Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications jon-houseley

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Environmental change drives accelerated adaptation through stimulated copy number variation.
Hull RM, Cruz C, Jack CV, Houseley J

Copy number variation (CNV) is rife in eukaryotic genomes and has been implicated in many human disorders, particularly cancer, in which CNV promotes both tumorigenesis and chemotherapy resistance. CNVs are considered random mutations but often arise through replication defects; transcription can interfere with replication fork progression and stability, leading to increased mutation rates at highly transcribed loci. Here we investigate whether inducible promoters can stimulate CNV to yield reproducible, environment-specific genetic changes. We propose a general mechanism for environmentally-stimulated CNV and validate this mechanism for the emergence of copper resistance in budding yeast. By analysing a large cohort of individual cells, we directly demonstrate that CNV of the copper-resistance gene CUP1 is stimulated by environmental copper. CNV stimulation accelerates the formation of novel alleles conferring enhanced copper resistance, such that copper exposure actively drives adaptation to copper-rich environments. Furthermore, quantification of CNV in individual cells reveals remarkable allele selectivity in the rate at which specific environments stimulate CNV. We define the key mechanistic elements underlying this selectivity, demonstrating that CNV is regulated by both promoter activity and acetylation of histone H3 lysine 56 (H3K56ac) and that H3K56ac is required for CUP1 CNV and efficient copper adaptation. Stimulated CNV is not limited to high-copy CUP1 repeat arrays, as we find that H3K56ac also regulates CNV in 3 copy arrays of CUP1 or SFA1 genes. The impact of transcription on DNA damage is well understood, but our research reveals that this apparently problematic association forms a pathway by which mutations can be directed to particular loci in particular environments and furthermore that this mutagenic process can be regulated through histone acetylation. Stimulated CNV therefore represents an unanticipated and remarkably controllable pathway facilitating organismal adaptation to new environments.

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PLoS biology, 15, 1545-7885, e2001333, 2017

PMID: 28654659

Open Access

RNA binding by the histone methyltransferases Set1 and Set2.
Sayou C, Millán-Zambrano G, Santos-Rosa H, Petfalski E, Robson S, Houseley J, Kouzarides T, Tollervey D

Histone methylation at H3K4 and H3K36 is commonly associated with genes actively transcribed by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) and is catalyzed by yeast Set1 and Set2, respectively. Here we report that both methyltransferases can be UV-crosslinked to RNA in vivo. High-throughput sequencing of the bound RNAs revealed strong Set1 enrichment near the transcription start site, whereas Set2 was distributed along pre-mRNAs. A subset of transcripts showed notably high enrichment for Set1 or Set2 binding relative to RNAPII, suggesting functional post-transcriptional interactions. In particular, Set1 was strongly bound to the SET1 mRNA, Ty1 retrotransposons, and non-coding RNAs from the rDNA intergenic spacers, consistent with its previously reported silencing roles. Set1 lacking RRM2 showed reduced in vivo crosslinking to RNA and reduced chromatin occupancy. In addition, levels of H3K4 tri-methylation were decreased whereas di-methylation was increased. We conclude that RNA binding by Set1 contributes to both chromatin association and methyltransferase activity.

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Molecular and cellular biology, , 1098-5549, , 2017

PMID: 28483910

Open Access

Aging yeast gain a competitive advantage on non-optimal carbon sources.
Frenk S, Pizza G, Walker RV, Houseley J

