Tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs) have been identified and implicated for their indispensable involvement in mammalian development and tissue differentiation. In this report, a quantitative DNA methylation analysis was performed for 13 human orthologous regions of recently confirmed mouse tDMRs by using Sequenom Mass Array, by which bisulfite-treated fragments are quantitatively detected using time of flight masspectroscopy analysis. Eight regions were shown as tDMRs in various tissues from three independent individuals. Testis DNA samples from eight individuals were also analyzed for methylation. Interestingly, there is evidence that the DNA methylation level is divergent among individuals. DNA methylation levels of five testis-specific DMRs were significantly inversely correlated with the number of spermatocytes. However, a positive correlation was seen at tDMRs located near the TRIM38 and CASZ1 genes. Our results indicate that tDMRs are conserved between mouse and human and may have an important role in regulating tissue function, differentiation and aging.
Tissue specific differentially methylated regions (TDMRs) were identified and localized in the mouse genome using second generation virtual RLGS (vRLGS). Sequenom MassARRAY quantitative methylation analysis was used to confirm and determine the fine structure of tissue specific differences in DNA methylation. TDMRs have a broad distribution of locations to intragenic and intergenic regions including both CpG islands, and non-CpG islands regions. Somewhat surprising, there is a strong bias for TDMR location in non-promoter intragenic regions. Although some TDMRs are within or close to repeat sequences, overall they are less frequently associated with repetitive elements than expected from a random distribution. Many TDMRs are methylated at early developmental stages, but unmethylated later, suggesting active or passive demethylation, or expansions of populations of cells with unmethylated TDMRs. This is notable during postnatal testis differentiation where many testis-specific TDMRs become progressively “demethylated”. These results suggest that methylation changes during development are dynamic, involve demethylation and methylation, and may occur at late stages of embryonic development or even postnatally.
DNA; Methylation; Epigenesis; Genetic; Gene silencing; Embryonic stem cells; Developmental biology; Mouse
Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells are derived by epigenetic reprogramming, but their DNA methylation patterns have not yet been analyzed on a genome-wide scale. Here, we find substantial hypermethylation and hypomethylation of cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) island shores in nine human iPS cell lines as compared to their parental fibroblasts. The differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in the reprogrammed cells (denoted R-DMRs) were significantly enriched in tissue-specific (T-DMRs; 2.6-fold, P < 10−4) and cancer-specific DMRs (C-DMRs; 3.6-fold, P < 10−4). Notably, even though the iPS cells are derived from fibroblasts, their R-DMRs can distinguish between normal brain, liver and spleen cells and between colon cancer and normal colon cells. Thus, many DMRs are broadly involved in tissue differentiation, epigenetic reprogramming and cancer. We observed colocalization of hypomethylated R-DMRs with hypermethylated C-DMRs and bivalent chromatin marks, and colocalization of hypermethylated R-DMRs with hypomethylated C-DMRs and the absence of bivalent marks, suggesting two mechanisms for epigenetic reprogramming in iPS cells and cancer.
Parent-of-origin specific expression of imprinted genes relies on the differential DNA methylation of specific genomic regions. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) acquire DNA methylation either during gametogenesis (primary DMR) or after fertilization when allele-specific expression is established (secondary DMR). Little is known about the function of these secondary DMRs. We investigated the DMR spanning Cdkn1c in mouse embryonic stem cells, androgenetic stem cells and embryonic germ stem cells. In all cases, expression of Cdkn1c was appropriately repressed in in vitro differentiated cells. However, stem cells failed to de novo methylate the silenced gene even after sustained differentiation. In the absence of maintained DNA methylation (Dnmt1−/−), Cdkn1c escapes silencing demonstrating the requirement for DNA methylation in long term silencing in vivo. We propose that post-fertilization differential methylation reflects the importance of retaining single gene dosage of a subset of imprinted loci in the adult.
