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1.  Candida albicans Infection Affords Protection against Reinfection via Functional Reprogramming of Monocytes 
Cell host & microbe  2012;12(2):10.1016/j.chom.2012.06.006.
Immunological memory in vertebrates is often exclusively attributed to T and B cell function. Recently it was proposed that the enhanced and sustained innate immune responses following initial infectious exposure may also afford protection against reinfection. Testing this concept of “trained immunity,” we show that mice lacking functional T and B lymphocytes are protected against reinfection with Candida albicans in a monocyte-dependent manner. C. albicans and fungal cell wall β-glucans induced functional reprogramming of monocytes, leading to enhanced cytokine production in vivo and in vitro. The training required the β-glucan receptor dectin-1 and the noncanonical Raf-1 pathway. Monocyte training by β-glucans was associated with stable changes in histone trimethylation at H3K4, which suggests the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in this phenomenon. The functional reprogramming of monocytes, reminiscent of similar NK cell properties, supports the concept of “trained immunity” and may be employed for the design of improved vaccination strategies.
PMCID: PMC3864037  PMID: 22901542
2.  Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae Carbonic Anhydrase Is Important for Environmental and Intracellular Survival 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(12):2737-2746.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) is one of the leading causes of noninvasive mucosal infections, such as otitis media, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis. During its life cycle, NTHi is exposed to different CO2 levels, which vary from ∼0.04% in ambient air during transmission to a new host to over 5% in the respiratory tract and tissues of the human host during colonization and disease. We used the next-generation sequencing Tn-seq technology to identify genes essential for NTHi adaptation to changes in environmental CO2 levels. It appeared that H. influenzae carbonic anhydrase (HICA), which catalyzes the reversible hydration of CO2 to bicarbonate, is a molecular factor that is conditionally essential for NTHi survival in ambient air. Growth of NTHi Δcan strains was restored under 5% CO2-enriched conditions, by supplementation of the growth medium with sodium bicarbonate, or by genetic complementation with the can gene. Finally, we showed that HICA not only is essential for environmental survival but also appeared to be important for intracellular survival in host cells. Hence, HICA is important for NTHi niche adaptation.
PMCID: PMC3697255  PMID: 23564172
3.  An in vitro assay to study the recruitment and substrate specificity of chromatin modifying enzymes 
Post-translational modifications of core histones play an important role in regulating fundamental biological processes such as DNA repair, transcription and replication. In this paper, we describe a novel assay that allows sequential targeting of distinct histone modifying enzymes to immobilized nucleosomal templates using recombinant chimeric targeting molecules. The assay can be used to study the histone substrate specificity of chromatin modifying enzymes as well as whether and how certain enzymes affect each other's histone modifying activities. As such the assay can help to understand how a certain histone code is established and interpreted.
PMCID: PMC491765  PMID: 15282629
Chromatin; Histone code
4.  Streptococcus pneumoniae Folate Biosynthesis Responds to Environmental CO2 Levels 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(7):1573-1582.
Although carbon dioxide (CO2) is known to be essential for Streptococcus pneumoniae growth, it is poorly understood how this respiratory tract pathogen adapts to the large changes in environmental CO2 levels it encounters during transmission, host colonization, and disease. To identify the molecular mechanisms that facilitate pneumococcal growth under CO2-poor conditions, we generated a random S. pneumoniae R6 mariner transposon mutant library representing mutations in 1,538 different genes and exposed it to CO2-poor ambient air. With Tn-seq, we found mutations in two genes that were involved in S. pneumoniae adaptation to changes in CO2 availability. The gene pca, encoding pneumococcal carbonic anhydrase (PCA), was absolutely essential for S. pneumoniae growth under CO2-poor conditions. PCA catalyzes the reversible hydration of endogenous CO2 to bicarbonate (HCO3−) and was previously demonstrated to facilitate HCO3−-dependent fatty acid biosynthesis. The gene folC that encodes the dihydrofolate/folylpolyglutamate synthase was required at the initial phase of bacterial growth under CO2-poor culture conditions. FolC compensated for the growth-phase-dependent decrease in S. pneumoniae intracellular long-chain (n > 3) polyglutamyl folate levels, which was most pronounced under CO2-poor growth conditions. In conclusion, S. pneumoniae adaptation to changes in CO2 availability involves the retention of endogenous CO2 and the preservation of intracellular long-chain polyglutamyl folate pools.
