Red Light/Green Light, a Dual Fluorescent Protein Reporter System To Study Enhancer-Promoter Specificity in Drosophila.
ABSTRACT: 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:CCN2 is a critical matricellular protein that is expressed in several cells with major implications in physiology and different pathologies. However, the transcriptional regulation of this gene remains obscure. We used the Encyclopaedia of DNA Elements browser (ENCODE) to visualise the region spanning from 300 kb upstream to the CCN2 start site in silico in order to identify enhancer regions that regulate transcription of this gene. Selection was based on three criteria associated with enhancer regions: 1) H3K4me1 and H3K27ac histone modifications, 2) DNase I hypersensitivity of chromatin and 3) inter-species conservation. Reporter constructs were created with sequences spanning each of the regions of interest placed upstream of an Hsp68 silent proximal promoter sequence in order to drive the expression of ?-galactosidase transgene. Each of these constructs was subsequently used to create transgenic mice in which reporter gene production was assessed at the E15.5 developmental stage. Four functional enhancers were identified, with each driving distinct, tissue-specific patterns of transgene expression. An enhancer located -100 kb from the CCN2 transcription start site facilitated expression within vascular tissue. An enhancer -135 kb upstream of CCN2 drove expression within the articular chondrocytes of synovial joints. The other two enhancers, located at -198 kb and -229 kb, mediated transgene expression within dermal fibroblasts, however the most prevalent activity was found within hypertrophic chondrocytes and periosteal tissue, respectively. These findings suggest that the global expression of CCN2 during development results from the activity of several tissue-specific enhancer regions in addition to proximal regulatory elements that have previously been demonstrated to drive transcription of the gene during development.
Project description:We have investigated a simple strategy for enhancing transgene expression specificity by leveraging genetic silencer elements. The approach serves to restrict transgene expression to a tissue of interest - the nervous system in the example provided here - thereby promoting specific/exclusive targeting of discrete cellular subtypes. Recent innovations are bringing us closer to understanding how the brain is organized, how neural circuits function, and how neurons can be regenerated. Fluorescent proteins enable mapping of the 'connectome', optogenetic tools allow excitable cells to be short-circuited or hyperactivated, and targeted ablation of neuronal subtypes facilitates investigations of circuit function and neuronal regeneration. Optimally, such toolsets need to be expressed solely within the cell types of interest as off-site expression makes establishing causal relationships difficult. To address this, we have exploited a gene 'silencing' system that promotes neuronal specificity by repressing expression in non-neural tissues. This methodology solves non-specific background issues that plague large-scale enhancer trap efforts and may provide a means of leveraging promoters/enhancers that otherwise express too broadly to be of value for in vivo manipulations.We show that a conserved neuron-restrictive silencer element (NRSE) can function to restrict transgene expression to the nervous system. The neuron-restrictive silencing factor/repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor (NRSF/REST) transcriptional repressor binds NRSE/repressor element 1 (RE1) sites and silences gene expression in non-neuronal cells. Inserting NRSE sites into transgenes strongly biased expression to neural tissues. NRSE sequences were effective in restricting expression of bipartite Gal4-based 'driver' transgenes within the context of an enhancer trap and when associated with a defined promoter and enhancer. However, NRSE sequences did not serve to restrict expression of an upstream activating sequence (UAS)-based reporter/effector transgene when associated solely with the UAS element. Morpholino knockdown assays showed that NRSF/REST expression is required for NRSE-based transgene silencing.Our findings demonstrate that the addition of NRSE sequences to transgenes can provide useful new tools for functional studies of the nervous system. However, the general approach may be more broadly applicable; tissue-specific silencer elements are operable in tissues other than the nervous system, suggesting this approach can be similarly applied to other paradigms. Thus, creating synthetic associations between endogenous regulatory elements and tissue-specific silencers may facilitate targeting of cellular subtypes for which defined promoters/enhancers are lacking.
Project description:A standard approach in the identification of transcriptional enhancers is the use of transgenic animals carrying DNA elements joined to reporter genes inserted randomly in the genome. We examined elements near Tbx5, a gene required for forelimb development in humans and other vertebrates. Previous transgenic studies reported a mammalian Tbx5 forelimb enhancer located in intron 2 containing a putative retinoic acid response element and a zebrafish tbx5a forelimb (pectoral fin) enhancer located downstream that is conserved from fish to mammals. We used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to knockout the endogenous elements and unexpectedly found that deletion of the intron 2 and downstream elements, either singly or together in double knockouts, resulted in no effect on forelimb development. Our findings show that reporter transgenes may not identify endogenous enhancers and that in vivo genetic loss-of-function studies are required, such as CRISPR/Cas9, which is similar in effort to production of animals carrying reporter transgenes.
