV IRES, resulting in a major change in the RNA cleavage pattern. In contrast, eIF4H and eIF4B did not reconstitute IRES-directed targeting. These data indicate that eIF4B and 4H stimulate the nuclease activity of vhs, and they provide evidence that additional mammalian factors are required for targeting to the EMCV IRES.
Project description:NMR magnetization transfer from water and ammonia-catalyzed exchange of the imino proton have been used to probe enhanced thermostability and conformational rearrangements induced by Mg(2+) in two key activity fragments r(CACCUGGCGACAGGUG) and r(GGCCAAAAGCC) of the encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) picornavirus internal ribosome entry site (IRES). We have measured some of their r(G*C) base-pair lifetimes and dissociation constants under different MgCl(2) conditions, and we compare them with those of other short RNA duplexes. The RNA fragment r(CACCUGGCGACAGGUG) adopts two topologies, a palindromic duplex with two conformations and a hairpin, whose equilibrium can be monitored: the duplex form is destabilized by Mg(2+) and temperature, a delicate balance wherein the entropic contribution of the free energy helps populate the hairpin state. For both fragments, the opening rates of the r(G*C) pairs are lower in the presence of Mg(2+) and their dissociation constants are smaller or comparable. Analysis of the results suggests that Mg(2+) has a preferential and specific effect on the r(CACCUGGCGACAGGUG) hairpin in the region close to the r(G*C) closing pair of the GCGA tetraloop, and the ion moves diffusively around r(GGCCAAAAGCC), thereby differentiating the GNRA and RAAA hairpin motifs that are both involved in the biological regulation functions of the EMCV IRES.
Project description:Transport of neuronal mRNAs into distal nerve terminals and growth cones allows axonal processes to generate proteins autonomous from the cell body. While the mechanisms for targeting mRNAs for transport into axons has received much attention, how specificity is provided to the localized translational apparatus remains largely unknown. In other cellular systems, protein synthesis can be regulated by both cap-dependent and cap-independent mechanisms. The possibility that these mechanisms are used by axons has not been tested. Here, we have used expression constructs encoding axonally targeted bicistronic reporter mRNAs to determine if sensory axons can translate mRNAs through cap-independent mechanisms. Our data show that the well-defined IRES element of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) can drive internal translational initiation of a bicistronic reporter mRNA in distal DRG axons. To test the potential for cap-independent translation of cellular mRNAs, we asked if calreticulin or grp78/BiP mRNA 5'UTRs might have IRES activity in axons. Only grp78/BiP mRNA 5'UTR showed clear IRES activity in axons when placed between the open reading frames of diffusion limited fluorescent reporters. Indeed, calreticulin's 5'UTR provided an excellent control for potential read through by ribosomes, since there was no evidence of internal initiation when this UTR was placed between reporter ORFs in a bicistronic mRNA. This study shows that axons have the capacity to translate through internal ribosome entry sites, but a simple binary choice between cap-dependent and cap-independent translation cannot explain the specificity for translation of individual mRNAs in distal axons.
Project description:Type 2 internal ribosomal entry sites (IRESs) of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and other picornaviruses comprise five major domains H-L. Initiation of translation on these IRESs begins with specific binding of the central domain of initiation factor, eIF4G to the J-K domains, which is stimulated by eIF4A. eIF4G/eIF4A then restructure the region of ribosomal attachment on the IRES and promote recruitment of ribosomal 43S pre-initiation complexes. In addition to canonical translation factors, type 2 IRESs also require IRES trans-acting factors (ITAFs) that are hypothesized to stabilize the optimal IRES conformation that supports efficient ribosomal recruitment: the EMCV IRES is stimulated by pyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB), whereas the FMDV IRES requires PTB and ITAF(45). To test this hypothesis, we assessed the effect of ITAFs on the conformations of EMCV and FMDV IRESs by comparing their influence on hydroxyl radical cleavage of these IRESs from the central domain of eIF4G. The observed changes in cleavage patterns suggest that cognate ITAFs promote similar conformational changes that are consistent with adoption by the IRESs of comparable, more compact structures, in which domain J undergoes local conformational changes and is brought into closer proximity to the base of domain I.
Project description:Avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) defective RNAs (D-RNAs) have been used for the expression of heterologous genes in a helper-virus-dependent expression system. The heterologous genes were expressed under the control of an IBV transcription-associated sequence (TAS) derived from gene 5 of IBV Beaudette. However, coronavirus D-RNA expression vectors display an inherent instability following serial passage with helper virus, resulting in the eventual loss of the heterologous genes. The use of the picornavirus encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) sequence to initiate gene translation was investigated as an alternative method to the coronavirus-mediated TAS-controlled heterologous gene expression system. IBV D-RNAs containing the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene, under EMCV IRES control, were assessed for IRES-mediated CAT protein translation. CAT protein was detected from T7-derived IBV D-RNA transcripts in a cell-free protein synthesis system and in situ in avian chick kidney (CK) cells following T7-derived D-RNA synthesis from a recombinant fowlpox virus expressing the bacteriophage T7 DNA-dependent RNA polymerase. However, CAT protein was not detected in CK cells from IRES-containing IBV D-RNAs, in which the IRES-CAT construct was inserted at two different positions within the D-RNA, in the presence of helper IBV. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that the IRES-containing D-RNAs were not rescued on serial passage with helper virus, indicating that the EMCV IRES sequence had a detrimental effect on IBV D-RNA rescue.