DNA methylation; imprinted; secondary DMR; stem cells
The parent-of-origin specific expression of imprinted genes relies on DNA methylation of CpG-dinucleotides at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) during gametogenesis. To date, four paternally methylated DMRs have been identified in screens based on conventional approaches. These DMRs are linked to the imprinted genes H19, Gtl2 (IG-DMR), Rasgrf1 and, most recently, Zdbf2 which encodes zinc finger, DBF-type containing 2. In this study, we applied a novel methylated-DNA immunoprecipitation-on-chip (meDIP-on-chip) method to genomic DNA from mouse parthenogenetic- and androgenetic-derived stem cells and sperm and identified 458 putative DMRs. This included the majority of known DMRs. We further characterized the paternally methylated Zdbf2/ZDBF2 DMR. In mice, this extensive germ line DMR spanned 16 kb and possessed an unusual tripartite structure. Methylation was dependent on DNA methyltransferase 3a (Dnmt3a), similar to H19 DMR and IG-DMR. In both humans and mice, the adjacent gene, Gpr1/GPR1, which encodes a G-protein-coupled receptor 1 protein with transmembrane domain, was also imprinted and paternally expressed. The Gpr1-Zdbf2 domain was most similar to the Rasgrf1 domain as both DNA methylation and the actively expressed allele were in cis on the paternal chromosome. This work demonstrates the effectiveness of meDIP-on-chip as a technique for identifying DMRs.
Development of human tissue is influenced by a combination of intrinsic biological signals and extrinsic environmental stimuli, both of which are mediated by epigenetic regulation, including DNA methylation. However, little is currently known of the normal acquisition or loss of epigenetic markers during fetal and postnatal development.
The DNA methylation status of over 1000 CpGs located in the regulatory regions of nearly 800 genes was evaluated in five somatic tissues (brain, kidney, lung, muscle and skin) from eight normal second-trimester fetuses. Tissue-specific differentially methylated regions (tDMRs) were identified in 195 such loci. However, comparison with corresponding data from trisomic fetuses (five trisomy 21 and four trisomy 18) revealed relatively few DNA methylation differences associated with trisomy, despite such conditions having a profound effect on development. Of interest, only 17% of the identified fetal tDMRs were found to maintain this same tissue-specific DNA methylation in adult tissues. Furthermore, 10% of the sites analyzed, including sites associated with imprinted genes, had a DNA methylation difference of >40% between fetus and adult. This plasticity of DNA methylation over development was further confirmed by comparison with similar data from embryonic stem cells, with the most altered methylation levels being linked to domains with bivalent histone modifications.
Most fetal tDMRs seem to reflect transient DNA methylation changes during development rather than permanent epigenetic signatures. The extensive tissue-specific and developmental-stage specific nature of DNA methylation will need to be elucidated to identify abnormal patterns of DNA methylation associated with abnormal development or disease.
Parent of origin imprints on the genome have been implicated in the regulation of neural cell type differentiation. The ability of human parthenogenetic (PG) embryonic stem cells (hpESCs) to undergo neural lineage and cell type-specific differentiation is undefined. We determined the potential of hpESCs to differentiate into various neural subtypes. Concurrently, we examined DNA methylation and expression status of imprinted genes. Under culture conditions promoting neural differentiation, hpESC-derived neural stem cells (hpNSCs) gave rise to glia and neuron-like cells that expressed subtype-specific markers and generated action potentials. Analysis of imprinting in hpESCs and in hpNSCs revealed that maternal-specific gene expression patterns and imprinting marks were generally maintained in PG cells upon differentiation. Our results demonstrate that despite the lack of a paternal genome, hpESCs generate proliferating NSCs that are capable of differentiation into physiologically functional neuron-like cells and maintain allele-specific expression of imprinted genes. Thus, hpESCs can serve as a model to study the role of maternal and paternal genomes in neural development and to better understand imprinting-associated brain diseases.
DNA methylation plays a role in a variety of biological processes including embryonic development, imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation, and stem cell differentiation. Tissue specific differential methylation has also been well characterized. We sought to extend these studies to create a map of differential DNA methylation between different cell types derived from a single tissue. Using three pairs of isogenic human mammary epithelial and fibroblast cells, promoter region DNA methylation was characterized using MeDIP coupled to microarray analysis. Comparison of DNA methylation between these cell types revealed nearly three thousand cell-type specific differentially methylated regions (ctDMRs). MassARRAY was performed upon 87 ctDMRs to confirm and quantify differential DNA methylation. Each of the examined regions exhibited statistically significant differences ranging from 10–70%. Gene ontology analysis revealed the overrepresentation of many transcription factors involved in developmental processes. Additionally, we have shown that ctDMRs are associated with histone related epigenetic marks and are often aberrantly methylated in breast cancer. Overall, our data suggest that there are thousands of ctDMRs which consistently exhibit differential DNA methylation and may underlie cell type specificity in human breast tissue. In addition, we describe the pathways affected by these differences and provide insight into the molecular mechanisms and physiological overlap between normal cellular differentiation and breast carcinogenesis.
