DNA methylation is an indispensible epigenetic modification of mammalian genomes. Consequently there is great interest in strategies for genome-wide/whole-genome DNA methylation analysis, and immunoprecipitation-based methods have proven to be a powerful option. Such methods are rapidly shifting the bottleneck from data generation to data analysis, necessitating the development of better analytical tools. Until now, a major analytical difficulty associated with immunoprecipitation-based DNA methylation profiling has been the inability to estimate absolute methylation levels. Here we report the development of a novel cross-platform algorithm – Bayesian Tool for Methylation Analysis (Batman) – for analyzing Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) profiles generated using arrays (MeDIP-chip) or next-generation sequencing (MeDIP-seq). The latter is an approach we have developed to elucidate the first high-resolution whole-genome DNA methylation profile (DNA methylome) of any mammalian genome. MeDIP-seq/MeDIP-chip combined with Batman represent robust, quantitative, and cost-effective functional genomic strategies for elucidating the function of DNA methylation.
The chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay is a major tool in the study of genomic processes in vivo. This and other methods are revealing that control of gene expression, cell division and DNA repair involves multiple proteins and great number of their modifications. ChIP assay is traditionally done in test tubes limiting the ability to study signaling of the complex genomic events. To increase the throughput and to simplify the assay we have developed a microplate-based ChIP (Matrix ChIP) method, where all steps from immunoprecipitation to DNA purification are done in microplate wells without sample transfers. This platform has several important advantages over the tube-based assay including very simple sample handling, high throughput, improved sensitivity and reproducibility, and potential for automation. 96 ChIP measurements including PCR can be done by one researcher in one day. We illustrate the power of Matrix ChIP by parallel profiling 80 different chromatin and transcription time-course events along an inducible gene including transient recruitment of kinases.
A significant portion of ongoing epigenetic research involves the investigation of DNA methylation and chromatin modification patterns seen throughout many biological processes. Over the last few years, epigenetic research has undergone a gradual shift and recent studies have been directed toward a genome-wide assessment. DNA methylation and chromatin modifications are essential components of the regulation of gene activity. DNA methylation effectively down-regulates gene activity by addition of a methyl group to the five-carbon of a cytosine base. Less specifically, modification of the chromatin structure can be carried out by multiple mechanisms leading to either the upregulation or down-regulation of the associated gene. Of the many assays used to assess the effects of epigenetic modifications, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), which serves to monitor changes in chromatin structure, and bisulfite modification, which tracks changes in DNA methylation, are the two most commonly used techniques.
Epigenetics; DNA methylation; DNMTs; CpG islands; HDACs; HMTs; Chromatin immunoprecipitation; Bisulfite modification
Herpesvirus latency is generally thought to be governed by epigenetic modifications, but the dynamics of viral chromatin at early timepoints of latent infection are poorly understood. Here, we report a comprehensive spatial and temporal analysis of DNA methylation and histone modifications during latent infection with Kaposi Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), the etiologic agent of Kaposi Sarcoma and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). By use of high resolution tiling microarrays in conjunction with immunoprecipitation of methylated DNA (MeDIP) or modified histones (chromatin IP, ChIP), our study revealed highly distinct landscapes of epigenetic modifications associated with latent KSHV infection in several tumor-derived cell lines as well as de novo infected endothelial cells. We find that KSHV genomes are subject to profound methylation at CpG dinucleotides, leading to the establishment of characteristic global DNA methylation patterns. However, such patterns evolve slowly and thus are unlikely to control early latency. In contrast, we observed that latency-specific histone modification patterns were rapidly established upon a de novo infection. Our analysis furthermore demonstrates that such patterns are not characterized by the absence of activating histone modifications, as H3K9/K14-ac and H3K4-me3 marks were prominently detected at several loci, including the promoter of the lytic cycle transactivator Rta. While these regions were furthermore largely devoid of the constitutive heterochromatin marker H3K9-me3, we observed rapid and widespread deposition of H3K27-me3 across latent KSHV genomes, a bivalent modification which is able to repress transcription in spite of the simultaneous presence of activating marks. Our findings suggest that the modification patterns identified here induce a poised state of repression during viral latency, which can be rapidly reversed once the lytic cycle is induced.
