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1.  Decelerating the Aging Process 
Diseases whose incidence and prevalence are increased in the elderly and whose cytopathology, hormones, and immunogenesis differ, generally are included in the field of geriatrics. These conditions may be precipitated or accelerated in quantity or type by a wide variety of genetic and environmental factors. Chronological and progressive deterioration of selected cells, organs, and tissues, and their functions may occur without major specific pathology. These processes are referred to as senescence and its study, is gerontology.
Geriatrics includes senility and diseases of the elderly. Terms associated with gerontology include benign agism or senescence, as a normal consequence of the aging processes common to all biological forms of life.
The age period, 65 to 85 years, does not necessarily imply senility, but the normal chronological aging of an individual in an industrialized, urbanized society. This paper emphasizes recommendations for deceleration of the normal aging process.
PMCID: PMC2537227  PMID: 423284
2.  Heterochromatin Instability in Cancer: From the Barr Body to Satellites and the Nuclear Periphery 
Seminars in cancer biology  2012;23(2):99-108.
In recent years it has been recognized that the development of cancer involves a series of not only genetic but epigenetic changes across the genome. At the same time, connections between epigenetic regulation, chromatin packaging, and overall nuclear architecture are increasingly appreciated. The cell-type specific organization of heterochromatin, established upon cell differentiation, is responsible for maintaining much of the genome in a repressed state, within a highly compartmentalized nucleus. This review focuses on recent evidence that in cancer the normal packaging and higher organization of heterochromatin is often compromised. Gross changes in nuclear morphology have long been a criterion for pathologic diagnosis of many cancers, but the specific nuclear components impacted, the mechanisms involved, and the implications for cancer progression have barely begun to emerge. We discuss recent findings regarding distinct heterochromatin types, including the inactive X chromosome, constitutive heterochromatin of peri/centric satellites, and the peripheral heterochromatic compartment (PHC). A theme developed here is that the higher-order organization of satellites and the peripheral heterochromatic compartment may be tightly linked, and that compromise of this organization may promote broad epigenomic imbalance in cancer. Recent studies into the potential role(s) of the breast cancer tumor suppressor, BRCA1, in maintaining heterochromatin will be highlighted. Many questions remain about this new area of cancer epigenetics, which is likely more important in cancer development and progression than widely appreciated. We propose that broad, stochastic compromise in heterochromatin maintenance would create a diversity of expression profiles, and thus a rich opportunity for one or more cells to emerge with a selective growth advantage and potential for neoplasia.
PMCID: PMC3500402  PMID: 22722067
heterochromatin; XIST; cancer; satellite DNA; epigenetics; BRCA1
3.  Aurora-B/AIM-1 Regulates the Dynamic Behavior of HP1α at the G2–M Transition 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2006;17(7):3232-3241.
Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) plays an important role in heterochromatin formation and undergoes large-scale, progressive dissociation from heterochromatin in prophase cells. However, the mechanisms regulating the dynamic behavior of HP1 are poorly understood. In this study, the role of Aurora-B was investigated with respect to the dynamic behavior of HP1α. Mammalian Aurora-B, AIM-1, colocalizes with HP1α to the heterochromatin in G2. Depletion of Aurora-B/AIM-1 inhibited dissociation of HP1α from the chromosome arms at the G2–M transition. In addition, depletion of INCENP led to aberrant cellular localization of Aurora-B/AIM-1, but it did not affect heterochromatin targeting of HP1α. It was proposed in the binary switch hypothesis that phosphorylation of histone H3 at Ser-10 negatively regulates the binding of HP1α to the adjacent methylated Lys-9. However, Aurora-B/AIM-1-mediated phosphorylation of H3 induced dissociation of the HP1α chromodomain but not of the intact protein in vitro, indicating that the center and/or C-terminal domain of HP1α interferes with the effect of H3 phosphorylation on HP1α dissociation. Interestingly, Lys-9 methyltransferase SUV39H1 is abnormally localized together along the metaphase chromosome arms in Aurora-B/AIM-1–depleted cells. In conclusion, these results showed that Aurora-B/AIM-1 is necessary for regulated histone modifications involved in binding of HP1α by the N terminus of histone H3 during mitosis.
