Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health


The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific services.

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

BioModels: expanding horizons to include more modelling approaches and formats.
Glont M, Nguyen TVN, Graesslin M, Hälke R, Ali R, Schramm J, Wimalaratne SM, Kothamachu VB, Rodriguez N, Swat MJ, Eils J, Eils R, Laibe C, Malik-Sheriff RS, Chelliah V, Le Novère N, Hermjakob H

BioModels serves as a central repository of mathematical models representing biological processes. It offers a platform to make mathematical models easily shareable across the systems modelling community, thereby supporting model reuse. To facilitate hosting a broader range of model formats derived from diverse modelling approaches and tools, a new infrastructure for BioModels has been developed that is available at This new system allows submitting and sharing of a wide range of models with improved support for formats other than SBML. It also offers a version-control backed environment in which authors and curators can work collaboratively to curate models. This article summarises the features available in the current system and discusses the potential benefit they offer to the users over the previous system. In summary, the new portal broadens the scope of models accepted in BioModels and supports collaborative model curation which is crucial for model reproducibility and sharing.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2017

PMID: 29106614

Naive pluripotent stem cells as a model for studying human developmental epigenomics: opportunities and limitations.
Rugg-Gunn PJ

Epigenomics, , 1750-192X, , 2017

PMID: 29106295

Open Access

An endosiRNA-Based Repression Mechanism Counteracts Transposon Activation during Global DNA Demethylation in Embryonic Stem Cells.
Berrens RV, Andrews S, Spensberger D, Santos F, Dean W, Gould P, Sharif J, Olova N, Chandra T, Koseki H, von Meyenn F, Reik W

Erasure of DNA methylation and repressive chromatin marks in the mammalian germline leads to risk of transcriptional activation of transposable elements (TEs). Here, we used mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to identify an endosiRNA-based mechanism involved in suppression of TE transcription. In ESCs with DNA demethylation induced by acute deletion of Dnmt1, we saw an increase in sense transcription at TEs, resulting in an abundance of sense/antisense transcripts leading to high levels of ARGONAUTE2 (AGO2)-bound small RNAs. Inhibition of Dicer or Ago2 expression revealed that small RNAs are involved in an immediate response to demethylation-induced transposon activation, while the deposition of repressive histone marks follows as a chronic response. In vivo, we also found TE-specific endosiRNAs present during primordial germ cell development. Our results suggest that antisense TE transcription is a "trap" that elicits an endosiRNA response to restrain acute transposon activity during epigenetic reprogramming in the mammalian germline.

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Cell stem cell, 21, 1875-9777, 694-703.e7, 2017

PMID: 29100015

Can aging be beneficial?
Frenk S, Houseley J

Aging, , 1945-4589, , 2017

PMID: 29074820

Open Access

Deciphering lipid structures based on platform-independent decision rules.
Hartler J, Triebl A, Ziegl A, Trötzmüller M, Rechberger GN, Zeleznik OA, Zierler KA, Torta F, Cazenave-Gassiot A, Wenk MR, Fauland A, Wheelock CE, Armando AM, Quehenberger O, Zhang Q, Wakelam MJO, Haemmerle G, Spener F, Köfeler HC, Thallinger GG

We achieve automated and reliable annotation of lipid species and their molecular structures in high-throughput data from chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry using decision rule sets embedded in Lipid Data Analyzer (LDA; Using various low- and high-resolution mass spectrometry instruments with several collision energies, we proved the method's platform independence. We propose that the software's reliability, flexibility, and ability to identify novel lipid molecular species may now render current state-of-the-art lipid libraries obsolete.