A characteristic feature of herpesviruses is their ability to establish a latent infection during which most of the viral genes are silenced. As a consequence, no viral progeny is produced and the host cell remains viable. While the viral genome may persist in the nucleus of such cells indefinitely, it retains the ability to re-enter the lytic cycle and produce new virions if conditions in the cell become unfavorable. The molecular requirements for the establishment of latency are poorly understood, but are thought to depend on epigenetic modifications of the viral episome. Here, we report a genome-wide screen to investigate DNA methylation and histone modification patterns associated with latent infection by Kaposi Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), a tumor virus linked to the development of several cancers. We find that latency is likely to be determined by modifications commonly associated with genes that are transcriptionally “poised”. The promoters of such genes harbor activating as well as repressive histone marks such that they are silenced, but they can be rapidly activated upon removal of the repressive marks. Our findings thus may explain how KSHV achieves efficient quiescence during latency, yet retains the potential to quickly revert to a fully active state upon induction of the lytic cycle.
The methylated DNA immunoprecipitation microarray (MeDIP-chip) is a genome-wide, high-resolution approach to detect DNA methylation in whole genome or CpG (cytosine base followed by a guanine base) islands. The method utilizes anti-methylcytosine antibody to immunoprecipitate DNA that contains highly methylated CpG sites. Enriched methylated DNA can be interrogated using DNA microarrays or by massive parallel sequencing techniques. This combined approach allows researchers to rapidly identify methylated regions in a genome-wide manner, and compare DNA methylation patterns between two samples with diversely different DNA methylation status. MeDIP-chip has been applied successfully for analyses of methylated DNA in the different targets including animal and plant tissues (1, 2). Here we present a MeDIP-chip protocol that is routinely used in our laboratory, illustrated with specific examples from MeDIP-chip analysis of breast cancer cell lines. Potential technical pitfalls and solutions are also provided to serve as workflow guidelines.
DNA methylation; epigenetics; MeDIP-chip; microarray; cancer
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.
Perturbation of DNA methylation is frequent in cancers and has emerged as an important mechanism involved in tumorigenesis. To determine how DNA methylation is modified in the genome of primary glioma, we used Methyl-DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) and Nimblegen CpG promoter microarrays to identify differentially DNA methylation sequences between primary glioma and normal brain tissue samples.
MeDIP-chip technology was used to investigate the whole-genome differential methylation patterns in glioma and normal brain tissues. Subsequently, the promoter methylation status of eight candidate genes was validated in 40 glioma samples and 4 cell lines by Sequenom's MassARRAY system. Then, the epigenetically regulated expression of these genes and the potential mechanisms were examined by chromatin immunoprecipitation and quantitative real-time PCR.
A total of 524 hypermethylated and 104 hypomethylated regions were identified in glioma. Among them, 216 hypermethylated and 60 hypomethylated regions were mapped to the promoters of known genes related to a variety of important cellular processes. Eight promoter-hypermethylated genes (ANKDD1A, GAD1, HIST1H3E, PCDHA8, PCDHA13, PHOX2B, SIX3, and SST) were confirmed in primary glioma and cell lines. Aberrant promoter methylation and changed histone modifications were associated with their reduced expression in glioma. In addition, we found loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the miR-185 locus located in the 22q11.2 in glioma and induction of miR-185 over-expression reduced global DNA methylation and induced the expression of the promoter-hypermethylated genes in glioma cells by directly targeting the DNA methyltransferases 1.
These comprehensive data may provide new insights into the epigenetic pathogenesis of human gliomas.
DNA methylation; MiR-185; Glioma; DNMT1
Chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with DNA microarrays (ChIP-chip) is an assay used for investigating DNA-protein-binding or post-translational chromatin/histone modifications. As with all high-throughput technologies, it requires thorough bioinformatic processing of the data for which there is no standard yet. The primary goal is to reliably identify and localize genomic regions that bind a specific protein. Further investigation compares binding profiles of functionally related proteins, or binding profiles of the same proteins in different genetic backgrounds or experimental conditions. Ultimately, the goal is to gain a mechanistic understanding of the effects of DNA binding events on gene expression.
