bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2020‒11‒22
twenty-two papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Elife. 2020 Nov 16. pii: e63274. [Epub ahead of print]9
      Chromatin accessibility mapping is a powerful approach to identify potential regulatory elements. A popular example is ATAC-seq, whereby Tn5 transposase inserts sequencing adapters into accessible DNA ('tagmentation'). CUT&Tag is a tagmentation-based epigenomic profiling method in which antibody tethering of Tn5 to a chromatin epitope of interest profiles specific chromatin features in small samples and single cells. Here we show that by simply modifying the tagmentation conditions for histone H3K4me2 or H3K4me3 CUT&Tag, antibody-tethered tagmentation of accessible DNA sites is redirected to produce chromatin accessibility maps that are indistinguishable from the best ATAC-seq maps. Thus, chromatin accessibility maps can be produced in parallel with CUT&Tag maps of other epitopes with all steps from nuclei to amplified sequencing-ready libraries performed in single PCR tubes in the laboratory or on a home workbench. As H3K4 methylation is produced by transcription at promoters and enhancers, our method identifies transcription-coupled accessible regulatory sites.
    Keywords:  chromosomes; gene expression; human
  2. Mol Cell Biol. 2020 Nov 16. pii: MCB.00166-20. [Epub ahead of print]
      Growth hormone-activated STAT5b is an essential regulator of sex-differential gene expression in mouse liver, however, its impact on hepatic gene expression and epigenetic responses is poorly understood. Here, we found a substantial, albeit incomplete loss of liver sex bias in hepatocyte-specific STAT5a/STAT5b (collectively, STAT5)-deficient mouse liver. In male liver, many male-biased genes were down regulated in direct association with the loss of STAT5 binding; many female-biased genes, which show low STAT5 binding, were de-repressed, indicating an indirect mechanism for repression by STAT5. Extensive changes in CpG-methylation were seen in STAT5-deficient liver, where sex differences were abolished at 88% of ∼1,500 sex-differentially methylated regions, largely due to increased DNA methylation upon STAT5 loss. STAT5-dependent CpG-hypomethylation was rarely found at proximal promoters of STAT5-dependent genes. Rather, STAT5 primarily regulated the methylation of distal enhancers, where STAT5 deficiency induced widespread hypermethylation at genomic regions enriched for accessible chromatin, enhancer histone marks (H3K4me1, H3K27ac), STAT5 binding, and DNA motifs for STAT5 and other transcription factors implicated in liver sex differences. Thus, the sex-dependent binding of STAT5 to liver chromatin is closely linked to the sex-dependent demethylation of distal regulatory elements linked to STAT5-dependent genes important for liver sex bias.
  3. Nat Commun. 2020 11 16. 11(1): 5823
      MYCN amplification drives one in six cases of neuroblastoma. The supernumerary gene copies are commonly found on highly rearranged, extrachromosomal circular DNA (ecDNA). The exact amplicon structure has not been described thus far and the functional relevance of its rearrangements is unknown. Here, we analyze the MYCN amplicon structure using short-read and Nanopore sequencing and its chromatin landscape using ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq and Hi-C. This reveals two distinct classes of amplicons which explain the regulatory requirements for MYCN overexpression. The first class always co-amplifies a proximal enhancer driven by the noradrenergic core regulatory circuit (CRC). The second class of MYCN amplicons is characterized by high structural complexity, lacks key local enhancers, and instead contains distal chromosomal fragments harboring CRC-driven enhancers. Thus, ectopic enhancer hijacking can compensate for the loss of local gene regulatory elements and explains a large component of the structural diversity observed in MYCN amplification.
