Chromatin is composed of DNA and a variety of modified histones and non-histone proteins, which impact cell differentiation, gene regulation and other key cellular processes. We present a genome-wide chromatin landscape for Drosophila melanogaster based on 18 histone modifications, summarized by 9 prevalent combinatorial patterns. Integrative analysis with other data (non-histone chromatin proteins, DNaseI hypersensitivity, GRO-seq reads produced by engaged polymerase, short/long RNA products) reveals discrete characteristics of chromosomes, genes, regulatory elements, and other functional domains. We find that active genes display distinct chromatin signatures that are correlated with disparate gene lengths, exon patterns, regulatory functions, and genomic contexts. We also demonstrate a diversity of signatures among Polycomb targets that include a subset with paused polymerase. This systematic profiling and integrative analysis of chromatin signatures provides insights into how genomic elements are regulated, and will serve as a resource for future experimental investigations of genome structure and function.
Polycomb group (PcG)-mediated repression is an evolutionarily conserved process critical for cell fate determination and maintenance of gene expression during embryonic development. However, the mechanisms underlying PcG recruitment in mammals remain unclear since few regulatory sites have been identified. We report two novel prospective PcG-dependent regulatory elements within the human HOXB and HOXC clusters and compare their repressive activities to a previously identified element in the HOXD cluster. These regions recruited the PcG proteins BMI1 and SUZ12 to a reporter construct in mesenchymal stem cells and conferred repression that was dependent upon PcG expression. Furthermore, we examined the potential of two DNA-binding proteins, JARID2 and YY1, to regulate PcG activity at these three elements. JARID2 has differential requirements, whereas YY1 appears to be required for repressive activity at all 3 sites. We conclude that distinct elements of the mammalian HOX clusters can recruit components of the PcG complexes and confer repression, similar to what has been seen in Drosophila. These elements, however, have diverse requirements for binding factors, which, combined with previous data on other loci, speaks to the complexity of PcG targeting in mammals.
Increased levels of hypoxia and hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1α) in human sarcomas correlate with tumor progression and radiation resistance. Prolonged anti-angiogenic therapy of tumors can delay tumor growth but may also increase hypoxia and HIF-1α activity. In our recent clinical trial, treatment with the anti-vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) antibody, bevacizumab, followed by a combination of bevacizumab and radiation led to near complete necrosis in nearly half of sarcomas. Gene set enrichment analysis of microarrays from pre-treatment biopsies found the Gene Ontology category “Response to hypoxia” was upregulated in poor responders, and hierarchical clustering based on 140 hypoxia-responsive genes reliably separated poor responders from good responders. The most commonly used chemotherapeutic drug for sarcomas, doxorubicin (Dox), was recently found to block HIF-1α binding to DNA at low metronomic doses. In 4 sarcoma cell lines, HIF-1 shRNA or Dox at low concentrations blocked HIF-1α induction of VEGF-A by 84–97%, and carbonic anhydrase 9 by 83–93%. HT1080 sarcoma xenografts had increased hypoxia and/or HIF-1α activity with increasing tumor size and with anti-VEGF receptor antibody (DC101) treatment. Combining DC101 with HIF-1α shRNA or metronomic Dox had a synergistic effect in suppressing growth of HT1080 xenografts, at least in part via induction of tumor endothelial cell apoptosis. In conclusion, sarcomas respond to increased hypoxia by expressing HIF-1α-target genes which may promote resistance to anti-angiogenic and other therapies. Adding HIF-1α inhibition blocks resistance and augments destruction of the tumor vasculature.
Aberrant activation of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway can drive tumorigenesis1. To investigate the mechanism by which glioma-associated oncogene family zinc finger-1 (GLI1), a crucial effector of Hh signaling2, regulates Hh pathway activation, we searched for GLI1-interacting proteins. We report that the chromatin remodeling protein SNF5 (encoded by SMARCB1, hereafter called SNF5), which is inactivated in human malignant rhabdoid tumors (MRTs), interacts with GLI1. We show that Snf5 localizes to Gli1-regulated promoters and that loss of Snf5 leads to activation of the Hh-Gli pathway. Conversely, re-expression of SNF5 in MRT cells represses GLI1. Consistent with this, we show the presence of a Hh-Gli–activated gene expression profile in primary MRTs and show that GLI1 drives the growth of SNF5-deficient MRT cells in vitro and in vivo. Therefore, our studies reveal that SNF5 is a key mediator of Hh signaling and that aberrant activation of GLI1 is a previously undescribed targetable mechanism contributing to the growth of MRT cells.
