MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have negative effects on gene expression and are major players in cell function in normal and pathological conditions. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection of resting B lymphocytes results in their growth transformation and associates with different B cell lymphomas. EBV-mediated B cell transformation involves large changes in gene expression, including cellular miRNAs. We performed miRNA expression analysis in growth transformation of EBV-infected B cells. We observed predominant downregulation of miRNAs and upregulation of a few miRNAs. We observed similar profiles of miRNA expression in B cells stimulated with CD40L/IL-4, and those infected with EBNA-2- and LMP-1-deficient EBV particles, suggesting the implication of the NF-kB pathway, common to all four situations. In fact, the NF-kB subunit p65 associates with the transcription start site (TSS) of both upregulated and downregulated miRNAs following EBV infection This occurs together with changes at histone H3K27me3 and histone H3K4me3. Inhibition of the NF-kB pathway impairs changes in miRNA expression, NF-kB binding and changes at the above histone modifications near the TSS of these miRNA genes. Changes in expression of these miRNAs also occurred in diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCL), which are strongly NF-kB dependent. Our results highlight the relevance of the NF-kB pathway in epigenetically mediated miRNA control in B cell transformation and DLBCL.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) exert negative effects on gene expression and influence cell lineage choice during hematopoiesis. C/EBPa-induced pre-B cell-to-macrophage transdifferentiation provides an excellent model to investigate the contribution of miRNAs to hematopoietic cell identity, especially because the two cell types involved fall into separate lymphoid and myeloid branches. In this process, efficient repression of the B cell-specific program is essential to ensure transdifferentation and macrophage function. miRNA profiling revealed that upregulation of miRNAs is highly predominant compared with downregulation and that C/EBPa directly regulates several upregulated miRNAs. We also determined that miRNA 34a (miR-34a) and miR-223 sharply accelerate C/EBPa-mediated transdifferentiation, whereas their depletion delays this process. These two miRNAs affect the transdifferentiation efficiency and activity of macrophages, including their lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-dependent inflammatory response. miR-34a and miR-223 directly target and downregulate the lymphoid transcription factor Lef1, whose ectopic expression delays transdifferentiation to an extent similar to that seen with miR-34a and miR-223 depletion. In addition, ectopic introduction of Lef1 in macrophages causes upregulation of B cell markers, including CD19, Pax5, and Ikzf3. Our report demonstrates the importance of these miRNAs in ensuring the erasure of key B cell transcription factors, such as Lef1, and reinforces the notion of their essential role in fine-tuning the control required for establishing cell identity.
To integrate heterogeneous and large omics data constitutes not only a conceptual challenge but a practical hurdle in the daily analysis of omics data. With the rise of novel omics technologies and through large-scale consortia projects, biological systems are being further investigated at an unprecedented scale generating heterogeneous and often large data sets. These data-sets encourage researchers to develop novel data integration methodologies. In this introduction we review the definition and characterize current efforts on data integration in the life sciences. We have used a web-survey to assess current research projects on data-integration to tap into the views, needs and challenges as currently perceived by parts of the research community.
The methylcytosine hydroxylase Tet2 has been implicated in hematopoietic differentiation and the formation of myeloid malignancies when mutated. An ideal system to study the role of Tet2 in myelopoeisis is C/EBPa induced transdifferentiation of pre-B cells into macrophages. Here we found that C/EBPa binds to upstream regions of Tet2 and that the gene becomes activated. Tet2 knockdowns impaired the upregulation of macrophage markers as well as phagocytic capacity, suggesting that the enzyme is required for both early and late stage myeloid differentiation. A slightly weaker effect was seen in primary cells with a Tet2 ablation. Expression arrays of transdifferentiating cells with Tet2 knockdowns permitted the identification of a small subset of myeloid genes whose upregulation was blunted. Activation of these target genes was accompanied by rapid increases of promoter hydroxy-methylation. Our observations indicate that Tet2 helps C/EBPa rapidly de-repress myeloid genes during the conversion of pre-B cells into macrophages.