  4. Elife. 2020 Nov 19. pii: e61964. [Epub ahead of print]9
      Repression of genes by Polycomb requires that PRC2 modifies their chromatin by trimethylating lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27me3). At transcriptionally active genes, di- and trimethylated H3K36 inhibit PRC2. Here, the cryo-EM structure of PRC2 on dinucleosomes reveals how binding of its catalytic subunit EZH2 to nucleosomal DNA orients the H3 N-terminus via an extended network of interactions to place H3K27 into the active site. Unmodified H3K36 occupies a critical position in the EZH2-DNA interface. Mutation of H3K36 to arginine or alanine inhibits H3K27 methylation by PRC2 on nucleosomes in vitro. Accordingly, Drosophila H3K36A and H3K36R mutants show reduced levels of H3K27me3 and defective Polycomb repression of HOX genes. The relay of interactions between EZH2, the nucleosomal DNA and the H3 N-terminus therefore creates the geometry that permits allosteric inhibition of PRC2 by methylated H3K36 in transcriptionally active chromatin.
    Keywords:  D. melanogaster; chromosomes; gene expression; human; molecular biophysics; structural biology
  5. Genome Res. 2020 Nov 20. pii: gr.267047.120. [Epub ahead of print]
      Single-cell DNA methylation data has become increasingly abundant and has uncovered many genes with a positive correlation between expression and promoter methylation, challenging the common dogma based on bulk data. However, computational tools for analyzing single-cell methylome data are lagging far behind. A number of tasks, including cell type calling and integration with transcriptome data, requires the construction of a robust gene activity matrix as the prerequisite but challenging task. The advent of multi-omics data enables measurement of both DNA methylation and gene expression for the same single cells. Although such data is rather sparse, they are sufficient to train supervised models that capture the complex relationship between DNA methylation and gene expression and predict gene activities at single-cell level. Here, we present MAPLE (Methylome Association by Predictive Linkage to Expression), a computational framework that learns the association between DNA methylation and expression using both gene- and cell-dependent statistical features. Using multiple datasets generated with different experimental protocols, we show that using predicted gene activity values significantly improves several analysis tasks, including clustering, cell type identification and integration with transcriptome data. Application of MAPLE revealed several interesting biological insights into the relationship between methylation and gene expression, including asymmetric importance of methylation signals around transcription start site for predicting gene expression; and increased predictive power of methylation signals in promoters located outside CpG islands and shores. With the rapid accumulation of single-cell epigenomics data, MAPLE provides a general framework for integrating such data with transcriptome data.
  6. BMC Genomics. 2020 Nov 18. 21(Suppl 10): 614
      BACKGROUND: Bivalent promoters marked with both H3K27me3 and H3K4me3 histone modifications are characteristic of poised promoters in embryonic stem (ES) cells. The model of poised promoters postulates that bivalent chromatin in ES cells is resolved to monovalency upon differntiation. With the availability of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data, subsequent switches in transcriptional state at bivalent promoters can be studied more closely.RESULTS: We develop an approach for capturing genes undergoing transcriptional switching by detecting 'bimodal' gene expression patterns from scRNA-seq data. We integrate the identification of bimodal genes in ES cell differentiation with analysis of chromatin state, and identify clear cell-state dependent patterns of bimodal, bivalent genes. We show that binarization of bimodal genes can be used to identify differentially expressed genes from fractional ON/OFF proportions. In time series data from differentiating cells, we build a pseudotime approximation and use a hidden Markov model to infer gene activity switching pseudotimes, which we use to infer a regulatory network. We identify pathways of switching during differentiation, novel details of those pathway, and transcription factor coordination with downstream targets.
    CONCLUSIONS: Genes with expression levels too low to be informative in conventional scRNA analysis can be used to infer transcriptional switching networks that connect transcriptional activity to chromatin state. Since chromatin bivalency is a hallmark of gene promoters poised for activity, this approach provides an alternative that complements conventional scRNA-seq analysis while focusing on genes near the ON/OFF boundary of activity. This offers a novel and productive means of inferring regulatory networks from scRNA-seq data.
