In plants, microRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous ~22 nt RNAs that play important regulatory roles in many aspects of plant biology, including metabolism, hormone response, epigenetic control of transposable elements, and stress response. Extensive studies of miRNAs have been performed in model plants such as rice and Arabidopsis thaliana. In maize, most miRNAs and their target genes were analyzed and identified by clearly different treatments, such as response to low nitrate, salt and drought stress. However, little is known about miRNAs involved in maize ear development. The objective of this study is to identify conserved and novel miRNAs and their target genes by combined small RNA and degradome sequencing at four inflorescence developmental stages.
We used deep-sequencing, miRNA microarray assays and computational methods to identify, profile, and describe conserved and non-conserved miRNAs at four ear developmental stages, which resulted in identification of 22 conserved and 21-maize-specific miRNA families together with their corresponding miRNA*. Comparison of miRNA expression in these developmental stages revealed 18 differentially expressed miRNA families. Finally, a total of 141 genes (251 transcripts) targeted by 102 small RNAs including 98 miRNAs and 4 ta-siRNAs were identified by genomic-scale high-throughput sequencing of miRNA cleaved mRNAs. Moreover, the differentially expressed miRNAs-mediated pathways that regulate the development of ears were discussed.
This study confirmed 22 conserved miRNA families and discovered 26 novel miRNAs in maize. Moreover, we identified 141 target genes of known and new miRNAs and ta-siRNAs. Of these, 72 genes (117 transcripts) targeted by 62 differentially expressed miRNAs may attribute to the development of maize ears. Identification and characterization of these important classes of regulatory genes in maize may improve our understanding of molecular mechanisms controlling ear development.
The HIV-1 accessory factor Vif is necessary for efficient viral infection in non-permissive cells. Vif antagonizes the antiviral activity of human cytidine deaminase APOBEC3 proteins that confer the non-permissive phenotype by tethering them (APOBEC3DE/3F/3G) to the Vif-CBF-β-ElonginB-ElonginC-Cullin5-Rbx (Vif-CBF-β-EloB-EloC-Cul5-Rbx) E3 complex to induce their proteasomal degradation. EloB and EloC were initially reported as positive regulatory subunits of the Elongin (SIII) complex. Thereafter, EloB and EloC were found to be components of Cul-E3 complexes, contributing to proteasomal degradation of specific substrates. CBF-β is a newly identified key regulator of Vif function, and more information is needed to further clarify its regulatory mechanism. Here, we comprehensively investigated the functions of EloB (together with EloC) in the Vif-CBF-β-Cul5 E3 ligase complex.
The results revealed that: (1) EloB (and EloC) positively affected the recruitment of CBF-β to Vif. Both knockdown of endogenous EloB and over-expression of its mutant with a 34-residue deletion in the COOH-terminal tail (EloBΔC34/EBΔC34) impaired the Vif-CBF-β interaction. (2) Introduction of both the Vif SLQ → AAA mutant (VifΔSLQ, which dramatically impairs Vif-EloB-EloC binding) and the Vif PPL → AAA mutant (VifΔPPL, which is thought to reduce Vif-EloB binding) could reduce CBF-β binding. (3) EloB-EloC but not CBF-β could greatly enhance the folding of full-length Vif in Escherichia coli. (4) The over-expression of EloB or the N-terminal ubiquitin-like (UbL) domain of EloB could significantly improve the stability of Vif/VifΔSLQ/VifΔPPL through the region between residues 9 and 14.
Our results indicate that the Vif interaction with EloB-EloC may contribute to recruitment of CBF-β to Vif, demonstrating that the EloB C-teminus may play a role in improving Vif function and that the over-expression of EloB results in Vif stabilization.