Epigenetics; Transdifferentiation; DNA methylation; DNA hydroxymethylation
Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infects and transforms human primary B cells inducing indefinite proliferation. To investigate the potential participation of chromatin mechanisms during the EBV-mediated transformation of resting B cells we performed an analysis of global changes in histone modifications. We observed a remarkable decrease and redistribution of heterochromatin marks including H4K20me3, H3K27me3 and H3K9me3. Loss of H4K20me3 and H3K9me3 occurred at constitutive heterochromatin repeats. For H3K27me3 and H3K9me3, comparison of ChIP-seq data revealed a decrease in these marks in thousands of genes, including clusters of HOX and ZNF genes, respectively. Moreover, DNase-seq data comparison between resting and EBV-transformed B cells revealed increased endonuclease accessibility in thousands of genomic sites. We observed that both loss of H3K27me3 and increased accessibility are associated with transcriptional activation. These changes only occurred in B cells transformed with EBV and not in those stimulated to proliferate with CD40L/IL-4, despite their similarities in the cell pathways involved and proliferation rates. In fact, B cells infected with EBNA-2 deficient EBV, which have much lower proliferation rates, displayed similar decreases for heterochromatic histone marks. Our study describes a novel phenomenon related to transformation of B cells, and highlights its independence of the pure acquisition of proliferation.
DNA methylation is a key epigenetic mechanism for driving and stabilizing cell-fate decisions. Local deposition and removal of DNA methylation are tightly coupled with transcription factor binding, although the relationship varies with the specific differentiation process. Conversion of monocytes to osteoclasts is a unique terminal differentiation process within the hematopoietic system. This differentiation model is relevant to autoimmune disease and cancer, and there is abundant knowledge on the sets of transcription factors involved.
Here we focused on DNA methylation changes during osteoclastogenesis. Hypermethylation and hypomethylation changes took place in several thousand genes, including all relevant osteoclast differentiation and function categories. Hypomethylation occurred in association with changes in 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, a proposed intermediate toward demethylation. Transcription factor binding motif analysis revealed an over-representation of PU.1, NF-κB, and AP-1 (Jun/Fos) binding motifs in genes undergoing DNA methylation changes. Among these, only PU.1 motifs were significantly enriched in both hypermethylated and hypomethylated genes; ChIP-seq data analysis confirmed its association to both gene sets. Moreover, PU.1 interacts with both DNMT3b and TET2, suggesting its participation in driving hypermethylation and hydroxymethylation-mediated hypomethylation. Consistent with this, siRNA-mediated PU.1 knockdown in primary monocytes impaired the acquisition of DNA methylation and expression changes, and reduced the association of TET2 and DNMT3b at PU.1 targets during osteoclast differentiation.
The work described here identifies key changes in DNA methylation during monocyte-to-osteoclast differentiation and reveals novel roles for PU.1 in this process.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is a well characterized etiopathogenic factor for a variety of immune-related conditions, including lymphomas, lymphoproliferative disorders and autoimmune diseases. EBV-mediated transformation of resting B cells to proliferating lymphoblastoid cells occurs in early stages of infection and is an excellent model for investigating the mechanisms associated with acquisition of unlimited growth.
We investigated the effects of experimental EBV infection of B cells on DNA methylation profiles by using high-throughput analysis. Remarkably, we observed hypomethylation of around 250 genes, but no hypermethylation. Hypomethylation did not occur at repetitive sequences, consistent with the absence of genomic instability in lymphoproliferative cells. Changes in methylation only occurred after cell divisions started, without the participation of the active demethylation machinery, and were concomitant with acquisition by B cells of the ability to proliferate. Gene Ontology analysis, expression profiling, and high-throughput analysis of the presence of transcription factor binding motifs and occupancy revealed that most genes undergoing hypomethylation are active and display the presence of NF-κB p65 and other B cell-specific transcription factors. Promoter hypomethylation was associated with upregulation of genes relevant for the phenotype of proliferating lymphoblasts. Interestingly, pharmacologically induced demethylation increased the efficiency of transformation of resting B cells to lymphoblastoid cells, consistent with productive cooperation between hypomethylation and lymphocyte proliferation.
Our data provide novel clues on the role of the B cell transcription program leading to DNA methylation changes, which we find to be key to the EBV-associated conversion of resting B cells to proliferating lymphoblasts.
