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1416 Publications

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    05/01/97 | The repeat organizer, a specialized insulator element within the intergenic spacer of the Xenopus rRNA genes.
    Robinett CC, O’Connor A, Dunaway M
    Molecular and Cellular Biology. 1997 May;17(5):2866-75

    We have identified a novel activity for the region of the intergenic spacer of the Xenopus laevis rRNA genes that contains the 35- and 100-bp repeats. We devised a new assay for this region by constructing DNA plasmids containing a tandem repeat of rRNA reporter genes that were separated by the 35- and 100-bp repeat region and a rRNA gene enhancer. When the 35- and 100-bp repeat region is present in its normal position and orientation at the 3’ end of the rRNA reporter genes, the enhancer activates the adjacent downstream promoter but not the upstream rRNA promoter on the same plasmid. Because this element can restrict the range of an enhancer’s activity in the context of tandem genes, we have named it the repeat organizer (RO). The ability to restrict enhancer action is a feature of insulator elements, but unlike previously described insulator elements the RO does not block enhancer action in a simple enhancer-blocking assay. Instead, the activity of the RO requires that it be in its normal position and orientation with respect to the other sequence elements of the rRNA genes. The enhancer-binding transcription factor xUBF also binds to the repetitive sequences of the RO in vitro, but these sequences do not activate transcription in vivo. We propose that the RO is a specialized insulator element that organizes the tandem array of rRNA genes into single-gene expression units by promoting activation of a promoter by its proximal enhancers.

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    04/29/97 | The rational design of allosteric interactions in a monomeric protein and its applications to the construction of biosensors.
    Marvin JS, Corcoran EE, Hattangadi NA, Zhang JV, Gere SA, Hellinga HW
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1997 Apr 29;94(9):4366-71

    Rational protein design is an emerging approach for testing general theories of structure and function. The ability to manipulate function rationally also offers the possibility of creating new proteins of biotechnological value. Here we use the design approach to test the current understanding of the structural principles of allosteric interactions in proteins and demonstrate how a simple allosteric system can form the basis for the construction of a generic biosensor molecular engineering system. We have identified regions in Escherichia coli maltose-binding protein that are predicted to be allosterically linked to its maltose-binding site. Environmentally sensitive fluorophores were covalently attached to unique thiols introduced by cysteine mutations at specific sites within these regions. The fluorescence of such conjugates changes cooperatively with respect to maltose binding, as predicted. Spatial separation of the binding site and reporter groups allows the intrinsic properties of each to be manipulated independently. Provided allosteric linkage is maintained, ligand binding can therefore be altered without affecting transduction of the binding event by fluorescence. To demonstrate applicability to biosensor technology, we have introduced a series of point mutations in the maltose-binding site that lower the affinity of the protein for its ligand. These mutant proteins have been combined in a composite biosensor capable of measuring substrate concentration within 5% accuracy over a concentration range spanning five orders of magnitude.

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    03/27/97 | The evolution of sociality in aphids: a clone’s-eye view
    David L. Stern , William A. Foster
    The evolution of social behavior in insects and arachnids.. 03/1997:150-165. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511721953.008

    A number of aphid species produce individuals, termed soldiers, that defend the colony by attacking predators. Soldiers have either reduced or zero direct reproductive fitness. Their behavior is therefore altruistic in the classical sense: an individual is behaving in a way that incurs reproductive costs on itself and confers reproductive benefits on another. However, comparison with the better–known eusocial insects (Hymenoptera, Isoptera) indicates that there are important differences between clonal and sexual social animals.

    Here we take a clone's–eye view and conclude that many facets of aphid sociality are best thought of in terms of resource allocation: for example, the choice between investment in defense and reproduction. This view considerably simplifies some aspects of the problem and highlights the qualitatively different nature of genetic heterogeneity in colonies of aphids and of other social insects. In sexually reproducing social insects, each individual usually has a different genome, which leads to genetic conflicts of interest between individuals. In social aphids, all members of a clone have identical genomes, barring new mutations, and there should be no disagreement among clonemates about investment decisions. Genetic heterogeneity within colonies can arise, but principally through clonal mixing, and this means that investment decisions will vary between different clones rather than among all individuals.

