Contrary to dogma, evolutionarily young and dynamic genes can encode essential functions. We find that evolutionarily dynamic ZAD-ZNF genes, which encode the most abundant class of insect transcription factors, are more likely to encode essential functions in Drosophila melanogaster than ancient, conserved ZAD-ZNF genes. We focus on the Nicknack ZAD-ZNF gene, which is evolutionarily young, poorly retained in Drosophila species, and evolves under strong positive selection. Yet we find that it is necessary for larval development in D. melanogaster. We show that Nicknack encodes a heterochromatin-localizing protein like its paralog Oddjob, also an evolutionarily dynamic yet essential ZAD-ZNF gene. We find that the divergent D. simulans Nicknack protein can still localize to D. melanogaster heterochromatin and rescue viability of female but not male Nicknack-null D. melanogaster. Our findings suggest that innovation for rapidly changing heterochromatin functions might generally explain the essentiality of many evolutionarily dynamic ZAD-ZNF genes in insects.
Understanding the antibody response is critical to developing vaccine and antibody-based therapies and has inspired the recent development of new methods to isolate antibodies. Methods to define the antibody-antigen interactions that determine specificity or allow escape have not kept pace. We developed Phage-DMS, a method that combines two powerful approaches-immunoprecipitation of phage peptide libraries and deep mutational scanning (DMS)-to enable high-throughput fine mapping of antibody epitopes. As an example, we designed sequences encoding all possible amino acid variants of HIV Envelope to create phage libraries. Using Phage-DMS, we identified sites of escape predicted using other approaches for four well-characterized HIV monoclonal antibodies with known linear epitopes. In some cases, the results of Phage-DMS refined the epitope beyond what was determined in previous studies. This method has the potential to rapidly and comprehensively screen many antibodies in a single experiment to define sites essential for binding interactions.
Antagonistic coevolution with selfish genetic elements (SGEs) can drive evolution of host resistance. Here, we investigated host suppression of 2-micron (2m) plasmids, multicopy nuclear parasites that have co-evolved with budding yeasts. We developed SCAMPR (Single-Cell Assay for Measuring Plasmid Retention) to measure copy number heterogeneity and 2m plasmid loss in live cells. We identified three S. cerevisiae strains that lack endogenous 2m plasmids and reproducibly inhibit mitotic plasmid stability. Focusing on the Y9 ragi strain, we determined that plasmid restriction is heritable and dominant. Using bulk segregant analysis, we identified a high-confidence Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) with a single variant of MMS21 associated with increased 2m instability. MMS21 encodes a SUMO E3 ligase and an essential component of the Smc5/6 complex, involved in sister chromatid cohesion, chromosome segregation, and DNA repair. Our analyses leverage natural variation to uncover a novel means by which budding yeasts can overcome highly successful genetic parasites.
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease-2019) pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, is a significant threat to public health and the global economy. SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to the more lethal but less transmissible coronaviruses SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. Here, we have carried out comparative viral-human protein-protein interaction and viral protein localization analysis for all three viruses. Subsequent functional genetic screening identified host factors that functionally impinge on coronavirus proliferation, including Tom70, a mitochondrial chaperone protein that interacts with both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 Orf9b, an interaction we structurally characterized using cryo-EM. Combining genetically-validated host factors with both COVID-19 patient genetic data and medical billing records identified important molecular mechanisms and potential drug treatments that merit further molecular and clinical study.
J Infect Dis
Most individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop neutralizing antibodies that target the viral spike protein. Here we quantify how levels of these antibodies change in the months following SARS-CoV-2 infection by examining longitudinal samples collected between ~30 and 152 days post symptom onset from a prospective cohort of 32 recovered individuals with asymptomatic, mild, or moderate-severe disease. Neutralizing antibody titers declined an average of about four-fold from one to four months post symptom onset. This decline in neutralizing antibody titers was accompanied by a decline in total antibodies capable of binding the viral spike or its receptor-binding domain. Importantly, our data are consistent with the expected early immune response to viral infection, where an initial peak in antibody levels is followed by a decline to a lower plateau. Additional studies of long-lived B-cells and antibody titers over longer time frames are necessary to determine the durability of immunity to SARS-CoV-2.
