Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications anne-corcoran

Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Clonally stable Vκ allelic choice instructs Igκ repertoire.
Levin-Klein R, Fraenkel S, Lichtenstein M, Matheson LS, Bartok O, Nevo Y, Kadener S, Corcoran AE, Cedar H, Bergman Y

Although much has been done to understand how rearrangement of the Igκ locus is regulated during B-cell development, little is known about the way the variable (V) segments themselves are selected. Here we show, using B6/Cast hybrid pre-B-cell clones, that a limited number of V segments on each allele is stochastically activated as characterized by the appearance of non-coding RNA and histone modifications. The activation states are clonally distinct, stable across cell division and developmentally important in directing the Ig repertoire upon differentiation. Using a new approach of allelic ATAC-seq, we demonstrate that the Igκ V alleles have differential chromatin accessibility, which may serve as the underlying basis of clonal maintenance at this locus, as well as other instances of monoallelic expression throughout the genome. These findings highlight a new level of immune system regulation that optimizes gene diversity.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 15575, 2017

PMID: 28555639

Open Access

Comprehensive Cell Surface Protein Profiling Identifies Specific Markers of Human Naive and Primed Pluripotent States.
Collier AJ, Panula SP, Schell JP, Chovanec P, Plaza Reyes A, Petropoulos S, Corcoran AE, Walker R, Douagi I, Lanner F, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) exist in naive and primed states and provide important models to investigate the earliest stages of human development. Naive cells can be obtained through primed-to-naive resetting, but there are no reliable methods to prospectively isolate unmodified naive cells during this process. Here we report comprehensive profiling of cell surface proteins by flow cytometry in naive and primed human PSCs. Several naive-specific, but not primed-specific, proteins were also expressed by pluripotent cells in the human preimplantation embryo. The upregulation of naive-specific cell surface proteins during primed-to-naive resetting enabled the isolation and characterization of live naive cells and intermediate cell populations. This analysis revealed distinct transcriptional and X chromosome inactivation changes associated with the early and late stages of naive cell formation. Thus, identification of state-specific proteins provides a robust set of molecular markers to define the human PSC state and allows new insights into the molecular events leading to naive cell resetting.

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Cell stem cell, , 1875-9777, , 2017

PMID: 28343983

Two Mutually Exclusive Local Chromatin States Drive Efficient V(D)J Recombination.
Bolland DJ, Koohy H, Wood AL, Matheson LS, Krueger F, Stubbington MJ, Baizan-Edge A, Chovanec P, Stubbs BA, Tabbada K, Andrews SR, Spivakov M, Corcoran AE

Variable (V), diversity (D), and joining (J) (V(D)J) recombination is the first determinant of antigen receptor diversity. Understanding how recombination is regulated requires a comprehensive, unbiased readout of V gene usage. We have developed VDJ sequencing (VDJ-seq), a DNA-based next-generation-sequencing technique that quantitatively profiles recombination products. We reveal a 200-fold range of recombination efficiency among recombining V genes in the primary mouse Igh repertoire. We used machine learning to integrate these data with local chromatin profiles to identify combinatorial patterns of epigenetic features that associate with active VH gene recombination. These features localize downstream of VH genes and are excised by recombination, revealing a class of cis-regulatory element that governs recombination, distinct from expression. We detect two mutually exclusive chromatin signatures at these elements, characterized by CTCF/RAD21 and PAX5/IRF4, which segregate with the evolutionary history of associated VH genes. Thus, local chromatin signatures downstream of VH genes provide an essential layer of regulation that determines recombination efficiency.

