Han K, Jeng EE, Hess GT, Morgens DW, Li A, Bassik MC Nat Biotechnol. 2017 Mar 20. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3834.
Identification of effective combination therapies is critical to address the emergence of drug-resistant cancers, but direct screening of all possible drug combinations is infeasible. Here we introduce a CRISPR-based double knockout (CDKO) system that improves the efficiency of combinatorial genetic screening using an effective strategy for cloning and sequencing paired single guide RNA (sgRNA) libraries and a robust statistical scoring method for calculating genetic interactions (GIs) from CRISPR-deleted gene pairs. We applied CDKO to generate a large-scale human GI map, comprising 490,000 double-sgRNAs directed against 21,321 pairs of drug targets in K562 leukemia cells and identified synthetic lethal drug target pairs for which corresponding drugs exhibit synergistic killing. These included the BCL2L1 and MCL1 combination, which was also effective in imatinib-resistant cells. We further validated this system by identifying known and previously unidentified GIs between modifiers of ricin toxicity. This work provides an effective strategy to screen synergistic drug combinations in high-throughput and a CRISPR-based tool to dissect functional GI networks.
Hess GT, Frésard L, Han K, Lee CH, Li A, Cimprich KA, Montgomery SB, Bassik MC Nat Methods. 2016 Dec;13(12):1036-1042. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.4038.
Engineering and study of protein function by directed evolution has been limited by the technical requirement to use global mutagenesis or introduce DNA libraries. Here, we develop CRISPR-X, a strategy to repurpose the somatic hypermutation machinery for protein engineering in situ. Using catalytically inactive dCas9 to recruit variants of cytidine deaminase (AID) with MS2-modified sgRNAs, we can specifically mutagenize endogenous targets with limited off-target damage. This generates diverse libraries of localized point mutations and can target multiple genomic locations simultaneously. We mutagenize GFP and select for spectrum-shifted variants, including EGFP. Additionally, we mutate the target of the cancer therapeutic bortezomib, PSMB5, and identify known and novel mutations that confer bortezomib resistance. Finally, using a hyperactive AID variant, we mutagenize loci both upstream and downstream of transcriptional start sites. These experiments illustrate a powerful approach to create complex libraries of genetic variants in native context, which is broadly applicable to investigate and improve protein function.
Duque-Afonso J, Lin CH, Han K, Wei MC, Feng J, Kurzer JH, Schneidawind C, Wong SH, Bassik MC, Cleary ML.
Cancer Res.2016 Dec 1;76(23):6937-6949. Epub 2016 Oct 7.
There is limited understanding of how signaling pathways are altered by oncogenic fusion transcription factors that drive leukemogenesis. To address this, we interrogated activated signaling pathways in a comparative analysis of mouse and human leukemias expressing the fusion protein E2A-PBX1, which is present in 5%-7% of pediatric and 50% of pre-B-cell receptor (preBCR+) acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). In this study, we describe remodeling of signaling networks by E2A-PBX1 in pre-B-ALL, which results in hyperactivation of the key oncogenic effector enzyme PLCγ2. Depletion of PLCγ2 reduced proliferation of mouse and human ALLs, including E2A-PBX1 leukemias, and increased disease-free survival after secondary transplantation. Mechanistically, E2A-PBX1 bound promoter regulatory regions and activated the transcription of its key target genes ZAP70, SYK, and LCK, which encode kinases upstream of PLCγ2. Depletion of the respective upstream kinases decreased cell proliferation and phosphorylated levels of PLCγ2 (pPLCγ2). Pairwise silencing of ZAP70, SYK, or LCK showed additive effects on cell growth inhibition, providing a rationale for combination therapy with inhibitors of these kinases. Accordingly, inhibitors such as the SRC family kinase (SFK) inhibitor dasatinib reduced pPLCγ2 and inhibited proliferation of human and mouse preBCR+/E2A-PBX1+ leukemias in vitro and in vivo Furthermore, combining small-molecule inhibition of SYK, LCK, and SFK showed synergistic interactions and preclinical efficacy in the same setting. Our results show how the oncogenic fusion protein E2A-PBX1 perturbs signaling pathways upstream of PLCγ2 and renders leukemias amenable to targeted therapeutic inhibition.
