A Drosophila LexA Enhancer-Trap Resource for Developmental Biology and Neuroendocrine Research.
ABSTRACT: Novel binary gene expression tools like the LexA-LexAop system could powerfully enhance studies of metabolism, development, and neurobiology in Drosophila However, specific LexA drivers for neuroendocrine cells and many other developmentally relevant systems remain limited. In a unique high school biology course, we generated a LexA-based enhancer trap collection by transposon mobilization. The initial collection provides a source of novel LexA-based elements that permit targeted gene expression in the corpora cardiaca, cells central for metabolic homeostasis, and other neuroendocrine cell types. The collection further contains specific LexA drivers for stem cells and other enteric cells in the gut, and other developmentally relevant tissue types. We provide detailed analysis of nearly 100 new LexA lines, including molecular mapping of insertions, description of enhancer-driven reporter expression in larval tissues, and adult neuroendocrine cells, comparison with established enhancer trap collections and tissue specific RNAseq. Generation of this open-resource LexA collection facilitates neuroendocrine and developmental biology investigations, and shows how empowering secondary school science can achieve research and educational goals.
Project description:Binary expression systems like the LexA-LexAop system provide a powerful experimental tool kit to study gene and tissue function in developmental biology, neurobiology, and physiology. However, the number of well-defined LexA enhancer trap insertions remains limited. In this study, we present the molecular characterization and initial tissue expression analysis of nearly 100 novel StanEx LexA enhancer traps, derived from the StanEx1 index line. This includes 76 insertions into novel, distinct gene loci not previously associated with enhancer traps or targeted LexA constructs. Additionally, our studies revealed evidence for selective transposase-dependent replacement of a previously-undetected KP element on chromosome III within the StanEx1 genetic background during hybrid dysgenesis, suggesting a molecular basis for the over-representation of LexA insertions at the NK7.1 locus in our screen. Production and characterization of novel fly lines were performed by students and teachers in experiment-based genetics classes within a geographically diverse network of public and independent high schools. Thus, unique partnerships between secondary schools and university-based programs have produced and characterized novel genetic and molecular resources in Drosophila for open-source distribution, and provide paradigms for development of science education through experience-based pedagogy.
Project description:The GAL4/UAS gene expression system is a precise means of targeted gene expression employed to study biological phenomena in Drosophila. A modified GAL4/UAS system can be conditionally regulated using a temporal and regional gene expression targeting (TARGET) system that responds to heat shock induction. However heat shock-related temperature shifts sometimes cause unexpected physiological responses that confound behavioral analyses. We describe here the construction of a drug-inducible version of this system that takes advantage of tissue-specific GAL4 driver lines to yield either RU486-activated LexA-progesterone receptor chimeras (LexPR) or ?-estradiol-activated LexA-estrogen receptor chimeras (XVE). Upon induction, these chimeras bind to a LexA operator (LexAop) and activate transgene expression. Using GFP expression as a marker for induction in fly brain cells, both approaches are capable of tightly and precisely modulating transgene expression in a temporal and dosage-dependent manner. Additionally, tissue-specific GAL4 drivers resulted in target gene expression that was restricted to those specific tissues. Constitutive expression of the active PKA catalytic subunit using these systems altered the sleep pattern of flies, demonstrating that both systems can regulate transgene expression that precisely mimics regulation that was previously engineered using the GeneSwitch/UAS system. Unlike the limited number of GeneSwitch drivers, this approach allows for the usage of the multitudinous, tissue-specific GAL4 lines for studying temporal gene regulation and tissue-specific gene expression. Together, these new inducible systems provide additional, highly valuable tools available to study gene function in Drosophila.