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Nature methods, , 1548-7105, , 2017

PMID: 29058722

PTEN Regulates PI(3,4)P2 Signaling Downstream of Class I PI3K.
Malek M, Kielkowska A, Chessa T, Anderson KE, Barneda D, Pir P, Nakanishi H, Eguchi S, Koizumi A, Sasaki J, Juvin V, Kiselev VY, Niewczas I, Gray A, Valayer A, Spensberger D, Imbert M, Felisbino S, Habuchi T, Beinke S, Cosulich S, Le Novère N, Sasaki T, Clark J, Hawkins PT, Stephens LR

The PI3K signaling pathway regulates cell growth and movement and is heavily mutated in cancer. Class I PI3Ks synthesize the lipid messenger PI(3,4,5)P3. PI(3,4,5)P3 can be dephosphorylated by 3- or 5-phosphatases, the latter producing PI(3,4)P2. The PTEN tumor suppressor is thought to function primarily as a PI(3,4,5)P3 3-phosphatase, limiting activation of this pathway. Here we show that PTEN also functions as a PI(3,4)P2 3-phosphatase, both in vitro and in vivo. PTEN is a major PI(3,4)P2 phosphatase in Mcf10a cytosol, and loss of PTEN and INPP4B, a known PI(3,4)P2 4-phosphatase, leads to synergistic accumulation of PI(3,4)P2, which correlated with increased invadopodia in epidermal growth factor (EGF)-stimulated cells. PTEN deletion increased PI(3,4)P2 levels in a mouse model of prostate cancer, and it inversely correlated with PI(3,4)P2 levels across several EGF-stimulated prostate and breast cancer lines. These results point to a role for PI(3,4)P2 in the phenotype caused by loss-of-function mutations or deletions in PTEN.

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Molecular cell, , 1097-4164, , 2017

PMID: 29056325

Cultured bovine embryo biopsy conserves methylation marks from original embryo.
Fonseca Balvís N, Garcia-Martinez S, Pérez-Cerezales S, Ivanova E, Gomez-Redondo I, Hamdi M, Rizos D, Coy P, Kelsey G, Gutierrez-Adan A

A major limitation of embryo epigenotyping by chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis is the reduced amount of sample available from an embryo biopsy. We developed an in vitro system to expand trophectoderm cells from an embryo biopsy to overcome this limitation. This work analyzes whether expanded trophectoderm (EX) is representative of the trophectoderm (TE) methylation or adaptation to culture has altered its epigenome. We took a small biopsy from the trophectoderm (30-40 cells) of in vitro produced bovine-hatched blastocysts and cultured it on fibronectin-treated plates until we obtained ∼4 × 104 cells. The rest of the embryo was allowed to recover its spherical shape and, subsequently, TE and inner cell mass were separated. We examined whether there were DNA methylation differences between TE and EX of three bovine embryos using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing. As a consequence of adaptation to culture, global methylation, including transposable elements, was higher in EX, with 5.3% of quantified regions showing significant methylation differences between TE and EX. Analysis of individual embryos indicated that TE methylation is more similar to its EX counterpart than to TE from other embryos. Interestingly, these similarly methylated regions are enriched in CpG islands, promoters and transcription units near genes involved in biological processes important for embryo development. Our results indicate that EX is representative of the embryo in terms of DNA methylation, thus providing an informative proxy for embryo epigenotyping.

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Biology of reproduction, 97, 1529-7268, 189-196, 2017

PMID: 29044423

TFR cells trump autoimmune antibody responses to limit sedition.
Linterman MA, Toellner KM

Nature immunology, 18, 1529-2916, 1185-1186, 2017

PMID: 29044242

cuRRBS: simple and robust evaluation of enzyme combinations for reduced representation approaches.
Martin-Herranz DE, Ribeiro AJM, Krueger F, Thornton JM, Reik W, Stubbs TM

DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification in many species that is critical for development, and implicated in ageing and many complex diseases, such as cancer. Many cost-effective genome-wide analyses of DNA modifications rely on restriction enzymes capable of digesting genomic DNA at defined sequence motifs. There are hundreds of restriction enzyme families but few are used to date, because no tool is available for the systematic evaluation of restriction enzyme combinations that can enrich for certain sites of interest in a genome. Herein, we present customised Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (cuRRBS), a novel and easy-to-use computational method that solves this problem. By computing the optimal enzymatic digestions and size selection steps required, cuRRBS generalises the traditional MspI-based Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS) protocol to all restriction enzyme combinations. In addition, cuRRBS estimates the fold-reduction in sequencing costs and provides a robustness value for the personalised RRBS protocol, allowing users to tailor the protocol to their experimental needs. Moreover, we show in silico that cuRRBS-defined restriction enzymes consistently out-perform MspI digestion in many biological systems, considering both CpG and CHG contexts. Finally, we have validated the accuracy of cuRRBS predictions for single and double enzyme digestions using two independent experimental datasets.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2017

PMID: 29036576

Establishment of mouse expanded potential stem cells.
Yang J, Ryan DJ, Wang W, Tsang JC, Lan G, Masaki H, Gao X, Antunes L, Yu Y, Zhu Z, Wang J, Kolodziejczyk AA, Campos LS, Wang C, Yang F, Zhong Z, Fu B, Eckersley-Maslin MA, Woods M, Tanaka Y, Chen X, Wilkinson AC, Bussell J, White J, Ramirez-Solis R, Reik W, Göttgens B, Teichmann SA, Tam PPL, Nakauchi H, Zou X, Lu L, Liu P

Mouse embryonic stem cells derived from the epiblast contribute to the somatic lineages and the germline but are excluded from the extra-embryonic tissues that are derived from the trophectoderm and the primitive endoderm upon reintroduction to the blastocyst. Here we report that cultures of expanded potential stem cells can be established from individual eight-cell blastomeres, and by direct conversion of mouse embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Remarkably, a single expanded potential stem cell can contribute both to the embryo proper and to the trophectoderm lineages in a chimaera assay. Bona fide trophoblast stem cell lines and extra-embryonic endoderm stem cells can be directly derived from expanded potential stem cells in vitro. Molecular analyses of the epigenome and single-cell transcriptome reveal enrichment for blastomere-specific signature and a dynamic DNA methylome in expanded potential stem cells. The generation of mouse expanded potential stem cells highlights the feasibility of establishing expanded potential stem cells for other mammalian species.

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Nature, , 1476-4687, , 2017

PMID: 29019987

Capturing Three-Dimensional Genome Organization in Individual Cells by Single-Cell Hi-C.
Nagano T, Wingett SW, Fraser P

Hi-C is a powerful method to investigate genome-wide, higher-order chromatin and chromosome conformations averaged from a population of cells. To expand the potential of Hi-C for single-cell analysis, we developed single-cell Hi-C. Similar to the existing "ensemble" Hi-C method, single-cell Hi-C detects proximity-dependent ligation events between cross-linked and restriction-digested chromatin fragments in cells. A major difference between the single-cell Hi-C and ensemble Hi-C protocol is that the proximity-dependent ligation is carried out in the nucleus. This allows the isolation of individual cells in which nearly the entire Hi-C procedure has been carried out, enabling the production of a Hi-C library and data from individual cells. With this new method, we studied genome conformations and found evidence for conserved topological domain organization from cell to cell, but highly variable interdomain contacts and chromosome folding genome wide. In addition, we found that the single-cell Hi-C protocol provided cleaner results with less technical noise suggesting it could be used to improve the ensemble Hi-C technique.

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Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1654, 1940-6029, 79-97, 2017

PMID: 28986784

Single-cell epigenomics: Recording the past and predicting the future.
Kelsey G, Stegle O, Reik W

Single-cell multi-omics has recently emerged as a powerful technology by which different layers of genomic output-and hence cell identity and function-can be recorded simultaneously. Integrating various components of the epigenome into multi-omics measurements allows for studying cellular heterogeneity at different time scales and for discovering new layers of molecular connectivity between the genome and its functional output. Measurements that are increasingly available range from those that identify transcription factor occupancy and initiation of transcription to long-lasting and heritable epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation. Together with techniques in which cell lineage is recorded, this multilayered information will provide insights into a cell's past history and its future potential. This will allow new levels of understanding of cell fate decisions, identity, and function in normal development, physiology, and disease.

