Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health


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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Pharmacological modulators of autophagy activate a parallel noncanonical pathway driving unconventional LC3 lipidation.
Jacquin E, Leclerc-Mercier S, Judon C, Blanchard E, Fraitag S, Florey O

The modulation of canonical macroautophagy/autophagy for therapeutic benefit is an emerging strategy of medical and pharmaceutical interest. Many drugs act to inhibit autophagic flux by targeting lysosome function, while others were developed to activate the pathway. Here, we report the surprising finding that many therapeutically relevant autophagy modulators with lysosomotropic and ionophore properties, classified as inhibitors of canonical autophagy, are also capable of activating a parallel noncanonical autophagy pathway that drives MAP1LC3/LC3 lipidation on endolysosomal membranes. Further, we provide the first evidence supporting drug-induced noncanonical autophagy in vivo using the local anesthetic lidocaine and human skin biopsies. In addition, we find that several published inducers of autophagy and mitophagy are also potent activators of noncanonical autophagy. Together, our data raise important issues regarding the interpretation of LC3 lipidation data and the use of autophagy modulators, and highlight the need for a greater understanding of the functional consequences of noncanonical autophagy.

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Autophagy, , 1554-8635, 1-14, 2017

PMID: 28296541

Class (I) Phosphoinositide 3-Kinases in the Tumor Microenvironment.
Gyori D, Chessa T, Hawkins PT, Stephens LR

Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are a diverse family of enzymes which regulate various critical biological processes, such as cell proliferation and survival. Class (I) PI3Ks (PI3Kα, PI3Kβ, PI3Kγ and PI3Kδ) mediate the phosphorylation of the inositol ring at position D3 leading to the generation of PtdIns(3,4,5)P3. PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 can be dephosphorylated by several phosphatases, of which the best known is the 3-phosphatase PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog). The Class (I) PI3K pathway is frequently disrupted in human cancers where mutations are associated with increased PI3K-activity or loss of PTEN functionality within the tumor cells. However, the role of PI3Ks in the tumor stroma is less well understood. Recent evidence suggests that the white blood cell-selective PI3Kγ and PI3Kδ isoforms have an important role in regulating the immune-suppressive, tumor-associated myeloid cell and regulatory T cell subsets, respectively, and as a consequence are also critical for solid tumor growth. Moreover, PI3Kα is implicated in the direct regulation of tumor angiogenesis, and dysregulation of the PI3K pathway in stromal fibroblasts can also contribute to cancer progression. Therefore, pharmacological inhibition of the Class (I) PI3K family in the tumor microenvironment can be a highly attractive anti-cancer strategy and isoform-selective PI3K inhibitors may act as potent cancer immunotherapeutic and anti-angiogenic agents.

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Cancers, 9, , , 2017

PMID: 28273837

Open Access

Genome-wide mapping of long-range contacts unveils clustering of DNA double-strand breaks at damaged active genes.
Aymard F, Aguirrebengoa M, Guillou E, Javierre BM, Bugler B, Arnould C, Rocher V, Iacovoni JS, Biernacka A, Skrzypczak M, Ginalski K, Rowicka M, Fraser P, Legube G

The ability of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) to cluster in mammalian cells has been a subject of intense debate in recent years. Here we used a high-throughput chromosome conformation capture assay (capture Hi-C) to investigate clustering of DSBs induced at defined loci in the human genome. The results unambiguously demonstrated that DSBs cluster, but only when they are induced within transcriptionally active genes. Clustering of damaged genes occurs primarily during the G1 cell-cycle phase and coincides with delayed repair. Moreover, DSB clustering depends on the MRN complex as well as the Formin 2 (FMN2) nuclear actin organizer and the linker of nuclear and cytoplasmic skeleton (LINC) complex, thus suggesting that active mechanisms promote clustering. This work reveals that, when damaged, active genes, compared with the rest of the genome, exhibit a distinctive behavior, remaining largely unrepaired and clustered in G1, and being repaired via homologous recombination in postreplicative cells.

