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From the Last Five Years

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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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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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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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04/20/14 | Efficient Bayesian-based multiview deconvolution.
Preibisch S, Amat F, Stamataki E, Sarov M, Singer RH, Myers E, Tomancak P
Nature Methods. 2014 Apr 20;11:645-8. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2929

Light-sheet fluorescence microscopy is able to image large specimens with high resolution by capturing the samples from multiple angles. Multiview deconvolution can substantially improve the resolution and contrast of the images, but its application has been limited owing to the large size of the data sets. Here we present a Bayesian-based derivation of multiview deconvolution that drastically improves the convergence time, and we provide a fast implementation using graphics hardware.

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01/24/14 | Visualization of dynamics of single endogenous mRNA labeled in live mouse.
Park HYoon, Lim H, Yoon YJ, Follenzi A, Nwokafor C, Lopez-Jones M, Meng X, Singer RH
Science. 2014 Jan 24;343(6169):422-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1239200

The transcription and transport of messenger RNA (mRNA) are critical steps in regulating the spatial and temporal components of gene expression, but it has not been possible to observe the dynamics of endogenous mRNA in primary mammalian tissues. We have developed a transgenic mouse in which all β-actin mRNA is fluorescently labeled. We found that β-actin mRNA in primary fibroblasts localizes predominantly by diffusion and trapping as single mRNAs. In cultured neurons and acute brain slices, we found that multiple β-actin mRNAs can assemble together, travel by active transport, and disassemble upon depolarization by potassium chloride. Imaging of brain slices revealed immediate early induction of β-actin transcription after depolarization. Studying endogenous mRNA in live mouse tissues provides insight into its dynamic regulation within the context of the cellular and tissue microenvironment.

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04/22/11 | Real-time observation of transcription initiation and elongation on an endogenous yeast gene.
Larson DR, Zenklusen D, Wu B, Chao JA, Singer RH
Science. 2011 Apr 22;332(6028):475-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1202142

Cellular messenger RNA levels are achieved by the combinatorial complexity of factors controlling transcription, yet the small number of molecules involved in these pathways fluctuates stochastically. It has not yet been experimentally possible to observe the activity of single polymerases on an endogenous gene to elucidate how these events occur in vivo. Here, we describe a method of fluctuation analysis of fluorescently labeled RNA to measure dynamics of nascent RNA–including initiation, elongation, and termination–at an active yeast locus. We find no transcriptional memory between initiation events, and elongation speed can vary by threefold throughout the cell cycle. By measuring the abundance and intranuclear mobility of an upstream transcription factor, we observe that the gene firing rate is directly determined by trans-activating factor search times.

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02/01/11 | A transgenic mouse for in vivo detection of endogenous labeled mRNA.
Lionnet T, Czaplinski K, Darzacq X, Shav-Tal Y, Wells AL, Chao JA, Park HYoon, de Turris V, Lopez-Jones M, Singer RH
Nature Methods. 2011 Feb;8(2):165-70. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1551

Live-cell single mRNA imaging is a powerful tool but has been restricted in higher eukaryotes to artificial cell lines and reporter genes. We describe an approach that enables live-cell imaging of single endogenous labeled mRNA molecules transcribed in primary mammalian cells and tissue. We generated a knock-in mouse line with an MS2 binding site (MBS) cassette targeted to the 3’ untranslated region of the essential β-actin gene. As β-actin-MBS was ubiquitously expressed, we could uniquely address endogenous mRNA regulation in any tissue or cell type. We simultaneously followed transcription from the β-actin alleles in real time and observed transcriptional bursting in response to serum stimulation with precise temporal resolution. We tracked single endogenous labeled mRNA particles being transported in primary hippocampal neurons. The MBS cassette also enabled high-sensitivity fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), allowing detection and localization of single β-actin mRNA molecules in various mouse tissues.

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04/15/15 | Synonymous modification results in high-fidelity gene expression of repetitive protein and nucleotide sequences.
Wu B, Miskolci V, Sato H, Tutucci E, Kenworthy CA, Donnelly SK, Yoon YJ, Cox D, Singer RH, Hodgson L
Genes & Development. 2015 Apr 15;29(8):876-86. doi: 10.1101/gad.259358.115

Repetitive nucleotide or amino acid sequences are often engineered into probes and biosensors to achieve functional readouts and robust signal amplification. However, these repeated sequences are notoriously prone to aberrant deletion and degradation, impacting the ability to correctly detect and interpret biological functions. Here, we introduce a facile and generalizable approach to solve this often unappreciated problem by modifying the nucleotide sequences of the target mRNA to make them nonrepetitive but still functional ("synonymous"). We first demonstrated the procedure by designing a cassette of synonymous MS2 RNA motifs and tandem coat proteins for RNA imaging and showed a dramatic improvement in signal and reproducibility in single-RNA detection in live cells. The same approach was extended to enhancing the stability of engineered fluorescent biosensors containing a fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) pair of fluorescent proteins on which a great majority of systems thus far in the field are based. Using the synonymous modification to FRET biosensors, we achieved correct expression of full-length sensors, eliminating the aberrant truncation products that often were assumed to be due to nonspecific proteolytic cleavages. Importantly, the biological interpretations of the sensor are significantly different when a correct, full-length biosensor is expressed. Thus, we show here a useful and generally applicable method to maintain the integrity of expressed genes, critical for the correct interpretation of probe readouts.

