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1.  Annotating non-coding transcription using functional genomics strategies 
Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) transcripts are RNA molecules that do not code for proteins, but elicit function by other mechanisms. The vast majority of RNA produced in a cell is non-coding ribosomal RNA, produced from relatively few loci, however more recently complementary DNA (cDNA) cloning, tag sequencing, and genome tiling array studies suggest that ncRNAs also account for the majority of RNA species produced by a cell. ncRNA based regulation has been referred to as a ‘hidden layer’ of signals or ‘dark matter’ that control gene expression in cellular processes by poorly described mechanisms. These terms have appeared as ncRNAs until recently have been ignored by expression profiling and cDNA annotation projects and their mode of action is diverse (e.g. influencing chromatin structure and epigenetics, translational silencing, transcriptional silencing). Here, we highlight recent functional genomics strategies toward identifying and assigning function to ncRNA transcription.
doi:10.1093/bfgp/elp041
PMCID: PMC2762128  PMID: 19833699
non-coding RNA; Sequencing; transcription; annotation
3.  A transient disruption of fibroblastic transcriptional regulatory network facilitates trans-differentiation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(14):8905-8913.
Transcriptional Regulatory Networks (TRNs) coordinate multiple transcription factors (TFs) in concert to maintain tissue homeostasis and cellular function. The re-establishment of target cell TRNs has been previously implicated in direct trans-differentiation studies where the newly introduced TFs switch on a set of key regulatory factors to induce de novo expression and function. However, the extent to which TRNs in starting cell types, such as dermal fibroblasts, protect cells from undergoing cellular reprogramming remains largely unexplored. In order to identify TFs specific to maintaining the fibroblast state, we performed systematic knockdown of 18 fibroblast-enriched TFs and analyzed differential mRNA expression against the same 18 genes, building a Matrix-RNAi. The resulting expression matrix revealed seven highly interconnected TFs. Interestingly, suppressing four out of seven TFs generated lipid droplets and induced PPARG and CEBPA expression in the presence of adipocyte-inducing medium only, while negative control knockdown cells maintained fibroblastic character in the same induction regime. Global gene expression analyses further revealed that the knockdown-induced adipocytes expressed genes associated with lipid metabolism and significantly suppressed fibroblast genes. Overall, this study reveals the critical role of the TRN in protecting cells against aberrant reprogramming, and demonstrates the vulnerability of donor cell's TRNs, offering a novel strategy to induce transgene-free trans-differentiations.
doi:10.1093/nar/gku567
PMCID: PMC4132712  PMID: 25013174
4.  CCL2 enhances pluripotency of human induced pluripotent stem cells by activating hypoxia related genes 
Scientific Reports  2014;4:5228.
Standard culture of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) requires basic Fibroblast Growth Factor (bFGF) to maintain the pluripotent state, whereas hiPSC more closely resemble epiblast stem cells than true naïve state ES which requires LIF to maintain pluripotency. Here we show that chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) enhances the expression of pluripotent marker genes through the phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) protein. Moreover, comparison of transcriptomes between hiPSCs cultured with CCL2 versus with bFGF, we found that CCL2 activates hypoxia related genes, suggesting that CCL2 enhanced pluripotency by inducing a hypoxic-like response. Further, we show that hiPSCs cultured with CCL2 can differentiate at a higher efficiency than culturing with just bFGF and we show CCL2 can be used in feeder-free conditions in the absence of LIF. Taken together, our finding indicates the novel functions of CCL2 in enhancing its pluripotency in hiPSCs.