Animals, plants and fungi undergo an aging process with remarkable physiological and molecular similarities, suggesting that aging has long been a fact of life for eukaryotes and one to which our unicellular ancestors were subject. Key biochemical pathways that impact longevity evolved prior to multicellularity, and the interactions between these pathways and the aging process therefore emerged in ancient single-celled eukaryotes. Nevertheless, we do not fully understand how aging impacts the fitness of unicellular organisms, and whether such cells gain a benefit from modulating rather than simply suppressing the aging process. We hypothesized that age-related loss of fitness in single-celled eukaryotes may be counterbalanced, partly or wholly, by a transition from a specialist to a generalist life-history strategy that enhances adaptability to other environments. We tested this hypothesis in budding yeast using competition assays and found that while young cells are more successful in glucose, highly aged cells outcompete young cells on other carbon sources such as galactose. This occurs because aged yeast divide faster than young cells in galactose, reversing the normal association between age and fitness. The impact of aging on single-celled organisms is therefore complex and may be regulated in ways that anticipate changing nutrient availability. We propose that pathways connecting nutrient availability with aging arose in unicellular eukaryotes to capitalize on age-linked diversity in growth strategy and that individual cells in higher eukaryotes may similarly diversify during aging to the detriment of the organism as a whole.

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Aging cell, , 1474-9726, , 2017

PMID: 28247585

Open Access

TET-dependent regulation of retrotransposable elements in mouse embryonic stem cells.
de la Rica L, Deniz Ö, Cheng KC, Todd CD, Cruz C, Houseley J, Branco MR

Ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes oxidise DNA methylation as part of an active demethylation pathway. Despite extensive research into the role of TETs in genome regulation, little is known about their effect on transposable elements (TEs), which make up nearly half of the mouse and human genomes. Epigenetic mechanisms controlling TEs have the potential to affect their mobility and to drive the co-adoption of TEs for the benefit of the host.

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Genome biology, 17, 1474-760X, 234, 2016

PMID: 27863519

Regulation of ribosomal DNA amplification by the TOR pathway.
Jack CV, Cruz C, Hull RM, Keller MA, Ralser M, Houseley J

Repeated regions are widespread in eukaryotic genomes, and key functional elements such as the ribosomal DNA tend to be formed of high copy repeated sequences organized in tandem arrays. In general, high copy repeats are remarkably stable, but a number of organisms display rapid ribosomal DNA amplification at specific times or under specific conditions. Here we demonstrate that target of rapamycin (TOR) signaling stimulates ribosomal DNA amplification in budding yeast, linking external nutrient availability to ribosomal DNA copy number. We show that ribosomal DNA amplification is regulated by three histone deacetylases: Sir2, Hst3, and Hst4. These enzymes control homologous recombination-dependent and nonhomologous recombination-dependent amplification pathways that act in concert to mediate rapid, directional ribosomal DNA copy number change. Amplification is completely repressed by rapamycin, an inhibitor of the nutrient-responsive TOR pathway; this effect is separable from growth rate and is mediated directly through Sir2, Hst3, and Hst4. Caloric restriction is known to up-regulate expression of nicotinamidase Pnc1, an enzyme that enhances Sir2, Hst3, and Hst4 activity. In contrast, normal glucose concentrations stretch the ribosome synthesis capacity of cells with low ribosomal DNA copy number, and we find that these cells show a previously unrecognized transcriptional response to caloric excess by reducing PNC1 expression. PNC1 down-regulation forms a key element in the control of ribosomal DNA amplification as overexpression of PNC1 substantially reduces ribosomal DNA amplification rate. Our results reveal how a signaling pathway can orchestrate specific genome changes and demonstrate that the copy number of repetitive DNA can be altered to suit environmental conditions.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, 1091-6490, 9674-9, 2015

PMID: 26195783

Open Access

Annual meeting of the EpiGeneSys Network of Excellence - Advancing epigenetics towards systems biology.
Houseley J, Hill CS, Rugg-Gunn PJ

The third annual meeting of the EpiGeneSys network brought together epigenetics and systems biologists to report on collaborative projects that apply quantitative approaches to understanding complex epigenetic processes. The figure shown represents one meeting highlight, which was the unexpected emergence of genotype versus epigenotype in control of cell state.