PMCID: PMC1483052  PMID: 16687578
4.  Centromeric heterochromatin assembly in fission yeast—balancing transcription, RNA interference and chromatin modification 
Distinct regions of the eukaryotic genome are packaged into different types of chromatin, with euchromatin representing gene rich, transcriptionally active regions and heterochromatin more condensed and gene poor. The assembly and maintenance of heterochromatin is important for many aspects of genome control, including silencing of gene transcription, suppression of recombination, and to ensure proper chromosome segregation. The precise mechanisms underlying heterochromatin establishment and maintenance are still unclear, but much progress has been made towards understanding this process during the last few years, particularly from studies performed in fission yeast. In this review, we hope to provide a conceptual model of centromeric heterochromatin in fission yeast that integrates our current understanding of the competing forces of transcription, replication, and RNA decay that influence its assembly and propagation.
PMCID: PMC3580186  PMID: 22733402
Centromere; Heterochromatin; RNAi; Non-coding RNA
5.  Defects in RNA quality control factors reveal RNAi-independent nucleation of heterochromatin 
Nature structural & molecular biology  2011;18(10):1132-1138.
Heterochromatin assembly at fission yeast centromeres involves a self-reinforcing loop mechanism wherein chromatin-bound RNAi factors facilitate targeting of Clr4–Rik1 methyltransferase. However, the initial nucleation of heterochromatin has remained elusive. We show that cells lacking Mlo3, a protein involved in mRNP biogenesis and RNA quality control, assemble functional heterochromatin capable of promoting chromosome segregation in RNAi deficient cells. Heterochromatin restoration is linked to RNA surveillance because loss of Mlo3-associated TRAMP also rescues heterochromatin defects of RNAi mutants. Remarkably, mlo3Δ, which causes accumulation of bidirectional repeat-transcripts, restores Rik1 enrichment at repeats, and triggers de novo heterochromatin formation in the absence of RNAi. RNAi-independent heterochromatin nucleation occurs at selected euchromatic loci that show upregulation of antisense RNAs in mlo3Δ cells. We find that the exosome RNA degradation machinery acts parallel to RNAi to promote heterochromatin formation. These results suggest that RNAi-independent mechanisms exploit transcription and non-coding RNAs to nucleate heterochromatin.
PMCID: PMC3190054  PMID: 21892171
6.  Molecular Dissection of Formation of Senescence-Associated Heterochromatin Foci▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(6):2343-2358.
Senescence is characterized by an irreversible cell proliferation arrest. Specialized domains of facultative heterochromatin, called senescence-associated heterochromatin foci (SAHF), are thought to contribute to the irreversible cell cycle exit in many senescent cells by repressing the expression of proliferation-promoting genes such as cyclin A. SAHF contain known heterochromatin-forming proteins, such as heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) and the histone H2A variant macroH2A, and other specialized chromatin proteins, such as HMGA proteins. Previously, we showed that a complex of histone chaperones, histone repressor A (HIRA) and antisilencing function 1a (ASF1a), plays a key role in the formation of SAHF. Here we have further dissected the series of events that contribute to SAHF formation. We show that each chromosome condenses into a single SAHF focus. Chromosome condensation depends on the ability of ASF1a to physically interact with its deposition substrate, histone H3, in addition to its cochaperone, HIRA. In cells entering senescence, HP1γ, but not the related proteins HP1α and HP1β, becomes phosphorylated on serine 93. This phosphorylation is required for efficient incorporation of HP1γ into SAHF. Remarkably, however, a dramatic reduction in the amount of chromatin-bound HP1 proteins does not detectably affect chromosome condensation into SAHF. Moreover, abundant HP1 proteins are not required for the accumulation in SAHF of histone H3 methylated on lysine 9, the recruitment of macroH2A proteins, nor other hallmarks of senescence, such as the expression of senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity and senescence-associated cell cycle exit. Based on our results, we propose a stepwise model for the formation of SAHF.
PMCID: PMC1820509  PMID: 17242207
7.  RNA polymerase II transcription is required for human papillomavirus type 16 E7- and hydroxyurea-induced centriole overduplication 
Oncogene  2006;26(2):215-223.
