[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Parkinson's disease associated mutations in leucine rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) impair mitochondrial function and increase the vulnerability of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neural cells from patients to oxidative stress. Since mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage can compromise mitochondrial function, we examined whether LRRK2 mutations can induce damage to the mitochondrial genome. We found greater levels of mtDNA damage in iPSC-derived neural cells from patients carrying homozygous or heterozygous LRRK2 G2019S mutations, or at-risk individuals carrying the heterozygous LRRK2 R1441C mutation, than in cells from unrelated healthy subjects who do not carry LRRK2 mutations. After zinc finger nuclease-mediated repair of the LRRK2 G2019S mutation in iPSCs, mtDNA damage was no longer detected in differentiated neuroprogenitor and neural cells. Our results unambiguously link LRRK2 mutations to mtDNA damage and validate a new cellular phenotype that can be used for examining pathogenic mechanisms and screening therapeutic strategies.
Neurobiology of Disease 10/2013; · 5.62 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modern agriculture demands crops carrying multiple traits. The current paradigm of randomly integrating and sorting independently segregating transgenes creates severe downstream breeding challenges. A versatile, generally applicable solution is hereby provided: the combination of high-efficiency targeted genome editing driven by engineered zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) with modular 'trait landing pads' (TLPs) that allow 'mix-and-match', on-demand transgene integration and trait stacking in crop plants. We illustrate the utility of nuclease-driven TLP technology by applying it to the stacking of herbicide resistance traits. We first integrated into the maize genome an herbicide resistance gene, pat, flanked with a TLP (ZFN target sites and sequences homologous to incoming DNA) using WHISKERS™-mediated transformation of embryogenic suspension cultures. We established a method for targeted transgene integration based on microparticle bombardment of immature embryos and used it to deliver a second trait precisely into the TLP via cotransformation with a donor DNA containing a second herbicide resistance gene, aad1, flanked by sequences homologous to the integrated TLP along with a corresponding ZFN expression construct. Remarkably, up to 5% of the embryo-derived transgenic events integrated the aad1 transgene precisely at the TLP, that is, directly adjacent to the pat transgene. Importantly and consistent with the juxtaposition achieved via nuclease-driven TLP technology, both herbicide resistance traits cosegregated in subsequent generations, thereby demonstrating linkage of the two independently transformed transgenes. Because ZFN-mediated targeted transgene integration is becoming applicable across an increasing number of crop species, this work exemplifies a simple, facile and rapid approach to trait stacking.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Down's syndrome is a common disorder with enormous medical and social costs, caused by trisomy for chromosome 21. We tested the concept that gene imbalance across an extra chromosome can be de facto corrected by manipulating a single gene, XIST (the X-inactivation gene). Using genome editing with zinc finger nucleases, we inserted a large, inducible XIST transgene into the DYRK1A locus on chromosome 21, in Down's syndrome pluripotent stem cells. The XIST non-coding RNA coats chromosome 21 and triggers stable heterochromatin modifications, chromosome-wide transcriptional silencing and DNA methylation to form a 'chromosome 21 Barr body'. This provides a model to study human chromosome inactivation and creates a system to investigate genomic expression changes and cellular pathologies of trisomy 21, free from genetic and epigenetic noise. Notably, deficits in proliferation and neural rosette formation are rapidly reversed upon silencing one chromosome 21. Successful trisomy silencing in vitro also surmounts the major first step towards potential development of 'chromosome therapy'.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Targeted gene regulation via designed transcription factors has great potential for precise phenotypic modification and acceleration of novel crop trait development. To this end, designed transcriptional activators have been constructed by fusing transcriptional activation domains to DNA-binding proteins. In this study, a transcriptional activator from the herpes simplex virus, VP16, was used to identify plant regulatory proteins. Transcriptional activation domains were identified from each protein and fused with zinc finger DNA-binding proteins (ZFPs) to generate designed transcriptional activators. In addition, specific sequences within each transcriptional activation domain were modified to mimic the VP16 contact motif that interacts directly with RNA polymerase II core transcription factors. To evaluate these designed transcriptional activators, test systems were built in yeast and tobacco comprising reporter genes driven by promoters containing ZFP-binding sites upstream of the transcriptional start site. In yeast, transcriptional domains from the plant proteins ERF2 and PTI4 activated MEL1 reporter gene expression to levels similar to VP16 and the modified sequences displayed even greater levels of activation. Following stable transformation of the tobacco reporter system with transcriptional activators derived from ERF2, GUS reporter gene transcript accumulation was equal to or greater than those derived from VP16. Moreover, a modified ERF2 domain displayed significantly enhanced transcriptional activation compared with VP16 and with the unmodified ERF2 sequence. These results demonstrate that plant sequences capable of facilitating transcriptional activation can be found and, when fused to DNA-binding proteins, can enhance gene