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.
Aneuploidy has been recognized as a hallmark of cancer for more than 100 years, yet no general theory to explain the recurring patterns of aneuploidy in cancer has emerged. Here, we develop Tumor Suppressor and Oncogene (TUSON) Explorer, a computational method that analyzes the patterns of mutational signatures in tumors and predicts the likelihood that any individual gene functions as a tumor suppressor (TSG) or oncogene (OG). By analyzing >8,200 tumor-normal pairs, we provide statistical evidence suggesting that many more genes possess cancer driver properties than anticipated, forming a continuum of oncogenic potential. Integrating our driver predictions with information on somatic copy number alterations, we find that the distribution and potency of TSGs (STOP genes), OGs, and essential genes (GO genes) on chromosomes can predict the complex patterns of aneuploidy and copy number variation characteristic of cancer genomes. We propose that the cancer genome is shaped through a process of cumulative haploinsufficiency and triplosensitivity.
Dosage compensation in Drosophila is mediated by the MSL complex, which increases male X-linked gene expression approximately 2-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 in order 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 the coordinated regulation of a diverse set of genes.
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.
Spt6 is a highly conserved histone chaperone that interacts directly with both RNA polymerase II and histones to regulate gene expression. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the roles of Spt6, we performed genome-wide analyses of transcription, chromatin structure, and histone modifications in a Schizosaccharomyces pombe spt6 mutant. Our results demonstrate dramatic changes to transcription and chromatin structure in the mutant, including elevated antisense transcripts at >70% of all genes and general loss of the +1 nucleosome. Furthermore, Spt6 is required for marks associated with active transcription, including trimethylation of histone H3 on lysine 4, previously observed in humans but not Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and lysine 36. Taken together, our results indicate that Spt6 is critical for the accuracy of transcription and the integrity of chromatin, likely via its direct interactions with RNA polymerase II and histones.
The human genome encodes the blueprint of life, but the function of the vast majority of its nearly three billion bases is unknown. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has systematically mapped regions of transcription, transcription factor association, chromatin structure and histone modification. These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions. Many discovered candidate regulatory elements are physically associated with one another and with expressed genes, providing new insights into the mechanisms of gene regulation. The newly identified elements also show a statistical correspondence to sequence variants linked to human disease, and can thereby guide interpretation of this variation. Overall, the project provides new insights into the organization and regulation of our genes and genome, and is an expansive resource of functional annotations for biomedical research.
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.
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.
OBJECTIVE: Short bowel syndrome remains a condition of high morbidity and mortality, and current therapeutic options carry significant side effects. To identify new treatments we focused on postresection changes in microRNAs--short noncoding RNAs, which suppress target genes--and suggest a previously undiscovered role for microRNA-125a (mir-125a) in intestinal adaptation. METHODS: Rats underwent either 80% massive small bowel resection or transection and were harvested after 48 hours. Jejunum was harvested for microRNA microarrays, laser capture microdissection, and RNA and protein analysis. Mir-125a was overexpressed in intestinal epithelium-6 (crypt-derived) cells (IEC-6) and effects on proliferation and apoptosis determined using MTS and flow cytometry. Expression of potential targets of mir-125a in rat jejunum and IEC-6 cells was determined using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RNA) and Western blotting (protein). RESULTS: Resection upregulated mir-125a and mir-214 by 2.4-folds and 3.2-folds, respectively. Highest levels of expression were noted in the crypt fraction. Mir-125a overexpression induced apoptosis and resultant growth arrest in IEC-6 cells. The expression of the prosurvival Bcl-2 family member Mcl-1 was downregulated in both mir-125a-overexpressing IEC-6 cells and in jejunum of resected rats, confirming Mcl-1 as a previously undiscovered target of mir-125a. CONCLUSIONS: Upregulation of mir-125a suppresses the prosurvival protein Mcl1, producing the increase in apoptosis known to accompany the proliferative changes characteristic of intestinal adaptation. Our data highlight a potential role for microRNAs as mediators of the adaptive process and may facilitate the development of new therapeutic options for short bowel syndrome.