Aberrant centrosome numbers are detected in virtually all human cancers where they can contribute to chromosomal instability by promoting mitotic spindle abnormalities. Despite their widespread occurrence, the molecular mechanisms that underlie centrosome amplification are only beginning to emerge. Here, we present evidence for a novel regulatory circuit involved in centrosome overduplication that centers on RNA polymerase II (pol II). We found that human papillomavirus type 16 E7 (HPV-16 E7)- and hydroxyurea (HU)-induced centriole overduplication are abrogated by α-amanitin, a potent and specific RNA pol II inhibitor. In contrast, normal centriole duplication proceeded undisturbed in α-amanitin-treated cells. Centriole overduplication was significantly reduced by siRNA-mediated knock-down of CREB-binding protein (CBP), a transcriptional co-activator. We identified cyclin A2 as a key transcriptional target of RNA pol II during HU-induced centriole overduplication. Collectively, our results show that ongoing RNA pol II transcription is required for centriole overduplication whereas it may be dispensable for normal centriole duplication. Given that many chemotherapeutic agents function through inhibition of transcription, our results may help to develop strategies to target centrosome-mediated chromosomal instability for cancer therapy and prevention.
PMCID: PMC2228273  PMID: 16819507
8.  Histone Hyperacetylation in Mitosis Prevents Sister Chromatid Separation and Produces Chromosome Segregation Defects 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(9):3821-3833.
Posttranslational modifications of core histones contribute to driving changes in chromatin conformation and compaction. Herein, we investigated the role of histone deacetylation on the mitotic process by inhibiting histone deacetylases shortly before mitosis in human primary fibroblasts. Cells entering mitosis with hyperacetylated histones displayed altered chromatin conformation associated with decreased reactivity to the anti-Ser 10 phospho H3 antibody, increased recruitment of protein phosphatase 1-δ on mitotic chromosomes, and depletion of heterochromatin protein 1 from the centromeric heterochromatin. Inhibition of histone deacetylation before mitosis produced defective chromosome condensation and impaired mitotic progression in living cells, suggesting that improper chromosome condensation may induce mitotic checkpoint activation. In situ hybridization analysis on anaphase cells demonstrated the presence of chromatin bridges, which were caused by persisting cohesion along sister chromatid arms after centromere separation. Thus, the presence of hyperacetylated chromatin during mitosis impairs proper chromosome condensation during the pre-anaphase stages, resulting in poor sister chromatid resolution. Lagging chromosomes consisting of single or paired sisters were also induced by the presence of hyperacetylated histones, indicating that the less constrained centromeric organization associated with heterochromatin protein 1 depletion may promote the attachment of kinetochores to microtubules coming from both poles.
PMCID: PMC196571  PMID: 12972566
9.  Molecular mechanisms of nickel carcinogenesis. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1994;102(Suppl 3):127-130.
Carcinogenic, water-insoluble Ni compounds are phagocytized by cells; and the particles undergo dissolution inside the cell, releasing Ni ions that interact with chromatin. Ni produces highly selective damage to heterochromatin. The longest contiguous region of heterochromatin in the Chinese hamster genome is found on the q arm of the X chromosome, and this region is selectively damaged by Ni. More than half of the male mice in which there were Ni-induced transformations of Chinese hamster cells exhibited complete deletion of the long arm of the X chromosome. The introduction of a normal X chromosome into these cells resulted in cellular senescence, suggesting that the Ni interacted with Chinese hamster genome to inactivate a senescence gene. Investigations were conducted into the mechanisms by which Ni produced damage to chromatin. Ni ions have a much higher affinity for proteins and amino acids than for DNA (by five to seven orders of magnitude). Therefore, Ni interacted with chromatin because of the protein present, not because of its reactivity for DNA. Studies have shown that Ni produced an increase in oxidative products in cells as indicated by oxidation of the fluorescent dye dichlorofluorescein; Ni has also been shown to produce oxidation of proteins in cells, as measured by carbonyl formation. Ni cross-linked certain amino acids and proteins to DNA. These covalent cross-links were not dissociated by EDTA and are inconsistent with direct Ni involvement, but they are consistent with Ni acting catalytically. Using subtractive hybridization, we have isolated a number of clones that are expressed in normal but not in Ni-transformed cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC1567374  PMID: 7843086
10.  The Chromatin Remodelling Factor dATRX Is Involved in Heterochromatin Formation 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(5):e2099.
