Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications

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

Disease-relevant transcriptional signatures identified in individual smooth muscle cells from healthy mouse vessels.
Dobnikar L, Taylor AL, Chappell J, Oldach P, Harman JL, Oerton E, Dzierzak E, Bennett MR, Spivakov M, Jørgensen HF

Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) show pronounced heterogeneity across and within vascular beds, with direct implications for their function in injury response and atherosclerosis. Here we combine single-cell transcriptomics with lineage tracing to examine VSMC heterogeneity in healthy mouse vessels. The transcriptional profiles of single VSMCs consistently reflect their region-specific developmental history and show heterogeneous expression of vascular disease-associated genes involved in inflammation, adhesion and migration. We detect a rare population of VSMC-lineage cells that express the multipotent progenitor marker Sca1, progressively downregulate contractile VSMC genes and upregulate genes associated with VSMC response to inflammation and growth factors. We find that Sca1 upregulation is a hallmark of VSMCs undergoing phenotypic switching in vitro and in vivo, and reveal an equivalent population of Sca1-positive VSMC-lineage cells in atherosclerotic plaques. Together, our analyses identify disease-relevant transcriptional signatures in VSMC-lineage cells in healthy blood vessels, with implications for disease susceptibility, diagnosis and prevention.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 4567, 2018

PMID: 30385745

Open Access

A closer look at neuron interaction with track-etched microporous membranes.
George JH, Nagel D, Waller S, Hill E, Parri HR, Coleman MD, Cui Z, Ye H

Microporous membranes support the growth of neurites into and through micro-channels, providing a different type of neural growth platform to conventional dish cultures. Microporous membranes are used to support various types of culture, however, the role of pore diameter in relation to neurite growth through the membrane has not been well characterised. In this study, the human cell line (SH-SY5Y) was differentiated into neuron-like cells and cultured on track-etched microporous membranes with pore and channel diameters selected to accommodate neurite width (0.8 µm to 5 µm). Whilst neurites extended through all pore diameters, the extent of neurite coverage on the non-seeded side of the membranes after 5 days in culture was found to be directly proportional to channel diameter. Neurite growth through membrane pores reduced significantly when neural cultures were non-confluent. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that neurites bridged pores and circumnavigated pore edges - such that the overall likelihood of a neurite entering a pore channel was decreased. These findings highlight the role of pore diameter, cell sheet confluence and contact guidance in directing neurite growth through pores and may be useful in applications that seek to use physical substrates to maintain separate neural populations whilst permitting neurite contact between cultures.

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Scientific reports, 8, 2045-2322, 15552, 2018

PMID: 30341335

Open Access

Low levels of NMNAT2 compromise axon development and survival.
Gilley J, Mayer P, Yu G, Coleman MP

NMNAT2 is an endogenous axon maintenance factor that preserves axon health by blocking Wallerian-like axon degeneration. Mice lacking NMNAT2 die at birth with severe axon defects in both the PNS and CNS so a complete absence of NMNAT2 in humans is likely to be similarly harmful, but probably rare. However, there is evidence of widespread natural variation in human NMNAT2 mRNA expression so it is important to establish whether reduced levels of NMNAT2 have consequences that impact health. Whilst mice that express reduced levels of NMNAT2, either those heterozygous for a silenced Nmnat2 allele, or compound heterozygous for one silenced and one partially silenced Nmnat2 allele, remain overtly normal into old age, we now report that Nmnat2 compound heterozygote mice present with early and age-dependent peripheral nerve axon defects. Compound heterozygote mice already have reduced numbers of myelinated sensory axons at 1.5 months and lose more axons, likely motor axons, between 18 and 24 months and, crucially, these changes correlate with early temperature insensitivity and a later-onset decline in motor performance. Slower neurite outgrowth and increased sensitivity to axonal stress are also evident in primary cultures of Nmnat2 compound heterozygote superior cervical ganglion neurons. These data reveal that reducing NMNAT2 levels below a particular threshold compromises the development of peripheral axons and increases their vulnerability to stresses. We discuss the implications for human neurological phenotypes where axons are longer and have to be maintained over a much longer lifespan.

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Human molecular genetics, , 1460-2083, , 2018

PMID: 30304512

Enzymatic Assays of Histone Decrotonylation on Recombinant Histones.
Fellows R, Varga-Weisz P

Class I histone deacetylases (HDACs) are efficient histone decrotonylases, broadening the enzymatic spectrum of these important (epi-)genome regulators and drug targets. Here, we describe an approach to assaying class I HDACs with different acyl-histone substrates, including crotonylated histones and expand this to examine the effect of inhibitors and estimate kinetic constants.