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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
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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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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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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12/04/14 | 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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09/16/14 | The translation elongation factor eEF1A1 couples transcription to translation during heat shock response.
Vera M, Pani B, Griffiths LA, Muchardt C, Abbott CM, Singer RH, Nudler E
eLife. 2014 Sep 16;3:e03164. doi: 10.7554/eLife.03164

Translation elongation factor eEF1A has a well-defined role in protein synthesis. In this study, we demonstrate a new role for eEF1A: it participates in the entire process of the heat shock response (HSR) in mammalian cells from transcription through translation. Upon stress, isoform 1 of eEF1A rapidly activates transcription of HSP70 by recruiting the master regulator HSF1 to its promoter. eEF1A1 then associates with elongating RNA polymerase II and the 3'UTR of HSP70 mRNA, stabilizing it and facilitating its transport from the nucleus to active ribosomes. eEF1A1-depleted cells exhibit severely impaired HSR and compromised thermotolerance. In contrast, tissue-specific isoform 2 of eEF1A does not support HSR. By adjusting transcriptional yield to translational needs, eEF1A1 renders HSR rapid, robust, and highly selective; thus, representing an attractive therapeutic target for numerous conditions associated with disrupted protein homeostasis, ranging from neurodegeneration to cancer.

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05/19/14 | Gene regulation: the HSP70 gene jumps when shocked.
Vera M, Singer RH
Current Biology. 2014 May 19;24(10):R396-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.070

Limited chromosome mobility has been observed in mammalian interphase nuclei. Live imaging shows unidirectional and actin-dependent movement of HSP70 loci towards speckles upon heat shock, resulting in enhanced transcription. This adds further impetus to understanding compartmentalization of function in the nucleus.

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01/24/14 | Single β-actin mRNA detection in neurons reveals a mechanism for regulating its translatability.
Buxbaum AR, Wu B, Singer RH
Science. 2014 Jan 24;343(6169):419-22. doi: 10.1126/science.1242939

The physical manifestation of learning and memory formation in the brain can be expressed by strengthening or weakening of synaptic connections through morphological changes. Local actin remodeling underlies some forms of plasticity and may be facilitated by local β-actin synthesis, but dynamic information is lacking. In this work, we use single-molecule in situ hybridization to demonstrate that dendritic β-actin messenger RNA (mRNA) and ribosomes are in a masked, neuron-specific form. Chemically induced long-term potentiation prompts transient mRNA unmasking, which depends on factors active during synaptic activity. Ribosomes and single β-actin mRNA motility increase after stimulation, indicative of release from complexes. Hence, the single-molecule assays we developed allow for the quantification of activity-induced unmasking and availability for active translation. Further, our work demonstrates that β-actin mRNA and ribosomes are in a masked state that is alleviated by stimulation.

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01/09/14 | Background free imaging of single mRNAs in live cells using split fluorescent proteins.
Wu B, Chen J, Singer RH
Scientific Reports. 2014 Jan 9;4:3615. doi: 10.1038/srep03615

We describe a technique for imaging single mRNAs in living cells based on fluorescent protein (FP) complementation. We employ the high affinity interaction between the bacterial phage MS2/PP7 coat proteins and their respective RNA binding motifs as an RNA scaffold to bring two halves of a split-FP together to image single reporter mRNAs without background fluorescence.

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09/24/13 | Direct observation of frequency modulated transcription in single cells using light activation.
Larson DR, Fritzsch C, Sun L, Meng X, Lawrence DS, Singer RH
eLife. 2013 Sep 24;2:e00750. doi: 10.7554/eLife.00750

Single-cell analysis has revealed that transcription is dynamic and stochastic, but tools are lacking that can determine the mechanism operating at a single gene. Here we utilize single-molecule observations of RNA in fixed and living cells to develop a single-cell model of steroid-receptor mediated gene activation. We determine that steroids drive mRNA synthesis by frequency modulation of transcription. This digital behavior in single cells gives rise to the well-known analog dose response across the population. To test this model, we developed a light-activation technology to turn on a single steroid-responsive gene and follow dynamic synthesis of RNA from the activated locus. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00750.001.

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03/01/14 | Dynamics of survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein interaction with the mRNA-binding protein IMP1 facilitates its trafficking into motor neuron axons.
Fallini C, Rouanet JP, Donlin-Asp PG, Guo P, Zhang H, Singer RH, Rossoll W, Bassell GJ
Developmental Neurobiology. 2014 Mar;74(3):319-32. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22111

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a lethal neurodegenerative disease specifically affecting spinal motor neurons. SMA is caused by the homozygous deletion or mutation of the survival of motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. The SMN protein plays an essential role in the assembly of spliceosomal ribonucleoproteins. However, it is still unclear how low levels of the ubiquitously expressed SMN protein lead to the selective degeneration of motor neurons. An additional role for SMN in the regulation of the axonal transport of mRNA-binding proteins (mRBPs) and their target mRNAs has been proposed. Indeed, several mRBPs have been shown to interact with SMN, and the axonal levels of few mRNAs, such as the β-actin mRNA, are reduced in SMA motor neurons. In this study we have identified the β-actin mRNA-binding protein IMP1/ZBP1 as a novel SMN-interacting protein. Using a combination of biochemical assays and quantitative imaging techniques in primary motor neurons, we show that IMP1 associates with SMN in individual granules that are actively transported in motor neuron axons. Furthermore, we demonstrate that IMP1 axonal localization depends on SMN levels, and that SMN deficiency in SMA motor neurons leads to a dramatic reduction of IMP1 protein levels. In contrast, no difference in IMP1 protein levels was detected in whole brain lysates from SMA mice, further suggesting neuron specific roles of SMN in IMP1 expression and localization. Taken together, our data support a role for SMN in the regulation of mRNA localization and axonal transport through its interaction with mRBPs such as IMP1.