    Keywords:  Bimodality; Bivalency; Chromatin state; Embryonic stem cells; Genome regulatory network; Hidden Markov model; Pseudotime; scRNA-seq
  7. Nucleic Acids Res. 2020 Nov 16. pii: gkaa1051. [Epub ahead of print]
      Chromatin remodeling impacts the structural neighborhoods and regulates gene expression. However, the role of enhancer-guided chromatin remodeling in the gene regulation remains unclear. Here, using RNA-seq and ChIP-seq, we identified for the first time that neurotensin (NTS) serves as a key oncogene in uveal melanoma and that CTCF interacts with the upstream enhancer of NTS and orchestrates an 800 kb chromosomal loop between the promoter and enhancer. Intriguingly, this novel CTCF-guided chromatin loop was ubiquitous in a cohort of tumor patients. In addition, a disruption in this chromosomal interaction prevented the histone acetyltransferase EP300 from embedding in the promoter of NTS and resulted in NTS silencing. Most importantly, in vitro and in vivo experiments showed that the ability of tumor formation was significantly suppressed via deletion of the enhancer by CRISPR-Cas9. These studies delineate a novel onco-enhancer guided epigenetic mechanism and provide a promising therapeutic concept for disease therapy.
  8. Mol Cell. 2020 Nov 19. pii: S1097-2765(20)30733-4. [Epub ahead of print]80(4): 633-647.e7
      N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most abundant mRNA modification and is installed by the METTL3-METTL14-WTAP methyltransferase complex. Although the importance of m6A methylation in mRNA metabolism has been well documented recently, regulation of the m6A machinery remains obscure. Through a genome-wide CRISPR screen, we identify the ERK pathway and USP5 as positive regulators of the m6A deposition. We find that ERK phosphorylates METTL3 at S43/S50/S525 and WTAP at S306/S341, followed by deubiquitination by USP5, resulting in stabilization of the m6A methyltransferase complex. Lack of METTL3/WTAP phosphorylation reduces decay of m6A-labeled pluripotent factor transcripts and traps mouse embryonic stem cells in the pluripotent state. The same phosphorylation can also be found in ERK-activated human cancer cells and contribute to tumorigenesis. Our study reveals an unrecognized function of ERK in regulating m6A methylation.
    Keywords:  ERK; METTL3 phosphorylation; USP5; m(6)A methylation; stem cell differentiation
  9. Genome Res. 2020 Nov 18. pii: gr.262675.120. [Epub ahead of print]
      Eukaryotic gene transcription is regulated by a large cohort of chromatin associated proteins, and inferring their differential binding sites between cellular contexts requires a rigorous comparison of the corresponding ChIP-seq data. We present MAnorm2, a new computational tool for quantitatively comparing groups of ChIP-seq samples. MAnorm2 employs a hierarchical strategy for normalization of ChIP-seq data and assesses within-group variability of ChIP-seq signals based on an empirical Bayes framework. In this framework, MAnorm2 allows for abundant differential ChIP-seq signals between groups of samples as well as very different global within-group variability between groups. Using a number of real ChIP-seq data sets, we observed that MAnorm2 clearly outperformed existing tools for differential ChIP-seq analysis, especially when the groups of samples being compared had distinct global within-group variability.
  10. Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 20. 11(1): 5911
      Transcriptional dysregulation, which can be caused by genetic and epigenetic alterations, is a fundamental feature of many cancers. A key cytoprotective transcriptional activator, NRF2, is often aberrantly activated in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and supports both aggressive tumorigenesis and therapeutic resistance. Herein, we find that persistently activated NRF2 in NSCLCs generates enhancers at gene loci that are not normally regulated by transiently activated NRF2 under physiological conditions. Elevated accumulation of CEBPB in NRF2-activated NSCLCs is found to be one of the prerequisites for establishment of the unique NRF2-dependent enhancers, among which the NOTCH3 enhancer is shown to be critical for promotion of tumor-initiating activity. Enhancer remodeling mediated by NRF2-CEBPB cooperativity promotes tumor-initiating activity and drives malignancy of NRF2-activated NSCLCs via establishment of the NRF2-NOTCH3 regulatory axis.