PMCID: PMC3624543  PMID: 23354753
5.  Comparative genome-wide DNA methylation analysis of colorectal tumor and matched normal tissues 
Epigenetics  2012;7(12):1355-1367.
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.
PMCID: PMC3528691  PMID: 23079744
DNA methylation; colorectal cancer; biomarkers; H3K27me3; gene expression; Illumina sequencing
6.  Genome-Wide Profiling of Liver X Receptor, Retinoid X Receptor, and Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor α in Mouse Liver Reveals Extensive Sharing of Binding Sites 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(4):852-867.
The liver X receptors (LXRs) are nuclear receptors that form permissive heterodimers with retinoid X receptor (RXR) and are important regulators of lipid metabolism in the liver. We have recently shown that RXR agonist-induced hypertriglyceridemia and hepatic steatosis in mice are dependent on LXRs and correlate with an LXR-dependent hepatic induction of lipogenic genes. To further investigate the roles of RXR and LXR in the regulation of hepatic gene expression, we have mapped the ligand-regulated genome-wide binding of these factors in mouse liver. We find that the RXR agonist bexarotene primarily increases the genomic binding of RXR, whereas the LXR agonist T0901317 greatly increases both LXR and RXR binding. Functional annotation of putative direct LXR target genes revealed a significant association with classical LXR-regulated pathways as well as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) signaling pathways, and subsequent chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) mapping of PPARα binding demonstrated binding of PPARα to 71 to 88% of the identified LXR-RXR binding sites. The combination of sequence analysis of shared binding regions and sequential ChIP on selected sites indicate that LXR-RXR and PPARα-RXR bind to degenerate response elements in a mutually exclusive manner. Together, our findings suggest extensive and unexpected cross talk between hepatic LXR and PPARα at the level of binding to shared genomic sites.
PMCID: PMC3272984  PMID: 22158963
7.  The Transcriptional and Epigenomic Foundations of Ground State Pluripotency 
Cell  2012;149(3):590-604.
Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells grown in serum exhibit greater heterogeneity in morphology and expression of pluripotency factors than ES cells cultured in defined medium with inhibitors of two kinases (Mek and GSK3), a condition known as “2i” postulated to establish a naive ground state. We show that the transcriptome and epigenome profiles of serum- and 2i-grown ES cells are distinct. 2i-treated cells exhibit lower expression of lineage-affiliated genes, reduced prevalence at promoters of the repressive histone modification H3K27me3, and fewer bivalent domains, which are thought to mark genes poised for either up- or downregulation. Nonetheless, serum- and 2i-grown ES cells have similar differentiation potential. Precocious transcription of developmental genes in 2i is restrained by RNA polymerase II promoter-proximal pausing. These findings suggest that transcriptional potentiation and a permissive chromatin context characterize the ground state and that exit from it may not require a metastable intermediate or multilineage priming.
Graphical Abstract
► High-resolution genome-wide transcriptome and epigenome of naive pluripotency ► Reduced H3K27me3 at promoters and fewer bivalent domains in naive ES cells ► Reduced lineage priming and increased RNA polymerase II pausing in the naive state ► Naive ES cells show no delay in differentiation
Ground state pluripotency is characterized by a permissive chromatin context, but gene expression is not promiscuous due to the high prevalence of promoter-proximal pausing of transcription.
PMCID: PMC3398752  PMID: 22541430
8.  SS18 Together with Animal-Specific Factors Defines Human BAF-Type SWI/SNF Complexes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33834.