We present a free, open-source R/Bioconductor package Starr that facilitates comparative analysis of ChIP-chip data across experiments and across different microarray platforms. The package provides functions for data import, quality assessment, data visualization and exploration. Starr includes high-level analysis tools such as the alignment of ChIP signals along annotated features, correlation analysis of ChIP signals with complementary genomic data, peak-finding and comparative display of multiple clusters of binding profiles. It uses standard Bioconductor classes for maximum compatibility with other software. Moreover, Starr automatically updates microarray probe annotation files by a highly efficient remapping of microarray probe sequences to an arbitrary genome.
Starr is an R package that covers the complete ChIP-chip workflow from data processing to binding pattern detection. It focuses on the high-level data analysis, e.g., it provides methods for the integration and combined statistical analysis of binding profiles and complementary functional genomics data. Starr enables systematic assessment of binding behaviour for groups of genes that are alingned along arbitrary genomic features.
High throughput signature sequencing holds many promises, one of which is the ready identification of in vivo transcription factor binding sites, histone modifications, changes in chromatin structure and patterns of DNA methylation across entire genomes. In these experiments, chromatin immunoprecipitation is used to enrich for particular DNA sequences of interest and signature sequencing is used to map the regions to the genome (ChIP-Seq). Elucidation of these sites of DNA-protein binding/modification are proving instrumental in reconstructing networks of gene regulation and chromatin remodelling that direct development, response to cellular perturbation, and neoplastic transformation.
Here we present a package of algorithms and software that makes use of control input data to reduce false positives and estimate confidence in ChIP-Seq peaks. Several different methods were compared using two simulated spike-in datasets. Use of control input data and a normalized difference score were found to more than double the recovery of ChIP-Seq peaks at a 5% false discovery rate (FDR). Moreover, both a binomial p-value/q-value and an empirical FDR were found to predict the true FDR within 2–3 fold and are more reliable estimators of confidence than a global Poisson p-value. These methods were then used to reanalyze Johnson et al.'s neuron-restrictive silencer factor (NRSF) ChIP-Seq data without relying on extensive qPCR validated NRSF sites and the presence of NRSF binding motifs for setting thresholds.
The methods developed and tested here show considerable promise for reducing false positives and estimating confidence in ChIP-Seq data without any prior knowledge of the chIP target. They are part of a larger open source package freely available from http://useq.sourceforge.net/.
Chromatin structure is important for the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes. In this process, chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, and covalent modifications on the amino-terminal tails of histones H3 and H4 play essential roles1-2. H3 and H4 histone modifications include methylation of lysine and arginine, acetylation of lysine, and phosphorylation of serine residues1-2. These modifications are associated either with gene activation, repression, or a primed state of gene that supports more rapid and robust activation of expression after perception of appropriate signals (microbe-associated molecular patterns, light, hormones, etc.)3-7.
Here, we present a method for the reliable and sensitive detection of specific chromatin modifications on selected plant genes. The technique is based on the crosslinking of (modified) histones and DNA with formaldehyde8,9, extraction and sonication of chromatin, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with modification-specific antibodies9,10, de-crosslinking of histone-DNA complexes, and gene-specific real-time quantitative PCR. The approach has proven useful for detecting specific histone modifications associated with C4 photosynthesis in maize5,11 and systemic immunity in Arabidopsis3.
The eukaryotic genome is packaged into chromatin, and chromatin modification and remodeling play an important role in transcriptional regulation, DNA replication, recombination and repair. Recent findings have shown that various post-translational histone modifications cooperate to recruit different effector proteins that bring about mobilization of the nucleosomes and cause distinct downstream consequences. The combination of chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) using antibodies directed against the core histones or specific histone modifications, with high-resolution tiling microarray analysis allows the examination of nucleosome occupancy and histone modification status genome-wide. Comparing genome-wide chromatin status with global gene expression patterns can reveal causal connections between specific patterns of histone modifications and the resulting gene expression. Here, we describe current methods based on recent advances in microarray technology to conduct such studies.