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08/01/13 | Eukaryotic transcriptional dynamics: from single molecules to cell populations.
Coulon A, Chow CC, Singer RH, Larson DR
Nature Reviews Genetics. 2013 Aug;14(8):572-84. doi: 10.1038/nrg3484

Transcriptional regulation is achieved through combinatorial interactions between regulatory elements in the human genome and a vast range of factors that modulate the recruitment and activity of RNA polymerase. Experimental approaches for studying transcription in vivo now extend from single-molecule techniques to genome-wide measurements. Parallel to these developments is the need for testable quantitative and predictive models for understanding gene regulation. These conceptual models must also provide insight into the dynamics of transcription and the variability that is observed at the single-cell level. In this Review, we discuss recent results on transcriptional regulation and also the models those results engender. We show how a non-equilibrium description informs our view of transcription by explicitly considering time- and energy-dependence at the molecular level.

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07/12/13 | mRNA on the move: the road to its biological destiny.
Eliscovich C, Buxbaum AR, Katz ZB, Singer RH
The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2013 Jul 12;288(28):20361-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.R113.452094

Cells have evolved to regulate the asymmetric distribution of specific mRNA targets to institute spatial and temporal control over gene expression. Over the last few decades, evidence has mounted as to the importance of localization elements in the mRNA sequence and their respective RNA-binding proteins. Live imaging methodologies have shown mechanistic details of this phenomenon. In this minireview, we focus on the advanced biochemical and cell imaging techniques used to tweeze out the finer aspects of mechanisms of mRNA movement.

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07/05/13 | Single cell analysis of RNA-mediated histone H3.3 recruitment to a cytomegalovirus promoter-regulated transcription site.
Newhart A, Rafalska-Metcalf IU, Yang T, Joo LM, Powers SLawrence, Kossenkov AV, Lopez-Jones M, Singer RH, Showe LC, Skordalakes E, Janicki SM
The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2013 Jul 5;288(27):19882-99. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.473181

Unlike the core histones, which are incorporated into nucleosomes concomitant with DNA replication, histone H3.3 is synthesized throughout the cell cycle and utilized for replication-independent (RI) chromatin assembly. The RI incorporation of H3.3 into nucleosomes is highly conserved and occurs at both euchromatin and heterochromatin. However, neither the mechanism of H3.3 recruitment nor its essential function is well understood. Several different chaperones regulate H3.3 assembly at distinct sites. The H3.3 chaperone, Daxx, and the chromatin-remodeling factor, ATRX, are required for H3.3 incorporation and heterochromatic silencing at telomeres, pericentromeres, and the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter. By evaluating H3.3 dynamics at a CMV promoter-regulated transcription site in a genetic background in which RI chromatin assembly is blocked, we have been able to decipher the regulatory events upstream of RI nucleosomal deposition. We find that at the activated transcription site, H3.3 accumulates with sense and antisense RNA, suggesting that it is recruited through an RNA-mediated mechanism. Sense and antisense transcription also increases after H3.3 knockdown, suggesting that the RNA signal is amplified when chromatin assembly is blocked and attenuated by nucleosomal deposition. Additionally, we find that H3.3 is still recruited after Daxx knockdown, supporting a chaperone-independent recruitment mechanism. Sequences in the H3.3 N-terminal tail and αN helix mediate both its recruitment to RNA at the activated transcription site and its interaction with double-stranded RNA in vitro. Interestingly, the H3.3 gain-of-function pediatric glioblastoma mutations, G34R and K27M, differentially affect H3.3 affinity in these assays, suggesting that disruption of an RNA-mediated regulatory event could drive malignant transformation.

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05/09/13 | Colocalization of different influenza viral RNA segments in the cytoplasm before viral budding as shown by single-molecule sensitivity FISH analysis.
Chou Yying, Heaton NS, Gao Q, Palese P, Singer RH, Singer R, Lionnet T
PLoS Pathogens. 2013;9(5):e1003358. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003358

The Influenza A virus genome consists of eight negative sense, single-stranded RNA segments. Although it has been established that most virus particles contain a single copy of each of the eight viral RNAs, the packaging selection mechanism remains poorly understood. Influenza viral RNAs are synthesized in the nucleus, exported into the cytoplasm and travel to the plasma membrane where viral budding and genome packaging occurs. Due to the difficulties in analyzing associated vRNPs while preserving information about their positions within the cell, it has remained unclear how and where during cellular trafficking the viral RNAs of different segments encounter each other. Using a multicolor single-molecule sensitivity fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) approach, we have quantitatively monitored the colocalization of pairs of influenza viral RNAs in infected cells. We found that upon infection, the viral RNAs from the incoming particles travel together until they reach the nucleus. The viral RNAs were then detected in distinct locations in the nucleus; they are then exported individually and initially remain separated in the cytoplasm. At later time points, the different viral RNA segments gather together in the cytoplasm in a microtubule independent manner. Viral RNAs of different identities colocalize at a high frequency when they are associated with Rab11 positive vesicles, suggesting that Rab11 positive organelles may facilitate the association of different viral RNAs. Using engineered influenza viruses lacking the expression of HA or M2 protein, we showed that these viral proteins are not essential for the colocalization of two different viral RNAs in the cytoplasm. In sum, our smFISH results reveal that the viral RNAs travel together in the cytoplasm before their arrival at the plasma membrane budding sites. This newly characterized step of the genome packaging process demonstrates the precise spatiotemporal regulation of the infection cycle.