  11. Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 18. 10(1): 20044
      MYC oncoprotein is a multifunctional transcription factor that regulates the expression of a large number of genes involved in cellular growth, proliferation and metabolism. Altered MYC protein level lead to cellular transformation and tumorigenesis. MYC is deregulated in > 50% of human cancers, rendering it an attractive drug target. However, direct inhibition of this class of proteins using conventional small molecules is challenging due to their intrinsically disordered state. To discover novel posttranslational regulators of MYC protein stability and turnover, we established a genetic screen in mammalian cells by combining a fluorescent protein-based MYC abundance sensor, CRISPR/Cas9-based gene knockouts and next-generation sequencing. Our screen identifies UBR5, an E3 ligase of the HECT-type family, as a novel regulator of MYC degradation. Even in the presence of the well-described and functional MYC ligase, FBXW7, UBR5 depletion leads to accumulation of MYC in cells. We demonstrate interaction of UBR5 with MYC and reduced K48-linked ubiquitination of MYC upon loss of UBR5 in cells. Interestingly, in cancer cell lines with amplified MYC expression, depletion of UBR5 resulted in reduced cell survival, as a consequence of MYC stabilization. Finally, we show that MYC and UBR5 are co-amplified in more than 40% of cancer cells and that MYC copy number amplification correlates with enhanced transcriptional output of UBR5. This suggests that UBR5 acts as a buffer in MYC amplified settings and protects these cells from apoptosis.
  12. Nat Commun. 2020 11 17. 11(1): 5843
      Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a disease at the intersection of autoimmunity and fibrosis. However, the epigenetic regulation and the contributions of diverse cell types to SSc remain unclear. Here we survey, using ATAC-seq, the active DNA regulatory elements of eight types of primary cells in normal skin from healthy controls, as well as clinically affected and unaffected skin from SSc patients. We find that accessible DNA elements in skin-resident dendritic cells (DCs) exhibit the highest enrichment of SSc-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and predict the degrees of skin fibrosis in patients. DCs also have the greatest disease-associated changes in chromatin accessibility and the strongest alteration of cell-cell interactions in SSc lesions. Lastly, data from an independent cohort of patients with SSc confirm a significant increase of DCs in lesioned skin. Thus, the DCs epigenome links inherited susceptibility and clinically apparent fibrosis in SSc skin, and can be an important driver of SSc pathogenesis.
  13. Nat Commun. 2020 Nov 20. 11(1): 5913
      Over the last 3 decades ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers have been thought to recognize chromatin at the level of single nucleosomes rather than higher-order organization of more than one nucleosome. We show the yeast ISW1a remodeler has such higher-order structural specificity, as manifested by large allosteric changes that activate the nucleosome remodeling and spacing activities of ISW1a when bound to dinucleosomes. Although the ATPase domain of Isw1 docks at the SHL2 position when ISW1a is bound to either mono- or di-nucleosomes, there are major differences in the interactions of the catalytic subunit Isw1 with the acidic pocket of nucleosomes and the accessory subunit Ioc3 with nucleosomal DNA. By mutational analysis and uncoupling of ISW1a's dinucleosome specificity, we find that dinucleosome recognition is required by ISW1a for proper chromatin organization at promoters; as well as transcription regulation in combination with the histone acetyltransferase NuA4 and histone H2A.Z exchanger SWR1.
  14. Genome Biol. 2020 Nov 16. 21(1): 277
      BACKGROUND: During mammalian early embryogenesis, expression and epigenetic heterogeneity emerge before the first cell fate determination, but the programs causing such determinate heterogeneity are largely unexplored.RESULTS: Here, we present MethylTransition, a novel DNA methylation state transition model, for characterizing methylation changes during one or a few cell cycles at single-cell resolution. MethylTransition involves the creation of a transition matrix comprising three parameters that represent the probabilities of DNA methylation-modifying activities in order to link the methylation states before and after a cell cycle. We apply MethylTransition to single-cell DNA methylome data from human pre-implantation embryogenesis and elucidate that the DNA methylation heterogeneity that emerges at promoters during this process is largely an intrinsic output of a program with unique probabilities of DNA methylation-modifying activities. Moreover, we experimentally validate the effect of the initial DNA methylation on expression heterogeneity in pre-implantation mouse embryos.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our study reveals the programmed DNA methylation heterogeneity during human pre-implantation embryogenesis through a novel mathematical model and provides valuable clues for identifying the driving factors of the first cell fate determination during this process.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; First cell fate determination; Heterogeneity