S. cerevisiae; chromatin remodeling; chromatin immunoprecipitation; tiling microarray
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification that regulates development and plays a role in the pathophysiology of many diseases. It is dynamically changed during germline development. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) is an efficient, cost-effective method for locus-specific and genome-wide analysis. Methylated DNA fragments are enriched by a 5-methylcytidine-recognizing antibody, therefore allowing the analysis of both CpG and non-CpG methylation. The enriched DNA fragments can be amplified and hybridized to tiling arrays covering CpG islands, promoters, or the entire genome. Comparison of different methylomes permits the discovery of differentially methylated regions that might be important in disease- or tissue-specific expression. Here, we describe an established MeDIP protocol and tiling array hybridization method for profiling methylation of testicular germ cells.
MeDIP; DNA methylation; Tiling arrays
The dynamic modification of DNA and histones plays a key role in transcriptional regulationthrough altering the packaging of DNA and modifying the nucleosome surface. These chromatin states, also referred to as the epigenome, are distinctive for different tissues, developmental stages, and disease states and can also be altered by environmental influences.
New technologies allow the genome-wide visualization of the information encoded in theepigenome. For example, the chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay allows investigators to characterize DNA–protein interactions in vivo. ChIP followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) is a powerful tool to identify genome-wide profiles of transcription factors, histone modifications, DNA methylation, and nucleosome positioning. The low yield of ChIP assays presents a challenge for reproducible and high quality library preparation for high throughput sequencing. Using the automated library preparation system from IntegenX, we prepared ChIP-seq libraries from as little as 1 ng ChIP DNA material. Sequencing of biological replicates on the Illumina platform confirmed a 95%-98% overlap of identified binding sites. Progress of ChIP experiments using limited tissue amounts from rice seedlings as well as other applications of the library automation system will be discussed.
Chromatin is a highly dynamic, well-structured nucleoprotein complex of DNA and proteins that controls virtually all DNA transactions. Chromatin dynamicity is regulated at specific loci by the presence of various associated proteins, histones, post-translational modifications, histone variants, and DNA methylation. Until now the characterization of the proteomic component of chromatin domains has been held back by the challenge of enriching distinguishable, homogeneous regions for subsequent mass spectrometry analysis. Here we describe a modified protocol for chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with quantitative proteomics based on stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture to identify known and novel histone modifications, variants, and complexes that specifically associate with silent and active chromatin domains. Our chromatin proteomics strategy revealed unique functional interactions among various chromatin modifiers, suggesting new regulatory pathways, such as a heterochromatin-specific modulation of DNA damage response involving H2A.X and WICH, both enriched in silent domains. Chromatin proteomics expands the arsenal of tools for deciphering how all the distinct protein components act together to enforce a given region-specific chromatin status.
Genomic DNA in the eukaryotic nucleus is hierarchically packaged by histones into chromatin to fit inside the nucleus. The dynamics of higher-order chromatin compaction play a critical role in transcription and other biological processes inherent to DNA. Many factors, including histone variants, histone modifications, DNA methylation and the binding of non-histone architectural proteins regulate the structure of chromatin. Although the structure of nucleosomes, the fundamental repeating unit of chromatin, is clear, there is still much discussion on the higher-order levels of chromatin structure. In this review, we focus on the recent progress in elucidating the structure of the 30-nm chromatin fiber. We also discuss the structural plasticity/dynamics and epigenetic inheritance of higher-order chromatin and the roles of chromatin higher-order organization in eukaryotic gene regulation.
The methylated DNA immunoprecipitation method (MeDIP) is a genome-wide, high-resolution approach that detects DNA methylation with oligonucleotide tiling arrays or high throughput sequencing platforms. A simplified high-throughput MeDIP assay will enable translational research studies in clinics and populations, which will greatly enhance our understanding of the human methylome. We compared three commercial kits, MagMeDIP Kit TM (Diagenode), Methylated-DNA IP Kit (Zymo Research) and Methylamp™ Methylated DNA Capture Kit (Epigentek), in order to identify which one has better reliability and sensitivity for genomic DNA enrichment. Each kit was used to enrich two samples, one from fresh tissue and one from a cell line, with two different DNA amounts. The enrichment efficiency of each kit was evaluated by agarose gel band intensity after Nco I digestion and by reaction yield of methylated DNA. A successful enrichment is expected to have a 1:4 to 10:1 conversion ratio and a yield of 80% or higher. We also evaluated the hybridization efficiency to genome-wide methylation arrays in a separate cohort of tissue samples. We observed that the MagMeDIP kit had the highest yield for the two DNA amounts and for both the tissue and cell line samples, as well as for the positive control. In addition, the DNA was successfully enriched from a 1:4 to 10:1 ratio. Therefore, the MagMeDIP kit is a useful research tool that will enable clinical and public health genome-wide DNA methylation studies.