Project description:Lineage reporters of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines are useful for differentiation studies and drug screening. Previously, we created reporter lines driven by an elongation factor 1 alpha (EF1?) promoter at a chromosome 13q32.3 locus in the hESC line WA09 and an abnormal hESC line BG01V in a site-specific manner. Expression of reporters in these lines was maintained in long-term culture at undifferentiated state. However, when these cells were differentiated into specific lineages, reduction in reporter expression was observed, indicating transgene silencing. To develop an efficient and reliable genetic engineering strategy in hESCs, we used chromatin insulator elements to flank single-copy transgenes and integrated the combined expression constructs via PhiC31/R4 integrase-mediated recombination technology to the chromosome 13 locus precisely. Two copies of cHS4 double-insulator sequences were placed adjacent to both 5' and 3' of the promoter reporter constructs. The green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene was driven by EF1? or CMV early enhancer/chicken ? actin (CAG) promoter. In the engineered hESC lines, for both insulated CAG-GFP and EF1?-GFP, constitutive expression at the chromosome 13 locus was maintained during prolonged culture and in directed differentiation assays toward diverse types of neurons, pancreatic endoderm, and mesodermal progeny. In particular, described here is the first normal hESC fluorescent reporter line that robustly expresses GFP in both the undifferentiated state and throughout dopaminergic lineage differentiation. The dual strategy of utilizing insulator sequences and integration at the constitutive chromosome 13 locus ensures appropriate transgene expression. This is a valuable tool for lineage development study, gain- and loss-of-function experiments, and human disease modeling using hESCs.
Project description:The matrilin-1 gene has the unique feature that it is expressed in chondrocytes in a developmental stage-specific manner. Previously, we found that the chicken matrilin-1 long promoter with or without the intronic enhancer and the short promoter with the intronic enhancer restricted the transgene expression to the columnar proliferative chondroblasts and prehypertrophic chondrocytes of growth-plate cartilage in transgenic mice. To study whether the short promoter shared by these transgenes harbours cartilage-specific control elements, we generated transgenic mice expressing the LacZ reporter gene under the control of the matrilin-1 promoter between -338 and +67. Histological analysis of the founder embryos demonstrated relatively weak transgene activity in the developing chondrocranium, axial and appendicular skeleton with highest level of expression in the columnar proliferating chondroblasts and prehypertrophic chondrocytes. Computer analysis of the matrilin-1 genes of amniotes revealed a highly conserved Pe1 (proximal promoter element 1) and two less-conserved sequence blocks in the distal promoter region. The inverted Sox motifs of the Pe1 element interacted with chondrogenic transcription factors Sox9, L-Sox5 and Sox6 in vitro and another factor bound to the spacer region. Point mutations in the Sox motifs or in the spacer region interfered with or altered the formation of nucleoprotein complexes in vitro and significantly decreased the reporter gene activity in transient expression assays in chondrocytes. In vivo occupancy of the Sox motifs in genomic footprinting in the expressing cell type, but not in fibroblasts, also supported the involvement of Pe1 in the tissue-specific regulation of the gene. Our results indicate that interaction of Pe1 with distal DNA elements is required for the high level, cartilage- and developmental stage-specific transgene expression.
Project description:Variation of transgene expression caused by either position effect at the insertion site or the promoter/enhancer elements employed for the expression of selectable marker genes has complicated phenotype characterization and caused misinterpretation. We have developed a reporter system in rice to analyze the influence of vector configuration, spacer and selectable marker gene promoter on the expression of the promoterless GUS reporter and DR5 promoter. Our results indicate that a spacer inserted between the reversed 35S promoter and the GUS reporter could reduce leaky expression of the reporter but was unable to block the nonspecific expression of DR5::GUS. Stacking the selectable marker unit in head to tail with the GUS reporter aided the gene specific expression of the GUS reporter under the DR5 promoter even when the 35S promoter is used for expression of the selectable marker. Compared to 35S under this configuration, a quick and distinctive expression of DR5::GUS was observed in the root cap, quiescent center and xylem cells in the root apical meristem by using the tCUP derived promoter (tCUP1) for selection, that is similar to the pattern obtained by a sensitive DR5 variant (DR5rev) in Arabidopsis. These data suggest a conserved property of the tCUP promoter in preventing enhancer-promoter interactions in rice as it does in Arabidopsis, and also demonstrate that an analogous distal auxin maximum exists in roots of rice. Therefore, the tCUP promoter based selection system provides a new strategy for specific expression of transgenes in rice.