Despite extensive study of heterochromatin, relatively little is known about the mechanisms by which such a structure forms. We show that the Drosophila homologue of the human α-thalassemia and mental retardation X-linked protein (dATRX), is important in the formation or maintenance of heterochromatin through modification of position effect variegation. We further show that there are two isoforms of the dATRX protein, the longer of which interacts directly with heterochromatin protein 1 (dHP-1) through a CxVxL motif both in vitro and in vivo. These two proteins co-localise at heterochromatin in a manner dependent on this motif. Consistent with this observation, the long isoform of the dATRX protein localises primarily to the heterochromatin at the chromocentre on salivary gland polytene chromosomes, whereas the short isoform binds to many sites along the chromosome arms. We suggest that the establishment of a regular nucleosomal organisation may be common to heterochromatin and transcriptionally repressed chromatin in other locations, and may require the action of ATP dependent chromatin remodelling factors.
PMCID: PMC2324200  PMID: 18461125
11.  Ring-Like Distribution of Constitutive Heterochromatin in Bovine Senescent Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26844.
Cells that reach “Hayflick limit” of proliferation, known as senescent cells, possess a particular type of nuclear architecture. Human senescent cells are characterized by the presence of highly condensed senescent associated heterochromatin foci (SAHF) that can be detected both by immunostaining for histone H3 three-methylated at lysine 9 (H3K9me3) and by DAPI counterstaining.
We have studied nuclear architecture in bovine senescent cells using a combination of immunofluorescence and 3D fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH).
Analysis of heterochromatin distribution in bovine senescent cells using fluorescent in situ hybridization for pericentric chromosomal regions, immunostaining of H3K9me3, centromeric proteins CENP A/B and DNA methylation showed a lower level of heterochromatin condensation as compared to young cells. No SAHF foci were observed. Instead, we observed fibrous ring-like or ribbon-like heterochromatin patterns that were undetectable with DAPI counterstaining. These heterochromatin fibers were associated with nucleoli.
Constitutive heterochromatin in bovine senescent cells is organized in ring-like structures.
PMCID: PMC3223162  PMID: 22132080
12.  Different means, same end – heterochromatin formation by RNAi and RNAi-independent RNA processing factors in fission yeast 
The assembly of heterochromatin in eukaryotic genomes is critical for diverse chromosomal events including regulation of gene expression, silencing of repetitive DNA elements, proper segregation of chromosomes and maintenance of genomic integrity. Previous studies have shown that non-coding RNAs and the RNAi machinery promote the assembly of heterochromatin that serves as a multipurpose platform for targeting effectors involved in various chromosomal processes. Recent work has revealed that RNAi-independent mechanisms, involving RNA processing activities that utilize both non-coding and coding RNAs, operate in the assembly of heterochromatin. These findings have established that, in addition to coding for proteins, mRNAs also function as signaling molecules that modify chromatin structure by targeting heterochromatin assembly factors.
PMCID: PMC3331891  PMID: 22243696
13.  Centriole inheritance 
Prion  2008;2(1):9-16.
Early cell biologists perceived centrosomes to be permanent cellular structures. Centrosomes were observed to reproduce once each cycle and to orchestrate assembly a transient mitotic apparatus that segregated chromosomes and a centrosome to each daughter at the completion of cell division. Centrosomes are composed of a pair of centrioles buried in a complex pericentriolar matrix. The bulk of microtubules in cells lie with one end buried in the pericentriolar matrix and the other extending outward into the cytoplasm. Centrioles recruit and organize pericentriolar material. As a result, centrioles dominate microtubule organization and spindle assembly in cells born with centrosomes. Centrioles duplicate in concert with chromosomes during the cell cycle. At the onset of mitosis, sibling centrosomes separate and establish a bipolar spindle that partitions a set of chromosomes and a centrosome to each daughter cell at the completion of mitosis and cell division. Centriole inheritance has historically been ascribed to a template mechanism in which the parental centriole contributed to, if not directed, assembly of a single new centriole once each cell cycle. It is now clear that neither centrioles nor centrosomes are essential to cell proliferation. This review examines the recent literature on inheritance of centrioles in animal cells.
PMCID: PMC2634415  PMID: 19164929
centrosome; centriol; spindle; mitosis; microtubule; cell cycle; checkpoints
14.  In Vivo Dynamics of Swi6 in Yeast: Evidence for a Stochastic Model of Heterochromatin†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(8):3157-3167.