Energy-sensing neural circuits decide to expend or conserve resources based, in part, on the tonic, steady-state, energy-store information they receive. Tonic signals, in the form of adipose tissue-derived adipokines, set the baseline level of activity in the energy-sensing neurons, thereby providing context for interpretation of additional inputs. However, the mechanism by which tonic adipokine information establishes steady-state neuronal function has heretofore been unclear. We show here that under conditions of nutrient surplus, Upd2, a Drosophila leptin ortholog, regulates actin-based synapse reorganization to reduce bouton number in an inhibitory circuit, thus establishing a neural tone that is permissive for insulin release. Unexpectedly, we found that insulin feeds back on these same inhibitory neurons to conversely increase bouton number, resulting in maintenance of negative tone. Our results point to a mechanism by which two surplus-sensing hormonal systems, Upd2/leptin and insulin, converge on a neuronal circuit with opposing outcomes to establish energy-store-dependent neuron activity.
We recently introduced Cleavage Under Targets & Tagmentation (CUT&Tag), an epigenomic profiling strategy in which antibodies are bound to chromatin proteins in situ in permeabilized nuclei. These antibodies are then used to tether the cut-and-paste transposase Tn5. Activation of the transposase simultaneously cleaves DNA and adds adapters ('tagmentation') for paired-end DNA sequencing. Here, we introduce a streamlined CUT&Tag protocol that suppresses DNA accessibility artefacts to ensure high-fidelity mapping of the antibody-targeted protein and improves the signal-to-noise ratio over current chromatin profiling methods. Streamlined CUT&Tag can be performed in a single PCR tube, from cells to amplified libraries, providing low-cost genome-wide chromatin maps. By simplifying library preparation CUT&Tag requires less than a day at the bench, from live cells to sequencing-ready barcoded libraries. As a result of low background levels, barcoded and pooled CUT&Tag libraries can be sequenced for as little as $25 per sample. This enables routine genome-wide profiling of chromatin proteins and modifications and requires no special skills or equipment.
Lysine 27-to-methionine (K27M) mutations in the H3.1 or H3.3 histone genes are characteristic of pediatric diffuse midline gliomas (DMGs). These oncohistone mutations dominantly inhibit histone H3K27 trimethylation and silencing, but it is unknown how oncohistone type affects gliomagenesis. We show that the genomic distributions of H3.1 and H3.3 oncohistones in human patient-derived DMG cells are consistent with the DNA replication-coupled deposition of histone H3.1 and the predominant replication-independent deposition of histone H3.3. Although H3K27 trimethylation is reduced for both oncohistone types, H3.3K27M-bearing cells retain some domains, and only H3.1K27M-bearing cells lack H3K27 trimethylation. Neither oncohistone interferes with PRC2 binding. Using Drosophila as a model, we demonstrate that inhibition of H3K27 trimethylation occurs only when H3K27M oncohistones are deposited into chromatin and only when expressed in cycling cells. We propose that oncohistones inhibit the H3K27 methyltransferase as chromatin patterns are being duplicated in proliferating cells, predisposing them to tumorigenesis.
Biochem Soc Trans
RNA plays a well-established architectural role in the formation of membraneless interchromatin nuclear bodies. However, a less well-known role of RNA is in organizing chromatin, whereby specific RNAs have been found to recruit chromatin modifier proteins. Whether or not RNA can act as an architectural molecule for chromatin remains unclear, partly because dissecting the architectural role of RNA from its regulatory role remains challenging. Studies that have addressed RNA's architectural role in chromatin organization rely on in situ RNA depletion using Ribonuclease A (RNase A) and suggest that RNA plays a major direct architectural role in chromatin organization. In this review, we will discuss these findings, candidate chromatin architectural long non-coding RNAs and possible mechanisms by which RNA, along with RNA binding proteins might be mediating chromatin organization.
An effective vaccine is essential for controlling the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Here, we describe an influenza virus-based vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. We incorporated a membrane-anchored form of the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor binding domain (RBD) in place of the neuraminidase (NA) coding sequence in an influenza virus also possessing a mutation that reduces the affinity of hemagglutinin for its sialic acid receptor. The resulting ΔNA(RBD)-Flu virus can be generated by reverse genetics and grown to high titers in cell culture. A single-dose intranasal inoculation of mice with ΔNA(RBD)-Flu elicits serum neutralizing antibody titers against SAR-CoV-2 comparable to those observed in humans following natural infection (~1:200). Furthermore, ΔNA(RBD)-Flu itself causes no apparent disease in mice. It might be possible to produce a vaccine similar to ΔNA(RBD)-Flu at scale by leveraging existing platforms for the production of influenza vaccines.