Cell behaviors are dictated by epigenetic and transcriptional programs. Little is known about how extracellular stimuli modulate these programs to reshape gene expression and control cell behavioral responses. Here, we interrogated the epigenetic and transcriptional response of endothelial cells to VEGFA treatment and found rapid chromatin changes that mediate broad transcriptomic alterations. VEGFA-responsive genes were associated with active promoters, but changes in promoter histone marks were not tightly linked to gene expression changes. VEGFA altered transcription factor occupancy and the distal epigenetic landscape, which profoundly contributed to VEGFA-dependent changes in gene expression. Integration of gene expression, dynamic enhancer, and transcription factor occupancy changes induced by VEGFA yielded a VEGFA-regulated transcriptional regulatory network, which revealed that the small MAF transcription factors are master regulators of the VEGFA transcriptional program and angiogenesis. Collectively these results revealed that extracellular stimuli rapidly reconfigure the chromatin landscape to coordinately regulate biological responses.
Characterization of intratumoral heterogeneity is critical to cancer therapy, as the presence of phenotypically diverse cell populations commonly fuels relapse and resistance to treatment. Although genetic variation is a well-studied source of intratumoral heterogeneity, the functional impact of most genetic alterations remains unclear. Even less understood is the relative importance of other factors influencing heterogeneity, such as epigenetic state or tumor microenvironment. To investigate the relationship between genetic and transcriptional heterogeneity in a context of cancer progression, we devised a computational approach called HoneyBADGER to identify copy number variation and loss of heterozygosity in individual cells from single-cell RNA-sequencing data. By integrating allele and normalized expression information, HoneyBADGER is able to identify and infer the presence of subclone-specific alterations in individual cells and reconstruct the underlying subclonal architecture. By examining several tumor types, we show that HoneyBADGER is effective at identifying deletions, amplifications, and copy-neutral loss-of-heterozygosity events and is capable of robustly identifying subclonal focal alterations as small as 10 megabases. We further apply HoneyBADGER to analyze single cells from a progressive multiple myeloma patient to identify major genetic subclones that exhibit distinct transcriptional signatures relevant to cancer progression. Other prominent transcriptional subpopulations within these tumors did not line up with the genetic subclonal structure and were likely driven by alternative, nonclonal mechanisms. These results highlight the need for integrative analysis to understand the molecular and phenotypic heterogeneity in cancer.
Histone modifications are now well-established mediators of transcriptional programs that distinguish cell states. However, the kinetics of histone modification and their role in mediating rapid, signal-responsive gene expression changes has been little studied on a genome-wide scale. Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA), a major regulator of angiogenesis, triggers changes in transcriptional activity of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Here, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) to measure genome-wide changes in histone H3 acetylation at lysine 27 (H3K27ac), a marker of active enhancers, in unstimulated HUVECs and HUVECs stimulated with VEGFA for 1, 4, and 12 h. We show that sites with the greatest H3K27ac change upon stimulation were associated tightly with EP300, a histone acetyltransferase. Using the variation of H3K27ac as a novel epigenetic signature, we identified transcriptional regulatory elements that are functionally linked to angiogenesis, participate in rapid VEGFA-stimulated changes in chromatin conformation, and mediate VEGFA-induced transcriptional responses. Dynamic H3K27ac deposition and associated changes in chromatin conformation required EP300 activity instead of altered nucleosome occupancy or changes in DNase I hypersensitivity. EP300 activity was also required for a subset of dynamic H3K27ac sites to loop into proximity of promoters. Our study identified thousands of endothelial, VEGFA-responsive enhancers, demonstrating that an epigenetic signature based on the variation of a chromatin feature is a productive approach to define signal-responsive genomic elements. Further, our study implicates global epigenetic modifications in rapid, signal-responsive transcriptional regulation.
A large database of copy number profiles from cancer genomes can facilitate the identification of recurrent chromosomal alterations that often contain key cancer-related genes. It can also be used to explore low-prevalence genomic events such as chromothripsis. In this study, we report an analysis of 8227 human cancer copy number profiles obtained from 107 array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) studies. Our analysis reveals similarity of chromosomal arm-level alterations among developmentally related tumor types as well as a number of co-occurring pairs of arm-level alterations. Recurrent ("pan-lineage") focal alterations identified across diverse tumor types show an enrichment of known cancer-related genes and genes with relevant functions in cancer-associated phenotypes (e.g., kinase and cell cycle). Tumor type-specific ("lineage-restricted") alterations and their enriched functional categories were also identified. Furthermore, we developed an algorithm for detecting regions in which the copy number oscillates rapidly between fixed levels, indicative of chromothripsis. We observed these massive genomic rearrangements in 1%-2% of the samples with variable tumor type-specific incidence rates. Taken together, our comprehensive view of copy number alterations provides a framework for understanding the functional significance of various genomic alterations in cancer genomes.
