[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examine the use of high-throughput sequencing on binding sites recovered using a bacterial one-hybrid (B1H) system and find that improved models of transcription factor (TF) binding specificity can be obtained compared to standard methods of sequencing a small subset of the selected clones. We can obtain even more accurate binding models using a modified version of B1H selection method with constrained variation (CV-B1H). However, achieving these improved models using CV-B1H data required the development of a new method of analysis--GRaMS (Growth Rate Modeling of Specificity)--that estimates bacterial growth rates as a function of the quality of the recognition sequence. We benchmark these different methods of motif discovery using Zif268, a well-characterized C(2)H(2) zinc-finger TF on both a 28 bp randomized library for the standard B1H method and on 6 bp randomized library for the CV-B1H method for which 45 different experimental conditions were tested: five time points and three different IPTG and 3-AT concentrations. We find that GRaMS analysis is robust to the different experimental parameters whereas other analysis methods give widely varying results depending on the conditions of the experiment. Finally, we demonstrate that the CV-B1H assay can be performed in liquid media, which produces recognition models that are similar in quality to sequences recovered from selection on solid media.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · Nucleic Acids Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutations in the unc-82 locus of Caenorhabditis elegans were previously identified by screening for disrupted muscle cytoskeleton in otherwise apparently normal mutagenized animals. Here we demonstrate that the locus encodes a serine/threonine kinase orthologous to human ARK5/SNARK (NUAK1/NUAK2) and related to the PAR-1 and SNF1/AMP-Activated kinase (AMPK) families. The predicted 1600-amino-acid polypeptide contains an N-terminal catalytic domain and noncomplex repetitive sequence in the remainder of the molecule. Phenotypic analyses indicate that unc-82 is required for maintaining the organization of myosin filaments and internal components of the M-line during cell-shape changes. Mutants exhibit normal patterning of cytoskeletal elements during early embryogenesis. Defects in localization of thick filament and M-line components arise during embryonic elongation and become progressively more severe as development proceeds. The phenotype is independent of contractile activity, consistent with unc-82 mutations preventing proper cytoskeletal reorganization during growth, rather than undermining structural integrity of the M-line. This is the first report establishing a role for the UNC-82/ARK5/SNARK kinases in normal development. We propose that activation of UNC-82 kinase during cell elongation regulates thick filament attachment or growth, perhaps through phosphorylation of myosin and paramyosin. We speculate that regulation of myosin is an ancestral characteristic of kinases in this region of the kinome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcriptional regulation is the major regulatory mechanism that controls the spatial and temporal expression of genes during development. This is carried out by transcription factors (TFs), which recognize and bind to their cognate binding sites. Recent studies suggest a modular organization of TF-binding sites, in which clusters of transcription-factor binding sites cooperate in the regulation of downstream gene expression. In this study, we report our computational identification and experimental verification of muscle-specific cis-regulatory modules in Caenorhabditis elegans. We first identified a set of motifs that are correlated with muscle-specific gene expression. We then predicted muscle-specific regulatory modules based on clusters of those motifs with characteristics similar to a collection of well-studied modules in other species. The method correctly identifies 88% of the experimentally characterized modules with a positive predictive value of at least 65%. The prediction accuracy of muscle-specific expression on an independent test set is highly significant (P<0.0001). We performed in vivo experimental tests of 12 predicted modules, and 10 of those drive muscle-specific gene expression. These results suggest that our method is highly accurate in identifying functional sequences important for muscle-specific gene expression and is a valuable tool for guiding experimental designs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs) are required for mammalian skeletal myogenesis. In contrast, bodywall muscle is readily detectable in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos lacking activity of the lone MRF ortholog HLH-1, indicating that additional myogenic factors must function in the nematode. We find that two additional C. elegans proteins, UNC-120/SRF and HND-1/HAND, can convert naïve blastomeres to muscle when overproduced ectopically in the embryo. In addition, we have used genetic null mutants to demonstrate that both of these factors act in concert with HLH-1 to regulate myogenesis. Loss of all three factors results in embryos that lack detectable bodywall muscle differentiation, identifying this trio as a set that is both necessary and sufficient for bodywall myogenesis in C. elegans. In mammals, SRF and HAND play prominent roles in regulating smooth and cardiac muscle development. That C. elegans bodywall muscle development is dependent on transcription factors that are associated with all three types of mammalian muscle supports a theory that all animal muscle types are derived from a common ancestral contractile cell type.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2007 · Genes & Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Investigation of Caenorhabditis elegans act-5 gene function revealed that intestinal microvillus formation requires a specific actin isoform. ACT-5 is the most diverged of the five C. elegans actins, sharing only 93% identity with the other four. Green fluorescent protein reporter and immunofluorescence analysis indicated that act-5 gene expression is limited to microvillus-containing cells within the intestine and excretory systems and that ACT-5 is apically localized within intestinal cells. Animals heterozygous for a dominant act-5 mutation looked clear and thin and grew slowly. Animals homozygous for either the dominant act-5 mutation, or a recessive loss of function mutant, exhibited normal morphology and intestinal cell polarity, but died during the first larval stage. Ultrastructural analysis revealed a complete loss of intestinal microvilli in homozygous act-5 mutants. Forced expression of ACT-1 under the control of the act-5 promoter did not rescue the lethality of the act-5 mutant. Together with immuno-electron microscopy experiments that indicated ACT-5 is enriched within microvilli themselves, these results suggest a microvillus-specific function for act-5, and further, they raise the possibility that specific actins may be specialized for building microvilli and related structures.
