Jonathan S Weissman

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia, United States

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Publications (174)3478.09 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) is a stress-inducible molecular chaperone that is required for cancer development at several steps. Targeting the active site of Hsp70 has proven relatively challenging, driving interest in alternative approaches. Hsp70 collaborates with the Bcl2-associated athanogene 3 (Bag3) to promote cell survival through multiple pathways, including FoxM1. Therefore, inhibitors of the Hsp70-Bag3 protein-protein interaction (PPI) may provide a non-canonical way to target this chaperone. We report that JG-98, an allosteric inhibitor of this PPI, indeed has anti-proliferative activity (EC50 values between 0.3 and 4 µM) across cancer cell lines from multiple origins. JG-98 destabilized FoxM1 and relieved suppression of downstream effectors, including p21 and p27. Based on these findings, JG-98 was evaluated in mice for pharmacokinetics, tolerability and activity in two xenograft models. The results suggested that the Hsp70-Bag3 interaction may be a promising, new target for anti-cancer therapy. Copyright © 2015, American Association for Cancer Research.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 01/2015; · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Eukaryotic cells execute complex transcriptional programs in which specific loci throughout the genome are regulated in distinct ways by targeted regulatory assemblies. We have applied this principle to generate synthetic CRISPR-based transcriptional programs in yeast and human cells. By extending guide RNAs to include effector protein recruitment sites, we construct modular scaffold RNAs that encode both target locus and regulatory action. Sets of scaffold RNAs can be used to generate synthetic multigene transcriptional programs in which some genes are activated and others are repressed. We apply this approach to flexibly redirect flux through a complex branched metabolic pathway in yeast. Moreover, these programs can be executed by inducing expression of the dCas9 protein, which acts as a single master regulatory control point. CRISPR-associated RNA scaffolds provide a powerful way to construct synthetic gene expression programs for a wide range of applications, including rewiring cell fates or engineering metabolic pathways. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell. 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Ribosome profiling data report on the distribution of translating ribosomes, at steady-state, with codon-level resolution. We present a robust method to extract codon translation rates and protein synthesis rates from these data, and identify causal features associated with elongation and translation efficiency in physiological conditions in yeast. We show that neither elongation rate nor translational efficiency is improved by experimental manipulation of the abundance or body sequence of the rare AGG tRNA. Deletion of three of the four copies of the heavily used ACA tRNA shows a modest efficiency decrease that could be explained by other rate-reducing signals at gene start. This suggests that correlation between codon bias and efficiency arises as selection for codons to utilize translation machinery efficiently in highly translated genes. We also show a correlation between efficiency and RNA structure calculated both computationally and from recent structure probing data, as well as the Kozak initiation motif, which may comprise a mechanism to regulate initiation.
    Molecular Systems Biology 12/2014; 10(12). · 14.10 Impact Factor
  • Calvin H Jan, Christopher C Williams, Jonathan S Weissman
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    ABSTRACT: Localized protein synthesis is a fundamental mechanism for creating distinct subcellular environments. Here we developed a generalizable proximity-specific ribosome profiling strategy that enables global analysis of translation in defined subcellular locations. We applied this approach to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in yeast and mammals. We observed the large majority of secretory proteins to be cotranslationally translocated, including substrates capable of posttranslational insertion in vitro. Distinct translocon complexes engaged nascent chains at different points during synthesis. Whereas most proteins engaged the ER immediately after or even before signal sequence (SS) emergence, a class of Sec66-dependent proteins entered with a looped SS conformation. Finally, we observed rapid ribosome exchange into the cytosol after translation termination. These data provide insights into how distinct translocation mechanisms act in concert to promote efficient cotranslational recruitment.