Landt SG, Marinov GK, Kundaje A, Kheradpour P, Pauli F, Batzoglou S, Bernstein BE, Bickel P, Brown JB, Cayting P, Chen Y, DeSalvo G, Epstein C, Fisher-Aylor KI, Euskirchen G, Gerstein M, Gertz J, Hartemink AJ, Hoffman MM, Iyer VR, Jung YL, Karmakar S, Kellis M, Kharchenko PV, Li Q, Liu T, Liu SX, Ma L, Milosavljevic A, Myers RM, Park PJ, Pazin MJ, Perry MD, Raha D, Reddy TE, Rozowsky J, Shoresh N, Sidow A, Slattery M, Stamatoyannopoulos JA, Tolstorukov MY, White KP, Xi S, Farnham PJ, Lieb JD, Wold BJ, Snyder M. ChIP-seq guidelines and practices of the ENCODE and modENCODE consortia. Genome Res 2012;22(9):1813-31.Abstract
Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) followed by high-throughput DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) has become a valuable and widely used approach for mapping the genomic location of transcription-factor binding and histone modifications in living cells. Despite its widespread use, there are considerable differences in how these experiments are conducted, how the results are scored and evaluated for quality, and how the data and metadata are archived for public use. These practices affect the quality and utility of any global ChIP experiment. Through our experience in performing ChIP-seq experiments, the ENCODE and modENCODE consortia have developed a set of working standards and guidelines for ChIP experiments that are updated routinely. The current guidelines address antibody validation, experimental replication, sequencing depth, data and metadata reporting, and data quality assessment. We discuss how ChIP quality, assessed in these ways, affects different uses of ChIP-seq data. All data sets used in the analysis have been deposited for public viewing and downloading at the ENCODE (http://encodeproject.org/ENCODE/) and modENCODE (http://www.modencode.org/) portals.
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.
Eukaryotic genomes are packaged in two basic forms, euchromatin and heterochromatin. We have examined the composition and organization of Drosophila melanogaster heterochromatin in different cell types using ChIP-array analysis of histone modifications and chromosomal proteins. As anticipated, the pericentric heterochromatin and chromosome 4 are on average enriched for the "silencing" marks H3K9me2, H3K9me3, HP1a, and SU(VAR)3-9, and are generally depleted for marks associated with active transcription. The locations of the euchromatin-heterochromatin borders identified by these marks are similar in animal tissues and most cell lines, although the amount of heterochromatin is variable in some cell lines. Combinatorial analysis of chromatin patterns reveals distinct profiles for euchromatin, pericentric heterochromatin, and the 4th chromosome. Both silent and active protein-coding genes in heterochromatin display complex patterns of chromosomal proteins and histone modifications; a majority of the active genes exhibit both "activation" marks (e.g., H3K4me3 and H3K36me3) and "silencing" marks (e.g., H3K9me2 and HP1a). The hallmark of active genes in heterochromatic domains appears to be a loss of H3K9 methylation at the transcription start site. We also observe complex epigenomic profiles of intergenic regions, repeated transposable element (TE) sequences, and genes in the heterochromatic extensions. An unexpectedly large fraction of sequences in the euchromatic chromosome arms exhibits a heterochromatic chromatin signature, which differs in size, position, and impact on gene expression among cell types. We conclude that patterns of heterochromatin/euchromatin packaging show greater complexity and plasticity than anticipated. This comprehensive analysis provides a foundation for future studies of gene activity and chromosomal functions that are influenced by or dependent upon heterochromatin.
Eukaryotic DNA is wrapped around a histone protein core to constitute the fundamental repeating units of chromatin, the nucleosomes. The affinity of the histone core for DNA depends on the nucleotide sequence; however, it is unclear to what extent DNA sequence determines nucleosome positioning in vivo, and if the same rules of sequence-directed positioning apply to genomes of varying complexity. Using the data generated by high-throughput DNA sequencing combined with chromatin immunoprecipitation, we have identified positions of nucleosomes containing the H2A.Z histone variant and histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 4 in human CD4(+) T-cells. We find that the 10-bp periodicity observed in nucleosomal sequences in yeast and other organisms is not pronounced in human nucleosomal sequences. This result was confirmed for a broader set of mononucleosomal fragments that were not selected for any specific histone variant or modification. We also find that human H2A.Z nucleosomes protect only approximately 120 bp of DNA from MNase digestion and exhibit specific sequence preferences, suggesting a novel mechanism of nucleosome organization for the H2A.Z variant.
The distribution of nucleosomes along the genome is a significant aspect of chromatin structure and is thought to influence gene regulation through modulation of DNA accessibility. However, properties of nucleosome organization remain poorly understood, particularly in mammalian genomes. Toward this goal we used tiled microarrays to identify stable nucleosome positions along the HOX gene clusters in human cell lines. We show that nucleosome positions exhibit sequence properties and long-range organization that are different from those characterized in other organisms. Despite overall variability of internucleosome distances, specific loci contain regular nucleosomal arrays with 195-bp periodicity. Moreover, such arrays tend to occur preferentially toward the 3' ends of genes. Through comparison of different cell lines, we find that active transcription is correlated with increased positioning of nucleosomes, suggesting an unexpected role for transcription in the establishment of well-positioned nucleosomes.