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

PMID: 28263325

NMN Deamidase Delays Wallerian Degeneration and Rescues Axonal Defects Caused by NMNAT2 Deficiency In Vivo.
Di Stefano M, Loreto A, Orsomando G, Mori V, Zamporlini F, Hulse RP, Webster J, Donaldson LF, Gering M, Raffaelli N, Coleman MP, Gilley J, Conforti L

Axons require the axonal NAD-synthesizing enzyme NMNAT2 to survive. Injury or genetically induced depletion of NMNAT2 triggers axonal degeneration or defective axon growth. We have previously proposed that axonal NMNAT2 primarily promotes axon survival by maintaining low levels of its substrate NMN rather than generating NAD; however, this is still debated. NMN deamidase, a bacterial enzyme, shares NMN-consuming activity with NMNAT2, but not NAD-synthesizing activity, and it delays axon degeneration in primary neuronal cultures. Here we show that NMN deamidase can also delay axon degeneration in zebrafish larvae and in transgenic mice. Like overexpressed NMNATs, NMN deamidase reduces NMN accumulation in injured mouse sciatic nerves and preserves some axons for up to three weeks, even when expressed at a low level. Remarkably, NMN deamidase also rescues axonal outgrowth and perinatal lethality in a dose-dependent manner in mice lacking NMNAT2. These data further support a pro-degenerative effect of accumulating NMN in axons in vivo. The NMN deamidase mouse will be an important tool to further probe the mechanisms underlying Wallerian degeneration and its prevention.

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Current biology : CB, , 1879-0445, , 2017

PMID: 28262487

DNA methylation homeostasis in human and mouse development.
Iurlaro M, von Meyenn F, Reik W

The molecular pathways that regulate gain and loss of DNA methylation during mammalian development need to be tightly balanced to maintain a physiological equilibrium. Here we explore the relative contributions of the different pathways and enzymatic activities involved in methylation homeostasis in the context of genome-wide and locus-specific epigenetic reprogramming in mammals. An adaptable epigenetic machinery allows global epigenetic reprogramming to concur with local maintenance of critical epigenetic memory in the genome, and appears to regulate the tempo of global reprogramming in different cell lineages and species.

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Current opinion in genetics & development, 43, 1879-0380, 101-109, 2017

PMID: 28260631

Aging yeast gain a competitive advantage on non-optimal carbon sources.
Frenk S, Pizza G, Walker RV, Houseley J

Animals, plants and fungi undergo an aging process with remarkable physiological and molecular similarities, suggesting that aging has long been a fact of life for eukaryotes and one to which our unicellular ancestors were subject. Key biochemical pathways that impact longevity evolved prior to multicellularity, and the interactions between these pathways and the aging process therefore emerged in ancient single-celled eukaryotes. Nevertheless, we do not fully understand how aging impacts the fitness of unicellular organisms, and whether such cells gain a benefit from modulating rather than simply suppressing the aging process. We hypothesized that age-related loss of fitness in single-celled eukaryotes may be counterbalanced, partly or wholly, by a transition from a specialist to a generalist life-history strategy that enhances adaptability to other environments. We tested this hypothesis in budding yeast using competition assays and found that while young cells are more successful in glucose, highly aged cells outcompete young cells on other carbon sources such as galactose. This occurs because aged yeast divide faster than young cells in galactose, reversing the normal association between age and fitness. The impact of aging on single-celled organisms is therefore complex and may be regulated in ways that anticipate changing nutrient availability. We propose that pathways connecting nutrient availability with aging arose in unicellular eukaryotes to capitalize on age-linked diversity in growth strategy and that individual cells in higher eukaryotes may similarly diversify during aging to the detriment of the organism as a whole.

