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LADL: Light-activated dynamic looping for endogenous gene expression control

By Mayuri Rege, Ji Hun Kim, Jacqueline Valeri, Margaret C. Dunagin, Aryeh Metzger, Wanfeng Gong, Jonathan A. Beagan, Arjun Raj, Jennifer E. Phillips-Cremins

Posted 18 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/349340

Mammalian genomes are folded into tens of thousands of long-range looping interactions. The cause and effect relationship between looping and genome function is poorly understood, and the extent to which chromatin loops are dynamic on short time scales remains a fundamental unanswered question. Currently available strategies for loop engineering involve synthetic transcription factors tethered to dCas9 or zinc fingers, which are constitutively expressed or induced on long time scales by the presence of a small molecule. Here we report a new class of 3-D optoepigenetic tools for the directed rearrangement of 3-D chromatin looping on short time scales using blue light. We create synthetic architectural proteins by fusing the CIBN protein subunit from Arabidopsis thaliana with enzymatically dead Cas9 (dCas9). We target our light-activated dynamic looping system (LADL) to two genomic anchors with CRISPR guide RNAs and engineer their spatial co-localization via light-induced heterodimerization of the cryptochrome 2 (CRY2) protein with dCas9-CIBN. We apply LADL to redirect a stretch enhancer (SE) away from its endogenous Klf4 target gene and to the Zfp462 promoter. Looping changes occur as early as four hours after light induction. Using single molecule RNA FISH, we observe a LADL-induced increase in the total nascent Zfp462 transcripts and the number of Zfp462 alleles expressing simultaneously per cell. Moreover, LADL also increased synchronous Sox2 expression after reinforcement of a known Sox2-SE looping interaction. LADL facilitates loop synchronization across a large population of cells without exogenous chemical cofactors and can enable future efforts to engineer reversible and oscillatory looping on short time scales.

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