DNA methylation plays critical roles in transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodeling. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) have important implications for development, aging and diseases. Therefore, genome-wide mapping of DMRs across various temporal and spatial methylomes is important in revealing the impact of epigenetic modifications on heritable phenotypic variation. We present a quantitative approach, quantitative differentially methylated regions (QDMRs), to quantify methylation difference and identify DMRs from genome-wide methylation profiles by adapting Shannon entropy. QDMR was applied to synthetic methylation patterns and methylation profiles detected by methylated DNA immunoprecipitation microarray (MeDIP-chip) in human tissues/cells. This approach can give a reasonable quantitative measure of methylation difference across multiple samples. Then DMR threshold was determined from methylation probability model. Using this threshold, QDMR identified 10 651 tissue DMRs which are related to the genes enriched for cell differentiation, including 4740 DMRs not identified by the method developed by Rakyan et al. QDMR can also measure the sample specificity of each DMR. Finally, the application to methylation profiles detected by reduced representation bisulphite sequencing (RRBS) in mouse showed the platform-free and species-free nature of QDMR. This approach provides an effective tool for the high-throughput identification of potential functional regions involved in epigenetic regulation.
Tissues and their component cells have unique DNA methylation profiles comprising DNA methylation patterns of tissue-dependent and differentially methylated regions (T-DMRs). Previous studies reported that DNA methylation plays crucial roles in cell differentiation and development. Here, we investigated the genome-wide DNA methylation profiles of mouse neural progenitors derived from different developmental stages using HpyCH4IV, a methylation-sensitive restriction enzyme that recognizes ACGT residues, which are uniformly distributed across the genome.
Using a microarray-based genome-wide DNA methylation analysis system focusing on 8.5-kb regions around transcription start sites (TSSs), we analyzed the DNA methylation profiles of mouse neurospheres derived from telencephalons at embryonic days 11.5 (E11.5NSph) and 14.5 (E14.5NSph) and the adult brain (AdBr). We identified T-DMRs with different DNA methylation statuses between E11.5NSph and E14.5NSph at genes involved in neural development and/or associated with neurological disorders in humans, such as Dclk1, Nrcam, Nfia, and Ntng1. These T-DMRs were located not only within 2 kb but also distal (several kbs) from the TSSs, and those hypomethylated in E11.5NSph tended to be in CpG island (CGI-) associated genes. Most T-DMRs that were hypomethylated in neurospheres were also hypomethylated in the AdBr. Interestingly, among the T-DMRs hypomethylated in the progenitors, there were T-DMRs that were hypermethylated in the AdBr. Although certain genes, including Ntng1, had hypermethylated T-DMRs 5′ upstream, we identified hypomethylated T-DMRs in the AdBr, 3′ downstream from their TSSs. This observation could explain why Ntng1 was highly expressed in the AdBr despite upstream hypermethylation.
Mouse adult brain DNA methylation and gene expression profiles could be attributed to developmental dynamics of T-DMRs in neural-related genes.
DNA methylation; Tissue-dependent and differentially methylated region; Neural progenitor cells
Potential epigenetic mechanisms underlying fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) include alcohol-induced alterations of methyl metabolism, resulting in aberrant patterns of DNA methylation and gene expression during development. Having previously demonstrated an essential role for epigenetics in neural stem cell (NSC) development and that inhibiting DNA methylation prevents NSC differentiation, here we investigated the effect of alcohol exposure on genome-wide DNA methylation patterns and NSC differentiation.
NSCs in culture were treated with or without a 6-hr 88mM (“binge-like”) alcohol exposure and examined at 48 hrs, for migration, growth, and genome-wide DNA methylation. The DNA methylation was examined using DNA-methylation immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) followed by microarray analysis. Further validation was performed using Independent Sequenom analysis.