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Aging cell, , 1474-9726, , 2017

PMID: 28247585

Open Access

Cell cycle RNA regulons coordinating early lymphocyte development.
Galloway A, Turner M

Lymphocytes undergo dynamic changes in gene expression as they develop from progenitor cells lacking antigen receptors, to mature cells that are prepared to mount immune responses. While transcription factors have established roles in lymphocyte development, they act in concert with post-transcriptional and post-translational regulators to determine the proteome. Furthermore, the post-transcriptional regulation of RNA regulons consisting of mRNAs whose protein products act cooperatively allows RNA binding proteins to exert their effects at multiple points in a pathway. Here, we review recent evidence demonstrating the importance of RNA binding proteins that control the cell cycle in lymphocyte development and discuss the implications for tumorigenesis. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

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Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. RNA, , 1757-7012, , 2017

PMID: 28231639

The Ageing Brain: Effects on DNA Repair and DNA Methylation in Mice.
Langie SA, Cameron KM, Ficz G, Oxley D, Tomaszewski B, Gorniak JP, Maas LM, Godschalk RW, van Schooten FJ, Reik W, von Zglinicki T, Mathers JC

Base excision repair (BER) may become less effective with ageing resulting in accumulation of DNA lesions, genome instability and altered gene expression that contribute to age-related degenerative diseases. The brain is particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of DNA lesions; hence, proper functioning of DNA repair mechanisms is important for neuronal survival. Although the mechanism of age-related decline in DNA repair capacity is unknown, growing evidence suggests that epigenetic events (e.g., DNA methylation) contribute to the ageing process and may be functionally important through the regulation of the expression of DNA repair genes. We hypothesize that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in mediating the age-related decline in BER in the brain. Brains from male mice were isolated at 3-32 months of age. Pyrosequencing analyses revealed significantly increased Ogg1 methylation with ageing, which correlated inversely with Ogg1 expression. The reduced Ogg1 expression correlated with enhanced expression of methyl-CpG binding protein 2 and ten-eleven translocation enzyme 2. A significant inverse correlation between Neil1 methylation at CpG-site2 and expression was also observed. BER activity was significantly reduced and associated with increased 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine levels. These data indicate that Ogg1 and Neil1 expression can be epigenetically regulated, which may mediate the effects of ageing on DNA repair in the brain.

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Genes, 8, , , 2017

PMID: 28218666

Open Access

Obesity-Induced Metabolic Stress Leads to Biased Effector Memory CD4(+) T Cell Differentiation via PI3K p110δ-Akt-Mediated Signals.
Mauro C, Smith J, Cucchi D, Coe D, Fu H, Bonacina F, Baragetti A, Cermenati G, Caruso D, Mitro N, Catapano AL, Ammirati E, Longhi MP, Okkenhaug K, Norata GD, Marelli-Berg FM

Low-grade systemic inflammation associated to obesity leads to cardiovascular complications, caused partly by infiltration of adipose and vascular tissue by effector T cells. The signals leading to T cell differentiation and tissue infiltration during obesity are poorly understood. We tested whether saturated fatty acid-induced metabolic stress affects differentiation and trafficking patterns of CD4(+) T cells. Memory CD4(+) T cells primed in high-fat diet-fed donors preferentially migrated to non-lymphoid, inflammatory sites, independent of the metabolic status of the hosts. This was due to biased CD4(+) T cell differentiation into CD44(hi)-CCR7(lo)-CD62L(lo)-CXCR3(+)-LFA1(+) effector memory-like T cells upon priming in high-fat diet-fed animals. Similar phenotype was observed in obese subjects in a cohort of free-living people. This developmental bias was independent of any crosstalk between CD4(+) T cells and dendritic cells and was mediated via direct exposure of CD4(+) T cells to palmitate, leading to increased activation of a PI3K p110δ-Akt-dependent pathway upon priming.

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Cell metabolism, , 1932-7420, , 2017

PMID: 28190771

Specifications of Standards in Systems and Synthetic Biology: Status and Developments in 2016.
Schreiber F, Bader GD, Gleeson P, Golebiewski M, Hucka M, Le Novère N, Myers C, Nickerson D, Sommer B, Walthemath D

Standards are essential to the advancement of science and technology. In systems and synthetic biology, numerous standards and associated tools have been developed over the last 16 years. This special issue of the Journal of Integrative Bioinformatics aims to support the exchange, distribution and archiving of these standards, as well as to provide centralised and easily citable access to them.

