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1.  NEAT1 long noncoding RNA regulates transcription via protein sequestration within subnuclear bodies 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2014;25(1):169-183.
Paraspeckles are subnuclear structures formed around NEAT1 lncRNA. Paraspeckles became enlarged after proteasome inhibition caused by NEAT1 transcriptional activation, leading to protein sequestration into paraspeckles. The NEAT1-dependent sequestration affects the transcription of several genes, arguing for a novel role for lncRNA in gene regulation.
Paraspeckles are subnuclear structures formed around nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1)/MENε/β long noncoding RNA (lncRNA). Here we show that paraspeckles become dramatically enlarged after proteasome inhibition. This enlargement is mainly caused by NEAT1 transcriptional up-regulation rather than accumulation of undegraded paraspeckle proteins. Of interest, however, using immuno–electron microscopy, we find that key paraspeckle proteins become effectively depleted from the nucleoplasm by 50% when paraspeckle assembly is enhanced, suggesting a sequestration mechanism. We also perform microarrays from NEAT1-knockdown cells and find that NEAT1 represses transcription of several genes, including the RNA-specific adenosine deaminase B2 (ADARB2) gene. In contrast, the NEAT1-binding paraspeckle protein splicing factor proline/glutamine-rich (SFPQ) is required for ADARB2 transcription. This leads us to hypothesize that ADARB2 expression is controlled by NEAT1-dependent sequestration of SFPQ. Accordingly, we find that ADARB2 expression is strongly reduced upon enhanced SFPQ sequestration by proteasome inhibition, with concomitant reduction in SFPQ binding to the ADARB2 promoter. Finally, NEAT1−/− fibroblasts are more sensitive to proteasome inhibition, which triggers cell death, suggesting that paraspeckles/NEAT1 attenuates the cell death pathway. These data further confirm that paraspeckles are stress-responsive nuclear bodies and provide a model in which induced NEAT1 controls target gene transcription by protein sequestration into paraspeckles.
PMCID: PMC3873887  PMID: 24173718
2.  Concurrent Activation of Acetylation and Tri-Methylation of H3K27 in a Subset of Hepatocellular Carcinoma with Aggressive Behavior 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91330.
Analysis of acetylation and tri-methylation of the same residue of histone molecules might identify a subset of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with aggressive behavior. In the present study, we examined acetylation and tri-methylation of lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27ac and H3K27me3, respectively) because these two modifications are known to exhibit opposite effects (enhancing and silencing) on gene expression. Neoplastic and non-neoplastic tissues from 198 HCC cases were immunostained with specific monoclonal antibodies against H3K27ac and H3K27me3. The stained tissues were evaluated by an image analyzing program to generate histological scores (H-scores, range 0–300), which were determined by multiplying the percentage of positive-stained cells with the classified immunohistochemical marker intensity (0–3). HCC tissues showed significantly higher H3K27ac (156.7±86.8) and H3K27me3 H-scores (151.8±78.1) compared with the background liver (40.3±33.0 and 64.7±45.6, respectively) (both P<0.001). The cases with H-scores of high-H3K27ac/high-H3K27me3 (n = 54) showed significant correlation with poor differentiation of morphology (P<0.01) and p53-positive staining (P<0.05), and poor prognosis (P<0.01). Confocal microscopy revealed segregated intranuclear localization of both modifications in the individual cancer cells: H3K27ac localization in central euchromatin regions and H3K27me3 in peripheral heterochromatin regions. Concurrent acetylation and methylation at H3K27 occurs in HCC cells in association with p53 abnormalities. These findings demonstrate that image analyzer-assisted H-scores of H3K27ac and H3K27me3 identified an aggressive subgroup of HCC, and could serve as a prognostic marker for HCC.
PMCID: PMC3948868  PMID: 24614346
3.  Haematopoietic cells produce BDNF and regulate appetite upon migration to the hypothalamus 
Nature communications  2013;4:1526.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) suppresses food intake by acting on neurons in the hypothalamus. Here we show that BDNF-producing haematopoietic cells control appetite and energy balance by migrating to the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. These haematopoietic-derived paraventricular nucleus cells produce microglial markers and make direct contacts with neurons in response to feeding status. Mice with congenital BDNF deficiency, specifically in haematopoietic cells, develop hyperphagia, obesity and insulin resistance. These abnormalities are ameliorated by bone marrow transplantation with wild-type bone marrow cells. Furthermore, when injected into the third ventricle, wild-type bone marrow mononuclear cells home to the paraventricular nucleus and reverse the hyperphagia of BDNF-deficient mice. Our results suggest a novel mechanism of feeding control based on the production of BDNF by haematopoietic cells and highlight a potential new therapeutic route for the treatment of obesity.
