Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications bioinformatics

Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Multi-tissue DNA methylation age predictor in mouse.
Stubbs TM, Bonder MJ, Stark AK, Krueger F, von Meyenn F, Stegle O, Reik W

DNA methylation changes at a discrete set of sites in the human genome are predictive of chronological and biological age. However, it is not known whether these changes are causative or a consequence of an underlying ageing process. It has also not been shown whether this epigenetic clock is unique to humans or conserved in the more experimentally tractable mouse.

+ View Abstract

Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 68, 2017

PMID: 28399939

Dietary restriction protects from age-associated DNA methylation and induces epigenetic reprogramming of lipid metabolism.
Hahn O, Grönke S, Stubbs TM, Ficz G, Hendrich O, Krueger F, Andrews S, Zhang Q, Wakelam MJ, Beyer A, Reik W, Partridge L

Dietary restriction (DR), a reduction in food intake without malnutrition, increases most aspects of health during aging and extends lifespan in diverse species, including rodents. However, the mechanisms by which DR interacts with the aging process to improve health in old age are poorly understood. DNA methylation could play an important role in mediating the effects of DR because it is sensitive to the effects of nutrition and can affect gene expression memory over time.

+ View Abstract

Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 56, 2017

PMID: 28351387

Open Access

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.

+ View Abstract

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

PMID: 28182018

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.

+ View Abstract

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.

+ View Abstract

eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28134613

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.

+ View Abstract

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.

+ View Abstract

Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2016

PMID: 27899645

Open Access

Lineage-Specific Genome Architecture Links Enhancers and Non-coding Disease Variants to Target Gene Promoters.
Javierre BM, Burren OS, Wilder SP, Kreuzhuber R, Hill SM, Sewitz S, Cairns J, Wingett SW, Várnai C, Thiecke MJ, Burden F, Farrow S, Cutler AJ, Rehnström K, Downes K, Grassi L, Kostadima M, Freire-Pritchett P, Wang F, , Stunnenberg HG, Todd JA, Zerbino DR, Stegle O, Ouwehand WH, Frontini M, Wallace C, Spivakov M, Fraser P

Long-range interactions between regulatory elements and gene promoters play key roles in transcriptional regulation. The vast majority of interactions are uncharted, constituting a major missing link in understanding genome control. Here, we use promoter capture Hi-C to identify interacting regions of 31,253 promoters in 17 human primary hematopoietic cell types. We show that promoter interactions are highly cell type specific and enriched for links between active promoters and epigenetically marked enhancers. Promoter interactomes reflect lineage relationships of the hematopoietic tree, consistent with dynamic remodeling of nuclear architecture during differentiation. Interacting regions are enriched in genetic variants linked with altered expression of genes they contact, highlighting their functional role. We exploit this rich resource to connect non-coding disease variants to putative target promoters, prioritizing thousands of disease-candidate genes and implicating disease pathways. Our results demonstrate the power of primary cell promoter interactomes to reveal insights into genomic regulatory mechanisms underlying common diseases.

+ View Abstract

Cell, 167, 1097-4172, 1369-1384.e19, 2016

PMID: 27863249

Open Access

Comparative Principles of DNA Methylation Reprogramming during Human and Mouse In Vitro Primordial Germ Cell Specification.
von Meyenn F, Berrens RV, Andrews S, Santos F, Collier AJ, Krueger F, Osorno R, Dean W, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Reik W

Primordial germ cell (PGC) development is characterized by global epigenetic remodeling, which resets genomic potential and establishes an epigenetic ground state. Here we recapitulate PGC specification in vitro from naive embryonic stem cells and characterize the early events of epigenetic reprogramming during the formation of the human and mouse germline. Following rapid de novo DNA methylation during priming to epiblast-like cells, methylation is globally erased in PGC-like cells. Repressive chromatin marks (H3K9me2/3) and transposable elements are enriched at demethylation-resistant regions, while active chromatin marks (H3K4me3 or H3K27ac) are more prominent at regions that demethylate faster. The dynamics of specification and epigenetic reprogramming show species-specific differences, in particular markedly slower reprogramming kinetics in the human germline. Differences in developmental kinetics may be explained by differential regulation of epigenetic modifiers. Our work establishes a robust and faithful experimental system of the early events of epigenetic reprogramming and regulation in the germline.