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Journal of integrative bioinformatics, 13, 1613-4516, 289, 2016

PMID: 28187405

Genome-wide base-resolution mapping of DNA methylation in single cells using single-cell bisulfite sequencing (scBS-seq).
Clark SJ, Smallwood SA, Lee HJ, Krueger F, Reik W, Kelsey G

DNA methylation (DNAme) is an important epigenetic mark in diverse species. Our current understanding of DNAme is based on measurements from bulk cell samples, which obscures intercellular differences and prevents analyses of rare cell types. Thus, the ability to measure DNAme in single cells has the potential to make important contributions to the understanding of several key biological processes, such as embryonic development, disease progression and aging. We have recently reported a method for generating genome-wide DNAme maps from single cells, using single-cell bisulfite sequencing (scBS-seq), allowing the quantitative measurement of DNAme at up to 50% of CpG dinucleotides throughout the mouse genome. Here we present a detailed protocol for scBS-seq that includes our most recent developments to optimize recovery of CpGs, mapping efficiency and success rate; reduce hands-on time; and increase sample throughput with the option of using an automated liquid handler. We provide step-by-step instructions for each stage of the method, comprising cell lysis and bisulfite (BS) conversion, preamplification and adaptor tagging, library amplification, sequencing and, lastly, alignment and methylation calling. An individual with relevant molecular biology expertise can complete library preparation within 3 d. Subsequent computational steps require 1-3 d for someone with bioinformatics expertise.

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Nature protocols, 12, 1750-2799, 534-547, 2017

PMID: 28182018

Tracking the embryonic stem cell transition from ground state pluripotency.
Kalkan T, Olova N, Roode M, Mulas C, Lee HJ, Nett I, Marks H, Walker R, Stunnenberg HG, Lilley KS, Nichols J, Reik W, Bertone P, Smith A

Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are locked into self-renewal by shielding from inductive cues. Release from this ground state in minimal conditions offers a system for delineating developmental progression from naive pluripotency. Here we examined the initial transition process. The ES cell population behaves asynchronously. We therefore exploited a short-half-life Rex1::GFP reporter to isolate cells either side of exit from naive status. Extinction of ES cell identity in single cells is acute. It occurs only after near-complete elimination of naïve pluripotency factors, but precedes appearance of lineage specification markers. Cells newly departed from the ES cell state display features of early post-implantation epiblast and are distinct from primed epiblast. They also exhibit a genome-wide increase in DNA methylation, intermediate between early and late epiblast. These findings are consistent with the proposition that naive cells transition to a distinct formative phase of pluripotency preparatory to lineage priming.

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

PMID: 28174249

Open Access

Gender Differences in Global but Not Targeted Demethylation in iPSC Reprogramming.
Milagre I, Stubbs TM, King MR, Spindel J, Santos F, Krueger F, Bachman M, Segonds-Pichon A, Balasubramanian S, Andrews SR, Dean W, Reik W

Global DNA demethylation is an integral part of reprogramming processes in vivo and in vitro, but whether it occurs in the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is not known. Here, we show that iPSC reprogramming involves both global and targeted demethylation, which are separable mechanistically and by their biological outcomes. Cells at intermediate-late stages of reprogramming undergo transient genome-wide demethylation, which is more pronounced in female cells. Global demethylation requires activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID)-mediated downregulation of UHRF1 protein, and abolishing demethylation leaves thousands of hypermethylated regions in the iPSC genome. Independently of AID and global demethylation, regulatory regions, particularly ESC enhancers and super-enhancers, are specifically targeted for hypomethylation in association with transcription of the pluripotency network. Our results show that global and targeted DNA demethylation are conserved and distinct reprogramming processes, presumably because of their respective roles in epigenetic memory erasure and in the establishment of cell identity.