Leonardi W, Zilbermintz L, Cheng LW, Zozaya J, Tran SH, Elliott JH, Polukhina K, Manasherob R, Li A, Chi X, Gharaibeh D, Kenny T, Zamani R, Soloveva V, Haddow AD, Nasar F, Bavari S, Bassik MC, Cohen SN, Levitin A, Martchenko M. Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 30;6:34475. doi: 10.1038/srep34475
Diverse pathogenic agents often utilize overlapping host networks, and hub proteins within these networks represent attractive targets for broad-spectrum drugs. Using bacterial toxins, we describe a new approach for discovering broad-spectrum therapies capable of inhibiting host proteins that mediate multiple pathogenic pathways. This approach can be widely used, as it combines genetic-based target identification with cell survival-based and protein function-based multiplex drug screens, and concurrently discovers therapeutic compounds and their protein targets. Using B-lymphoblastoid cells derived from the HapMap Project cohort of persons of African, European, and Asian ancestry we identified host caspases as hub proteins that mediate the lethality of multiple pathogenic agents. We discovered that an approved drug, Bithionol, inhibits host caspases and also reduces the detrimental effects of anthrax lethal toxin, diphtheria toxin, cholera toxin, Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A, Botulinum neurotoxin, ricin, and Zika virus. Our study reveals the practicality of identifying host proteins that mediate multiple disease pathways and discovering broad-spectrum therapies that target these hub proteins.
Arribere JA, Cenik ES, Jain N, Hess GT, Lee CH, Bassik MC, Fire AZ Nature. 2016 Jun 30;534(7609):719-23.
A fraction of ribosomes engaged in translation will fail to terminate when reaching a stop codon, yielding nascent proteins inappropriately extended on their C termini. Although such extended proteins can interfere with normal cellular processes, known mechanisms of translational surveillance are insufficient to protect cells from potential dominant consequences. Here, through a combination of transgenics and CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing in Caenorhabditis elegans, we demonstrate a consistent ability of cells to block accumulation of C-terminal-extended proteins that result from failure to terminate at stop codons. Sequences encoded by the 3′ untranslated region (UTR) were sufficient to lower protein levels. Measurements of mRNA levels and translation suggested a co- or post-translational mechanism of action for these sequences in C. elegans. Similar mechanisms evidently operate in human cells, in which we observed a comparable tendency for translated human 3′ UTR sequences to reduce mature protein expression in tissue culture assays, including 3′ UTR sequences from the hypomorphic ‘Constant Spring’ haemoglobin stop codon variant. We suggest that 3′ UTRs may encode peptide sequences that destabilize the attached protein, providing mitigation of unwelcome and varied translation errors.
Morgens DW, Deans RM, Li A, Bassik MC
Nat Biotechnol2016 Jun;34(6):634-6. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3567.
We compared the ability of short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and CRISPR/Cas9 screens to identify essential genes in the human chronic myelogenous leukemia cell line K562. We found that the precision of the two libraries in detecting essential genes was similar and that combining data from both screens improved performance. Notably, results from the two screens showed little correlation, which can be partially explained by the identification of distinct essential biological processes with each technology.
Deans RM, Morgens DW, Ökesli A, Pillay S, Horlbeck MA, Kampmann M, Gilbert LA, Li A, Mateo R, Smith M, Glenn JS, Carette JE, Khosla C, Bassik MC
Nat Chem Biol. 2016 May;12(5):361-6. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2050.
Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs targeting host processes could potentially treat a wide range of viruses while reducing the likelihood of emergent resistance. Despite great promise as therapeutics, such drugs remain largely elusive. Here we used parallel genome-wide high-coverage short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 screens to identify the cellular target and mechanism of action of GSK983, a potent broad-spectrum antiviral with unexplained cytotoxicity. We found that GSK983 blocked cell proliferation and dengue virus replication by inhibiting the pyrimidine biosynthesis enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH). Guided by mechanistic insights from both genomic screens, we found that exogenous deoxycytidine markedly reduced GSK983 cytotoxicity but not antiviral activity, providing an attractive new approach to improve the therapeutic window of DHODH inhibitors against RNA viruses. Our results highlight the distinct advantages and limitations of each screening method for identifying drug targets, and demonstrate the utility of parallel knockdown and knockout screens for comprehensive probing of drug activity.
