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45 Janelia Publications

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    05/05/16 | Real-time quantification of single RNA translation dynamics in living cells.
    Morisaki T, Lyon K, DeLuca KF, DeLuca JG, English BP, Zhang Z, Lavis LD, Grimm JB, Viswanathan S, Looger LL
    Science. 2016 May 05;352(6292):1425-9. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf0899

    Although mRNA translation is a fundamental biological process, it has never been imaged in real-time with single molecule precision in vivo. To achieve this, we developed Nascent Chain Tracking (NCT), a technique that uses multi-epitope tags and antibody-based fluorescent probes to quantify single mRNA protein synthesis dynamics. NCT reveals an elongation rate of ~10 amino acids per second, with initiation occurring stochastically every ~30 s. Polysomes contain ~1 ribosome every 200-900 nucleotides and are globular rather than elongated in shape. By developing multi-color probes, we show most polysomes act independently; however, a small fraction (~5%) form complexes in which two distinct mRNAs can be translated simultaneously. The sensitivity and versatility of NCT make it a powerful new tool for quantifying mRNA translation kinetics.

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    05/03/16 | RNA Polymerase II cluster dynamics predict mRNA output in living cells.
    Cho W, Jayanth N, English BP, Inoue T, Andrews JO, Conway W, Grimm JB, Spille J, Lavis LD, Lionnet T, Cisse II
    eLife. 2016 May 03;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13617

    Protein clustering is a hallmark of genome regulation in mammalian cells. However, the dynamic molecular processes involved make it difficult to correlate clustering with functional consequences in vivo. We developed a live-cell super-resolution approach to uncover the correlation between mRNA synthesis and the dynamics of RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) clusters at a gene locus. For endogenous β-actin genes in mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we observe that short-lived (~8 s) Pol II clusters correlate with basal mRNA output. During serum stimulation, a stereotyped increase in Pol II cluster lifetime correlates with a proportionate increase in the number of mRNAs synthesized. Our findings suggest that transient clustering of Pol II may constitute a pre-transcriptional regulatory event that predictably modulates nascent mRNA output.

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    04/29/16 | TRICK: A single-molecule method for imaging the first round of translation in living cells and animals.
    Halstead JM, Wilbertz JH, Wippich F, Lionnet T, Ephrussi A, Chao JA
    Methods in Enzymology. 2016;572:123-57. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2016.02.027

    The life of an mRNA is dynamic within a cell. The development of quantitative fluorescent microscopy techniques to image single molecules of RNA has allowed many aspects of the mRNA lifecycle to be directly observed in living cells. Recent advances in live-cell multicolor RNA imaging, however, have now made it possible to investigate RNA metabolism in greater detail. In this chapter, we present an overview of the design and implementation of the translating RNA imaging by coat protein knockoff RNA biosensor, which allows untranslated mRNAs to be distinguished from ones that have undergone a round of translation. The methods required for establishing this system in mammalian cell lines and Drosophila melanogaster oocytes are described here, but the principles may be applied to any experimental system.

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    03/29/16 | A primer on the Bayesian approach to high-density single-molecule trajectories analysis.
    El Beheiry M, Türkcan S, Richly MU, Triller A, Alexandrou A, Dahan M, Masson J
    Biophysical Journal. 2016 Mar 29;110(6):1209-15. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.01.018

    Tracking single molecules in living cells provides invaluable information on their environment and on the interactions that underlie their motion. New experimental techniques now permit the recording of large amounts of individual trajectories, enabling the implementation of advanced statistical tools for data analysis. In this primer, we present a Bayesian approach toward treating these data, and we discuss how it can be fruitfully employed to infer physical and biochemical parameters from single-molecule trajectories.

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    02/16/16 | Multifocus microscopy with precise color multi-phase diffractive optics applied in functional neuronal imaging.
    Abrahamsson S, Ilic R, Wisniewski J, Mehl B, Yu L, Chen L, Davanco M, Oujedi L, Fiche J, Hajj B
    Biomedical Optics Express. 2016 Feb 16;7(3):855-69. doi: 10.1364/BOE.7.000855

    Multifocus microscopy (MFM) allows high-resolution instantaneous three-dimensional (3D) imaging and has been applied to study biological specimens ranging from single molecules inside cells nuclei to entire embryos. We here describe pattern designs and nanofabrication methods for diffractive optics that optimize the light-efficiency of the central optical component of MFM: the diffractive multifocus grating (MFG). We also implement a “precise color” MFM layout with MFGs tailored to individual fluorophores in separate optical arms. The reported advancements enable faster and brighter volumetric time-lapse imaging of biological samples. In live microscopy applications, photon budget is a critical parameter and light-efficiency must be optimized to obtain the fastest possible frame rate while minimizing photodamage. We provide comprehensive descriptions and code for designing diffractive optical devices, and a detailed methods description for nanofabrication of devices. Theoretical efficiencies of reported designs is ≈90% and we have obtained efficiencies of > 80% in MFGs of our own manufacture. We demonstrate the performance of a multi-phase MFG in 3D functional neuronal imaging in living C. elegans.


    Additional authors include:

    Xin Jin, Joan Pulupa, Christine Cho, Mustafa Mir, Mohamed El Beheiry, Xavier Darzacq, Marcelo Nollmann, Maxime Dahan, Carl Wu, Timothée Lionnet, J. Alexander Liddle, and Cornelia I. Bargmann


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    02/16/16 | PSF engineering in multifocus microscopy for increased depth volumetric imaging.
    Hajj B, El Beheiry M, Dahan M
    Biomedical Optics Express. 2016 Feb 16;7(3):726-31. doi: 10.1364/BOE.7.000726

    Imaging and localizing single molecules with high accuracy in a 3D volume is a challenging task. Here we combine multifocal microscopy, a recently developed volumetric imaging technique, with point spread function engineering to achieve an increased depth for single molecule imaging. Applications in 3D single molecule localization-based super-resolution imaging is shown over an axial depth of 4 µm as well as for the tracking of diffusing beads in a fluid environment over 8 µm.