Nucleosome translocation along DNA is catalyzed by eukaryotic SNF2-type ATPases. One class of SNF2-ATPases is distinguished by the presence of a C-terminal bromodomain and is conserved from yeast to man and plants. This class of SNF2 enzymes forms rather large protein complexes that are collectively called SWI/SNF complexes. They are involved in transcription and DNA repair. Two broad types of SWI/SNF complexes have been reported in the literature; PBAF and BAF. These are distinguished by the inclusion or not of polybromo and several ARID subunits. Here we investigated human SS18, a protein that is conserved in plants and animals. SS18 is a putative SWI/SNF subunit which has been implicated in the etiology of synovial sarcomas by virtue of being a target for oncogenic chromosomal translocations that underlie synovial sarcomas.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We pursued a proteomic approach whereby the SS18 open reading frame was fused to a tandem affinity purification tag and expressed in amenable human cells. The fusion permitted efficient and exclusive purification of so-called BAF-type SWI/SNF complexes which bear ARID1A/BAF250a or ARID1B/BAF250b subunits. This demonstrates that SS18 is a BAF subtype-specific SWI/SNF complex subunit. The same result was obtained when using the SS18-SSX1 oncogenic translocation product. Furthermore, SS18L1, DPF1, DPF2, DPF3, BRD9, BCL7A, BCL7B and BCL7C were identified. ‘Complex walking’ showed that they all co-purify with each other, defining human BAF-type complexes. By contrast,we demonstrate that human PHF10 is part of the PBAF complex, which harbors both ARID2/BAF200 and polybromo/BAF180 subunits, but not SS18 and nor the above BAF-specific subunits.
SWI/SNF complexes are found in most eukaryotes and in the course of evolution new SWI/SNF subunits appeared. SS18 is found in plants as well as animals. Our results suggest that in both protostome and deuterostome animals, a class of BAF-type SWI/SNF complexes will be found that harbor SS18 or its paralogs, along with ARID1, DPF and BCL7 paralogs. Those BAF complexes are proteomically distinct from the eukaryote-wide PBAF-type SWI/SNF complexes. Finally, our results suggests that the human bromodomain factors BRD7 and BRD9 associate with PBAF and BAF, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3307773  PMID: 22442726
9.  CATCHprofiles: Clustering and Alignment Tool for ChIP Profiles 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28272.
Chromatin Immuno Precipitation (ChIP) profiling detects in vivo protein-DNA binding, and has revealed a large combinatorial complexity in the binding of chromatin associated proteins and their post-translational modifications. To fully explore the spatial and combinatorial patterns in ChIP-profiling data and detect potentially meaningful patterns, the areas of enrichment must be aligned and clustered, which is an algorithmically and computationally challenging task. We have developed CATCHprofiles, a novel tool for exhaustive pattern detection in ChIP profiling data. CATCHprofiles is built upon a computationally efficient implementation for the exhaustive alignment and hierarchical clustering of ChIP profiling data. The tool features a graphical interface for examination and browsing of the clustering results. CATCHprofiles requires no prior knowledge about functional sites, detects known binding patterns “ab initio”, and enables the detection of new patterns from ChIP data at a high resolution, exemplified by the detection of asymmetric histone and histone modification patterns around H2A.Z-enriched sites. CATCHprofiles' capability for exhaustive analysis combined with its ease-of-use makes it an invaluable tool for explorative research based on ChIP profiling data.
CATCHprofiles and the CATCH algorithm run on all platforms and is available for free through the CATCH website:
User support is available by subscribing to the mailing list
PMCID: PMC3251562  PMID: 22238575
10.  5-Hydroxymethylcytosine: a new kid on the epigenetic block? 
The discovery of the Ten-Eleven-Translocation (TET) oxygenases that catalyze the hydroxylation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) has triggered an avalanche of studies aiming to resolve the role of 5hmC in gene regulation if any. Hitherto, TET1 is reported to bind to CpG-island (CGI) and bivalent promoters in mouse embryonic stem cells, whereas binding at DNAseI hypersensitive sites (HS) had escaped previous analysis. Significant enrichment/accumulation of 5hmC but not 5mC can indeed be detected at bivalent promoters and at DNaseI-HS. Surprisingly, however, 5hmC is not detected or present at very low levels at CGI promoters notwithstanding the presence of TET1. Our meta-analysis of DNA methylation profiling points to potential issues with regard to the various methodologies that are part of the toolbox used to detect 5mC and 5hmC. Discrepancies between published studies and technical limitations prevent an unambiguous assignment of 5hmC as a ‘true' epigenetic mark, that is, read and interpreted by other factors and/or as a transiently accumulating intermediary product of the conversion of 5mC to unmodified cytosines.
PMCID: PMC3737735  PMID: 22186736
DNA demethylation; sixth base; Ten-Eleven-Translocation; 5-hydroxymethylcytosine; 5-methylcytosine
11.  FACIL: Fast and Accurate Genetic Code Inference and Logo 
Bioinformatics  2011;27(14):1929-1933.
