Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health


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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Platelet function is modified by common sequence variation in megakaryocyte super enhancers.
Petersen R, Lambourne JJ, Javierre BM, Grassi L, Kreuzhuber R, Ruklisa D, Rosa IM, Tomé AR, Elding H, van Geffen JP, Jiang T, Farrow S, Cairns J, Al-Subaie AM, Ashford S, Attwood A, Batista J, Bouman H, Burden F, Choudry FA, Clarke L, Flicek P, Garner SF, Haimel M, Kempster C, Ladopoulos V, Lenaerts AS, Materek PM, McKinney H, Meacham S, Mead D, Nagy M, Penkett CJ, Rendon A, Seyres D, Sun B, Tuna S, van der Weide ME, Wingett SW, Martens JH, Stegle O, Richardson S, Vallier L, Roberts DJ, Freson K, Wernisch L, Stunnenberg HG, Danesh J, Fraser P, Soranzo N, Butterworth AS, Heemskerk JW, Turro E, Spivakov M, Ouwehand WH, Astle WJ, Downes K, Kostadima M, Frontini M

Linking non-coding genetic variants associated with the risk of diseases or disease-relevant traits to target genes is a crucial step to realize GWAS potential in the introduction of precision medicine. Here we set out to determine the mechanisms underpinning variant association with platelet quantitative traits using cell type-matched epigenomic data and promoter long-range interactions. We identify potential regulatory functions for 423 of 565 (75%) non-coding variants associated with platelet traits and we demonstrate, through ex vivo and proof of principle genome editing validation, that variants in super enhancers play an important role in controlling archetypical platelet functions.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 16058, 2017

PMID: 28703137

Assessing the Safety of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells and Their Derivatives for Clinical Applications.
Andrews PW, Ben-David U, Benvenisty N, Coffey P, Eggan K, Knowles BB, Nagy A, Pera M, Reubinoff B, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Stacey GN

Pluripotent stem cells may acquire genetic and epigenetic variants during culture following their derivation. At a conference organized by the International Stem Cell Initiative, and held at The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, October 2016, participants discussed how the appearance of such variants can be monitored and minimized and, crucially, how their significance for the safety of therapeutic applications of these cells can be assessed. A strong recommendation from the meeting was that an international advisory group should be set up to review the genetic and epigenetic changes observed in human pluripotent stem cell lines and establish a framework for evaluating the risks that they may pose for clinical use.

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Stem cell reports, 9, 2213-6711, 1-4, 2017

PMID: 28700896

Mitosis can drive cell cannibalism through entosis.
Durgan J, Tseng YY, Hamann JC, Domart MC, Collinson L, Hall A, Overholtzer M, Florey O

Entosis is a form of epithelial cell cannibalism that is prevalent in human cancer, typically triggered by loss of matrix adhesion. Here, we report an alternative mechanism for entosis in human epithelial cells, driven by mitosis. Mitotic entosis is regulated by Cdc42, which controls mitotic morphology. Cdc42 depletion enhances mitotic deadhesion and rounding, and these biophysical changes, which depend on RhoA activation and are phenocopied by Rap1 inhibition, permit subsequent entosis. Mitotic entosis occurs constitutively in some human cancer cell lines and mitotic index correlates with cell cannibalism in primary human breast tumours. Adherent, wild-type cells can act efficiently as entotic hosts, suggesting that normal epithelia may engulf and kill aberrantly dividing neighbours. Finally, we report that Paclitaxel/taxol promotes mitotic rounding and subsequent entosis, revealing an unconventional activity of this drug. Together, our data uncover an intriguing link between cell division and cannibalism, of significance to both cancer and chemotherapy.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28693721

Open Access

Cell-cycle dynamics of chromosomal organization at single-cell resolution.
Nagano T, Lubling Y, Várnai C, Dudley C, Leung W, Baran Y, Mendelson Cohen N, Wingett S, Fraser P, Tanay A