Preview · Article · Aug 2005 · Molecular Biology of the Cell
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the identification of three new transcription regulatory elements that are associated with muscle gene expression in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Starting from a subset of well-characterized nematode muscle genes, we identified conserved DNA motifs in the promoter regions using computational DNA pattern-recognition algorithms. These were considered to be putative muscle transcription regulatory motifs. Using the green-fluorescent protein (GFP) as a reporter, experiments were done to determine the biological activity of these motifs in driving muscle gene expression. Prediction accuracy of muscle expression based on the presence of these three motifs was encouraging; nine of 10 previously uncharacterized genes that were predicted to have muscle expression were shown to be expressed either specifically or selectively in the muscle tissues, whereas only one of the nine that scored low for these motifs expressed in muscle. Knockouts of putative regulatory elements in the promoter of the mlc-2 and unc-89 genes show that they significantly contribute to muscle expression and act in a synergistic manner. We find that these DNA motifs are also present in the muscle promoters of C. briggsae, indicating that they are functionally conserved in the nematodes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Locomotion in Caenorhabditis elegans requires force transmission through a network of proteins linking the skeletal muscle, via an intervening basal lamina and epidermis (hypodermis), to the cuticle. Mutations in mua-6 result in hypodermal rupture, muscle detachment from the bodywall, and progressive paralysis. It is shown that mua-6 encodes the cytoplasmic intermediate filament (cIF) A2 protein and that a MUA-6/IFA-2::GFP fusion protein that rescues the presumptive mua-6 null allele localizes to hypodermal hemidesmosomes. This result is consistent with what is known about the function of cIFs in vertebrates. Although MUA-6/IFA-2 is expressed embryonically, and plays an essential postembryonic role in tissue integrity, it is not required for embryonic development of muscle-cuticle linkages nor for the localization of other cIFs or hemidesmosome-associated proteins in the embryo. Finally, the molecular lesion in the mua-6(rh85) allele suggests that the head domain of the MUA-6/IFA-2 is dispensable for its function.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2003 · Developmental Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the identification of several putative muscle-specific regulatory elements, and genes which are expressed preferentially in the muscle of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We used computational pattern finding methods to identify cis-regulatory motifs from promoter regions of a set of genes known to express preferentially in muscle; each motif describes the potential binding sites for an unknown regulatory factor. The significance and specificity of the identified motifs were evaluated using several different control sequence sets. Using the motifs, we searched the entire C. elegans genome for genes whose promoter regions have a high probability of being bound by the putative regulatory factors. Genes that met this criterion and were not included in our initial set were predicted to be good candidates for muscle expression. Some of these candidates are additional, known muscle expressed genes and several others are shown here to be preferentially expressed in muscle cells by using GFP (green fluorescent protein) constructs. The methods described here can be used to predict the spatial expression pattern of many uncharacterized genes.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2002 · Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction Establishing where and when a gene is expressed and understanding the underlying regulatory network which guides its expression are critical in understanding gene function in a multicellular organism. The transcription regulatory apparatus which directs temporo-spatial expression of genes is encoded in the DNA, in the form of organized arrays of transcription factor (TF) binding 1,2 . These cis-regulatory sites are recognized sequence-specifically by cognate TFs which control and guide the expression pattern of genes. We are interested in identifying muscle-specific regulatory elements, and genes expressed in muscle as tools to study muscle development. Out of the thousands of genes which express in a particular tissue, the most interesting genes to study for understanding its development, differentiation, function and structure, are the ones which are preferentially expressed in that tissue. Preferential expression can be either selective (expression in a subset of tis
