Lei Zhang
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Lei Zhang
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A TALE nuclease architecture for efficient genome editing.
Journal: Nature biotechnology
June/5/2011
Description

Nucleases that cleave unique genomic sequences in living cells can be used for targeted gene editing and mutagenesis. Here we develop a strategy for generating such reagents based on transcription activator-like effector (TALE) proteins from Xanthomonas. We identify TALE truncation variants that efficiently cleave DNA when linked to the catalytic domain of FokI and use these nucleases to generate discrete edits or small deletions within endogenous human NTF3 and CCR5 genes at efficiencies of up to 25%. We further show that designed TALEs can regulate endogenous mammalian genes. These studies demonstrate the effective application of designed TALE transcription factors and nucleases for the targeted regulation and modification of endogenous genes.

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Membrane transporters in drug development.
Journal: Nature reviews. Drug discovery
April/28/2010
Description

Membrane transporters can be major determinants of the pharmacokinetic, safety and efficacy profiles of drugs. This presents several key questions for drug development, including which transporters are clinically important in drug absorption and disposition, and which in vitro methods are suitable for studying drug interactions with these transporters. In addition, what criteria should trigger follow-up clinical studies, and which clinical studies should be conducted if needed. In this article, we provide the recommendations of the International Transporter Consortium on these issues, and present decision trees that are intended to help guide clinical studies on the currently recognized most important drug transporter interactions. The recommendations are generally intended to support clinical development and filing of a new drug application. Overall, it is advised that the timing of transporter investigations should be driven by efficacy, safety and clinical trial enrolment questions (for example, exclusion and inclusion criteria), as well as a need for further understanding of the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion properties of the drug molecule, and information required for drug labelling.

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Genetic engineering of human pluripotent cells using TALE nucleases.
Journal: Nature biotechnology
December/6/2011
Description

Targeted genetic engineering of human pluripotent cells is a prerequisite for exploiting their full potential. Such genetic manipulations can be achieved using site-specific nucleases. Here we engineered transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) for five distinct genomic loci. At all loci tested we obtained human embryonic stem cell (ESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) clones carrying transgenic cassettes solely at the TALEN-specified location. Our data suggest that TALENs employing the specific architectures described here mediate site-specific genome modification in human pluripotent cells with similar efficiency and precision as do zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs).

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Efficient targeting of expressed and silent genes in human ESCs and iPSCs using zinc-finger nucleases.
Journal: Nature biotechnology
December/28/2009
Description

Realizing the full potential of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) requires efficient methods for genetic modification. However, techniques to generate cell type-specific lineage reporters, as well as reliable tools to disrupt, repair or overexpress genes by gene targeting, are inefficient at best and thus are not routinely used. Here we report the highly efficient targeting of three genes in human pluripotent cells using zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN)-mediated genome editing. First, using ZFNs specific for the OCT4 (POU5F1) locus, we generated OCT4-eGFP reporter cells to monitor the pluripotent state of hESCs. Second, we inserted a transgene into the AAVS1 locus to generate a robust drug-inducible overexpression system in hESCs. Finally, we targeted the PITX3 gene, demonstrating that ZFNs can be used to generate reporter cells by targeting non-expressed genes in hESCs and hiPSCs.

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Knockout rats via embryo microinjection of zinc-finger nucleases.
Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.)
September/8/2009
Description

The toolbox of rat genetics currently lacks the ability to introduce site-directed, heritable mutations into the genome to create knockout animals. By using engineered zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) designed to target an integrated reporter and two endogenous rat genes, Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Rab38, we demonstrate that a single injection of DNA or messenger RNA encoding ZFNs into the one-cell rat embryo leads to a high frequency of animals carrying 25 to 100% disruption at the target locus. These mutations are faithfully and efficiently transmitted through the germline. Our data demonstrate the feasibility of targeted gene disruption in multiple rat strains within 4 months time, paving the way to a humanized monoclonal antibody platform and additional human disease models.

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Heritable targeted gene disruption in zebrafish using designed zinc-finger nucleases.
Journal: Nature biotechnology
July/6/2008
Description

We describe the use of zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) for somatic and germline disruption of genes in zebrafish (Danio rerio), in which targeted mutagenesis was previously intractable. ZFNs induce a targeted double-strand break in the genome that is repaired to generate small insertions and deletions. We designed ZFNs targeting the zebrafish golden and no tail/Brachyury (ntl) genes and developed a budding yeast-based assay to identify the most active ZFNs for use in vivo. Injection of ZFN-encoding mRNA into one-cell embryos yielded a high percentage of animals carrying distinct mutations at the ZFN-specified position and exhibiting expected loss-of-function phenotypes. Over half the ZFN mRNA-injected founder animals transmitted disrupted ntl alleles at frequencies averaging 20%. The frequency and precision of gene-disruption events observed suggest that this approach should be applicable to any loci in zebrafish or in other organisms that allow mRNA delivery into the fertilized egg.

