Han K, Pierce SE, Li A, Spees K, Anderson GR, Seoane JA, Lo YH, Dubreuil M, Olivas M, Kamber RA, Wainberg M, Kostyrko K, Kelly MR, Yousefi M, Simpkins SW, Yao D, Lee K, Kuo CJ, Jackson PK, Sweet-Cordero A, Kundaje A, Gentles AJ, Curtis C, Winslow MM, Bassik MC. Nature. 2020 Apr;580(7801):136-141. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2099-x
Cancer genomics studies have identified thousands of putative cancer driver genes. Development of high-throughput and accurate models to define the functions of these genes is a major challenge. Here we devised a scalable cancer-spheroid model and performed genome-wide CRISPR screens in 2D monolayers and 3D lung-cancer spheroids. CRISPR phenotypes in 3D more accurately recapitulated those of in vivo tumours, and genes with differential sensitivities between 2D and 3D conditions were highly enriched for genes that are mutated in lung cancers. These analyses also revealed drivers that are essential for cancer growth in 3D and in vivo, but not in 2D. Notably, we found that carboxypeptidase D is responsible for removal of a C-terminal RKRR motif2 from the α-chain of the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor that is critical for receptor activity. Carboxypeptidase D expression correlates with patient outcomes in patients with lung cancer, and loss of carboxypeptidase D reduced tumour growth. Our results reveal key differences between 2D and 3D cancer models, and establish a generalizable strategy for performing CRISPR screens in spheroids to reveal cancer vulnerabilities.
Dubreuil MM, Morgens DW, Okumoto K, Honsho M, Contrepois K, Lee-McMullen B, Traber G, Sood RS, Dixon SJ, Snyder MP, Fujiki Y, and Bassik MC. Cell Rep. 2020 Feb 4;30(5):1417-1433.e7.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play critical roles in metabolism and disease, yet a comprehensive analysis of the cellular response to oxidative stress is lacking. To systematically identify regulators of oxidative stress, we conducted genome-wide Cas9/CRISPR and shRNA screens. This revealed a detailed picture of diverse pathways that control oxidative stress response, ranging from the TCA cycle and DNA repair machineries to iron transport, trafficking, and metabolism. Paradoxically, disrupting the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) at the level of phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (PGD) protects cells against ROS. This dramatically alters metabolites in the PPP, consistent with rewiring of upper glycolysis to promote antioxidant production. In addition, disruption of peroxisomal import unexpectedly increases resistance to oxidative stress by altering the localization of catalase. Together, these studies provide insights into the roles of peroxisomal matrix import and the PPP in redox biology and represent a rich resource for understanding the cellular response to oxidative stress.
Morgens DW*, Chan C*, Kane AJ, Weir NR, Li A, Tsui CK, Hess GT, Lavertu A, Han K, Polyakov N, Handy EL, Alabi P, Dombroski A, Yao D, Altman RB, Sello JK**, Denic V**, Bassik MC**. Elife. 2019 Nov 1;8:e48434. doi: 10.7554/eLife.48434.
The small molecule Retro-2 prevents ricin toxicity through a poorly-defined mechanism of action (MOA), which involves halting retrograde vesicle transport to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). CRISPRi genetic interaction analysis revealed Retro-2 activity resembles disruption of the transmembrane domain recognition complex (TRC) pathway, which mediates post-translational ER-targeting and insertion of tail-anchored (TA) proteins, including SNAREs required for retrograde transport. Cell-based and in vitro assays show that Retro-2 blocks delivery of newly-synthesized TA-proteins to the ER-targeting factor ASNA1 (TRC40). An ASNA1 point mutant identified using CRISPR-mediated mutagenesis abolishes both the cytoprotective effect of Retro-2 against ricin and its inhibitory effect on ASNA1-mediated ER-targeting. Together, our work explains how Retro-2 prevents retrograde trafficking of toxins by inhibiting TA-protein targeting, describes a general CRISPR strategy for predicting the MOA of small molecules, and paves the way for drugging the TRC pathway to treat broad classes of viruses known to be inhibited by Retro-2.
During infection, Legionella pneumophila translocates over 300 effector proteins into the host cytosol, allowing the pathogen to establish an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-like Legionella-containing vacuole (LCV) that supports bacterial replication. Here, we perform a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen and secondary targeted screens in U937 human monocyte/macrophage-like cells to systematically identify host factors that regulate killing by L. pneumophila. The screens reveal known host factors hijacked by L. pneumophila, as well as genes spanning diverse trafficking and signaling pathways previously not linked to L. pneumophila pathogenesis. We further characterize C1orf43 and KIAA1109 as regulators of phagocytosis and show that RAB10 and its chaperone RABIF are required for optimal L. pneumophila replication and ER recruitment to the LCV. Finally, we show that Rab10 protein is recruited to the LCV and ubiquitinated by the effectors SidC/SdcA. Collectively, our results provide a wealth of previously undescribed insights into L. pneumophila pathogenesis and mammalian cell function.