PMCID: PMC3640364  PMID: 23443554
4.  Tipepidine in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a 4-week, open-label, preliminary study 
Tipepidine (3-[di-2-thienylmethylene]-1-methylpiperidine) has been used solely as a nonnarcotic antitussive in Japan since 1959. The safety of tipepidine in children and adults has already been established. It is reported that tipepidine inhibits G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK)-channel currents. The inhibition of GIRK channels by tipepidine is expected to modulate the level of monoamines in the brain. We put forward the hypothesis that tipepidine can improve attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms by modulating monoaminergic neurotransmission through the inhibition of GIRK channels. The purpose of this open-label trial was to confirm whether treatment with tipepidine can improve symptoms in pediatric patients with ADHD.
Subjects and methods
This was a 4-week, open-label, proof-of-efficacy pilot study for pediatric subjects with ADHD. Ten pediatric ADHD subjects (70% male; mean age, 9.9 years; combined [inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive] subtype, n=7; inattentive subtype, n=3; hyperimpulsive subtype, n=0) received tipepidine hibenzate taken orally at 30 mg/day for 4 weeks. All subjects were assessed using the ADHD Rating Scale IV (ADHD-RS), Japanese version, and the Das–Naglieri Cognitive Assessment System (DN-CAS), Japanese version.
A comparison of baseline scores and 4-week end-point scores showed that all the ADHD-RS scores (total scores, hyperimpulsive subscores, and inattentive subscores) improved significantly (P<0.001). Furthermore, a comparison of baseline DN-CAS total scores and 4-week end-point scores showed a mild trend of improvement (P=0.093). Tipepidine was well tolerated, with no patients discontinuing medication because of side effects.
Our pilot study suggests that tipepidine therapy may prove to be an effective alternative treatment for pediatric patients with ADHD. Nonetheless, more detailed randomized, double-blind trials are needed to confirm tipepidine’s efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3908907  PMID: 24493927
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; tipepidine; GIRK channel; pediatric; antitussive; nucleus accumbens
5.  Structural basis of a nucleosome containing histone H2A.B/H2A.Bbd that transiently associates with reorganized chromatin 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:3510.
Human histone H2A.B (formerly H2A.Bbd), a non-allelic H2A variant, exchanges rapidly as compared to canonical H2A, and preferentially associates with actively transcribed genes. We found that H2A.B transiently accumulated at DNA replication and repair foci in living cells. To explore the biochemical function of H2A.B, we performed nucleosome reconstitution analyses using various lengths of DNA. Two types of H2A.B nucleosomes, octasome and hexasome, were formed with 116, 124, or 130 base pairs (bp) of DNA, and only the octasome was formed with 136 or 146 bp DNA. In contrast, only hexasome formation was observed by canonical H2A with 116 or 124 bp DNA. A small-angle X-ray scattering analysis revealed that the H2A.B octasome is more extended, due to the flexible detachment of the DNA regions at the entry/exit sites from the histone surface. These results suggested that H2A.B rapidly and transiently forms nucleosomes with short DNA segments during chromatin reorganization.
PMCID: PMC3863819  PMID: 24336483
6.  A probable identical Epstein-Barr virus clone-positive composite lymphoma with aggressive natural killer-cell leukemia and cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma 
The patient was a 52-year old woman with a history of mosquito-bite hypersensitivity since childhood. In July 2011, she developed pyrexia, headaches, and nausea, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive aggressive natural killer leukemia (ANKL) was diagnosed on the basis of both a peripheral blood and bone marrow examination. An inguinal lymph node biopsy, on the other hand, revealed EBV-positive cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma plus the presence of a small number of EBV-positive ANKL cells, and a diagnosis of EBV-positive composite lymphoma was made. Both the cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma and ANKL exhibited EBV terminal repeat (Southern blot analysis) monoclonal patterns, and they were almost the same size, approximately 9.0 kb. If it was the identical EBV clone, it is possible that EBV infected progenitor cells common to both NK cells and T cells, that the progenitor cells then differentiated into NK cells and T cells, a chronic active Epstein-Barr virus infection developed, and neoplastic transformation occurred. If it was not the identical EBV clone, fairly similar EBVs must have infected NK cells and T cells separately, and they then underwent neoplastic transformation. Because the mechanism by which EBV infects NK cells or T cells is still unknown, we concluded that this case is also important from the standpoint of elucidating it. We are currently in the process of conducting gene analyses to determine whether the fairly similar EBVs that infected the ANKL and cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma are the identical clone.
PMCID: PMC3885499  PMID: 24427365
Aggressive NK leukemia; Epstein-Barr virus; cytotoxic T-cell lymphoma; composite lymphoma; large granular lymphocytes
7.  Skin Autofluorescence Is Associated with the Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease: A Prospective Observational Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83799.