Chromosomes in proliferating metazoan cells undergo marked structural metamorphoses every cell cycle, alternating between highly condensed mitotic structures that facilitate chromosome segregation, and decondensed interphase structures that accommodate transcription, gene silencing and DNA replication. Here we use single-cell Hi-C (high-resolution chromosome conformation capture) analysis to study chromosome conformations in thousands of individual cells, and discover a continuum of cis-interaction profiles that finely position individual cells along the cell cycle. We show that chromosomal compartments, topological-associated domains (TADs), contact insulation and long-range loops, all defined by bulk Hi-C maps, are governed by distinct cell-cycle dynamics. In particular, DNA replication correlates with a build-up of compartments and a reduction in TAD insulation, while loops are generally stable from G1 to S and G2 phase. Whole-genome three-dimensional structural models reveal a radial architecture of chromosomal compartments with distinct epigenomic signatures. Our single-cell data therefore allow re-interpretation of chromosome conformation maps through the prism of the cell cycle.

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Nature, 547, 1476-4687, 61-67, 2017

PMID: 28682332

Identifiers for the 21st century: How to design, provision, and reuse persistent identifiers to maximize utility and impact of life science data.
McMurry JA, Juty N, Blomberg N, Burdett T, Conlin T, Conte N, Courtot M, Deck J, Dumontier M, Fellows DK, Gonzalez-Beltran A, Gormanns P, Grethe J, Hastings J, Hériché JK, Hermjakob H, Ison JC, Jimenez RC, Jupp S, Kunze J, Laibe C, Le Novère N, Malone J, Martin MJ, McEntyre JR, Morris C, Muilu J, Müller W, Rocca-Serra P, Sansone SA, Sariyar M, Snoep JL, Soiland-Reyes S, Stanford NJ, Swainston N, Washington N, Williams AR, Wimalaratne SM, Winfree LM, Wolstencroft K, Goble C, Mungall CJ, Haendel MA, Parkinson H

In many disciplines, data are highly decentralized across thousands of online databases (repositories, registries, and knowledgebases). Wringing value from such databases depends on the discipline of data science and on the humble bricks and mortar that make integration possible; identifiers are a core component of this integration infrastructure. Drawing on our experience and on work by other groups, we outline 10 lessons we have learned about the identifier qualities and best practices that facilitate large-scale data integration. Specifically, we propose actions that identifier practitioners (database providers) should take in the design, provision and reuse of identifiers. We also outline the important considerations for those referencing identifiers in various circumstances, including by authors and data generators. While the importance and relevance of each lesson will vary by context, there is a need for increased awareness about how to avoid and manage common identifier problems, especially those related to persistence and web-accessibility/resolvability. We focus strongly on web-based identifiers in the life sciences; however, the principles are broadly relevant to other disciplines.

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PLoS biology, 15, 1545-7885, e2001414, 2017

PMID: 28662064

Open Access

Hi-C as a tool for precise detection and characterisation of chromosomal rearrangements and copy number variation in human tumours.
Harewood L, Kishore K, Eldridge MD, Wingett S, Pearson D, Schoenfelder S, Collins VP, Fraser P

Chromosomal rearrangements occur constitutionally in the general population and somatically in the majority of cancers. Detection of balanced rearrangements, such as reciprocal translocations and inversions, is troublesome, which is particularly detrimental in oncology where rearrangements play diagnostic and prognostic roles. Here we describe the use of Hi-C as a tool for detection of both balanced and unbalanced chromosomal rearrangements in primary human tumour samples, with the potential to define chromosome breakpoints to bp resolution. In addition, we show copy number profiles can also be obtained from the same data, all at a significantly lower cost than standard sequencing approaches.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 125, 2017

PMID: 28655341

Open Access

Environmental change drives accelerated adaptation through stimulated copy number variation.
Hull RM, Cruz C, Jack CV, Houseley J