Project description:Studies on the formation of connections in the developing nervous system are greatly aided by methods that permit the differential visualisation and manipulation of pre- and postsynaptic partner neurons. This has been facilitated by the advent of the LexA-based, GAL4/UAS-independent, binary expression system. On the molecular side, the introduction of DNA sequences into expression vectors has been simplified by the Invitrogen Gateway cloning technology. We have developed cloning vectors that combine the Gateway cloning technology with the LexA-based genetic expression system. These vectors facilitate the creation of driver and reporter constructs for the generation of Drosophila transgenic lines for the new LexA-based binary transcriptional system. We further report a new LexA::GAD sensory neuron driver and a red fluorescent membrane targeted lexAop reporter designed to complement the existing GFP-based lexAop reporter. Using these transgenic lines we have been able to differentially label motor and sensory neuron projections in the ventral nerve cord of Drosophila larvae.
Project description:The use of binary transcriptional systems offers many advantages for experimentally manipulating gene activity, as exemplified by the success of the Gal4/UAS system in Drosophila. To expand the number of applications, a second independent transactivator (TA) is desirable. Here, we present the optimization of an additional system based on LexA and show how it can be applied. We developed a series of LexA TAs, selectively suppressible via Gal80, that exhibit high transcriptional activity and low detrimental effects when expressed in vivo. In combination with Gal4, an appropriately selected LexA TA permits to program cells with a distinct balance and independent outputs of the two TAs. We demonstrate how the two systems can be combined for manipulating communicating cell populations, converting transient tissue-specific expression patterns into heritable, constitutive activities, and defining cell territories by intersecting TA expression domains. Finally, we describe a versatile enhancer trap system that allows swapping TA and generating mosaics composed of Gal4 and LexA TA-expressing cells. The optimized LexA system facilitates precise analyses of complex biological phenomena and signaling pathways in Drosophila.
Project description:Efforts to map neural circuits have been galvanized by the development of genetic technologies that permit the manipulation of targeted sets of neurons in the brains of freely behaving animals. The success of these efforts relies on the experimenter's ability to target arbitrarily small subsets of neurons for manipulation, but such specificity of targeting cannot routinely be achieved using existing methods. In Drosophila melanogaster, a widely-used technique for refined cell type-specific manipulation is the Split GAL4 system, which augments the targeting specificity of the binary GAL4-UAS (Upstream Activating Sequence) system by making GAL4 transcriptional activity contingent upon two enhancers, rather than one. To permit more refined targeting, we introduce here the "Killer Zipper" (KZip+), a suppressor that makes Split GAL4 targeting contingent upon a third enhancer. KZip+ acts by disrupting both the formation and activity of Split GAL4 heterodimers, and we show how this added layer of control can be used to selectively remove unwanted cells from a Split GAL4 expression pattern or to subtract neurons of interest from a pattern to determine their requirement in generating a given phenotype. To facilitate application of the KZip+ technology, we have developed a versatile set of LexAop-KZip+ fly lines that can be used directly with the large number of LexA driver lines with known expression patterns. KZip+ significantly sharpens the precision of neuronal genetic control available in Drosophila and may be extended to other organisms where Split GAL4-like systems are used.
Project description:Precise manipulation of transgene expression in genetic model organisms has led to advances in understanding fundamental mechanisms of development, physiology, and genetic disease. Transgene construction is, however, a precondition of transgene expression, and often limits the rate of experimental progress. Here we report an expansion of the modular Gateway MultiSite recombination-cloning platform for high efficiency transgene assembly. The expansion includes two additional destination vectors and entry clones for the LexA binary transcription system, among others. These new tools enhance the expression levels possible with Gateway MultiSite generated transgenes and make possible the generation of LexA drivers and reporters with Gateway MultiSite cloning. In vivo data from transgenic Drosophila functionally validating each novel component are presented and include neuronal LexA drivers, LexAop2 red and green fluorescent synaptic vesicle reporters, TDC2 and TRH LexA, GAL4, and QF drivers, and LexAop2, UAS, and QUAS channelrhodopsin2 T159C reporters.