CBF-β; Elongin BC complex; HIV-1; Protein binding; Ubiquitin-protein ligases; Vif
Tandem direct duplications are a common feature of the genomes of eukaryotes ranging from yeast to human, where they comprise a significant fraction of copy number variations. The prevailing model for the formation of tandem direct duplications is non-allelic homologous recombination (NAHR). Here we report the isolation of a series of duplications and reciprocal deletions isolated de novo from a maize allele containing two Class II Ac/Ds transposons. The duplication/deletion structures suggest that they were generated by alternative transposition reactions involving the termini of two nearby transposable elements. The deletion/duplication breakpoint junctions contain 8 bp target site duplications characteristic of Ac/Ds transposition events, confirming their formation directly by an alternative transposition mechanism. Tandem direct duplications and reciprocal deletions were generated at a relatively high frequency (∼0.5 to 1%) in the materials examined here in which transposons are positioned nearby each other in appropriate orientation; frequencies would likely be much lower in other genotypes. To test whether this mechanism may have contributed to maize genome evolution, we analyzed sequences flanking Ac/Ds and other hAT family transposons and identified three small tandem direct duplications with the structural features predicted by the alternative transposition mechanism. Together these results show that some class II transposons are capable of directly inducing tandem sequence duplications, and that this activity has contributed to the evolution of the maize genome.
The recent explosion of genome sequence data has greatly increased the need to understand the forces that shape eukaryotic genomes. A common feature of higher plant genomes is the presence of large numbers of duplications, often occurring as tandem repeats of thousands of base pairs. Despite the importance of gene duplications in evolution and disease, the precise mechanism(s) that generate tandem duplications are still unclear. In this study we identified nine new spontaneous duplications that arose flanking elements of the Ac transposon system. These duplications range in size from 8 kbp to >5,000 kbp, and all cases exhibit features characteristic of Ac transposition. Using similar criteria in a bioinformatics search, we identified three smaller duplications adjacent to other hAT family transposons in the maize B73 reference genome sequence. Our results show that transposable elements can directly generate tandem duplications via alternative transposition, and that this mechanism is responsible for at least some of the duplications present in the maize B73 genome. This work extends the significance of Barbara McClintock's discovery of transposable elements by demonstrating how they can act as agents of genome expansion.
The HIV-1 viral infectivity factor (Vif) protein is essential for viral replication. Vif recruits cellular ElonginB/C-Cullin5 E3 ubiquitin ligase to target the host antiviral protein APOBEC3G (A3G) for proteasomal degradation. In the absence of Vif, A3G is packaged into budding HIV-1 virions and introduces multiple mutations in the newly synthesized minus-strand viral DNA to restrict virus replication. Thus, the A3G-Vif-E3 complex represents an attractive target for development of novel anti-HIV drugs. In this study, we identified a potent small molecular compound (VEC-5) by virtual screening and validated its anti-Vif activity through biochemical analysis. We show that VEC-5 inhibits virus replication only in A3G-positive cells. Treatment with VEC-5 increased cellular A3G levels when Vif was coexpressed and enhanced A3G incorporation into HIV-1 virions to reduce viral infectivity. Coimmunoprecipitation and computational analysis further attributed the anti-Vif activity of VEC-5 to the inhibition of Vif from direct binding to the ElonginC protein. These findings support the notion that suppressing Vif function can liberate A3G to carry out its antiviral activity and demonstrate that regulation of the Vif-ElonginC interaction is a novel target for small-molecule inhibitors of HIV-1.