Tycko J*, Wainberg M*, Marinov GK*, Ursu O, Hess GT, Ego BK, Aradhana, Li A, Truong A, Trevino AE, Spees K, Yao D, Kaplow IM, Greenside PG, Morgens DW, Phanstiel DH, Snyder MP, Bintu L, Greenleaf WJ**, Kundaje A**, Bassik MC**. Nature Communications. 2019 Sep 6;10(1):4063. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11955-7.
Pooled CRISPR-Cas9 screens are a powerful method for functionally characterizing regulatory elements in the non-coding genome, but off-target effects in these experiments have not been systematically evaluated. Here, we investigate Cas9, dCas9, and CRISPRi/a off-target activity in screens for essential regulatory elements. The sgRNAs with the largest effects in genome-scale screens for essential CTCF loop anchors in K562 cells were not single guide RNAs (sgRNAs) that disrupted gene expression near the on-target CTCF anchor. Rather, these sgRNAs had high off-target activity that, while only weakly correlated with absolute off-target site number, could be predicted by the recently developed GuideScan specificity score. Screens conducted in parallel with CRISPRi/a, which do not induce double-stranded DNA breaks, revealed that a distinct set of off-targets also cause strong confounding fitness effects with these epigenome-editing tools. Promisingly, filtering of CRISPRi libraries using GuideScan specificity scores removed these confounded sgRNAs and enabled identification of essential regulatory elements.
Tsui CK, Barfield RM, Fischer CR, Morgens DW, Li A, Smith BAH, Gray MA, Bertozzi CR, Rabuka D, Bassik MC. Nature Chemical Biology. 2019 Oct;15(10):949-958. doi: 10.1038/s41589-019-0342-2.
Antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) selectively deliver chemotherapeutic agents to target cells and are important cancer therapeutics. However, the mechanisms by which ADCs are internalized and activated remain unclear. Using CRISPR-Cas9 screens, we uncover many known and novel endolysosomal regulators as modulators of ADC toxicity. We identify and characterize C18ORF8/RMC1 as a regulator of ADC toxicity through its role in endosomal maturation. Through comparative analysis of screens with ADCs bearing different linkers, we show that a subset of late endolysosomal regulators selectively influence toxicity of noncleavable linker ADCs. Surprisingly, we find cleavable valine-citrulline linkers can be processed rapidly after internalization without lysosomal delivery. Lastly, we show that sialic acid depletion enhances ADC lysosomal delivery and killing in diverse cancer cell types, including with FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)-approved trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) in Her2-positive breast cancer cells. Together, these results reveal new regulators of endolysosomal trafficking, provide important insights for ADC design and identify candidate combination therapy targets.
Haney MS, Bohlen CJ, Morgens DW, Ousey JA, Barkal AA, Tsui CK, Ego B, Levin R, Kamber R, Collins H, Tucker A, Li A, Vorselen D, Labitigan L, Crane E, Boyle E, Jiang L, Chan J, Rincón E, Greenleaf WJ, Li B, Snyder MP, Weissman IL, Theriot JA, Collins SR, Barres BA, Bassik MC Nat Genet. 2018, Dec;50(12):1716-1727.
Phagocytosis is required for a broad range of physiological functions, from pathogen defense to tissue homeostasis, but the mechanisms required for phagocytosis of diverse substrates remain incompletely understood. Here, we developed a rapid magnet-based phenotypic screening strategy, and performed eight genome-wide CRISPR screens in human cells to identify genes regulating phagocytosis of distinct substrates. After validating select hits in focused miniscreens, orthogonal assays and primary human macrophages, we show that (1) the previously uncharacterized gene NHLRC2 is a central player in phagocytosis, regulating RhoA-Rac1 signaling cascades that control actin polymerization and filopodia formation, (2) very-long-chain fatty acids are essential for efficient phagocytosis of certain substrates and (3) the previously uncharacterized Alzheimer's disease-associated gene TM2D3 can preferentially influence uptake of amyloid-β aggregates. These findings illuminate new regulators and core principles of phagocytosis, and more generally establish an efficient method for unbiased identification of cellular uptake mechanisms across diverse physiological and pathological contexts.
Kramer NJ*, Haney MS*, Morgens DW, Jovičić A, Couthouis J, Li A, Ousey J, Ma R, Bieri G, Bassik MC**, Gitler AD** Nat. Genet.. 2018 Mar 5. doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0070-7.