Chromatin insulator elements and associated proteins have been proposed to partition eukaryotic genomes into sets of independently regulated domains. Here we test this hypothesis by quantitative genome-wide analysis of insulator protein binding to Drosophila chromatin. We find distinct combinatorial binding of insulator proteins to different classes of sites and uncover a novel type of insulator element that binds CP190 but not any other known insulator proteins. Functional characterization of different classes of binding sites indicates that only a small fraction act as robust insulators in standard enhancer-blocking assays. We show that insulators restrict the spreading of the H3K27me3 mark but only at a small number of Polycomb target regions and only to prevent repressive histone methylation within adjacent genes that are already transcriptionally inactive. RNAi knockdown of insulator proteins in cultured cells does not lead to major alterations in genome expression. Taken together, these observations argue against the concept of a genome partitioned by specialized boundary elements and suggest that insulators are reserved for specific regulation of selected genes.
Mutations of the NF2 gene on chromosome 22q are thought to initiate tumorigenesis in nearly 50% of meningiomas, and 22q deletion is the earliest and most frequent large-scale chromosomal abnormality observed in these tumors. In aggressive meningiomas, 22q deletions are generally accompanied by the presence of large-scale segmental abnormalities involving other chromosomes, but the reasons for this association are unknown. We find that large-scale chromosomal alterations accumulate during meningioma progression primarily in tumors harboring 22q deletions, suggesting 22q-associated chromosomal instability. Here we show frequent codeletion of the DNA repair and tumor suppressor gene, CHEK2, in combination with NF2 on chromosome 22q in a majority of aggressive meningiomas. In addition, tumor-specific splicing of CHEK2 in meningioma leads to decreased functional Chk2 protein expression. We show that enforced Chk2 knockdown in meningioma cells decreases DNA repair. Furthermore, Chk2 depletion increases centrosome amplification, thereby promoting chromosomal instability. Taken together, these data indicate that alternative splicing and frequent codeletion of CHEK2 and NF2 contribute to the genomic instability and associated development of aggressive biologic behavior in meningiomas.
The generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) often results in aberrant epigenetic silencing of the imprinted Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster, compromising the 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 approach allowed us to generate all-iPSC mice from mature B cells, which have until now failed to support the development of exclusively iPSC-derived postnatal animals. Our data show 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 the resultant iPSCs.
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.
PURPOSE: 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. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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. CONCLUSIONS: 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.
Glioblastoma contains a hierarchy of stem-like cancer cells, but how this hierarchy is established is unclear. Here, we show that asymmetric Numb localization specifies glioblastoma stem-like cell (GSC) fate in a manner that does not require Notch inhibition. Numb is asymmetrically localized to CD133-hi GSCs. The predominant Numb isoform, Numb4, decreases Notch and promotes a CD133-hi, radial glial-like phenotype. However, upregulation of a novel Numb isoform, Numb4 delta 7 (Numb4d7), increases Notch and AKT activation while nevertheless maintaining CD133-hi fate specification. Numb knockdown increases Notch and promotes growth while favoring a CD133-lo, glial progenitor-like phenotype. We report the novel finding that Numb4 (but not Numb4d7) promotes SCF(Fbw7) ubiquitin ligase assembly and activation to increase Notch degradation. However, both Numb isoforms decrease epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression, thereby regulating GSC fate. Small molecule inhibition of EGFR activity phenocopies the effect of Numb on CD133 and Pax6. Clinically, homozygous NUMB deletions and low Numb mRNA expression occur primarily in a subgroup of proneural glioblastomas. Higher Numb expression is found in classical and mesenchymal glioblastomas and correlates with decreased survival. Thus, decreased Numb promotes glioblastoma growth, but the remaining Numb establishes a phenotypically diverse stem-like cell hierarchy that increases tumor aggressiveness and therapeutic resistance.