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BioEssays, 2015, , , , 2015

PMID: 25776341
DOI: 10.1002/bies.201500015

Open Access

Unexpected DNA loss mediated by the DNA binding activity of ribonuclease A.
Donà F, Houseley J

Ribonuclease A (RNase A) is widely used in molecular biology research both for analytical assays and for nucleic acid preparation. The catalytic mechanism of RNase A is well understood and absolutely precludes activity on DNA; however anecdotal reports of DNA degradation by RNase A are not uncommon. Here we describe a mechanism by which RNase A treatment can lead to apparent DNA degradation. This results from the surprising finding that RNase A remains functional in a phenol:chloroform mixture, to our knowledge the only enzyme that survives this highly denaturing solvent environment. Although RNase A does not cleave the DNA backbone it is capable of binding to DNA, forming stable RNase A-DNA complexes that partition to the interphase or organic phase during phenol:chloroform purification. The unexpected survival of the RNase A DNA-binding activity in phenol means that these complexes are not dissolved and a substantial amount of RNase A-bound DNA is permanently removed from the aqueous phase and lost on phase separation. This effect will impact DNA recovery from multiple procedures and is likely to represent a source of sequence bias in genome-wide studies. Our results also indicate that the results of analytical studies performed using RNase A must be considered with care.

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PloS one, 9, 1932-6203, e115008, 2014

PMID: 25502562

Open Access

The nuclear exosome is active and important during budding yeast meiosis.
Frenk S, Oxley D, Houseley J

Nuclear RNA degradation pathways are highly conserved across eukaryotes and play important roles in RNA quality control. Key substrates for exosomal degradation include aberrant functional RNAs and cryptic unstable transcripts (CUTs). It has recently been reported that the nuclear exosome is inactivated during meiosis in budding yeast through degradation of the subunit Rrp6, leading to the stabilisation of a subset of meiotic unannotated transcripts (MUTs) of unknown function. We have analysed the activity of the nuclear exosome during meiosis by deletion of TRF4, which encodes a key component of the exosome targeting complex TRAMP. We find that TRAMP mutants produce high levels of CUTs during meiosis that are undetectable in wild-type cells, showing that the nuclear exosome remains functional for CUT degradation, and we further report that the meiotic exosome complex contains Rrp6. Indeed Rrp6 over-expression is insufficient to suppress MUT transcripts, showing that the reduced amount of Rrp6 in meiotic cells does not directly cause MUT accumulation. Lack of TRAMP activity stabilises ∼ 1600 CUTs in meiotic cells, which occupy 40% of the binding capacity of the nuclear cap binding complex (CBC). CBC mutants display defects in the formation of meiotic double strand breaks (DSBs), and we see similar defects in TRAMP mutants, suggesting that a key function of the nuclear exosome is to prevent saturation of the CBC complex by CUTs. Together, our results show that the nuclear exosome remains active in meiosis and has an important role in facilitating meiotic recombination.

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PloS one, 9, 1932-6203, e107648, 2014

PMID: 25210768

Open Access

Endogenous RNA interference is driven by copy number.
C Cruz, J Houseley

A plethora of non-protein coding RNAs are produced throughout eukaryotic genomes, many of which are transcribed antisense to protein-coding genes and could potentially instigate RNA interference (RNAi) responses. Here we have used a synthetic RNAi system to show that gene copy number is a key factor controlling RNAi for transcripts from endogenous loci, since transcripts from multi-copy loci form double stranded RNA more efficiently than transcripts from equivalently expressed single-copy loci. Selectivity towards transcripts from high-copy DNA is therefore an emergent property of a minimal RNAi system. The ability of RNAi to selectively degrade transcripts from high-copy loci would allow suppression of newly emerging transposable elements, but such a surveillance system requires transcription. We show that low-level genome-wide pervasive transcription is sufficient to instigate RNAi, and propose that pervasive transcription is part of a defense mechanism capable of directing a sequence-independent RNAi response against transposable elements amplifying within the genome. DOI:

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eLife, 3, , e01581, 2014

PMID: 24520161

Open Access

Etoposide Induces Nuclear Re-Localisation of AID.
LJ Lambert, S Walker, J Feltham, HJ Lee, W Reik, J Houseley