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Science (New York, N.Y.), 358, 1095-9203, 69-75, 2017

PMID: 28983045

A RhoA-FRET Biosensor Mouse for Intravital Imaging in Normal Tissue Homeostasis and Disease Contexts.
Nobis M, Herrmann D, Warren SC, Kadir S, Leung W, Killen M, Magenau A, Stevenson D, Lucas MC, Reischmann N, Vennin C, Conway JRW, Boulghourjian A, Zaratzian A, Law AM, Gallego-Ortega D, Ormandy CJ, Walters SN, Grey ST, Bailey J, Chtanova T, Quinn JMW, Baldock PA, Croucher PI, Schwarz JP, Mrowinska A, Zhang L, Herzog H, Masedunskas A, Hardeman EC, Gunning PW, Del Monte-Nieto G, Harvey RP, Samuel MS, Pajic M, McGhee EJ, Johnsson AE, Sansom OJ, Welch HCE, Morton JP, Strathdee D, Anderson KI, Timpson P

The small GTPase RhoA is involved in a variety of fundamental processes in normal tissue. Spatiotemporal control of RhoA is thought to govern mechanosensing, growth, and motility of cells, while its deregulation is associated with disease development. Here, we describe the generation of a RhoA-fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensor mouse and its utility for monitoring real-time activity of RhoA in a variety of native tissues in vivo. We assess changes in RhoA activity during mechanosensing of osteocytes within the bone and during neutrophil migration. We also demonstrate spatiotemporal order of RhoA activity within crypt cells of the small intestine and during different stages of mammary gestation. Subsequently, we reveal co-option of RhoA activity in both invasive breast and pancreatic cancers, and we assess drug targeting in these disease settings, illustrating the potential for utilizing this mouse to study RhoA activity in vivo in real time.

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Cell reports, 21, 2211-1247, 274-288, 2017

PMID: 28978480

Open Access

Sarm1 Deletion, but Not Wld(S), Confers Lifelong Rescue in a Mouse Model of Severe Axonopathy.
Gilley J, Ribchester RR, Coleman MP

Studies with the Wld(S) mutant mouse have shown that axon and synapse pathology in several models of neurodegenerative diseases are mechanistically related to injury-induced axon degeneration (Wallerian degeneration). Crucially, an absence of SARM1 delays Wallerian degeneration as robustly as Wld(S), but their relative capacities to confer long-term protection against related, non-injury axonopathy and/or synaptopathy have not been directly compared. While Sarm1 deletion or Wld(S) can rescue perinatal lethality and widespread Wallerian-like axonopathy in young NMNAT2-deficient mice, we report that an absence of SARM1 enables these mice to survive into old age with no overt phenotype, whereas those rescued by Wld(S) invariantly develop a progressive neuromuscular defect in their hindlimbs from around 3 months of age. We therefore propose Sarm1 deletion as a more reliable tool than Wld(S) for investigating Wallerian-like mechanisms in disease models and suggest that SARM1 blockade may have greater therapeutic potential than WLD(S)-related strategies.

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Cell reports, 21, 2211-1247, 10-16, 2017

PMID: 28978465

Open Access

DNA Methylation in Embryo Development: Epigenetic Impact of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies).
Canovas S, Ross PJ, Kelsey G, Coy P

DNA methylation can be considered a component of epigenetic memory with a critical role during embryo development, and which undergoes dramatic reprogramming after fertilization. Though it has been a focus of research for many years, the reprogramming mechanism is still not fully understood. Recent results suggest that absence of maintenance at DNA replication is a major factor, and that there is an unexpected role for TET3-mediated oxidation of 5mC to 5hmC in guarding against de novo methylation. Base-resolution and genome-wide profiling methods are enabling more comprehensive assessments of the extent to which ART might impair DNA methylation reprogramming, and which sequence elements are most vulnerable. Indeed, as we also review here, studies showing the effect of culture media, ovarian stimulation or embryo transfer on the methylation pattern of embryos emphasize the need to face ART-associated defects and search for strategies to mitigate adverse effects on the health of ART-derived children.