Project description: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:The brown(Dominant) (bw(D)) allele contains a large insertion of heterochromatin, which causes the locus to aberrantly associate with heterochromatin in interphase nuclei and silences the wild-type allele in heterozygotes. Transgenes placed near the bw(+) locus, in trans to bw(D), can also be silenced. The strength of silencing (called trans inactivation) varies with the regulatory sequences of the transgene and its distance away from the bw(D) insertion site in trans. In this study, we examine endogenous sequences in cis that influence susceptibility of a reporter gene to trans inactivation. Flanking deletions were induced in two parental lines containing P-element transgenes showing trans inactivation of the mini-white reporter. These new lines, which have mini-white under the influence of different endogenous sequence elements, now show varied ability to be silenced by bw(D). Determination of the deleted regions and the levels of mini-white expression and trans inactivation has allowed us to explore the correlation between cis sequence elements and susceptibility to trans inactivation and to identify a 301-bp sequence that acts as an enhancer of trans inactivation. Intriguingly, this region encompasses the upstream regions of two divergently transcribed genes and contains a sequence motif that may bind BEAF, a protein involved in delimiting chromatin boundaries.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The geminivirus and nanovirus families of DNA plant viruses have proved to be a fertile source of viral genomic sequences, clearly demonstrated by the large number of sequence entries within public DNA sequence databases. Due to considerable conservation in genome organization, these viruses contain easily identifiable intergenic regions that have been found to contain multiple DNA sequence elements important to viral replication and gene regulation. As a first step in a broad screen of geminivirus and nanovirus intergenic sequences for DNA segments important in controlling viral gene expression, we have 'mined' a large set of viral intergenic regions for transcriptional enhancers. Viral sequences that are found to act as enhancers of transcription in plants are likely to contribute to viral gene activity during infection. RESULTS: DNA sequences from the intergenic regions of 29 geminiviruses or nanoviruses were scanned for repeated sequence elements to be tested for transcription enhancing activity. 105 elements were identified and placed immediately upstream from a minimal plant-functional promoter fused to an intron-containing luciferase reporter gene. Transient luciferase activity was measured within Agrobacteria-infused Nicotiana tobacum leaf tissue. Of the 105 elements tested, 14 were found to reproducibly elevate reporter gene activity (>25% increase over that from the minimal promoter-reporter construct, p < 0.05), while 91 elements failed to increase luciferase activity. A previously described "conserved late element" (CLE) was identified within tested repeats from 5 different viral species was found to have intrinsic enhancer activity in the absence of viral gene products. The remaining 9 active elements have not been previously demonstrated to act as functional promoter components. CONCLUSION: Biological significance for the active DNA elements identified is supported by repeated isolation of a previously defined viral element (CLE), and the finding that two of three viral enhancer elements examined were markedly enriched within both geminivirus sequences and within Arabidopsis promoter regions. These data provide a useful starting point for virologists interested in undertaking more detailed analysis of geminiviral promoter function.
Project description:Established transgenesis methods for fish model systems allow efficient genomic integration of transgenes. However, thus far a way of controlling copy number and integration sites has not been available, leading to variable transgene expression caused by position effects. The integration of transgenes at predefined genomic positions enables the direct comparison of different transgenes, thereby improving time and cost efficiency. Here, we report an efficient PhiC31-based site-specific transgenesis system for medaka. This system includes features that allow the pre-selection of successfully targeted integrations early on in the injected generation. Pre-selected embryos transmit the correctly integrated transgene through the germline with high efficiency. The landing site design enables a variety of applications, such as reporter and enhancer switch, in addition to the integration of any insert. Importantly, this allows assaying of enhancer activity in a site-specific manner without requiring germline transmission, thus speeding up large-scale analyses of regulatory elements.