Advanced glycation end product (AGE) accumulation is thought to be a measure of cumulative metabolic stress that has been reported to independently predict cardiovascular disease in diabetes and renal failure. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between AGE accumulation, measured as skin autofluorescence, and the progression of renal disease in pre-dialysis patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Skin autofluorescence was measured noninvasively with an autofluorescence reader at baseline in 449 pre-dialysis patients with CKD. The primary end point was defined as a doubling of serum creatinine and/or need for dialysis.
Thirty-three patients were lost to follow-up. Forty six patients reached the primary end point during the follow-up period (Median 39 months). Kaplan-Meier analysis showed a significantly higher risk of development of the primary end points in patients with skin autofluorescence levels above the optimal cut-off level of 2.31 arbitrary units, derived by receiver operator curve analysis. Cox regression analysis revealed that skin autofluorescence was an independent predictor of the primary end point, even after adjustment for age, gender, smoking history, diabetes, estimated glomerular filtration rate and proteinuria (adjusted hazard ratio 2.58, P = 0.004).
Tissue accumulation of AGEs, measured as skin autofluorescence, is a strong and independent predictor of progression of CKD. Skin autofluorescence may be useful for risk stratification in this group of patients; further studies should clarify whether AGE accumulation could be one of the therapeutic targets to improve the prognosis of CKD.
PMCID: PMC3861518  PMID: 24349550
8.  Different Distributions of Epstein-Barr Virus Early and Late Gene Transcripts within Viral Replication Compartments 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(12):6693-6699.
Productive replication of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) occurs in discrete sites in nuclei, called replication compartments, where viral genome DNA synthesis and transcription take place. The replication compartments include subnuclear domains, designated BMRF1 cores, which are highly enriched in the BMRF1 protein. During viral lytic replication, newly synthesized viral DNA genomes are organized around and then stored inside BMRF1 cores. Here, we examined spatial distribution of viral early and late gene mRNAs within replication compartments using confocal laser scanning microscopy and three-dimensional surface reconstruction imaging. EBV early mRNAs were mainly located outside the BMRF1 cores, while viral late mRNAs were identified inside, corresponding well with the fact that late gene transcription is dependent on viral DNA replication. From these results, we speculate that sites for viral early and late gene transcription are separated with reference to BMRF1 cores.
PMCID: PMC3676136  PMID: 23552415
9.  Structural polymorphism in the L1 loop regions of human H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2 
The crystal structures of human nucleosomes containing H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2 have been determined. Structural polymorphisms were found in the L1 loop regions of H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2 in the nucleosomes that are likely to be caused by their flexible nature.
The histone H2A.Z variant is widely conserved among eukaryotes. Two isoforms, H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2, have been identified in vertebrates and may have distinct functions in cell growth and gene expression. However, no structural differences between H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2 have been reported. In the present study, the crystal structures of nucleosomes containing human H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2 were determined. The structures of the L1 loop regions were found to clearly differ between H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2, although their amino-acid sequences in this region are identical. This structural polymorphism may have been induced by a substitution that evolutionally occurred at the position of amino acid 38 and by the flexible nature of the L1 loops of H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2. It was also found that in living cells nucleosomal H2A.Z.1 exchanges more rapidly than H2A.Z.2. A mutational analysis revealed that the amino-acid difference at position 38 is at least partially responsible for the distinctive dynamics of H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2. These findings provide important new information for understanding the differences in the regulation and functions of H2A.Z.1 and H2A.Z.2 in cells.
PMCID: PMC3852653  PMID: 24311584
H2A.Z.1; H2A.Z.2; nucleosomes; chromatin; FRAP
10.  Distinct Localization of Peripheral and Central Types of Choline Acetyltransferase in the Rat Cochlea 
Acta Histochemica et Cytochemica  2013;46(5):145-152.
We previously discovered a splice variant of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) mRNA, and designated the variant protein pChAT because of its preferential expression in peripheral neuronal structures. In this study, we examined the immunohistochemical localization of pChAT in rat cochlea and compared the distribution pattern to those of common ChAT (cChAT) and acetylcholinesterase. Some neuronal cell bodies and fibers in the spiral ganglia showed immunoreactivity for pChAT, predominantly the small spiral ganglion cells, indicating outer hair cell type II neurons. In contrast, cChAT- and acetylcholinesterase-positive structures were localized to fibers and not apparent in ganglion cells. After ablation of the cochlear nuclei, many pChAT-positive cochlear nerve fibers became clearly visible, whereas fibers immunopositive for cChAT and acetylcholine esterase disappeared. These results suggested that pChAT and cChAT are localized in different systems of the rat cochlea; pChAT in the afferent and cChAT in the efferent structures.