Dosage compensation in Drosophila is mediated by the MSL complex, which increases male X-linked gene expression approximately two-fold. The MSL complex preferentially binds the bodies of active genes on the male X, depositing H4K16ac with a 3′ bias. Two models have been proposed for the influence of the MSL complex on transcription: one based on promoter recruitment of RNA polymerase II (Pol II), and a second featuring enhanced transcriptional elongation. Here we utilize nascent RNA-sequencing to document dosage compensation during transcriptional elongation. We also compare X and autosomes from published data on paused and elongating polymerase to assess the role of Pol II recruitment. Our results support a model for differentially regulated elongation, starting with release from 5′ pausing and increasing through X-linked gene bodies. Our results highlight facilitated transcriptional elongation as a key mechanism for coordinated regulation of a diverse set of genes.
pluripotent stem cells; reprogramming; epigenetics; chromatin interactions; chromosome conformation capture
Sequence-directed mapping of nucleosome positions is of major biological interest. Here, we present a web-interface for estimation of the affinity of the histone core to DNA and prediction of nucleosome arrangement on a given sequence. Our approach is based on assessment of the energy cost of imposing the deformations required to wrap DNA around the histone surface. The interface allows the user to specify a number of options such as selecting from several structural templates for threading calculations and adding random sequences to the analysis.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous noncoding RNA molecules that are involved in post-transcriptional gene silencing. Using global miRNA expression profiling, we found miR-21, -155, and 18a to be highly upregulated in rat kidneys following tubular injury induced by ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) or gentamicin administration. Mir-21 and -155 also showed decreased expression patterns in blood and urinary supernatants in both models of kidney injury. Furthermore, urinary levels of miR-21 increased 1.2-fold in patients with clinical diagnosis of acute kidney injury (AKI) (n = 22) as compared with healthy volunteers (n = 25) (p < 0.05), and miR-155 decreased 1.5-fold in patients with AKI (p < 0.01). We identified 29 messenger RNA core targets of these 3 miRNAs using the context likelihood of relatedness algorithm and found these predicted gene targets to be highly enriched for genes associated with apoptosis or cell proliferation. Taken together, these results suggest that miRNA-21 and -155 could potentially serve as translational biomarkers for detection of AKI and may play a critical role in the pathogenesis of kidney injury and tissue repair process.
MicroRNAs; kidney; biomarker; ischemia/reperfusion injury; nephrotoxicity.
Regulatory regions maintain nucleosome-depleted, open chromatin status but simultaneously require the presence of nucleosomes for specific histone modifications. It remains unclear how these can be achieved for proper regulatory function. Here we demonstrate that nucleosomes positioned within accessible chromatin regions near the boundaries provide platforms for histone modifications while preventing the occlusion of regulatory elements. These boundary nucleosomes were particularly enriched for active or poised regulatory marks in human, such as histone acetylations, H3K4 methylations, H3K9me3, H3K79me2, and H4K20me1. Additionally, we found that based on a genome-wide profiling of ∼100 recombinant yeast strains, the location of open chromatin borders tends to vary mostly within 150 bp upon genetic perturbation whereas this positional variation increases in proportion to the sequence preferences of the underlying DNA for nucleosome formation. More than 40% of the local boundary shifts were associated with genetic variation in cis- or trans-acting factors. A sizeable fraction of the identified genetic factors was also associated with nearby gene expression, which was correlated with the distance between the transcription start site (tss) and the boundary that faces the tss. Taken together, the variation in the width of accessible chromatin regions may arise in conjunction with the modulation of the boundary nucleosomes by post-translational modifications or by chromatin regulators and in association with the activity of nearby gene transcription.