+ View Abstract

Developmental cell, 39, 1878-1551, 104-115, 2016

PMID: 27728778

Open Access

The Phospholipase D2 Knock Out Mouse Has Ectopic Purkinje Cells and Suffers from Early Adult-Onset Anosmia.
Vermeren MM, Zhang Q, Smethurst E, Segonds-Pichon A, Schrewe H, Wakelam MJ

Phospholipase D2 (PLD2) is an enzyme that produces phosphatidic acid (PA), a lipid messenger molecule involved in a number of cellular events including, through its membrane curvature properties, endocytosis. The PLD2 knock out (PLD2KO) mouse has been previously reported to be protected from insult in a model of Alzheimer's disease. We have further analysed a PLD2KO mouse using mass spectrophotometry of its lipids and found significant differences in PA species throughout its brain. We have examined the expression pattern of PLD2 which allowed us to define which region of the brain to analyse for defect, notably PLD2 was not detected in glial-rich regions. The expression pattern lead us to specifically examine the mitral cells of olfactory bulbs, the Cornus Amonis (CA) regions of the hippocampus and the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. We find that the change to longer PA species correlates with subtle architectural defect in the cerebellum, exemplified by ectopic Purkinje cells and an adult-onset deficit of olfaction. These observations draw parallels to defects in the reelin heterozygote as well as the effect of high fat diet on olfaction.

+ View Abstract

PloS one, 11, 1932-6203, e0162814, 0

PMID: 27658289

Open Access

MYC activation and BCL2L11 silencing by a tumour virus through the large-scale reconfiguration of enhancer-promoter hubs.
Wood CD, Veenstra H, Khasnis S, Gunnell A, Webb HM, Shannon-Lowe C, Andrews S, Osborne CS, West MJ

Lymphomagenesis in the presence of deregulated MYC requires suppression of MYC-driven apoptosis, often through downregulation of the pro-apoptotic BCL2L11 gene (Bim). Transcription factors (EBNAs) encoded by the lymphoma-associated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) activate MYC and silence BCL2L11. We show that the EBNA2 transactivator activates multiple MYC enhancers and reconfigures the MYC locus to increase upstream and decrease downstream enhancer-promoter interactions. EBNA2 recruits the BRG1 ATPase of the SWI/SNF remodeller to MYC enhancers and BRG1 is required for enhancer-promoter interactions in EBV-infected cells. At BCL2L11, we identify a haematopoietic enhancer hub that is inactivated by the EBV repressors EBNA3A and EBNA3C through recruitment of the H3K27 methyltransferase EZH2. Reversal of enhancer inactivation using an EZH2 inhibitor upregulates BCL2L11 and induces apoptosis. EBV therefore drives lymphomagenesis by hijacking long-range enhancer hubs and specific cellular co-factors. EBV-driven MYC enhancer activation may contribute to the genesis and localisation of MYC-Immunoglobulin translocation breakpoints in Burkitt's lymphoma.

+ View Abstract

eLife, 5, 2050-084X, , 2016

PMID: 27490482

Open Access

SNPsplit: Allele-specific splitting of alignments between genomes with known SNP genotypes.
Krueger F, Andrews SR

Sequencing reads overlapping polymorphic sites in diploid mammalian genomes may be assigned to one allele or the other. This holds the potential to detect gene expression, chromatin modifications, DNA methylation or nuclear interactions in an allele-specific fashion. SNPsplit is an allele-specific alignment sorter designed to read files in SAM/BAM format and determine the allelic origin of reads or read-pairs that cover known single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) positions. For this to work libraries must have been aligned to a genome in which all known SNP positions were masked with the ambiguity base 'N' and aligned using a suitable mapping program such as Bowtie2, TopHat, STAR, HISAT2, HiCUP or Bismark. SNPsplit also provides an automated solution to generate N-masked reference genomes for hybrid mouse strains based on the variant call information provided by the Mouse Genomes Project. The unique ability of SNPsplit to work with various different kinds of sequencing data including RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq, Bisulfite-Seq or Hi-C opens new avenues for the integrative exploration of allele-specific data.