Project description:Drosophila imaginal discs provide an ideal model to study processes important for cell signaling and cell specification, tissue differentiation, and cell competition during development. One challenge to understanding genetic control of cellular processes and cell interactions is the difficulty in effectively targeting a defined subset of cells in developing tissues in gene manipulation experiments. A recently developed Flippase-induced intersectional GAL80/GAL4 repression method incorporates several gene manipulation technologies in Drosophila to enable such fine-scale dissection in neural tissues. In particular, this approach brings together existing GAL4 transgenes, newly developed enhancer-trap flippase transgenes, and GAL80 transgenes flanked by Flippase recognition target sites. The combination of these tools enables gene activation/repression in particular subsets of cells within a GAL4 expression pattern. Here, we expand the utility of a large collection of these enhancer-trap flippase transgenic insertion lines by characterizing their expression patterns in third larval instar imaginal discs. We screened 521 different enhancer-trap flippase lines and identified 28 that are expressed in imaginal tissues, including two transgenes that show sex-specific expression patterns. Using a line that expresses Flippase in the wing imaginal disc, we demonstrate the utility of this intersectional approach for studying development by knocking down gene expression of a key member of the planar cell polarity pathway. The results of our experiments show that these enhancer-trap flippase lines enable fine-scale manipulation in imaginal discs.
Project description:Rice Mutant Database (RMD, http://rmd.ncpgr.cn) is an archive for collecting, managing and searching information of the T-DNA insertion mutants generated by an enhancer trap system. We have generated approximately 129 000 rice mutant (enhancer trap) lines that are now being gathered in the database. Information collected in RMD includes mutant phenotypes, reporter-gene expression patterns, flanking sequences of T-DNA insertional sites, seed availability and others, and can be searched by respective ID, keyword, nucleotide sequence or protein sequence on the website. This database is both a mutant collection for identifying novel genes and regulatory elements and a pattern line collection for ectopic expression of target gene in specific tissue or at specific growth stage.
Project description:Targeted gene expression is a powerful approach to study the function of genes and cells in vivo. In Drosophila, the P element-mediated Gal4-UAS method has been successfully used for this purpose. However, similar methods have not been established in vertebrates. Here we report the development of a targeted gene expression methodology in zebrafish based on the Tol2 transposable element and its application to the functional study of neural circuits. First, we developed gene trap and enhancer trap constructs carrying an engineered yeast Gal4 transcription activator (Gal4FF) and transgenic reporter fish carrying the GFP or the RFP gene downstream of the Gal4 recognition sequence (UAS) and showed that the Gal4FF can activate transcription through UAS in zebrafish. Second, by using this Gal4FF-UAS system, we performed large-scale screens and generated a large collection of fish lines that expressed Gal4FF in specific tissues, cells, and organs. Finally, we developed transgenic effector fish carrying the tetanus toxin light chain (TeTxLC) gene downstream of UAS, which is known to block synaptic transmission. We crossed the Gal4FF fish with the UAS:TeTxLC fish and analyzed double transgenic embryos for defects in touch response. From this analysis, we discovered that targeted expression of TeTxLC in distinct populations of neurons in the brain and the spinal cord caused distinct abnormalities in the touch response behavior. These studies illustrate that our Gal4FF gene trap and enhancer trap methods should be an important resource for genetic analysis of neuronal functions and behavior in vertebrates.
Project description:We have taken advantage of an enhancer trap event in a line of transgenic mice to identify a unique developmentally regulated endothelial cell locus (Del1). The protein encoded in this locus contains three EGF-like repeats homologous to those in Notch and related proteins, including an EGF-like repeat that contains an RGD motif, and two discoidin I-like domains. Del1 is shown to be a matrix protein and to promote adhesion of endothelial cells through interaction with the alphavbeta3 integrin receptor. Embryonic endothelial-like yolk sac cells expressing recombinant Del1 protein, or grown on an extracellular matrix containing Del1 protein, are inhibited from forming vascular-like structures. Expression of Del1 protein in the chick chorioallantoic membrane leads to loss of vascular integrity and promotes vessel remodeling. Del1 is thus a new ligand for the alphavbeta3 integrin receptor and may function to regulate vascular morphogenesis or remodeling in embryonic development.