Open chromatin formation and regulation are intimately coupled with nucleosome remodelling and modification. Regulatory regions such as promoters and enhancers maintain nucleosome-free, open chromatin states whilst at the same time the presence of nucleosomes is required for specific histone modifications. In this work, we carried out detailed analyses of our data of open chromatin maps for ∼100 different yeast strains and whole-genome nucleosome occupancy along with the public data of open chromatin and nucleosome positioning in human generated in the ENCODE project. We observed nucleosomes positioned within accessible chromatin regions near their boundaries. These boundary nucleosomes appeared to carry various histone methylations without hampering the binding of DNA regulators and sequence preferences for these nucleosomes were associated with variation in the width of accessible chromatin. The end positions of open chromatin domains, particularly with high intrinsic preferences for nucleosome formation, were more flexible than the middle point, changing mostly within 150 bp upon genetic perturbation. By using quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, we identified genetic variants that are associated with the variation in the width of open chromatin and examined its relationship with nearby gene expression.
Variation in chromatin composition and organization often reflects differences in genome function. Histone variants, for example, replace canonical histones to contribute to regulation of numerous nuclear processes including transcription, DNA repair and chromosome segregation. Here we focus on H2A.Bbd, a rapidly evolving variant found in mammals but not in invertebrates. We report that in human cells, nucleosomes bearing H2A.Bbd form unconventional chromatin structures enriched within actively transcribed genes and characterized by shorter DNA protection and nucleosome spacing. Analysis of transcriptional profiles from cells depleted for H2A.Bbd demonstrated widespread changes in gene expression with a net down-regulation of transcription and disruption of normal mRNA splicing patterns. In particular, we observed changes in exon inclusion rates and increased presence of intronic sequences in mRNA products upon H2A.Bbd depletion. Taken together, our results indicate that H2A.Bbd is involved in formation of a specific chromatin structure that facilitates both transcription and initial mRNA processing.
Urothelial carcinoma (UC) causes substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying urothelial cancer development and tumor progression are still largely unknown. Using informatics analysis, we identified Sh3gl2 (endophilin A1) as a bladder urothelium-enriched transcript. The gene encoding Sh3gl2 is located on chromosome 9p, a region frequently altered in UC. Sh3gl2 is known to regulate endocytosis of receptor tyrosine kinases implicated in oncogenesis, such as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and c-Met. However, its role in UC pathogenesis is unknown. Informatics analysis of expression profiles as well as immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays revealed Sh3gl2 expression to be decreased in UC specimens compared to nontumor tissues. Loss of Sh3gl2 was associated with increasing tumor grade and with muscle invasion, which is a reliable predictor of metastatic disease and cancer-derived mortality. Sh3gl2 expression was undetectable in 19 of 20 human UC cell lines but preserved in the low-grade cell line RT4. Stable silencing of Sh3gl2 in RT4 cells by RNA interference 1) enhanced proliferation and colony formation in vitro, 2) inhibited EGF-induced EGFR internalization and increased EGFR activation, 3) stimulated phosphorylation of Src family kinases and STAT3, and 4) promoted growth of RT4 xenografts in subrenal capsule tissue recombination experiments. Conversely, forced re-expression of Sh3gl2 in T24 cells and silenced RT4 clones attenuated oncogenic behaviors, including growth and migration. Together, these findings identify loss of Sh3gl2 as a frequent event in UC development that promotes disease progression.
Transposable elements (TEs) are abundant in the human genome, and some are capable of generating new insertions through RNA intermediates. In cancer, the disruption of cellular mechanisms that normally suppress TE activity may facilitate mutagenic retrotranspositions. We performed single-nucleotide resolution analysis of TE insertions in 43 high-coverage whole-genome sequencing data sets from five cancer types. We identified 194 high-confidence somatic TE insertions, as well as thousands of polymorphic TE insertions in matched normal genomes. Somatic insertions were present in epithelial tumors but not in blood or brain cancers. Somatic L1 insertions tend to occur in genes that are commonly mutated in cancer, disrupt the expression of the target genes, and are biased toward regions of cancer-specific DNA hypomethylation, highlighting their potential impact in tumorigenesis.