NSC differentiated in 24 to 48 hrs with migration, neuronal expression, and morphological transformation. Alcohol exposure retarded the migration, neuronal formation, and growth processes of NSC, similar to treatment with the methylation inhibitor 5-aza-cytidine. When NSC departed from the quiescent state, a genome-wide diversification of DNA methylation was observed—that is, many moderately methylated genes altered methylation levels and became hyper- and hypomethylated. Alcohol prevented many genes from such diversification, including genes related to neural development, neuronal receptors, and olfaction, while retarding differentiation. Validation of specific genes by Sequenom analysis demonstrated that alcohol exposure prevented methylation of specific genes associated with neural development [cutl2 (cut-like 2), Igf1 (insulin-like growth factor 1), Efemp1 (epidermal growth factor-containing fibulin-like extracellular matrix protein 1), and Sox 7 (SRY-box containing gene 7)]; eye development, Lim 2 (lens intrinsic membrane protein 2); the epigenetic mark Smarca2 (SWI/SNF related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 2); and developmental disorder [Dgcr2 (DiGeorge syndrome critical region gene 2)]. Specific sites altered by DNA methylation also correlated with transcription factor binding sites known to be critical for regulating neural development.
The data indicate that alcohol prevents normal DNA methylation programming of key neural stem cell genes and retards NSC differentiation. Thus, the role of DNA methylation in FAS warrants further investigation.
Epigenetics; Epigenomics; MeDIP-Chip; Neural development; Fetal alcohol syndrome
Neural stem cells (NSCs) lose their competency to generate region-specific neuronal populations at an early stage during embryonic brain development. Here we investigated whether epigenetic modifications can reverse the regional restriction of mouse adult brain subventricular zone (SVZ) NSCs. Using a variety of chemicals that interfere with DNA methylation and histone acetylation, we showed that such epigenetic modifications increased neuronal differentiation but did not enable specific regional patterning, such as midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neuron generation. Only after Oct-4 overexpression did adult NSCs acquire a pluripotent state that allowed differentiation into midbrain DA neurons. DA neurons derived from Oct4-reprogrammed NSCs improved behavioural motor deficits in a rat model of Parkinson's disease (PD) upon intrastriatal transplantation. Here we report for the first time the successful differentiation of SVZ adult NSCs into functional region-specific midbrain DA neurons, by means of Oct-4 induced pluripotency.
The maintenance of pluripotency and specification of cellular lineages during embryonic development are controlled by transcriptional regulatory networks, which coordinate specific sets of genes through both activation and repression. The transcriptional repressor RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) plays important but distinct regulatory roles in embryonic (ESC) and neural (NSC) stem cells. We investigated how these distinct biological roles are effected at a genomic level. We present integrated, comparative genome- and transcriptome-wide analyses of transcriptional networks governed by REST in mouse ESC and NSC. The REST recruitment profile has dual components: a developmentally independent core that is common to ESC, NSC, and differentiated cells; and a large, ESC-specific set of target genes. In ESC, the REST regulatory network is highly integrated into that of pluripotency factors Oct4-Sox2-Nanog. We propose that an extensive, pluripotency-specific recruitment profile lends REST a key role in the maintenance of the ESC phenotype.
Embryonic stem cells have the unique and defining property of pluripotency: the ability to differentiate into all cell types. Key transcription factors form interconnected gene regulatory networks that control pluripotency and differentiation. Recently, the transcriptional repressor RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) was implicated in the maintenance of pluripotency. This was surprising, given that REST has long been known as an essential regulator of neurodevelopment. How does REST regulate pluripotency? Does REST have distinct cohorts of binding sites and target genes in different developmental contexts? To address these questions, we made whole-genome maps of REST binding sites in two mouse stem cell types: embryonic (ESC) and neural (NSC) stem cells. These data were compared with each other and with gene expression data from cells in which REST activity was inhibited. The target genes were almost completely distinct in the two cell types. Surprisingly, we found that REST recruitment has two approximately equal components: common sites across all cells and an ESC-specific component. These pluripotency-associated sites are enriched for particular classes of genes, including those mediating the Wnt signaling pathway, which is an essential regulator of pluripotency.
Whole-genome mapping of the essential transcriptional repressor REST reveals distinct binding profiles and diverse roles in embryonic and neural stem cells.