differential methylation; Methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP); translational research genome-wide promoter methylation
Epigenetic mechanisms such as microRNA and histone modification are crucially responsible for dysregulated gene expression in heart failure. In contrast, the role of DNA methylation, another well-characterized epigenetic mark, is unknown. In order to examine whether human cardiomyopathy of different etiologies are connected by a unifying pattern of DNA methylation pattern, we undertook profiling with ischaemic and idiopathic end-stage cardiomyopathic left ventricular (LV) explants from patients who had undergone cardiac transplantation compared to normal control. We performed a preliminary analysis using methylated-DNA immunoprecipitation-chip (MeDIP-chip), validated differential methylation loci by bisulfite-(BS) PCR and high throughput sequencing, and identified 3 angiogenesis-related genetic loci that were differentially methylated. Using quantitative RT-PCR, we found that the expression of these genes differed significantly between CM hearts and normal control (p<0.01). Moreover, for each individual LV tissue, differential methylation showed a predicted correlation to differential expression of the corresponding gene. Thus, differential DNA methylation exists in human cardiomyopathy. In this series of heterogenous cardiomyopathic LV explants, differential DNA methylation was found in at least 3 angiogenesis-related genes. While in other systems, changes in DNA methylation at specific genomic loci usually precede changes in the expression of corresponding genes, our current findings in cardiomyopathy merit further investigation to determine whether DNA methylation changes play a causative role in the progression of heart failure.
DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark linking DNA sequence and transcription regulation, and therefore plays an important role in phenotypic plasticity. The ideal whole genome methylation (methylome) assay should be accurate, affordable, high-throughput and agnostic with respect to genomic features. To this end, the methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) assay provides a good balance of these criteria. In this Methods paper, we present AutoMeDIP-seq, a technique that combines an automated MeDIP protocol with library preparation steps for subsequent second-generation sequencing. We assessed recovery of DNA sequences covering a range of CpG densities using in vitro methylated λ-DNA fragments (and their unmethylated counterparts) spiked-in against a background of human genomic DNA. We show that AutoMeDIP is more reliable than manual protocols, shows a linear recovery profile of fragments related to CpG density (R2 = 0.86), and that it is highly specific (>99%). AutoMeDIP-seq offers a competitive approach to high-throughput methylome analysis of medium to large cohorts.
DNA methylation; Automation; Whole genome; High-throughput sequencing; MeDIP
DNA methylation contributes to the regulation of gene expression during development and cellular differentiation. The recently developed Methylated DNA ImmunoPrecipitation (MeDIP) assay allows a comprehensive analysis of this epigenetic mark at the genomic level in normal and disease-derived cells. However, estimating the efficiency of the MeDIP technique is difficult without previous knowledge of the methylation status of a given cell population. Attempts to circumvent this problem have involved the use of in vitro methylated DNA in parallel to the investigated samples. Taking advantage of this stratagem, we sought to improve the sensitivity of the approach and to assess potential biases resulting from DNA amplification and hybridization procedures using MeDIP samples.
We performed MeDIP assays using in vitro methylated DNA, with or without previous DNA amplification, and hybridization to a human promoter array. We observed that CpG content at gene promoters indeed correlates strongly with the MeDIP signal obtained using in vitro methylated DNA, even when lowering significantly the amount of starting material. In analyzing MeDIP products that were subjected to whole genome amplification (WGA), we also revealed a strong bias against CpG-rich promoters during this amplification procedure, which may potentially affect the significance of the resulting data.
We illustrate the use of in vitro methylated DNA to assess the efficiency and accuracy of MeDIP procedures. We report that efficient and reproducible genome-wide data can be obtained via MeDIP experiments using relatively low amount of starting genomic DNA; and emphasize for the precaution that must be taken in data analysis when an additional DNA amplification step is required.
