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80 Publications

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    04/07/15 | Cellular levels of signaling factors are sensed by β-actin alleles to modulate transcriptional pulse intensity.
    Kalo A, Kanter I, Shraga A, Sheinberger J, Tzemach H, Kinor N, Singer RH, Lionnet T, Shav-Tal Y
    Cell Reports. 2015 Apr 7;11(3):419-32. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.03.039

    The transcriptional response of β-actin to extra-cellular stimuli is a paradigm for transcription factor complex assembly and regulation. Serum induction leads to a precisely timed pulse of β-actin transcription in the cell population. Actin protein is proposed to be involved in this response, but it is not known whether cellular actin levels affect nuclear β-actin transcription. We perturbed the levels of key signaling factors and examined the effect on the induced transcriptional pulse by following endogenous β-actin alleles in single living cells. Lowering serum response factor (SRF) protein levels leads to loss of pulse integrity, whereas reducing actin protein levels reveals positive feedback regulation, resulting in elevated gene activation and a prolonged transcriptional response. Thus, transcriptional pulse fidelity requires regulated amounts of signaling proteins, and perturbations in factor levels eliminate the physiological response, resulting in either tuning down or exaggeration of the transcriptional pulse.

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    Singer Lab
    04/01/15 | Dynamic visualization of transcription and RNA subcellular localization in zebrafish.
    Campbell PD, Chao JA, Singer RH, Marlow FL
    Development. 2015 Apr 1;142(7):1368-74. doi: 10.1242/dev.118968

    Live imaging of transcription and RNA dynamics has been successful in cultured cells and tissues of vertebrates but is challenging to accomplish in vivo. The zebrafish offers important advantages to study these processes--optical transparency during embryogenesis, genetic tractability and rapid development. Therefore, to study transcription and RNA dynamics in an intact vertebrate organism, we have adapted the MS2 RNA-labeling system to zebrafish. By using this binary system to coexpress a fluorescent MS2 bacteriophage coat protein (MCP) and an RNA of interest tagged with multiple copies of the RNA hairpin MS2-binding site (MBS), live-cell imaging of RNA dynamics at single RNA molecule resolution has been achieved in other organisms. Here, using a Gateway-compatible MS2 labeling system, we generated stable transgenic zebrafish lines expressing MCP, validated the MBS-MCP interaction and applied the system to investigate zygotic genome activation (ZGA) and RNA localization in primordial germ cells (PGCs) in zebrafish. Although cleavage stage cells are initially transcriptionally silent, we detect transcription of MS2-tagged transcripts driven by the βactin promoter at ∼ 3-3.5 h post-fertilization, consistent with the previously reported ZGA. Furthermore, we show that MS2-tagged nanos3 3'UTR transcripts localize to PGCs, where they are diffusely cytoplasmic and within larger cytoplasmic accumulations reminiscent of those displayed by endogenous nanos3. These tools provide a new avenue for live-cell imaging of RNA molecules in an intact vertebrate. Together with new techniques for targeted genome editing, this system will be a valuable tool to tag and study the dynamics of endogenous RNAs during zebrafish developmental processes.

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    Singer Lab
    04/01/15 | Reminiscences on my life with RNA: a self-indulgent perspective.
    Singer RH
    RNA. 2015 Apr;21(4):508-9. doi: 10.1261/rna.050922.115
    03/20/15 | Translation. An RNA biosensor for imaging the first round of translation from single cells to living animals.
    Halstead JM, Lionnet T, Wilbertz JH, Wippich F, Ephrussi A, Singer RH, Chao JA
    Science. 2015 Mar 20;347(6228):1367-671. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa3380

    Analysis of single molecules in living cells has provided quantitative insights into the kinetics of fundamental biological processes; however, the dynamics of messenger RNA (mRNA) translation have yet to be addressed. We have developed a fluorescence microscopy technique that reports on the first translation events of individual mRNA molecules. This allowed us to examine the spatiotemporal regulation of translation during normal growth and stress and during Drosophila oocyte development. We have shown that mRNAs are not translated in the nucleus but translate within minutes after export, that sequestration within P-bodies regulates translation, and that oskar mRNA is not translated until it reaches the posterior pole of the oocyte. This methodology provides a framework for studying initiation of protein synthesis on single mRNAs in living cells.

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    Singer Lab
    03/01/15 | Specific interaction of KIF11 with ZBP1 regulates the transport of β-actin mRNA and cell motility.
    Song T, Zheng Y, Wang Y, Katz Z, Liu X, Chen S, Singer RH, Gu W
    Journal of Cell Science. 2015 Mar 1;128(5):1001-10. doi: 10.1242/jcs.161679

    ZBP1-modulated localization of β-actin mRNA enables a cell to establish polarity and structural asymmetry. Although the mechanism of β-actin mRNA localization has been well established, the underlying mechanism of how a specific molecular motor contributes to the transport of the ZBP1 (also known as IGF2BP1) complex in non-neuronal cells remains elusive. In this study, we report the isolation and identification of KIF11, a microtubule motor, which physically interacts with ZBP1 and is a component of β-actin messenger ribonucleoprotein particles (mRNPs). We show that KIF11 colocalizes with the β-actin mRNA, and the ability of KIF11 to transport β-actin mRNA is dependent on ZBP1. We characterize the corresponding regions of ZBP1 and KIF11 that mediate the interaction of the two proteins in vitro and in vivo. Disruption of the in vivo interaction of KIF11 with ZBP1 delocalizes β-actin mRNA and affects cell migration. Our study reveals a molecular mechanism by which a particular microtubule motor mediates the transport of an mRNP through direct interaction with an mRNA-binding protein.