    Science 11/2014; 346(6210):1257521. · 31.48 Impact Factor
  • Christopher C Williams, Calvin H Jan, Jonathan S Weissman
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    ABSTRACT: Nearly all mitochondrial proteins are nuclear-encoded and are targeted to their mitochondrial destination from the cytosol. Here, we used proximity-specific ribosome profiling to comprehensively measure translation at the mitochondrial surface in yeast. Most inner-membrane proteins were cotranslationally targeted to mitochondria, reminiscent of proteins entering the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Comparison between mitochondrial and ER localization demonstrated that the vast majority of proteins were targeted to a specific organelle. A prominent exception was the fumarate reductase Osm1, known to reside in mitochondria. We identified a conserved ER isoform of Osm1, which contributes to the oxidative protein-folding capacity of the organelle. This dual localization was enabled by alternative translation initiation sites encoding distinct targeting signals. These findings highlight the exquisite in vivo specificity of organellar targeting mechanisms.
    Science 11/2014; 346(6210):748-51. · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Macrolides are clinically important antibiotics thought to inhibit bacterial growth by impeding the passage of newly synthesized polypeptides through the nascent peptide exit tunnel of the bacterial ribosome. Recent data challenged this view by showing that macrolide antibiotics can differentially affect synthesis of individual proteins. To understand the general mechanism of macrolide action, we used genome-wide ribosome profiling and analyzed the redistribution of ribosomes translating highly expressed genes in bacterial cells treated with high concentrations of macrolide antibiotics. The metagene analysis indicated that inhibition of early rounds of translation, which would be characteristic of the conventional view of macrolide action, occurs only at a limited number of genes. Translation of most genes proceeds past the 5'-proximal codons and can be arrested at more distal codons when the ribosome encounters specific short sequence motifs. The problematic sequence motifs are confined to the nascent peptide residues in the peptidyl transferase center but not to the peptide segment that contacts the antibiotic molecule in the exit tunnel. Therefore, it appears that the general mode of macrolide action involves selective inhibition of peptide bond formation between specific combinations of donor and acceptor substrates. Additional factors operating in the living cell but not functioning during in vitro protein synthesis may modulate site-specific action of macrolide antibiotics.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While the catalog of mammalian transcripts and their expression levels in different cell types and disease states is rapidly expanding, our understanding of transcript function lags behind. We present a robust technology enabling systematic investigation of the cellular consequences of repressing or inducing individual transcripts. We identify rules for specific targeting of transcriptional repressors (CRISPRi), typically achieving 90%-99% knockdown with minimal off-target effects, and activators (CRISPRa) to endogenous genes via endonuclease-deficient Cas9. Together they enable modulation of gene expression over a ∼1,000-fold range. Using these rules, we construct genome-scale CRISPRi and CRISPRa libraries, each of which we validate with two pooled screens. Growth-based screens identify essential genes, tumor suppressors, and regulators of differentiation. Screens for sensitivity to a cholera-diphtheria toxin provide broad insights into the mechanisms of pathogen entry, retrotranslocation and toxicity. Our results establish CRISPRi and CRISPRa as powerful tools that provide rich and complementary information for mapping complex pathways.
    Cell. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Signals in many biological processes can be amplified by recruiting multiple copies of regulatory proteins to a site of action. Harnessing this principle, we have developed a protein scaffold, a repeating peptide array termed SunTag, which can recruit multiple copies of an antibody-fusion protein. We show that the SunTag can recruit up to 24 copies of GFP, thereby enabling long-term imaging of single protein molecules in living cells. We also use the SunTag to create a potent synthetic transcription factor by recruiting multiple copies of a transcriptional activation domain to a nuclease-deficient CRISPR/Cas9 protein and demonstrate strong activation of endogenous gene expression and re-engineered cell behavior with this system. Thus, the SunTag provides a versatile platform for multimerizing proteins on a target protein scaffold and is likely to have many applications in imaging and controlling biological outputs.