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Cell reports, 15, 2211-1247, 2475-87, 2016

PMID: 27264181

Open Access

RNA-binding proteins ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 promote cell quiescence.
Galloway A, Saveliev A, Łukasiak S, Hodson DJ, Bolland D, Balmanno K, Ahlfors H, Monzón-Casanova E, Mannurita SC, Bell LS, Andrews S, Díaz-Muñoz MD, Cook SJ, Corcoran A, Turner M

Progression through the stages of lymphocyte development requires coordination of the cell cycle. Such coordination ensures genomic integrity while cells somatically rearrange their antigen receptor genes [in a process called variable-diversity-joining (VDJ) recombination] and, upon successful rearrangement, expands the pools of progenitor lymphocytes. Here we show that in developing B lymphocytes, the RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) ZFP36L1 and ZFP36L2 are critical for maintaining quiescence before precursor B cell receptor (pre-BCR) expression and for reestablishing quiescence after pre-BCR-induced expansion. These RBPs suppress an evolutionarily conserved posttranscriptional regulon consisting of messenger RNAs whose protein products cooperatively promote transition into the S phase of the cell cycle. This mechanism promotes VDJ recombination and effective selection of cells expressing immunoglobulin-μ at the pre-BCR checkpoint.

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Science (New York, N.Y.), 352, 1095-9203, 453-9, 2016

PMID: 27102483

Shared Ageing Research Models (ShARM): a new facility to support ageing research.
AL Duran, P Potter, S Wells, T Kirkwood, T von Zglinicki, A McArdle, C Scudamore, QJ Meng, G de Haan, A Corcoran, I Bellantuono

In order to manage the rise in life expectancy and the concomitant increased occurrence of age-related diseases, research into ageing has become a strategic priority. Mouse models are commonly utilised as they share high homology with humans and show many similar signs and diseases of ageing. However, the time and cost needed to rear aged cohorts can limit research opportunities. Sharing of resources can provide an ethically and economically superior framework to overcome some of these issues but requires dedicated infrastructure. Shared Ageing Research Models (ShARM) ( ) is a new, not-for-profit organisation funded by Wellcome Trust, open to all investigators. It collects, stores and distributes flash frozen tissues from aged murine models through its biorepository and provides a database of live ageing mouse colonies available in the UK and abroad. It also has an online environment (MICEspace) for collation and analysis of data from communal models and discussion boards on subjects such as the welfare of ageing animals and common endpoints for intervention studies. Since launching in July 2012, thanks to the generosity of researchers in UK and Europe, ShARM has collected more than 2,500 tissues and has in excess of 2,000 mice registered in live ageing colonies. By providing the appropriate support, ShARM has been able to bring together the knowledge and experience of investigators in the UK and Europe to maximise research outputs with little additional cost and minimising animal use in order to facilitate progress in ageing research.

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Biogerontology, , , , 2013

PMID: 24085518
DOI: 10.1007/s10522-013-9457-0

Open Access

Robust 3D DNA FISH using directly labeled probes.
DJ Bolland, MR King, W Reik, AE Corcoran, C Krueger

3D DNA FISH has become a major tool for analyzing three-dimensional organization of the nucleus, and several variations of the technique have been published. In this article we describe a protocol which has been optimized for robustness, reproducibility, and ease of use. Brightly fluorescent directly labeled probes are generated by nick-translation with amino-allyldUTP followed by chemical coupling of the dye. 3D DNA FISH is performed using a freeze-thaw step for cell permeabilization and a heating step for simultaneous denaturation of probe and nuclear DNA. The protocol is applicable to a range of cell types and a variety of probes (BACs, plasmids, fosmids, or Whole Chromosome Paints) and allows for high-throughput automated imaging. With this method we routinely investigate nuclear localization of up to three chromosomal regions.

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Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, , 78, , 2013

PMID: 23978815
DOI: 10.3791/50587

Open Access

Non-coding transcription and large-scale nuclear organisation of immunoglobulin recombination.
MJ Stubbington, AE Corcoran

The enormous antigen receptor loci in lymphocytes are a paradigm of dynamic nuclear organisation, which is integral to their need to move extensively in 3D space to achieve distal gene synapse for V(D)J recombination and allelic exclusion. The loci undergo extensive 3D looping to bring distal genes together, controlled by several tissue-specific and ubiquitous factors, but how these factors achieve looping, synapsis and V(D)J recombination has been a mystery. Now several studies provide evidence that non-coding transcription, often proposed to play a role, is indeed an important driver, and furthermore has a specific nuclear destination for recombination. Both local transcription-independent looping and longer range factor-mediated transcription-dependent looping play separate roles in altering AgR architecture to enable V(D)J recombination.