The mechanism for transcriptional silencing of pericentric heterochromatin is conserved from fission yeast to mammals. Silenced genome regions are marked by epigenetic methylation of histone H3, which serves as a binding site for structural heterochromatin proteins. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the major structural heterochromatin protein is Swi6. To gain insight into Swi6 function in vivo, we have studied its dynamics in the nucleus of living yeast. We demonstrate that, in contrast to mammalian cells, yeast heterochromatin domains undergo rapid, large-scale motions within the nucleus. Similar to the situation in mammalian cells, Swi6 does not permanently associate with these chromatin domains but binds only transiently to euchromatin and heterochromatin. Swi6 binding dynamics are dependent on growth status and on the silencing factors Clr4 and Rik1, but not Clr1, Clr2, or Clr3. By comparing the kinetics of mutant Swi6 proteins in swi6− and swi6+ strains, we demonstrate that homotypic protein-protein interactions via the chromoshadow domain stabilize Swi6 binding to chromatin in vivo. Kinetic modeling allowed quantitative estimation of residence times and indicated the existence of at least two kinetically distinct populations of Swi6 in heterochromatin. The observed dynamics of Swi6 binding are consistent with a stochastic model of heterochromatin and indicate evolutionary conservation of heterochromatin protein binding properties from mammals to yeast.
PMCID: PMC381678  PMID: 15060140
15.  Loss of linker histone H1 in cellular senescence 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2006;175(6):869-880.
Cellular senescence is a tumor-suppressing mechanism that is accompanied by characteristic chromatin condensation called senescence-associated heterochromatic foci (SAHFs). We found that individual SAHFs originate from individual chromosomes. SAHFs do not show alterations of posttranslational modifications of core histones that mark condensed chromatin in mitotic chromosomes, apoptotic chromatin, or transcriptionally inactive heterochromatin. Remarkably, SAHF-positive senescent cells lose linker histone H1 and exhibit increased levels of chromatin-bound high mobility group A2 (HMGA2). The expression of N-terminally enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)–tagged histone H1 induces premature senescence phenotypes, including increased levels of phosphorylated p53, p21, and hypophosphorylated Rb, and a decrease in the chromatin-bound endogenous histone H1 level but not in p16 level accumulation or SAHF formation. However, the simultaneous ectopic expression of hemagglutinin-tagged HMGA2 and N-terminally EGFP-tagged histone H1 leads to significant SAHF formation (P < 0.001). It is known that histone H1 and HMG proteins compete for a common binding site, the linker DNA. These results suggest that SAHFs are a novel type of chromatin condensation involving alterations in linker DNA–binding proteins.
PMCID: PMC2064697  PMID: 17158953
16.  HP1 modulates the transcription of cell-cycle regulators in Drosophila melanogaster 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(9):2852-2858.
Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) was originally described as a non-histone chromosomal protein and is required for transcriptional gene silencing and the formation of heterochromatin. Although it is localized primarily at pericentric heterochromatin, a scattered distribution over a large number of euchromatic loci is also evident. Here, we provide evidence that Drosophila HP1 is essential for the maintenance of active transcription of euchromatic genes functionally involved in cell-cycle progression, including those required for DNA replication and mitosis. Depletion of HP1 in proliferating embryonic cells caused aberrant progression of the cell cycle at S phase and G2/M phase, linked to aberrant chromosome segregation, cytokinesis, and an increase in apoptosis. The chromosomal distribution of Aurora B, and the level of phosphorylation of histone H3 serine 10 were also altered in the absence of HP1. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis, we further demonstrate that the promoters of a number of cell-cycle regulator genes are bound to HP1, supporting a direct role for HP1 in their active transcription. Overall, our data suggest that HP1 is essential for the maintenance of cell-cycle progression and the transcription of cell-cycle regulatory genes. The results also support the view that HP1 is a positive regulator of transcription in euchromatin.
PMCID: PMC1131934  PMID: 15905474
17.  The Proteolytic Activity of Separase in BCR-ABL-Positive Cells Is Increased by Imatinib 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42863.
