DRscDB: A single-cell RNA-seq resource for data mining and data comparison across species.” Comput Struct Biotechnol J, 19, Pp. 2018-2026.Abstract. 2021. “
With the advent of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technologies, there has been a spike in studies involving scRNA-seq of several tissues across diverse species including Drosophila. Although a few databases exist for users to query genes of interest within the scRNA-seq studies, search tools that enable users to find orthologous genes and their cell type-specific expression patterns across species are limited. Here, we built a new search database, DRscDB (https://www.flyrnai.org/tools/single_cell/web/), to address this need. DRscDB serves as a comprehensive repository for published scRNA-seq datasets for Drosophila and relevant datasets from human and other model organisms. DRscDB is based on manual curation of Drosophila scRNA-seq studies of various tissue types and their corresponding analogous tissues in vertebrates including zebrafish, mouse, and human. Of note, our search database provides most of the literature-derived marker genes, thus preserving the original analysis of the published scRNA-seq datasets. Finally, DRscDB serves as a web-based user interface that allows users to mine gene expression data from scRNA-seq studies and perform cell cluster enrichment analyses pertaining to various scRNA-seq studies, both within and across species.
Methods and tools for spatial mapping of single-cell RNAseq clusters in Drosophila.” Genetics, 217, 4.Abstract. 2021. “
Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) experiments provide a powerful means to identify clusters of cells that share common gene expression signatures. A major challenge in scRNAseq studies is to map the clusters to specific anatomical regions along the body and within tissues. Existing data, such as information obtained from large-scale in situ RNA hybridization studies, cell type specific transcriptomics, gene expression reporters, antibody stainings, and fluorescent tagged proteins, can help to map clusters to anatomy. However, in many cases, additional validation is needed to precisely map the spatial location of cells in clusters. Several approaches are available for spatial resolution in Drosophila, including mining of existing datasets, and use of existing or new tools for direct or indirect detection of RNA, or direct detection of proteins. Here, we review available resources and emerging technologies that will facilitate spatial mapping of scRNAseq clusters at high resolution in Drosophila. Importantly, we discuss the need, available approaches, and reagents for multiplexing gene expression detection in situ, as in most cases scRNAseq clusters are defined by the unique coexpression of sets of genes.
Bioinformatic and cell-based tools for pooled CRISPR knockout screening in mosquitos.” bioRxiv. Publisher's VersionAbstract. Working Paper. “
Mosquito-borne diseases present a worldwide public health burden. Genome-scale screening tools that could inform our understanding of mosquitos and their control are lacking. Here, we adapt a recombination-mediated cassette exchange system for delivery of CRISPR sgRNA libraries into cell lines from several mosquito species and perform pooled CRISPR screens in an Anopheles cell line. To implement this method, we engineered modified mosquito cell lines, validated promoters and developed bioinformatics tools for multiple mosquito species.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
Proteomics of protein trafficking by in vivo tissue-specific labeling.” Nat Commun, 12, 1, Pp. 2382.Abstract. 2021. “
Conventional approaches to identify secreted factors that regulate homeostasis are limited in their abilities to identify the tissues/cells of origin and destination. We established a platform to identify secreted protein trafficking between organs using an engineered biotin ligase (BirA*G3) that biotinylates, promiscuously, proteins in a subcellular compartment of one tissue. Subsequently, biotinylated proteins are affinity-enriched and identified from distal organs using quantitative mass spectrometry. Applying this approach in Drosophila, we identify 51 muscle-secreted proteins from heads and 269 fat body-secreted proteins from legs/muscles, including CG2145 (human ortholog ENDOU) that binds directly to muscles and promotes activity. In addition, in mice, we identify 291 serum proteins secreted from conditional BirA*G3 embryo stem cell-derived teratomas, including low-abundance proteins with hormonal properties. Our findings indicate that the communication network of secreted proteins is vast. This approach has broad potential across different model systems to identify cell-specific secretomes and mediators of interorgan communication in health or disease.
