Honors & Awards
Postdoctoral Fellow, Helen Hay Whitney Foundation (2015-2018)
Predoctoral Fellow, NSF NanoBio IGERT (2007-2010)
Beckman Scholar, Beckman Scholars Program (2005-2006)
Education & Certifications
PhD, Johns Hopkins University (2013)
B.S, College of William and Mary (2006)
Lamia Wahba, Douglas Koshland. "United States Patent 9,982,277 Methods and Compositions for Target DNA Modification", May 29, 2018
An essential role for the piRNA pathway in regulating the ribosomal RNA pool in C.elegans.
Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are RNA effectors with key roles in maintaining genome integrity and promoting fertility in metazoans. In Caenorhabditis elegans loss of piRNAs leads to a transgenerational sterility phenotype. The plethora of piRNAs and their ability to silence transcripts with imperfect complementarity have raised several (non-exclusive) models for the underlying drivers of sterility. Here, we report the extranuclear and transferable nature of the sterility driver, its suppression via mutations disrupting the endogenous RNAi and poly-uridylation machinery, and copy-number amplification at the ribosomal DNA locus. In piRNA-deficient animals, several small interfering RNA (siRNA) populations become increasingly overabundant in the generations preceding loss of germline function, including ribosomal siRNAs (risiRNAs). A concomitant increase in uridylated sense rRNA fragments suggests that poly-uridylation may potentiate RNAi-mediated gene silencing of rRNAs. We conclude that loss of the piRNA machinery allows for unchecked amplification of siRNA populations, originating from abundant highly structured RNAs, to deleterious levels.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.07.014
View details for PubMedID 34388368
PLP-1 is essential for germ cell development and germline gene silencing in C. elegans.
Development (Cambridge, England)
The germ line genome is guarded against invading foreign genetic elements by small RNA-dependent gene-silencing pathways. Components of these pathways localize to, or form distinct aggregates in the vicinity of, germ granules. These components and their dynamics in and out of granules are currently being intensively studied. Here, we report the identification of PLP-1, a C. elegans protein related to the human single-stranded nucleic acid-binding protein called Pur-alpha, as a component of germ granules in C. elegans We show that PLP-1 is essential for silencing different types of transgenes in the germ line, and for suppressing the expression of several endogenous genes controlled by the germline gene-silencing pathways. Our results reveal that PLP-1 functions downstream of small RNA biogenesis during initiation of gene silencing. Based on these results and the earlier findings that Pur-alpha proteins interact with both RNA and protein, we propose PLP-1 couples certain RNAs with their protein partners in the silencing complex. Its orthologs localized on RNA granules may similarly contribute to germline gene silencing in other organisms.
View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.195578
View details for PubMedID 33051256
An Extensive Meta-Metagenomic Search Identifies SARS-CoV-2-Homologous Sequences in Pangolin Lung Viromes.
2020; 5 (3)
In numerous instances, tracking the biological significance of a nucleic acid sequence can be augmented through the identification of environmental niches in which the sequence of interest is present. Many metagenomic data sets are now available, with deep sequencing of samples from diverse biological niches. While any individual metagenomic data set can be readily queried using web-based tools, meta-searches through all such data sets are less accessible. In this brief communication, we demonstrate such a meta-metagenomic approach, examining close matches to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in all high-throughput sequencing data sets in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive accessible with the "virome" keyword. In addition to the homology to bat coronaviruses observed in descriptions of the SARS-CoV-2 sequence (F. Wu, S. Zhao, B. Yu, Y. M. Chen, et al., Nature 579:265-269, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2008-3; P. Zhou, X. L. Yang, X. G. Wang, B. Hu, et al., Nature 579:270-273, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2012-7), we note a strong homology to numerous sequence reads in metavirome data sets generated from the lungs of deceased pangolins reported by Liu et al. (P. Liu, W. Chen, and J. P. Chen, Viruses 11:979, 2019, https://doi.org/10.3390/v11110979). While analysis of these reads indicates the presence of a similar viral sequence in pangolin lung, the similarity is not sufficient to either confirm or rule out a role for pangolins as an intermediate host in the recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2. In addition to the implications for SARS-CoV-2 emergence, this study illustrates the utility and limitations of meta-metagenomic search tools in effective and rapid characterization of potentially significant nucleic acid sequences.IMPORTANCE Meta-metagenomic searches allow for high-speed, low-cost identification of potentially significant biological niches for sequences of interest.
View details for DOI 10.1128/mSphere.00160-20
View details for PubMedID 32376697
Recompleting the Caenorhabditis elegans genome.