Kampmann M, Horlbeck MA, Chen Y, Tsai JC, Bassik MC, Gilbert LA, Villalta JE, Kwon SC, Chang H, Kim VN, Weissman JS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Jun 30;112(26):E3384-91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1508821112.Genetic screening based on loss-of-function phenotypes is a powerful discovery tool in biology. Although the recent development of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-based screening approaches in mammalian cell culture has enormous potential, RNA interference (RNAi)-based screening remains the method of choice in several biological contexts. We previously demonstrated that ultracomplex pooled short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) libraries can largely overcome the problem of RNAi off-target effects in genome-wide screens. Here, we systematically optimize several aspects of our shRNA library, including the promoter and microRNA context for shRNA expression, selection of guide strands, and features relevant for postscreen sample preparation for deep sequencing. We present next-generation high-complexity libraries targeting human and mouse protein-coding genes, which we grouped into 12 sublibraries based on biological function. A pilot screen suggests that our next-generation RNAi library performs comparably to current CRISPR interference (CRISPRi)-based approaches and can yield complementary results with high sensitivity and high specificity.
Gilbert LA, Horlbeck MA, Adamson B, Villalta JE, Chen Y, Whitehead EH, Guimaraes C, Panning B, Ploegh HL, Bassik MC, Qi LS, Kampmann M, Weissman JS. Cell. 2014 Oct 23;159(3):647-61. While the catalog of mammalian transcripts and their expression levels in different cell types and disease states is rapidly expanding, our understanding of transcript function lags behind. We present a robust technology enabling systematic investigation of the cellular consequences of repressing or inducing individual transcripts. We identify rules for specific targeting of transcriptional repressors (CRISPRi), typically achieving 90%-99% knockdown with minimal off-target effects, and activators (CRISPRa) to endogenous genes via endonuclease-deficient Cas9. Together they enable modulation of gene expression over a ∼1,000-fold range. Using these rules, we construct genome-scale CRISPRi and CRISPRa libraries, each of which we validate with two pooled screens. Growth-based screens identify essential genes, tumor suppressors, and regulators of differentiation. Screens for sensitivity to a cholera-diphtheria toxin provide broad insights into the mechanisms of pathogen entry, retrotranslocation and toxicity. Our results establish CRISPRi and CRISPRa as powerful tools that provide rich and complementary information for mapping complex pathways..
Gu S, Zhang Y, Jin L, Huang Y, Zhang F, Bassik MC, Kampmann M, Kay MA.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Oct 29;42(19):12169-76.
The use of RNA interference is becoming routine in scientific discovery and treatment of human disease. However, its applications are hampered by unwanted effects, particularly off-targeting through miRNA-like pathways. Recent studies suggest that the efficacy of such off-targeting might be dependent on binding stability. Here, by testing shRNAs and siRNAs of various GC content in different guide strand segments with reporter assays, we establish that weak base pairing in both seed and 3' regions is required to achieve minimal off-targeting while maintaining the intended on-target activity. The reduced off-targeting was confirmed by RNA-Seq analyses from mouse liver RNAs expressing various anti-HCV shRNAs. Finally, our protocol was validated on a large scale by analyzing results of a genome-wide shRNA screen. Compared with previously established work, the new algorithm was more effective in reducing off-targeting without jeopardizing on-target potency. These studies provide new rules that should significantly improve on siRNA/shRNA design.
We previously discovered a small-molecule inducer of cell death, named 1541, that noncovalently self-assembles into chemical fibrils ('chemi-fibrils') and activates procaspase-3 in vitro. We report here that 1541-induced cell death is caused by the fibrillar rather than the soluble form of the drug. A short hairpin RNA screen reveals that knockdown of genes involved in endocytosis, vesicle trafficking and lysosomal acidification causes partial 1541 resistance. We confirm the role of these pathways using pharmacological inhibitors. Microscopy shows that the fluorescent chemi-fibrils accumulate in punctae inside cells that partially colocalize with lysosomes. Notably, the chemi-fibrils bind and induce liposome leakage in vitro, suggesting they may do the same in cells. The chemi-fibrils induce extensive proteolysis including caspase substrates, yet modulatory profiling reveals that chemi-fibrils form a distinct class from existing inducers of cell death. The chemi-fibrils share similarities with proteinaceous fibrils and may provide insight into their mechanism of cellular toxicity.
