Qiu, L, Wang, H, Xia, X, Zhou, H and Xu, Z. A construct with fluorescent indicators for conditional expression of miRNA. BMC Biotechnol 8: 77

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 364 Plantation St, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.
BMC Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 2.03). 11/2008; 8(1):77. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6750-8-77
Source: PubMed


Transgenic RNAi holds promise as a simple, low-cost, and fast method for reverse genetics in mammals. It may be particularly useful for producing animal models for hypomorphic gene function. Inducible RNAi that permits spatially and temporally controllable gene silencing in vivo will enhance the power of transgenic RNAi approach. Furthermore, because microRNA (miRNA) targeting specific genes can be expressed simultaneously with protein coding genes, incorporation of fluorescent marker proteins can simplify the screening and analysis of transgenic RNAi animals.
We sought to optimally express a miRNA simultaneously with a fluorescent marker. We compared two construct designs. One expressed a red fluorescent protein (RFP) and a miRNA placed in its 3' untranslated region (UTR). The other expressed the same RFP and miRNA, but the precursor miRNA (pre-miRNA) coding sequence was placed in an intron that was inserted into the 3'-UTR. We found that the two constructs expressed comparable levels of miRNA. However, the intron-containing construct expressed a significantly higher level of RFP than the intron-less construct. Further experiments indicate that the 3'-UTR intron enhances RFP expression by its intrinsic gene-expression-enhancing activity and by eliminating the inhibitory effect of the pre-miRNA on the expression of RFP. Based on these findings, we incorporated the intron-embedded pre-miRNA design into a conditional expression construct that employed the Cre-loxP system. This construct initially expressed EGFP gene, which was flanked by loxP sites. After exposure to Cre recombinase, the transgene stopped EGFP expression and began expression of RFP and a miRNA, which silenced the expression of specific cellular genes.
We have designed and tested a conditional miRNA-expression construct and showed that this construct expresses both the marker genes strongly and can silence the target gene efficiently upon Cre-mediated induction of the miRNA expression. This construct can be used to increase the efficiency of making cell lines or transgenic animals that stably express miRNA targeting specific genes.

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    • "The 3XFLAG tag was added to differentiate the transgene from the mouse endogenous VAPB gene. We used a previously described pCAG-EGFP/RFP-miRNAint plasmid [49] to construct the transgenic constructs (Figure 1A). The EGFP encoding fragment in the plasmid was cut out with Cla1 digestion, blunted by Klenow, and then cut by Sph1. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background A proline-to-serine substitution at position-56 (P56S) of vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein B (VAPB) causes a form of dominantly inherited motor neuron disease (MND), including typical and atypical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and a mild late-onset spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). VAPB is an integral endoplasmic reticulum (ER) protein and has been implicated in various cellular processes, including ER stress, the unfolded protein response (UPR) and Ca2+ homeostasis. However, it is unclear how the P56S mutation leads to neurodegeneration and muscle atrophy in patients. The formation of abnormal VAPB-positive inclusions by mutant VAPB suggests a possible toxic gain of function as an underlying mechanism. Furthermore, the amount of VAPB protein is reported to be reduced in sporadic ALS patients and mutant SOD1G93A mice, leading to the hypothesis that wild type VAPB plays a role in the pathogenesis of ALS without VAPB mutations. Results To investigate the pathogenic mechanism in vivo, we generated human wild type (wtVAPB) and mutant VAPB (muVAPB) transgenic mice that expressed the transgenes broadly in the CNS. We observed robust VAPB-positive aggregates in the spinal cord of muVAPB transgenic mice. However, we failed to find an impairment of motor function and motor neuron degeneration. We also did not detect any change in the endogenous VAPB level or evidence for induction of the unfolded protein response (UPR) and coaggregation of VAPA with muVAPB. Furthermore, we crossed these VAPB transgenic mice with mice that express mutant SOD1G93A and develop motor neuron degeneration. Overexpression of neither wtVAPB nor muVAPB modulated the protein aggregation and disease progression in the SOD1G93A mice. Conclusion Overexpression of VAPBP56S mutant to approximately two-fold of the endogenous VAPB in mouse spinal cord produced abundant VAPB aggregates but was not sufficient to cause motor dysfunction or motor neuron degeneration. Furthermore, overexpression of either muVAPB or wtVAPB does not modulate the course of ALS in SOD1G93A mice. These results suggest that changes in wild type VAPB do not play a significant role in ALS cases that are not caused by VAPB mutations. Furthermore, these results suggest that muVAPB aggregates are innocuous and do not cause motor neuron degeneration by a gain-of-toxicity, and therefore, a loss of function may be the underlying mechanism.
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    • "The stability of the succinylphosphonates in water is unknown so long term inhibition was modeled with adeno-virus's. To knockdown E1k gene expression, eight shRNA targeting E1k were designed, constructed and tested (Qiu et al, 2008). The shRNA with the strongest knockdown activity (shR-E1-1) was constructed into an adenoviral vector under the control of U6 promoter (DUAL-U6-EGFP). "
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the molecular sequence of events that culminate in multiple abnormalities in brains from patients that died with Alzheimer's disease (AD) will help to reveal the mechanisms of the disease and identify upstream events as therapeutic targets. The activity of the mitochondrial α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (KGDHC) in homogenates from autopsy brain declines with AD. Experimental reductions in KGDHC in mouse models of AD promote plaque and tangle formation, the hallmark pathologies of AD. We hypothesize that deficits in KGDHC also lead to the abnormalities in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) calcium stores and cytosolic calcium following K(+) depolarization that occurs in cells from AD patients and transgenic models of AD. The activity of the mitochondrial enzyme KGDHC was diminished acutely (minutes), long-term (days), or chronically (weeks). Acute inhibition of KGDHC produced effects on calcium opposite to those in AD, while the chronic or long-term inhibition of KGDHC mimicked the AD-related changes in calcium. Divergent changes in proteins released from the mitochondria that affect endoplasmic reticulum calcium channels may underlie the selective cellular consequences of acute versus longer term inhibition of KGDHC. The results suggest that the mitochondrial abnormalities in AD can be upstream of those in calcium.
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    • "DiI labeling and fluorescent immunohistochemistry). Previous studies have shown that a miRNA precursor located in the 3′-UTR only moderately inhibits expression of a linked, protein-coding ORF (due to processing of the primary transcript by Drosha) (16,17). Consistent with these findings, we had no problems detecting fluorescence in any of our experiments. "
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    ABSTRACT: Many genes have several, sometimes divergent functions during development. Therefore, timing of gene knockdown for functional analysis during development has to be done with precise temporal control, as loss of a gene's function at early stages prevents its analysis later in development. RNAi, in combination with the accessibility of chicken embryos, is an effective approach for temporally controlled analysis of gene function during neural development. Here, we describe novel plasmid vectors that contain cell type-specific promoters/enhancers to drive the expression of a fluorescent marker, followed directly by a miR30-RNAi transcript for gene silencing. These vectors allow for direct tracing of cells experiencing gene silencing by the bright fluorescence. The level of knockdown is sufficient to reproduce the expected pathfinding defects upon perturbation of genes with known axon guidance functions. Mixing different vectors prior to electroporation enables the simultaneous knockdown of multiple genes in independent regions of the spinal cord. This permits complex cellular and molecular interactions to be examined during development, in a fast and precise manner. The advancements of the in ovo RNAi technique that we describe will not only markedly enhance functional gene analysis in the chicken, but also could be adapted to other organisms in developmental studies.
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