Emerging information indicates that epigenetic modification (i.e. histone code and DNA methylation) may be integral to the maintenance and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSC), but their actual involvements have not yet been illustrated. In this study, we demonstrated the dynamic nature of epigenetic marks during the differentiation of quiescent adult rat NSCs in neurospheres. A subpopulation of OCT4+ NSCs in the neurosphere contained Histone marks, trimethylated Histone 3 on lysine 27 (3me-H3K27), 2me-H3K4, and acetylated H4 (Ac-H4). A major decrease of these marks was found prior to or during differentiation, and was further diminished or reprogrammed in diverse subpopulations of migrated NSCs expressing nestin or β-III-tubulin. The DNA methylation mark 5-methyl-cytosine (5-MeC) and the DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) 1 and 3a expression also correlated to the state of differentiation; they were highly present in undifferentiated NSCs but down-regulated in migrated populations. In contrast, the DNA methyl-CpG-binding protein (MBD1) was low in undifferentiated NSCs in neurospheres, but highly appeared in differentiating NSCs. Furthermore, we found a outward translocation of DNA-methylation marks 5-MeC, DNMT1, DNMT3a, and MBD1 in NSCs as differentiation began and proceeded; the 5-MeC from homogeneous nucleus to peripheral-nucleus, and DMNT1a and 3a from nuclear to cytoplasm, indicating chromatin remodeling. Treatment with DNA a methylation inhibitor, 5-aza-cytidine, altered DNA methylation and disrupted migration as indicated by a reduction of migrated neurons and differentiation. These results indicate that chromatin is dynamically remodeled when NSCs transform from the quiescent state to active growth, and that DNA methylation modification is essential for neural stem cell differentiation.
Neural progenitor cells; DNA methylation; Histone code; DNMT; MBD1; 5-azacytidine
Genes subject to genomic imprinting are mono-allelically expressed in a parent-of-origin dependent manner. Each imprinted locus has at least one differentially methylated region (DMR) which has allele specific DNA methylation and contributes to imprinted gene expression. Once DMRs are established, they are potentially able to withstand normal genome reprogramming events that occur during cell differentiation and germ-line DMRs are stably maintained throughout development. These DMRs, in addition to being either maternally or paternally methylated, have differences in whether methylation was acquired in the germ-line or post fertilization and are present in a variety of genomic locations with different Cytosine-phosphate guanine (CpG) densities and CTCF binding capacities. We therefore examined the stability of maintenance of DNA methylation imprints and determined the normal baseline DNA methylation levels in several adult tissues for all imprinted genes. In order to do this, we first developed and validated 50 highly specific, quantitative DNA methylation pyrosequencing assays for the known DMRs associated with human imprinted genes.
Remarkable stability of the DNA methylation imprint was observed in all germ-line DMRs and paternally methylated somatic DMRs (which maintained average methylation levels of between 35% - 65% in all somatic tissues, independent of gene expression). Maternally methylated somatic DMRs were found to have more variation with tissue specific methylation patterns. Most DMRs, however, showed some intra-individual variability for DNA methylation levels in peripheral blood, suggesting that more than one DMR needs to be examined in order to get an overall impression of the epigenetic stability in a tissue. The plasticity of DNA methylation at imprinted genes was examined in a panel of normal and cancer cell lines. All cell lines showed changes in DNA methylation, especially at the paternal germ-line and the somatic DMRs.
Our validated pyrosequencing methylation assays can be widely used as a tool to investigate DNA methylation levels of imprinted genes in clinical samples. This first comprehensive analysis of normal methylation levels in adult somatic tissues at human imprinted regions confirm that, despite intra-individual variability and tissue specific expression, imprinted genes faithfully maintain their DNA methylation in healthy adult tissue. DNA methylation levels of a selection of imprinted genes are, therefore, a valuable indicator for epigenetic stability.
Aberrant DNA methylation often occurs in colorectal cancer (CRC). In our study we applied a genome-wide DNA methylation analysis approach, MethylCap-seq, to map the differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in 24 tumors and matched normal colon samples. In total, 2687 frequently hypermethylated and 468 frequently hypomethylated regions were identified, which include potential biomarkers for CRC diagnosis. Hypermethylation in the tumor samples was enriched at CpG islands and gene promoters, while hypomethylation was distributed throughout the genome. Using epigenetic data from human embryonic stem cells, we show that frequently hypermethylated regions coincide with bivalent loci in human embryonic stem cells. DNA methylation is commonly thought to lead to gene silencing; however, integration of publically available gene expression data indicates that 75% of the frequently hypermethylated genes were most likely already lowly or not expressed in normal tissue. Collectively, our study provides genome-wide DNA methylation maps of CRC, comprehensive lists of DMRs, and gives insights into the role of aberrant DNA methylation in CRC formation.