Copy number variation (CNV) is rife in eukaryotic genomes and has been implicated in many human disorders, particularly cancer, in which CNV promotes both tumorigenesis and chemotherapy resistance. CNVs are considered random mutations but often arise through replication defects; transcription can interfere with replication fork progression and stability, leading to increased mutation rates at highly transcribed loci. Here we investigate whether inducible promoters can stimulate CNV to yield reproducible, environment-specific genetic changes. We propose a general mechanism for environmentally-stimulated CNV and validate this mechanism for the emergence of copper resistance in budding yeast. By analysing a large cohort of individual cells, we directly demonstrate that CNV of the copper-resistance gene CUP1 is stimulated by environmental copper. CNV stimulation accelerates the formation of novel alleles conferring enhanced copper resistance, such that copper exposure actively drives adaptation to copper-rich environments. Furthermore, quantification of CNV in individual cells reveals remarkable allele selectivity in the rate at which specific environments stimulate CNV. We define the key mechanistic elements underlying this selectivity, demonstrating that CNV is regulated by both promoter activity and acetylation of histone H3 lysine 56 (H3K56ac) and that H3K56ac is required for CUP1 CNV and efficient copper adaptation. Stimulated CNV is not limited to high-copy CUP1 repeat arrays, as we find that H3K56ac also regulates CNV in 3 copy arrays of CUP1 or SFA1 genes. The impact of transcription on DNA damage is well understood, but our research reveals that this apparently problematic association forms a pathway by which mutations can be directed to particular loci in particular environments and furthermore that this mutagenic process can be regulated through histone acetylation. Stimulated CNV therefore represents an unanticipated and remarkably controllable pathway facilitating organismal adaptation to new environments.

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PLoS biology, 15, 1545-7885, e2001333, 2017

PMID: 28654659

Open Access

Flipping between Polycomb repressed and active transcriptional states introduces noise in gene expression.
Kar G, Kim JK, Kolodziejczyk AA, Natarajan KN, Torlai Triglia E, Mifsud B, Elderkin S, Marioni JC, Pombo A, Teichmann SA

Polycomb repressive complexes (PRCs) are important histone modifiers, which silence gene expression; yet, there exists a subset of PRC-bound genes actively transcribed by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). It is likely that the role of Polycomb repressive complex is to dampen expression of these PRC-active genes. However, it is unclear how this flipping between chromatin states alters the kinetics of transcription. Here, we integrate histone modifications and RNAPII states derived from bulk ChIP-seq data with single-cell RNA-sequencing data. We find that Polycomb repressive complex-active genes have greater cell-to-cell variation in expression than active genes, and these results are validated by knockout experiments. We also show that PRC-active genes are clustered on chromosomes in both two and three dimensions, and interactions with active enhancers promote a stabilization of gene expression noise. These findings provide new insights into how chromatin regulation modulates stochastic gene expression and transcriptional bursting, with implications for regulation of pluripotency and development.Polycomb repressive complexes modify histones but it is unclear how changes in chromatin states alter kinetics of transcription. Here, the authors use single-cell RNAseq and ChIPseq to find that actively transcribed genes with Polycomb marks have greater cell-to-cell variation in expression.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 36, 2017

PMID: 28652613

Signals that drive T follicular helper cell formation.
Webb LMC, Linterman MA

T follicular helper (TFH) cells are a distinct type of CD4+ T cell specialized in providing help to B cells during the germinal center (GC) reaction. As such, they are critical determinants of the quality of an antibody response following antigen challenge. Excessive production of TFH cells can result in autoimmunity whilst too few can result in inadequate protection from infection. Hence, their differentiation and maintenance must be tightly regulated to ensure appropriate, but limited, help to B cells. Unlike the majority of other CD4+ T cell subsets, TFH cell differentiation occurs in three phases defined by their anatomical location. During each phase of differentiation the emerging TFH cells express distinct patterns of coreceptors which work together with the T cell receptor (TCR) to drive TFH differentiation. These signals provided by both TCR and coreceptors during TFH differentiation alter proliferation, survival, metabolism, cytokine production and transcription factor expression. This review will discuss how engagement of TCR and coreceptors work together to shape the formation and function of TFH cells. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Immunology, , 1365-2567, , 2017