+ View Abstract

F1000Research, 5, , 1479, 2016

PMID: 27429743

Open Access

CHiCAGO: robust detection of DNA looping interactions in Capture Hi-C data.
Cairns J, Freire-Pritchett P, Wingett SW, Várnai C, Dimond A, Plagnol V, Zerbino D, Schoenfelder S, Javierre BM, Osborne C, Fraser P, Spivakov M

Capture Hi-C (CHi-C) is a method for profiling chromosomal interactions involving targeted regions of interest, such as gene promoters, globally and at high resolution. Signal detection in CHi-C data involves a number of statistical challenges that are not observed when using other Hi-C-like techniques. We present a background model and algorithms for normalisation and multiple testing that are specifically adapted to CHi-C experiments. We implement these procedures in CHiCAGO ( ), an open-source package for robust interaction detection in CHi-C. We validate CHiCAGO by showing that promoter-interacting regions detected with this method are enriched for regulatory features and disease-associated SNPs.

+ View Abstract

Genome biology, 17, 1474-760X, 127, 2016

PMID: 27306882

Open Access

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.

+ View Abstract

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.

+ View Abstract

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

PMID: 27102483

HiCUP: pipeline for mapping and processing Hi-C data.
Wingett S, Ewels P, Furlan-Magaril M, Nagano T, Schoenfelder S, Fraser P, Andrews S

HiCUP is a pipeline for processing sequence data generated by Hi-C and Capture Hi-C (CHi-C) experiments, which are techniques used to investigate three-dimensional genomic organisation. The pipeline maps data to a specified reference genome and removes artefacts that would otherwise hinder subsequent analysis. HiCUP also produces an easy-to-interpret yet detailed quality control (QC) report that assists in refining experimental protocols for future studies. The software is freely available and has already been used for processing Hi-C and CHi-C data in several recently published peer-reviewed studies.

+ View Abstract

F1000Research, 4, 2046-1402, 1310, 2015

PMID: 26835000

Open Access

Pervasive polymorphic imprinted methylation in the human placenta.
Hanna CW, Peñaherrera MS, Saadeh H, Andrews S, McFadden DE, Kelsey G, Robinson WP

The maternal and paternal copies of the genome are both required for mammalian development and this is primarily due to imprinted genes, those that are mono-allelically expressed based on parent-of-origin. Typically, this pattern of expression is regulated by differentially methylated regions (DMRs) that are established in the germline and maintained after fertilisation. There are a large number of germline DMRs that have not yet been associated with imprinting and their function in development is unknown. In this study, we developed a genome-wide approach to identify novel imprinted DMRs in the human placenta, and investigated the dynamics of these imprinted DMRs during development in somatic and extra-embryonic tissues. DNA methylation was evaluated using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 array in 134 human tissue samples, publically available reduced representation bisulfite sequencing in the human embryo and germ cells, and targeted bisulfite sequencing in term placentas. 43 known and 101 novel imprinted DMRs were identified in the human placenta, by comparing methylation between diandric and digynic triploid conceptions in addition to female and male gametes. 72 novel DMRs showed a pattern consistent with placental-specific imprinting and this mono-allelic methylation was entirely maternal in origin. Strikingly, these DMRs exhibited polymorphic imprinted methylation between placental samples. These data suggest that imprinting in human development is far more extensive and dynamic than previously reported and that the placenta preferentially maintains maternal germline-derived DNA methylation.

+ View Abstract

Genome research, , 1549-5469, , 2016

PMID: 26769960

Open Access

Parallel single-cell sequencing links transcriptional and epigenetic heterogeneity.
Angermueller C, Clark SJ, Lee HJ, Macaulay IC, Teng MJ, Hu TX, Krueger F, Smallwood SA, Ponting CP, Voet T, Kelsey G, Stegle O, Reik W

We report scM&T-seq, a method for parallel single-cell genome-wide methylome and transcriptome sequencing that allows for the discovery of associations between transcriptional and epigenetic variation. Profiling of 61 mouse embryonic stem cells confirmed known links between DNA methylation and transcription. Notably, the method revealed previously unrecognized associations between heterogeneously methylated distal regulatory elements and transcription of key pluripotency genes.