Separase, an endopeptidase required for the separation of sister-chromatides in mitotic anaphase, triggers centriole disengagement during centrosome duplication. In cancer, separase is frequently overexpressed, pointing to a functional role as an aneuploidy promoter associated with centrosomal amplification and genomic instability. Recently, we have shown that centrosomal amplification and subsequent chromosomal aberrations are a hallmark of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), increasing from chronic phase (CP) toward blast crisis (BC). Moreover, a functional linkage of p210BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase activity with centrosomal amplification and clonal evolution has been established in long-term cell culture experiments. Unexpectedly, therapeutic doses of imatinib (IM) did not counteract; instead induced similar centrosomal alterations in vitro. We investigated the influence of IM and p210BCR-ABL on Separase as a potential driver of centrosomal amplification in CML. Short-term cell cultures of p210BCR-ABL-negative (NHDF, UROtsa, HL-60, U937), positive (K562, LAMA-84) and inducible (U937p210BCR-ABL/c6 (Tet-ON)) human cell lines were treated with therapeutic doses of IM and analyzed by qRT-PCR, Western blot analysis and quantitative Separase activity assays. Decreased Separase protein levels were observed in all cells treated with IM in a dose dependent manner. Accordingly, in all p210BCR-ABL-negative cell lines, decreased proteolytic activity of Separase was found. In contrast, p210BCR-ABL-positive cells showed increased Separase proteolytic activity. This activation of Separase was consistent with changes in the expression levels of Separase regulators (Separase phosphorylation at serine residue 1126, Securin, CyclinB1 and PP2A). Our data suggest that regulation of Separase in IM-treated BCR-ABL-positive cells occurs on both the protein expression and the proteolytic activity levels. Activation of Separase proteolytic activity exclusively in p210BCR-ABL-positive cells during IM treatment may act as a driving force for centrosomal amplification, contributing to genomic instability, clonal evolution and resistance in CML.
PMCID: PMC3411713  PMID: 22870341
18.  Cullin 1 functions as a centrosomal suppressor of centriole multiplication by regulating Polo-like kinase 4 protein levels 
Cancer research  2009;69(16):6668-6675.
Abnormal centrosome and centriole numbers are frequently detected in tumor cells where they can contribute to mitotic aberrations that cause chromosome missegregation and aneuploidy. The molecular mechanisms of centriole overduplication in malignant cells, however, are poorly characterized. Here, we show that the core SCF component CUL1 localizes to maternal centrioles and that CUL1 is critical for suppressing centriole overduplication through multiplication, a recently discovered mechanism whereby multiple daughter centrioles form concurrently at single maternal centrioles. We found that this activity of CUL1 involves the degradation of Polo-like kinase 4 (PLK4) at maternal centrioles. PLK4 is required for centriole duplication and strongly stimulates centriole multiplication when aberrantly expressed. We found that CUL1 is critical for the degradation of active PLK4 following deregulation of cyclin E/CDK2 activity, as is frequently observed in human cancer cells, as well as for baseline PLK4 protein stability. Collectively, our results suggest that CUL1 may function as a tumor suppressor by regulating PLK4 protein levels and thereby restraining excessive daughter centriole formation at maternal centrioles.
PMCID: PMC2727667  PMID: 19679553
19.  Novel simple sequence repeats (SSRs) detected by ND-FISH in heterochromatin of Drosophila melanogaster 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:205.
In recent years, substantial progress has been made in understanding the organization of sequences in heterochromatin regions containing single-copy genes and transposable elements. However, the sequence and organization of tandem repeat DNA sequences, which are by far the majority fraction of D. melanogaster heterochromatin, are little understood.
This paper reports that the heterochromatin, as well as containing long tandem arrays of pentanucleotide satellites (AAGAG, AAGAC, AATAT, AATAC and AACAC), is also enriched in other simple sequence repeats (SSRs) such as A, AC, AG, AAG, ACT, GATA and GACA. Non-denaturing FISH (ND-FISH) showed these SSRs to localize to the chromocentre of polytene chromosomes, and was used to map them on mitotic chromosomes. Different distributions were detected ranging from single heterochromatic clusters to complex combinations on different chromosomes. ND-FISH performed on extended DNA fibres, along with Southern blotting, showed the complex organization of these heterochromatin sequences in long tracts, and revealed subclusters of SSRs (several kilobase in length) flanked by other DNA sequences. The chromosomal characterization of C, AAC, AGG, AAT, CCG, ACG, AGC, ATC and ACC provided further detailed information on the SSR content of D. melanogaster at the whole genome level.