PMCID: PMC3814435  PMID: 24194628
acetylcholine; cholinergic neurons; choline acetyltransferase; cochlear nervous system; spiral ganglion
11.  Myelodysplastic syndromes are induced by histone methylation–altering ASXL1 mutations  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(11):4627-4640.
Recurrent mutations in the gene encoding additional sex combs-like 1 (ASXL1) are found in various hematologic malignancies and associated with poor prognosis. In particular, ASXL1 mutations are common in patients with hematologic malignancies associated with myelodysplasia, including myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs), and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. Although loss-of-function ASXL1 mutations promote myeloid transformation, a large subset of ASXL1 mutations is thought to result in stable truncation of ASXL1. Here we demonstrate that C-terminal–truncating Asxl1 mutations (ASXL1-MTs) inhibited myeloid differentiation and induced MDS-like disease in mice. ASXL1-MT mice displayed features of human-associated MDS, including multi-lineage myelodysplasia, pancytopenia, and occasional progression to overt leukemia. ASXL1-MT resulted in derepression of homeobox A9 (Hoxa9) and microRNA-125a (miR-125a) expression through inhibition of polycomb repressive complex 2–mediated (PRC2-mediated) methylation of histone H3K27. miR-125a reduced expression of C-type lectin domain family 5, member a (Clec5a), which is involved in myeloid differentiation. In addition, HOXA9 expression was high in MDS patients with ASXL1-MT, while CLEC5A expression was generally low. Thus, ASXL1-MT–induced MDS-like disease in mice is associated with derepression of Hoxa9 and miR-125a and with Clec5a dysregulation. Our data provide evidence for an axis of MDS pathogenesis that implicates both ASXL1 mutations and miR-125a as therapeutic targets in MDS.
PMCID: PMC3809801  PMID: 24216483
12.  Genetically encoded system to track histone modification in vivo 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:2436.
Post-translational histone modifications play key roles in gene regulation, development, and differentiation, but their dynamics in living organisms remain almost completely unknown. To address this problem, we developed a genetically encoded system for tracking histone modifications by generating fluorescent modification-specific intracellular antibodies (mintbodies) that can be expressed in vivo. To demonstrate, an H3 lysine 9 acetylation specific mintbody (H3K9ac-mintbody) was engineered and stably expressed in human cells. In good agreement with the localization of its target acetylation, H3K9ac-mintbody was enriched in euchromatin, and its kinetics measurably changed upon treatment with a histone deacetylase inhibitor. We also generated transgenic fruit fly and zebrafish stably expressing H3K9ac-mintbody for in vivo tracking. Dramatic changes in H3K9ac-mintbody localization during Drosophila embryogenesis could highlight enhanced acetylation at the start of zygotic transcription around mitotic cycle 7. Together, this work demonstrates the broad potential of mintbody and lays the foundation for epigenetic analysis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3743053  PMID: 23942372
13.  Pin1 Interacts with the Epstein-Barr Virus DNA Polymerase Catalytic Subunit and Regulates Viral DNA Replication 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(4):2120-2127.
Peptidyl-prolyl cis-trans isomerase NIMA-interacting 1 (Pin1) protein is known as a regulator which recognizes phosphorylated Ser/Thr-Pro motifs and increases the rate of cis and trans amide isomer interconversion, thereby altering the conformation of its substrates. We found that Pin1 knockdown using short hairpin RNA (shRNA) technology resulted in strong suppression of productive Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA replication. We further identified the EBV DNA polymerase catalytic subunit, BALF5, as a Pin1 substrate in glutathione S-transferase (GST) pulldown and immunoprecipitation assays. Lambda protein phosphatase treatment abolished the binding of BALF5 to Pin1, and mutation analysis of BALF5 revealed that replacement of the Thr178 residue by Ala (BALF5 T178A) disrupted the interaction with Pin1. To further test the effects of Pin1 in the context of virus infection, we constructed a BALF5-deficient recombinant virus. Exogenous supply of wild-type BALF5 in HEK293 cells with knockout recombinant EBV allowed efficient synthesis of viral genome DNA, but BALF5 T178A could not provide support as efficiently as wild-type BALF5. In conclusion, we found that EBV DNA polymerase BALF5 subunit interacts with Pin1 through BALF5 Thr178 in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. Pin1 might modulate EBV DNA polymerase conformation for efficient, productive viral DNA replication.
PMCID: PMC3571458  PMID: 23221557
14.  Independence of Repressive Histone Marks and Chromatin Compaction during Senescent Heterochromatic Layer Formation 
Molecular cell  2012;47(2):203-214.