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Cell reports, 18, 2211-1247, 1079-1089, 2017

PMID: 28147265

DNA methylation and gene expression changes derived from assisted reproductive technologies can be decreased by reproductive fluids.
Canovas S, Ivanova E, Romar R, García-Martínez S, Soriano-Úbeda C, García-Vázquez FA, Saadeh H, Andrews S, Kelsey G, Coy P

The number of children born since the origin of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) exceeds 5 million. The majority seem healthy, but a higher frequency of defects has been reported among ART-conceived infants, suggesting an epigenetic cost. We report the first whole-genome DNA methylation datasets from single pig blastocysts showing differences between in vivo and in vitro produced embryos. Blastocysts were produced in vitro either without (C-IVF) or in the presence of natural reproductive fluids (Natur-IVF). Natur-IVF embryos were of higher quality than C-IVF in terms of cell number and hatching ability to. RNA-Seq and DNA methylation analyses showed that Natur-IVF embryos have expression and methylation patterns closer to in vivo blastocysts. Genes involved in reprogramming, imprinting and development were affected by culture, with fewer aberrations in Natur-IVF embryos. Methylation analysis detected methylated changes in C-IVF, but not in Natur-IVF, at genes whose methylation could be critical, such as IGF2R and NNAT.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28134613

Open Access

Autotaxin-lysophosphatidic acid receptor signalling regulates hepatitis C virus replication.
Farquhar MJ, Humphreys IS, Rudge SA, Wilson GK, Bhattacharya B, Ciaccia M, Hu K, Zhang Q, Mailly L, Reynolds GM, Aschcroft M, Balfe P, Baumert TF, Roessler S, Wakelam MJ, McKeating JA

Chronic hepatitis C is a global health problem with an estimated 170 million HCV infected individuals at risk of progressive liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Autotaxin (ATX) is a phospholipase with diverse roles in physiological and pathological processes including inflammation and oncogenesis. Clinical studies have reported increased ATX expression in chronic hepatitis C, however, the pathways regulating ATX and its role in the viral life cycle are not well understood.

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Journal of hepatology, , 1600-0641, , 2017

PMID: 28126468

Defective germinal center B-cell response and reduced arthritic pathology in microRNA-29a-deficient mice.
van Nieuwenhuijze A, Dooley J, Humblet-Baron S, Sreenivasan J, Koenders M, Schlenner SM, Linterman M, Liston A

MicroRNA (miR) are short non-coding RNA sequences of 19-24 nucleotides that regulate gene expression by binding to mRNA target sequences. The miR-29 family of miR (miR-29a, b-1, b-2 and c) is a key player in T-cell differentiation and effector function, with deficiency causing thymic involution and a more inflammatory T-cell profile. However, the relative roles of different miR-29 family members in these processes have not been dissected. We studied the immunological role of the individual members of the miR-29 family using mice deficient for miR-29a/b-1 or miR-29b-2/c in homeostasis and during collagen-induced arthritis. We found a definitive hierarchy of immunological function, with the strong phenotype of miR-29a-deficiency in thymic involution and T-cell activation being reduced or absent in miR-29c-deficient mice. Strikingly, despite elevating the Th1 and Th17 responses, loss of miR-29a conferred near-complete protection from collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), with profound defects in B-cell proliferation and antibody production. Our results identify the hierarchical structure of the miR-29 family in T-cell biology, and identify miR-29a in B cells as a potential therapeutic target in arthritis.

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Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS, , 1420-9071, , 2017

PMID: 28124096

RNA-binding proteins mind the GAPs.
Turner M, Monzón-Casanova E

Nature immunology, 18, 1529-2916, 146-148, 2017

PMID: 28102216

Diet-Derived Short Chain Fatty Acids Stimulate Intestinal Epithelial Cells To Induce Mucosal Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells.
Goverse G, Molenaar R, Macia L, Tan J, Erkelens MN, Konijn T, Knippenberg M, Cook EC, Hanekamp D, Veldhoen M, Hartog A, Roeselers G, Mackay CR, Mebius RE