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    Singer Lab
    02/02/15 | Tracking surface glycans on live cancer cells with single-molecule sensitivity.
    Jiang H, English BP, Hazan RB, Wu P, Ovryn B
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition English. 2015 Feb 2;54(6):1765-9. doi: 10.1002/anie.201407976

    Using a combination of metabolically labeled glycans, a bioorthogonal copper(I)-catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition, and the controlled bleaching of fluorescent probes conjugated to azide- or alkyne-tagged glycans, a sufficiently low spatial density of dye-labeled glycans was achieved, enabling dynamic single-molecule tracking and super-resolution imaging of N-linked sialic acids and O-linked N-acetyl galactosamine (GalNAc) on the membrane of live cells. Analysis of the trajectories of these dye-labeled glycans in mammary cancer cells revealed constrained diffusion of both N- and O-linked glycans, which was interpreted as reflecting the mobility of the glycan rather than to be caused by transient immobilization owing to spatial inhomogeneities on the plasma membrane. Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) imaging revealed the structure of dynamic membrane nanotubes.

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    Singer Lab
    02/01/15 | In the right place at the right time: visualizing and understanding mRNA localization.
    Buxbaum AR, Haimovich G, Singer RH
    Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 2015 Feb;16(2):95-109. doi: 10.1038/nrm3918

    The spatial regulation of protein translation is an efficient way to create functional and structural asymmetries in cells. Recent research has furthered our understanding of how individual cells spatially organize protein synthesis, by applying innovative technology to characterize the relationship between mRNAs and their regulatory proteins, single-mRNA trafficking dynamics, physiological effects of abrogating mRNA localization in vivo and for endogenous mRNA labelling. The implementation of new imaging technologies has yielded valuable information on mRNA localization, for example, by observing single molecules in tissues. The emerging movements and localization patterns of mRNAs in morphologically distinct unicellular organisms and in neurons have illuminated shared and specialized mechanisms of mRNA localization, and this information is complemented by transgenic and biochemical techniques that reveal the biological consequences of mRNA mislocalization.

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    01/19/15 | A general method to improve fluorophores for live-cell and single-molecule microscopy.
    Grimm JB, English BP, Chen J, Slaughter JP, Zhang Z, Revyakin A, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Normanno D, Singer RH, Lionnet T, Lavis LD
    Nature Methods. 2015 Jan 19;12(3):244-50. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3256

    Specific labeling of biomolecules with bright fluorophores is the keystone of fluorescence microscopy. Genetically encoded self-labeling tag proteins can be coupled to synthetic dyes inside living cells, resulting in brighter reporters than fluorescent proteins. Intracellular labeling using these techniques requires cell-permeable fluorescent ligands, however, limiting utility to a small number of classic fluorophores. Here we describe a simple structural modification that improves the brightness and photostability of dyes while preserving spectral properties and cell permeability. Inspired by molecular modeling, we replaced the N,N-dimethylamino substituents in tetramethylrhodamine with four-membered azetidine rings. This addition of two carbon atoms doubles the quantum efficiency and improves the photon yield of the dye in applications ranging from in vitro single-molecule measurements to super-resolution imaging. The novel substitution is generalizable, yielding a palette of chemical dyes with improved quantum efficiencies that spans the UV and visible range.

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    Singer Lab
    10/23/14 | Photoswitchable red fluorescent protein with a large stokes shift.
    Piatkevich KD, English BP, Malashkevich VN, Xiao H, Almo SC, Singer RH, Verkhusha VV
    Chemistry & Biology. 2014 Oct 23;21(10):1402-14. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2014.08.010

    A subclass of fluorescent proteins (FPs), large Stokes shift (LSS) FP, are characterized by increased spread between excitation and emission maxima. We report a photoswitchable variant of a red FP with an LSS, PSLSSmKate, which initially exhibits excitation and emission at 445 and 622 nm, but violet irradiation photoswitches PSLSSmKate into a common red form with excitation and emission at 573 and 621 nm. We characterize spectral, photophysical, and biochemical properties of PSLSSmKate in vitro and in mammalian cells and determine its crystal structure in the LSS form. Mass spectrometry, mutagenesis, and spectroscopy of PSLSSmKate allow us to propose molecular mechanisms for the LSS, pH dependence, and light-induced chromophore transformation. We demonstrate the applicability of PSLSSmKate to superresolution photoactivated localization microscopy and protein dynamics in live cells. Given its promising properties, we expect that PSLSSmKate-like phenotype will be further used for photoactivatable imaging and tracking multiple populations of intracellular objects.

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    10/24/14 | Lattice light-sheet microscopy: imaging molecules to embryos at high spatiotemporal resolution.
    Chen B, Legant WR, Wang K, Shao L, Milkie DE, Davidson MW, Janetopoulos C, Wu XS, Hammer JA, Liu Z, English BP, Mimori-Kiyosue Y, Romero DP, Ritter AT, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Fritz-Laylin L, Mullins RD, Mitchell DM, Bembenek JN, Reymann A, Böhme R, Grill SW, Wang JT, Seydoux G, Tulu US, Kiehart DP, Betzig E
    Science. 2014 Oct 24;346(6208):1257998. doi: 10.1126/science.1257998

    Although fluorescence microscopy provides a crucial window into the physiology of living specimens, many biological processes are too fragile, are too small, or occur too rapidly to see clearly with existing tools. We crafted ultrathin light sheets from two-dimensional optical lattices that allowed us to image three-dimensional (3D) dynamics for hundreds of volumes, often at subsecond intervals, at the diffraction limit and beyond. We applied this to systems spanning four orders of magnitude in space and time, including the diffusion of single transcription factor molecules in stem cell spheroids, the dynamic instability of mitotic microtubules, the immunological synapse, neutrophil motility in a 3D matrix, and embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. The results provide a visceral reminder of the beauty and the complexity of living systems.

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