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    Tjian LabSinger LabLiu LabTranscription Imaging
    01/16/16 | Imaging transcription: past, present, and future.
    Coleman RA, Liu Z, Darzacq X, Tjian R, Singer RH, Lionnet T
    Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology. 2015;80:1-8. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2015.80.027201

    Transcription, the first step of gene expression, is exquisitely regulated in higher eukaryotes to ensure correct development and homeostasis. Traditional biochemical, genetic, and genomic approaches have proved successful at identifying factors, regulatory sequences, and potential pathways that modulate transcription. However, they typically only provide snapshots or population averages of the highly dynamic, stochastic biochemical processes involved in transcriptional regulation. Single-molecule live-cell imaging has, therefore, emerged as a complementary approach capable of circumventing these limitations. By observing sequences of molecular events in real time as they occur in their native context, imaging has the power to derive cause-and-effect relationships and quantitative kinetics to build predictive models of transcription. Ongoing progress in fluorescence imaging technology has brought new microscopes and labeling technologies that now make it possible to visualize and quantify the transcription process with single-molecule resolution in living cells and animals. Here we provide an overview of the evolution and current state of transcription imaging technologies. We discuss some of the important concepts they uncovered and present possible future developments that might solve long-standing questions in transcriptional regulation.

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    11/13/15 | Dynamics of CRISPR-Cas9 genome interrogation in living cells.
    Knight SC, Xie L, Deng W, Guglielmi B, Witkowsky LB, Bosanac L, Zhang ET, El Beheiry M, Masson J, Dahan M, Liu Z, Doudna JA, Tjian R
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2015 Nov 13;350(6262):823-6. doi: 10.1126/science.aac6572

    The RNA-guided CRISPR-associated protein Cas9 is used for genome editing, transcriptional modulation, and live-cell imaging. Cas9-guide RNA complexes recognize and cleave double-stranded DNA sequences on the basis of 20-nucleotide RNA-DNA complementarity, but the mechanism of target searching in mammalian cells is unknown. Here, we use single-particle tracking to visualize diffusion and chromatin binding of Cas9 in living cells. We show that three-dimensional diffusion dominates Cas9 searching in vivo, and off-target binding events are, on average, short-lived (<1 second). Searching is dependent on the local chromatin environment, with less sampling and slower movement within heterochromatin. These results reveal how the bacterial Cas9 protein interrogates mammalian genomes and navigates eukaryotic chromatin structure.

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    09/22/15 | A specific E3 ligase/deubiquitinase pair modulates TBP protein levels during muscle differentiation.
    Li L, Martinez SS, Hu W, Liu Z, Tjian R
    eLife. 2015;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08536

    TFIID-a complex of TATA-binding protein (TBP) and TBP-associated factors (TAFs)-is a central component of the Pol II promoter recognition apparatus. Recent studies have revealed significant downregulation of TFIID subunits in terminally differentiated myocytes, hepatocytes and adipocytes. Here, we report that TBP protein levels are tightly regulated by the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Using an in vitro ubiquitination assay coupled with biochemical fractionation, we identified Huwe1 as an E3 ligase targeting TBP for K48-linked ubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation. Upregulation of Huwe1 expression during myogenesis induces TBP degradation and myotube differentiation. We found that Huwe1 activity on TBP is antagonized by the deubiquitinase USP10, which protects TBP from degradation. Thus, modulating the levels of both Huwe1 and USP10 appears to fine-tune the requisite degradation of TBP during myogenesis. Together, our study unmasks a previously unknown interplay between an E3 ligase and a deubiquitinating enzyme regulating TBP levels during cellular differentiation.

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    Tjian LabSinger LabTranscription Imaging
    08/31/15 | CASFISH: CRISPR/Cas9-mediated in situ labeling of genomic loci in fixed cells.
    Deng W, Shi X, Tjian R, Lionnet T, Singer RH
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 Aug 31;112(38):11870-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1515692112

    Direct visualization of genomic loci in the 3D nucleus is important for understanding the spatial organization of the genome and its association with gene expression. Various DNA FISH methods have been developed in the past decades, all involving denaturing dsDNA and hybridizing fluorescent nucleic acid probes. Here we report a novel approach that uses in vitro constituted nuclease-deficient clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated caspase 9 (Cas9) complexes as probes to label sequence-specific genomic loci fluorescently without global DNA denaturation (Cas9-mediated fluorescence in situ hybridization, CASFISH). Using fluorescently labeled nuclease-deficient Cas9 (dCas9) protein assembled with various single-guide RNA (sgRNA), we demonstrated rapid and robust labeling of repetitive DNA elements in pericentromere, centromere, G-rich telomere, and coding gene loci. Assembling dCas9 with an array of sgRNAs tiling arbitrary target loci, we were able to visualize nonrepetitive genomic sequences. The dCas9/sgRNA binary complex is stable and binds its target DNA with high affinity, allowing sequential or simultaneous probing of multiple targets. CASFISH assays using differently colored dCas9/sgRNA complexes allow multicolor labeling of target loci in cells. In addition, the CASFISH assay is remarkably rapid under optimal conditions and is applicable for detection in primary tissue sections. This rapid, robust, less disruptive, and cost-effective technology adds a valuable tool for basic research and genetic diagnosis.

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