PMID: 28628194

The histone 3 lysine 4 methyltransferase Setd1b is a maternal effect gene required for the oogenic gene expression program.
Brici D, Zhang Q, Reinhardt S, Dahl A, Hartmann H, Schmidt K, Goveas N, Huang J, Gahurova L, Kelsey G, Anastassiadis K, Stewart AF, Kranz A

Germ cell development involves major reprogramming of the epigenome to prime the zygote for totipotency. Histone 3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methylations are universal epigenetic marks mediated in mammals by six H3K4 methyltransferases related to fly Trithorax, including two yeast Set1 orthologs: Setd1a and Setd1b. Whereas Setd1a plays no role in oogenesis, we report that Setd1b deficiency causes female sterility. Oocyte specific Gdf9iCre conditional knockout (Setd1b(Gdf9) cKO) ovaries develop through all stages however follicular loss accumulated with age and unfertilized metaphase II (MII) oocytes exhibited irregularities of the zona pellucida and meiotic spindle. Most Setd1b(Gdf9) cKO zygotes remained in the pronuclear stage and displayed polyspermy in the perivitelline space. Expression profiling of Setd1b(Gdf9) cKO MII oocytes revealed (i) that Setd1b promotes the expression of the major oocyte transcription factors including Obox1, 2, 5, 7, Meis2 and Sall4; and (ii) two-times more up- than downregulated mRNAs suggesting that Setd1b also promotes the expression of negative regulators of oocyte development with multiple Zfp-KRAB factors implicated. Together, these findings indicate that Setd1b serves as maternal effect gene through regulation of the oocyte gene expression program.

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Development (Cambridge, England), , 1477-9129, , 2017

PMID: 28619824

Cellular Stress in the Context of an Inflammatory Environment Supports TGF-β-Independent T Helper-17 Differentiation.
Brucklacher-Waldert V, Ferreira C, Stebegg M, Fesneau O, Innocentin S, Marie JC, Veldhoen M

T helper-17 (Th17) cells are associated with inflammatory disorders and cancer. We report that environmental conditions resulting in cellular stress, such as low oxygen, glucose, and isotonic stress, particularly enhance the generation of Th17 cells. Pharmacological inhibition of cell stress reduces Th17 cell differentiation while stress inducers enhance the development of Th17 cells. The cellular stress response results in Th17 cell development via sustained cytoplasmic calcium levels and, in part, XBP1 activity. Furthermore, in an inflammatory environment, conditions resulting in cell stress can bring about de novo Th17 cell differentiation, even in the absence of transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling. In vivo, cell stress inhibition enhances resistance to Th17-mediated autoimmunity while stress-exposed T cells enhance disease severity. Adverse metabolic environments during inflammation provide a link between adaptive immunity and inflammation and may represent a risk factor for the development of chronic inflammatory conditions by facilitating Th17 cell differentiation.

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Cell reports, 19, 2211-1247, 2357-2370, 2017

PMID: 28614720

Reciprocal regulation of ARPP-16 by PKA and MAST-3 kinases provides a cAMP-regulated switch in protein phosphatase 2A inhibition.
Musante V, Li L, Kanyo J, Lam TT, Colangelo CM, Cheng SK, Brody H, Greengard P, Le Novère N, Nairn AC