Protein visualization and manipulation in Drosophila through the use of epitope tags recognized by nanobodies.” bioRxiv.Abstract. Working Paper. “
Expansion of the available repertoire of reagents for visualization and manipulation of proteins will help understand their function. Short epitope tags installed on proteins of interest and recognized by existing binders such as nanobodies facilitate protein studies by obviating the need to isolate new antibodies directed against them. Nanobodies have several advantages over conventional antibodies, as they can be expressed and used as tools for visualization and manipulation of proteins in vivo. Here, we combine the advantages of short epitopes (NanoTags) and nanobodies specific for them by characterizing two short (<15 aa) tags, 127D01 and VHH05, which are high-affinity targets of nanobodies. We demonstrate that these NanoTags and the nanobodies that recognize them can be used in Drosophila for in vivo protein detection and re-localization, direct and indirect immunofluorescence, immunoblotting, and immunoprecipitation. We further show that CRISPR-mediated gene targeting provides a straightforward approach to tagging endogenous proteins with the NanoTags. Single copies of the NanoTags, regardless of their location, suffice for detection. This versatile and validated toolbox of tags and nanobodies will serve as a resource for a wide array of applications, including functional studies in Drosophila and beyond.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
TIMEOR: a web-based tool to uncover temporal regulatory mechanisms from multi-omics data.” BioRxiv. Publisher's VersionAbstract. Submitted. “
Uncovering how transcription factors (TFs) regulate their targets at the DNA, RNA and protein levels over time is critical to define gene regulatory networks (GRNs) in normal and diseased states. RNA-seq has become a standard method to measure gene regulation using an established set of analysis steps. However, none of the currently available pipeline methods for interpreting ordered genomic data (in time or space) use time series models to assign cause and effect relationships within GRNs, are adaptive to diverse experimental designs, or enable user interpretation through a web-based platform. Furthermore, methods which integrate ordered RNA-seq data with transcription factor binding data are urgently needed. Here, we present TIMEOR (Trajectory Inference and Mechanism Exploration with Omics data in R), the first web-based and adaptive time series multi-omics pipeline method which infers the relationship between gene regulatory events across time. TIMEOR addresses the critical need for methods to predict causal regulatory mechanism networks between TFs from time series multi-omics data. We used TIMEOR to identify a new link between insulin stimulation and the circadian rhythm cycle. TIMEOR is available at https://github.com/ashleymaeconard/TIMEOR.git.
CRISPR-Cas13 mediated Knock Down in Drosophila cultured cells.” BioRxiv.Abstract. Working Paper. “
Manipulation of gene expression is one of the best approaches for studying gene function in vivo. CRISPR-Cas13 has the potential to be a powerful technique for manipulating RNA expression in diverse animal systems in vivo, including Drosophila melanogaster. Studies using Cas13 in mammalian cell lines for gene knockdown showed increased on-target efficiency and decreased off-targeting relative to RNAi. Moreover, catalytically inactive Cas13 fusions can be used to image RNA molecules, install precise changes to the epitranscriptome, or alter splicing. However, recent studies have suggested that there may be limitations to the deployment of these tools in Drosophila, so further optimization of the system is required. Here, we report a new set of PspCas13b and RfxCas13d expression constructs and use these reagents to successfully knockdown both reporter and endogenous transcripts in Drosophila cells. As toxicity issues have been reported with high level of Cas13, we effectively decreased PspCas13b expression without impairing its function by tuning down translation. Furthermore, we altered the spatial activity of both PspCas13b and RfxCas13d by introducing Nuclear Exportation Sequences (NES) and Nuclear Localization Sequences (NLS) while maintaining activity. Finally, we generated a stable cell line expressing RfxCas13d under the inducible metallothionein promoter, establishing a useful tool for high-throughput genetic screening. Thus, we report new reagents for performing RNA CRISPR-Cas13 experiments in Drosophila, providing additional Cas13 expression constructs that retain activity.