Transcription factor-induced lineage reprogramming or transdifferentiation experiments are essential for understanding the plasticity of differentiated cells. These experiments helped to define the specific role of transcription factors in conferring cell identity and played a key role in the development of the regenerative medicine field. We here investigated the acquisition of DNA methylation changes during C/EBPα-induced pre-B cell to macrophage transdifferentiation. Unexpectedly, cell lineage conversion occurred without significant changes in DNA methylation not only in key B cell- and macrophage-specific genes but also throughout the entire set of genes differentially methylated between the two parental cell types. In contrast, active and repressive histone modification marks changed according to the expression levels of these genes. We also demonstrated that C/EBPα and RNA Pol II are associated with the methylated promoters of macrophage-specific genes in reprogrammed macrophages without inducing methylation changes. Our findings not only provide insights about the extent and hierarchy of epigenetic events in pre-B cell to macrophage transdifferentiation but also show an important difference to reprogramming towards pluripotency where promoter DNA demethylation plays a pivotal role.
In mammals, the stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) p38 coordinates a rapid and complex transcriptional program to adapt to sudden changes in the extracellular environment. Although a number of genes have been reported to be under the control of p38, the basic mechanisms of transcriptional regulation by this SAPK remain uncharacterized. Here we show that in response to osmotic shock, anisomycin- or TNFα-activated p38 SAPK is recruited to stress-induced genes. The MAPKK MKK6 is also found at stress-responsive promoters. The recruitment of RNA polymerase II complex to the target promoters requires p38 activity. Moreover, when tethered to DNA as a LexA fusion protein, p38 activates transcription in a stress-regulated manner. Thus, p38 activity allows for recruitment of RNA polymerase and transcription initiation. p38 directly phosphorylates and interacts with the transcription factor Elk1. p38 activity is necessary for the recruitment of Elk1 to the c-Fos promoter, and knocking down Elk1 by siRNAs compromises both p38 recruitment to the c-Fos promoter and c-Fos transcriptional up-regulation upon osmostress. In addition, p38 recruitment to the osmoinducible gene Cox2 and the TNFα target gene IL8 is mediated by the transcription factors AP1 and NFκB, respectively. Therefore, anchoring of active SAPK to target genes is mediated by transcription factors. The presence of active p38 at open reading frames also suggests the involvement of the SAPK in elongation. Taken together, SAPK recruitment to target genes appears to be a broad mechanism to regulate transcription that has been preserved from yeast to mammals.
Chromatin; p38 MAPK; Signal Transduction; Transcription; Transcription Factors
In human Estrogen Receptor α (ERα)-positive breast cancers, 5′ end dense methylation of the estrogen-regulated pS2/TFF1 gene correlates with its transcriptional inhibition. However, in some ERα-rich biopsies, pS2 expression is observed despite the methylation of its TATA-box region. Herein, we investigated the methylation-dependent mechanism of pS2 regulation.
We observed interplay between Methyl-CpG Binding Domain protein 2 (MBD2) transcriptional repressor and ERα transactivator: (i) the pS2 gene is poised for transcription upon demethylation limited to the enhancer region containing the estrogen responsive element (ERE); (ii) MBD2-binding sites overlapped with the methylation status of the pS2 5′ end; (iii) MBD2 depletion elevated pS2 expression and ectopic expression of ERα partially overcame the inhibitory effect of MBD2 when the ERE is unmethylated. Furthermore, serial chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicated that MBD2 and ERα could simultaneously occupy the same pS2 DNA molecule; (iv) concomitant ectopic ERα expression and MBD2 depletion resulted in synergistic transcriptional stimulation, while the pS2 promoter remains methylated.
MBD2 and ERα drive opposite effects on pS2 expression, which are associated with specific steady state levels of histone H3 acetylation and methylation marks. Thus, epigenetic silencing of pS2 could be dependent on balance of the relative intracellular concentrations of ERα and MBD2.