ARPP-16, ARPP-19, and ENSA are inhibitors of protein phosphatase PP2A. ARPP-19 and ENSA phosphorylated by Greatwall kinase inhibit PP2A during mitosis. ARPP-16 is expressed in striatal neurons where basal phosphorylation by MAST3 kinase inhibits PP2A and regulates key components of striatal signaling. The ARPP-16/19 proteins were discovered as substrates for PKA, but the function of PKA phosphorylation is unknown. We find that phosphorylation by PKA or MAST3 mutually suppresses the ability of the other kinase to act on ARPP-16. Phosphorylation by PKA also acts to prevent inhibition of PP2A by ARPP-16 phosphorylated by MAST3. Moreover, PKA phosphorylates MAST3 at multiple sites resulting in its inhibition. Mathematical modeling highlights the role of these three regulatory interactions to create a switch-like response to cAMP. Together the results suggest a complex antagonistic interplay between the control of ARPP-16 by MAST3 and PKA that creates a mechanism whereby cAMP mediates PP2A disinhibition.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28613156

Molecular definitions of autophagy and related processes.
Galluzzi L, Baehrecke EH, Ballabio A, Boya P, Bravo-San Pedro JM, Cecconi F, Choi AM, Chu CT, Codogno P, Colombo MI, Cuervo AM, Debnath J, Deretic V, Dikic I, Eskelinen EL, Fimia GM, Fulda S, Gewirtz DA, Green DR, Hansen M, Harper JW, Jäättelä M, Johansen T, Juhasz G, Kimmelman AC, Kraft C, Ktistakis NT, Kumar S, Levine B, Lopez-Otin C, Madeo F, Martens S, Martinez J, Melendez A, Mizushima N, Münz C, Murphy LO, Penninger JM, Piacentini M, Reggiori F, Rubinsztein DC, Ryan KM, Santambrogio L, Scorrano L, Simon AK, Simon HU, Simonsen A, Tavernarakis N, Tooze SA, Yoshimori T, Yuan J, Yue Z, Zhong Q, Kroemer G

Over the past two decades, the molecular machinery that underlies autophagic responses has been characterized with ever increasing precision in multiple model organisms. Moreover, it has become clear that autophagy and autophagy-related processes have profound implications for human pathophysiology. However, considerable confusion persists about the use of appropriate terms to indicate specific types of autophagy and some components of the autophagy machinery, which may have detrimental effects on the expansion of the field. Driven by the overt recognition of such a potential obstacle, a panel of leading experts in the field attempts here to define several autophagy-related terms based on specific biochemical features. The ultimate objective of this collaborative exchange is to formulate recommendations that facilitate the dissemination of knowledge within and outside the field of autophagy research.

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The EMBO journal, , 1460-2075, , 2017

PMID: 28596378

Characterization of the B Cell Transcriptome Bound by RNA-Binding Proteins with iCLIP.
Díaz-Muñoz MD, Monzón-Casanova E, Turner M

Posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression shapes the B cell transcriptome and controls messenger RNA (mRNA) translation into protein. Recent reports have highlighted the importance of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) for mRNA splicing, subcellular location, stability, and translation during B lymphocyte development, activation, and differentiation. Here we describe individual-nucleotide resolution UV cross-linking and immunoprecipitation (iCLIP) in primary lymphocytes, a method that maps RNA-protein interactions in a genome-wide scale allowing mechanistic analysis of RBP function. We discuss the latest improvements in iCLIP technology and provide some examples of how integration of the RNA-protein interactome with other high-throughput mRNA sequencing methodologies uncovers the important role of RBP-mediated RNA regulation in key biological cell processes.

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Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1623, 1940-6029, 159-179, 2017

PMID: 28589356

Identifying Follicular Regulatory T Cells by Confocal Microscopy.
Vanderleyden I, Linterman MA

Follicular regulatory T cells are a subset of Foxp3(+) regulatory T cells that migrate into the B cell follicle after infection or immunization and modulate the germinal center response. The anatomical positioning of follicular regulatory T cells within the germinal center is a defining characteristic of this subset of regulatory T cells; because of this, it is critical that studies of follicular regulatory T cells are able to identify them in situ. In this chapter we describe an immunofluorescence staining method to visualize follicular regulatory T cells in frozen secondary lymphoid tissue sections by confocal imaging.