The gastrointestinal tract is continuously exposed to many environmental factors that influence intestinal epithelial cells and the underlying mucosal immune system. In this article, we demonstrate that dietary fiber and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) induced the expression of the vitamin A-converting enzyme RALDH1 in intestinal epithelial cells in vivo and in vitro, respectively. Furthermore, our data showed that the expression levels of RALDH1 in small intestinal epithelial cells correlated with the activity of vitamin A-converting enzymes in mesenteric lymph node dendritic cells, along with increased numbers of intestinal regulatory T cells and a higher production of luminal IgA. Moreover, we show that the consumption of dietary fiber can alter the composition of SCFA-producing microbiota and SCFA production in the small intestines. In conclusion, our data illustrate that dietary adjustments affect small intestinal epithelial cells and can be used to modulate the mucosal immune system.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), , 1550-6606, , 2017

PMID: 28100682

DNA methylation is dispensable for changes in global chromatin architecture but required for chromocentre formation in early stem cell differentiation.
Hassan-Zadeh V, Rugg-Gunn P, Bazett-Jones DP

Epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs), which are pluripotent cells isolated from early post-implantation mouse embryos (E5.5), show both similarities and differences compared to mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), isolated earlier from the inner cell mass (ICM) of the E3.5 embryo. Previously, we have observed that while chromatin is very dispersed in E3.5 ICM, compact chromatin domains and chromocentres appear in E5.5 epiblasts after embryo implantation. Given that the observed chromatin re-organization in E5.5 epiblasts coincides with an increase in DNA methylation, in this study, we aimed to examine the role of DNA methylation in chromatin re-organization during the in vitro conversion of ESCs to EpiSCs. The requirement for DNA methylation was determined by converting both wild-type and DNA methylation-deficient ESCs to EpiSCs, followed by structural analysis with electron spectroscopic imaging (ESI). We show that the chromatin re-organization which occurs in vivo can be re-capitulated in vitro during the ESC to EpiSC conversion. Indeed, after 7 days in EpiSC media, compact chromatin domains begin to appear throughout the nuclear volume, creating a chromatin organization similar to E5 epiblasts and embryo-derived EpiSCs. Our data demonstrate that DNA methylation is dispensable for this global chromatin re-organization but required for the compaction of pericentromeric chromatin into chromocentres.

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Chromosoma, , 1432-0886, , 2017

PMID: 28084535

Derivation and Culture of Epiblast Stem Cell (EpiSC) Lines.
Rugg-Gunn P

This protocol describes the derivation and culture of epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) from early postimplantation epiblasts. EpiSCs can be maintained in an undifferentiated state and retain the ability to generate tissues from all three germ layers in vitro and to form teratomas in vivo. However, they seem unable to form chimeras. Whether this is due to differences in developmental status or a cellular incompatibility (e.g., cell adhesion) between EpiSCs and the host inner cell mass (ICM) is currently unclear. Other differences between mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells and EpiSCs also exist, including gene expression profiles and different growth factor requirements for self-renewal. Thus, EpiSCs provide an important in vitro model for studying the establishment and maintenance of pluripotency in postimplantation epiblast tissues.

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Cold Spring Harbor protocols, 2017, 1559-6095, pdb.prot093971, 2017

PMID: 28049783

Derivation and Culture of Extra-Embryonic Endoderm Stem Cell Lines.
Rugg-Gunn P

Whereas embryonic stem (ES) cells are isolated from the embryonic lineage of the blastocyst, other stable stem cell lines can be derived from the extraembryonic tissues of the early mouse embryo. Trophoblast stem (TS) cells are derived from trophectoderm and early postimplantation trophoblast, and extraembryonic endoderm stem (XEN) cells are derived from primitive endoderm. The derivation of XEN cell lines from 3.5-dpc mouse blastocysts, described here, is similar to the derivation of TS cell lines. TS and XEN cells can self-renew in vitro and differentiate in vitro and in chimeras (in vivo) in a lineage-appropriate manner, showing the developmental potential of their origin, thus providing important models to study the mouse extraembryonic lineages.