Uterine leiomyomata (UL), the most common neoplasm in reproductive-age women, are classified into distinct genetic subgroups based on recurrent chromosome abnormalities. To develop a molecular signature of UL with t(12;14)(q14-q15;q23-q24), we took advantage of the multiple UL arising as independent clonal lesions within a single uterus. We compared genome-wide expression levels of t(12;14) UL to non-t(12;14) UL from each of nine women in a paired analysis, with each sample weighted for the percentage of t(12;14) cells to adjust for mosaicism with normal cells. This resulted in a transcriptional profile that confirmed HMGA2, known to be overexpressed in t(12;14) UL, as the most significantly altered gene. Pathway analysis of the differentially expressed genes showed significant association with cell proliferation, particularly G1/S checkpoint regulation. This is consistent with the known larger size of t(12;14) UL relative to karyotypically normal UL or to UL in the deletion 7q22 subgroup. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering demonstrated that patient variability is relatively dominant to the distinction of t(12;14) UL compared with non-t(12;14) UL or of t(12;14) UL compared with del(7q) UL. The paired design we employed is therefore important to produce an accurate t(12;14) UL-specific gene list by removing the confounding effects of genotype and environment. Interestingly, myometrium not only clustered away from the tumors, but generally separated based on associated t(12;14) versus del(7q) status. Nine genes were identified whose expression can distinguish the myometrium origin. This suggests an underlying constitutional genetic predisposition to these somatic changes which could potentially lead to improved personalized management and treatment.
The systematic identification of effective drug combinations has been hindered by the unavailability of methods that can explore the large combinatorial search space of drug interactions. Here we present a multiplex screening method named MuSIC (Multiplex Screening for Interacting Compounds), which expedites the comprehensive assessment of pair-wise compound interactions. We examined ~500,000 drug pairs from 1000 FDA-approved or clinically tested drugs and identified drugs that synergize to inhibit HIV replication. Our analysis reveals an enrichment of anti-inflammatory drugs in drug combinations that synergize against HIV, indicating HIV benefits from inflammation that accompanies its infection. Multiple drug pairs identified in this study, including glucocorticoid and nitazoxanide, synergize by targeting different steps of the HIV life cycle. As inflammation accompanies HIV infection, our findings indicate that inhibiting inflammation could curb HIV propagation. MuSIC can be applied to a wide variety of disease-relevant screens to facilitate efficient identification of compound combinations.
Combination therapy; FDA-approved drug library; HIV
A major unanswered question in neuroscience is whether there exists genomic variability between individual neurons of the brain, contributing to functional diversity or to an unexplained burden of neurological disease. To address this question, we developed a method to amplify genomes of single neurons from human brains. Since recent reports suggest frequent LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposition in human brains, we performed genome-wide L1 insertion profiling of 300 single neurons from cerebral cortex and caudate nucleus of 3 normal individuals, recovering >80% of germline insertions from single neurons. While we find somatic L1 insertions, we estimate <0.6 unique somatic insertions per neuron and most neurons lack detectable somatic insertions, suggesting that L1 is not a major generator of neuronal diversity in cortex and caudate. We then genotyped single cortical cells to characterize the mosaicism of a somatic AKT3 mutation identified in a child with hemimegalencephaly. Single-neuron sequencing allows systematic assessment of genomic diversity in the human brain.
Epigenetic mechanisms mediate heritable control of cell identity in normal cells and cancer. We sought to identify epigenetic regulators driving the pathogenesis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), one of the most lethal human cancers. We found that KDM2B (also known as Ndy1, FBXL10, and JHDM1B), an H3K36 histone demethylase implicated in bypass of cellular senescence and somatic cell reprogramming, is markedly overexpressed in human PDAC, with levels increasing with disease grade and stage, and highest expression in metastases. KDM2B silencing abrogated tumorigenicity of PDAC cell lines exhibiting loss of epithelial differentiation, whereas KDM2B overexpression cooperated with KrasG12D to promote PDAC formation in mouse models. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments coupled to genome-wide gene expression and ChIP studies revealed that KDM2B drives tumorigenicity through 2 different transcriptional mechanisms. KDM2B repressed developmental genes through cobinding with Polycomb group (PcG) proteins at transcriptional start sites, whereas it activated a module of metabolic genes, including mediators of protein synthesis and mitochondrial function, cobound by the MYC oncogene and the histone demethylase KDM5A. These results defined epigenetic programs through which KDM2B subverts cellular differentiation and drives the pathogenesis of an aggressive subset of PDAC.
The generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) often results in aberrant epigenetic silencing of the imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster, which compromises the cells’ ability to generate entirely iPSC-derived adult mice (“all-iPSC mice”). Here, we show that reprogramming in the presence of ascorbic acid attenuates hypermethylation of Dlk1-Dio3 by enabling a chromatin configuration that interferes with binding of the de novo DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a. This allowed us to generate all-iPSC mice from mature B cells, which have thus far failed to support the development of exclusively iPSC-derived postnatal animals. Our data demonstrate that transcription factor-mediated reprogramming can endow a defined, terminally differentiated cell type with a developmental potential equivalent to that of embryonic stem cells. More generally, these findings indicate that culture conditions during cellular reprogramming can strongly influence the epigenetic and biological properties of resultant iPSCs.
Based on mouse lens gene expression profiling, a systems tool was developed for identification of genes associated with human congenital cataract. iSyTE ranked 88% of known isolated congenital cataract–associated genes within the top two of all candidates in the originally mapped genomic intervals.
To facilitate the identification of genes associated with cataract and other ocular defects, the authors developed and validated a computational tool termed iSyTE (integrated Systems Tool for Eye gene discovery; http://bioinformatics.udel.edu/Research/iSyTE). iSyTE uses a mouse embryonic lens gene expression data set as a bioinformatics filter to select candidate genes from human or mouse genomic regions implicated in disease and to prioritize them for further mutational and functional analyses.
Microarray gene expression profiles were obtained for microdissected embryonic mouse lens at three key developmental time points in the transition from the embryonic day (E)10.5 stage of lens placode invagination to E12.5 lens primary fiber cell differentiation. Differentially regulated genes were identified by in silico comparison of lens gene expression profiles with those of whole embryo body (WB) lacking ocular tissue.
Gene set analysis demonstrated that this strategy effectively removes highly expressed but nonspecific housekeeping genes from lens tissue expression profiles, allowing identification of less highly expressed lens disease–associated genes. Among 24 previously mapped human genomic intervals containing genes associated with isolated congenital cataract, the mutant gene is ranked within the top two iSyTE-selected candidates in approximately 88% of cases. Finally, in situ hybridization confirmed lens expression of several novel iSyTE-identified genes.
iSyTE is a publicly available Web resource that can be used to prioritize candidate genes within mapped genomic intervals associated with congenital cataract for further investigation. Extension of this approach to other ocular tissue components will facilitate eye disease gene discovery.
Alternative mRNA splicing provides transcript diversity and may contribute to human disease. We demonstrate that expression of several genes regulating RNA processing is decreased in both liver and skeletal muscle of obese humans. We evaluated a representative splicing factor, SFRS10, down-regulated in both obese human liver and muscle and in high fat-fed mice, and determined metabolic impact of reduced expression. SFRS10-specific siRNA induces lipogenesis and lipid accumulation in hepatocytes. Moreover, Sfrs10 heterozygous mice have increased hepatic lipogenic gene expression, VLDL secretion, and plasma triglycerides. We demonstrate that LPIN1, a key regulator of lipid metabolism, is a splicing target of SFRS10; reduced SFRS10 favors the lipogenic β isoform of LPIN1. Importantly, LPIN1β-specific siRNA abolished lipogenic effects of decreased SFRS10 expression. Together, our results indicate that reduced expression of SFRS10, as observed in tissues from obese humans, alters LPIN1 splicing, induces lipogenesis, and therefore contributes to metabolic phenotypes associated with obesity.