+ View Abstract

Nature methods, , 1548-7105, , 2016

PMID: 26752769

Open Access

Ageing is associated with molecular signatures of inflammation and type 2 diabetes in rat pancreatic islets.
Sandovici I, Hammerle CM, Cooper WN, Smith NH, Tarry-Adkins JL, Dunmore BJ, Bauer J, Andrews SR, Yeo GS, Ozanne SE, Constância M

Ageing is a major risk factor for development of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Identification of the mechanisms underlying this association could help to elucidate the relationship between age-associated progressive loss of metabolic health and development of type 2 diabetes. We aimed to determine molecular signatures during ageing in the endocrine pancreas.

+ View Abstract

Diabetologia, 59, 1432-0428, 502-11, 2016

PMID: 26699651

Open Access

Erratum to: Deep sequencing and de novo assembly of the mouse occyte transcriptome define the contribution of transcription to the DNA methylation landscape.
Veselovska L, Smallwood SA, Saadeh H, Stewart KR, Krueger F, Maupetit-Méhouas S, Arnaud P, Tomizawa S, Andrews S, Kelsey G

Genome biology, 16, 1474-760X, 271, 2015

PMID: 26635312

Localizing the lipid products of PI3Kγ in neutrophils.
Norton L, Lindsay Y, Deladeriere A, Chessa T, Guillou H, Suire S, Lucocq J, Walker S, Andrews S, Segonds-Pichon A, Rausch O, Finan P, Sasaki T, Du CJ, Bretschneider T, Ferguson GJ, Hawkins PT, Stephens L

Class I phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are important regulators of neutrophil migration in response to a range of chemoattractants. Their primary lipid products PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 and PtdIns(3,4)P2 preferentially accumulate near to the leading edge of migrating cells and are thought to act as an important cue organizing molecular and morphological polarization. We have investigated the distribution and accumulation of these lipids independently in mouse neutrophils using eGFP-PH reportersand electron microscopy (EM). We found that authentic mouse neutrophils rapidly polarized their Class I PI3K signalling, as read-out by eGFP-PH reporters, both at the up-gradient leading edge in response to local stimulation with fMLP as well as spontaneously and randomly in response to uniform stimulation. EM studies revealed these events occurred at the plasma membrane, were dominated by accumulation of PtdIns(3,4,5)P3, but not PtdIns(3,4)P2, and were dependent on PI3Kγ and its upstream activation by both Ras and Gβγs.

+ View Abstract

Advances in biological regulation, , 2212-4934, , 2015

PMID: 26596865

Open Access

Molecular signatures of plastic phenotypes in two eusocial insect species with simple societies.
Patalano S, Vlasova A, Wyatt C, Ewels P, Camara F, Ferreira PG, Asher CL, Jurkowski TP, Segonds-Pichon A, Bachman M, González-Navarrete I, Minoche AE, Krueger F, Lowy E, Marcet-Houben M, Rodriguez-Ales JL, Nascimento FS, Balasubramanian S, Gabaldon T, Tarver JE, Andrews S, Himmelbauer H, Hughes WO, Guigó R, Reik W, Sumner S

Phenotypic plasticity is important in adaptation and shapes the evolution of organisms. However, we understand little about what aspects of the genome are important in facilitating plasticity. Eusocial insect societies produce plastic phenotypes from the same genome, as reproductives (queens) and nonreproductives (workers). The greatest plasticity is found in the simple eusocial insect societies in which individuals retain the ability to switch between reproductive and nonreproductive phenotypes as adults. We lack comprehensive data on the molecular basis of plastic phenotypes. Here, we sequenced genomes, microRNAs (miRNAs), and multiple transcriptomes and methylomes from individual brains in a wasp (Polistes canadensis) and an ant (Dinoponera quadriceps) that live in simple eusocial societies. In both species, we found few differences between phenotypes at the transcriptional level, with little functional specialization, and no evidence that phenotype-specific gene expression is driven by DNA methylation or miRNAs. Instead, phenotypic differentiation was defined more subtly by nonrandom transcriptional network organization, with roles in these networks for both conserved and taxon-restricted genes. The general lack of highly methylated regions or methylome patterning in both species may be an important mechanism for achieving plasticity among phenotypes during adulthood. These findings define previously unidentified hypotheses on the genomic processes that facilitate plasticity and suggest that the molecular hallmarks of social behavior are likely to differ with the level of social complexity.