doi:10.1038/srep05228
PMCID: PMC4067614  PMID: 24957798
5.  Transcriptional profiling of the human fibrillin/LTBP gene family, key regulators of mesenchymal cell functions 
The fibrillins and latent transforming growth factor binding proteins (LTBPs) form a superfamily of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins characterized by the presence of a unique domain, the 8-cysteine transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) binding domain. These proteins are involved in the structure of the extracellular matrix and controlling the bioavailability of TGFβ family members. Genes encoding these proteins show differential expression in mesenchymal cell types which synthesize the extracellular matrix. We have investigated the promoter regions of the seven gene family members using the FANTOM5 CAGE database for human. While the protein and nucleotide sequences show considerable sequence similarity, the promoter regions were quite diverse. Most genes had a single predominant transcription start site region but LTBP1 and LTBP4 had two regions initiating different transcripts. Most of the family members were expressed in a range of mesenchymal and other cell types, often associated with use of alternative promoters or transcription start sites within a promoter in different cell types. FBN3 was the lowest expressed gene, and was found only in embryonic and fetal tissues. The different promoters for one gene were more similar to each other in expression than to promoters of the other family members. Notably expression of all 22 LTBP2 promoters was tightly correlated and quite distinct from all other family members. We located candidate enhancer regions likely to be involved in expression of the genes. Each gene was associated with a unique subset of transcription factors across multiple promoters although several motifs including MAZ, SP1, GTF2I and KLF4 showed overrepresentation across the gene family. FBN1 and FBN2, which had similar expression patterns, were regulated by different transcription factors. This study highlights the role of alternative transcription start sites in regulating the tissue specificity of closely related genes and suggests that this important class of extracellular matrix proteins is subject to subtle regulatory variations that explain the differential roles of members of this gene family.
Highlights
•We examine expression, promoter use and enhancers for the fibrillin/LTBP gene family.•Promoter switching was observed for most family members.•Multiple enhancers were identified for all family members.•Family members overlapped in tissue specificity with some unique expression patterns.•A degree of redundancy among family members is possible.
doi:10.1016/j.ymgme.2013.12.006
PMCID: PMC4019825  PMID: 24703491
FANTOM, Functional Annotation of Mammals; CAGE, cap analysis of gene expression; ECM, extracellular matrix; TB domain, latent transforming growth factor β binding domain; Fibrillin; Latent transforming growth factor β binding protein; Transcription start sites; Gene regulation; Extracellular matrix; Promoter
6.  The Evolution of Human Cells in Terms of Protein Innovation 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2014;31(6):1364-1374.
Humans are composed of hundreds of cell types. As the genomic DNA of each somatic cell is identical, cell type is determined by what is expressed and when. Until recently, little has been reported about the determinants of human cell identity, particularly from the joint perspective of gene evolution and expression. Here, we chart the evolutionary past of all documented human cell types via the collective histories of proteins, the principal product of gene expression. FANTOM5 data provide cell-type–specific digital expression of human protein-coding genes and the SUPERFAMILY resource is used to provide protein domain annotation. The evolutionary epoch in which each protein was created is inferred by comparison with domain annotation of all other completely sequenced genomes. Studying the distribution across epochs of genes expressed in each cell type reveals insights into human cellular evolution in terms of protein innovation. For each cell type, its history of protein innovation is charted based on the genes it expresses. Combining the histories of all cell types enables us to create a timeline of cell evolution. This timeline identifies the possibility that our common ancestor Coelomata (cavity-forming animals) provided the innovation required for the innate immune system, whereas cells which now form the brain of human have followed a trajectory of continually accumulating novel proteins since Opisthokonta (boundary of animals and fungi). We conclude that exaptation of existing domain architectures into new contexts is the dominant source of cell-type–specific domain architectures.
doi:10.1093/molbev/mst139
PMCID: PMC4032124  PMID: 24692656
CAGE; transcriptome; protein domains; evolution
7.  Ceruloplasmin Is a Novel Adipokine Which Is Overexpressed in Adipose Tissue of Obese Subjects and in Obesity-Associated Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e80274.
Obesity confers an increased risk of developing specific cancer forms. Although the mechanisms are unclear, increased fat cell secretion of specific proteins (adipokines) may promote/facilitate development of malignant tumors in obesity via cross-talk between adipose tissue(s) and the tissues prone to develop cancer among obese. We searched for novel adipokines that were overexpressed in adipose tissue of obese subjects as well as in tumor cells derived from cancers commonly associated with obesity. For this purpose expression data from human adipose tissue of obese and non-obese as well as from a large panel of human cancer cell lines and corresponding primary cells and tissues were explored. We found expression of ceruloplasmin to be the most enriched in obesity-associated cancer cells. This gene was also significantly up-regulated in adipose tissue of obese subjects. Ceruloplasmin is the body's main copper carrier and is involved in angiogenesis. We demonstrate that ceruloplasmin is a novel adipokine, which is produced and secreted at increased rates in obesity. In the obese state, adipose tissue contributed markedly (up to 22%) to the total circulating protein level. In summary, we have through bioinformatic screening identified ceruloplasmin as a novel adipokine with increased expression in adipose tissue of obese subjects as well as in cells from obesity-associated cancers. Whether there is a causal relationship between adipose overexpression of ceruloplasmin and cancer development in obesity cannot be answered by these cross-sectional comparisons.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080274
PMCID: PMC3968011  PMID: 24676332
8.  Automated Workflow for Preparation of cDNA for Cap Analysis of Gene Expression on a Single Molecule Sequencer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30809.