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Current opinion in genetics & development, 23, 2, 81-8, 2013

PMID: 23434028
DOI: 10.1016/j.gde.2013.01.001

Highly restricted usage of Ig H chain VH14 family gene segments in Slp65-deficient pre-B cell leukemia in mice.
VB Ta, MJ de Bruijn, L Matheson, M Zoller, MP Bach, H Wardemann, H Jumaa, A Corcoran, RW Hendriks

Mice deficient for the adapter protein Slp65 (also known as Blnk), a key component in precursor-BCR (pre-BCR) signaling, spontaneously develop pre-B cell leukemia. In these leukemias, proliferation is thought to be driven by constitutive Jak3/Stat5 signaling, mostly due to autocrine production of IL-7, together with high surface expression of the pre-BCR. In this study, we investigated whether particular IgH specificities would predispose Slp65-deficient pre-B cells to malignant transformation. Whereas V(H)-D-J(H) junctions were diverse, we found highly restricted Ig V(H) gene usage: 55 out of 60 (~92%) leukemias used a V(H)14/SM7-family gene, mainly V(H)14-1 and V(H)14-2. When combined with surrogate or conventional L chains, these V(H)14 IgH chains did not provide increased proliferative signals or exhibit enhanced poly- or autoreactivity. We therefore conclude that pre-BCR specificity per se did not contribute to oncogenic transformation. Remarkably, in a high proportion of Slp65-deficient leukemias, the nonexpressed IgH allele also harbored a V(H)14-family rearrangement (10 out of 50) or was in the germline configuration (10 out of 50). V(H)14-1 and V(H)14-2 gene regions differed from their neighboring V(H) genes in that they showed active H3K4me3 histone modification marks and germline transcription at the pro-B cell stage in Rag1-deficient mice. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that in Slp65-deficient mice, malignant transformation is largely limited to particular pre-B cells that originate from pro-B cells that had restricted IgH V(H) region accessibility at the time of V(H)-to D-J(H) recombination.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 189, 10, 4842-51, 2012

PMID: 23066158
DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1201440

Open Access

Editorial overview. Lymphocyte development.
AE Corcoran, AJ Feeney

Current opinion in immunology, 24, 2, 129-31, 2012

PMID: 22440337
DOI: 10.1016/j.coi.2012.03.003

Local and global epigenetic regulation of V(D)J recombination.
LS Matheson, AE Corcoran

Despite using the same Rag recombinase machinery expressed in both lymphocyte lineages, V(D)J recombination of immunoglobulins only occurs in B cells and T cell receptor recombination is confined to T cells. This vital segregation of recombination targets is governed by the coordinated efforts of several epigenetic mechanisms that control both the general chromatin accessibility of these loci to the Rag recombinase, and the movement and synapsis of distal gene segments in these enormous multigene AgR loci, in a lineage and developmental stage-specific manner. These mechanisms operate both locally at individual gene segments and AgR domains, and globally over large distances in the nucleus. Here we will discuss the roles of several epigenetic components that regulate V(D)J recombination of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus in B cells, both in the context of the locus itself, and of its 3D nuclear organization, focusing in particular on non-coding RNA transcription. We will also speculate about how several newly described epigenetic mechanisms might impact on AgR regulation.

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Current topics in microbiology and immunology, 356, , 65-89, 2012

PMID: 21695632
DOI: 10.1007/82_2011_137

Modeling the evolution of ETV6-RUNX1-induced B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia in mice.
L van der Weyden, G Giotopoulos, AG Rust, LS Matheson, FW van Delft, J Kong, AE Corcoran, MF Greaves, CG Mullighan, BJ Huntly, DJ Adams