Motivation: The intensification of DNA sequencing will increasingly unveil uncharacterized species with potential alternative genetic codes. A total of 0.65% of the DNA sequences currently in Genbank encode their proteins with a variant genetic code, and these exceptions occur in many unrelated taxa.
Results: We introduce FACIL (Fast and Accurate genetic Code Inference and Logo), a fast and reliable tool to evaluate nucleic acid sequences for their genetic code that detects alternative codes even in species distantly related to known organisms. To illustrate this, we apply FACIL to a set of mitochondrial genomic contigs of Globobulimina pseudospinescens. This foraminifer does not have any sequenced close relative in the databases, yet we infer its alternative genetic code with high confidence values. Results are intuitively visualized in a Genetic Code Logo.
Availability and implementation: FACIL is available as a web-based service at and as a stand-alone program.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3129529  PMID: 21653513
12.  The Decade of the Epigenomes? 
Genes & Cancer  2011;2(6):680-687.
The beginning of this century was not only marked by the publication of the first draft of the human genome but also set off a decade of intense research on epigenetic phenomena. Apart from DNA methylation, it became clear that many other factors including a wide range of histone modifications, different shades of chromatin accessibility, and a vast suite of noncoding RNAs comprise the epigenome. With the recent advances in sequencing technologies, it has now become possible to analyze many of these features in depth, allowing for the first time the establishment of complete epigenomic profiles for basically every cell type of interest. Here, we will discuss the recent advances that allow comprehensive epigenetic mapping, highlight several projects that set out to better understand the epigenome, and discuss the impact that epigenomic mapping can have on our understanding of both healthy and diseased cells.
PMCID: PMC3174262  PMID: 21941622
epigenome; chromatin accessibility; DNA methylation; ChIP-seq; RNA-seq
13.  Genome-wide mapping of DNA methylation: a quantitative technology comparison 
Nature biotechnology  2010;28(10):1106-1114.
DNA methylation is a key component of mammalian gene regulation and the most classical example of an epigenetic mark. DNA methylation patterns are mitotically heritable and stable over time, but they undergo considerable changes in response to cell differentiation, diseases and environmental influences. Several methods have been developed for DNA methylation profiling on a genomic scale. Here, we benchmark four of these methods on two sample pairs, comparing their accuracy and power to detect DNA methylation differences. The results show that all evaluated methods (MeDIP-seq: methylated DNA immunoprecipitation, MethylCap-seq: methylated DNA capture by affinity purification, RRBS: reduced representation bisulfite sequencing, and the Infinium HumanMethylation27 assay) produce accurate DNA methylation data. However, these methods differ in their ability to detect differentially methylated regions between pairs of samples. We highlight strengths and weaknesses of the four methods and give practical recommendations for the design of epigenomic case-control studies.
PMCID: PMC3066564  PMID: 20852634
Epigenome profiling; epigenetics; sequencing; differentially methylated regions; molecular diagnostics; biomarker discovery; cancer
14.  Crosstalk between c-Jun and TAp73α/β contributes to the apoptosis–survival balance 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):6069-6085.
The p53-family member p73 plays a role in various cellular signaling pathways during development and growth control and it can have tumor suppressor properties. Several isoforms of p73 exist with considerable differences in their function. Whereas the functions of the N-terminal isoforms (TA and ΔNp73) and their opposing pro- and antiapoptotic roles have become evident, the functional differences of the distinct C-terminal splice forms of TAp73 have remained unclear. Here, we characterized the global genomic binding sites for TAp73α and TAp73β by chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing as well as the transcriptional responses by performing RNA sequencing. We identified a specific p73 consensus binding motif and found a strong enrichment of AP1 motifs in close proximity to binding sites for TAp73α. These AP1 motif-containing target genes are selectively upregulated by TAp73α, while their mRNA expression is repressed upon TAp73β induction. We show that their expression is dependent on endogenous c-Jun and that recruitment of c-Jun to the respective AP1 sites was impaired upon TAp73β expression, in part due to downregulation of c-Jun. Several of these AP1-site containing TAp73α-induced genes impinge on apoptosis induction, suggesting an underlying molecular mechanism for the observed functional differences between TAp73α and TAp73β.