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03/01/13 | Temporal and spatial characterization of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay.
Trcek T, Sato H, Singer RH, Maquat LE
Genes & Development. 2013 Mar 1;27(5):541-51. doi: 10.1101/gad.209635.112

Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a quality control mechanism responsible for "surveying" mRNAs during translation and degrading those that harbor a premature termination codon (PTC). Currently the intracellular spatial location of NMD and the kinetics of its decay step in mammalian cells are under debate. To address these issues, we used single-RNA fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and measured the NMD of PTC-containing β-globin mRNA in intact single cells after the induction of β-globin gene transcription. This approach preserves temporal and spatial information of the NMD process, both of which would be lost in an ensemble study. We determined that decay of the majority of PTC-containing β-globin mRNA occurs soon after its export into the cytoplasm, with a half-life of <1 min; the remainder is degraded with a half-life of >12 h, similar to the half-life of normal PTC-free β-globin mRNA, indicating that it had evaded NMD. Importantly, NMD does not occur within the nucleoplasm, thus countering the long-debated idea of nuclear degradation of PTC-containing transcripts. We provide a spatial and temporal model for the biphasic decay of NMD targets.

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06/01/13 | The fate of the messenger is pre-determined: a new model for regulation of gene expression.
Haimovich G, Choder M, Singer RH, Trcek T
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA). 2013 Jun-Jul;1829(6-7):643-53. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2013.01.004

Recent years have seen a rise in publications demonstrating coupling between transcription and mRNA decay. This coupling most often accompanies cellular processes that involve transitions in gene expression patterns, for example during mitotic division and cellular differentiation and in response to cellular stress. Transcription can affect the mRNA fate by multiple mechanisms. The most novel finding is the process of co-transcriptional imprinting of mRNAs with proteins, which in turn regulate cytoplasmic mRNA stability. Transcription therefore is not only a catalyst of mRNA synthesis but also provides a platform that enables imprinting, which coordinates between transcription and mRNA decay. Here we present an overview of the literature, which provides the evidence of coupling between transcription and decay, review the mechanisms and regulators by which the two processes are coupled, discuss why such coupling is beneficial and present a new model for regulation of gene expression. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: RNA Decay mechanisms.

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01/01/13 | Time-integrated fluorescence cumulant analysis and its application in living cells.
Wu B, Singer RH, Mueller JD
Methods in Enzymology. 2013;518:99-119. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-388422-0.00005-4

Time-integrated fluorescence cumulant analysis (TIFCA) is a data analysis technique for fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy (FFS) that extracts information from the cumulants of the integrated fluorescence intensity. It is the first exact theory that describes the effect of sampling time on FFS experiment. Rebinning of data to longer sampling times helps to increase the signal/noise ratio of the experimental cumulants of the photon counts. The sampling time dependence of the cumulants encodes both brightness and diffusion information of the sample. TIFCA analysis extracts this information by fitting the cumulants to model functions. Generalization of TIFCA to multicolor FFS experiment is straightforward. Here, we present an overview of the theory, its implementation, as well as the benefits and requirements of TIFCA. The questions of why, when, and how to use TIFCA will be discussed. We give several examples of practical applications of TIFCA, particularly focused on measuring molecular interaction in living cells.

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02/01/13 | Single-molecule analysis of gene expression using two-color RNA labeling in live yeast.
Hocine S, Raymond P, Zenklusen D, Chao JA, Singer RH
Nature Methods. 2013 Feb;10(2):119-21. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2305

Live-cell imaging of mRNA yields important insights into gene expression, but it has generally been limited to the labeling of one RNA species and has never been used to count single mRNAs over time in yeast. We demonstrate a two-color imaging system with single-molecule resolution using MS2 and PP7 RNA labeling. We use this methodology to measure intrinsic noise in mRNA levels and RNA polymerase II kinetics at a single gene.

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12/14/12 | Nuclear pore component Nup98 is a potential tumor suppressor and regulates posttranscriptional expression of select p53 target genes.
Singer S, Zhao R, Barsotti AM, Ouwehand A, Fazollahi M, Coutavas E, Breuhahn K, Neumann O, Longerich T, Pusterla T, Powers MA, Giles KM, Leedman PJ, Hess J, Grunwald D, Bussemaker HJ, Singer RH, Schirmacher P, Prives C
Molecular Cell. 2012 Dec 14;48(5):799-810. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2012.09.020

The p53 tumor suppressor utilizes multiple mechanisms to selectively regulate its myriad target genes, which in turn mediate diverse cellular processes. Here, using conventional and single-molecule mRNA analyses, we demonstrate that the nucleoporin Nup98 is required for full expression of p21, a key effector of the p53 pathway, but not several other p53 target genes. Nup98 regulates p21 mRNA levels by a posttranscriptional mechanism in which a complex containing Nup98 and the p21 mRNA 3'UTR protects p21 mRNA from degradation by the exosome. An in silico approach revealed another p53 target (14-3-3σ) to be similarly regulated by Nup98. The expression of Nup98 is reduced in murine and human hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and correlates with p21 expression in HCC patients. Our study elucidates a previously unrecognized function of wild-type Nup98 in regulating select p53 target genes that is distinct from the well-characterized oncogenic properties of Nup98 fusion proteins.