The t(12;21) translocation that generates the ETV6-RUNX1 (TEL-AML1) fusion gene, is the most common chromosomal rearrangement in childhood cancer and is exclusively associated with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). The translocation arises in utero and is necessary but insufficient for the development of leukemia. Single-nucleotide polymorphism array analysis of ETV6-RUNX1 patient samples has identified multiple additional genetic alterations; however, the role of these lesions in leukemogenesis remains undetermined. Moreover, murine models of ETV6-RUNX1 ALL that faithfully recapitulate the human disease are lacking. To identify novel genes that cooperate with ETV6-RUNX1 in leukemogenesis, we generated a mouse model that uses the endogenous Etv6 locus to coexpress the Etv6-RUNX1 fusion and Sleeping Beauty transposase. An insertional mutagenesis screen was performed by intercrossing these mice with those carrying a Sleeping Beauty transposon array. In contrast to previous models, a substantial proportion (20%) of the offspring developed BCP-ALL. Isolation of the transposon insertion sites identified genes known to be associated with BCP-ALL, including Ebf1 and Epor, in addition to other novel candidates. This is the first mouse model of ETV6-RUNX1 to develop BCP-ALL and provides important insight into the cooperating genetic alterations in ETV6-RUNX1 leukemia.

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Blood, 118, 4, 1041-51, 2011

PMID: 21628403
DOI: 10.1182/blood-2011-02-338848

Open Access

ATMIN is required for maintenance of genomic stability and suppression of B cell lymphoma.
JI Loizou, R Sancho, N Kanu, DJ Bolland, F Yang, C Rada, AE Corcoran, A Behrens

Defective V(D)J rearrangement of immunoglobulin heavy or light chain (IgH or IgL) or class switch recombination (CSR) can initiate chromosomal translocations. The DNA-damage kinase ATM is required for the suppression of chromosomal translocations but ATM regulation is incompletely understood. Here, we show that mice lacking the ATM cofactor ATMIN in B cells (ATMIN(ΔB/ΔB)) have impaired ATM signaling and develop B cell lymphomas. Notably, ATMIN(ΔB/ΔB) cells exhibited defective peripheral V(D)J rearrangement and CSR, resulting in translocations involving the Igh and Igl loci, indicating that ATMIN is required for efficient repair of DNA breaks generated during somatic recombination. Thus, our results identify a role for ATMIN in regulating the maintenance of genomic stability and tumor suppression in B cells.

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Cancer cell, 19, 5, 587-600, 2011

PMID: 21575860
DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2011.03.022

Open Access

RUNX transcription factor-mediated association of Cd4 and Cd8 enables coordinate gene regulation.
A Collins, SL Hewitt, J Chaumeil, M Sellars, M Micsinai, J Allinne, F Parisi, EP Nora, DJ Bolland, AE Corcoran, Y Kluger, R Bosselut, W Ellmeier, MM Chong, DR Littman, JA Skok

T cell fate is associated with mutually exclusive expression of CD4 or CD8 in helper and cytotoxic T cells, respectively. How expression of one locus is temporally coordinated with repression of the other has been a long-standing enigma, though we know RUNX transcription factors activate the Cd8 locus, silence the Cd4 locus, and repress the Zbtb7b locus (encoding the transcription factor ThPOK), which is required for CD4 expression. Here we found that nuclear organization was altered by interplay among members of this transcription factor circuitry: RUNX binding mediated association of Cd4 and Cd8 whereas ThPOK binding kept the loci apart. Moreover, targeted deletions within Cd4 modulated CD8 expression and pericentromeric repositioning of Cd8. Communication between Cd4 and Cd8 thus appears to enable long-range epigenetic regulation to ensure that expression of one excludes the other in mature CD4 or CD8 single-positive (SP) cells.

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Immunity, 34, 3, 303-14, 2011

PMID: 21435585
DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2011.03.004

Open Access

The epigenetic role of non-coding RNA transcription and nuclear organization in immunoglobulin repertoire generation.
AE Corcoran

Within the lymphocyte lineages, restriction of immunoglobulin V(D)J recombination to B cells and T cell receptor (TCR) recombination to T cells is governed by a myriad of epigenetic mechanisms that control the chromatin accessibility of these loci to the Rag recombinase machinery in a lineage and developmental stage-specific manner. These mechanisms operate both locally at individual gene segments, and globally over large chromatin domains in these enormous multigene loci. In this review we will explore the established and emerging roles of three aspects of epigenetic regulation that contribute to large-scale control of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus in B cells: non-coding RNA transcription, regulatory elements, and nuclear organization. Recent conceptual and technological advances have produced a paradigm shift in our thinking about how these components regulate gene expression in general and V(D)J recombination in particular.