During B cell activation, the DNA lesions that initiate somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination are introduced by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID). AID is a highly mutagenic protein that is maintained in the cytoplasm at steady state, however AID is shuttled across the nuclear membrane and the protein transiently present in the nucleus appears sufficient for targeted alteration of immunoglobulin loci. AID has been implicated in epigenetic reprogramming in primordial germ cells and cell fusions and in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), however AID expression in non-B cells is very low. We hypothesised that epigenetic reprogramming would require a pathway that instigates prolonged nuclear residence of AID. Here we show that AID is completely re-localised to the nucleus during drug withdrawal following etoposide treatment, in the period in which double strand breaks (DSBs) are repaired. Re-localisation occurs 2-6 hours after etoposide treatment, and AID remains in the nucleus for 10 or more hours, during which time cells remain live and motile. Re-localisation is cell-cycle dependent and is only observed in G2. Analysis of DSB dynamics shows that AID is re-localised in response to etoposide treatment, however re-localisation occurs substantially after DSB formation and the levels of re-localisation do not correlate with γH2AX levels. We conclude that DSB formation initiates a slow-acting pathway which allows stable long-term nuclear localisation of AID, and that such a pathway may enable AID-induced DNA demethylation during epigenetic reprogramming.

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PloS one, 8, 12, e82110, 2013

PMID: 24324754
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082110

Open Access

Resolution of budding yeast chromosomes using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis.
Hage AE,Houseley J

Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is a technique that resolves chromosome-sized DNA molecules in an agarose gel. As well as DNA mapping and karyotyping applications, PFGE techniques are well adapted to follow DNA rearrangements over time in a quantitative manner. Because of the very large sizes of the DNA molecules analyzed, DNA preparation, electrophoresis, and Southern blotting processes present unique challenges in PFGE experiments. In this chapter, we describe a robust PFGE protocol covering the preparation of intact Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosomal DNA, specific running conditions for the resolution of small, medium- and large-sized chromosomes and their by-products, and basic Southern blotting and hybridization instructions for the analysis of these molecules.

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Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1054, 1940-6029, 195-207, 2013

PMID: 23913294

Form and function of eukaryotic unstable non-coding RNAs.
J Houseley

Unstable non-coding RNAs are produced from thousands of loci in all studied eukaryotes (and also prokaryotes), but remain of largely unknown function. The present review summarizes the mechanisms of eukaryotic non-coding RNA degradation and highlights recent findings regarding function. The focus is primarily on budding yeast where the bulk of this research has been performed, but includes results from higher eukaryotes where available.

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Biochemical Society transactions, 40, 4, 836-41, 2012

PMID: 22817744
DOI: 10.1042/BST20120040

Repeat expansion in the budding yeast ribosomal DNA can occur independently of the canonical homologous recombination machinery.
J Houseley, D Tollervey

Major eukaryotic genomic elements, including the ribosomal DNA (rDNA), are composed of repeated sequences with well-defined copy numbers that must be maintained by regulated recombination. Although mechanisms that instigate rDNA recombination have been identified, none are directional and they therefore cannot explain precise repeat number control. Here, we show that yeast lacking histone chaperone Asf1 undergo reproducible rDNA repeat expansions. These expansions do not require the replication fork blocking protein Fob1 and are therefore independent of known rDNA expansion mechanisms. We propose the existence of a regulated rDNA repeat gain pathway that becomes constitutively active in asf1Δ mutants. Cells lacking ASF1 accumulate rDNA repeats with high fidelity in a processive manner across multiple cell divisions. The mechanism of repeat gain is dependent on highly repetitive sequence but, surprisingly, is independent of the homologous recombination proteins Rad52, Rad51 and Rad59. The expansion mechanism is compromised by mutations that decrease the processivity of DNA replication, which leads to progressive loss of rDNA repeats. Our data suggest that a novel mode of break-induced replication occurs in repetitive DNA that is dependent on high homology but does not require the canonical homologous recombination machinery.

