Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health


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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Long-Range Enhancer Interactions Are Prevalent in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells and Are Reorganized upon Pluripotent State Transition.
Novo CL, Javierre BM, Cairns J, Segonds-Pichon A, Wingett SW, Freire-Pritchett P, Furlan-Magaril M, Schoenfelder S, Fraser P, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Transcriptional enhancers, including super-enhancers (SEs), form physical interactions with promoters to regulate cell-type-specific gene expression. SEs are characterized by high transcription factor occupancy and large domains of active chromatin, and they are commonly assigned to target promoters using computational predictions. How promoter-SE interactions change upon cell state transitions, and whether transcription factors maintain SE interactions, have not been reported. Here, we used promoter-capture Hi-C to identify promoters that interact with SEs in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We found that SEs form complex, spatial networks in which individual SEs contact multiple promoters, and a rewiring of promoter-SE interactions occurs between pluripotent states. We also show that long-range promoter-SE interactions are more prevalent in ESCs than in epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) or Nanog-deficient ESCs. We conclude that SEs form cell-type-specific interaction networks that are partly dependent on core transcription factors, thereby providing insights into the gene regulatory organization of pluripotent cells.

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Cell reports, 22, 2211-1247, 2615-2627, 2018

PMID: 29514091

Molecular profiling of aged neural progenitors identifies Dbx2 as a candidate regulator of age-associated neurogenic decline.
Lupo G, Nisi PS, Esteve P, Paul YL, Novo CL, Sidders B, Khan MA, Biagioni S, Liu HK, Bovolenta P, Cacci E, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Adult neurogenesis declines with aging due to the depletion and functional impairment of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs). An improved understanding of the underlying mechanisms that drive age-associated neurogenic deficiency could lead to the development of strategies to alleviate cognitive impairment and facilitate neuroregeneration. An essential step towards this aim is to investigate the molecular changes that occur in NSPC aging on a genomewide scale. In this study, we compare the transcriptional, histone methylation and DNA methylation signatures of NSPCs derived from the subventricular zone (SVZ) of young adult (3 months old) and aged (18 months old) mice. Surprisingly, the transcriptional and epigenomic profiles of SVZ-derived NSPCs are largely unchanged in aged cells. Despite the global similarities, we detect robust age-dependent changes at several hundred genes and regulatory elements, thereby identifying putative regulators of neurogenic decline. Within this list, the homeobox gene Dbx2 is upregulated in vitro and in vivo, and its promoter region has altered histone and DNA methylation levels, in aged NSPCs. Using functional in vitro assays, we show that elevated Dbx2 expression in young adult NSPCs promotes age-related phenotypes, including the reduced proliferation of NSPC cultures and the altered transcript levels of age-associated regulators of NSPC proliferation and differentiation. Depleting Dbx2 in aged NSPCs caused the reverse gene expression changes. Taken together, these results provide new insights into the molecular programmes that are affected during mouse NSPC aging, and uncover a new functional role for Dbx2 in promoting age-related neurogenic decline.

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Aging cell, , 1474-9726, , 2018

PMID: 29504228

Open Access

Gene expression hallmarks of cellular ageing.
Frenk S, Houseley J

Ageing leads to dramatic changes in the physiology of many different tissues resulting in a spectrum of pathology. Nonetheless, many lines of evidence suggest that ageing is driven by highly conserved cell intrinsic processes, and a set of unifying hallmarks of ageing has been defined. Here, we survey reports of age-linked changes in basal gene expression across eukaryotes from yeast to human and identify six gene expression hallmarks of cellular ageing: downregulation of genes encoding mitochondrial proteins; downregulation of the protein synthesis machinery; dysregulation of immune system genes; reduced growth factor signalling; constitutive responses to stress and DNA damage; dysregulation of gene expression and mRNA processing. These encompass widely reported features of ageing such as increased senescence and inflammation, reduced electron transport chain activity and reduced ribosome synthesis, but also reveal a surprising lack of gene expression responses to known age-linked cellular stresses. We discuss how the existence of conserved transcriptomic hallmarks relates to genome-wide epigenetic differences underlying ageing clocks, and how the changing transcriptome results in proteomic alterations where data is available and to variations in cell physiology characteristic of ageing. Identification of gene expression events that occur during ageing across distant organisms should be informative as to conserved underlying mechanisms of ageing, and provide additional biomarkers to assess the effects of diet and other environmental factors on the rate of ageing.