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Seminars in immunology, 22, 6, 353-61, 2010

PMID: 20863715
DOI: 10.1016/j.smim.2010.08.001

The PI3K isoforms p110alpha and p110delta are essential for pre-B cell receptor signaling and B cell development.
F Ramadani, DJ Bolland, F Garcon, JL Emery, B Vanhaesebroeck, AE Corcoran, K Okkenhaug

B cell development is controlled by a series of checkpoints that ensure that the immunoglobulin (Ig)-encoding genes produce a functional B cell receptor (BCR) and antibodies. As part of this process, recombination-activating gene (Rag) proteins regulate the in-frame assembly of the Ig-encoding genes. The BCR consists of Ig proteins in complex with the immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif (ITAM)-containing Igalpha and Igbeta chains. Whereas the activation of the tyrosine kinases Src and Syk is essential for BCR signaling, the pathways that act downstream of these kinases are incompletely defined. Previous work has revealed a key role for the p110delta isoform of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) in agonist-induced BCR signaling; however, early B cell development and mature B cell survival, which depend on agonist-independent or "tonic" BCR signaling, are not substantially affected by a deficiency in p110delta. Here, we show that p110alpha, but not p110beta, compensated in the absence of p110delta to promote early B cell development in the bone marrow and B cell survival in the spleen. In the absence of both p110alpha and p110delta activities, pre-BCR signaling failed to suppress the production of Rag proteins and to promote developmental progression of B cell progenitors. Unlike p110delta, however, p110alpha did not contribute to agonist-induced BCR signaling. These studies indicate that either p110alpha or p110delta can mediate tonic signaling from the BCR, but only p110delta can contribute to antigen-dependent activation of B cells.

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Science signaling, 3, 134, ra60, 2010

PMID: 20699475
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2001104

Open Access

The mouse immunoglobulin heavy chain V-D intergenic sequence contains insulators that may regulate ordered V(D)J recombination.
K Featherstone, AL Wood, AJ Bowen, AE Corcoran

During immunoglobulin heavy chain (Igh) V(D)J recombination, D to J precedes V to DJ recombination in an ordered manner, controlled by differential chromatin accessibility of the V and DJ regions and essential for correct antibody assembly. However, with the exception of the intronic enhancer Emu, which regulates D to J recombination, cis-acting regulatory elements have not been identified. We have assembled the sequence of a strategically located 96-kb V-D intergenic region in the mouse Igh and analyzed its activity during lymphocyte development. We show that Emu-dependent D antisense transcription, proposed to open chromatin before D to J recombination, extends into the V-D region for more than 30 kb in B cells before, during, and after V(D)J recombination and in T cells but terminates 40 kb from the first V gene. Thus, subsequent V antisense transcription before V to DJ recombination is actively prevented and must be independently activated. To find cis-acting elements that regulate this differential chromatin opening, we identified six DNase I-hypersensitive sites (HSs) in the V-D region. One conserved HS upstream of the first D gene locally regulates D genes. Two further conserved HSs near the D region mark a sharp decrease in antisense transcription, and both HSs bind CTCF in vivo. Further, they both possess enhancer-blocking activity in vivo. Thus, we propose that they are enhancer-blocking insulators preventing Emu-dependent chromatin opening extending into the V region. Thus, they are the first elements identified that may control ordered V(D)J recombination and correct assembly of antibody genes.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 285, 13, 9327-38, 2010

PMID: 20100833
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.098251

Open Access

Large-scale chromatin remodeling at the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus: a paradigm for multigene regulation.
DJ Bolland, AL Wood, AE Corcoran