DNA methylation; colorectal cancer; biomarkers; H3K27me3; gene expression; Illumina sequencing
Imprinted genes are expressed from one parental allele in a parent-of-origin manner. This monoallelic behavior is regulated by allele-specific DNA methylation that is confined to differentially methylated regions (DMRs). To date there are over 80 known human imprinted genes of which only three are known to have paternally methylated DMRs. In mice there exists an additional paternally methylated DMR associated with Rasgrf1. The Rasgrf1 gene forms part of the MAPK signaling pathway and plays a role in long-term memory formation and growth control. A RASGRF1-associated parent-of-origin specific DMR in humans and its methylation status in sperm DNA have not been explored. The primary aim of this study was to determine whether the human RASGRF1 gene contains a DMR and whether this DMR is paternally methylated and shows roughly 50% methylation in somatic tissue. Computational assessments were done to identify putative CTCF binding sites, CpG islands (CGIs) that could serve as potential RASGRF1 DMRs and tandem repeats within or adjacent to these CGIs. The methylation status of three putative CGIs was assessed using quantitative pyrosequencing technology. None of the putative CTCF binding sites was found to occur in the predicted CGIs. The three putative CGIs linked to RASGRF1 did not display allele-specific methylation. While one of the three CGIs was found to be hypomethylated in both blood DNA and sperm DNA, the other two were found to be hypermethylated. The CGIs evaluated in this study did not fit the criteria of being a allele-specific DMR. Unlike the mouse Rasgrf1 locus, the human RASGRF1-associated CpG rich regions do not exhibit differential methylation in a parent-of-origin manner.
genomic imprinting; DNA methylation; CpG island; DMR; RASGRF1; Mir-184
DNA methylation patterns change dynamically during mammalian development and lineage specification, yet scarce information is available about how DNA methylation affects gene expression profiles upon differentiation. Here we determine genome-wide transcription profiles during undirected differentiation of severely hypomethylated (Dnmt1−/−) embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as well as ESCs completely devoid of DNA methylation (Dnmt1−/−;Dnmt3a−/−;Dnmt3b−/− or TKO) and assay their potential to transit in and out of the ESC state. We find that the expression of only few genes mainly associated with germ line function and the X chromosome is affected in undifferentiated TKO ESCs. Upon initial differentiation as embryoid bodies (EBs) wild type, Dnmt1−/− and TKO cells downregulate pluripotency associated genes and upregulate lineage specific genes, but their transcription profiles progressively diverge upon prolonged EB culture. While Oct4 protein levels are completely and homogeneously suppressed, transcription of Oct4 and Nanog is not completely silenced even at late stages in both Dnmt1−/− and TKO EBs. Despite late wild type and Dnmt1−/− EBs showing a much higher degree of concordant expression, after EB dissociation and replating under pluripotency promoting conditions both Dnmt1−/− and TKO cells, but not wild type cells rapidly revert to expression profiles typical of undifferentiated ESCs. Thus, while DNA methylation seems not to be critical for initial activation of differentiation programs, it is crucial for permanent restriction of developmental fate during differentiation.
Transplantation of neural stem cells (NSCs) is a promising novel approach to the treatment of neuroinflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). NSCs can be derived from primary central nervous system (CNS) tissue or obtained by neural differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells, the latter having the advantage of readily providing an unlimited number of cells for therapeutic purposes. Using a mouse model of MS, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of NSCs derived from ES cells by two different neural differentiation protocols that utilized adherent culture conditions and compared their effect to primary NSCs derived from the subventricular zone (SVZ).