While tumor suppressor genes frequently undergo epigenetic silencing in cancer, how the instructions directing this transcriptional repression are transmitted in cancer cells remain largely unclear. Expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1C (CDKN1C), an imprinted gene on chromosomal band 11 p15.5, is reduced or lost in the majority of breast cancers. Here, we report that CDKN1C is suppressed by estrogen through epigenetic mechanisms involving the chromatin-interacting noncoding RNA KCNQ1OT1 and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF). Activation of estrogen signaling reduced CDKN1C expression 3-fold (P < 0.001) and established repressive histone modifications at the 5′ regulatory region of the locus. These events were concomitant with induction of KCNQ1OT1 expression as well as increased recruitment of CTCF to both the distal KCNQ1OT1 promoter-associated imprinting control region (ICR) and the CDKN1C locus. Transient depletion of CTCF by small interfering RNA increased CDKN1C expression and significantly reduced the estrogen-mediated repression of CDKN1C. Further studies in breast cancer cell lines indicated that the epigenetic silencing of CDKN1C occurs in part as the result of genetic loss of the inactive methylated 11p15.5 ICR allele (R2 = 0.612, P < 0.001). We also found a novel cis-encoded antisense transcript, CDKN1C-AS, which is induced by estrogen signaling following pharmacologic inhibition of DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase activity. Forced expression of CDKN1C-AS was capable of repressing endogenous CDKN1C in vivo. Our findings suggest that in addition to promoter hypermethylation, epigenetic repression of tumor suppressor genes by CTCF and noncoding RNA transcripts could be more common and important than previously understood.
Various feline APOBEC3 (fA3) proteins exhibit broad antiviral activities against a wide range of viruses, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline foamy virus (FFV), and feline leukemia virus (FeLV), as well as those of other species. This activity can be counteracted by the FIV Vif protein, but the mechanism by which FIV Vif suppresses fA3s is unknown. In the present study, we demonstrated that FIV Vif could act via a proteasome-dependent pathway to overcome fA3s. FIV Vif interacted with feline cellular proteins Cullin5 (Cul5), ElonginB, and ElonginC to form an E3 complex to induce degradation of fA3s. Both the dominant-negative Cul5 mutant and a C-terminal hydrophilic replacement ElonginC mutant potently disrupted the FIV Vif activity against fA3s. Furthermore, we identified a BC-box motif in FIV Vif that was essential for the recruitment of E3 ubiquitin ligase and also required for FIV Vif-mediated degradation of fA3s. Moreover, despite the lack of either a Cul5-box or a HCCH zinc-binding motif, FIV Vif specifically selected Cul5. Therefore, FIV Vif may interact with Cul5 via a novel mechanism. These finding imply that SOCS proteins may possess distinct mechanisms to bind Cul5 during formation of the Elongin-Cullin-SOCS box complex.
In this paper, a series of amphiphilic triblock copolymers based on polyethylene glycol–poly ɛ-caprolactone–polyethylenimine (mPEG–PCL-g–PEI) were successfully synthesized, and their application for codelivery of chemotherapeutic drugs and DNA simultaneously was investigated.
Methods and results
These copolymers could self-assemble into micelles with positive charges. The size and zeta potential of the micelles was measured, and the results indicate that temperature had a large effect on the micelles obtained. In vitro gene transfection evaluation in cancer cells indicated that the self-assembled micelles could serve as potential gene delivery vectors. In addition, hydrophobic drug entrapment efficiency and codelivery with the gene was also studied in vitro. The self-assembled micelles could load doxorubicin efficiently and increase cellular uptake in vitro, while maintaining high gene transfection efficiency.
The triblock copolymer mPEG–PCL-g–PEI could be a novel vector for codelivery of drug and gene therapy.
self-assembly; triblock copolymer; DNA; drug codelivery; gene transfection
Trimethylation of histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) is a critical epigenetic mark for the maintenance of gene silencing. Additional accumulation of DNA methylation in target loci is thought to cooperatively support this epigenetic silencing during tumorigenesis. However, molecular mechanisms underlying the complex interplay between the two marks remain to be explored. Here we demonstrate that activation of PI3K/AKT signaling can be a trigger of this epigenetic processing at many downstream target genes. We also find that DNA methylation can be acquired at the same loci in cancer cells, thereby reinforcing permanent repression in those losing the H3K27me3 mark. Because of a link between PI3K/AKT signaling and epigenetic alterations, we conducted epigenetic therapies in conjunction with the signaling-targeted treatment. These combined treatments synergistically relieve gene silencing and suppress cancer cell growth in vitro and in xenografts. The new finding has important implications for improving targeted cancer therapies in the future.