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    03/20/97 | Action potential initiation and backpropagation in neurons of the mammalian CNS.
    Stuart G, Spruston N, Sakmann B, Häusser M
    Trends Neurosci. 1997 Mar;20(3):125-31

    Most neurons in the mammalian CNS encode and transmit information via action potentials. Knowledge of where these electrical events are initiated and how they propagate within neurons is therefore fundamental to an understanding of neuronal function. While work from the 1950s suggested that action potentials are initiated in the axon, many subsequent investigations have suggested that action potentials can also be initiated in the dendrites. Recently, experiments using simultaneous patch-pipette recordings from different locations on the same neuron have been used to address this issue directly. These studies show that the site of action potential initiation is in the axon, even when synaptic activation is powerful enough to elicit dendritic electrogenesis. Furthermore, these and other studies also show that following initiation, action potentials actively backpropagate into the dendrites of many neuronal types, providing a retrograde signal of neuronal output to the dendritic tree.

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    03/01/97 | RNase MRP correctly cleaves a novel R loop at the mitochondrial DNA leading-strand origin of replication.
    Clayton DA, Lee DY
    Genes & Development. 1997 Mar;11(5):582-92

    The precursor primer RNA for mammalian mitochondrial DNA leading-strand replication remains as a persistent R loop formed during transcription through the mitochondrial DNA control region. We have examined model R loops, which exist in a novel and physiologically accurate preprimer conformation, as potential substrates for mammalian RNase mitochondrial RNA processing (MRP). Mouse RNase MRP accurately cleaves an R loop containing the mouse mitochondrial DNA origin. The multiple cleavage sites on the R-loop substrate match the priming sites observed in vivo, suggesting that RNase MRP alone is capable of generating virtually all of the leading-strand replication primers.

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    01/01/97 | Determining aphid taxonomic affinities and life cycles with molecular data: a case study of the tribe Cerataphidini (Hormaphididae: Aphidoidea: Hemiptera)
    David Stern , Shigeyuki Aoki , Shigeyuki Kurosu
    Systematic Entomology. 01/1997;22(1):81-96. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3113.1997.d01-20.x

    Aphid taxonomy is often frustrated by the host alternation and extensive polyphenism displayed by many species. Here we examine the utility of using molecular data to assist in life cycle and taxonomic determination. We found that a relatively small amount of DNA sequence data can greatly assist in these tasks. Molecular data have identified the synonymy of five species: Tuberaphis plicator (Noordam) is a junior synonym of T.takenouchii (Takahashi), T.taiwana (Takahashi) is a junior synonym of T.coreana Takahashi, Hamiltonaphis styraci (Matsumura) is transferred to Tuberaphis Takahashi, Astegopteryx roepkei Hille Ris Lambers is transferred to Ceratoglyphina van der Goot, and A.vandermeermohri Hille Ris Lambers is transferred to Cerataphis Lichtenstein. We have elucidated the complete life cycles of five species: A.basalis (van der Goot) alternates between Styrax benzoin and bamboos, Ceratoglyphina bambusae van der Goot alternates between S.benzoin and bamboos, Pseudoregma sundanica (van der Goot) alternates between S.paralleloneura and Zingiberaceae, T.coreana alternates between S.formosana and Loranthaceae, and T.takenouchii alternates between S.japonica and Loranthaceae. In all cases the molecular data agreed with available morphological data. This analysis demonstrates the utility of DNA sequence comparisons for elucidating complex life cycles and the taxonomy of difficult insect groups.