The proliferation and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines by antigen-stimulated splenocytes was reduced in the presence of SVZ-NSCs, while ES cell-derived NSCs exerted differential immunosuppressive effects. Surprisingly, intravenously injected NSCs displayed no significant therapeutic impact on clinical and pathological disease outcomes in mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) induced by recombinant myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein, independent of the cell source. Studies tracking the biodistribution of transplanted ES cell-derived NSCs revealed that these cells were unable to traffic to the CNS or peripheral lymphoid tissues, consistent with the lack of cell surface homing molecules. Attenuation of peripheral immune responses could only be achieved through multiple high doses of NSCs administered intraperitoneally, which led to some neuroprotective effects within the CNS.
Systemic transplantation of these NSCs does not have a major influence on the clinical course of rMOG-induced EAE. Improving the efficiency at which NSCs home to inflammatory sites may enhance their therapeutic potential in this model of CNS autoimmunity.
Neural stem cells (NSCs) can be derived from single mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) in the absence of instructive factors. Clonal primitive NSC (pNSC) colonies are formed first, and then give rise to clonal, fibroblast growth factor-dependent definitive neural stem cells (dNSCs). We tested low-oxygen culture as a potential method of alleviating the extensive cell death seen in pNSCs and dNSCs. Culture in low (4%) oxygen promoted survival of pNSCs by inhibiting apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF)-dependent cell death, although pNSCs undergo both AIF- and caspase-mediated cell death in 20% oxygen. In contrast, survival of dNSCs in low oxygen was increased by inhibition of caspase-dependent cell death. In normoxia, AIF is implicated in promoting dNSC survival. Neither survival effect was dependent on the main transcriptional effector of hypoxia, hypoxia-inducible factor 1. Low-oxygen concentrations may be involved in expansion of early NSC populations by inhibiting cell death through different pathways in these sequential pNSC and dNSC populations. Stem Cells 2009;27:1879–1886
Neural stem cell; Apoptosis; Hypoxia; Embryonic stem cell; Caspase
As human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines can be derived via multiple means, it is important to determine particular characteristics of individual lines that may dictate the applications to which they are best suited. The objective of this work was to determine points of equivalence and differences between conventionally-derived hESC and parthenote-derived hESC lines (phESC) in the undifferentiated state and during neural differentiation.
hESC and phESC were exposed to the same expansion conditions and subsequent neural and retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) differentiation protocols. Growth rates and gross morphology were recorded during expansion. RTPCR for developmentally relevant genes and global DNA methylation profiling were used to compare gene expression and epigenetic characteristics. Parthenote lines proliferated more slowly than conventional hESC lines and yielded lower quantities of less mature differentiated cells in a neural progenitor cell (NPC) differentiation protocol. However, the cell lines performed similarly in a RPE differentiation protocol. The DNA methylation analysis showed similar general profiles, but the two cell types differed in methylation of imprinted genes. There were no major differences in gene expression between the lines before differentiation, but when differentiated into NPCs, the two cell types differed in expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes.
These data show that hESC and phESC are similar in the undifferentiated state, and both cell types are capable of differentiation along neural lineages. The differences between the cell types, in proliferation and extent of differentiation, may be linked, in part, to the observed differences in ECM synthesis and methylation of imprinted genes.
Embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation is an excellent model to study chromatin changes at developmentally regulated loci. Differentiating mouse and human ESCs increase genome-wide acetylation (euchromatic) and tri-methylation (heterochromatic) of lysine 9 on histone H3. The Oct4 locus is euchromatic when expressed in undifferentiated ESCs and heterochromatic after differentiation. Brachyury T, a mesoderm-specific transcription factor, is not yet expressed in undifferentiated cells, where its locus has “bivalent” tri-methyl lysine 4 and lysine 27 modifications. During directed differentiation to pre-cardiac mesoderm, the activated brachyury locus has high levels of tri-methyl lysine 4 (euchromatin), switching to heterochromatin after gene silencing. Thus, ESC differentiation is accompanied by genome-wide commitment to euchromatin or heterochromatin. Undifferentiated hESCs bivalently modify the brachyury locus, activate it to euchromatin during mesoderm induction and subsequently repress it to heterochromatin, demonstrating, to our knowledge, the first analysis of chromatin dynamics at a locus essential for mesoderm and endoderm differentiation.