  15. Nature. 2020 Nov 18.
      Although single-cell RNA sequencing studies have begun to provide compendia of cell expression profiles1-9, it has been difficult to systematically identify and localize all molecular cell types in individual organs to create a full molecular cell atlas. Here, using droplet- and plate-based single-cell RNA sequencing of approximately 75,000 human cells across all lung tissue compartments and circulating blood, combined with a multi-pronged cell annotation approach, we create an extensive cell atlas of the human lung. We define the gene expression profiles and anatomical locations of 58 cell populations in the human lung, including 41 out of 45 previously known cell types and 14 previously unknown ones. This comprehensive molecular atlas identifies the biochemical functions of lung cells and the transcription factors and markers for making and monitoring them; defines the cell targets of circulating hormones and predicts local signalling interactions and immune cell homing; and identifies cell types that are directly affected by lung disease genes and respiratory viruses. By comparing human and mouse data, we identified 17 molecular cell types that have been gained or lost during lung evolution and others with substantially altered expression profiles, revealing extensive plasticity of cell types and cell-type-specific gene expression during organ evolution including expression switches between cell types. This atlas provides the molecular foundation for investigating how lung cell identities, functions and interactions are achieved in development and tissue engineering and altered in disease and evolution.
  16. iScience. 2020 Oct 23. 23(10): 101602
      CDK6 is frequently overexpressed in various cancer types and functions as a positive regulator of the cell cycle and as a coregulator of gene transcription. We provide evidence that CDK6 is involved in the process of DNA methylation, at least in ALL. We observe a positive correlation of CDK6 and DNMT expression in a large number of ALL samples. ChIP-seq analysis reveals CDK6 binding to genomic regions associated with DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs). ATAC-seq shows a strong reduction in chromatin accessibility for DNMT3B in CDK6-deficient BCR-ABL + Cdk6-/- cells, accompanied by lower levels of DNMT3B mRNA and less chromatin-bound DNMT3B, as shown by RNA-seq and chromatome analysis. Motif analysis suggests that ETS family members interact with CDK6 to regulate DNMT3B. Reduced representation bisulfite sequencing analysis uncovers reversible and cell line-specific changes in DNA methylation patterns upon CDK6 loss. The results reveal a function of CDK6 as a regulator of DNA methylation in transformed cells.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Genetics; Genomics
  17. Cell Rep. 2020 Nov 17. pii: S2211-1247(20)31379-6. [Epub ahead of print]33(7): 108390
      The discovery of H3K27M mutations in pediatric gliomas marked a new chapter in cancer epigenomics. Numerous studies have investigated the effect of this mutation on H3K27 trimethylation, but only recently have we started to realize its additional effects on the epigenome. Here, we use isogenic glioma H3K27M+/- cell lines to investigate H3K27 methylation and its interaction with H3K36 and H3K9 modifications. We describe a "step down" effect of H3K27M on the distribution of H3K27 methylation: me3 is reduced to me2, me2 is reduced to me1, whereas H3K36me2/3 delineates the boundaries for the spread of H3K27me marks. We also observe a replacement of H3K27me2/3 silencing by H3K9me3. Using a computational simulation, we explain our observations by reduced effectiveness of PRC2 and constraints imposed on the deposition of H3K27me by antagonistic H3K36 modifications. Our work further elucidates the effects of H3K27M in gliomas as well as the general principles of deposition in H3K27 methylation.
