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RNA Innovation Seminar featuring Rising Scholars: Khan & McMillan
Monday, June 14, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
“CCR5 as a model to examine reporter assays in evaluating translational phenomena”
Keywords: dual luciferase, frameshifting, recoding, CCR5
Abstract: During the decoding of a subset of mRNAs, a proportion of ribosomes productively shift to the −1 reading frame at specific slippage-prone sites in a phenomenon known as programmed −1 ribosomal frameshifting (−1 PRF) to generate a frameshifted, C-terminally unique protein. The first experimentally verified occurrence of functionally utilized non-retroelement derived −1 PRF in humans has been reported in the mRNA encoding the immune-functioning C-C chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5). Here, we show that frameshifting does not occur during CCR5 decoding. Apart from its importance in understanding expression of a gene relevant to cancer, an HIV-1 receptor (and the associated claimed rationale for generating the first humans derived from genetically modified embryos), the findings imply that caution is appropriate in assessing results from translational reporter assays.
“Intersection between RNA methylation and TDP43-mediated toxicity in ALS”
Cellular and Molecular Biology
University of Michigan
Keywords: TDP43, m6A, ALS, RNA stability
Abstract: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease resulting in the death of upper and lower motor neurons. ALS has no known cure and limited therapeutic options, and the underlying pathological mechanisms remain unclear. Despite considerable variability in clinical presentation, over 95% of ALS cases exhibit cytoplasmic inclusions of the RNA binding protein TDP43. Emerging evidence suggests that TDP43 is crucial for RNA stability, and that dysregulation of RNA homeostasis may contribute to ALS pathogenesis.
Methylation of RNA at the 6th position nitrogen (N6-methyladenosine methylation, or m6A) by methyltransferases (writers) or removal of methyl groups by demethylases (erasers) has dramatic effects on RNA stability and translation mediated by a family of RNA biding proteins that recognize methylated RNA (readers). m6A writers and erasers specifically localize to nuclear speckles, membraneless nuclear organelles rich in RNA binding proteins and splicing factors, including TDP43. Together with our data showing that TDP43 regulates RNA stability, these observations suggest that TDP43 may destabilize m6A modified RNA. Here, we show that methylated RNA co-purified with TDP43 from cultured cells via RNA immunoprecipitation, and abrogation of methylation sites disrupted TDP43 binding, suggesting that TDP43 recognizes m6A modified RNA in cellulo. We also noted profound and widespread hypermethylation of coding and non-coding transcripts in ALS spinal cord, many overlapping with confirmed TDP43 target transcripts. Consistent with a central role for m6A modification in TDP43-mediated toxicity, we identified several factors operating within the m6A pathway that enhance or suppress the toxicity of TDP43 in rodent primary cortical neurons via a single-cell CRISPR/Cas9 candidate-based screen. Genetic knockout of the established m6A reader YTHDF2 rescued TDP43 toxicity in primary neurons, and YTHDF2 was also upregulated in ALS postmortem sections. Together, these data imply a fundamental link between m6A RNA modifications and ALS pathogenesis, potentially mediated by TDP43-dependent RNA destabilization.