Chromatin; Oct4; Brachyury; Histones; Electron Microscopy
Testicular germ cell tumour (TGCT) is the most common malignant tumour in young males. Although aberrant DNA methylation is implicated in the pathophysiology of many cancers, only a limited number of genes are known to be epigenetically changed in TGCT. This report documents the genome-wide analysis of differential methylation in an in vitro model culture system. Interesting genes were validated in TGCT patient samples.
In this study, we used methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) and whole-genome tiling arrays to identify differentially methylated regions (DMRs).
We identified 35 208 DMRs. However, only a small number of DMRs mapped to promoters. A genome-wide analysis of gene expression revealed a group of differentially expressed genes that were regulated by DNA methylation. We identified several candidate genes, including APOLD1, PCDH10 and RGAG1, which were dysregulated in TGCT patient samples. Surprisingly, APOLD1 had previously been mapped to the TGCT susceptibility locus at 12p13.1, suggesting that it may be important in TGCT pathogenesis. We also observed aberrant methylation in the loci of some non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). One of the ncRNAs, hsa-mir-199a, was downregulated in TGCT patient samples, and also in our in vitro model culture system.
This report is the first application of MeDIP-chip for identifying epigenetically regulated genes and ncRNAs in TGCT. We also demonstrated the function of intergenic and intronic DMRs in the regulation of ncRNAs.
DNA methylation; MeDIP-chip; non-coding RNA; intergenic and intronic DMR; TGCT
Neural stem cells (NSCs) are undifferentiated neural cells characterized by their high proliferative potential and the capacity for self-renewal with retention of multipotency. Over the past two decades, there has been a huge effort to identify NSCs morphologically, genetically, and molecular biologically. It is still controversial, however, what bona fide NSCs are. To define and characterize NSCs more systematically, it is crucial to explore novel cell-surface marker molecules of NSCs. In this study, we focused on GD3, a b-series ganglioside that is enriched in the immature brain and the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the postnatal and adult brain, and evaluated the usefulness of GD3 as a cell-surface biomarker for identifying NSCs. We demonstrated that GD3 was expressed in more than 80% of NSCs prepared from embryonic, postnatal, and adult mouse brain tissue by the neurosphere culture method. The percentage of GD3-expressing NSCs in neurospheres was nearly the same as it was in neurospheres derived from embryonic, postnatal, and adult brains but decreased drastically to about 40% after differentiation. GD3+ cells isolated from embryonic mouse striata, postnatal, and adult mouse SVZs by fluorescence-activated cell sorting with an R24 anti-GD3 monoclonal antibody efficiently generated neurospheres compared with GD3− cells. These cells possessed multipotency to differentiate into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. These data indicate that GD3 is a unique and powerful cell-surface biomarker to identify and isolate NSCs.
development; FACS; glycoconjugate; glycosphingolipid; neurospheres
Epigenetic plasticity in relation to in utero exposures may mechanistically explain observed differences in the likelihood of developing common complex diseases including hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease through the cumulative effects of subtle alterations in gene expression. Imprinted genes are essential mediators of growth and development and are characterized by differentially methylated regulatory regions (DMRs) that carry parental allele-specific methylation profiles. This theoretical 50% level of methylation provides a baseline from which endogenously- or exogenously-induced deviations in methylation can be detected. We quantified DNA methylation at imprinted gene DMRs in a large panel of human conceptal tissues, in matched buccal cell specimens collected at birth and at one year of age, and in the major cell fractions of umbilical cord blood to assess the stability of methylation at these regions. DNA methylation was measured using validated pyrosequencing assays at seven DMRs regulating the IGF2/H19, DLK1/MEG3, MEST, NNAT and SGCE/PEG10 imprinted domains. DMR methylation did not significantly differ for the H19, MEST and SGCE/PEG10 DMRs across all conceptal tissues analyzed (ANOVA p>0.10). Methylation differences at several DMRs were observed in tissues from brain (IGF2 and MEG3-IG DMRs), liver (IGF2 and MEG3 DMRs) and placenta (both DLK1/MEG3 DMRs and NNAT DMR). In most infants, methylation profiles in buccal cells at birth and at one year of age were comparable, as was methylation in the major cell fractions of umbilical cord blood. Several infants showed temporal deviations in methylation at multiple DMRs. Similarity of inter-individual and intra-individual methylation at some, but not all of the DMRs analyzed supports the possibility that methylation of these regions can serve as useful biosensors of exposure.