The expansion of repressive epigenetic marks has been implicated in heterochromatin formation during embryonic development, but the general applicability of this mechanism is unclear. Here we show that nuclear rearrangement of repressive histone marks H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 into nonoverlapping structural layers characterizes senescence-associated heterochromatic foci (SAHF) formation in human fibroblasts. However, the global landscape of these repressive marks remains unchanged upon SAHF formation, suggesting that in somatic cells, heterochromatin can be formed through the spatial repositioning of pre-existing repressively marked histones. This model is reinforced by the correlation of presenescent replication timing with both the subsequent layered structure of SAHFs and the global landscape of the repressive marks, allowing us to integrate microscopic and genomic information. Furthermore, modulation of SAHF structure does not affect the occupancy of these repressive marks, nor vice versa. These experiments reveal that high-order heterochromatin formation and epigenetic remodeling of the genome can be discrete events.
PMCID: PMC3701408  PMID: 22795131
15.  Immunoreactivity for Choline Acetyltransferase of Peripheral-Type (pChAT) in the Trigeminal Ganglion Neurons of the Non-Human Primate Macaca fascicularis 
Transcripts of the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) gene reveal a number of different splice variants including ChAT of a peripheral type (pChAT). Immunohistochemical staining of the brain using an antibody against pChAT clearly revealed peripheral cholinergic neurons, but failed to detect cholinergic neurons in the central nervous system. In rodents, pChAT-immunoreactivity has been detected in cholinergic parasympathetic postganglionic and enteric ganglion neurons. In addition, pChAT has been observed in non-cholinergic neurons such as peripheral sensory neurons in the trigeminal and dorsal root ganglia. The common type of ChAT (cChAT) has been investigated in many parts of the brain and the spinal cord of non-human primates, but little information is available about the localization of pChAT in primate species. Here, we report the detection of pChAT immunoreactivity in trigeminal ganglion (TG) neurons and its co-localization with Substance P (SP) and/or calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in the cynomolgus monkey, Macaca fascicularis. Neurons positive for pChAT were observed in a rather uniform pattern in approximately half of the trigeminal neurons throughout the TG. Most pChAT-positive neurons had small or medium-sized cell bodies. Double-immunofluorescence staining showed that 85.1% of SP-positive cells and 74.0% of CGRP-positive cells exhibited pChAT immunoreactivity. Most pChAT-positive cells were part of a larger population of neurons that co-expressed SP and/or CGRP.
PMCID: PMC3661780  PMID: 23720604
acetylcholine; choline acetyltransferase; immunohistochemistry; sensory ganglion; trigeminal nerve
16.  Chromosome Engineering Allows the Efficient Isolation of Vertebrate Neocentromeres 
Developmental Cell  2013;24(6):635-648.
Centromeres are specified by sequence-independent epigenetic mechanisms in most organisms. Rarely, centromere repositioning results in neocentromere formation at ectopic sites. However, the mechanisms governing how and where neocentromeres form are unknown. Here, we established a chromosome-engineering system in chicken DT40 cells that allowed us to efficiently isolate neocentromere-containing chromosomes. Neocentromeres appear to be structurally and functionally equivalent to native centromeres. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analysis with 18 neocentromeres revealed that the centromere-specific histone H3 variant CENP-A occupies an ∼40 kb region at each neocentromere, which has no preference for specific DNA sequence motifs. Furthermore, we found that neocentromeres were not associated with histone modifications H3K9me3, H3K4me2, and H3K36me3 or with early replication timing. Importantly, low but significant levels of CENP-A are detected around endogenous centromeres, which are capable of seeding neocentromere assembly if the centromere core is removed. In summary, our experimental system provides valuable insights for understanding how neocentromeres form.
Graphical Abstract
► Chromosome engineering efficiently generates neocentromeres in chicken DT40 cells ► CENP-A reproducibly occupies an ∼40 kb genomic region at each neocentromere ► Nonkinetochore CENP-A appears to function as a seed for neocentromere assembly
Centromeres are specified by sequence-independent epigenetic mechanisms. Shang et al. generated a collection of chicken neocentromeres in DT40 cells. Their analysis indicates that neocentromere formation does not correlate with the expected histone modifications or with replication timing, but rather depends on the histone H3 variant CENP-A to seed assembly.
PMCID: PMC3925796  PMID: 23499358
17.  Nap1 regulates proper CENP-B binding to nucleosomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(5):2869-2880.