    Cell. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We previously discovered a small-molecule inducer of cell death, named 1541, that noncovalently self-assembles into chemical fibrils ('chemi-fibrils') and activates procaspase-3 in vitro. We report here that 1541-induced cell death is caused by the fibrillar rather than the soluble form of the drug. A short hairpin RNA screen reveals that knockdown of genes involved in endocytosis, vesicle trafficking and lysosomal acidification causes partial 1541 resistance. We confirm the role of these pathways using pharmacological inhibitors. Microscopy shows that the fluorescent chemi-fibrils accumulate in punctae inside cells that partially colocalize with lysosomes. Notably, the chemi-fibrils bind and induce liposome leakage in vitro, suggesting they may do the same in cells. The chemi-fibrils induce extensive proteolysis including caspase substrates, yet modulatory profiling reveals that chemi-fibrils form a distinct class from existing inducers of cell death. The chemi-fibrils share similarities with proteinaceous fibrils and may provide insight into their mechanism of cellular toxicity.
    Nature Chemical Biology 09/2014; · 12.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ribosome profiling suggests that ribosomes occupy many regions of the transcriptome thought to be noncoding, including 5' UTRs and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). Apparent ribosome footprints outside of protein-coding regions raise the possibility of artifacts unrelated to translation, particularly when they occupy multiple, overlapping open reading frames (ORFs). Here, we show hallmarks of translation in these footprints: copurification with the large ribosomal subunit, response to drugs targeting elongation, trinucleotide periodicity, and initiation at early AUGs. We develop a metric for distinguishing between 80S footprints and nonribosomal sources using footprint size distributions, which validates the vast majority of footprints outside of coding regions. We present evidence for polypeptide production beyond annotated genes, including the induction of immune responses following human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection. Translation is pervasive on cytosolic transcripts outside of conserved reading frames, and direct detection of this expanded universe of translated products enables efforts at understanding how cells manage and exploit its consequences.
    Cell Reports 08/2014; 8(5). · 7.21 Impact Factor
  • Martin Kampmann, Michael C Bassik, Jonathan S Weissman
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    ABSTRACT: Systematic genetic interaction maps in microorganisms are powerful tools for identifying functional relationships between genes and for defining the function of uncharacterized genes. We have recently implemented this strategy in mammalian cells as a two-stage approach. First, genes of interest are robustly identified in a pooled genome-wide screen using complex shRNA libraries. Second, phenotypes for all pairwise combinations of 'hit' genes are measured in a double-shRNA screen and used to construct a genetic interaction map. Our protocol allows for rapid pooled screening under various conditions without a requirement for robotics, in contrast to arrayed approaches. Each round of screening can be implemented in ∼2 weeks, with additional time for analysis and generation of reagents. We discuss considerations for screen design, and we present complete experimental procedures, as well as a full computational analysis suite for the identification of hits in pooled screens and generation of genetic interaction maps. Although the protocol outlined here was developed for our original shRNA-based approach, it can be applied more generally, including to CRISPR-based approaches.