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Bio-protocol, 8, 2331-8325, , 2018

PMID: 30283810

Open Access

Genome organization and chromatin analysis identify transcriptional downregulation of insulin-like growth factor signaling as a hallmark of aging in developing B cells.
Koohy H, Bolland DJ, Matheson LS, Schoenfelder S, Stellato C, Dimond A, Várnai C, Chovanec P, Chessa T, Denizot J, Manzano Garcia R, Wingett SW, Freire-Pritchett P, Nagano T, Hawkins P, Stephens L, Elderkin S, Spivakov M, Fraser P, Corcoran AE, Varga-Weisz PD

Aging is characterized by loss of function of the adaptive immune system, but the underlying causes are poorly understood. To assess the molecular effects of aging on B cell development, we profiled gene expression and chromatin features genome-wide, including histone modifications and chromosome conformation, in bone marrow pro-B and pre-B cells from young and aged mice.

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Genome biology, 19, 1474-760X, 126, 2018

PMID: 30180872

Open Access

Promoter Capture Hi-C: High-resolution, Genome-wide Profiling of Promoter Interactions.
Schoenfelder S, Javierre BM, Furlan-Magaril M, Wingett SW, Fraser P

The three-dimensional organization of the genome is linked to its function. For example, regulatory elements such as transcriptional enhancers control the spatio-temporal expression of their target genes through physical contact, often bridging considerable (in some cases hundreds of kilobases) genomic distances and bypassing nearby genes. The human genome harbors an estimated one million enhancers, the vast majority of which have unknown gene targets. Assigning distal regulatory regions to their target genes is thus crucial to understand gene expression control. We developed Promoter Capture Hi-C (PCHi-C) to enable the genome-wide detection of distal promoter-interacting regions (PIRs), for all promoters in a single experiment. In PCHi-C, highly complex Hi-C libraries are specifically enriched for promoter sequences through in-solution hybrid selection with thousands of biotinylated RNA baits complementary to the ends of all promoter-containing restriction fragments. The aim is to then pull-down promoter sequences and their frequent interaction partners such as enhancers and other potential regulatory elements. After high-throughput paired-end sequencing, a statistical test is applied to each promoter-ligated restriction fragment to identify significant PIRs at the restriction fragment level. We have used PCHi-C to generate an atlas of long-range promoter interactions in dozens of human and mouse cell types. These promoter interactome maps have contributed to a greater understanding of mammalian gene expression control by assigning putative regulatory regions to their target genes and revealing preferential spatial promoter-promoter interaction networks. This information also has high relevance to understanding human genetic disease and the identification of potential disease genes, by linking non-coding disease-associated sequence variants in or near control sequences to their target genes.

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Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, , 1940-087X, , 2018

PMID: 30010637

Open Access

Promoter interactome of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes connects GWAS regions to cardiac gene networks.
Choy MK, Javierre BM, Williams SG, Bar.oss SL, Liu Y, Wingett SW, Akbarov A, Wallace C, Freire-Pritchett P, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Spivakov M, Fraser P, Keavney BD

Long-range chromosomal interactions bring distal regulatory elements and promoters together to regulate gene expression in biological processes. By performing promoter capture Hi-C (PCHi-C) on human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs), we show that such promoter interactions are a key mechanism by which enhancers contact their target genes after hESC-CM differentiation from hESCs. We also show that the promoter interactome of hESC-CMs is associated with expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in cardiac left ventricular tissue; captures the dynamic process of genome reorganisation after hESC-CM differentiation; overlaps genome-wide association study (GWAS) regions associated with heart rate; and identifies new candidate genes in such regions. These findings indicate that regulatory elements in hESC-CMs identified by our approach control gene expression involved in ventricular conduction and rhythm of the heart. The study of promoter interactions in other hESC-derived cell types may be of utility in functional investigation of GWAS-associated regions.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 2526, 2018

PMID: 29955040

Mitochondria maintain controlled activation state of epithelial-resident T lymphocytes.
Konjar Š, Frising UC, Ferreira C, Hinterleitner R, Mayassi T, Zhang Q, Blankenhaus B, Haberman N, Loo Y, Guedes J, Baptista M, Innocentin S, Stange J, Strathdee D, Jabri B, Veldhoen M

Epithelial-resident T lymphocytes, such as intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) located at the intestinal barrier, can offer swift protection against invading pathogens. Lymphocyte activation is strictly regulated because of its potential harmful nature and metabolic cost, and most lymphocytes are maintained in a quiescent state. However, IELs are kept in a heightened state of activation resembling effector T cells but without cytokine production or clonal proliferation. We show that this controlled activation state correlates with alterations in the IEL mitochondrial membrane, especially the cardiolipin composition. Upon inflammation, the cardiolipin composition is altered to support IEL proliferation and effector function. Furthermore, we show that cardiolipin makeup can particularly restrict swift IEL proliferation and effector functions, reducing microbial containment capability. These findings uncover an alternative mechanism to control cellular activity, special to epithelial-resident T cells, and a novel role for mitochondria, maintaining cells in a metabolically poised state while enabling rapid progression to full functionality.