CENP-B is a widely conserved centromeric satellite DNA-binding protein, which specifically binds to a 17-bp DNA sequence known as the CENP-B box. CENP-B functions positively in the de novo assembly of centromeric nucleosomes, containing the centromere-specific histone H3 variant, CENP-A. At the same time, CENP-B also prevents undesired assembly of the CENP-A nucleosome through heterochromatin formation on satellite DNA integrated into ectopic sites. Therefore, improper CENP-B binding to chromosomes could be harmful. However, no CENP-B eviction mechanism has yet been reported. In the present study, we found that human Nap1, an acidic histone chaperone, inhibited the non-specific binding of CENP-B to nucleosomes and apparently stimulated CENP-B binding to its cognate CENP-B box DNA in nucleosomes. In human cells, the CENP-B eviction activity of Nap1 was confirmed in model experiments, in which the CENP-B binding to a human artificial chromosome or an ectopic chromosome locus bearing CENP-B boxes was significantly decreased when Nap1 was tethered near the CENP-B box sequence. In contrast, another acidic histone chaperone, sNASP, did not promote CENP-B eviction in vitro and in vivo and did not stimulate specific CENP-B binding to CENP-A nucleosomes in vitro. We therefore propose a novel mechanism of CENP-B regulation by Nap1.
PMCID: PMC3597661  PMID: 23325853
18.  Generation and Characterization of UL21-Null Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 
UL21 of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is an accessory gene that encodes a component of the tegument. Homologs of this protein have been identified in the alpha, beta, and gamma herpesvirus subfamilies, although their functions are unclear. To clarify the functions of UL21, we generated a UL21-null HSV-1 mutant. Growth analysis showed that the synthesis of infectious UL21-null HSV-1 in glial cells was delayed and that the overall yield was low. The plaque sizes of the UL21-null mutant were smaller than those of wild-type HSV-1. We identified several candidate UL21-interacting proteins, including intermediate filaments, by yeast two-hybrid screening. The distribution of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which is the main component of intermediate filaments, was altered in UL21-null mutant-infected glial cells compared to wild-type virus-infected cells. These results will help clarify the function of UL21 and broaden our understanding of the life cycle of HSV.
PMCID: PMC3499793  PMID: 23162546
HSV-1; UL21; intermediate filaments; glial cells; GFAP
19.  Chromosome-wide regulation of euchromatin-specific 5mC to 5hmC conversion in mouse ES cells and female human somatic cells 
Chromosome Research  2012;20(7):837-848.
DNA cytosine methylation (5mC) is indispensable for a number of cellular processes, including retrotransposon silencing, genomic imprinting, and X chromosome inactivation in mammalian development. Recent studies have focused on 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), a new epigenetic mark or intermediate in the DNA demethylation pathway. However, 5hmC itself has no role in pluripotency maintenance in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) lacking Dnmt1, 3a, and 3b. Here, we demonstrated that 5hmC accumulated on euchromatic chromosomal bands that were marked with di- and tri-methylated histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me2/3) in mouse ESCs. By contrast, heterochromatin enriched with H3K9me3, including mouse chromosomal G-bands, pericentric repeats, human satellite 2 and 3, and inactive X chromosomes, was not enriched with 5hmC. Therefore, enzymes that hydroxylate the methyl group of 5mC belonging to the Tet family might be excluded from inactive chromatin, which may restrict 5mC to 5hmC conversion in euchromatin to prevent nonselective de novo DNA methylation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10577-012-9317-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3524505  PMID: 23111490
DNA methylation; Embryonic stem cells; Tet enzymes; 5-Hydroxymethylation
20.  Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor from Bone Marrow-Derived Cells Promotes Post-Injury Repair of Peripheral Nerve 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44592.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) stimulates peripheral nerve regeneration. However, the origin of BNDF and its precise effect on nerve repair have not been clarified. In this study, we examined the role of BDNF from bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) in post-injury nerve repair. Control and heterozygote BDNF knockout mice (BDNF+/−) received a left sciatic nerve crush using a cerebral blood clip. Especially, for the evaluation of BDNF from BMDCs, studies with bone marrow transplantation (BMT) were performed before the injury. We evaluated nerve function using a rotarod test, sciatic function index (SFI), and motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) simultaneously with histological nerve analyses by immunohistochemistry before and after the nerve injury until 8 weeks. BDNF production was examined by immunohistochemistry and mRNA analyses. After the nerve crush, the controls showed severe nerve dysfunction evaluated at 1 week. However, nerve function was gradually restored and reached normal levels by 8 weeks. By immunohistochemistry, BDNF expression was very faint before injury, but was dramatically increased after injury at 1 week in the distal segment from the crush site. BDNF expression was mainly co-localized with CD45 in BMDCs, which was further confirmed by the appearance of GFP-positive cells in the BMT study. Variant analysis of BDNF mRNA also confirmed this finding. BDNF+/− mice showed a loss of function with delayed histological recovery and BDNF+/+→BDNF+/− BMT mice showed complete recovery both functionally and histologically. These results suggested that the attenuated recovery of the BDNF+/− mice was rescued by the transplantation of BMCs and that BDNF from BMDCs has an essential role in nerve repair.
PMCID: PMC3446933  PMID: 23028564
21.  H4K20me1 Contributes to Downregulation of X-Linked Genes for C. elegans Dosage Compensation 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002933.