Genetic information is encoded not only by the linear sequence of DNA, but also by epigenetic modifications of chromatin structure that include DNA methylation and covalent modifications of the proteins that bind DNA. These “epigenetic marks” alter the structure of chromatin to influence gene expression. Methylation occurs naturally on cytosine bases at CpG sequences and is involved in controlling the correct expression of genes. DNA methylation is usually associated with triggering histone deacetylation, chromatin condensation, and gene silencing. Differentially methylated cytosines give rise to distinct patterns specific for each tissue type and disease state. Such methylation-variable positions (MVPs) are not uniformly distributed throughout our genome, but are concentrated among genes that regulate transcription, growth, metabolism, differentiation, and oncogenesis. Alterations in MVP methylation status create epigenetic patterns that appear to regulate gene expression profiles during cell differentiation, growth, and development, as well as in cancer. Environmental stressors including toxins, as well as microbial and viral exposures, can change epigenetic patterns and thereby effect changes in gene activation and cell phenotype. Since DNA methylation is often retained following cell division, altered MVP patterns in tissues can accumulate over time and can lead to persistent alterations in steady-state cellular metabolism, responses to stimuli, or the retention of an abnormal phenotype, reflecting a molecular consequence of gene-environment interaction. Hence, DNA epigenetics constitutes the main and previously missing link among genetics, disease, and the environment. The challenge in oral biology will be to understand the mechanisms that modify MVPs in oral tissues and to identify those epigenetic patterns that modify disease pathogenesis or responses to therapy.
epigenetics; DNA methylation; gene regulation; infection; inflammation; field effect
Chromatin is a highly structured nucleoprotein complex made of histone proteins and DNA that controls nearly all DNA-dependent processes. Chromatin plasticity is regulated by different associated proteins, post-translational modifications on histones (hPTMs) and DNA methylation, which act in a concerted manner to enforce a specific “chromatin landscape”, with a regulatory effect on gene expression. Mass Spectrometry (MS) has emerged as a powerful analytical strategy to detect histone PTMs, revealing interplays between neighbouring PTMs and enabling screens for their readers in a comprehensive and quantitative fashion. Here we provide an overview of the recent achievements of state-of-the-art mass spectrometry-based proteomics for the detailed qualitative and quantitative characterization of histone post-translational modifications, histone variants, and global interactomes at specific chromatin regions. This synopsis emphasizes how the advances in high resolution MS, from “Bottom Up” to “Top Down” analysis, together with the uptake of quantitative proteomics methods by chromatin biologists, have made MS a well-established method in the epigenetics field, enabling the acquisition of original information, highly complementary to that offered by more conventional, antibody-based, assays.
chromatin; histone post-translational modifications (hPTMs); combinatorial modifications; epigenetics; mass spectrometry; proteomics; SILAC; histone code readers; histone variants
Epigenetic mechanisms control gene transcription primarily through regulating chromatin structures and DNA methylation. Transcription factors can also affect gene transcription through binding of the key transcriptional machinery to the gene promoter. These factors normally jointly influence the transcriptional processes, leading to silencing or activation of gene expression. A novel technique has been recently explored in our laboratory, which is a combination of conventional chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with bisulfite methylation sequencing assays, so called ChIP-BMS. This technique provides precise information of DNA methylation status at the selected DNA fragments precipitated by the antibodies to histone molecules or transcription factors of interest. This method also helps to investigate the interactions between histone modification and DNA methylation, and how this cross-talking can affect gene expression. More importantly, it is easy to determine potential methylation-sensitive transcription factors that influence transcription mainly depending on methylation status of the binding sites. In this chapter, we will discuss the detailed procedures of this novel technique and its broad application in epigenetic and genetic fields.
DNA methylation; histone modification; transcription factor; bisulfite sequencing; chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP); ChIP-BMS
In Eukarya, the packaging of DNA into chromatin provides a barrier that allows for regulation of access to the genome. Chromatin is refractory to processes acting on DNA. ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling machines and histone-modifying complexes can overcome this barrier (or strengthen it in silencing processes). Both components of chromatin (DNA and histones) are subject to postsynthetic covalent modifications, including methylation of lysines (the focus of this chapter). These lysine marks are generated by a host of histone lysine methyltransferases (writers) and can be removed by histone lysine demethylases (erasers). Importantly, epigenetic modifications impact chromatin structure directly or can be read by effector regulatory modules. Here, we summarize current knowledge on structural and functional properties of various histone lysine methyltransfereases and demethylases, with emphasis on their importance as druggable targets.