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Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1623, 1940-6029, 87-93, 2017

PMID: 28589349

No Functional Role for microRNA-342 in a Mouse Model of Pancreatic Acinar Carcinoma.
Dooley J, Lagou V, Pasciuto E, Linterman MA, Prosser HM, Himmelreich U, Liston A

The intronic microRNA (miR)-342 has been proposed as a potent tumor-suppressor gene. miR-342 is found to be downregulated or epigenetically silenced in multiple different tumor sites, and this loss of expression permits the upregulation of several key oncogenic pathways. In several different cell lines, lower miR-342 expression results in enhanced proliferation and metastasis potential, both in vitro and in xenogenic transplant conditions. Here, we sought to determine the function of miR-342 in an in vivo spontaneous cancer model, using the Ela1-TAg transgenic model of pancreatic acinar carcinoma. Through longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging monitoring of Ela1-TAg transgenic mice, either wild-type or knockout for miR-342, we found no role for miR-342 in the development, growth rate, or pathogenicity of pancreatic acinar carcinoma. These results indicate the importance of assessing miR function in the complex physiology of in vivo model systems and indicate that further functional testing of miR-342 is required before concluding it is a bona fide tumor-suppressor-miR.

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Frontiers in oncology, 7, , 101, 2017

PMID: 28573106

Open Access

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

Escherichia coli Heat-Labile Enterotoxin B Limits T Cells Activation by Promoting Immature Dendritic Cells and Enhancing Regulatory T Cell Function.
Bignon A, Watt AP, Linterman MA

Treatments to limit T cell activation are essential for managing autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The B subunit of Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin (EtxB) is known to ameliorate inflammatory disease in vivo but the mechanism by which this is mediated is not well understood. Here, we show that following intranasal administration, EtxB acts on two key cellular regulators of T cell activation: regulatory T cells and dendritic cells (DCs). EtxB enhances the proliferation of lung regulatory T cells and doubles their suppressive function, likely through an increase in expression of the Treg effector molecule CTLA-4. EtxB supports the generation of interleukin-10-producing DCs that are unable to activate T cells. These data show, for the first time, that mucosal EtxB treatment limits T cells activation by acting jointly on two distinct types of immune cells.

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Frontiers in immunology, 8, , 560, 2017

PMID: 28555139

Open Access

Control of cell death and mitochondrial fission by ERK1/2 MAP Kinase signalling.
Cook SJ, Stuart K, Gilley R, Sale MJ

The ERK1/2 signalling pathway is best known for its role in connecting activated growth factor receptors to changes in gene expression due to activated ERK1/2 entering the nucleus and phosphorylating transcription factors. However, active ERK1/2 also translocate to a variety of other organelles including the endoplasmic reticulum, endosomes, golgi and mitochondria to access specific substrates and influence cell physiology. In this article we review two aspects of ERK1/2 signalling at the mitochondria that are involved in regulating cell fate decisions. First, we describe the prominent role of ERK1/2 in controlling the BCL2-regulated, cell-intrinsic apoptotic pathway. In most cases ERK1/2 signalling promotes cell survival by activating pro-survival BCL2 proteins (BCL2, BCL-xL and MCL1) and repressing pro-death proteins (BAD, BIM, BMF and PUMA). This pro-survival signalling is co-opted by oncogenes to confer cancer cell-specific survival advantages and we describe how this information has been used to develop new drug combinations. However, ERK1/2 can also drive the expression of the pro-death protein NOXA to control 'autophagy or apoptosis' decisions during nutrient starvation. We also describe recent studies demonstrating a link between ERK1/2 signalling, DRP1 and the mitochondrial fission machinery and how this may influence metabolic reprogramming during tumorigenesis and stem cell reprogramming. With advances in sub-cellular proteomics it is likely that new roles for ERK1/2, and new substrates, remain to be discovered at the mitochondria and other organelles. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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The FEBS journal, , 1742-4658, , 2017