PMCID: PMC3152320  PMID: 21459846
15.  Role of p53 Serine 46 in p53 Target Gene Regulation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17574.
The tumor suppressor p53 plays a crucial role in cellular growth control inducing a plethora of different response pathways. The molecular mechanisms that discriminate between the distinct p53-responses have remained largely elusive. Here, we have analyzed the p53-regulated pathways induced by Actinomycin D and Etoposide treatment resulting in more growth arrested versus apoptotic cells respectively. We found that the genome-wide p53 DNA-binding patterns are almost identical upon both treatments notwithstanding transcriptional differences that we observed in global transcriptome analysis. To assess the role of post-translational modifications in target gene choice and activation we investigated the genome-wide level of phosphorylation of Serine 46 of p53 bound to DNA (p53-pS46) and of Serine 15 (p53-pS15). Interestingly, the extent of S46 phosphorylation of p53 bound to DNA is considerably higher in cells directed towards apoptosis while the degree of phosphorylation at S15 remains highly similar. Moreover, our data suggest that following different chemotherapeutical treatments, the amount of chromatin-associated p53 phosphorylated at S46 but not at pS15 is higher on certain apoptosis related target genes. Our data provide evidence that cell fate decisions are not made primarily on the level of general p53 DNA-binding and that post-translationally modified p53 can have distinct DNA-binding characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3048874  PMID: 21394211
16.  A Genome-wide Chromatin-associated Nuclear Peroxiredoxin from the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(13):11746-11755.
Malaria parasites are subjected to high levels of oxidative stress during their development inside erythrocytes and the ability of the parasite to defend itself against this assault is critical to its survival. Therefore, Plasmodium possesses an effective antioxidant defense system that could potentially be used as a target for the development of inhibitor-based therapy. We have identified an unusual peroxiredoxin protein that localizes to the nucleus of Plasmodium falciparum and have renamed it PfnPrx (PF10_0268, earlier called MCP1). Our work reveals that PfnPrx has a broad specificity of substrate being able to utilize thioredoxin and glutaredoxin as reductants and having the ability to reduce simple and complex peroxides. Intriguingly, chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing reveals that the enzyme associates with chromatin in a genome-wide manner with a slight enrichment in coding regions. Our results represent the first description of a dedicated chromatin-associated peroxiredoxin and potentially represent an ingenious way by which the parasite can survive the highly oxidative environment within its human host.
PMCID: PMC3064226  PMID: 21282103
Chromatin; Enzymes; Nucleus; Oxidation Reduction; Parasitology
17.  A hierarchy of H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 acquisition in spatial gene regulation in Xenopus embryos 
Developmental cell  2009;17(3):425-434.
Epigenetic mechanisms set apart the active and inactive regions in the genome of multicellular organisms to produce distinct cell fates during embryogenesis. Here we report on the epigenetic and transcriptome genome-wide maps of gastrula-stage Xenopus tropicalis embryos using massive parallel sequencing of cDNA (RNA-seq) and DNA obtained by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP-seq) of histone H3 K4 and K27 trimethylation and RNA Polymerase II (RNAPII). These maps identify promoters and transcribed regions. Strikingly, genomic regions featuring opposing histone modifications are mostly transcribed, reflecting spatially regulated expression rather than bivalency as determined by expression profile analyses, sequential ChIP, and ChIP-seq on dissected embryos. Spatial differences in H3K27me3 deposition are predictive of localized gene expression. Moreover, the appearance of H3K4me3 coincides with zygotic gene activation, whereas H3K27me3 is predominantly deposited upon subsequent spatial restriction or repression of transcriptional regulators. These results reveal a hierarchy in the spatial control of zygotic gene activation.
PMCID: PMC2746918  PMID: 19758566
18.  Genome-wide analysis of ETS-family DNA-binding in vitro and in vivo 
The EMBO Journal  2010;29(13):2147-2160.