Latent TGFβ-binding protein 1 (LTBP-1) is a key regulator of TGFβ targeting and activation in the extracellular matrix. LTBP-1 is recognized as a major docking molecule to localize, and possibly to activate, TGFβ in the extracellular matrix. Despite this relevant function, the molecular mechanisms regulating Ltbp-1 transcription remain largely unknown. Previous results from our laboratory revealed that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEF) lacking dioxin receptor (AhR) had increased Ltbp-1 mRNA expression and elevated TGFβ activity, suggesting that AhR repressed Ltbp-1 transcription. Here, we have cloned the mouse Ltbp-1 gene promoter and analysed its mechanism of transcriptional repression by AhR. Reporter gene assays, AhR over-expression and site-directed mutagenesis showed that basal Ltbp-1 transcription is AhR-dependent. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and RNA interference (RNAi) revealed that AhR regulates Ltbp-1 transcription by a mechanism involving recruitment of co-activators such as CREB1 and co-repressors such as HDAC2 to the Ltbp-1 promoter. In AhR-expressing (AhR+/+) MEF cells, the recruitment of HDAC1, 2 and 4 correlated with decreased K8H4 acetylation and impaired binding of pCREBSer133 to the Ltbp-1 promoter, likely maintaining a constitutive repressed state. AhR−/− MEF cells had the opposite pattern of HDACs and pCREB1Ser133 binding to Ltbp-1 promoter, and therefore, over-expressed Ltbp-1 mRNA. In agreement, siRNA for HDAC2 increased Ltbp-1 expression and K8H4 acetylation in AhR+/+ but not in AhR−/− MEF cells. We suggest that HDAC2 binding keeps Ltbp-1 promoter repressed in AhR+/+ MEF cells, whereas in AhR-null MEF cells the absence of HDAC2 and the binding of pCREBSer133 allow Ltbp-1 transcription. Thus, epigenetics can contribute to constitutive Ltbp-1 repression by a mechanism requiring AhR activity.
LTBP-1; dioxin receptor; CREB1; HDAC2; transcriptional regulation
The therapeutic use of multipotent stem cells depends on their differentiation potential, which has been shown to be variable for different populations. These differences are likely to be the result of key changes in their epigenetic profiles.
to address this issue, we have investigated the levels of epigenetic regulation in well characterized populations of pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESC) and multipotent adult stem cells (ASC) at the trancriptome, methylome, histone modification and microRNA levels. Differences in gene expression profiles allowed classification of stem cells into three separate populations including ESC, multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPC) and mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC). The analysis of the PcG repressive marks, histone modifications and gene promoter methylation of differentiation and pluripotency genes demonstrated that stem cell populations with a wider differentiation potential (ESC and MAPC) showed stronger representation of epigenetic repressive marks in differentiation genes and that this epigenetic signature was progressively lost with restriction of stem cell potential. Our analysis of microRNA established specific microRNA signatures suggesting specific microRNAs involved in regulation of pluripotent and differentiation genes.
Our study leads us to propose a model where the level of epigenetic regulation, as a combination of DNA methylation and histone modification marks, at differentiation genes defines degrees of differentiation potential from progenitor and multipotent stem cells to pluripotent stem cells.
Notch1 activation is essential for T-lineage specification of lymphomyeloid progenitors seeding the thymus. Progression along the T cell lineage further requires cooperative signaling provided by the interleukin 7 receptor (IL-7R), but the molecular mechanisms responsible for the dynamic and lineage-specific regulation of IL-7R during thymopoiesis are unknown. We show that active Notch1 binds to a conserved CSL-binding site in the human IL7R gene promoter and critically regulates IL7R transcription and IL-7R α chain (IL-7Rα) expression via the CSL–MAML complex. Defective Notch1 signaling selectively impaired IL-7Rα expression in T-lineage cells, but not B-lineage cells, and resulted in a compromised expansion of early human developing thymocytes, which was rescued upon ectopic IL-7Rα expression. The pathological implications of these findings are demonstrated by the regulation of IL-7Rα expression downstream of Notch1 in T cell leukemias. Thus, Notch1 controls early T cell development, in part by regulating the stage- and lineage-specific expression of IL-7Rα.
Ventricular chamber morphogenesis, first manifested by trabeculae formation, is crucial for cardiac function and embryonic viability and depends on cellular interactions between endocardium and myocardium. We show that ventricular Notch1 activity is highest at presumptive trabecular endocardium. RBPJk and Notch1 mutants show impaired trabeculation and marker expression, attenuated EphrinB2, NRG1 and BMP10 expression and signaling and decreased myocardial proliferation. Functional and molecular analyses show that Notch inhibition prevents EphrinB2 expression and that EphrinB2 is a direct Notch target acting upstream of NRG1 in the ventricles. However, BMP10 levels are found to be independent of both EphrinB2 and NRG1 during trabeculation. Accordingly, exogenous BMP10 rescues the myocardial proliferative defect of in vitro cultured RBPJk mutants, while exogenous NRG1 rescues differentiation in parallel. We suggest that during trabeculation Notch independently regulates cardiomyocyte proliferation and differentiation, two exquisitely balanced processes whose perturbation may result in congenital heart disease.