    Keywords:  H3.3K27M; computational modeling; epigenomics; histone methylation; pediatric high-grade glioma
  18. Nat Chem Biol. 2020 Nov 16.
      The DNA guanine quadruplexes (G4) play important roles in multiple cellular processes, including DNA replication, transcription and maintenance of genome stability. Here, we showed that Yin and Yang 1 (YY1) can bind directly to G4 structures. ChIP-seq results revealed that YY1-binding sites overlap extensively with G4 structure loci in chromatin. We also observed that the dimerization of YY1 and its binding with G4 structures contribute to YY1-mediated long-range DNA looping. Displacement of YY1 from G4 structure sites disrupts substantially the YY1-mediated DNA looping. Moreover, treatment with G4-stabilizing ligands modulates the expression of not only those genes with G4 structures in their promoters, but also those associated with distal G4 structures that are brought to close proximity via YY1-mediated DNA looping. Together, we identified YY1 as a DNA G4-binding protein, and revealed that YY1-mediated long-range DNA looping requires its dimerization and occurs, in part, through its recognition of G4 structure.
  19. Nat Commun. 2020 11 18. 11(1): 5872
      Substantial evidence implicates crosstalk between metabolic tissues and the immune system in the inception and progression of obesity. However, molecular regulators that orchestrate metaflammation both centrally and peripherally remains incompletely understood. Here, we identify myeloid Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2) as an essential regulator of obesity and its sequelae. In mice and humans, consumption of a fatty diet downregulates myeloid KLF2 levels. Under basal conditions, myeloid-specific KLF2 knockout mice (K2KO) exhibit increased feeding and weight gain. High-fat diet (HFD) feeding further exacerbates the K2KO metabolic disease phenotype. Mechanistically, loss of myeloid KLF2 increases metaflammation in peripheral and central tissues. A combination of pair-feeding, bone marrow-transplant, and microglial ablation implicate central and peripheral contributions to K2KO-induced metabolic dysfunction observed. Finally, overexpression of myeloid KLF2 protects mice from HFD-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Together, these data establish myeloid KLF2 as a nodal regulator of central and peripheral metabolic inflammation in homeostasis and disease.
  20. Dev Biol. 2020 Nov 13. pii: S0012-1606(20)30294-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Recent advances in stem cell biology have enabled the generation of kidney organoids in vitro, and further maturation of these organoids is observed after experimental transplantation. However, the current organoids remain immature and their precise maturation stages are difficult to determine because of limited information on developmental stage-dependent gene expressions in the kidney in vivo. To establish relevant molecular coordinates, we performed single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) on developing kidneys at different stages in the mouse. By selecting genes that exhibited upregulation at P0 compared with E15.5 as well as cell lineage-specific expression, we generated gene lists correlated with developmental stages in individual cell lineages. Application of these lists to transplanted embryonic kidneys revealed that most cell types, other than the collecting ducts, exhibited similar maturation to kidneys at the neonatal stage in vivo, revealing non-synchronous maturation across the cell lineages. Thus, our scRNA-seq data can serve as useful molecular coordinates to assess the maturation of developing kidneys and eventually of kidney organoids.
    Keywords:  In situ hybridization; Kidney development; Maturation; Single-cell RNA sequencing
  21. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 Nov 16. pii: 202011078. [Epub ahead of print]
      Vertebrate Hox genes are critical for the establishment of structures during the development of the main body axis. Subsequently, they play important roles either in organizing secondary axial structures such as the appendages, or during homeostasis in postnatal stages and adulthood. Here, we set up to analyze their elusive function in the ectodermal compartment, using the mouse limb bud as a model. We report that the HoxC gene cluster was co-opted to be transcribed in the distal limb ectoderm, where it is activated following the rule of temporal colinearity. These ectodermal cells subsequently produce various keratinized organs such as nails or claws. Accordingly, deletion of the HoxC cluster led to mice lacking nails (anonychia), a condition stronger than the previously reported loss of function of Hoxc13, which is the causative gene of the ectodermal dysplasia 9 (ECTD9) in human patients. We further identified two mammalian-specific ectodermal enhancers located upstream of the HoxC gene cluster, which together regulate Hoxc gene expression in the hair and nail ectodermal organs. Deletion of these regulatory elements alone or in combination revealed a strong quantitative component in the regulation of Hoxc genes in the ectoderm, suggesting that these two enhancers may have evolved along with the mammalian taxon to provide the level of HOXC proteins necessary for the full development of hair and nail.
    Keywords:  Hox genes; enhancers; hair follicles; nails; transcription