These data clearly show the variation in the abundance of different SSR motifs and reveal their non-random distribution within and between chromosomes. The greater representation of certain SSRs in D. melanogaster heterochromatin suggests that its complexity may be greater than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3114746  PMID: 21521504
20.  p53, Cyclin-dependent Kinase and Abnormal Amplification of Centrosomes 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2008;1786(1):15-23.
Centrosomes play a critical role in formation of bipolar mitotic spindles, an essential event for accurate chromosome segregation into daughter cells. Numeral abnormalities of centrosomes (centrosome amplification) occur frequently in cancers, and are considered to be the major cause of chromosome instability, which accelerates acquisition of malignant phenotypes during tumor progression. Loss or mutational inactivation of p53 tumor suppressor protein, one of the most common mutations found in cancers, results in a high frequency of centrosome amplification in part via allowing the activation of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 2-cyclin E (as well as CDK2-cyclin A) which is a key factor for the initiation of centrosome duplication. In this review, the role of centrosome amplification in tumor progression, and mechanistic view of how centrosomes are amplified in cells through focusing on loss of p53 and aberrant activities of CDK2-cyclins will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC2647860  PMID: 18472015
21.  Breaking the ties that bind: New advances in centrosome biology 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2012;197(1):11-18.
The centrosome, which consists of two centrioles and the surrounding pericentriolar material, is the primary microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) in animal cells. Like chromosomes, centrosomes duplicate once per cell cycle and defects that lead to abnormalities in the number of centrosomes result in genomic instability, a hallmark of most cancer cells. Increasing evidence suggests that the separation of the two centrioles (disengagement) is required for centrosome duplication. After centriole disengagement, a proteinaceous linker is established that still connects the two centrioles. In G2, this linker is resolved (centrosome separation), thereby allowing the centrosomes to separate and form the poles of the bipolar spindle. Recent work has identified new players that regulate these two processes and revealed unexpected mechanisms controlling the centrosome cycle.
PMCID: PMC3317805  PMID: 22472437
22.  RNA interference guides histone modification during the S phase of chromosomal replication 
Current biology : CB  2008;18(7):490-495.
Heterochromatin is chromosomal material that remains condensed throughout the cell division cycle and silences genes nearby. It is found in almost all eukaryotes, and although discovered (in plants) almost 100 years ago, the mechanism by which heterochromatin is inherited has remained obscure. Heterochromatic silencing and histone H3 lysine-9 methylation (H3K9me2) depend, paradoxically, on heterochromatic transcription and RNA interference (RNAi).
Here we show that heterochromatin protein 1 in fission yeast (Swi6) is lost via phosphorylation of H3 serine-10 (H3S10) during mitosis, allowing heterochromatic transcripts to transiently accumulate in S phase. Rapid processing of these transcripts into small interfering RNA promotes restoration of H3K9me2 and Swi6 after replication when cohesin is recruited. We also show that RNAi in fission yeast is inhibited at high temperatures, providing a plausible mechanism for epigenetic phenomena that depend on replication and temperature, such as vernalization in plants and position effect variegation in animals.
These results explain how “silent” heterochromatin can be transcribed, and lead to a model for epigenetic inheritance during replication.
PMCID: PMC2408823  PMID: 18394897
23.  p16INK4a Prevents Centrosome Dysfunction and Genomic Instability in Primary Cells 
PLoS Biology  2006;4(3):e51.
Aneuploidy, frequently observed in premalignant lesions, disrupts gene dosage and contributes to neoplastic progression. Theodor Boveri hypothesized nearly 100 years ago that aneuploidy was due to an increase in centrosome number (multipolar mitoses) and the resultant abnormal segregation of chromosomes. We performed immunocytochemistry, quantitative immunofluorescence, karyotypic analysis, and time-lapse microscopy on primary human diploid epithelial cells and fibroblasts to better understand the mechanism involved in the production of supernumerary centrosomes (more than two microtubule nucleating bodies) to directly demonstrate that the presence of supernumerary centrosomes in genomically intact cells generates aneuploid daughter cells. We show that loss of p16INK4a generates supernumerary centrosomes through centriole pair splitting. Generation of supernumerary centrosomes in human diploid epithelial cells was shown to nucleate multipolar spindles and directly drive production of aneuploid daughter cells as a result of unequal segregation of the genomic material during mitosis. Finally, we demonstrate that p16INK4a cooperates with p21 through regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase activity to prevent centriole pair splitting. Cells with loss of p16INK4a activity have been found in vivo in histologically normal mammary tissue from a substantial fraction of healthy, disease-free women. Demonstration of centrosome dysfunction in cells due to loss of p16INK4a suggests that, under the appropriate conditions, these cells can become aneuploid. Gain or loss of genomic material (aneuploidy) may provide the necessary proproliferation and antiapoptotic mechanisms needed for the earliest stages of tumorigenesis.