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Biogerontology, , 1573-6768, , 2018

PMID: 29492790

scNMT-seq enables joint profiling of chromatin accessibility DNA methylation and transcription in single cells.
Clark SJ, Argelaguet R, Kapourani CA, Stubbs TM, Lee HJ, Alda-Catalinas C, Krueger F, Sanguinetti G, Kelsey G, Marioni JC, Stegle O, Reik W

Parallel single-cell sequencing protocols represent powerful methods for investigating regulatory relationships, including epigenome-transcriptome interactions. Here, we report a single-cell method for parallel chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and transcriptome profiling. scNMT-seq (single-cell nucleosome, methylation and transcription sequencing) uses a GpC methyltransferase to label open chromatin followed by bisulfite and RNA sequencing. We validate scNMT-seq by applying it to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, finding links between all three molecular layers and revealing dynamic coupling between epigenomic layers during differentiation.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 781, 2018

PMID: 29472610

MLL2 conveys transcription-independent H3K4 trimethylation in oocytes.
Hanna CW, Taudt A, Huang J, Gahurova L, Kranz A, Andrews S, Dean W, Stewart AF, Colomé-Tatché M, Kelsey G

Histone 3 K4 trimethylation (depositing H3K4me3 marks) is typically associated with active promoters yet paradoxically occurs at untranscribed domains. Research to delineate the mechanisms of targeting H3K4 methyltransferases is ongoing. The oocyte provides an attractive system to investigate these mechanisms, because extensive H3K4me3 acquisition occurs in nondividing cells. We developed low-input chromatin immunoprecipitation to interrogate H3K4me3, H3K27ac and H3K27me3 marks throughout oogenesis. In nongrowing oocytes, H3K4me3 was restricted to active promoters, but as oogenesis progressed, H3K4me3 accumulated in a transcription-independent manner and was targeted to intergenic regions, putative enhancers and silent H3K27me3-marked promoters. Ablation of the H3K4 methyltransferase gene Mll2 resulted in loss of transcription-independent H3K4 trimethylation but had limited effects on transcription-coupled H3K4 trimethylation or gene expression. Deletion of Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b showed that DNA methylation protects regions from acquiring H3K4me3. Our findings reveal two independent mechanisms of targeting H3K4me3 to genomic elements, with MLL2 recruited to unmethylated CpG-rich regions independently of transcription.

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Nature structural & molecular biology, 25, 1545-9985, 73-82, 2018

PMID: 29323282

Clearance of senescent decidual cells by uterine natural killer cells in cycling human endometrium.
Brighton PJ, Maruyama Y, Fishwick K, Vrljicak P, Tewary S, Fujihara R, Muter J, Lucas ES, Yamada T, Woods L, Lucciola R, Hou Lee Y, Takeda S, Ott S, Hemberger M, Quenby S, Brosens JJ

In cycling human endometrium, menstruation is followed by rapid estrogen-dependent growth. Upon ovulation, progesterone and rising cellular cAMP levels activate the transcription factor Forkhead box O1 (FOXO1) in endometrial stromal cells (EnSCs), leading to cell cycle exit and differentiation into decidual cells that control embryo implantation. Here we show that FOXO1 also causes acute senescence of a subpopulation of decidualizing EnSCs in an IL-8 dependent manner. Selective depletion or enrichment of this subpopulation revealed that decidual senescence drives the transient inflammatory response associated with endometrial receptivity. Further, senescent cells prevent differentiation of endometrial mesenchymal stem cells in decidualizing cultures. As the cycle progresses, IL-15 activated uterine natural killer (uNK) cells selectively target and clear senescent decidual cells through granule exocytosis. Our findings reveal that acute decidual senescence governs endometrial rejuvenation and remodeling at embryo implantation, and suggest a critical role for uNK cells in maintaining homeostasis in cycling endometrium.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 29227245

Open Access

Science Forum: The Human Cell Atlas.
Regev A, Teichmann SA, Lander ES, Amit I, Benoist C, Birney E, Bodenmiller B, Campbell PJ, Carninci P, Clatworthy M, Clevers H, Deplancke B, Dunham I, Eberwine J, Eils R, Enard W, Farmer A, Fugger L, Göttgens B, Hacohen N, Haniffa M, Hemberg M, Kim SK, Klenerman P, Kriegstein A, Lein E, Linnarsson S, Lundberg E, Lundeberg J, Majumder P, Marioni JC, Merad M, Mhlanga M, Nawijn M, Netea M, Nolan G, Pe'er D, Phillipakis A, Ponting CP, Quake SR, Reik W, Rozenblatt-Rosen O, Sanes JR, Satija R, Schumacher TN, Shalek AK, Shapiro E, Sharma P, Shin JW, Stegle O, Stratton MR, Stubbington MJT, Theis FJ, Uhlen M, van Oudenaarden A, Wagner A, Watt FM, Weissman JS, Wold BJ, Xavier RJ, Yosef N,

The recent advent of methods for high-throughput single-cell molecular profiling has catalyzed a growing sense in the scientific community that the time is ripe to complete the 150-year-old effort to identify all cell types in the human body. The Human Cell Atlas Project is an international collaborative effort that aims to define all human cell types in terms of distinctive molecular profiles (such as gene expression profiles) and to connect this information with classical cellular descriptions (such as location and morphology). An open comprehensive reference map of the molecular state of cells in healthy human tissues would propel the systematic study of physiological states, developmental trajectories, regulatory circuitry and interactions of cells, and also provide a framework for understanding cellular dysregulation in human disease. Here we describe the idea, its potential utility, early proofs-of-concept, and some design considerations for the Human Cell Atlas, including a commitment to open data, code, and community.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 29206104