BACKGROUND: Recent withdrawals of major drugs have highlighted the critical importance of drug safety surveillance in the postmarketing phase. Limitations of spontaneous report data have led drug safety professionals to pursue alternative postmarketing surveillance approaches based on healthcare administrative claims data. These data are typically analysed by comparing the adverse event rates associated with a drug of interest to those of a single comparable reference drug. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine whether adverse event detection can be improved by incorporating information from multiple reference drugs. We developed a pharmacological network model that implemented this approach and evaluated its performance. METHODS: We studied whether adverse event detection can be improved by incorporating information from multiple reference drugs, and describe two approaches for doing so. The first, reported previously, combines a set of related drugs into a single reference cohort. The second is a novel pharmacoepidemiological network model, which integrates multiple pair-wise comparisons across an entire set of related drugs into a unified consensus safety score for each drug. We also implemented a single reference drug approach for comparison with both multi-drug approaches. All approaches were applied within a sequential analysis framework, incorporating new information as it became available and addressing the issue of multiple testing over time. We evaluated all these approaches using statin (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) safety data from a large healthcare insurer in the US covering April 2000 through March 2005. RESULTS: We found that both multiple reference drug approaches offer earlier detection (6-13 months) than the single reference drug approach, without triggering additional false positives. CONCLUSIONS: Such combined approaches have the potential to be used with existing healthcare databases to improve the surveillance of therapeutics in the postmarketing phase over single-comparator methods. The proposed network approach also provides an integrated visualization framework enabling decision makers to understand the key high-level safety relationships amongst a group of related drugs.
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. Because 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 three 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.
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 multiplex screening for interacting compounds (MuSIC), which expedites the comprehensive assessment of pairwise compound interactions. We examined ∼500,000 drug pairs from 1,000 US Food and Drug Administration (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. As inflammation accompanies HIV infection, these findings indicate that inhibiting inflammation could curb HIV propagation. Multiple drug pairs identified in this study, including various glucocorticoids and nitazoxanide (NTZ), synergize by targeting different steps in the HIV life cycle. MuSIC can be applied to a wide variety of disease-relevant screens to facilitate efficient identification of compound combinations.
BMI1 is required for the self-renewal of stem cells in many tissues including the lung epithelial stem cells, Bronchioalveolar Stem Cells (BASCs). Imprinted genes, which exhibit expression from only the maternally or paternally inherited allele, are known to regulate developmental processes, but what their role is in adult cells remains a fundamental question. Many imprinted genes were derepressed in Bmi1 knockout mice, and knockdown of Cdkn1c (p57) and other imprinted genes partially rescued the self-renewal defect of Bmi1 mutant lung cells. Expression of p57 and other imprinted genes was required for lung cell self-renewal in culture and correlated with repair of lung epithelial cell injury in vivo. Our data suggest that BMI1-dependent regulation of expressed alleles at imprinted loci, distinct from imprinting per se, is required for control of lung stem cells. We anticipate that the regulation and function of imprinted genes is crucial for self-renewal in diverse adult tissue-specific stem cells.
Clinical barriers to stem-cell therapy include the need for efficient derivation of histocompatible stem cells and the zoonotic risk inherent to human stem-cell xenoculture on mouse feeder cells. We describe a system for efficiently deriving induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from human and mouse amniocytes, and for maintaining the pluripotency of these iPS cells on mitotically inactivated feeder layers prepared from the same amniocytes. Both cellular components of this system are thus autologous to a single donor. Moreover, the use of human feeder cells reduces the risk of zoonosis. Generation of iPS cells using retroviral vectors from short- or long-term cultured human and mouse amniocytes using four factors, or two factors in mouse, occurs in 5-7 days with 0.5% efficiency. This efficiency is greater than that reported for mouse and human fibroblasts using similar viral infection approaches, and does not appear to result from selective reprogramming of Oct4(+) or c-Kit(+) amniocyte subpopulations. Derivation of amniocyte-derived iPS (AdiPS) cell colonies, which express pluripotency markers and exhibit appropriate microarray expression and DNA methylation properties, was facilitated by live immunostaining. AdiPS cells also generate embryoid bodies in vitro and teratomas in vivo. Furthermore, mouse and human amniocytes can serve as feeder layers for iPS cells and for mouse and human embryonic stem (ES) cells. Thus, human amniocytes provide an efficient source of autologous iPS cells and, as feeder cells, can also maintain iPS and ES cell pluripotency without the safety concerns associated with xenoculture.