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Nucleic acids research, 39, 20, 8778-91, 2011

PMID: 21768125
DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkr589

Open Access

Apparent non-canonical trans-splicing is generated by reverse transcriptase in vitro.
J Houseley, D Tollervey

Trans-splicing, the in vivo joining of two independently transcribed RNA molecules, is well characterized in lower eukaryotes, but was long thought absent from metazoans. However, recent bioinformatic analyses of EST sequences suggested widespread trans-splicing in mammals. These apparently spliced transcripts generally lacked canonical splice sites, leading us to question their authenticity. Particularly, the native ability of reverse transcriptase enzymes to template switch during transcription could produce apparently trans-spliced sequences.

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PloS one, 5, 8, e12271, 2010

PMID: 20805885
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012271

Open Access

The many pathways of RNA degradation.
J Houseley, D Tollervey

From the earliest comparisons of RNA production with steady-state levels, it has been clear that cells transcribe more RNA than they accumulate, implying the existence of active RNA degradation systems. In general, RNA is degraded at the end of its useful life, which is long for a ribosomal RNA but very short for excised introns or spacer fragments, and is closely regulated for most mRNA species. RNA molecules with defects in processing, folding, or assembly with proteins are identified and rapidly degraded by the surveillance machinery. Because RNA degradation is ubiquitous in all cells, it is clear that it must be carefully controlled to accurately recognize target RNAs. How this is achieved is perhaps the most pressing question in the field.

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Cell, 136, 4, 763-76, 2009

PMID: 19239894
DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.01.019

Open Access

A ncRNA modulates histone modification and mRNA induction in the yeast GAL gene cluster.
J Houseley, L Rubbi, M Grunstein, D Tollervey, M Vogelauer

The extensively studied yeast GAL1-10 gene cluster is tightly regulated by environmental sugar availability. Unexpectedly, under repressive conditions the 3' region of the GAL10 coding sequence is trimethylated by Set1 on histone H3 K4, normally characteristic of 5' regions of actively transcribed genes. This reflects transcription of a long noncoding RNA (GAL10-ncRNA) that is reciprocal to GAL1 and GAL10 mRNAs and driven by the DNA-binding protein Reb1. Point mutations in predicted Reb1-binding sites abolished Reb1 binding and ncRNA synthesis. The GAL10-ncRNA is transcribed approximately once every 50 min and targeted for degradation by the TRAMP and exosome complexes, resulting in low steady-state levels (approximately one molecule per 14 cells). GAL10-ncRNA transcription recruits the methyltransferase Set2 and histone deacetylation activities in cis, leading to stable changes in chromatin structure. These chromatin modifications act principally through the Rpd3S complex to aid glucose repression of GAL1-10 at physiologically relevant sugar concentrations.

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Molecular cell, 32, 5, 685-95, 2008

PMID: 19061643
DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2008.09.027

Open Access

The nuclear RNA surveillance machinery: the link between ncRNAs and genome structure in budding yeast?
J Houseley, D Tollervey

The TRAMP polyadenylation complexes have well-established functions in RNA surveillance, stimulating degradation by the 3' to 5' exonuclease activity of the exosome on a wide range of nuclear RNAs and RNA-protein complexes. Known targets include some of the non-protein coding RNA transcripts (ncRNAs), which are apparently widely transcribed from yeast and mammalian genomes. We will discuss potential mechanisms of TRAMP recruitment and exosome activation during RNA surveillance and degradation. Less well-understood observations link both the TRAMP and exosome complexes to chromatin structure and DNA repair, and we will speculate on the potential significance of these activities.