    Nature Protocols 08/2014; 9(8):1825-1847. · 7.78 Impact Factor
  • Melanie H Smith, Edwin H Rodriguez, Jonathan S Weissman
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    ABSTRACT: A substantial fraction of nascent proteins delivered into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) never reach their native conformations. Eukaryotes use a series of complementary pathways to efficiently recognize and dispose of these terminally misfolded proteins. In this process, collectively termed ER-associated degradation (ERAD), misfolded proteins are retrotranslocated to the cytosol, polyubiquitinated and degraded by the proteasome. While there has been great progress in identifying ERAD components, how these factors accurately identify substrates remains poorly understood. The targeting of misfolded glycoproteins in the ER lumen for ERAD requires the lectin Yos9, which recognizes the glycan species found on terminally misfolded proteins. In a role that remains poorly characterized, Yos9 also binds the protein component of ERAD substrates. Here, we identified a 45kDa domain of Yos9 comprising residues 22-421 that is proteolytically stable, highly structured and able to fully support ERAD in vivo. In vitro binding studies show that Yos922-421 exhibits sequence specific recognition of linear peptides from the ERAD substrate, CPY*, and binds a model unfolded peptide, ΔEspP, and protein, Δ131Δ, in solution. Binding of Yos9 to these substrates results in their cooperative aggregation. While the physiological consequences of this substrate-induced aggregation remain to be seen, it has the potential to play a role in the regulation of ERAD.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2014; · 4.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Caulobacter crescentus undergoes an asymmetric cell division controlled by a genetic circuit that cycles in space and time. We provide a universal strategy for defining the coding potential of bacterial genomes by applying ribosome profiling, RNA-seq, global 5'-RACE, and liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS) data to the 4-megabase C. crescentus genome. We mapped transcript units at single base-pair resolution using RNA-seq together with global 5'-RACE. Additionally, using ribosome profiling and LC-MS, we mapped translation start sites and coding regions with near complete coverage. We found most start codons lacked corresponding Shine-Dalgarno sites although ribosomes were observed to pause at internal Shine-Dalgarno sites within the coding DNA sequence (CDS). These data suggest a more prevalent use of the Shine-Dalgarno sequence for ribosome pausing rather than translation initiation in C. crescentus. Overall 19% of the transcribed and translated genomic elements were newly identified or significantly improved by this approach, providing a valuable genomic resource to elucidate the complete C. crescentus genetic circuitry that controls asymmetric cell division.
    PLoS Genetics 07/2014; 10(7):e1004463. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Misfolded ER proteins are retrotranslocated into the cytosol for degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The human cytomegalovirus protein US11 exploits this ER-associated protein degradation (ERAD) pathway to downregulate HLA class I molecules in virus-infected cells, thereby evading elimination by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. US11-mediated degradation of HLA class I has been instrumental in the identification of key components of mammalian ERAD, including Derlin-1, p97, VIMP and SEL1L. Despite this, the process governing retrotranslocation of the substrate is still poorly understood. Here using a high-coverage genome-wide shRNA library, we identify the uncharacterized protein TMEM129 and the ubiquitin-conjugating E2 enzyme UBE2J2 to be essential for US11-mediated HLA class I downregulation. TMEM129 is an unconventional C4C4-type RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase that resides within a complex containing various other ERAD components, including Derlin-1, Derlin-2, VIMP and p97, indicating that TMEM129 is an integral part of the ER-resident dislocation complex mediating US11-induced HLA class I degradation.
    Nature Communications 05/2014; 5:3832. · 10.74 Impact Factor
  • Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 05/2014; 12(5_Supplement):A08-A08. · 6.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcription by RNA polymerase (RNAP) is interrupted by pauses that play diverse regulatory roles. Although individual pauses have been studied in vitro, the determinants of pauses in vivo and their distribution throughout the bacterial genome remain unknown. Using nascent transcript sequencing we identify a 16-nt consensus pause sequence in E. coli that accounts for known regulatory pause sites as well as ~20,000 new in vivo pause sites. In vitro single-molecule and ensemble analyses demonstrate that these pauses result from RNAP/nucleic-acid interactions that inhibit next-nucleotide addition. The consensus sequence also leads to pausing by RNAPs from diverse lineages and is enriched at translation start sites in both E. coli and B. subtilis. Our results thus reveal a conserved mechanism unifying known and newly identified pause events.
    Science 05/2014; · 31.48 Impact Factor
  • Gene-Wei Li, David Burkhardt, Carol Gross, Jonathan S Weissman
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    ABSTRACT: Quantitative views of cellular functions require precise measures of rates of biomolecule production, especially proteins-the direct effectors of biological processes. Here, we present a genome-wide approach, based on ribosome profiling, for measuring absolute protein synthesis rates. The resultant E. coli data set transforms our understanding of the extent to which protein synthesis is precisely controlled to optimize function and efficiency. Members of multiprotein complexes are made in precise proportion to their stoichiometry, whereas components of functional modules are produced differentially according to their hierarchical role. Estimates of absolute protein abundance also reveal principles for optimizing design. These include how the level of different types of transcription factors is optimized for rapid response and how a metabolic pathway (methionine biosynthesis) balances production cost with activity requirements. Our studies reveal how general principles, important both for understanding natural systems and for synthesizing new ones, emerge from quantitative analyses of protein synthesis.