V(D)J recombination in lymphocytes is the cutting and pasting together of antigen receptor genes in cis to generate the enormous variety of coding sequences required to produce diverse antigen receptor proteins. It is the key role of the adaptive immune response, which must potentially combat millions of different foreign antigens. Most antigen receptor loci have evolved to be extremely large and contain multiple individual V, D and J genes. The immunoglobulin heavy chain (Igh) and immunoglobulin kappa light chain (Igk) loci are the largest multigene loci in the mammalian genome and V(D)J recombination is one of the most complicated genetic processes in the nucleus. The challenge for the appropriate lymphocyte is one of macro-management-to make all of the antigen receptor genes in a particular locus available for recombination at the appropriate developmental time-point. Conversely, these large loci must be kept closed in lymphocytes in which they do not normally recombine, to guard against genomic instability generated by the DNA double strand breaks inherent to the V(D)J recombination process. To manage all of these demanding criteria, V(D)J recombination is regulated at numerous levels. It is restricted to lymphocytes since the Rag genes which control the DNA double-strand break step of recombination are only expressed in these cells. Within the lymphocyte lineage, immunoglobulin recombination is restricted to B-lymphocytes and TCR recombination to T-lymphocytes by regulation of locus accessibility, which occurs at multiple levels. Accessibility of recombination signal sequences (RSSs) flanking individual V, D and J genes at the nucleosomal level is the key micro-management mechanism, which is discussed in greater detail in other chapters. This chapter will explore how the antigen receptor loci are regulated as a whole, focussing on the Igh locus as a paradigm for the mechanisms involved. Numerous recent studies have begun to unravel the complex and complementary processes involved in this large-scale locus organisation. We will examine the structure of the Igh locus and the large-scale and higher-order chromatin remodelling processes associated with V(D)J recombination, at the level of the locus itself, its conformational changes and its dynamic localisation within the nucleus.

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Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 650, , 59-72, 2009

PMID: 19731801

AID is required for the chromosomal breaks in c-myc that lead to c-myc/IgH translocations.
DF Robbiani, A Bothmer, E Callen, B Reina-San-Martin, Y Dorsett, S Difilippantonio, DJ Bolland, HT Chen, AE Corcoran, A Nussenzweig, MC Nussenzweig

Chromosomal translocation requires formation of paired double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) on heterologous chromosomes. One of the most well characterized oncogenic translocations juxtaposes c-myc and the immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus (IgH) and is found in Burkitt's lymphomas in humans and plasmacytomas in mice. DNA breaks in IgH leading to c-myc/IgH translocations are created by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) during antibody class switch recombination or somatic hypermutation. However, the source of DNA breaks at c-myc is not known. Here, we provide evidence for the c-myc promoter region being required in targeting AID-mediated DNA damage to produce DSBs in c-myc that lead to c-myc/IgH translocations in primary B lymphocytes. Thus, in addition to producing somatic mutations and DNA breaks in antibody genes, AID is also responsible for the DNA lesions in oncogenes that are required for their translocation.

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Cell, 135, 6, 1028-38, 2008

PMID: 19070574
DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.09.062

Open Access

How chromatin remodelling allows shuffling of immunoglobulin heavy chain genes.
AJ Bowen, AE Corcoran

Cellular identity is determined by the switching on and off of lineage-specific genes. This dynamic process is regulated by a highly co-ordinated series of chromatin remodelling mechanisms that control DNA accessibility to facilitate transcription, replication and recombination. The identity of an individual B-lymphocyte is defined by the expression of a unique antibody protein, composed of two identical immunoglobulin heavy and two identical light chain polypeptides, which recognize a single foreign antigen with high specificity. However, the mammalian adaptive immune system requires an enormous variety of antibody-expressing B cells to combat the millions of foreign antigens it may encounter. This diversity is generated primarily at the multigene immunoglobulin loci by V(D)J recombination, a specialised form of DNA recombination in which numerous variable (V), diversity (D) and joining (J) genes are cut and pasted together in a strict order to allow shuffling of immunoglobulin genes. The mouse immunoglobulin heavy chain (Igh) locus is the largest known multigene locus. It spans approximately 3 Mb and comprises more than 200 genes. Its size and complexity pose an enormous logistic challenge to the chromatin remodelling machinery, but recent major advances in our understanding of how the 200 genes are shuffled have begun to reveal an exquisitely co-ordinated set of chromatin remodelling mechanisms which exploit every aspect of nuclear dynamics, and provide a global view of multigene regulation. This review will explore the numerous processes implicated in opening up and positioning of the locus to enable shuffling of the Igh locus genes, including non-coding RNA transcription, histone modifications, transcription factors, nuclear relocation and locus contraction.