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    01/01/97 | Retinal morphogenesis in Drosophila: hints from an eye-specific decapentaplegic allele.
    Chanut F, Heberlein U
    Developmental Genetics. 1997;20(3):197-207. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-6408(1997)20:3<197::AID-DVG3>3.0.CO;2-2

    Decapentaplegic (dpp) regulates many aspects of imaginal disc growth and patterning in Drosophila. We have analyzed the phenotype of an eye-specific dpp allele, dppblk, which causes a reduction in the size of the retina due to a loss of ventral ommatidia. Prior to the onset of differentiation, dppblk eye discs are normal regarding size, shape, and ability to express dorsal and ventral markers. However, expression of a dpp-lacZ reporter is reduced at the ventral margin. Additional dorsoventral asymmetry appears during retinal differentiation: the morphogenetic furrow (MF) initiates normally at the posterior tip of the disc, but fails to propagate into the ventral epithelium. This defect can be rescued by increasing dpp expression along the ventral margin by local removal of patched function. We propose that the primary defect in dppblk is an inability to activate dpp expression properly at the ventral margin. This has two consequences: it prevents initiation from the ventral margin, and it renders the ventral epithelium unresponsive to differentiation signals emanating from the MF.

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    Morphogenesis in the Drosophila retina initiates at the posterior margin of the eye imaginal disc by an unknown mechanism. Upon initiation, a wave of differentiation, its forward edge marked by the morphogenetic furrow (MF), proceeds anteriorly across the disc. Progression of the MF is driven by hedgehog (hh), expressed by differentiating photoreceptor cells. The TGF-beta homolog encoded by decapentaplegic (dpp) is expressed at the disc's posterior margin prior to initiation and in the furrow, under the control of hh, during MF progression. While dpp has been implicated in eye disc growth and morphogenesis, its precise role in retinal differentiation has not been determined. To address the role of dpp in initiation and progression of retinal differentiation we analyzed the consequences of reduced and increased dpp function during eye development. We find that dpp is not only required for normal MF initiation, but is sufficient to induce ectopic initiation of differentiation. Inappropriate initiation is normally inhibited by wingless (wg). Loss of dpp function is accompanied by expansion of wg expression, while increased dpp function leads to loss of wg transcription. In addition, dpp is required to maintain, and sufficient to induce, its own expression along the disc's margins. We postulate that dpp autoregulation and dpp-mediated inhibition of wg expression are required for the coordinated regulation of furrow initiation and progression. Finally, we show that in the later stages of retinal differentiation, reduction of dpp function leads to an arrest in MF progression.

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    Baker Lab
    12/13/96 | Control of male sexual behavior and sexual orientation in Drosophila by the fruitless gene.
    Baker B, Ryner L, Goodwin S, Castrillon D, Anand A, Villella A, Hall J, Taylor B, Wasserman S
    Cell. 1996 Dec 13;87(6):1079-89

    Sexual orientation and courtship behavior in Drosophila are regulated by fruitless (fru), the first gene in a branch of the sex-determination hierarchy functioning specifically in the central nervous system (CNS). The phenotypes of new fru mutants encompass nearly all aspects of male sexual behavior. Alternative splicing of fru transcripts produces sex-specific proteins belonging to the BTB-ZF family of transcriptional regulators. The sex-specific fru products are produced in only about 500 of the 10(5) neurons that comprise the CNS. The properties of neurons expressing these fru products suggest that fru specifies the fates or activities of neurons that carry out higher order control functions to elicit and coordinate the activities comprising male courtship behavior.

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    12/01/96 | GFP tagging of budding yeast chromosomes reveals that protein-protein interactions can mediate sister chromatid cohesion.
    Straight AF, Belmont AS, Robinett CC, Murray AW
    Current Biology. 1996 Dec 1;6(12):1599-608

    Precise control of sister chromatid separation is essential for the accurate transmission of genetic information. Sister chromatids must remain linked to each other from the time of DNA replication until the onset of chromosome segregation, when the linkage must be promptly dissolved. Recent studies suggest that the machinery that is responsible for the destruction of mitotic cyclins also degrades proteins that play a role in maintaining sister chromatid linkage, and that this machinery is regulated by the spindle-assembly checkpoint. Studies on these problems in budding yeast are hampered by the inability to resolve its chromosomes by light or electron microscopy.

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