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11/01/12 | Imaging translation in single cells using fluorescent microscopy.
Chao JA, Yoon YJ, Singer RH
Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. 2012 Nov;4(11):. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a012310

The regulation of translation provides a mechanism to control not only the abundance of proteins, but also the precise time and subcellular location that they are synthesized. Much of what is known concerning the molecular basis for translational control has been gleaned from experiments (e.g., luciferase assays and polysome analysis) that measure average changes in the protein synthesis of a population of cells, however, mechanistic insights can be obscured in ensemble measurements. The development of fluorescent microscopy techniques and reagents has allowed translation to be studied within its cellular context. Here we highlight recent methodologies that can be used to study global changes in protein synthesis or regulation of specific mRNAs in single cells. Imaging of translation has provided direct evidence for local translation of mRNAs at synapses in neurons and will become an important tool for studying translational control.

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09/01/12 | β-Actin mRNA compartmentalization enhances focal adhesion stability and directs cell migration.
Katz ZB, Wells AL, Park HYoon, Wu B, Shenoy SM, Singer RH
Genes & Development. 2012 Sep 1;26(17):1885-90. doi: 10.1101/gad.190413.112

Directed cell motility is at the basis of biological phenomena such as development, wound healing, and metastasis. It has been shown that substrate attachments mediate motility by coupling the cell's cytoskeleton with force generation. However, it has been unclear how the persistence of cell directionality is facilitated. We show that mRNA localization plays an important role in this process, but the mechanism of action is still unknown. In this study, we show that the zipcode-binding protein 1 transports β-actin mRNA to the focal adhesion compartment, where it dwells for minutes, suggesting a means for associating its localization with motility through the formation of stable connections between adhesions and newly synthesized actin filaments. In order to demonstrate this, we developed an approach for assessing the functional consequences of β-actin mRNA and protein localization by tethering the mRNA to a specific location-in this case, the focal adhesion complex. This approach will have a significant impact on cell biology because it is now possible to forcibly direct any mRNA and its cognate protein to specific locations in the cell. This will reveal the importance of localized protein translation on various cellular processes.

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02/23/12 | An unbiased analysis method to quantify mRNA localization reveals its correlation with cell motility.
Park HYoon, Trcek T, Wells AL, Chao JA, Singer RH
Cell Reports. 2012 Feb 23;1(2):179-84. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2011.12.009

Localization of mRNA is a critical mechanism used by a large fraction of transcripts to restrict its translation to specific cellular regions. Although current high-resolution imaging techniques provide ample information, the analysis methods for localization have either been qualitative or employed quantification in nonrandomly selected regions of interest. Here, we describe an analytical method for objective quantification of mRNA localization using a combination of two characteristics of its molecular distribution, polarization and dispersion. The validity of the method is demonstrated using single-molecule FISH images of budding yeast and fibroblasts. Live-cell analysis of endogenous β-actin mRNA in mouse fibroblasts reveals that mRNA polarization has a half-life of ~16 min and is cross-correlated with directed cell migration. This novel approach provides insights into the dynamic regulation of mRNA localization and its physiological roles.

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06/20/12 | Fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy enables quantitative imaging of single mRNAs in living cells.
Wu B, Chao JA, Singer RH
Biophysical Journal. 2012 Jun 20;102(12):2936-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.05.017

Imaging mRNA with single-molecule sensitivity in live cells has become an indispensable tool for quantitatively studying RNA biology. The MS2 system has been extensively used due to its unique simplicity and sensitivity. However, the levels of the coat protein needed for consistent labeling of mRNAs limits the sensitivity and quantitation of this technology. Here, we applied fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy to quantitatively characterize and enhance the MS2 system. Surprisingly, we found that a high fluorescence background resulted from inefficient dimerization of fluorescent protein (FP)-labeled MS2 coat protein (MCP). To mitigate this problem, we used a single-chain tandem dimer of MCP (tdMCP) that significantly increased the uniformity and sensitivity of mRNA labeling. Furthermore, we characterized the PP7 coat protein and the binding to its respective RNA stem loop. We conclude that the PP7 system performs better for RNA labeling. Finally, we used these improvements to study endogenous β-actin mRNA, which has 24xMS2 binding sites inserted into the 3' untranslated region. The tdMCP-FP allowed uniform RNA labeling and provided quantitative measurements of endogenous mRNA concentration and diffusion. This work provides a foundation for quantitative spectroscopy and imaging of single mRNAs directly in live cells.

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04/02/12 | Transcription goes digital.
Lionnet T, Singer RH
EMBO Reports. 2012 Apr 2;13(4):313-21. doi: 10.1038/embor.2012.31

Transcription is a complex process that integrates the state of the cell and its environment to generate adequate responses for cell fitness and survival. Recent microscopy experiments have been able to monitor transcription from single genes in individual cells. These observations have revealed two striking features: transcriptional activity can vary markedly from one cell to another, and is subject to large changes over time, sometimes within minutes. How the chromatin structure, transcription machinery assembly and signalling networks generate such patterns is still unclear. In this review, we present the techniques used to investigate transcription from single genes, introduce quantitative modelling tools, and discuss transcription mechanisms and their implications for gene expression regulation.