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Molecular bioSystems, 4, 8, 790-8, 2008

PMID: 18633479
DOI: 10.1039/b719771n

Heavy chain-only antibodies are spontaneously produced in light chain-deficient mice.
X Zou, MJ Osborn, DJ Bolland, JA Smith, D Corcos, M Hamon, D Oxley, A Hutchings, G Morgan, F Santos, PJ Kilshaw, MJ Taussig, AE Corcoran, M Brüggemann

In healthy mammals, maturation of B cells expressing heavy (H) chain immunoglobulin (Ig) without light (L) chain is prevented by chaperone association of the H chain in the endoplasmic reticulum. Camelids are an exception, expressing homodimeric IgGs, an antibody type that to date has not been found in mice or humans. In camelids, immunization with viral epitopes generates high affinity H chain-only antibodies, which, because of their smaller size, recognize clefts and protrusions not readily distinguished by typical antibodies. Developmental processes leading to H chain antibody expression are unknown. We show that L(-/-) (kappa(-/-)lambda(-/-)-deficient) mice, in which conventional B cell development is blocked at the immature B cell stage, produce diverse H chain-only antibodies in serum. The generation of H chain-only IgG is caused by the loss of constant (C) gamma exon 1, which is accomplished by genomic alterations in C(H)1-circumventing chaperone association. These mutations can be attributed to errors in class switch recombination, which facilitate the generation of H chain-only Ig-secreting plasma cells. Surprisingly, transcripts with a similar deletion can be found in normal mice. Thus, naturally occurring H chain transcripts without C(H)1 (V(H)DJ(H)-hinge-C(H)2-C(H)3) are selected for and lead to the formation of fully functional and diverse H chain-only antibodies in L(-/-) animals.

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The Journal of experimental medicine, 204, 13, 3271-83, 2007

PMID: 18086860
DOI: 10.1084/jem.20071155

Open Access

Evolutionary conservation of a coding function for D4Z4, the tandem DNA repeat mutated in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.
J Clapp, LM Mitchell, DJ Bolland, J Fantes, AE Corcoran, PJ Scotting, JA Armour, JE Hewitt

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by deletions within the polymorphic DNA tandem array D4Z4. Each D4Z4 repeat unit has an open reading frame (ORF), termed "DUX4," containing two homeobox sequences. Because there has been no evidence of a transcript from the array, these deletions are thought to cause FSHD by a position effect on other genes. Here, we identify D4Z4 homologues in the genomes of rodents, Afrotheria (superorder of elephants and related species), and other species and show that the DUX4 ORF is conserved. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that primate and Afrotherian D4Z4 arrays are orthologous and originated from a retrotransposed copy of an intron-containing DUX gene, DUXC. Reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and RNA fluorescence and tissue in situ hybridization data indicate transcription of the mouse array. Together with the conservation of the DUX4 ORF for >100 million years, this strongly supports a coding function for D4Z4 and necessitates re-examination of current models of the FSHD disease mechanism.

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American journal of human genetics, 81, 2, 264-79, 2007

PMID: 17668377
DOI: 10.1086/519311

Open Access

Myc dynamically and preferentially relocates to a transcription factory occupied by Igh.
CS Osborne, L Chakalova, JA Mitchell, A Horton, AL Wood, DJ Bolland, AE Corcoran, P Fraser