PMID: 28548464

Proliferation Drives Aging-Related Functional Decline in a Subpopulation of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Compartment.
Kirschner K, Chandra T, Kiselev V, Flores-Santa Cruz D, Macaulay IC, Park HJ, Li J, Kent DG, Kumar R, Pask DC, Hamilton TL, Hemberg M, Reik W, Green AR

Aging of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment is characterized by lineage bias and reduced stem cell function, the molecular basis of which is largely unknown. Using single-cell transcriptomics, we identified a distinct subpopulation of old HSCs carrying a p53 signature indicative of stem cell decline alongside pro-proliferative JAK/STAT signaling. To investigate the relationship between JAK/STAT and p53 signaling, we challenged HSCs with a constitutively active form of JAK2 (V617F) and observed an expansion of the p53-positive subpopulation in old mice. Our results reveal cellular heterogeneity in the onset of HSC aging and implicate a role for JAK2V617F-driven proliferation in the p53-mediated functional decline of old HSCs.

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Cell reports, 19, 2211-1247, 1503-1511, 2017

PMID: 28538171

BACH2 immunodeficiency illustrates an association between super-enhancers and haploinsufficiency.
Afzali B, Grönholm J, Vandrovcova J, O'Brien C, Sun HW, Vanderleyden I, Davis FP, Khoder A, Zhang Y, Hegazy AN, Villarino AV, Palmer IW, Kaufman J, Watts NR, Kazemian M, Kamenyeva O, Keith J, Sayed A, Kasperaviciute D, Mueller M, Hughes JD, Fuss IJ, Sadiyah MF, Montgomery-Recht K, McElwee J, Restifo NP, Strober W, Linterman MA, Wingfield PT, Uhlig HH, Roychoudhuri R, Aitman TJ, Kelleher P, Lenardo MJ, O'Shea JJ, Cooper N, Laurence ADJ

The transcriptional programs that guide lymphocyte differentiation depend on the precise expression and timing of transcription factors (TFs). The TF BACH2 is essential for T and B lymphocytes and is associated with an archetypal super-enhancer (SE). Single-nucleotide variants in the BACH2 locus are associated with several autoimmune diseases, but BACH2 mutations that cause Mendelian monogenic primary immunodeficiency have not previously been identified. Here we describe a syndrome of BACH2-related immunodeficiency and autoimmunity (BRIDA) that results from BACH2 haploinsufficiency. Affected subjects had lymphocyte-maturation defects that caused immunoglobulin deficiency and intestinal inflammation. The mutations disrupted protein stability by interfering with homodimerization or by causing aggregation. We observed analogous lymphocyte defects in Bach2-heterozygous mice. More generally, we observed that genes that cause monogenic haploinsufficient diseases were substantially enriched for TFs and SE architecture. These findings reveal a previously unrecognized feature of SE architecture in Mendelian diseases of immunity: heterozygous mutations in SE-regulated genes identified by whole-exome/genome sequencing may have greater significance than previously recognized.

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Nature immunology, , 1529-2916, , 2017

PMID: 28530713

A MILI-independent piRNA biogenesis pathway empowers partial germline reprogramming.
Vasiliauskaitė L, Vitsios D, Berrens RV, Carrieri C, Reik W, Enright AJ, O'Carroll D

In mice, the pathway involving PIWI and PIWI-interacting RNA (PIWI-piRNA) is essential to re-establish transposon silencing during male-germline reprogramming. The cytoplasmic PIWI protein MILI mediates piRNA-guided transposon RNA cleavage as well as piRNA amplification. MIWI2's binding to piRNA and its nuclear localization are proposed to be dependent upon MILI function. Here, we demonstrate the existence of a piRNA biogenesis pathway that sustains partial MIWI2 function and reprogramming activity in the absence of MILI.