Here the authors show that aneuploidy (where a cell has an abnormal number of chromosomes) can be caused by cells having an abnormal number of centrosomes, which leads to asymmetric cell division.
PMCID: PMC1361797  PMID: 16464125
24.  The budding yeast silencing protein Sir1 is a functional component of centromeric chromatin 
Genes & development  2003;17(19):2356-2361.
In fission yeast and multicellular organisms, centromere-proximal regions of chromosomes are heterochromatic, containing proteins that silence gene expression. In contrast, the relationship between heterochromatin proteins and kinetochore function in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae remains largely unexplored. Here we report that the yeast heterochromatin protein Sir1 is a component of centromeric chromatin and contributes to mitotic chromosome stability. Sir1 recruitment to centromeres occurred through a novel mechanism independent of its interaction with the origin recognition complex (ORC). Sir1 function at centromeres was distinct from its role in forming heterochromatin, because the Sir2–4 proteins were not associated with centromeric regions. Sir1 bound to Cac1, a subunit of chromatin assembly factor I (CAF-I), and helped to retain Cac1 at centromeric loci. These studies reveal that although budding yeast and mammalian cells use fundamentally different mechanisms of forming heterochromatin, they both use silencing proteins to attract the histone deposition factor CAF-I to centromeric chromatin.
PMCID: PMC218072  PMID: 12975325
Chromatin assembly; centromere; kinetochore; yeast; silencing
25.  Stress-Induced Activation of Heterochromatic Transcription 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(10):e1001175.
Constitutive heterochromatin comprising the centromeric and telomeric parts of chromosomes includes DNA marked by high levels of methylation associated with histones modified by repressive marks. These epigenetic modifications silence transcription and ensure stable inheritance of this inert state. Although environmental cues can alter epigenetic marks and lead to modulation of the transcription of genes located in euchromatic parts of the chromosomes, there is no evidence that external stimuli can globally destabilize silencing of constitutive heterochromatin. We have found that heterochromatin-associated silencing in Arabidopsis plants subjected to a particular temperature regime is released in a genome-wide manner. This occurs without alteration of repressive epigenetic modifications and does not involve common epigenetic mechanisms. Such induced release of silencing is mostly transient, and rapid restoration of the silent state occurs without the involvement of factors known to be required for silencing initiation. Thus, our results reveal new regulatory aspects of transcriptional repression in constitutive heterochromatin and open up possibilities to identify the molecular mechanisms involved.
Author Summary
In eukaryotic cells, DNA is packaged into chromatin that is present in two different forms named euchromatin and heterochromatin. Gene-rich euchromatin is relaxed and permissive to transcription compared with heterochromatin that essentially contains transcriptionally inert non-coding repeated DNA. The silent state associated with heterochromatin correlates with the presence of distinctive repressive epigenetic modifications. Mutations in genes required for maintenance of these epigenetic marks reactivate heterochromatin transcription, which is otherwise maintained silent in a highly stable manner. In this paper, we defined a specific temperature stress that leads to genome-wide transcriptional activation of sequences located within heterochromatin of Arabidopsis thaliana. Unexpectedly, release of silencing occurs in spite of conservation of the repressive epigenetic marks and independently of common epigenetic regulators. In addition, we provide evidence that stress-induced transcriptional activation is mostly transient, and silencing is rapidly restored upon return to optimal growth conditions. These results are important in that they disclose the dynamics of silencing associated with heterochromatin as well as the existence of a new level of transcriptional control that might play a role in plant acclimation to changing environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC2965753  PMID: 21060865

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