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BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, , 1521-1878, , 2017

PMID: 28940661

ERK1/2 signalling protects against apoptosis following endoplasmic reticulum stress but cannot provide long-term protection against BAX/BAK-independent cell death.
Darling NJ, Balmanno K, Cook SJ

Disruption of protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) causes ER stress. Activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) acts to restore protein homeostasis or, if ER stress is severe or persistent, drive apoptosis, which is thought to proceed through the cell intrinsic, mitochondrial pathway. Indeed, cells that lack the key executioner proteins BAX and BAK are protected from ER stress-induced apoptosis. Here we show that chronic ER stress causes the progressive inhibition of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) signalling pathway. This is causally related to ER stress since reactivation of ERK1/2 can protect cells from ER stress-induced apoptosis whilst ERK1/2 pathway inhibition sensitises cells to ER stress. Furthermore, cancer cell lines harbouring constitutively active BRAFV600E are addicted to ERK1/2 signalling for protection against ER stress-induced cell death. ERK1/2 signalling normally represses the pro-death proteins BIM, BMF and PUMA and it has been proposed that ER stress induces BIM-dependent cell death. We found no evidence that ER stress increased the expression of these proteins; furthermore, BIM was not required for ER stress-induced death. Rather, ER stress caused the PERK-dependent inhibition of cap-dependent mRNA translation and the progressive loss of pro-survival proteins including BCL2, BCLXL and MCL1. Despite these observations, neither ERK1/2 activation nor loss of BAX/BAK could confer long-term clonogenic survival to cells exposed to ER stress. Thus, ER stress induces cell death by at least two biochemically and genetically distinct pathways: a classical BAX/BAK-dependent apoptotic response that can be inhibited by ERK1/2 signalling and an alternative ERK1/2- and BAX/BAK-independent cell death pathway.

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PloS one, 12, 1932-6203, e0184907, 2017

PMID: 28931068

Open Access

Genomic imprinting beyond DNA methylation: a role for maternal histones.
Hanna CW, Kelsey G

Inheritance of DNA methylation states from gametes determines genomic imprinting in mammals. A new study shows that repressive chromatin in oocytes can also confer imprinting.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 177, 2017

PMID: 28927436

Open Access

Tia1 dependent regulation of mRNA subcellular location and translation controls p53 expression in B cells.
Díaz-Muñoz MD, Kiselev VY, Novère NL, Curk T, Ule J, Turner M

Post-transcriptional regulation of cellular mRNA is essential for protein synthesis. Here we describe the importance of mRNA translational repression and mRNA subcellular location for protein expression during B lymphocyte activation and the DNA damage response. Cytoplasmic RNA granules are formed upon cell activation with mitogens, including stress granules that contain the RNA binding protein Tia1. Tia1 binds to a subset of transcripts involved in cell stress, including p53 mRNA, and controls translational silencing and RNA granule localization. DNA damage promotes mRNA relocation and translation in part due to dissociation of Tia1 from its mRNA targets. Upon DNA damage, p53 mRNA is released from stress granules and associates with polyribosomes to increase protein synthesis in a CAP-independent manner. Global analysis of cellular mRNA abundance and translation indicates that this is an extended ATM-dependent mechanism to increase protein expression of key modulators of the DNA damage response.Sequestering mRNA in cytoplasmic stress granules is a mechanism for translational repression. Here the authors find that p53 mRNA, present in stress granules in activated B lymphocytes, is released upon DNA damage and is translated in a CAP-independent manner.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 530, 2017

PMID: 28904350

Open Access

RNA-binding protein ZFP36L1 maintains posttranscriptional regulation of bile acid metabolism.
Tarling EJ, Clifford BL, Cheng J, Morand P, Cheng A, Lester E, Sallam T, Turner M, de Aguiar Vallim TQ