Precise genome engineering in Drosophila using prime editing.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 118.Abstract. 2021. “
Precise genome editing is a valuable tool to study gene function in model organisms. Prime editing, a precise editing system developed in mammalian cells, does not require double-strand breaks or donor DNA and has low off-target effects. Here, we applied prime editing for the model organism Drosophila melanogaster and developed conditions for optimal editing. By expressing prime editing components in cultured cells or somatic cells of transgenic flies, we precisely introduce premature stop codons in three classical visible marker genes, ebony, white, and forked Furthermore, by restricting editing to germ cells, we demonstrate efficient germ-line transmission of a precise edit in ebony to 36% of progeny. Our results suggest that prime editing is a useful system in Drosophila to study gene function, such as engineering precise point mutations, deletions, or epitope tags.
BioLitMine: Advanced Mining of Biomedical and Biological Literature About Human Genes and Genes from Major Model Organisms.” G3 (Bethesda).Abstract. 2020. “
The accumulation of biological and biomedical literature outpaces the ability of most researchers and clinicians to stay abreast of their own immediate fields, let alone a broader range of topics. Although available search tools support identification of relevant literature, finding relevant and key publications is not always straightforward. For example, important publications might be missed in searches with an official gene name due to gene synonyms. Moreover, ambiguity of gene names can result in retrieval of a large number of irrelevant publications. To address these issues and help researchers and physicians quickly identify relevant publications, we developed BioLitMine, an advanced literature mining tool that takes advantage of the medical subject heading (MeSH) index and gene-to-publication annotations already available for PubMed literature. Using BioLitMine, a user can identify what MeSH terms are represented in the set of publications associated with a given gene of the interest, or start with a term and identify relevant publications. Users can also use the tool to find co-cited genes and a build a literature co-citation network. In addition, BioLitMine can help users build a gene list relevant to a MeSH terms, such as a list of genes relevant to "stem cells" or "breast neoplasms." Users can also start with a gene or pathway of interest and identify authors associated with that gene or pathway, a feature that makes it easier to identify experts who might serve as collaborators or reviewers. Altogether, BioLitMine extends the value of PubMed-indexed literature and its existing expert curation by providing a robust and gene-centric approach to retrieval of relevant information.
CRISPR-based engineering of gene knockout cells by homology-directed insertion in polyploid Drosophila S2R+ cells.” Nat Protoc, 15, 10, Pp. 3478-3498.Abstract. 2020. “
Precise and efficient genome modifications provide powerful tools for biological studies. Previous CRISPR gene knockout methods in cell lines have relied on frameshifts caused by stochastic insertion/deletion in all alleles. However, this method is inefficient for genes with high copy number due to polyploidy or gene amplification because frameshifts in all alleles can be difficult to generate and detect. Here we describe a homology-directed insertion method to knockout genes in the polyploid Drosophila S2R+ cell line. This protocol allows generation of homozygous mutant cell lines using an insertion cassette which autocatalytically generates insertion mutations in all alleles. Knockout cells generated using this method can be directly identified by PCR without a need for DNA sequencing. This protocol takes 2-3 months and can be applied to other polyploid cell lines or high-copy-number genes.
Large-Scale Transgenic Resource Collections for Loss- and Gain-of-Function Studies.” Genetics.Abstract. 2020. “
The Transgenic RNAi Project (TRiP), a functional genomics platform at Harvard Medical School, was initiated in 2008 to generate and distribute a genome-scale collection of RNAi fly stocks. To date, the TRiP has generated >15,000 RNAi fly stocks. As this covers most genes, we have largely transitioned to development of new resources based on CRISPR technology. Here, we present an update on our libraries of publicly available RNAi and CRISPR fly stocks, and focus on the TRiP-CRISPR overexpression (TRiP-OE) and TRiP-CRISPR knockout (TRiP-KO) collections. TRiP-OE stocks express sgRNAs targeting upstream of a gene transcription start site. Gene activation is triggered by co-expression of catalytically dead Cas9 (dCas9) fused to an activator domain, either VP64-p65-Rta (VPR) or Synergistic Activation Mediator (SAM). TRiP-KO stocks express one or two sgRNAs targeting the coding sequence of a gene or genes. Cutting is triggered by co-expression of Cas9, allowing for generation of indels in both germline and somatic tissue. To date, we have generated more than 5,000 CRISPR-OE or -KO stocks for the community. These resources provide versatile, transformative tools for gene activation, gene repression, and genome engineering.