LINE-1/L1 retrotransposon sequences comprise 17% of the human genome. Among the many classes of mobile genetic elements, L1 is the only autonomous retrotransposon that still drives human genomic plasticity today. Through its co-evolution with the human genome, L1 has intertwined itself with host cell biology. However, a clear understanding of L1's lifecycle and the processes involved in restricting its insertion and intragenomic spread remains elusive. Here we identify modes of L1 proteins' entrance into the nucleus, a necessary step for L1 proliferation. Using functional, biochemical, and imaging approaches, we also show a clear cell cycle bias for L1 retrotransposition that peaks during the S phase. Our observations provide a basis for novel interpretations about the nature of nuclear and cytoplasmic L1 ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) and the potential role of DNA replication in L1 retrotransposition.
- Jef D Boeke
- Chi Y Yun
- Chi Y Yun
- Chi Y Yun
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Stephen P Goff, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, United States
© 2018, Mita et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
The mechanisms by which a retrotransposon called LINE-1 duplicates itself and spreads through the human genome are becoming clearer.
Conventional antibodies and their derived fragments are difficult to deploy against intracellular targets in live cells, due to their bulk and structural complexity. Nanobodies provide an alternative modality, with well-documented examples of intracellular expression. Despite their promise as intracellular reagents, there has not been a systematic study of nanobody intracellular expression. Here, we examined intracellular expression of 75 nanobodies from the Protein Data Bank. Surprisingly, a majority of these nanobodies were unstable in cells, illustrated by aggregation and clearance. Using comparative analysis and framework mutagenesis, we developed a general approach that stabilized a great majority of nanobodies that were originally unstable intracellularly, without significantly compromising target binding. This approach led to the identification of distinct sequence features that impacted the intracellular stability of tested nanobodies. Mutationally stabilized nanobody expression was found to extend to in vivo contexts, in the murine retina and in E. coli. These data provide for improvements in nanobody engineering for intracellular applications, potentiating a growing field of intracellular interrogation and intervention.