Members of the large ETS family of transcription factors (TFs) have highly similar DNA-binding domains (DBDs)—yet they have diverse functions and activities in physiology and oncogenesis. Some differences in DNA-binding preferences within this family have been described, but they have not been analysed systematically, and their contributions to targeting remain largely uncharacterized. We report here the DNA-binding profiles for all human and mouse ETS factors, which we generated using two different methods: a high-throughput microwell-based TF DNA-binding specificity assay, and protein-binding microarrays (PBMs). Both approaches reveal that the ETS-binding profiles cluster into four distinct classes, and that all ETS factors linked to cancer, ERG, ETV1, ETV4 and FLI1, fall into just one of these classes. We identify amino-acid residues that are critical for the differences in specificity between all the classes, and confirm the specificities in vivo using chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq) for a member of each class. The results indicate that even relatively small differences in in vitro binding specificity of a TF contribute to site selectivity in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2905244  PMID: 20517297
cancer; ChIP-seq; DNA-binding specificity; ETS family of transcription factors; transcription factor-DNA binding assay
19.  ChIP-Chip Designs to Interrogate the Genome of Xenopus Embryos for Transcription Factor Binding and Epigenetic Regulation 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8820.
Chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with genome tile path microarrays or deep sequencing can be used to study genome-wide epigenetic profiles and the transcription factor binding repertoire. Although well studied in a variety of cell lines, these genome-wide profiles have so far been little explored in vertebrate embryos.
Principal Findings
Here we report on two genome tile path ChIP-chip designs for interrogating the Xenopus tropicalis genome. In particular, a whole-genome microarray design was used to identify active promoters by close proximity to histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation. A second microarray design features these experimentally derived promoter regions in addition to currently annotated 5′ ends of genes. These regions truly represent promoters as shown by binding of TBP, a key transcription initiation factor.
A whole-genome and a promoter tile path microarray design was developed. Both designs can be used to study epigenetic phenomena and transcription factor binding in developing Xenopus embryos.
PMCID: PMC2809088  PMID: 20098671
20.  Pcl-PRC2 is needed to generate high levels of H3-K27 trimethylation at Polycomb target genes 
The EMBO Journal  2007;26(18):4078-4088.
PRC2 is thought to be the histone methyltransferase (HMTase) responsible for H3-K27 trimethylation at Polycomb target genes. Here we report the biochemical purification and characterization of a distinct form of Drosophila PRC2 that contains the Polycomb group protein polycomblike (Pcl). Like PRC2, Pcl-PRC2 is an H3-K27-specific HMTase that mono-, di- and trimethylates H3-K27 in nucleosomes in vitro. Analysis of Drosophila mutants that lack Pcl unexpectedly reveals that Pcl-PRC2 is required to generate high levels of H3-K27 trimethylation at Polycomb target genes but is dispensable for the genome-wide H3-K27 mono- and dimethylation that is generated by PRC2. In Pcl mutants, Polycomb target genes become derepressed even though H3-K27 trimethylation at these genes is only reduced and not abolished, and even though targeting of the Polycomb protein complexes PhoRC and PRC1 to Polycomb response elements is not affected. Pcl-PRC2 is thus the HMTase that generates the high levels of H3-K27 trimethylation in Polycomb target genes that are needed to maintain a Polycomb-repressed chromatin state.
PMCID: PMC1964751  PMID: 17762866
Drosophila; gene silencing; histone methylation; PcG; trxG
21.  Genome-Wide Pattern of TCF7L2/TCF4 Chromatin Occupancy in Colorectal Cancer Cells▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(8):2732-2744.
Wnt signaling activates gene expression through the induced formation of complexes between DNA-binding T-cell factors (TCFs) and the transcriptional coactivator β-catenin. In colorectal cancer, activating Wnt pathway mutations transform epithelial cells through the inappropriate activation of a TCF7L2/TCF4 target gene program. Through a DNA array-based genome-wide analysis of TCF4 chromatin occupancy, we have identified 6,868 high-confidence TCF4-binding sites in the LS174T colorectal cancer cell line. Most TCF4-binding sites are located at large distances from transcription start sites, while target genes are frequently “decorated” by multiple binding sites. Motif discovery algorithms define the in vivo-occupied TCF4-binding site as evolutionarily conserved A-C/G-A/T-T-C-A-A-A-G motifs. The TCF4-binding regions significantly correlate with Wnt-responsive gene expression profiles derived from primary human adenomas and often behave as β-catenin/TCF4-dependent enhancers in transient reporter assays.
PMCID: PMC2293123  PMID: 18268006
22.  Characterization of a Conserved Rhoptry-Associated Leucine Zipper-Like Protein in the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum▿†  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(3):879-887.