Background
Cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE) is a 5′ sequence tag technology to globally determine transcriptional starting sites in the genome and their expression levels and has most recently been adapted to the HeliScope single molecule sequencer. Despite significant simplifications in the CAGE protocol, it has until now been a labour intensive protocol.
Methodology
In this study we set out to adapt the protocol to a robotic workflow, which would increase throughput and reduce handling. The automated CAGE cDNA preparation system we present here can prepare 96 ‘HeliScope ready’ CAGE cDNA libraries in 8 days, as opposed to 6 weeks by a manual operator.We compare the results obtained using the same RNA in manual libraries and across multiple automation batches to assess reproducibility.
Conclusions
We show that the sequencing was highly reproducible and comparable to manual libraries with an 8 fold increase in productivity. The automated CAGE cDNA preparation system can prepare 96 CAGE sequencing samples simultaneously. Finally we discuss how the system could be used for CAGE on Illumina/SOLiD platforms, RNA-seq and full-length cDNA generation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030809
PMCID: PMC3268765  PMID: 22303458
9.  LRRN4 and UPK3B Are Markers of Primary Mesothelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25391.
Background
Mesothelioma is a highly malignant tumor that is primarily caused by occupational or environmental exposure to asbestos fibers. Despite worldwide restrictions on asbestos usage, further cases are expected as diagnosis is typically 20–40 years after exposure. Once diagnosed there is a very poor prognosis with a median survival rate of 9 months. Considering this the development of early pre clinical diagnostic markers may help improve clinical outcomes.
Methodology
Microarray expression arrays on mesothelium and other tissues dissected from mice were used to identify candidate mesothelial lineage markers. Candidates were further tested by qRTPCR and in-situ hybridization across a mouse tissue panel. Two candidate biomarkers with the potential for secretion, uroplakin 3B (UPK3B), and leucine rich repeat neuronal 4 (LRRN4) and one commercialized mesothelioma marker, mesothelin (MSLN) were then chosen for validation across a panel of normal human primary cells, 16 established mesothelioma cell lines, 10 lung cancer lines, and a further set of 8 unrelated cancer cell lines.
Conclusions
Within the primary cell panel, LRRN4 was only detected in primary mesothelial cells, but MSLN and UPK3B were also detected in other cell types. MSLN was detected in bronchial epithelial cells and alveolar epithelial cells and UPK3B was detected in retinal pigment epithelial cells and urothelial cells. Testing the cell line panel, MSLN was detected in 15 of the 16 mesothelioma cells lines, whereas LRRN4 was only detected in 8 and UPK3B in 6. Interestingly MSLN levels appear to be upregulated in the mesothelioma lines compared to the primary mesothelial cells, while LRRN4 and UPK3B, are either lost or down-regulated. Despite the higher fraction of mesothelioma lines positive for MSLN, it was also detected at high levels in 2 lung cancer lines and 3 other unrelated cancer lines derived from papillotubular adenocarcinoma, signet ring carcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025391
PMCID: PMC3184985  PMID: 21984916
10.  Update of the FANTOM web resource: from mammalian transcriptional landscape to its dynamic regulation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D856-D860.
The international Functional Annotation Of the Mammalian Genomes 4 (FANTOM4) research collaboration set out to better understand the transcriptional network that regulates macrophage differentiation and to uncover novel components of the transcriptome employing a series of high-throughput experiments. The primary and unique technique is cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE), sequencing mRNA 5′-ends with a second-generation sequencer to quantify promoter activities even in the absence of gene annotation. Additional genome-wide experiments complement the setup including short RNA sequencing, microarray gene expression profiling on large-scale perturbation experiments and ChIP–chip for epigenetic marks and transcription factors. All the experiments are performed in a differentiation time course of the THP-1 human leukemic cell line. Furthermore, we performed a large-scale mammalian two-hybrid (M2H) assay between transcription factors and monitored their expression profile across human and mouse tissues with qRT-PCR to address combinatorial effects of regulation by transcription factors. These interdependent data have been analyzed individually and in combination with each other and are published in related but distinct papers. We provide all data together with systematic annotation in an integrated view as resource for the scientific community (http://fantom.gsc.riken.jp/4/). Additionally, we assembled a rich set of derived analysis results including published predicted and validated regulatory interactions. Here we introduce the resource and its update after the initial release.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq1112
PMCID: PMC3013704  PMID: 21075797
11.  Building promoter aware transcriptional regulatory networks using siRNA perturbation and deepCAGE 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(22):8141-8148.
