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1.  RNA-seq transcriptome profiling reveals that Medicago truncatula nodules acclimate N2 fixation before emerging P deficiency reaches the nodules 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(20):6035-6048.
During a whole-plant P-depletion process in Medicago, formation of new nodules ceases and leaves become P depleted, while existing active nodules maintain high-P levels and display complex molecular acclimation processes.
Legume nodules are plant tissues with an exceptionally high concentration of phosphorus (P), which, when there is scarcity of P, is preferentially maintained there rather than being allocated to other plant organs. The hypothesis of this study was that nodules are affected before the P concentration in the organ declines during whole-plant P depletion. Nitrogen (N2) fixation and P concentration in various organs were monitored during a whole-plant P-depletion process in Medicago truncatula. Nodule gene expression was profiled through RNA-seq at day 5 of P depletion. Until that point in time P concentration in leaves reached a lower threshold but was maintained in nodules. N2-fixation activity per plant diverged from that of fully nourished plants beginning at day 5 of the P-depletion process, primarily because fewer nodules were being formed, while the activity of the existing nodules was maintained for as long as two weeks into P depletion. RNA-seq revealed nodule acclimation on a molecular level with a total of 1140 differentially expressed genes. Numerous genes for P remobilization from organic structures were increasingly expressed. Various genes involved in nodule malate formation were upregulated, while genes involved in fermentation were downregulated. The fact that nodule formation was strongly repressed with the onset of P deficiency is reflected in the differential expression of various genes involved in nodulation. It is concluded that plants follow a strategy to maintain N2 fixation and viable leaf tissue as long as possible during whole-plant P depletion to maintain their ability to react to emerging new P sources (e.g. through active P acquisition by roots).
PMCID: PMC4203135  PMID: 25151618
Legumes; Medicago truncatula; nitrogen fixation; N2 fixation; nodulation; P stress; RNA-seq; Sinorhizobium meliloti.
2.  Gene expression profiling of brains from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-infected cynomolgus macaques 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):434.
Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders whose pathogenesis mechanisms are not fully understood. In this context, the analysis of gene expression alterations occurring in prion-infected animals represents a powerful tool that may contribute to unravel the molecular basis of prion diseases and therefore discover novel potential targets for diagnosis and therapeutics. Here we present the first large-scale transcriptional profiling of brains from BSE-infected cynomolgus macaques, which are an excellent model for human prion disorders.
The study was conducted using the GeneChip® Rhesus Macaque Genome Array and revealed 300 transcripts with expression changes greater than twofold. Among these, the bioinformatics analysis identified 86 genes with known functions, most of which are involved in cellular development, cell death and survival, lipid homeostasis, and acute phase response signaling. RT-qPCR was performed on selected gene transcripts in order to validate the differential expression in infected animals versus controls. The results obtained with the microarray technology were confirmed and a gene signature was identified. In brief, HBB and HBA2 were down-regulated in infected macaques, whereas TTR, APOC1 and SERPINA3 were up-regulated.
Some genes involved in oxygen or lipid transport and in innate immunity were found to be dysregulated in prion infected macaques. These genes are known to be involved in other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Our results may facilitate the identification of potential disease biomarkers for many neurodegenerative diseases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-434) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4061447  PMID: 24898206
Prion diseases; BSE; Non-human primates; Neurodegeneration; Transcriptome; Microarray; RT-qPCR; Biomarker; Serpina3; Hemoglobin
3.  Dynamics of mRNA and polysomal abundance in early 3T3-L1 adipogenesis 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):381.
Adipogenesis is a complex process, in which immature pre-adipocytes change morphology, micro-anatomy and physiology to become mature adipocytes. These store and accumulate fat and release diverse hormones. Massive changes in protein content and protein composition of the transforming cell take place within a short time-frame.
In a previous study we analyzed changes in the abundance of free and polysomal, i.e. ribosome bound, RNAs in the first hours of adipogenesis in the murine cell line 3T3-L1. Here we analyze changes of mRNA levels and their potential contribution to the changing protein pool by determination of mRNA levels and ribosome binding to mRNAs in 3T3-L1 cells stimulated for adipogenesis. We grouped mRNA species into categories with respect to up- or down-regulated transcription and translation and analyzed the groups regarding specific functionalities based on Gene Ontology (GO).
A shift towards up-regulation of gene expression in early adipogenesis was detected. Genes up-regulated at the transcriptional (TC:up) and translational (TL:up) level (TC:up/TL:up) are very likely involved in control and logistics of translation. Many of them are known to contain a TOP motif. In the TC:up/TL:unchanged group we detected most of the metal binding proteins and metal transporters. In the TC:unchanged/TL:up group several factors of the olfactory receptor family were identified, while in TC:unchanged/TL:down methylation and repair genes are represented. In the TC:down/TL:up group we detected many signaling factors. The TC:down/TL:unchanged group mainly consists of regulatory factors.