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Nature structural & molecular biology, , 1545-9985, , 2017

PMID: 28530707

Transcription and chromatin determinants of de novo DNA methylation timing in oocytes.
Gahurova L, Tomizawa SI, Smallwood SA, Stewart-Morgan KR, Saadeh H, Kim J, Andrews SR, Chen T, Kelsey G

Gametogenesis in mammals entails profound re-patterning of the epigenome. In the female germline, DNA methylation is acquired late in oogenesis from an essentially unmethylated baseline and is established largely as a consequence of transcription events. Molecular and functional studies have shown that imprinted genes become methylated at different times during oocyte growth; however, little is known about the kinetics of methylation gain genome wide and the reasons for asynchrony in methylation at imprinted loci.

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Epigenetics & chromatin, 10, 1756-8935, 25, 2017

PMID: 28507606

Open Access

Transcriptional response of Hoxb genes to retinoid signalling is regionally restricted along the neural tube rostrocaudal axis.
Carucci N, Cacci E, Nisi PS, Licursi V, Paul YL, Biagioni S, Negri R, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Lupo G

During vertebrate neural development, positional information is largely specified by extracellular morphogens. Their distribution, however, is very dynamic due to the multiple roles played by the same signals in the developing and adult neural tissue. This suggests that neural progenitors are able to modify their competence to respond to morphogen signalling and autonomously maintain positional identities after their initial specification. In this work, we take advantage of in vitro culture systems of mouse neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) to show that NSPCs isolated from rostral or caudal regions of the mouse neural tube are differentially responsive to retinoic acid (RA), a pivotal morphogen for the specification of posterior neural fates. Hoxb genes are among the best known RA direct targets in the neural tissue, yet we found that RA could promote their transcription only in caudal but not in rostral NSPCs. Correlating with these effects, key RA-responsive regulatory regions in the Hoxb cluster displayed opposite enrichment of activating or repressing histone marks in rostral and caudal NSPCs. Finally, RA was able to strengthen Hoxb chromatin activation in caudal NSPCs, but was ineffective on the repressed Hoxb chromatin of rostral NSPCs. These results suggest that the response of NSPCs to morphogen signalling across the rostrocaudal axis of the neural tube may be gated by the epigenetic configuration of target patterning genes, allowing long-term maintenance of intrinsic positional values in spite of continuously changing extrinsic signals.

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Royal Society open science, 4, , 160913, 2017

PMID: 28484611

Open Access

RNA binding by the histone methyltransferases Set1 and Set2.
Sayou C, Millán-Zambrano G, Santos-Rosa H, Petfalski E, Robson S, Houseley J, Kouzarides T, Tollervey D

Histone methylation at H3K4 and H3K36 is commonly associated with genes actively transcribed by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) and is catalyzed by yeast Set1 and Set2, respectively. Here we report that both methyltransferases can be UV-crosslinked to RNA in vivo. High-throughput sequencing of the bound RNAs revealed strong Set1 enrichment near the transcription start site, whereas Set2 was distributed along pre-mRNAs. A subset of transcripts showed notably high enrichment for Set1 or Set2 binding relative to RNAPII, suggesting functional post-transcriptional interactions. In particular, Set1 was strongly bound to the SET1 mRNA, Ty1 retrotransposons, and non-coding RNAs from the rDNA intergenic spacers, consistent with its previously reported silencing roles. Set1 lacking RRM2 showed reduced in vivo crosslinking to RNA and reduced chromatin occupancy. In addition, levels of H3K4 tri-methylation were decreased whereas di-methylation was increased. We conclude that RNA binding by Set1 contributes to both chromatin association and methyltransferase activity.

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Molecular and cellular biology, , 1098-5549, , 2017

PMID: 28483910

Open Access