One of the key processes in the pathobiology of the malaria parasite is the invasion and subsequent modification of the human erythrocyte. In this complex process, an unknown number of parasite proteins are involved, some of which are leading vaccine candidates. The majority of the proteins that play pivotal roles in invasion are either stored in the apical secretory organelles or located on the surface of the merozoite, the invasive stage of the parasite. Using transcriptional and structural features of these known proteins, we performed a genomewide search that identified 49 hypothetical proteins with a high probability of being located on the surface of the merozoite or in the secretory organelles. Of these candidates, we characterized a novel leucine zipper-like protein in Plasmodium falciparum that is conserved in Plasmodium spp. This protein is expressed in late blood stages and localizes to the rhoptries of the parasite. We demonstrate that this Plasmodium sp.-specific protein has a high degree of conservation within field isolates and that it is refractory to gene knockout attempts and thus might play an important role in invasion.
PMCID: PMC2258820  PMID: 18174339
23.  Characterization of genome-wide p53-binding sites upon stress response 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(11):3639-3654.
The tumor suppressor p53 is a sequence-specific transcription factor, which regulates the expression of target genes involved in different stress responses. To understand p53's essential transcriptional functions, unbiased analysis of its DNA-binding repertoire is pivotal. In a genome-wide tiling ChIP-on-chip approach, we have identified and characterized 1546 binding sites of p53 upon Actinomycin D treatment. Among those binding sites were known as well as novel p53 target sites, which included regulatory regions of potentially novel transcripts. Using this collection of genome-wide binding sites, a new high-confidence algorithm was developed, p53scan, to identify the p53 consensus-binding motif. Strikingly, this motif was present in the majority of all bound sequences with 83% of all binding sites containing the motif. In the surrounding sequences of the binding sites, several motifs for potential regulatory cobinders were identified. Finally, we show that the majority of the genome-wide p53 target sites can also be bound by overexpressed p63 and p73 in vivo, suggesting that they can possibly play an important role at p53 binding sites. This emphasizes the possible interplay of p53 and its family members in the context of target gene binding. Our study greatly expands the known, experimentally validated p53 binding site repertoire and serves as a valuable knowledgebase for future research.
PMCID: PMC2441782  PMID: 18474530
24.  Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Subtype- and Cell-Type-Specific Activation of Genomic Target Genes upon Adenoviral Transgene Delivery 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;26(15):5698-5714.
Investigations of the molecular events involved in activation of genomic target genes by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) have been hampered by the inability to establish a clean on/off state of the receptor in living cells. Here we show that the combination of adenoviral delivery and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is ideal for dissecting these mechanisms. Adenoviral delivery of PPARs leads to a rapid and synchronous expression of the PPAR subtypes, establishment of transcriptional active complexes at genomic loci, and immediate activation of even silent target genes. We demonstrate that PPARγ2 possesses considerable ligand-dependent as well as independent transactivation potential and that agonists increase the occupancy of PPARγ2/retinoid X receptor at PPAR response elements. Intriguingly, by direct comparison of the PPARs (α, γ, and β/δ), we show that the subtypes have very different abilities to gain access to target sites and that in general the genomic occupancy correlates with the ability to activate the corresponding target gene. In addition, the specificity and potency of activation by PPAR subtypes are highly dependent on the cell type. Thus, PPAR subtype-specific activation of genomic target genes involves an intricate interplay between the properties of the subtype- and cell-type-specific settings at the individual target loci.
PMCID: PMC1592764  PMID: 16847324
25.  DNA methylation immediately adjacent to active histone marking does not silence transcription 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(3):801-811.
Active promoters generally contain histone H3/H4 hyperacetylation and tri-methylation at H3 lysine 4, whereas repressed promoters are associated with DNA methylation. Here we show that the repressed erythroid-specific carbonic anhydrase II (CAII) promoter has active histone modifications localized around the transcription start, while high levels of CpG methylation are present directly upstream from these active marks. Despite the presence of active histone modifications, the repressed promoter requires hormone-induced activation for efficient preinitiation complex assembly. Transient and positional changes in histone H3/H4 acetylation and local changes in nucleosome density are evident during activation, but the bipartite epigenetic code is stably maintained. Our results suggest that active histone modifications may prevent spreading of CpG methylation towards the promoter and show that repressive DNA methylation immediately adjacent to a promoter does not necessarily repress transcription.
PMCID: PMC1807972  PMID: 17202157

Results 1-25 (48)