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Essential roles of PI(3)K-p110beta in cell growth, metabolism and tumorigenesis.
Journal: Nature
September/17/2008
Description

On activation by receptors, the ubiquitously expressed class IA isoforms (p110alpha and p110beta) of phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) generate lipid second messengers, which initiate multiple signal transduction cascades. Recent studies have demonstrated specific functions for p110alpha in growth factor and insulin signalling. To probe for distinct functions of p110beta, we constructed conditional knockout mice. Here we show that ablation of p110beta in the livers of the resulting mice leads to impaired insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis, while having little effect on phosphorylation of Akt, suggesting the involvement of a kinase-independent role of p110beta in insulin metabolic action. Using established mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we found that removal of p110beta also had little effect on Akt phosphorylation in response to stimulation by insulin and epidermal growth factor, but resulted in retarded cell proliferation. Reconstitution of p110beta-null cells with a wild-type or kinase-dead allele of p110beta demonstrated that p110beta possesses kinase-independent functions in regulating cell proliferation and trafficking. However, the kinase activity of p110beta was required for G-protein-coupled receptor signalling triggered by lysophosphatidic acid and had a function in oncogenic transformation. Most strikingly, in an animal model of prostate tumour formation induced by Pten loss, ablation of p110beta (also known as Pik3cb), but not that of p110alpha (also known as Pik3ca), impeded tumorigenesis with a concomitant diminution of Akt phosphorylation. Taken together, our findings demonstrate both kinase-dependent and kinase-independent functions for p110beta, and strongly indicate the kinase-dependent functions of p110beta as a promising target in cancer therapy.

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Pubmed
Generation of isogenic pluripotent stem cells differing exclusively at two early onset Parkinson point mutations.
Journal: Cell
September/18/2011
Description

Patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from somatic cells provide a unique tool for the study of human disease, as well as a promising source for cell replacement therapies. One crucial limitation has been the inability to perform experiments under genetically defined conditions. This is particularly relevant for late age onset disorders in which in vitro phenotypes are predicted to be subtle and susceptible to significant effects of genetic background variations. By combining zinc finger nuclease (ZFN)-mediated genome editing and iPSC technology, we provide a generally applicable solution to this problem, generating sets of isogenic disease and control human pluripotent stem cells that differ exclusively at either of two susceptibility variants for Parkinson's disease by modifying the underlying point mutations in the α-synuclein gene. The robust capability to genetically correct disease-causing point mutations in patient-derived hiPSCs represents significant progress for basic biomedical research and an advance toward hiPSC-based cell replacement therapies.

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A map of rice genome variation reveals the origin of cultivated rice.
Journal: Nature
December/9/2012
Description

Crop domestications are long-term selection experiments that have greatly advanced human civilization. The domestication of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa L.) ranks as one of the most important developments in history. However, its origins and domestication processes are controversial and have long been debated. Here we generate genome sequences from 446 geographically diverse accessions of the wild rice species Oryza rufipogon, the immediate ancestral progenitor of cultivated rice, and from 1,083 cultivated indica and japonica varieties to construct a comprehensive map of rice genome variation. In the search for signatures of selection, we identify 55 selective sweeps that have occurred during domestication. In-depth analyses of the domestication sweeps and genome-wide patterns reveal that Oryza sativa japonica rice was first domesticated from a specific population of O. rufipogon around the middle area of the Pearl River in southern China, and that Oryza sativa indica rice was subsequently developed from crosses between japonica rice and local wild rice as the initial cultivars spread into South East and South Asia. The domestication-associated traits are analysed through high-resolution genetic mapping. This study provides an important resource for rice breeding and an effective genomics approach for crop domestication research.

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Sequence and structural variation in a human genome uncovered by short-read, massively parallel ligation sequencing using two-base encoding.
Journal: Genome research
December/1/2009
Description

We describe the genome sequencing of an anonymous individual of African origin using a novel ligation-based sequencing assay that enables a unique form of error correction that improves the raw accuracy of the aligned reads to >99.9%, allowing us to accurately call SNPs with as few as two reads per allele. We collected several billion mate-paired reads yielding approximately 18x haploid coverage of aligned sequence and close to 300x clone coverage. Over 98% of the reference genome is covered with at least one uniquely placed read, and 99.65% is spanned by at least one uniquely placed mate-paired clone. We identify over 3.8 million SNPs, 19% of which are novel. Mate-paired data are used to physically resolve haplotype phases of nearly two-thirds of the genotypes obtained and produce phased segments of up to 215 kb. We detect 226,529 intra-read indels, 5590 indels between mate-paired reads, 91 inversions, and four gene fusions. We use a novel approach for detecting indels between mate-paired reads that are smaller than the standard deviation of the insert size of the library and discover deletions in common with those detected with our intra-read approach. Dozens of mutations previously described in OMIM and hundreds of nonsynonymous single-nucleotide and structural variants in genes previously implicated in disease are identified in this individual. There is more genetic variation in the human genome still to be uncovered, and we provide guidance for future surveys in populations and cancer biopsies.

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