Within the first hours of adipogenesis, changes in transcriptional and translational regulation take place. Notably, genes with a specific biological or molecular function tend to cluster in groups according to their transcriptional and translational regulation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-381) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4039748  PMID: 24886538
Adipogenesis; Transcription; Translation; 3T3-L1 pre-adipocytes; Gene ontology; Gene enrichment; Differential expression; TOP motif
4.  Transcriptional Repression of Hox Genes by C. elegans HP1/HPL and H1/HIS-24 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(9):e1002940.
Elucidation of the biological role of linker histone (H1) and heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) in mammals has been difficult owing to the existence of a least 11 distinct H1 and three HP1 subtypes in mice. Caenorhabditis elegans possesses two HP1 homologues (HPL-1 and HPL-2) and eight H1 variants. Remarkably, one of eight H1 variants, HIS-24, is important for C. elegans development. Therefore we decided to analyse in parallel the transcriptional profiles of HIS-24, HPL-1/-2 deficient animals, and their phenotype, since hpl-1, hpl-2, and his-24 deficient nematodes are viable. Global transcriptional analysis of the double and triple mutants revealed that HPL proteins and HIS-24 play gene-specific roles, rather than a general repressive function. We showed that HIS-24 acts synergistically with HPL to allow normal reproduction, somatic gonad development, and vulval cell fate decision. Furthermore, the hpl-2; his-24 double mutant animals displayed abnormal development of the male tail and ectopic expression of C. elegans HOM-C/Hox genes (egl-5 and mab-5), which are involved in the developmental patterning of male mating structures. We found that HPL-2 and the methylated form of HIS-24 specifically interact with the histone H3 K27 region in the trimethylated state, and HIS-24 associates with the egl-5 and mab-5 genes. Our results establish the interplay between HPL-1/-2 and HIS-24 proteins in the regulation of positional identity in C. elegans males.
Author Summary
Linker histone (H1) and heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) play central roles in the formation of higher-order chromatin structure and gene expression. Recent studies have shown a physical interaction between H1 and HP1; however, the biological role of histone H1 and HP1 is not well understood. Additionally, the function of HP1 and H1 isoform interactions in any organism has not been addressed, mostly due to the lack of knockout alleles. Here, we investigate the role of HP1 and H1 in development using the nematode C. elegans as a model system. We focus on the underlying molecular mechanisms of gene co-regulation by H1 and HP1. We show that the loss of both HP1 and H1 alters the expression of a small subset of genes. C. elegans HP1 and H1 have an overlapping function in the same or parallel pathways where they regulate a shared target, the Hox genes.
PMCID: PMC3441639  PMID: 23028351
5.  Novel Roles of Caenorhabditis elegans Heterochromatin Protein HP1 and Linker Histone in the Regulation of Innate Immune Gene Expression 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2012;32(2):251-265.
Linker histone (H1) and heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) are essential components of heterochromatin which contribute to the transcriptional repression of genes. It has been shown that the methylation mark of vertebrate histone H1 is specifically recognized by the chromodomain of HP1. However, the exact biological role of linker histone binding to HP1 has not been determined. Here, we investigate the function of the Caenorhabditis elegans H1 variant HIS-24 and the HP1-like proteins HPL-1 and HPL-2 in the cooperative transcriptional regulation of immune-relevant genes. We provide the first evidence that HPL-1 interacts with HIS-24 monomethylated at lysine 14 (HIS-24K14me1) and associates in vivo with promoters of genes involved in antimicrobial response. We also report an increase in overall cellular levels and alterations in the distribution of HIS-24K14me1 after infection with pathogenic bacteria. HIS-24K14me1 localization changes from being mostly nuclear to both nuclear and cytoplasmic in the intestinal cells of infected animals. Our results highlight an antimicrobial role of HIS-24K14me1 and suggest a functional link between epigenetic regulation by an HP1/H1 complex and the innate immune system in C. elegans.
PMCID: PMC3255762  PMID: 22083954
6.  Novel polysome messages and changes in translational activity appear after induction of adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells 
Control of translation allows for rapid adaptation of the cell to stimuli, rather than the slower transcriptional control. We presume that translational control is an essential process in the control of adipogenesis, especially in the first hours after hormonal stimulation. 3T3-L1 preadipocytes were cultured to confluency and adipogenesis was induced by standard protocols using a hormonal cocktail. Cells were harvested before and 6 hours after hormonal induction. mRNAs attached to ribosomes (polysomal mRNAs) were separated from unbound mRNAs by velocity sedimentation. Pools of polysomal and unbound mRNA fractions were analyzed by microarray analysis. Changes in relative abundance in unbound and polysomal mRNA pools were calculated to detect putative changes in translational activity. Changes of expression levels of selected genes were verified by qPCR and Western blotting.
We identified 43 genes that shifted towards the polysomal fraction (up-regulated) and 2 genes that shifted towards free mRNA fraction (down-regulated). Interestingly, we found Ghrelin to be down-regulated. Up-regulated genes comprise factors that are nucleic acid binding (eIF4B, HSF1, IRF6, MYC, POLR2a, RPL18, RPL27a, RPL6, RPL7a, RPS18, RPSa, TSC22d3), form part of ribosomes (RPL18, RPL27a, RPL6, RPL7a, RPS18, RPSa), act on the regulation of translation (eIF4B) or transcription (HSF1, IRF6, MYC, TSC22d3). Others act as chaperones (BAG3, HSPA8, HSP90ab1) or in other metabolic or signals transducing processes.