Epigenetic silencing; H3K27me3; DNA methylation; PI3K/AKT signaling; breast cancer
Substantial evidence indicates that exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during early development may increase breast cancer risk later in life. The changes may persist into puberty and adulthood, suggesting an epigenetic process being imposed in differentiated breast epithelial cells. The molecular mechanisms by which early memory of BPA exposure is imprinted in breast progenitor cells and then passed onto their epithelial progeny are not well understood. The aim of this study was to examine epigenetic changes in breast epithelial cells treated with low-dose BPA. We also investigated the effect of BPA on the ERα signaling pathway and global gene expression profiles. Compared to control cells, nuclear internalization of ERα was observed in epithelial cells preexposed to BPA. We identified 170 genes with similar expression changes in response to BPA. Functional analysis confirms that gene suppression was mediated in part through an ERα-dependent pathway. As a result of exposure to BPA or other estrogen-like chemicals, the expression of lysosomal-associated membrane protein 3 (LAMP3) became epigenetically silenced in breast epithelial cells. Furthermore, increased DNA methylation in the LAMP3 CpG island was this repressive mark preferentially occurred in ERα-positive breast tumors. These results suggest that the in vitro system developed in our laboratory is a valuable tool for exposure studies of BPA and other xenoestrogens in human cells. Individual and geographical differences may contribute to altered patterns of gene expression and DNA methylation in susceptible loci. Combination of our exposure model with epigenetic analysis and other biochemical assays can give insight into the heritable effect of low-dose BPA in human cells.
Bisphenol A; Estrogen; DNA methylation; Epigenetics; Breast cancer
Tetherin (BST-2/CD317) is an interferon-inducible antiviral protein that restricts the release of enveloped viruses from infected cells. The HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu can efficiently antagonize this restriction. In this study, we analyzed mutations of the transmembrane (TM) domain of Vpu, including deletions and substitutions, to delineate amino acids important for HIV-1 viral particle release and in interactions with tetherin. The mutants had similar subcellular localization patterns with that of wild-type Vpu and were functional with respect to CD4 downregulation. We showed that the hydrophobic binding surface for tetherin lies in the core of the Vpu TM domain. Three consecutive hydrophobic isoleucine residues in the middle region of the Vpu TM domain, I15, I16 and I17, were important for stabilizing the tetherin binding interface and determining its sensitivity to tetherin. Changing the polarity of the amino acids at these positions resulted in severe impairment of Vpu-induced tetherin targeting and antagonism. Taken together, these data reveal a model of specific hydrophobic interactions between Vpu and tetherin, which can be potentially targeted in the development of novel anti-HIV-1 drugs.
Despite clear epidemiological and genetic evidence for X-linked prostate cancer risk, all prostate cancer genes identified are autosomal. Here we report somatic inactivating mutations and deletion of the X-linked FOXP3 gene residing at Xp11.23 in human prostate cancer. Lineage-specific ablation of FoxP3 in the mouse prostate epithelial cells leads to prostate hyperplasia and prostate intraepithelial neoplasia. In both normal and malignant prostate tissues, FOXP3 is both necessary and sufficient to transcriptionally repress cMYC, the most commonly over-expressed oncogene in prostate cancer as well as among the aggregates of other cancers. FOXP3 is an X-linked prostate tumor suppressor in the male. Since the male has only one X chromosome, our data represents a paradigm of “single-genetic-hit” inactivation-mediated carcinogenesis.