Mapping genome-wide binding sites of all transcription factors (TFs) in all biological contexts is a critical step toward understanding gene regulation. The state-of-the-art technologies for mapping transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) couple chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) or tiling array hybridization (ChIP-chip). These technologies have limitations: they are low-throughput with respect to surveying many TFs. Recent advances in genome-wide chromatin profiling, including development of technologies such as DNase-seq, FAIRE-seq and ChIP-seq for histone modifications, make it possible to predict in vivo TFBSs by analyzing chromatin features at computationally determined DNA motif sites. This promising new approach may allow researchers to monitor the genome-wide binding sites of many TFs simultaneously. In this article, we discuss various experimental design and data analysis issues that arise when applying this approach. Through a systematic analysis of the data from the Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, we compare the predictive power of individual and combinations of chromatin marks using supervised and unsupervised learning methods, and evaluate the value of integrating information from public ChIP and gene expression data. We also highlight the challenges and opportunities for developing novel analytical methods, such as resolving the one-motif-multiple-TF ambiguity and distinguishing functional and non-functional TF binding targets from the predicted binding sites.
Electronic Supplementary Material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12561-012-9066-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Transcription factor binding sites; DNase-seq; ChIP-seq; FAIRE-seq; Next-generation sequencing; Motif
Post-translational modifications of histones play a key role in DNA-based processes, like transcription, by modulating chromatin structure. N-terminal acetylation is unique among the numerous histone modifications because it is deposited on the N-alpha amino group of the first residue instead of the side-chain of amino acids. The function of this modification and its interplay with other internal histone marks has not been previously addressed. Here, we identified N-terminal acetylation of H4 (N-acH4) as a novel regulator of arginine methylation and chromatin silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Lack of the H4 N-alpha acetyltransferase (Nat4) activity results specifically in increased deposition of asymmetric dimethylation of histone H4 arginine 3 (H4R3me2a) and in enhanced ribosomal-DNA silencing. Consistent with this, H4 N-terminal acetylation impairs the activity of the Hmt1 methyltransferase towards H4R3 in vitro. Furthermore, combinatorial loss of N-acH4 with internal histone acetylation at lysines 5, 8 and 12 has a synergistic induction of H4R3me2a deposition and rDNA silencing that leads to a severe growth defect. This defect is completely rescued by mutating arginine 3 to lysine (H4R3K), suggesting that abnormal deposition of a single histone modification, H4R3me2a, can impact on cell growth. Notably, the cross-talk between N-acH4 and H4R3me2a, which regulates rDNA silencing, is induced under calorie restriction conditions. Collectively, these findings unveil a molecular and biological function for H4 N-terminal acetylation, identify its interplay with internal histone modifications, and provide general mechanistic implications for N-alpha-terminal acetylation, one of the most common protein modifications in eukaryotes.
The genome of eukaryotic cells is packaged into nucleosomes consisting of an octamer of histone proteins that is wrapped around by DNA. Histone proteins are often modified with chemical groups that can influence the arrangement of nucleosomes and thereby affect DNA-based processes like transcription. Histone N-terminal acetylation, which comprises the addition of a chemical group at the tip of the histone tail, is an abundant modification whose function is unknown. In this work, we show that N-terminal acetylation of histone H4 can strongly inhibit the occurrence of a neighboring modification, namely dimethylation at the third arginine. To do this, N-terminal acetylation cooperates with other internal lysine acetylation marks. We find that the communication amongst these histone modifications is necessary for controlling the expression of ribosomal RNA genes that are required for protein synthesis and cell growth. Our experiments show that in the absence of both N-terminal acetylation and lysine acetylation there is a strong increase in H4 arginine 3 dimethylation levels leading to cell lethality. This growth defect can be rescued by a point mutation on H4 that blocks methylation at position 3. Together, our results unveil a molecular and biological function for the previously uncharacterized N-terminal acetylation of histones.