Transcription in mammalian nuclei is highly compartmentalized in RNA polymerase II-enriched nuclear foci known as transcription factories. Genes in cis and trans can share the same factory, suggesting that genes migrate to preassembled transcription sites. We used fluorescent in situ hybridization to investigate the dynamics of gene association with transcription factories during immediate early (IE) gene induction in mouse B lymphocytes. Here, we show that induction involves rapid gene relocation to transcription factories. Importantly, we find that the Myc proto-oncogene on Chromosome 15 is preferentially recruited to the same transcription factory as the highly transcribed Igh gene located on Chromosome 12. Myc and Igh are the most frequent translocation partners in plasmacytoma and Burkitt lymphoma. Our results show that transcriptional activation of IE genes involves rapid relocation to preassembled transcription factories. Furthermore, the data imply a direct link between the nonrandom interchromosomal organization of transcribed genes at transcription factories and the incidence of specific chromosomal translocations.

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PLoS biology, 5, 8, e192, 2007

PMID: 17622196
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050192

Open Access

Somatic hypermutation is a matter of choice.
D Bolland, A Corcoran

Nature immunology, 8, 7, 677-9, 2007

PMID: 17579643
DOI: 10.1038/ni0707-677

Antisense intergenic transcription precedes Igh D-to-J recombination and is controlled by the intronic enhancer Emu.
DJ Bolland, AL Wood, R Afshar, K Featherstone, EM Oltz, AE Corcoran

V(D)J recombination is believed to be regulated by alterations in chromatin accessibility to the recombinase machinery, but the mechanisms responsible remain unclear. We previously proposed that antisense intergenic transcription, activated throughout the mouse Igh VH region in pro-B cells, remodels chromatin for VH-to-DJH recombination. Using RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization, we now show that antisense intergenic transcription occurs throughout the Igh DHJH region before D-to-J recombination, indicating that this is a widespread process in V(D)J recombination. Transcription initiates near the Igh intronic enhancer Emu and is abrogated in mice lacking this enhancer, indicating that Emu regulates DH antisense transcription. Emu was recently demonstrated to regulate DH-to-JH recombination of the Igh locus. Together, these data suggest that Emu controls DH-to-JH recombination by activating this form of germ line Igh transcription, thus providing a long-range, processive mechanism by which Emu can regulate chromatin accessibility throughout the DH region. In contrast, Emu deletion has no effect on VH antisense intergenic transcription, which is rarely associated with DH antisense transcription, suggesting differential regulation and separate roles for these processes at sequential stages of V(D)J recombination. These results support a directive role for antisense intergenic transcription in enabling access to the recombination machinery.

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Molecular and cellular biology, 27, 15, 5523-33, 2007

PMID: 17526723
DOI: 10.1128/MCB.02407-06

Open Access

Complete sequence assembly and characterization of the C57BL/6 mouse Ig heavy chain V region.
CM Johnston, AL Wood, DJ Bolland, AE Corcoran

The mechanisms that regulate variable (V) gene selection during the development of the mouse IgH repertoire are not fully understood, due in part to the absence of the complete locus sequence. To better understand these processes, we have assembled the entire 2.5-Mb mouse IgH (Igh) V region sequence of the C57BL/6 strain from public sequences and present the first complete annotated map of the region, including V genes, pseudogenes, repeats, and nonrepetitive intergenic sequences. In so doing, we have discovered a new V gene family, VH16. We have identified clusters of conserved region-specific intergenic sequences and have verified our assembly by genic and intergenic Southern blotting. We have observed that V pseudogenes are not evenly spread throughout the V region, but rather cluster together. The largest J558 family, which spans more than half of the locus, has two strikingly different domains, which suggest points of evolutionary divergence or duplication. The 5' end contains widely spaced J558 genes interspersed with 3609 genes and is pseudogene poor. The 3' end contains closely spaced J558 genes, no 3609 genes, and is pseudogene rich. Each occupies a different branch of the phylogenetic tree. Detailed analysis of 500-bp upstream of all functional genes has revealed several conserved binding sites, general and B cell-specific, as well as key differences between families. This complete and definitive assembly of the mouse Igh V region will facilitate detailed study of promoter function and large-scale mechanisms associated with V(D)J recombination including locus contraction and antisense intergenic transcription.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 176, 7, 4221-34, 2006

PMID: 16547259

Open Access