Notch; cellular communication; proliferation; differentiation; endocardium; myocardium; chamber development; trabeculation; EphrinB2; NRG1; BMP10
Maintaining and acquiring the pluripotent cell state in plants is critical to tissue regeneration and vegetative multiplication. Histone-based epigenetic mechanisms are important for regulating this undifferentiated state. Here we report the use of genetic and pharmacological experimental approaches to show that Arabidopsis cell suspensions and calluses specifically repress some genes as a result of promoter DNA hypermethylation. We found that promoters of the MAPK12, GSTU10 and BXL1 genes become hypermethylated in callus cells and that hypermethylation also affects the TTG1, GSTF5, SUVH8, fimbrin and CCD7 genes in cell suspensions. Promoter hypermethylation in undifferentiated cells was associated with histone hypoacetylation and primarily occurred at CpG sites. Accordingly, we found that the process specifically depends on MET1 and DRM2 methyltransferases, as demonstrated with DNA methyltransferase mutants. Our results suggest that promoter DNA methylation may be another important epigenetic mechanism for the establishment and/or maintenance of the undifferentiated state in plant cells.
The nucleolus is the site of ribosome synthesis in the nucleus, whose integrity is essential. Epigenetic mechanisms are thought to regulate the activity of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene copies, which are part of the nucleolus. Here we show that human cells lacking DNA methyltransferase 1 (Dnmt1), but not Dnmt33b, have a loss of DNA methylation and an increase in the acetylation level of lysine 16 histone H4 at the rRNA genes. Interestingly, we observed that SirT1, a NAD+-dependent histone deacetylase with a preference for lysine 16 H4, interacts with Dnmt1; and SirT1 recruitment to the rRNA genes is abrogated in Dnmt1 knockout cells. The DNA methylation and chromatin changes at ribosomal DNA observed are associated with a structurally disorganized nucleolus, which is fragmented into small nuclear masses. Prominent nucleolar proteins, such as Fibrillarin and Ki-67, and the rRNA genes are scattered throughout the nucleus in Dnmt1 deficient cells. These findings suggest a role for Dnmt1 as an epigenetic caretaker for the maintenance of nucleolar structure.
The transcription factor Snail has been described as a direct repressor of E-cadherin expression during development and carcinogenesis; however, the specific mechanisms involved in this process remain largely unknown. Here we show that mammalian Snail requires histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity to repress E-cadherin promoter and that treatment with trichostatin A (TSA) is sufficient to block the repressor effect of Snail. Moreover, overexpression of Snail is correlated with deacetylation of histones H3 and H4 at the E-cadherin promoter, and TSA treatment in Snail-expressing cells reverses the acetylation status of histones. Additionally, we demonstrate that Snail interacts in vivo with the E-cadherin promoter and recruits HDAC activity. Most importantly, we demonstrate an interaction between Snail, histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) and HDAC2, and the corepressor mSin3A. This interaction is dependent on the SNAG domain of Snail, indicating that the Snail transcription factor mediates the repression by recruitment of chromatin-modifying activities, forming a multimolecular complex to repress E-cadherin expression. Our results establish a direct causal relationship between Snail-dependent repression of E-cadherin and the modification of chromatin at its promoter.
The methyl-CpG binding domain (MBD) family of proteins was defined based on sequence similarity in their DNA binding domains. In light of their high degree of conservation, it is of inherent interest to determine the genomic distribution of these proteins, and their associated co-repressor complexes. One potential determinant of specificity resides in differences in the intrinsic DNA binding properties of the various MBD proteins. In this report, we use a capillary electrophoretic mobility shift assay (CEMSA) with laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) and neutral capillaries to calculate MBD–DNA binding affinities. MBD proteins were assayed on pairs of methylated and unmethylated duplex oligos corresponding to the promoter regions of the BRCA1, MLH1, GSTP1 and p16INK4a genes, and binding affinities for each case were calculated by Scatchard analyses. With the exception of mammalian MBD3 and Xenopus MBD3 LF, all the MBD proteins showed higher affinity for methylated DNA (in the nanomolar range) than for unmethylated DNA (in the micromolar range). Significant differences between MBD proteins in the affinity for methylated DNA were observed, ranging within two orders of magnitude. By mutational analysis of MBD3 and using CEMSA, we demonstrate the critical role of specific residues within the MBD in conferring selectivity for methylated DNA. Interestingly, the binding affinity of specific MBD proteins for methylated DNA fragments from naturally occurring sequences are affected by local methyl-CpG spacing.