+ View Abstract

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, , 1091-6490, , 2015

PMID: 26483466

Open Access

Deep sequencing and de novo assembly of the mouse oocyte transcriptome define the contribution of transcription to the DNA methylation landscape.
Veselovska L, Smallwood SA, Saadeh H, Stewart KR, Krueger F, Maupetit-Méhouas S, Arnaud P, Tomizawa SI, Andrews S, Kelsey G

Previously, a role was demonstrated for transcription in the acquisition of DNA methylation at imprinted control regions in oocytes. Definition of the oocyte DNA methylome by whole genome approaches revealed that the majority of methylated CpG islands are intragenic and gene bodies are hypermethylated. Yet, the mechanisms by which transcription regulates DNA methylation in oocytes remain unclear. Here, we systematically test the link between transcription and the methylome.

+ View Abstract

Genome biology, 16, 1474-760X, 209, 0

PMID: 26408185

Open Access

ACF chromatin-remodeling complex mediates stress-induced depressive-like behavior.
Sun H, Damez-Werno DM, Scobie KN, Shao NY, Dias C, Rabkin J, Koo JW, Korb E, Bagot RC, Ahn FH, Cahill ME, Labonté B, Mouzon E, Heller EA, Cates H, Golden SA, Gleason K, Russo SJ, Andrews S, Neve R, Kennedy PJ, Maze I, Dietz DM, Allis CD, Turecki G, Varga-Weisz P, Tamminga C, Shen L, Nestler EJ

Improved treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) remains elusive because of the limited understanding of its underlying biological mechanisms. It is likely that stress-induced maladaptive transcriptional regulation in limbic neural circuits contributes to the development of MDD, possibly through epigenetic factors that regulate chromatin structure. We establish that persistent upregulation of the ACF (ATP-utilizing chromatin assembly and remodeling factor) ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex, occurring in the nucleus accumbens of stress-susceptible mice and depressed humans, is necessary for stress-induced depressive-like behaviors. We found that altered ACF binding after chronic stress was correlated with altered nucleosome positioning, particularly around the transcription start sites of affected genes. These alterations in ACF binding and nucleosome positioning were associated with repressed expression of genes implicated in susceptibility to stress. Together, our findings identify the ACF chromatin-remodeling complex as a critical component in the development of susceptibility to depression and in regulating stress-related behaviors.

+ View Abstract

Nature medicine, , 1546-170X, , 2015

PMID: 26390241

Polycomb repressive complex PRC1 spatially constrains the mouse embryonic stem cell genome.
Schoenfelder S, Sugar R, Dimond A, Javierre BM, Armstrong H, Mifsud B, Dimitrova E, Matheson L, Tavares-Cadete F, Furlan-Magaril M, Segonds-Pichon A, Jurkowski W, Wingett SW, Tabbada K, Andrews S, Herman B, LeProust E, Osborne CS, Koseki H, Fraser P, Luscombe NM, Elderkin S

The Polycomb repressive complexes PRC1 and PRC2 maintain embryonic stem cell (ESC) pluripotency by silencing lineage-specifying developmental regulator genes. Emerging evidence suggests that Polycomb complexes act through controlling spatial genome organization. We show that PRC1 functions as a master regulator of mouse ESC genome architecture by organizing genes in three-dimensional interaction networks. The strongest spatial network is composed of the four Hox gene clusters and early developmental transcription factor genes, the majority of which contact poised enhancers. Removal of Polycomb repression leads to disruption of promoter-promoter contacts in the Hox gene network. In contrast, promoter-enhancer contacts are maintained in the absence of Polycomb repression, with accompanying widespread acquisition of active chromatin signatures at network enhancers and pronounced transcriptional upregulation of network genes. Thus, PRC1 physically constrains developmental transcription factor genes and their enhancers in a silenced but poised spatial network. We propose that the selective release of genes from this spatial network underlies cell fate specification during early embryonic development.

+ View Abstract

Nature genetics, , 1546-1718, , 2015

PMID: 26323060

Open Access