The Caenorhabditis elegans dosage compensation complex (DCC) equalizes X-chromosome gene dosage between XO males and XX hermaphrodites by two-fold repression of X-linked gene expression in hermaphrodites. The DCC localizes to the X chromosomes in hermaphrodites but not in males, and some subunits form a complex homologous to condensin. The mechanism by which the DCC downregulates gene expression remains unclear. Here we show that the DCC controls the methylation state of lysine 20 of histone H4, leading to higher H4K20me1 and lower H4K20me3 levels on the X chromosomes of XX hermaphrodites relative to autosomes. We identify the PR-SET7 ortholog SET-1 and the Suv4-20 ortholog SET-4 as the major histone methyltransferases for monomethylation and di/trimethylation of H4K20, respectively, and provide evidence that X-chromosome enrichment of H4K20me1 involves inhibition of SET-4 activity on the X. RNAi knockdown of set-1 results in synthetic lethality with dosage compensation mutants and upregulation of X-linked gene expression, supporting a model whereby H4K20me1 functions with the condensin-like C. elegans DCC to repress transcription of X-linked genes. H4K20me1 is important for mitotic chromosome condensation in mammals, suggesting that increased H4K20me1 on the X may restrict access of the transcription machinery to X-linked genes via chromatin compaction.
Author Summary
In many animals, males have one X chromosome and females have two. However, the same amount of gene expression from X chromosomes is needed in the two sexes. The process of dosage compensation (DC) globally regulates X-chromosome gene expression to make it equal between the sexes, and it occurs in different ways in different animals. In mammals, one X chromosome in females is randomly inactivated, leaving one active X chromosome. In contrast, in the nematode worm C. elegans, the two X chromosomes in hermaphrodites are repressed two-fold to match gene expression to the single X chromosome in males. Previous work in C. elegans identified proteins required for DC that bind to the X chromosome, but their mode of action is not known. Here we show that DC proteins lead to higher levels of histone H4 lysine 20 monomethylation (H4K20me1) on hermaphrodite X chromosomes and that H4K20me1 functions in repressing X-chromosome gene expression. This shows that histone modification is an important aspect of the mechanism of dosage compensation. Together with previous work linking H4K20me1 to chromatin structure regulation, our results suggest that dosage compensation might lower gene expression on hermaphrodite X chromosomes by compacting them.
PMCID: PMC3441679  PMID: 23028348
22.  H3K9 and H3K14 acetylation co-occur at many gene regulatory elements, while H3K14ac marks a subset of inactive inducible promoters in mouse embryonic stem cells 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:424.
Transcription regulation in pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells is a complex process that involves multitude of regulatory layers, one of which is post-translational modification of histones. Acetylation of specific lysine residues of histones plays a key role in regulating gene expression.
Here we have investigated the genome-wide occurrence of two histone marks, acetylation of histone H3K9 and K14 (H3K9ac and H3K14ac), in mouse embryonic stem (mES) cells. Genome-wide H3K9ac and H3K14ac show very high correlation between each other as well as with other histone marks (such as H3K4me3) suggesting a coordinated regulation of active histone marks. Moreover, the levels of H3K9ac and H3K14ac directly correlate with the CpG content of the promoters attesting the importance of sequences underlying the specifically modified nucleosomes. Our data provide evidence that H3K9ac and H3K14ac are also present over the previously described bivalent promoters, along with H3K4me3 and H3K27me3. Furthermore, like H3K27ac, H3K9ac and H3K14ac can also differentiate active enhancers from inactive ones. Although, H3K9ac and H3K14ac, a hallmark of gene activation exhibit remarkable correlation over active and bivalent promoters as well as distal regulatory elements, a subset of inactive promoters is selectively enriched for H3K14ac.
Our study suggests that chromatin modifications, such as H3K9ac and H3K14ac, are part of the active promoter state, are present over bivalent promoters and active enhancers and that the extent of H3K9 and H3K14 acetylation could be driven by cis regulatory elements such as CpG content at promoters. Our study also suggests that a subset of inactive promoters is selectively and specifically enriched for H3K14ac. This observation suggests that histone acetyl transferases (HATs) prime inactive genes by H3K14ac for stimuli dependent activation. In conclusion our study demonstrates a wider role for H3K9ac and H3K14ac in gene regulation than originally thought.
PMCID: PMC3473242  PMID: 22920947
ChIP-seq; Histone acetylation; CpG islands; Embryonic stem cells; Gene regulation; Genome-wide mapping; Bivalent promoters, Epigenetics
23.  Accumulating Microglia Phagocytose Injured Neurons in Hippocampal Slice Cultures: Involvement of p38 MAP Kinase 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40813.
