bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2021‒03‒07
eighteen papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nat Chem Biol. 2021 Mar 01.
      Whole-genome sequencing data mining efforts have revealed numerous histone mutations in a wide range of cancer types. These occur in all four core histones in both the tail and globular domains and remain largely uncharacterized. Here we used two high-throughput approaches, a DNA-barcoded mononucleosome library and a humanized yeast library, to profile the biochemical and cellular effects of these mutations. We identified cancer-associated mutations in the histone globular domains that enhance fundamental chromatin remodeling processes, histone exchange and nucleosome sliding, and are lethal in yeast. In mammalian cells, these mutations upregulate cancer-associated gene pathways and inhibit cellular differentiation by altering expression of lineage-specific transcription factors. This work represents a comprehensive functional analysis of the histone mutational landscape in human cancers and leads to a model in which histone mutations that perturb nucleosome remodeling may contribute to disease development and/or progression.
  2. Mol Cell. 2021 Feb 23. pii: S1097-2765(21)00098-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      Acetylation of lysine 16 on histone H4 (H4K16ac) is catalyzed by histone acetyltransferase KAT8 and can prevent chromatin compaction in vitro. Although extensively studied in Drosophila, the functions of H4K16ac and two KAT8-containing protein complexes (NSL and MSL) are not well understood in mammals. Here, we demonstrate a surprising complex-dependent activity of KAT8: it catalyzes H4K5ac and H4K8ac as part of the NSL complex, whereas it catalyzes the bulk of H4K16ac as part of the MSL complex. Furthermore, we show that MSL complex proteins and H4K16ac are not required for cell proliferation and chromatin accessibility, whereas the NSL complex is essential for cell survival, as it stimulates transcription initiation at the promoters of housekeeping genes. In summary, we show that KAT8 switches catalytic activity and function depending on its associated proteins and that, when in the NSL complex, it catalyzes H4K5ac and H4K8ac required for the expression of essential genes.
    Keywords:  H4K16ac; H4K5ac; H4K8ac; KAT8; MSL complex; NSL complex; chromatin; histone acetylation; transcription
  3. Nature. 2021 Mar 03.
      The RNA modification N6-methyladenosine (m6A) has critical roles in many biological processes1,2. However, the function of m6A in the early phase of mammalian development remains poorly understood. Here we show that the m6A reader YT521-B homology-domain-containing protein 1 (YTHDC1) is required for the maintenance of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells in an m6A-dependent manner, and that its deletion initiates cellular reprogramming to a 2C-like state. Mechanistically, YTHDC1 binds to the transcripts of retrotransposons (such as intracisternal A particles, ERVK and LINE1) in mouse ES cells and its depletion results in the reactivation of these silenced retrotransposons, accompanied by a global decrease in SETDB1-mediated trimethylation at lysine 9 of histone H3 (H3K9me3). We further demonstrate that YTHDC1 and its target m6A RNAs act upstream of SETDB1 to repress retrotransposons and Dux, the master inducer of the two-cell stage (2C)-like program. This study reveals an essential role for m6A RNA and YTHDC1 in chromatin modification and retrotransposon repression.
  4. Nat Commun. 2021 03 03. 12(1): 1419
      Epigenetic mechanisms contribute to the initiation and development of cancer, and epigenetic variation promotes dynamic gene expression patterns that facilitate tumor evolution and adaptation. While the NCI-60 panel represents a diverse set of human cancer cell lines that has been used to screen chemical compounds, a comprehensive epigenomic atlas of these cells has been lacking. Here, we report an integrative analysis of 60 human cancer epigenomes, representing a catalog of activating and repressive histone modifications. We identify genome-wide maps of canonical sharp and broad H3K4me3 domains at promoter regions of tumor suppressors, H3K27ac-marked conventional enhancers and super enhancers, and widespread inter-cancer and intra-cancer specific variability in H3K9me3 and H4K20me3-marked heterochromatin domains. Furthermore, we identify features of chromatin states, including chromatin state switching along chromosomes, correlation of histone modification density with genetic mutations, DNA methylation, enrichment of DNA binding motifs in regulatory regions, and gene activity and inactivity. These findings underscore the importance of integrating epigenomic maps with gene expression and genetic variation data to understand the molecular basis of human cancer. Our findings provide a resource for mining epigenomic maps of human cancer cells and for identifying epigenetic therapeutic targets.