Perturbation and time-course data sets, in combination with computational approaches, can be used to infer transcriptional regulatory networks which ultimately govern the developmental pathways and responses of cells. Here, we individually knocked down the four transcription factors PU.1, IRF8, MYB and SP1 in the human monocyte leukemia THP-1 cell line and profiled the genome-wide transcriptional response of individual transcription starting sites using deep sequencing based Cap Analysis of Gene Expression. From the proximal promoter regions of the responding transcription starting sites, we derived de novo binding-site motifs, characterized their biological function and constructed a network. We found a previously described composite motif for PU.1 and IRF8 that explains the overlapping set of transcriptional responses upon knockdown of either factor.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkq729
PMCID: PMC3001087  PMID: 20724440
12.  MiR-107 and MiR-185 Can Induce Cell Cycle Arrest in Human Non Small Cell Lung Cancer Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6677.
Background
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short single stranded noncoding RNAs that suppress gene expression through either translational repression or degradation of target mRNAs. The annealing between messenger RNAs and 5′ seed region of miRNAs is believed to be essential for the specific suppression of target gene expression. One miRNA can have several hundred different targets in a cell. Rapidly accumulating evidence suggests that many miRNAs are involved in cell cycle regulation and consequentially play critical roles in carcinogenesis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Introduction of synthetic miR-107 or miR-185 suppressed growth of the human non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Flow cytometry analysis revealed these miRNAs induce a G1 cell cycle arrest in H1299 cells and the suppression of cell cycle progression is stronger than that by Let-7 miRNA. By the gene expression analyses with oligonucleotide microarrays, we find hundreds of genes are affected by transfection of these miRNAs. Using miRNA-target prediction analyses and the array data, we listed up a set of likely targets of miR-107 and miR-185 for G1 cell cycle arrest and validate a subset of them using real-time RT-PCR and immunoblotting for CDK6.
Conclusions/Significance
We identified new cell cycle regulating miRNAs, miR-107 and miR-185, localized in frequently altered chromosomal regions in human lung cancers. Especially for miR-107, a large number of down-regulated genes are annotated with the gene ontology term ‘cell cycle’. Our results suggest that these miRNAs may contribute to regulate cell cycle in human malignant tumors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006677
PMCID: PMC2722734  PMID: 19688090
13.  Transcript Annotation in FANTOM3: Mouse Gene Catalog Based on Physical cDNAs 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(4):e62.
The international FANTOM consortium aims to produce a comprehensive picture of the mammalian transcriptome, based upon an extensive cDNA collection and functional annotation of full-length enriched cDNAs. The previous dataset, FANTOM2, comprised 60,770 full-length enriched cDNAs. Functional annotation revealed that this cDNA dataset contained only about half of the estimated number of mouse protein-coding genes, indicating that a number of cDNAs still remained to be collected and identified. To pursue the complete gene catalog that covers all predicted mouse genes, cloning and sequencing of full-length enriched cDNAs has been continued since FANTOM2. In FANTOM3, 42,031 newly isolated cDNAs were subjected to functional annotation, and the annotation of 4,347 FANTOM2 cDNAs was updated. To accomplish accurate functional annotation, we improved our automated annotation pipeline by introducing new coding sequence prediction programs and developed a Web-based annotation interface for simplifying the annotation procedures to reduce manual annotation errors. Automated coding sequence and function prediction was followed with manual curation and review by expert curators. A total of 102,801 full-length enriched mouse cDNAs were annotated. Out of 102,801 transcripts, 56,722 were functionally annotated as protein coding (including partial or truncated transcripts), providing to our knowledge the greatest current coverage of the mouse proteome by full-length cDNAs. The total number of distinct non-protein-coding transcripts increased to 34,030. The FANTOM3 annotation system, consisting of automated computational prediction, manual curation, and final expert curation, facilitated the comprehensive characterization of the mouse transcriptome, and could be applied to the transcriptomes of other species.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020062
PMCID: PMC1449903  PMID: 16683036

Results 1-13 (13)