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Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1779, 4, 239-46, 2008

PMID: 18211833
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2007.12.008

Trf4 targets ncRNAs from telomeric and rDNA spacer regions and functions in rDNA copy number control.
J Houseley, K Kotovic, A El Hage, D Tollervey

Trf4 is the poly(A) polymerase component of TRAMP4, which stimulates nuclear RNA degradation by the exosome. We report that in Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains lacking Trf4, cryptic transcripts are detected from regions of repressed chromatin at telomeres and the rDNA intergenic spacer region (IGS1-R), and at CEN3. Degradation of the IGS1-R transcript was reduced in strains lacking TRAMP components, the core exosome protein Mtr3 or the nuclear-specific exosome component Rrp6. IGS1-R has potential binding sites for the RNA-binding proteins Nrd1/Nab3, and was stabilized by mutation of Nrd1. IGS1-R passes through the replication fork barrier, a region required for rDNA copy number control. Strains lacking Trf4 showed sporadic changes in rDNA copy number, whereas loss of both Trf4 and either the histone deacetylase Sir2 or the topoisomerase Top1 caused dramatic loss of rDNA repeats. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses showed that Trf4 is co-transcriptionally recruited to IGS1-R, consistent with a direct role in rDNA stability. Co-transcriptional RNA binding by Trf4 may link RNA and DNA metabolism and direct immediate IGS1-R degradation by the exosome following transcription termination.

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The EMBO journal, 26, 24, 4996-5006, 2007

PMID: 18007593
DOI: 10.1038/sj.emboj.7601921

Open Access

Muscleblind isoforms are functionally distinct and regulate alpha-actinin splicing.
Vicente M,Monferrer L,Poulos MG,Houseley J,Monckton DG,O'dell KM,Swanson MS,Artero RD

Drosophila Muscleblind (Mbl) proteins control terminal muscle and neural differentiation, but their molecular function has not been experimentally addressed. Such an analysis is relevant as the human Muscleblind-like homologs (MBNL1-3) are implicated in the pathogenesis of the inherited muscular developmental and degenerative disease myotonic dystrophy. The Drosophila muscleblind gene expresses four protein coding splice forms (mblA to mblD) that are differentially expressed during the Drosophila life cycle, and which vary markedly in their ability to rescue the embryonic lethal phenotype of muscleblind mutant flies. Analysis of muscleblind mutant embryos reveals misregulated alternative splicing of the transcripts encoding Z-band component alpha-Actinin, which can be replicated in human cells expressing a Drosophilaalpha-actinin minigene and epitope-tagged Muscleblind isoforms. MblC appreciably altered alpha-actinin splicing in this assay, whereas other isoforms had only a marginal or no effect, demonstrating functional specialization among Muscleblind proteins. To further analyze the molecular basis of these differences, we studied the subcellular localization of Muscleblind isoforms. Consistent with the splicing assay results, MblB and MblC were enriched in the nucleus while MblA was predominantly cytoplasmic. In myotonic dystrophy, transcripts bearing expanded non-coding CUG or CCUG repeats interfere with the function of human MBNL proteins. Co-expression of CUG repeat RNA with the alpha-actinin minigene altered splicing compared with that seen in muscleblind mutant embryos, indicating that CUG repeat expansion RNA also interferes with Drosophila muscleblind function. Moreover MblA, B, and C co-localize with CUG repeat RNA in nuclear foci in cell culture. Our observations indicate that Muscleblind isoforms perform different functions in vivo, that MblC controls muscleblind-dependent alternative splicing events, and establish the functional conservation between Muscleblind and MBNL proteins both over a physiological target (alpha-actinin) and a pathogenic one (CUG repeats).

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Differentiation; research in biological diversity, 75, 0301-4681, 427-40, 2007

PMID: 17309604

RNA-quality control by the exosome.
J Houseley, J LaCava, D Tollervey

The exosome complex of 3'-->5' exonucleases is an important component of the RNA-processing machinery in eukaryotes. This complex functions in the accurate processing of nuclear RNA precursors and in the degradation of RNAs in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm. However, it has been unclear how different classes of substrate are distinguished from one another. Recent studies now provide insights into the regulation and structure of the exosome, and they reveal striking similarities between the process of RNA degradation in bacteria and eukaryotes.