expression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malaria afflicts over 200 million people worldwide, and its most lethal etiologic agent, Plasmodium falciparum, is evolving to resist even the latest-generation therapeutics. Efficient tools for genome-directed investigations of P. falciparum-induced pathogenesis, including drug-resistance mechanisms, are clearly required. Here we report rapid and targeted genetic engineering of this parasite using zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) that produce a double-strand break in a user-defined locus and trigger homology-directed repair. Targeting an integrated egfp locus, we obtained gene-deletion parasites with unprecedented speed (2 weeks), both with and without direct selection. ZFNs engineered against the parasite gene pfcrt, responsible for escape under chloroquine treatment, rapidly produced parasites that carried either an allelic replacement or a panel of specified point mutations. This method will enable a diverse array of genome-editing approaches to interrogate this human pathogen.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Targeted gene regulation via designed transcription factors has great potential for precise phenotypic modification and acceleration of novel crop trait development. Canola seed oil composition is dictated largely by the expression of genes encoding enzymes in the fatty acid biosynthetic pathway. In the present study, zinc finger proteins (ZFPs) were designed to bind DNA sequences common to two canola β-ketoacyl-ACP Synthase II (KASII) genes downstream of their transcription start site. Transcriptional activators (ZFP-TFs) were constructed by fusing these ZFP DNA-binding domains to the VP16 transcriptional activation domain. Following transformation using Agrobacterium, transgenic events expressing ZFP-TFs were generated and shown to have elevated KASII transcript levels in the leaves of transgenic T(0) plants when compared to 'selectable marker only' controls as well as of T(1) progeny plants when compared to null segregants. In addition, leaves of ZFP-TF-expressing T(1) plants contained statistically significant decreases in palmitic acid (consistent with increased KASII activity) and increased total C18. Similarly, T(2) seed displayed statistically significant decreases in palmitic acid, increased total C18 and reduced total saturated fatty acid contents. These results demonstrate that designed ZFP-TFs can be used to regulate the expression of endogenous genes to elicit specific phenotypic modifications of agronomically relevant traits in a crop species.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from somatic cells provide a unique tool for the study of human disease, as well as a promising source for cell replacement therapies. One crucial limitation has been the inability to perform experiments under genetically defined conditions. This is particularly relevant for late age onset disorders in which in vitro phenotypes are predicted to be subtle and susceptible to significant effects of genetic background variations. By combining zinc finger nuclease (ZFN)-mediated genome editing and iPSC technology, we provide a generally applicable solution to this problem, generating sets of isogenic disease and control human pluripotent stem cells that differ exclusively at either of two susceptibility variants for Parkinson's disease by modifying the underlying point mutations in the α-synuclein gene. The robust capability to genetically correct disease-causing point mutations in patient-derived hiPSCs represents significant progress for basic biomedical research and an advance toward hiPSC-based cell replacement therapies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evolutionary studies necessary to dissect diverse biological processes have been limited by the lack of reverse genetic approaches in most organisms with sequenced genomes. We established a broadly applicable strategy using zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) and transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) for targeted disruption of endogenous genes and cis-acting regulatory elements in diverged nematode species.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The frog Xenopus, an important research organism in cell and developmental biology, currently lacks tools for targeted mutagenesis. Here, we address this problem by genome editing with zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs). ZFNs directed against an eGFP transgene in Xenopus tropicalis induced mutations consistent with nonhomologous end joining at the target site, resulting in mosaic loss of the fluorescence phenotype at high frequencies. ZFNs directed against the noggin gene produced tadpoles and adult animals carrying up to 47% disrupted alleles, and founder animals yielded progeny carrying insertions and deletions in the noggin gene with no indication of off-target effects. Furthermore, functional tests demonstrated an allelic series of activity between three germ-line mutant alleles. Because ZFNs can be designed against any locus, our data provide a generally applicable protocol for gene disruption in Xenopus.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2011; 108(17):7052-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nucleases that cleave unique genomic sequences in living cells can be used for targeted gene editing and mutagenesis. Here we develop a strategy for generating such reagents based on transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins from Xanthomonas. We identify TALE truncation variants that efficiently cleave DNA when linked to the catalytic domain of FokI and use these nucleases to generate discrete edits or small deletions within endogenous human NTF3 and CCR5 genes at efficiencies of up to 25%. We further show that designed TALEs can regulate endogenous mammalian genes. These studies demonstrate the effective application of designed TALE transcription factors and nucleases for the targeted regulation and modification of endogenous genes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is the