Bile acids function not only as detergents that facilitate lipid absorption but also as signaling molecules that activate the nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR). FXR agonists are currently being evaluated as therapeutic agents for a number of hepatic diseases due to their lipid-lowering and antiinflammatory properties. FXR is also essential for maintaining bile acid homeostasis and prevents the accumulation of bile acids. Elevated bile acids activate FXR, which in turn switches off bile acid synthesis by reducing the mRNA levels of bile acid synthesis genes, including cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (Cyp7a1). Here, we show that FXR activation triggers a rapid posttranscriptional mechanism to degrade Cyp7a1 mRNA. We identified the RNA-binding protein Zfp36l1 as an FXR target gene and determined that gain and loss of function of ZFP36L1 reciprocally regulate Cyp7a1 mRNA and bile acid levels in vivo. Moreover, we found that mice lacking hepatic ZFP36L1 were protected from diet-induced obesity and steatosis. The reduced adiposity and antisteatotic effects observed in ZFP36L1-deficient mice were accompanied by impaired lipid absorption that was consistent with altered bile acid metabolism. Thus, the ZFP36L1-dependent regulation of bile acid metabolism is an important metabolic contributor to obesity and hepatosteatosis.

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The Journal of clinical investigation, , 1558-8238, , 2017

PMID: 28891815

Open Access

Significance of stroma in biology of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
Vucicevic Boras V, Fucic A, Virag M, Gabric D, Blivajs I, Tomasovic-Loncaric C, Rakusic Z, Bisof V, Le Novere N, Velimir Vrdoljak D

The worldwide annual incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is over 300,000 cases with a mortality rate of 48%. This cancer type accounts for 90% of all oral cancers, with the highest incidence in men over 50 years of age. A significantly increased risk of developing OSCC exists among smokers and people who consume alcohol daily. OSCC is an aggressive cancer that metastasizes rapidly. Despite the development of new therapies in the treatment of OSCC, no significant increase in 5-year survival has been recorded in the past decades. The latest research suggests focus should be put on examining tumor stroma activation within OSCC, as the stroma may contain cells that can produce signal molecules and a microenvironment crucial for the development of metastases. The aim of this review is to provide an insight into the factors that activate OSCC stroma and hence faciliate neoplastic progression. It is based on the currently available data on the role and interaction between metalloproteinases, cytokines, growth factors, hypoxia factor and extracellular adhesion proteins in the stroma of OSCC and neoplastic cells. Their interplay is additionally presented using the Systems Biology Graphical Notation in order to sublimate the collected knowledge and enable the more efficient recognition of possible new biomarkers in the diagnostics and follow-up of OSCC or in finding new therapeutic targets.

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Tumori, , 2038-2529, 0, 2017

PMID: 28885677

Decidualisation and placentation defects are a major cause of age-related reproductive decline.
Woods L, Perez-Garcia V, Kieckbusch J, Wang X, DeMayo F, Colucci F, Hemberger M

Mammalian reproductive performance declines rapidly with advanced maternal age. This effect is largely attributed to the exponential increase in chromosome segregation errors in the oocyte with age. Yet many pregnancy complications and birth defects that become more frequent in older mothers, in both humans and mice, occur in the absence of karyotypic abnormalities. Here, we report that abnormal embryonic development in aged female mice is associated with severe placentation defects, which result from major deficits in the decidualisation response of the uterine stroma. This problem is rooted in a blunted hormonal responsiveness of the ageing uterus. Importantly, a young uterine environment can restore normal placental as well as embryonic development. Our data highlight the pivotal, albeit under-appreciated, impact of maternal age on uterine adaptability to pregnancy as major contributor to the decline in reproductive success in older females.Advanced maternal age has been associated with lower reproductive success and higher risk of pregnancy complications. Here the authors show that maternal ageing-related embryonic abnormalities in mouse are caused by decidualisation and placentation defects that can be rescued by transferring the embryo from an old to a young uterus.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 352, 2017