Metastable and somatically heritable patterns of DNA methylation provide an important level of genomic regulation. In this article, we review methods for analyzing these genome-wide epigenetic patterns and offer a perspective on the ever-expanding literature, which we hope will be useful for investigators who are new to this area. The historical aspects that we cover will be helpful in interpreting this literature and we hope that our discussion of the newest analytical methods will stimulate future progress. We emphasize that no single approach can provide a complete view of the overall methylome, and that combinations of several modalities applied to the same sample set will give the clearest picture. Given the unexpected epigenomic patterns and new biological principles, as well as new disease markers, that have been uncovered in recent studies, it is likely that important discoveries will continue to be made using genome-wide DNA methylation profiling.
bisulfite sequencing; CpG island; differential methylation hybridization; DNA methylation; methylation profiling; methylated CpG island recovery assay; methylated DNA immunoprecipitation; methylation-sensitive SNP chip analysis; next-generation DNA sequencing
Early exposure to xenoestrogens may predispose to breast cancer risk later in adult life. It is likely that long-lived, self-regenerating epithelial progenitor cells are more susceptible to these exposure injuries over time and transmit the injured memory through epigenetic mechanisms to their differentiated progeny. Here, we used progenitor-containing mammospheres as an in vitro exposure model to study this epigenetic effect. Expression profiling identified that, relative to control cells, 9.1% of microRNAs (82 of 898 loci) were altered in epithelial progeny derived from mammospheres exposed to a synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol. Repressive chromatin marks, trimethyl Lys27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3) and dimethyl Lys9 of histone H3 (H3K9me2), were found at a down-regulated locus, miR-9-3, in epithelial cells preexposed to diethylstilbestrol. This was accompanied by recruitment of DNA methyltransferase 1 that caused an aberrant increase in DNA methylation of its promoter CpG island in mammosphere-derived epithelial cells on diethylstilbestrol preexposure. Functional analyses suggest that miR-9-3 plays a role in the p53-related apoptotic pathway. Epigenetic silencing of this gene, therefore, reduces this cellular function and promotes the proliferation of breast cancer cells. Promoter hypermethylation of this microRNA may be a hallmark for early breast cancer development, and restoration of its expression by epigenetic and microRNA-based therapies is another viable option for future treatment of this disease.
It is becoming increasingly evident that discrete genetic alterations in neoplastic cells alone cannot explain multistep carcinogenesis whereby tumor cells are able to express diverse phenotypes during the complex phases of tumor development and progression. The epigenetic model posits that the host microenvironment exerts an initial, inhibitory constraint on tumor growth that is followed by acceleration of tumor progression through complex cell–matrix interactions. This review emphasizes the epigenetic aspects of breast cancer development in light of such interactions between epithelial cells (“seed”) and the tumor microenvironment (“soil”). Our recent research findings suggest that epigenetic perturbations induced by the tumor microenvironment may play a causal role in promoting breast cancer development. It is believed that abrogation of these initiators could offer a promising therapeutic strategy.
Breast cancer; Tumor microenvironment; Stromal fibroblast; Epigenetics; DNA methylation; Chromatin remodeling
The interplay between histone modifications and promoter hypermethylation provides a causative explanation for epigenetic gene silencing in cancer. Less is known about the upstream initiators that direct this process. Here, we report that the Cystatin M (CST6) tumor suppressor gene is concurrently down-regulated with other loci in breast epithelial cells co-cultured with cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). Promoter hypermethylation of CST6 is associated with aberrant AKT1 activation in epithelial cells, as well as the disabled INNP4B regulator resulted from the suppression by CAFs. Repressive chromatin, marked by trimethyl-H3K27 and dimethyl-H3K9, and de novo DNA methylation is established at the promoter. The findings suggest that microenvironmental stimuli are triggers in this epigenetic cascade, leading to the long-term silencing of CST6 in breast tumors. Our present findings implicate a causal mechanism defining how tumor stromal fibroblasts support neoplastic progression by manipulating the epigenome of mammary epithelial cells. The result also highlights the importance of direct cell-cell contract between epithelial cells and the surrounding fibroblasts that confer this epigenetic perturbation. Since this two-way interaction is anticipated, the described co-culture system can be used to determine the effect of epithelial factors on fibroblasts in future studies.