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Science immunology, 3, 2470-9468, , 2018

PMID: 29934344

Phosphoinositide 3-kinase δ inhibition promotes antitumor responses but antagonizes checkpoint inhibitors.
Lim EL, Cugliandolo FM, Rosner DR, Gyori D, Roychoudhuri R, Okkenhaug K

Multiple modes of immunosuppression restrain immune function within tumors. We previously reported that phosphoinositide 3-kinase δ (PI3Kδ) inactivation in mice confers resistance to a range of tumor models by disrupting immunosuppression mediated by regulatory T cells (Tregs). The PI3Kδ inhibitor idelalisib has proven highly effective in the clinical treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and the potential to extend the use of PI3Kδ inhibitors to nonhematological cancers is being evaluated. In this work, we demonstrate that the antitumor effect of PI3Kδ inactivation is primarily mediated through the disruption of Treg function, and correlates with tumor dependence on Treg immunosuppression. Compared with Treg-specific PI3Kδ deletion, systemic PI3Kδ inactivation is less effective at conferring resistance to tumors. We show that PI3Kδ deficiency impairs the maturation and reduces the capacity of CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) to kill tumor cells in vitro, and to respond to tumor antigen-specific immunization in vivo. PI3Kδ inactivation antagonized the antitumor effects of tumor vaccines and checkpoint blockade therapies intended to boost the CD8+ T cell response. These findings provide insights into mechanisms by which PI3Kδ inhibition promotes antitumor immunity and demonstrate that the mechanism is distinct from that mediated by immune checkpoint blockade.

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JCI insight, 3, 2379-3708, , 2018

PMID: 29875319

Open Access

Publisher Correction: TDP-43 gains function due to perturbed autoregulation in a Tardbp knock-in mouse model of ALS-FTD.
White MA, Kim E, Duffy A, Adalbert R, Phillips BU, Peters OM, Stephenson J, Yang S, Massenzio F, Lin Z, Andrews S, Segonds-Pichon A, Metterville J, Saksida LM, Mead R, Ribchester RR, Barhomi Y, Serre T, Coleman MP, Fallon JR, Bussey TJ, Brown RH, Sreedharan J

In the version of this article initially published, the footnote number 17 was missing from the author list for the two authors who contributed equally. Also, the authors have added a middle initial for author Justin R. Fallon and an acknowledgement to the Babraham Institute Imaging Facility and Sequencing Core Facility. The errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

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Nature neuroscience, , 1546-1726, , 2018

PMID: 29872124

Non-Invasive Multiphoton Imaging of Islets Transplanted Into the Pinna of the NOD Mouse Ear Reveals the Immediate Effect of Anti-CD3 Treatment in Autoimmune Diabetes.
Benson RA, Garcon F, Recino A, Ferdinand JR, Clatworthy MR, Waldmann H, Brewer JM, Okkenhaug K, Cooke A, Garside P, Wållberg M

We present a novel and readily accessible method facilitating cellular time-resolved imaging of transplanted pancreatic islets. Grafting of islets to the mouse ear pinna allows non-invasive, longitudinal imaging of events in the islets and enables improved acquisition of experimental data and use of fewer experimental animals than is possible using invasive techniques, as the same mouse can be assessed for the presence of islet infiltrating cells before and after immune intervention. We have applied this method to investigating therapeutic protection of beta cells through the well-established use of anti-CD3 injection, and have acquired unprecedented data on the nature and rapidity of the effect on the islet infiltrating T cells. We demonstrate that infusion of anti-CD3 antibody leads to immediate effects on islet infiltrating T cells in islet grafts in the pinna of the ear, and causes them to increase their speed and displacement within 20 min of infusion. This technique overcomes several technical challenges associated with intravital imaging of pancreatic immune responses and facilitates routine study of beta islet cell development, differentiation, and function in health and disease.

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Frontiers in immunology, 9, 1664-3224, 1006, 2018

PMID: 29867981

Open Access

The reference epigenome and regulatory chromatin landscape of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Beekman R, Chapaprieta V, Russiñol N, Vilarrasa-Blasi R, Verdaguer-Dot N, Martens JHA, Duran-Ferrer M, Kulis M, Serra F, Javierre BM, Wingett SW, Clot G, Queirós AC, Castellano G, Blanc J, Gut M, Merkel A, Heath S, Vlasova A, Ullrich S, Palumbo E, Enjuanes A, Martín-García D, Beà S, Pinyol M, Aymerich M, Royo R, Puiggros M, Torrents D, Datta A, Lowy E, Kostadima M, Roller M, Clarke L, Flicek P, Agirre X, Prosper F, Baumann T, Delgado J, López-Guillermo A, Fraser P, Yaspo ML, Guigó R, Siebert R, Martí-Renom MA, Puente XS, López-Otín C, Gut I, Stunnenberg HG, Campo E, Martin-Subero JI