PMID: 28874785

Open Access

Chromosome contacts in activated T cells identify autoimmune disease candidate genes.
Burren OS, Rubio García A, Javierre BM, Rainbow DB, Cairns J, Cooper NJ, Lambourne JJ, Schofield E, Castro Dopico X, Ferreira RC, Coulson R, Burden F, Rowlston SP, Downes K, Wingett SW, Frontini M, Ouwehand WH, Fraser P, Spivakov M, Todd JA, Wicker LS, Cutler AJ, Wallace C

Autoimmune disease-associated variants are preferentially found in regulatory regions in immune cells, particularly CD4(+) T cells. Linking such regulatory regions to gene promoters in disease-relevant cell contexts facilitates identification of candidate disease genes.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 165, 2017

PMID: 28870212

Open Access

In praise of M. Anselmier who first used the term "autophagie" in 1859.
Ktistakis NT

Autophagy, , 1554-8635, 0, 2017

PMID: 28837378

Lineage-specific dynamic and pre-established enhancer-promoter contacts cooperate in terminal differentiation.
Rubin AJ, Barajas BC, Furlan-Magaril M, Lopez-Pajares V, Mumbach MR, Howard I, Kim DS, Boxer LD, Cairns J, Spivakov M, Wingett SW, Shi M, Zhao Z, Greenleaf WJ, Kundaje A, Snyder M, Chang HY, Fraser P, Khavari PA

Chromosome conformation is an important feature of metazoan gene regulation; however, enhancer-promoter contact remodeling during cellular differentiation remains poorly understood. To address this, genome-wide promoter capture Hi-C (CHi-C) was performed during epidermal differentiation. Two classes of enhancer-promoter contacts associated with differentiation-induced genes were identified. The first class ('gained') increased in contact strength during differentiation in concert with enhancer acquisition of the H3K27ac activation mark. The second class ('stable') were pre-established in undifferentiated cells, with enhancers constitutively marked by H3K27ac. The stable class was associated with the canonical conformation regulator cohesin, whereas the gained class was not, implying distinct mechanisms of contact formation and regulation. Analysis of stable enhancers identified a new, essential role for a constitutively expressed, lineage-restricted ETS-family transcription factor, EHF, in epidermal differentiation. Furthermore, neither class of contacts was observed in pluripotent cells, suggesting that lineage-specific chromatin structure is established in tissue progenitor cells and is further remodeled in terminal differentiation.

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Nature genetics, , 1546-1718, , 2017

PMID: 28805829

Human blood Tfr cells are indicators of ongoing humoral activity not fully licensed with suppressive function.
Fonseca VR, Agua-Doce A, Maceiras AR, Pierson W, Ribeiro F, Romão VC, Pires AR, da Silva SL, Fonseca JE, Sousa AE, Linterman MA, Graca L

Germinal center (GC) responses are controlled by T follicular helper (Tfh) and T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells and are crucial for the generation of high-affinity antibodies. Although the biology of human circulating and tissue Tfh cells has been established, the relationship between blood and tissue Tfr cells defined as CXCR5(+)Foxp3(+) T cells remains elusive. We found that blood Tfr cells are increased in Sjögren syndrome, an autoimmune disease with ongoing GC reactions, especially in patients with high autoantibody titers, as well as in healthy individuals upon influenza vaccination. Although blood Tfr cells correlated with humoral responses, they lack full B cell-suppressive capacity, despite being able to suppress T cell proliferation. Blood Tfr cells have a naïve-like phenotype, although they are absent from human thymus or cord blood. We found that these cells were generated in peripheral lymphoid tissues before T-B interaction, as they are maintained in B cell-deficient patients. Therefore, blood CXCR5(+)Foxp3(+) T cells in human pathology indicate ongoing humoral activity but are not fully competent circulating Tfr cells.

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Science immunology, 2, 2470-9468, , 2017

PMID: 28802258