In this study, microglial migration and phagocytosis were examined in mouse organotypic hippocampal slice cultures, which were treated with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) to selectively injure neuronal cells. Microglial cells were visualized by the expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein. Daily observation revealed microglial accumulation in the pyramidal cell layer, which peaked 5 to 6 days after NMDA treatment. Time-lapse imaging showed that microglia migrated to the pyramidal cell layer from adjacent and/or remote areas. There was no difference in the number of proliferating microglia between control and NMDA-treated slices in both the pyramidal cell layer and stratum radiatum, suggesting that microglial accumulation in the injured areas is mainly due to microglial migration, not to proliferation. Time-lapse imaging also showed that the injured neurons, which were visualized by propidium iodide (PI), disappeared just after being surrounded by microglia. Daily observation revealed that the intensity of PI fluorescence gradually attenuated, and this attenuation was suppressed by pretreatment with clodronate, a microglia toxin. These findings suggest that accumulating microglia phagocytosed injured neurons, and that PI fluorescence could be a useful indicator for microglial phagocytosis. Using this advantage to examine microglial phagocytosis in living slice cultures, we investigated the involvements of mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases in microglial accumulation and phagocytosis. p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB203580, but not MAP kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase inhibitor PD98059 or c-Jun N-terminal kinase inhibitor SP600125, suppressed the attenuation of PI fluorescence. On the other hand, microglial accumulation in the injured areas was not inhibited by any of these inhibitors. These data suggest that p38 MAP kinase plays an important role in microglial phagocytosis of injured neurons.
PMCID: PMC3398896  PMID: 22815830
24.  Herpes Simplex Virus Requires Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase Activity for Efficient Replication and Induces Extracellular Signal-Related Kinase-Dependent Phosphorylation and ICP0-Dependent Nuclear Localization of Tankyrase 1 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(1):492-503.
Tankyrase 1 is a poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) which localizes to multiple subcellular sites, including telomeres and mitotic centrosomes. Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of the nuclear mitotic apparatus (NuMA) protein by tankyrase 1 during mitosis is essential for sister telomere resolution and mitotic spindle pole formation. In interphase cells, tankyrase 1 resides in the cytoplasm, and its role therein is not well understood. In this study, we found that herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection induced extensive modification of tankyrase 1 but not tankyrase 2. This modification was dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activity triggered by HSV infection. Following HSV-1 infection, tankyrase 1 was recruited to the nucleus. In the early phase of infection, tankyrase 1 colocalized with ICP0 and thereafter localized within the HSV replication compartment, which was blocked in cells infected with the HSV-1 ICP0-null mutant R7910. In the absence of infection, ICP0 interacted with tankyrase 1 and efficiently promoted its nuclear localization. HSV did not replicate efficiently in cells depleted of both tankyrases 1 and 2. Moreover, XAV939, an inhibitor of tankyrase PARP activity, decreased viral titers to 2 to 5% of control values. We concluded that HSV targets tankyrase 1 in an ICP0- and ERK-dependent manner to facilitate its replication.
PMCID: PMC3255871  PMID: 22013039
25.  Homing of the Bone Marrow-Derived Interstitial Cells of Cajal is Decreased in Diabetic Mouse Intestine 
Interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs), which express c-Kit receptor tyrosine kinase (KIT), play an important role in gastrointestinal motility. Loss of ICCs likely contributes to diabetic gastrointestinal motility disorder, however, the mechanism of attrition remains unknown. Here, we test the hypothesis that the bone marrow-derived progenitors are an important source of intestinal ICCs and that decreased homing of these progenitors in diabetes contributes to ICC diminution.
Wild type mice were X-ray irradiated, transplanted with bone marrow (BMT) from green fluorescence protein (GFP)-transgenic (TG)-mice and subsequently made diabetic by streptozotocin (STZ) injection. Intestinal homing of GFP-positive bone marrow-derived cells was examined 2 or 5 months after STZ treatment.
In the BMT-mice, we found many GFP-positive bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs) in most parts of the intestinal area, the number of BMDCs was significantly decreased in diabetic mice compared with nondiabetic controls. As a representative area, we further examined the myenteric plexus of the proximal small intestine, and found that the cell numbers of ICCs marked by c-Kit-positive immunoreactivity were decreased by more than 40% in diabetic versus nondiabetic mice. Furthermore, numbers of c-Kit+/GFP+ and c-Kit+/GFP− cells were similar in nondiabetic mice, and decreased by 45.8% and 42.0%, respectively, in diabetic mice.
These results suggest that the decreased homing from the bone marrow is a major cause of ICC loss in the intestine in diabetes mellitus.
PMCID: PMC3321643  PMID: 21265880
diabetes mellitus; diabetic complications; diabetic enteropathy; ICCs

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