Sex chromosome dosage compensation in Drosophila provides a model for understanding how chromatin organization can modulate coordinate gene regulation. Male Drosophila increase the transcript levels of genes on the single male X approximately two-fold to equal the gene expression in females, which have two X-chromosomes. Dosage compensation is mediated by the Male-Specific Lethal (MSL) histone acetyltransferase complex. Five core components of the MSL complex were identified by genetic screens for genes that are specifically required for male viability and are dispensable for females. However, because dosage compensation must interface with the general transcriptional machinery, it is likely that identifying additional regulators that are not strictly male-specific will be key to understanding the process at a mechanistic level. Such regulators would not have been recovered from previous male-specific lethal screening strategies. Therefore, we have performed a cell culture-based, genome-wide RNAi screen to search for factors required for MSL targeting or function. Here we focus on the discovery of proteins that function to promote MSL complex recruitment to “chromatin entry sites,” which are proposed to be the initial sites of MSL targeting. We find that components of the NSL (Non-specific lethal) complex, and a previously unstudied zinc-finger protein, facilitate MSL targeting and display a striking enrichment at MSL entry sites. Identification of these factors provides new insight into how MSL complex establishes the specialized hyperactive chromatin required for dosage compensation in Drosophila.
Gene regulation is essential to all living things. For example, levels of gene expression in individual cells must be fine-tuned during development and in response to changing environmental conditions. Genes are regulated by DNA binding proteins and by factors that influence DNA packaging into chromatin. The MSL complex in Drosophila melanogaster is a chromatin-modifying complex that specifically regulates a large number of genes. The MSL complex targets active genes on the single male X chromosome to upregulate their output to match both female X chromosomes. How the MSL complex specifically targets the X chromosome and upregulates active genes is only partially understood. In order to increase our understanding of gene regulation at a mechanistic level, we performed a genome-wide genetic screen in male cells to identify factors that facilitate MSL targeting and function. Our results identify two chromatin-associated protein complexes and a new candidate DNA binding protein as key factors in MSL–based regulation. We also provide an extensive list of additional candidate genes to be examined in future studies.
mRNA expression profiling has suggested the existence of multiple glioblastoma subclasses, but their number and characteristics vary among studies and the etiology underlying their development is unclear. In this study, we analyzed 261 microRNA expression profiles from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), identifying five clinically and genetically distinct subclasses of glioblastoma that each related to a different neural precursor cell type. These microRNA-based glioblastoma subclasses displayed microRNA and mRNA expression signatures resembling those of radial glia, oligoneuronal precursors, neuronal precursors, neuroepithelial/neural crest precursors or astrocyte precursors. Each subclass was determined to be genetically distinct, based on the significant differences they displayed in terms of patient race, age, treatment response and survival. We also identified several microRNAs as potent regulators of subclass-specific gene expression networks in glioblastoma. Foremost among these is miR-9, which suppresses mesenchymal differentiation in glioblastoma by downregulating expression of JAK kinases and inhibiting activation of STAT3. Our findings suggest that microRNAs are important determinants of glioblastoma subclasses through their ability to regulate developmental growth and differentiation programs in several transformed neural precursor cell types. Taken together, our results define developmental microRNA expression signatures that both characterize and contribute to the phenotypic diversity of glioblastoma subclasses, thereby providing an expanded framework for understanding the pathogenesis of glioblastoma in a human neurodevelopmental context.
MicroRNA; Microarray; Glioma; Tumor; Genome
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are essential for accurate axial body patterning during embryonic development. PcG-mediated repression is conserved in metazoans and is targeted in Drosophila by Polycomb response elements (PREs). However, targeting sequences in humans have not been described. While analyzing chromatin architecture in the context of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) differentiation, we discovered a 1.8kb region between HOXD11 and HOXD12 (D11.12) that is associated with PcG proteins, becomes nuclease hypersensitive, and then shows alteration in nuclease sensitivity as hESCs differentiate. The D11.12 element repressed luciferase expression from a reporter construct and full repression required a highly conserved region and YY1 binding sites. Furthermore, repression was dependent on the PcG proteins BMI1 and EED and a YY1-interacting partner, RYBP. We conclude that D11.12 is a Polycomb-dependent regulatory region with similarities to Drosophila PREs, indicating conservation in the mechanisms that target PcG function in mammals and flies.