Hexanucleotide-repeat expansions in the C9ORF72 gene are the most common cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia (c9ALS/FTD). The nucleotide-repeat expansions are translated into dipeptide-repeat (DPR) proteins, which are aggregation prone and may contribute to neurodegeneration. We used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to perform genome-wide gene-knockout screens for suppressors and enhancers of C9ORF72 DPR toxicity in human cells. We validated hits by performing secondary CRISPR-Cas9 screens in primary mouse neurons. We uncovered potent modifiers of DPR toxicity whose gene products function in nucleocytoplasmic transport, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), proteasome, RNA-processing pathways, and chromatin modification. One modifier, TMX2, modulated the ER-stress signature elicited by C9ORF72 DPRs in neurons and improved survival of human induced motor neurons from patients with C9ORF72 ALS. Together, our results demonstrate the promise of CRISPR-Cas9 screens in defining mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.
Liu N,* Lee CH,* Swigut T, Grow E, Gu B, Bassik MC**, Wysocka J** Nature. 2017 doi:10.1038/nature25179, published online 06 December.
Transposable elements, also known as transposons, are now recognized not only as parasitic DNA, the spread of which in the genome must be controlled by the host, but also as major players in genome evolution and regulation. Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1, also known as L1), the only currently autonomous mobile transposon in humans, occupies 17% of the genome and generates inter- and intra-individual genetic variation, in some cases resulting in disease. However, how L1 activity is controlled and the function of L1s in host gene regulation are not completely understood. Here we use CRISPR-Cas9 screening strategies in two distinct human cell lines to provide a genome-wide survey of genes involved in the control of L1 retrotransposition. We identify functionally diverse genes that either promote or restrict L1 retrotransposition. These genes, which are often associated with human diseases, control the L1 life cycle at the transcriptional or the post-transcriptional level in a manner that can depend on the endogenous L1 nucleotide sequence, underscoring the complexity of L1 regulation. We further investigate the restriction of L1 by the protein MORC2 and by the human silencing hub (HUSH) complex subunits MPP8 and TASOR. HUSH and MORC2 can selectively bind evolutionarily young, full-length L1s located within transcriptionally permissive euchromatic environments, and promote deposition of histone H3 Lys9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) for transcriptional silencing. Notably, these silencing events often occur within introns of transcriptionally active genes, and lead to the downregulation of host gene expression in a HUSH-, MORC2-, and L1-dependent manner. Together, these results provide a rich resource for studies of L1 retrotransposition, elucidate a novel L1 restriction pathway and illustrate how epigenetic silencing of transposable elements rewires host gene expression programs.
Hess GT, Tycko J, Yao D, Bassik MC. Mol. Cell. 2017 Oct 5;68(1):26-43. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.09.029. Review.
The past several years have seen an explosion in development of applications for the CRISPR-Cas9 system, from efficient genome editing, to high-throughput screening, to recruitment of a range of DNA and chromatin-modifying enzymes. While homology-directed repair (HDR) coupled with Cas9 nuclease cleavage has been used with great success to repair and re-write genomes, recently developed base-editing systems present a useful orthogonal strategy to engineer nucleotide substitutions. Base editing relies on recruitment of cytidine deaminases to introduce changes (rather than double-stranded breaks and donor templates) and offers potential improvements in efficiency while limiting damage and simplifying the delivery of editing machinery. At the same time, these systems enable novel mutagenesis strategies to introduce sequence diversity for engineering and discovery. Here, we review the different base-editing platforms, including their deaminase recruitment strategies and editing outcomes, and compare them to other CRISPR genome-editing technologies. Additionally, we discuss how these systems have been applied in therapeutic, engineering, and research settings. Lastly, we explore future directions of this emerging technology.
Morgens DW, Wainberg M, Boyle EA, Ursu O, Araya CL, Tsui CK, Haney MS, Hess GT, Han K, Jeng EE, Li A, Snyder MP, Greenleaf WJ, Kundaje A, Bassik MC Nat. Commun.. 2017 May 5;8:15178.
CRISPR-Cas9 screens are powerful tools for high-throughput interrogation of genome function, but can be confounded by nuclease-induced toxicity at both on- and off-target sites, likely due to DNA damage. Here, to test potential solutions to this issue, we design and analyse a CRISPR-Cas9 library with 10 variable-length guides per gene and thousands of negative controls targeting non-functional, non-genic regions (termed safe-targeting guides), in addition to non-targeting controls. We find this library has excellent performance in identifying genes affecting growth and sensitivity to the ricin toxin. The safe-targeting guides allow for proper control of toxicity from on-target DNA damage. Using this toxicity as a proxy to measure off-target cutting, we demonstrate with tens of thousands of guides both the nucleotide position-dependent sensitivity to single mismatches and the reduction of off-target cutting using truncated guides. Our results demonstrate a simple strategy for high-throughput evaluation of target specificity and nuclease toxicity in Cas9 screens.
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.