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Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology, 7, 7, 529-39, 2006

PMID: 16829983
DOI: 10.1038/nrm1964

Noncanonical RNAs from transcripts of the Drosophila muscleblind gene.
Houseley JM,Garcia-Casado Z,Pascual M,Paricio N,O'Dell KM,Monckton DG,Artero RD

It has become increasingly evident that eukaryotic cells produce RNA molecules from coding genes with constitutions other than those of typically spliced mRNA transcripts. Here we describe new cDNAs from the Drosophila melanogaster muscleblind (mbl) locus that identify two such atypical RNA molecules: RNAs containing an incomplete exon 2 tandem repetition (mblE2E2') or having exons with a different order compared to the corresponding genomic DNA (mblE2E3'E2'; exon scrambling). The existence of exon duplications and rearrangements in the genomic locus that might explain such cDNAs was ruled out by genomic Southern blotting and in silico analysis of the Drosophila genome sequence. The incomplete exon 2 tandem repetition was confirmed by sequencing reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) products, rapid amplification of cDNA ends, and detection of a band consistent with cDNA sizes in total RNA northern blots. RT-PCRs with exon-specific primers downstream of exon 2 were unable to amplify products other than those expected from canonical mbl isoforms, thus indicating that no other exons were efficiently spliced downstream of exon 2. Moreover, mblE2E2' transcripts seem to be poorly polyadenylated, if at all, and behave aberrantly in a polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) mobility assay. Taken together, lack of polyadenylation, lack of downstream splicing events, small size of mblE2E2', and PAGE behavior all suggest that these noncanonical transcripts may be circular RNAs. The functional implications for these noncanonical transcripts are unclear. A developmental expression profile of mblE2E2' revealed an almost constant expression except during early embryogenesis and early adulthood. The protein putatively encoded is unlikely to be functional because an in-frame stop codon occurs almost immediately after the splice site. Such noncanonical transcripts have previously been observed in vertebrates, and these data provide the first experimental evidence for similar phenomena in invertebrates.

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The Journal of heredity, 97, 0022-1503, 253-60, 0

PMID: 16714427

Open Access

Surveillance of nuclear-restricted pre-ribosomes within a subnucleolar region of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Dez C,Houseley J,Tollervey D

We previously hypothesized that HEAT-repeat (Huntington, elongation A subunit, TOR) ribosome synthesis factors function in ribosome export. We report that the HEAT-repeat protein Sda1p is a component of late 60S pre-ribosomes and is required for nuclear export of both ribosomal subunits. In strains carrying the ts-lethal sda1-2 mutation, pre-60S particles were rapidly degraded following transfer to 37 degrees C. Polyadenylated forms of the 27S pre-rRNA and the 25S rRNA were detected, suggesting the involvement of the Trf4p/Air/Mtr4p polyadenylation complex (TRAMP). The absence of Trf4p suppressed polyadenylation and stabilized the pre-rRNA and rRNA. The absence of the nuclear exosome component Rrp6p also conferred RNA stabilization, with some hyperadenylation. We conclude that the nuclear-restricted pre-ribosomes are polyadenylated by TRAMP and degraded by the exosome. In sda1-2 strains at 37 degrees C, pre-40S and pre-60S ribosomes initially accumulated in the nucleoplasm, but then strongly concentrated in a subnucleolar focus, together with exosome and TRAMP components. Localization of pre-ribosomes to this focus was lost in sda1-2 strains lacking Trf4p or Rrp6p. We designate this nucleolar focus the No-body and propose that it represents a site of pre-ribosome surveillance.