Caenorhabditis elegans was the first multicellular eukaryotic genome sequenced to apparent completion. Although this assembly employed a standard C. elegans strain (N2), it used sequence data from several laboratories, with DNA propagated in bacteria and yeast. Thus, the N2 assembly has many differences from any C. elegans available today. To provide a more accurate C. elegans genome, we performed long-read assembly of VC2010, a modern strain derived from N2. Our VC2010 assembly has 99.98% identity to N2 but with an additional 1.8 Mb including tandem repeat expansions and genome duplications. For 116 structural discrepancies between N2 and VC2010, 97 structures matching VC2010 (84%) were also found in two outgroup strains, implying deficiencies in N2. Over 98% of N2 genes encoded unchanged products in VC2010; moreover, we predicted ≥53 new genes in VC2010. The recompleted genome of C. elegans should be a valuable resource for genetics, genomics, and systems biology.
View details for DOI 10.1101/gr.244830.118
View details for PubMedID 31123080
S1-DRIP-seq identifies high expression and polyA tracts as major contributors to R-loop formation
GENES & DEVELOPMENT
2016; 30 (11): 1327-1338
R loops form when transcripts hybridize to homologous DNA on chromosomes, yielding a DNA:RNA hybrid and a displaced DNA single strand. R loops impact the genome of many organisms, regulating chromosome stability, gene expression, and DNA repair. Understanding the parameters dictating R-loop formation in vivo has been hampered by the limited quantitative and spatial resolution of current genomic strategies for mapping R loops. We report a novel whole-genome method, S1-DRIP-seq (S1 nuclease DNA:RNA immunoprecipitation with deep sequencing), for mapping hybrid-prone regions in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae Using this methodology, we identified ∼800 hybrid-prone regions covering 8% of the genome. Given the pervasive transcription of the yeast genome, this result suggests that R-loop formation is dictated by characteristics of the DNA, RNA, and/or chromatin. We successfully identified two features highly predictive of hybrid formation: high transcription and long homopolymeric dA:dT tracts. These accounted for >60% of the hybrid regions found in the genome. We demonstrated that these two factors play a causal role in hybrid formation by genetic manipulation. Thus, the hybrid map generated by S1-DRIP-seq led to the identification of the first global genomic features causal for R-loop formation in yeast.
View details for DOI 10.1101/gad.280834.116
View details for Web of Science ID 000378084000008
View details for PubMedID 27298336
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4911931
The homologous recombination machinery modulates the formation of RNA-DNA hybrids and associated chromosome instability
2013; 2: e00505
Genome instability in yeast and mammals is caused by RNA-DNA hybrids that form as a result of defects in different aspects of RNA biogenesis. We report that in yeast mutants defective for transcription repression and RNA degradation, hybrid formation requires Rad51p and Rad52p. These proteins normally promote DNA-DNA strand exchange in homologous recombination. We suggest they also directly promote the DNA-RNA strand exchange necessary for hybrid formation since we observed accumulation of Rad51p at a model hybrid-forming locus. Furthermore, we provide evidence that Rad51p mediates hybridization of transcripts to homologous chromosomal loci distinct from their site of synthesis. This hybrid formation in trans amplifies the genome-destabilizing potential of RNA and broadens the exclusive co-transcriptional models that pervade the field. The deleterious hybrid-forming activity of Rad51p is counteracted by Srs2p, a known Rad51p antagonist. Thus Srs2p serves as a novel anti-hybrid mechanism in vivo. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.00505.001.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.00505
View details for Web of Science ID 000328616500001
View details for PubMedID 23795288
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3679537
RNase H and Multiple RNA Biogenesis Factors Cooperate to Prevent RNA:DNA Hybrids from Generating Genome Instability
2011; 44 (6): 978-988
Genome instability, a hallmark of cancer progression, is thought to arise through DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). Studies in yeast and mammalian cells have shown that DSBs and instability can occur through RNA:DNA hybrids generated by defects in RNA elongation and splicing. We report that in yeast hybrids naturally form at many loci in wild-type cells, likely due to transcriptional errors, but are removed by two evolutionarily conserved RNase H enzymes. Mutants defective in transcriptional repression, RNA export and RNA degradation show increased hybrid formation and associated genome instability. One mutant, sin3Δ, changes the genome profile of hybrids, enhancing formation at ribosomal DNA. Hybrids likely induce damage in G1, S and G2/M as assayed by Rad52 foci. In summary, RNA:DNA hybrids are a potent source for changing genome structure. By preventing their formation and accumulation, multiple RNA biogenesis factors and RNase H act as guardians of the genome.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.10.017
View details for Web of Science ID 000298827200015
View details for PubMedID 22195970
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3271842