We conclude that a moderate reorganisation of the functionality of the ribosomal machinery and translational activity are very important steps for growth and gene expression control in the initial phase of adipogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3347988  PMID: 22436005
7.  Expression Profiling of Major Histocompatibility and Natural Killer Complex Genes Reveals Candidates for Controlling Risk of Graft versus Host Disease 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16582.
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is the most important genomic region that contributes to the risk of graft versus host disease (GVHD) after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Matching of MHC class I and II genes is essential for the success of transplantation. However, the MHC contains additional genes that also contribute to the risk of developing acute GVHD. It is difficult to identify these genes by genetic association studies alone due to linkage disequilibrium in this region. Therefore, we aimed to identify MHC genes and other genes involved in the pathophysiology of GVHD by mRNA expression profiling.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To reduce the complexity of the task, we used genetically well-defined rat inbred strains and a rat skin explant assay, an in-vitro-model of the graft versus host reaction (GVHR), to analyze the expression of MHC, natural killer complex (NKC), and other genes in cutaneous GVHR. We observed a statistically significant and strong up or down regulation of 11 MHC, 6 NKC, and 168 genes encoded in other genomic regions, i.e. 4.9%, 14.0%, and 2.6% of the tested genes respectively. The regulation of 7 selected MHC and 3 NKC genes was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR and in independent skin explant assays. In addition, similar regulations of most of the selected genes were observed in GVHD-affected skin lesions of transplanted rats and in human skin explant assays.
We identified rat and human MHC and NKC genes that are regulated during GVHR in skin explant assays and could therefore serve as biomarkers for GVHD. Several of the respective human genes, including HLA-DMB, C2, AIF1, SPR1, UBD, and OLR1, are polymorphic. These candidates may therefore contribute to the genetic risk of GVHD in patients.
PMCID: PMC3030590  PMID: 21305040
8.  Impact of RNA degradation on gene expression profiling 
BMC Medical Genomics  2010;3:36.
Gene expression profiling is a highly sensitive technique which is used for profiling tumor samples for medical prognosis. RNA quality and degradation influence the analysis results of gene expression profiles. The impact of this influence on the profiles and its medical impact is not fully understood. As patient samples are very valuable for clinical studies, it is necessary to establish criteria for the RNA quality to be able to use these samples in later analysis.
To investigate the effects of RNA integrity on gene expression profiling, whole genome expression arrays were used. We used tumor biopsies from patients diagnosed with locally advanced rectal cancer. To simulate degradation, the isolated total RNA of all patients was subjected to heat-induced degradation in a time-dependent manner. Expression profiling was then performed and data were analyzed bioinformatically to assess the differences.
The differences introduced by RNA degradation were largely outweighed by the biological differences between the patients. Only a relatively small number of probes (275 out of 41,000) show a significant effect due to degradation. The genes that show the strongest effect due to RNA degradation were, especially, those with short mRNAs and probe positions near the 5' end.
Degraded RNA from tumor samples (RIN > 5) can still be used to perform gene expression analysis. A much higher biological variance between patients is observed compared to the effect that is imposed by degradation of RNA. Nevertheless there are genes, very short ones and those with the probe binding side close to the 5' end that should be excluded from gene expression analysis when working with degraded RNA. These results are limited to the Agilent 44 k microarray platform and should be carefully interpreted when transferring to other settings.
PMCID: PMC2927474  PMID: 20696062
9.  PADI4 acts as a coactivator of Tal1 by counteracting repressive histone arginine methylation 
Nature Communications  2014;5:3995.
The transcription factor Tal1 is a critical activator or repressor of gene expression in hematopoiesis and leukaemia. The mechanism by which Tal1 differentially influences transcription of distinct genes is not fully understood. Here we show that Tal1 interacts with the peptidylarginine deiminase IV (PADI4). We demonstrate that PADI4 can act as an epigenetic coactivator through influencing H3R2me2a. At the Tal1/PADI4 target gene IL6ST the repressive H3R2me2a mark triggered by PRMT6 is counteracted by PADI4, which augments the active H3K4me3 mark and thus increases IL6ST expression. In contrast, at the CTCF promoter PADI4 acts as a repressor. We propose that the influence of PADI4 on IL6ST transcription plays a role in the control of IL6ST expression during lineage differentiation of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. These results open the possibility to pharmacologically influence Tal1 in leukaemia.
Peptidylarginine deiminase 4 (PADI4) is a transcriptional co-regulator that converts arginine residues at histone tails to citrulline. The authors show that PADI4 interacts with the central haematopoietic transcription factor TAL1 to regulate gene expression in an erythroleukemia cell line.
PMCID: PMC4050257  PMID: 24874575

Results 1-9 (9)