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02/02/12 | Single-mRNA counting using fluorescent in situ hybridization in budding yeast.
Trcek T, Chao JA, Larson DR, Park HYoon, Zenklusen D, Shenoy SM, Singer RH
Nature Protocols. 2012 Feb 2;7(2):408-19. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2011.451

Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) allows the quantification of single mRNAs in budding yeast using fluorescently labeled single-stranded DNA probes, a wide-field epifluorescence microscope and a spot-detection algorithm. Fixed yeast cells are attached to coverslips and hybridized with a mixture of FISH probes, each conjugated to several fluorescent dyes. Images of cells are acquired in 3D and maximally projected for single-molecule analysis. Diffraction-limited labeled mRNAs are observed as bright fluorescent spots and can be quantified using a spot-detection algorithm. FISH preserves the spatial distribution of cellular RNA distribution within the cell and the stochastic fluctuations in individual cells that can lead to phenotypic differences within a clonal population. This information, however, is lost if the RNA content is measured on a population of cells by using reverse transcriptase PCR, microarrays or high-throughput sequencing. The FISH procedure and image acquisition described here can be completed in 3 d.

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01/15/12 | IGF2BP1 promotes cell migration by regulating MK5 and PTEN signaling.
Stöhr N, Köhn M, Lederer M, Glass M, Reinke C, Singer RH, Hüttelmaier S
Genes & Development. 2012 Jan 15;26(2):176-89. doi: 10.1101/gad.177642.111

In primary neurons, the oncofetal RNA-binding protein IGF2BP1 (IGF2 mRNA-binding protein 1) controls spatially restricted β-actin (ACTB) mRNA translation and modulates growth cone guidance. In cultured tumor-derived cells, IGF2BP1 was shown to regulate the formation of lamellipodia and invadopodia. However, how and via which target mRNAs IGF2BP1 controls the motility of tumor-derived cells has remained elusive. In this study, we reveal that IGF2BP1 promotes the velocity and directionality of tumor-derived cell migration by determining the cytoplasmic fate of two novel target mRNAs: MAPK4 and PTEN. Inhibition of MAPK4 mRNA translation by IGF2BP1 antagonizes MK5 activation and prevents phosphorylation of HSP27, which sequesters actin monomers available for F-actin polymerization. Consequently, HSP27-ACTB association is reduced, mobilizing cellular G-actin for polymerization in order to promote the velocity of cell migration. At the same time, stabilization of the PTEN mRNA by IGF2BP1 enhances PTEN expression and antagonizes PIP(3)-directed signaling. This enforces the directionality of cell migration in a RAC1-dependent manner by preventing additional lamellipodia from forming and sustaining cell polarization intrinsically. IGF2BP1 thus promotes the velocity and persistence of tumor cell migration by controlling the expression of signaling proteins. This fine-tunes and connects intracellular signaling networks in order to enhance actin dynamics and cell polarization.

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05/14/15 | Regulation of local expression of cell adhesion and motility-related mRNAs in breast cancer cells by IMP1/ZBP1.
Gu W, Katz Z, Wu B, Park HYoon, Li D, Lin S, Wells AL, Singer RH
The Journal of Cell Science. 2012 Jan 1;125(Pt 1):81-91. doi: 10.1242/jcs.086132

Metastasis involves tumor cell detachment from the primary tumor, and acquisition of migratory and invasive capabilities. These capabilities are mediated by multiple events, including loss of cell-cell contact, an increase in focal adhesion turnover and failure to maintain a normal cell polarity. We have previously reported that silencing of the expression of the zipcode-binding protein IMP1/ZBP1 in breast tumor patients is associated with metastasis. IMP1/ZBP1 selectively binds to a group of mRNAs that encode important mediators for cell adhesion and motility. Here, we show that in both T47D and MDA231 human breast carcinoma cells IMP1/ZBP1 functions to suppress cell invasion. Binding of ZBP1 to the mRNAs encoding E-cadherin, β-actin, α-actinin and the Arp2/3 complex facilitates localization of the mRNAs, which stabilizes cell-cell connections and focal adhesions. Our studies suggest a novel mechanism through which IMP1/ZBP1 simultaneously regulates the local expression of many cell-motility-related mRNAs to maintain cell adherence and polarity, decrease focal adhesion turnover and maintain a persistent and directional motility.

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01/12/12 | Transgenic expression of ZBP1 in neurons suppresses cocaine-associated conditioning.
Lapidus KAB, Nwokafor C, Scott D, Baroni TE, Tenenbaum SA, Hiroi N, Singer RH, Czaplinski K
Learning & Memory. 2012 Feb;19(2):35-42. doi: 10.1101/lm.024471.111

To directly address whether regulating mRNA localization can influence animal behavior, we created transgenic mice that conditionally express Zipcode Binding Protein 1 (ZBP1) in a subset of neurons in the brain. ZBP1 is an RNA-binding protein that regulates the localization, as well as translation and stability of target mRNAs in the cytoplasm. We took advantage of the absence of ZBP1 expression in the mature brain to examine the effect of expressing ZBP1 on animal behavior. We constructed a transgene conditionally expressing a GFP-ZBP1 fusion protein in a subset of forebrain neurons and compared cocaine-cued place conditioning in these mice versus noninduced littermates. Transgenic ZBP1 expression resulted in impaired place conditioning relative to nonexpressing littermates, and acutely repressing expression of the transgene restored normal cocaine conditioning. To gain insight into the molecular changes that accounted for this change in behavior, we identified mRNAs that specifically immunoprecipitated with transgenic ZBP1 protein from the brains of these mice. These data suggest that RNA-binding proteins can be used as a tool to identify the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in the establishment and function of neural circuits involved in addiction behaviors.