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Cold Spring Harbor protocols, 2017, 1559-6095, pdb.prot093963, 2017

PMID: 28049782

XACT Noncoding RNA Competes with XIST in the Control of X Chromosome Activity during Human Early Development.
Vallot C, Patrat C, Collier AJ, Huret C, Casanova M, Liyakat Ali TM, Tosolini M, Frydman N, Heard E, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Rougeulle C

Sex chromosome dosage compensation is essential in most metazoans, but the developmental timing and underlying mechanisms vary significantly, even among placental mammals. Here we identify human-specific mechanisms regulating X chromosome activity in early embryonic development. Single-cell RNA sequencing and imaging revealed co-activation and accumulation of the long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) XACT and XIST on active X chromosomes in both early human pre-implantation embryos and naive human embryonic stem cells. In these contexts, the XIST RNA adopts an unusual, highly dispersed organization, which may explain why it does not trigger X chromosome inactivation at this stage. Functional studies in transgenic mouse cells show that XACT influences XIST accumulation in cis. Our findings therefore suggest a mechanism involving antagonistic activity of XIST and XACT in controlling X chromosome activity in early human embryos, and they highlight the contribution of rapidly evolving lncRNAs to species-specific developmental mechanisms.

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Cell stem cell, , 1875-9777, , 2016

PMID: 27989768

Open Access

A Hox-Embedded Long Noncoding RNA: Is It All Hot Air?
Selleri L, Bartolomei MS, Bickmore WA, He L, Stubbs L, Reik W, Barsh GS

PLoS genetics, 12, 1553-7404, e1006485, 2016

PMID: 27977680

Open Access

Deletion of the Polycomb-Group Protein EZH2 Leads to Compromised Self-Renewal and Differentiation Defects in Human Embryonic Stem Cells.
Collinson A, Collier AJ, Morgan NP, Sienerth AR, Chandra T, Andrews S, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Through the histone methyltransferase EZH2, the Polycomb complex PRC2 mediates H3K27me3 and is associated with transcriptional repression. PRC2 regulates cell-fate decisions in model organisms; however, its role in regulating cell differentiation during human embryogenesis is unknown. Here, we report the characterization of EZH2-deficient human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). H3K27me3 was lost upon EZH2 deletion, identifying an essential requirement for EZH2 in methylating H3K27 in hESCs, in contrast to its non-essential role in mouse ESCs. Developmental regulators were derepressed in EZH2-deficient hESCs, and single-cell analysis revealed an unexpected acquisition of lineage-restricted transcriptional programs. EZH2-deficient hESCs show strongly reduced self-renewal and proliferation, thereby identifying a more severe phenotype compared to mouse ESCs. EZH2-deficient hESCs can initiate differentiation toward developmental lineages; however, they cannot fully differentiate into mature specialized tissues. Thus, EZH2 is required for stable ESC self-renewal, regulation of transcriptional programs, and for late-stage differentiation in this model of early human development.

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Cell reports, 17, 2211-1247, 2700-2714, 2016

PMID: 27926872

Open Access

Efficient targeted DNA methylation with chimeric dCas9-Dnmt3a-Dnmt3L methyltransferase.
Stepper P, Kungulovski G, Jurkowska RZ, Chandra T, Krueger F, Reinhardt R, Reik W, Jeltsch A, Jurkowski TP

DNA methylation plays a critical role in the regulation and maintenance of cell-type specific transcriptional programs. Targeted epigenome editing is an emerging technology to specifically regulate cellular gene expression in order to modulate cell phenotypes or dissect the epigenetic mechanisms involved in their control. In this work, we employed a DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a-Dnmt3L construct fused to the nuclease-inactivated dCas9 programmable targeting domain to introduce DNA methylation into the human genome specifically at the EpCAM, CXCR4 and TFRC gene promoters. We show that targeting of these loci with single gRNAs leads to efficient and widespread methylation of the promoters. Multiplexing of several guide RNAs does not increase the efficiency of methylation. Peaks of targeted methylation were observed around 25 bp upstream and 40 bp downstream of the PAM site, while 20-30 bp of the binding site itself are protected against methylation. Potent methylation is dependent on the multimerization of Dnmt3a/Dnmt3L complexes on the DNA. Furthermore, the introduced methylation causes transcriptional repression of the targeted genes. These new programmable epigenetic editors allow unprecedented control of the DNA methylation status in cells and will lead to further advances in the understanding of epigenetic signaling.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2016

PMID: 27899645

Open Access