Open Access

Coupling shRNA screens with single-cell RNA-seq identifies a dual role for mTOR in reprogramming-induced senescence.
Aarts M, Georgilis A, Beniazza M, Beolchi P, Banito A, Carroll T, Kulisic M, Kaemena DF, Dharmalingam G, Martin N, Reik W, Zuber J, Kaji K, Chandra T, Gil J

Expression of the transcription factors OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and cMYC (OSKM) reprograms somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Reprogramming is a slow and inefficient process, suggesting the presence of safeguarding mechanisms that counteract cell fate conversion. One such mechanism is senescence. To identify modulators of reprogramming-induced senescence, we performed a genome-wide shRNA screen in primary human fibroblasts expressing OSKM. In the screen, we identified novel mediators of OSKM-induced senescence and validated previously implicated genes such as CDKN1A We developed an innovative approach that integrates single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) with the shRNA screen to investigate the mechanism of action of the identified candidates. Our data unveiled regulation of senescence as a novel way by which mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) influences reprogramming. On one hand, mTOR inhibition blunts the induction of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors (CDKIs), including p16(INK4a), p21(CIP1), and p15(INK4b), preventing OSKM-induced senescence. On the other hand, inhibition of mTOR blunts the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which itself favors reprogramming. These contrasting actions contribute to explain the complex effect that mTOR has on reprogramming. Overall, our study highlights the advantage of combining functional screens with scRNA-seq to accelerate the discovery of pathways controlling complex phenotypes.

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Genes & development, , 1549-5477, , 2017

PMID: 29138277

Open Access

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

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

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

Open Access

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

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

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

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

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

Single-Cell Landscape of Transcriptional Heterogeneity and Cell Fate Decisions during Mouse Early Gastrulation.
Mohammed H, Hernando-Herraez I, Savino A, Scialdone A, Macaulay I, Mulas C, Chandra T, Voet T, Dean W, Nichols J, Marioni JC, Reik W

The mouse inner cell mass (ICM) segregates into the epiblast and primitive endoderm (PrE) lineages coincident with implantation of the embryo. The epiblast subsequently undergoes considerable expansion of cell numbers prior to gastrulation. To investigate underlying regulatory principles, we performed systematic single-cell RNA sequencing (seq) of conceptuses from E3.5 to E6.5. The epiblast shows reactivation and subsequent inactivation of the X chromosome, with Zfp57 expression associated with reactivation and inactivation together with other candidate regulators. At E6.5, the transition from epiblast to primitive streak is linked with decreased expression of polycomb subunits, suggesting a key regulatory role. Notably, our analyses suggest elevated transcriptional noise at E3.5 and within the non-committed epiblast at E6.5, coinciding with exit from pluripotency. By contrast, E6.5 primitive streak cells became highly synchronized and exhibit a shortened G1 cell-cycle phase, consistent with accelerated proliferation. Our study systematically charts transcriptional noise and uncovers molecular processes associated with early lineage decisions.

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Cell reports, 20, 2211-1247, 1215-1228, 2017

PMID: 28768204

Open Access

Epigenetic resetting of human pluripotency.
Guo G, von Meyenn F, Rostovskaya M, Clarke J, Dietmann S, Baker D, Sahakyan A, Myers S, Bertone P, Reik W, Plath K, Smith A

Much attention has focussed on the conversion of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to a more naïve developmental status. Here we provide a method for resetting via transient histone deacetylase inhibition. The protocol is effective across multiple PSC lines and can proceed without karyotype change. Reset cells can be expanded without feeders with a doubling time of around 24 h. WNT inhibition stabilises the resetting process. The transcriptome of reset cells diverges markedly from that of primed PSCs and shares features with human inner cell mass (ICM). Reset cells activate expression of primate-specific transposable elements. DNA methylation is globally reduced to a level equivalent to that in the ICM and is non-random, with gain of methylation at specific loci. Methylation imprints are mostly lost, however. Reset cells can be re-primed to undergo tri-lineage differentiation and germline specification. In female reset cells, appearance of biallelic X-linked gene transcription indicates reactivation of the silenced X chromosome. On reconversion to primed status, XIST-induced silencing restores monoallelic gene expression. The facile and robust conversion routine with accompanying data resources will enable widespread utilisation, interrogation, and refinement of candidate naïve cells.

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Development (Cambridge, England), 144, 1477-9129, 2748-2763, 2017

PMID: 28765214

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28700896

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28654659

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28619824

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

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

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

PMID: 28538171

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

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

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

PMID: 28530707