    Cell 04/2014; 157(3):624-35. · 31.96 Impact Factor
  • Dale Muzzey, Gavin Sherlock, Jonathan S Weissman
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    ABSTRACT: Though sequence differences between alleles are often limited to a few polymorphisms, these differences can cause large and widespread allelic variation at the expression level. Such allele-specific expression (ASE) has been extensively explored at the level of transcription but not translation. Here we measured ASE in the diploid yeast Candida albicans at both the transcriptional and translational levels using RNA-seq and ribosome profiling, respectively. Since C. albicans is an obligate diploid, our analysis isolates ASE arising from cis elements in a natural, non-hybrid organism, where allelic effects reflect evolutionary forces. Importantly, we find that ASE arising from translation is of a similar magnitude as transcriptional ASE, both in terms of the number of genes affected and the magnitude of the bias. We further observe coordination between ASE at the levels of transcription and translation for single genes. Specifically, reinforcing relationships - where transcription and translation favor the same allele - are more frequent than expected by chance, consistent with selective pressure tuning ASE at multiple regulatory steps. Finally, we parameterize alleles based on a range of properties and find that SNP location and predicted mRNA-structure stability are associated with translational ASE in cis. Since this analysis probes more than 4,000 allelic pairs spanning a broad range of variations, our data provide a genome-wide view into the relative impacts of cis elements that regulate translation.
    Genome Research 04/2014; · 13.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mitochondrial inner membrane contains a large protein complex that functions in inner membrane organization and formation of membrane contact sites. The complex was variably named the mitochondrial contact site complex, mitochondrial inner membrane organizing system, mitochondrial organizing structure, or Mitofilin/Fcj1 complex. To facilitate future studies, we propose to unify the nomenclature and term the complex "mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system" and its subunits Mic10 to Mic60.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 03/2014; 204(7):1083-6. · 9.69 Impact Factor
  • Suzanne Wolff, Jonathan S Weissman, Andrew Dillin
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    ABSTRACT: Proteins are notorious for their unpleasant behavior-continually at risk of misfolding, collecting damage, aggregating, and causing toxicity and disease. To counter these challenges, cells have evolved elaborate chaperone and quality control networks that can resolve damage at the level of the protein, organelle, cell, or tissue. On the smallest scale, the integrity of individual proteins is monitored during their synthesis. On a larger scale, cells use compartmentalized defenses and networks of communication, capable sometimes of signaling between cells, to respond to changes in the proteome's health. Together, these layered defenses help protect cells from damaged proteins.
    Cell 03/2014; 157(1):52-64. · 31.96 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

26k Citations
3,478.09 Total Impact Points

Top Journals


  • 1992–2014
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Biology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2013
    • CSU Mentor
      Long Beach, California, United States
  • 1998–2013
    • University of California, San Francisco
      • Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
      San Francisco, California, United States
  • 2012
    • University of Leeds
      • Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology (ACSMB)
      Leeds, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 2009–2012
    • University of Utah
      • • Department of Biochemistry
      • • Department of Biology
      Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
    • The California Institute for Biomedical Research
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2005–2012
    • Harvard Medical School
      • • Department of Genetics
      • • Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2011
    • Villanova University
      • Department of Biology
      Norristown, Pennsylvania, United States
  • 2008–2010
    • Stanford University
      • • Department of Computer Science
      • • Department of Chemical and Systems Biology
      Stanford, CA, United States
  • 1996
    • Yale-New Haven Hospital
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 1994
    • University of Wisconsin, Madison
      • Department of Biomolecular Chemistry
      Madison, MS, United States
  • 1991–1993
    • Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States