Systematic genetic interaction maps in microorganisms are powerful tools for identifying functional relationships between genes and for defining the function of uncharacterized genes. We have recently implemented this strategy in mammalian cells as a two-stage approach. First, genes of interest are robustly identified in a pooled genome-wide screen using complex shRNA libraries. Second, phenotypes for all pairwise combinations of 'hit' genes are measured in a double-shRNA screen and used to construct a genetic interaction map. Our protocol allows for rapid pooled screening under various conditions without a requirement for robotics, in contrast to arrayed approaches. Each round of screening can be implemented in ∼2 weeks, with additional time for analysis and generation of reagents. We discuss considerations for screen design, and we present complete experimental procedures, as well as a full computational analysis suite for the identification of hits in pooled screens and generation of genetic interaction maps. Although the protocol outlined here was developed for our original shRNA-based approach, it can be applied more generally, including to CRISPR-based approaches.
van de Weijer ML,Bassik MC, Luteijn RD, Voorburg CM, Lohuis MA, Kremmer E, Hoeben RC, LeProust EM, Chen S, Hoelen H, Ressing ME, Patena W,
Weissman JS, McManus MT, Wiertz EJ, Lebbink RJ.
Nat Commun. 2014 May 8;5:3832. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4832.
Misfolded ER proteins are retrotranslocated into the cytosol for degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system. The human cytomegalovirus protein US11 exploits this ER-associated protein degradation (ERAD) pathway to downregulate HLA class I molecules in virus-infected cells, thereby evading elimination by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. US11-mediated degradation of HLA class I has been instrumental in the identification of key components of mammalian ERAD, including Derlin-1, p97, VIMP and SEL1L. Despite this, the process governing retrotranslocation of the substrate is still poorly understood. Here using a high-coverage genome-wide shRNA library, we identify the uncharacterized protein TMEM129 and the ubiquitin-conjugating E2 enzyme UBE2J2 to be essential for US11-mediated HLA class I downregulation. TMEM129 is an unconventional C4C4-type RING finger E3 ubiquitin ligase that resides within a complex containing various other ERAD components, including Derlin-1, Derlin-2, VIMP and p97, indicating that TMEM129 is an integral part of the ER-resident dislocation complex mediating US11-induced HLA class I degradation.
Matheny CJ, Wei MC,Bassik MC, Donnelly AJ, Kampmann M, Iwasaki M, Piloto O, Solow-Cordero DE, Bouley DM, Rau R, Brown P, McManus MT, Weissman JS,
Chem Biol. 2013 Nov 21;20(11):1352-63. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2013.09.014.
Phenotypic high-throughput chemical screens allow for discovery of small molecules that modulate complex phenotypes and provide lead compounds for novel therapies; however, identification of the mechanistically relevant targets remains a major experimental challenge. We report the application of sequential unbiased high-throughput chemical and ultracomplex small hairpin RNA (shRNA) screens to identify a distinctive class of inhibitors that target nicotinamide phosphoribosyl transferase (NAMPT), a rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a crucial cofactor in many biochemical processes. The lead compound STF-118804 is a highly specific NAMPT inhibitor, improves survival in an orthotopic xenotransplant model of high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and targets leukemia stem cells. Tandem high-throughput screening using chemical and ultracomplex shRNA libraries, therefore, provides a rapid chemical genetics approach for seamless progression from small-molecule lead identification to target discovery and validation.
Bassik MC, Kampmann M, Lebbink RJ, Wang S, Hein MY, Poser I, Weibezahn J, Horlbeck MA, Chen S, Mann M, Hyman AA, Leproust EM, McManus MT, Weissman JS. Cell. 2013 Feb 14;152(4):909-22. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.01.030.
Genetic interaction (GI) maps, comprising pairwise measures of how strongly the function of one gene depends on the presence of a second, have enabled the systematic exploration of gene function in microorganisms. Here, we present a two-stage strategy to construct high-density GI maps in mammalian cells. First, we use ultracomplex pooled shRNA libraries (25 shRNAs/gene) to identify high-confidence hit genes for a given phenotype and effective shRNAs. We then construct double-shRNA libraries from these to systematically measure GIs between hits. A GI map focused on ricin susceptibility broadly recapitulates known pathways and provides many unexpected insights. These include a noncanonical role for COPI, a previously uncharacterized protein complex affecting toxin clearance, a specialized role for the ribosomal protein RPS25, and functionally distinct mammalian TRAPP complexes. The ability to rapidly generate mammalian GI maps provides a potentially transformative tool for defining gene function and designing combination therapies based on synergistic pairs.