best-studied pathway by which cells selectively internalize molecules from the plasma membrane and surrounding environment. Previous live-cell imaging studies using ectopically overexpressed fluorescent fusions of endocytic proteins indicated that mammalian CME is a highly dynamic but inefficient and heterogeneous process. In contrast, studies of endocytosis in budding yeast using fluorescent protein fusions expressed at physiological levels from native genomic loci have revealed a process that is very regular and efficient. To analyse endocytic dynamics in mammalian cells in which endogenous protein stoichiometry is preserved, we targeted zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) to the clathrin light chain A and dynamin-2 genomic loci and generated cell lines expressing fluorescent protein fusions from each locus. The genome-edited cells exhibited enhanced endocytic function, dynamics and efficiency when compared with previously studied cells, indicating that CME is highly sensitive to the levels of its protein components. Our study establishes that ZFN-mediated genome editing is a robust tool for expressing protein fusions at endogenous levels to faithfully report subcellular localization and dynamics.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Targeted genetic engineering of human pluripotent cells is a prerequisite for exploiting their full potential. Such genetic manipulations can be achieved using site-specific nucleases. Here we engineered transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) for five distinct genomic loci. At all loci tested we obtained human embryonic stem cell (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) clones carrying transgenic cassettes solely at the TALEN-specified location. Our data suggest that TALENs employing the specific architectures described here mediate site-specific genome modification in human pluripotent cells with similar efficiency and precision as do zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) drive efficient genome editing by introducing a double-strand break into the targeted gene. Cleavage is induced when two custom-designed ZFNs heterodimerize upon binding DNA to form a catalytically active nuclease complex. The importance of this dimerization event for subsequent cleavage activity has stimulated efforts to engineer the nuclease interface to prevent undesired homodimerization. Here we report the development and application of a yeast-based selection system designed to functionally interrogate the ZFN dimer interface. We identified critical residues involved in dimerization through the isolation of cold-sensitive nuclease domains. We used these residues to engineer ZFNs that have superior cleavage activity while suppressing homodimerization. The improvements were portable to orthogonal domains, allowing the concomitant and independent cleavage of two loci using two different ZFN pairs. These ZFN architectures provide a general means for obtaining highly efficient and specific genome modification.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sequences governing RNA splicing are difficult to study in situ due to the great difficulty of traditional targeted mutagenesis. Zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN) technology allows for the rapid and efficient introduction of site-specific mutations into mammalian chromosomes. Using a ZFN pair along with a donor plasmid to manipulate the outcomes of DNA repair, we introduced several discrete, targeted mutations into the fourth intron of the endogenous BAX gene in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Putative lariat branch points, the polypyrimidine tract, and the splice acceptor site were targeted. We recovered numerous otherwise isogenic clones carrying the intended mutations and analyzed the effect of each on BAX pre-mRNA splicing. Mutation of one of three possible branch points, the polypyrimidine tract, and the splice acceptor site all caused exclusion of exon five from BAX mRNA. Interestingly, these exon-skipping mutations allowed usage of cryptic splice acceptor sites within intron four. These data demonstrate that ZFN-mediated gene editing is a highly effective tool for dissection of pre-mRNA splicing regulatory sequences in their endogenous context.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(2):e16961. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reverse genetics in model organisms such as Drosophila melanogaster, Arabidopsis thaliana, zebrafish and rats, efficient genome engineering in human embryonic stem and induced pluripotent stem cells, targeted integration in crop plants, and HIV resistance in immune cells - this broad range of outcomes has resulted from the application of the same core technology: targeted genome cleavage by engineered, sequence-specific zinc finger nucleases followed by gene modification during subsequent repair. Such 'genome editing' is now established in human cells and a number of model organisms, thus opening the door to a range of new experimental and therapeutic possibilities.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Isogenic settings are routine in model organisms, yet remain elusive for genetic experiments on human cells. We describe the use of designed zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) for efficient transgenesis without drug selection into the PPP1R12C gene, a "safe harbor" locus known as AAVS1. ZFNs enable targeted transgenesis at a frequency of up to 15% following transient transfection of both transformed and primary human cells, including fibroblasts and hES cells. When added to this locus, transgenes such as expression cassettes for shRNAs, small-molecule-responsive cDNA expression cassettes, and reporter constructs, exhibit consistent expression and sustained function over 50 cell generations. By avoiding random integration and drug selection, this method allows bona fide isogenic settings for high-throughput functional genomics, proteomics, and regulatory DNA analysis in essentially any transformed human cell type and in primary cells.