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a frequent hematological neoplasm in which underlying epigenetic alterations are only partially understood. Here, we analyze the reference epigenome of seven primary CLLs and the regulatory chromatin landscape of 107 primary cases in the context of normal B cell differentiation. We identify that the CLL chromatin landscape is largely influenced by distinct dynamics during normal B cell maturation. Beyond this, we define extensive catalogues of regulatory elements de novo reprogrammed in CLL as a whole and in its major clinico-biological subtypes classified by IGHV somatic hypermutation levels. We uncover that IGHV-unmutated CLLs harbor more active and open chromatin than IGHV-mutated cases. Furthermore, we show that de novo active regions in CLL are enriched for NFAT, FOX and TCF/LEF transcription factor family binding sites. Although most genetic alterations are not associated with consistent epigenetic profiles, CLLs with MYD88 mutations and trisomy 12 show distinct chromatin configurations. Furthermore, we observe that non-coding mutations in IGHV-mutated CLLs are enriched in H3K27ac-associated regulatory elements outside accessible chromatin. Overall, this study provides an integrative portrait of the CLL epigenome, identifies extensive networks of altered regulatory elements and sheds light on the relationship between the genetic and epigenetic architecture of the disease.

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Nature medicine, , 1546-170X, , 2018

PMID: 29785028

Allele-specific control of replication timing and genome organization during development.
Rivera-Mulia JC, Dimond A, Vera D, Trevilla-Garcia C, Sasaki T, Zimmerman J, Dupont C, Gribnau J, Fraser P, Gilbert DM

DNA replication occurs in a defined temporal order known as the replication-timing (RT) program. RT is regulated during development in discrete chromosomal units, coordinated with transcriptional activity and 3D genome organization. Here, we derived distinct cell types from F1 hybrid musculus X castaneus mouse crosses and exploited the high single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density to characterize allelic differences in RT (Repli-seq), genome organization (Hi-C and promoter-capture Hi-C), gene [removed]total nuclear RNA-seq) and chromatin accessibility (ATAC-seq). We also present HARP: a new computational tool for sorting SNPs in phased genomes to efficiently measure allele-specific genome-wide data. Analysis of six different hybrid mESC clones with different genomes (C57BL/6, 129/sv and CAST/Ei), parental configurations and gender revealed significant RT asynchrony between alleles across ~12% of the autosomal genome linked to sub-species genomes but not to parental origin, growth conditions or gender. RT asynchrony in mESCs strongly correlated with changes in Hi-C compartments between alleles but not SNP density, gene expression, imprinting or chromatin accessibility. We then tracked mESC RT asynchronous regions during development by analyzing differentiated cell types including extraembryonic endoderm stem (XEN) cells, 4 male and female primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and neural precursor cells (NPCs) differentiated in vitro from mESCs with opposite parental configurations. We found that RT asynchrony and allelic discordance in Hi-C compartments seen in mESCs was largely lost in all differentiated cell types, coordinated with a more uniform Hi-C compartment arrangement, suggesting that genome organization of homologues converges to similar folding patterns during cell fate commitment.

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Genome research, , 1549-5469, , 2018

PMID: 29735606

Interaction between a MAPT variant causing frontotemporal dementia and mutant APP affects axonal transport.
Adalbert R, Milde S, Durrant C, Ando K, Stygelbout V, Yilmaz Z, Gould S, Brion JP, Coleman MP

In Alzheimer's disease, many indicators point to a central role for poor axonal transport, but the potential for stimulating axonal transport to alleviate the disease remains largely untested. Previously, we reported enhanced anterograde axonal transport of mitochondria in 8- to 11-month-old MAPT knockin mice, a genetic model of frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism-17T. In this study, we further characterized the axonal transport of mitochondria in younger MAPT mice crossed with the familial Alzheimer's disease model, TgCRND8, aiming to test whether boosting axonal transport in young TgCRND8 mice can alleviate axonal swelling. We successfully replicated the enhancement of anterograde axonal transport in young MAPT knockin animals. Surprisingly, we found that in the presence of the amyloid precursor protein mutations, MAPT impaired anterograde axonal transport. The numbers of plaque-associated axonal swellings or amyloid plaques in TgCRND8 brains were unaltered. These findings suggest that amyloid-β promotes an action of mutant tau that impairs axonal transport. As amyloid-β levels increase with age even without amyloid precursor protein mutation, we suggest that this rise could contribute to age-related decline in frontotemporal dementia.

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Neurobiology of aging, 68, 1558-1497, 68-75, 2018

PMID: 29729423

Open Access