The X-linked Foxp3 is a member of the forkhead/winged helix transcription factor family. Germ-line mutations cause lethal autoimmune diseases in males. Serendipitously, we observed that Foxp3sf/+ heterozygous mice developed cancer at a high rate. The majority of the cancers were mammary carcinomas in which the wild-type Foxp3 allele was inactivated and ErbB2 was over-expressed. Foxp3 bound and repressed the ErbB2 promoter. Deletion, functionally significant somatic mutations and down-regulation of the FOXP3 gene were commonly found in human breast cancer samples and correlated significantly with HER-2 over-expression, regardless of the status of HER-2 amplification. In toto, the data demonstrate that FOXP3 is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor gene and an important regulator of the HER-2/ErbB2 oncogene.
S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (SKP2) is a component of the E3 ubiquitin ligase SKP1-Cul1-Fbox complex. Overexpression of SKP2 results in cell cycle dysregulation and carcinogenesis; however, the genetic lesions that cause this upregulation are poorly understood. We recently demonstrated that forkhead box P3 (FOXP3) is an X-linked breast cancer suppressor and an important repressor of the oncogene ERBB2/HER2. Since FOXP3 suppresses tumor growth regardless of whether the tumors overexpress ERBB2/HER2, additional FOXP3 targets may be involved in its tumor suppressor activity. Here, we show that mammary carcinomas from mice heterozygous for a Foxp3 mutation exhibited increased Skp2 expression. Ectopic expression of FOXP3 in mouse mammary cancer cells repressed SKP2 expression with a corresponding increase in p27 and polyploidy. Conversely, siRNA silencing of the FOXP3 gene in human mammary epithelial cells increased SKP2 expression. We also show that Foxp3 directly interacted with and repressed the Skp2 promoter. Moreover, the analysis of over 200 primary breast cancer samples revealed an inverse correlation between FOXP3 and SKP2 levels. Finally, we demonstrated that downregulation of SKP2 was critical for FOXP3-mediated growth inhibition in breast cancer cells that do not overexpress ERBB2/HER2. Our data provide genetic, biochemical, and functional evidence that FOXP3 is a novel transcriptional repressor for the oncogene SKP2.
The Scurfy mutation of the FoxP3 gene (FoxP3sf) in the mouse and analogous mutations in human result in lethal autoimmunity. The mutation of FoxP3 in the hematopoietic cells impairs the development of regulatory T cells. In addition, development of the Scurfy disease also may require mutation of the gene in nonhematopoietic cells. The T cell–extrinsic function of FoxP3 has not been characterized. Here we show that the FoxP3sf mutation leads to defective thymopoiesis, which is caused by inactivation of FoxP3 in the thymic stromal cells. FoxP3 mutation also results in overexpression of ErbB2 in the thymic stroma, which may be involved in defective thymopoiesis. Our data reveal a novel T cell–extrinsic function of FoxP3. In combination, the T cell–intrinsic and –extrinsic defects provide plausible explanation for the severity of the autoimmune diseases in the scurfy mice and in patients who have immunodysregulation, polyendocrinopathy, enteropathy, and X-linked syndrome.
B7H1 (PDL1) and B7DC (PDL2) are two new members of the B7 family that can interact with PD-1, a putative negative regulator for immune function. Recent studies have provided evidence for inhibitory functions of both members via PD-1. Meanwhile, compelling evidence exists for costimulatory function of both members. Here we demonstrate that expression of B7DC on the tumor cells promotes CD8 T cell–mediated rejection of tumor cells, at both the induction and effector phase of antitumor immunity. Moreover, B7DC binds to PD-1(−/−) cells and enhances T cell killing in a PD-1–independent mechanism. Our results demonstrate a novel pathway for B7DC to promote tumor immunity and may reconcile the apparently contradictory findings on the function of B7DC.
tumor immunity; costimulatory molecules; cytolytic T lymphocytes