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01/01/12 | Spatial arrangement of an RNA zipcode identifies mRNAs under post-transcriptional control.
Patel VL, Mitra S, Harris R, Buxbaum AR, Lionnet T, Brenowitz M, Girvin M, Levy M, Almo SC, Singer RH, Chao JA
Genes & Development. 2012 Jan 1;26(1):43-53. doi: 10.1101/gad.177428.111

How RNA-binding proteins recognize specific sets of target mRNAs remains poorly understood because current approaches depend primarily on sequence information. In this study, we demonstrate that specific recognition of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) by RNA-binding proteins requires the correct spatial positioning of these sequences. We characterized both the cis-acting sequence elements and the spatial restraints that define the mode of RNA binding of the zipcode-binding protein 1 (ZBP1/IMP1/IGF2BP1) to the β-actin zipcode. The third and fourth KH (hnRNP K homology) domains of ZBP1 specifically recognize a bipartite RNA element comprised of a 5' element (CGGAC) followed by a variable 3' element (C/A-CA-C/U) that must be appropriately spaced. Remarkably, the orientation of these elements is interchangeable within target transcripts bound by ZBP1. The spatial relationship of this consensus binding site identified conserved transcripts that were verified to associate with ZBP1 in vivo. The dendritic localization of one of these transcripts, spinophilin, was found to be dependent on both ZBP1 and the RNA elements recognized by ZBP1 KH34.

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02/01/12 | Multiscale dynamics in nucleocytoplasmic transport.
Grunwald D, Singer RH
Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 2012 Feb;24(1):100-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ceb.2011.11.011

The nuclear pore complex (NPC) has long been viewed as a point-like entry and exit channel between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. New data support a different view whereby the complex displays distinct spatial dynamics of variable duration ranging from milliseconds to events spanning the entire cell cycle. Discrete interaction sites outside the central channel become apparent, and transport regulation at these sites seems to be of greater importance than currently thought. Nuclear pore components are highly active outside the NPC or impact the fate of cargo transport away from the nuclear pore. The NPC is a highly dynamic, crowded environment-constantly loaded with cargo while providing selectivity based on unfolded proteins. Taken together, this comprises a new paradigm in how we view import/export dynamics and emphasizes the multiscale nature of NPC-mediated cellular transport.

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12/23/11 | Single-molecule mRNA decay measurements reveal promoter- regulated mRNA stability in yeast.
Trcek T, Larson DR, Moldón A, Query CC, Singer RH
Cell. 2011 Dec 23;147(7):1484-97. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.11.051

Messenger RNA decay measurements are typically performed on a population of cells. However, this approach cannot reveal sufficient complexity to provide information on mechanisms that may regulate mRNA degradation, possibly on short timescales. To address this deficiency, we measured cell cycle-regulated decay in single yeast cells using single-molecule FISH. We found that two genes responsible for mitotic progression, SWI5 and CLB2, exhibit a mitosis-dependent mRNA stability switch. Their transcripts are stable until mitosis, when a precipitous decay eliminates the mRNA complement, preventing carryover into the next cycle. Remarkably, the specificity and timing of decay is entirely regulated by their promoter, independent of specific cis mRNA sequences. The mitotic exit network protein Dbf2p binds to SWI5 and CLB2 mRNAs cotranscriptionally and regulates their decay. This work reveals the promoter-dependent control of mRNA stability, a regulatory mechanism that could be employed by a variety of mRNAs and organisms.

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12/09/11 | A date with telomerase: pick you up at S phase.
Hocine S, Singer RH
Molecular Cell. 2011 Dec 9;44(5):685-6. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.11.013

Using the MS2 system for labeling mRNA, in this issue, Gallardo et al. (2011) find that telomere lengthening depends on a stable accumulation of multiple telomerase complexes in late S phase and that this process is temporally regulated by Rif1/2 proteins.

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12/01/11 | Cotranscriptional effect of a premature termination codon revealed by live-cell imaging.
de Turris V, Nicholson P, Orozco RZamudio, Singer RH, Mühlemann O
RNA. 2011 Dec;17(12):2094-107. doi: 10.1261/rna.02918111

Aberrant mRNAs with premature translation termination codons (PTCs) are recognized and eliminated by the nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway in eukaryotes. We employed a novel live-cell imaging approach to investigate the kinetics of mRNA synthesis and release at the transcription site of PTC-containing (PTC+) and PTC-free (PTC-) immunoglobulin-μ reporter genes. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) and photoconversion analyses revealed that PTC+ transcripts are specifically retained at the transcription site. Remarkably, the retained PTC+ transcripts are mainly unspliced, and this RNA retention is dependent upon two important NMD factors, UPF1 and SMG6, since their depletion led to the release of the PTC+ transcripts. Finally, ChIP analysis showed a physical association of UPF1 and SMG6 with both the PTC+ and the PTC- reporter genes in vivo. Collectively, our data support a mechanism for regulation of PTC+ transcripts at the transcription site.