Genome Research 08/2010; 20(8):1133-42. · 14.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We previously demonstrated high-frequency, targeted DNA addition mediated by the homology-directed DNA repair pathway. This method uses a zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN) to create a site-specific double-strand break (DSB) that facilitates copying of genetic information into the chromosome from an exogenous donor molecule. Such donors typically contain two approximately 750 bp regions of chromosomal sequence required for homology-directed DNA repair. Here, we demonstrate that easily-generated linear donors with extremely short (50 bp) homology regions drive transgene integration into 5-10% of chromosomes. Moreover, we measure the overhangs produced by ZFN cleavage and find that oligonucleotide donors with single-stranded 5' overhangs complementary to those made by ZFNs are efficiently ligated in vivo to the DSB. Greater than 10% of all chromosomes directly incorporate this exogenous DNA via a process that is dependent upon and guided by complementary 5' overhangs on the donor DNA. Finally, we extend this non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ)-based technique by directly inserting donor DNA comprising recombinase sites into large deletions created by the simultaneous action of two separate ZFN pairs. Up to 50% of deletions contained a donor insertion. Targeted DNA addition via NHEJ complements our homology-directed targeted integration approaches, adding versatility to the manipulation of mammalian genomes.
Nucleic Acids Research 08/2010; 38(15):e152. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The incorporation of histone H3 variants has been implicated in the epigenetic memory of cellular state. Using genome editing with zinc-finger nucleases to tag endogenous H3.3, we report genome-wide profiles of H3 variants in mammalian embryonic stem cells and neuronal precursor cells. Genome-wide patterns of H3.3 are dependent on amino acid sequence and change with cellular differentiation at developmentally regulated loci. The H3.3 chaperone Hira is required for H3.3 enrichment at active and repressed genes. Strikingly, Hira is not essential for localization of H3.3 at telomeres and many transcription factor binding sites. Immunoaffinity purification and mass spectrometry reveal that the proteins Atrx and Daxx associate with H3.3 in a Hira-independent manner. Atrx is required for Hira-independent localization of H3.3 at telomeres and for the repression of telomeric RNA. Our data demonstrate that multiple and distinct factors are responsible for H3.3 localization at specific genomic locations in mammalian cells.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Realizing the full potential of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) requires efficient methods for genetic modification. However, techniques to generate cell type-specific lineage reporters, as well as reliable tools to disrupt, repair or overexpress genes by gene targeting, are inefficient at best and thus are not routinely used. Here we report the highly efficient targeting of three genes in human pluripotent cells using zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN)-mediated genome editing. First, using ZFNs specific for the OCT4 (POU5F1) locus, we generated OCT4-eGFP reporter cells to monitor the pluripotent state of hESCs. Second, we inserted a transgene into the AAVS1 locus to generate a robust drug-inducible overexpression system in hESCs. Finally, we targeted the PITX3 gene, demonstrating that ZFNs can be used to generate reporter cells by targeting non-expressed genes in hESCs and hiPSCs.