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The EMBO journal, 25, 0261-4189, 1534-46, 2006

PMID: 16541108

Open Access

Yeast Trf5p is a nuclear poly(A) polymerase.
J Houseley, D Tollervey

Recent analyses have shown that the activity of the yeast nuclear exosome is stimulated by the Trf4p-Air1/2p-Mtr4p polyadenylation (TRAMP) complex. Here, we report that strains lacking the Rrp6p component of the nuclear exosome accumulate polyadenylated forms of many different ribosomal RNA precursors (pre-rRNAs). This polyadenylation is reduced in strains lacking either the poly(A) polymerase Trf4p or its close homologue Trf5p. In contrast, polyadenylation is enhanced by overexpression of Trf5p. Polyadenylation is also markedly increased in strains lacking the RNA helicase Mtr4p, indicating that it is required to couple poly(A) polymerase activity to degradation. Tandem affinity purification-tagged purified Trf5p showed polyadenylation activity in vitro, which was abolished by a double point mutation in the predicted catalytic site. Trf5p co-purified with Mtr4p and Air1p, indicating that it forms a complex, designated TRAMP5, that has functions that partially overlap with the TRAMP complex.

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EMBO reports, 7, 2, 205-11, 2006

PMID: 16374505
DOI: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400612

Open Access

RNA degradation by the exosome is promoted by a nuclear polyadenylation complex.
J LaCava, J Houseley, C Saveanu, E Petfalski, E Thompson, A Jacquier, D Tollervey

The exosome complex of 3'-5' exonucleases participates in RNA maturation and quality control and can rapidly degrade RNA-protein complexes in vivo. However, the purified exosome showed weak in vitro activity, indicating that rapid RNA degradation requires activating cofactors. This work identifies a nuclear polyadenylation complex containing a known exosome cofactor, the RNA helicase Mtr4p; a poly(A) polymerase, Trf4p; and a zinc knuckle protein, Air2p. In vitro, the Trf4p/Air2p/Mtr4p polyadenylation complex (TRAMP) showed distributive RNA polyadenylation activity. The presence of the exosome suppressed poly(A) tail addition, while TRAMP stimulated exosome degradation through structured RNA substrates. In vivo analyses showed that TRAMP is required for polyadenylation and degradation of rRNA and snoRNA precursors that are characterized exosome substrates. Poly(A) tails stimulate RNA degradation in bacteria, suggesting that this is their ancestral function. We speculate that this function was maintained in eukaryotic nuclei, while cytoplasmic mRNA poly(A) tails acquired different roles in translation.

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Cell, 121, 5, 713-24, 2005

PMID: 15935758
DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2005.04.029

Open Access

Myotonic dystrophy associated expanded CUG repeat muscleblind positive ribonuclear foci are not toxic to Drosophila.
Houseley JM,Wang Z,Brock GJ,Soloway J,Artero R,Perez-Alonso M,O'Dell KM,Monckton DG

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 is an autosomal dominant disorder associated with the expansion of a CTG repeat in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of the DMPK gene. Recent data suggest that pathogenesis is predominantly mediated by a gain of function of the mutant transcript. In patients, these expanded CUG repeat-containing transcripts are sequestered into ribonuclear foci that also contain the muscleblind-like proteins. To provide further insights into muscleblind function and the pathogenesis of myotonic dystrophy, we generated Drosophila incorporating CTG repeats in the 3'-UTR of a reporter gene. As in patients, expanded CUG repeats form discrete ribonuclear foci in Drosophila muscle cells that co-localize with muscleblind. Unexpectedly, however, foci are not observed in all cell types and muscleblind is neither necessary nor sufficient for their formation. The foci are dynamic transient structures with short half-lifes that do not co-localize with the proteasome, suggesting they are unlikely to contain mis-folded proteins. However, they do co-localize with non-A, the human orthologs of which are implicated in both RNA splicing and attachment of dsRNA to the nuclear matrix. Muscleblind is also revealed as having a previously unrecognized role in stabilizing CUG transcripts. Most interestingly, Drosophila expressing (CUG)162 repeats has no detectable pathological phenotype suggesting that in contrast to expanded polyglutamine-containing proteins, neither the expanded CUG repeat RNA nor the ribonuclear foci are directly toxic.

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Human molecular genetics, 14, 0964-6906, 873-83, 2005

PMID: 15703191

Open Access