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06/26/11 | Variegated gene expression caused by cell-specific long-range DNA interactions.
Noordermeer D, de Wit E, Klous P, van de Werken H, Simonis M, Lopez-Jones M, Eussen B, de Klein A, Singer RH, de Laat W
Nature Cell Biology. 2011 Aug;13(8):944-51. doi: 10.1038/ncb2278

Mammalian genomes contain numerous regulatory DNA sites with unknown target genes. We used mice with an extra β-globin locus control region (LCR) to investigate how a regulator searches the genome for target genes. We find that the LCR samples a restricted nuclear subvolume, wherein it preferentially contacts genes controlled by shared transcription factors. No contacted gene is detectably upregulated except for endogenous β-globin genes located on another chromosome. This demonstrates genetically that mammalian trans activation is possible, but suggests that it will be rare. Trans activation occurs not pan-cellularly, but in 'jackpot' cells enriched for the interchromosomal interaction. Therefore, cell-specific long-range DNA contacts can cause variegated expression.

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03/09/11 | The survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein interacts with the mRNA-binding protein HuD and regulates localization of poly(A) mRNA in primary motor neuron axons.
Fallini C, Zhang H, Su Y, Silani V, Singer RH, Rossoll W, Bassell GJ
The Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Mar 9;31(10):3914-25. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3631-10.2011

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) results from reduced levels of the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein, which has a well characterized function in spliceosomal small nuclear ribonucleoprotein assembly. Currently, it is not understood how deficiency of a housekeeping protein leads to the selective degeneration of spinal cord motor neurons. Numerous studies have shown that SMN is present in neuronal processes and has many interaction partners, including mRNA-binding proteins, suggesting a potential noncanonical role in axonal mRNA metabolism. In this study, we have established a novel technological approach using bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) and quantitative image analysis to characterize SMN-protein interactions in primary motor neurons. Consistent with biochemical studies on the SMN complex, BiFC analysis revealed that SMN dimerizes and interacts with Gemin2 in nuclear gems and axonal granules. In addition, using pull down assays, immunofluorescence, cell transfection, and BiFC, we characterized a novel interaction between SMN and the neuronal mRNA-binding protein HuD, which was dependent on the Tudor domain of SMN. A missense mutation in the SMN Tudor domain, which is known to cause SMA, impaired the interaction with HuD, but did not affect SMN axonal localization or self-association. Furthermore, time-lapse microscopy revealed SMN cotransport with HuD in live motor neurons. Importantly, SMN knockdown in primary motor neurons resulted in a specific reduction of both HuD protein and poly(A) mRNA levels in the axonal compartment. These findings reveal a noncanonical role for SMN whereby its interaction with mRNA-binding proteins may facilitate the localization of associated poly(A) mRNAs into axons.

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01/01/11 | Transcription of functionally related constitutive genes is not coordinated.
Gandhi SJ, Zenklusen D, Lionnet T, Singer RH
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2011 Jan;18(1):27-34. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1934

Expression of an individual gene can vary considerably among genetically identical cells because of stochastic fluctuations in transcription. However, proteins comprising essential complexes or pathways have similar abundances and lower variability. It is not known whether coordination in the expression of subunits of essential complexes occurs at the level of transcription, mRNA abundance or protein expression. To directly measure the level of coordination in the expression of genes, we used highly sensitive fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to count individual mRNAs of functionally related and unrelated genes within single Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. Our results revealed that transcript levels of temporally induced genes are highly correlated in individual cells. In contrast, transcription of constitutive genes encoding essential subunits of complexes is not coordinated because of stochastic fluctuations. The coordination of these functional complexes therefore must occur post-transcriptionally, and likely post-translationally.

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01/01/11 | A nucleoporin, Nup60p, affects the nuclear and cytoplasmic localization of ASH1 mRNA in S. cerevisiae.
Powrie EA, Zenklusen D, Singer RH
RNA. 2011 Jan;17(1):134-44. doi: 10.1261/rna.1210411

The biogenesis of a localization-competent mRNP begins in the nucleus. It is thought that the coordinated action of nuclear and cytoplasmic components of the localization machinery is required for the efficient export and subsequent subcellular localization of these mRNAs in the cytoplasm. Using quantitative poly(A)(+) and transcript-specific fluorescent in situ hybridization, we analyzed different nonessential nucleoporins and nuclear pore-associated proteins for their potential role in mRNA export and localization. We found that Nup60p, a nuclear pore protein located on the nucleoplasmic side of the nuclear pore complex, was required for the mRNA localization pathway. In a Δnup60 background, localized mRNAs were preferentially retained within the nucleus compared to nonlocalized transcripts. However, the export block was only partial and some transcripts could still reach the cytoplasm. Importantly, downstream processes were also affected. Localization of ASH1 and IST2 mRNAs to the bud was impaired in the Δnup60 background, suggesting that the assembly of a localization competent mRNP ("locasome") was inhibited when NUP60 was deleted. These results demonstrate transcript specificity of a nuclear mRNA retention defect and identify a specific nucleoporin as a functional component of the localization pathway in budding yeast.

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