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In C. elegans, assembly of hypodermal hemidesmosome-like structures called fibrous organelles is temporally and spatially coordinated with the assembly of the muscle contractile apparatus, suggesting that signals are exchanged between these cell types to position fibrous organelles correctly. Myotactin, a protein recognized by monoclonal antibody MH46, is a candidate for such a signaling molecule. The antigen, although expressed by hypodermis, first reflects the pattern of muscle elements and only later reflects the pattern of fibrous organelles. Confocal microscopy shows that in adult worms myotactin and fibrous organelles show coincident localization. Further, cell ablation studies show the bodywall muscle cells are necessary for normal myotactin distribution. To investigate myotactin's role in muscle-hypodermal signaling, we characterized the myotactin locus molecularly and genetically. Myotactin is a novel transmembrane protein of approximately 500 kd. The extracellular domain contains at least 32 fibronectin type III repeats and the cytoplasmic domain contains unique sequence. In mutants lacking myotactin, muscle cells detach when embryonic muscle contraction begins. Later in development, fibrous organelles become delocalized and are not restricted to regions of the hypodermis previously contacted by muscle. These results suggest myotactin helps maintain the association between the muscle contractile apparatus and hypodermal fibrous organelles.
Preview · Article · Sep 1999 · The Journal of Cell Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Paramyosin from Caenorhabditis elegans was examined for post-translational modification by phosphorylation. Paramyosin purified from populations of mixed-age animals contained 0.7 to 2.0 moles of phosphate per mole of paramyosin. Paramyosin was also phosphorylated in vitro by an endogenous kinase in the particulate fraction. Analysis of the in vitro phosphorylated paramyosin in comparison with the DNA sequence of the unc-15 paramyosin gene of C. elegans shows that serine residues in the non-alpha-helical N-terminal region are the targets of the kinase. The N-terminal region of paramyosin has significant similarity to the non-helical C-terminal region of the two body wall myosin heavy chains of C. elegans. All three regions contain three copies of a Ser-*-Ser-*-Ala motif, the most likely target for phosphorylation in paramyosin, suggesting that these regions may be modified by the same kinase.
No preview · Article · Jun 1989 · Journal of Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The unc-22 gene of Caenorhabolitis elegans encodes a protein which is a component of the myosin-containing A-band of the worm's striated body-wall muscle. Among 51 revertants of a transposon-induced mutant, we have identified four which retain a barely detectable mutant phenotype. Molecular analysis shows that three of these have in-frame deletions of 1.0, 1.3 and 2.0 kilobases, whereas the fourth partial revertant and two other apparently complete revertants have small insertions. All these rearrangements involve coding sequence and, in the case of the deletions, result in polypeptides that are shorter than the wild-type protein. The region of the gene containing these rearrangements contains 10 copies of a motif recognized in other regions of the gene (our unpublished data). We suggest that one explanation for the minimally mutant phenotype associated with the deletions is that the size and the repeated nature of the unc-22 protein structure make it relatively tolerant of substitutions or deletions involving one or a small number of repeated motifs. These results could explain why in some human genetic diseases, such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, deletions can be associated with only mild forms of the disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The unc-22 gene is one of a set of genes identified using classical genetics that affect muscle structure and function in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Since cloning the unc-22 gene by transposon tagging, we have used conventional techniques combined with a set of Tc1 transposon insertion alleles to characterize the gene and its products. The gene extends over more than 20 kb of genomic sequence and produces a transcript of approximately 14 kb. A polyclonal antibody raised against an Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase-unc-22 fusion protein recognizes a polypeptide in nematode extracts that is between 500,000 and 600,000 daltons and labels the muscle A-band in indirect immunofluorescent microscopy. The Tc1-induced alleles have been used at every stage to verify these conclusions. The Tc1 insertions are spread over much of the region that contributes to the mature transcript; in most alleles, Tc1 sequences are incorporated into a composite unc-22-Tc1 transcript. The large protein is either absent or severely reduced in amounts in the mutants. In one case, a truncated polypeptide was also identified. The location of the protein in the A-band, along with earlier genetic data, suggests that the unc-22 product may interact with myosin to regulate its function.
Full-text · Article · Feb 1988 · Genes & Development