  5. Nat Methods. 2021 Mar 01.
      The architecture of chromatin regulates eukaryotic cell states by controlling transcription factor access to sites of gene regulation. Here we describe a dual transposase-peroxidase approach, integrative DNA and protein tagging (iDAPT), which detects both DNA (iDAPT-seq) and protein (iDAPT-MS) associated with accessible regions of chromatin. In addition to direct identification of bound transcription factors, iDAPT enables the inference of their gene regulatory networks, protein interactors and regulation of chromatin accessibility. We applied iDAPT to profile the epigenomic consequences of granulocytic differentiation of acute promyelocytic leukemia, yielding previously undescribed mechanistic insights. Our findings demonstrate the power of iDAPT as a platform for studying the dynamic epigenomic landscapes and their transcription factor components associated with biological phenomena and disease.
  6. Mol Cell. 2021 Feb 25. pii: S1097-2765(21)00051-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The coactivator p300/CREB-binding protein (CBP) regulates genes by facilitating the assembly of transcriptional machinery and by acetylating histones and other factors. However, it remains mostly unclear how both functions of p300 are dynamically coordinated during gene control. Here, we showed that p300 can orchestrate two functions through the formation of dynamic clusters with certain transcription factors (TFs), which is mediated by the interactions between a TF's transactivation domain (TAD) and the intrinsically disordered regions of p300. Co-condensation can enable spatially defined, all-or-none activation of p300's catalytic activity, priming the recruitment of coactivators, including Brd4. We showed that co-condensation can modulate transcriptional initiation rate and burst duration of target genes, underlying nonlinear gene regulatory functions. Such modulation is consistent with how p300 might shape gene bursting kinetics globally. Altogether, these results suggest an intriguing gene regulation mechanism, in which TF and p300 co-condensation contributes to transcriptional bursting regulation and cooperative gene control.
    Keywords:  biomolecular condensation; cooperativity; gene regulation; live-cell imaging; nonlinear dose response; p300; transcriptional bursting; transcriptional imaging
  7. Nat Commun. 2021 03 01. 12(1): 1360
      In eukaryotes, DNA is packed inside the cell nucleus in the form of chromatin, which consists of DNA, proteins such as histones, and RNA. Euchromatin, which is permissive for transcription, is spatially organized into transcriptionally inactive domains interspersed with pockets of transcriptional activity. While transcription and RNA have been implicated in euchromatin organization, it remains unclear how their interplay forms and maintains transcription pockets. Here we combine theory and experiment to analyze the dynamics of euchromatin organization as pluripotent zebrafish cells exit mitosis and begin transcription. We show that accumulation of RNA induces formation of transcription pockets which displace transcriptionally inactive chromatin. We propose that the accumulating RNA recruits RNA-binding proteins that together tend to separate from transcriptionally inactive euchromatin. Full phase separation is prevented because RNA remains tethered to transcribed euchromatin through RNA polymerases. Instead, smaller scale microphases emerge that do not grow further and form the typical pattern of euchromatin organization.
  8. Nat Genet. 2021 Mar 01.
      BCL11A, the major regulator of fetal hemoglobin (HbF, α2γ2) level, represses γ-globin expression through direct promoter binding in adult erythroid cells in a switch to adult hemoglobin (HbA, α2β2). To uncover how BCL11A initiates repression, we used CRISPR-Cas9, dCas9, dCas9-KRAB and dCas9-VP64 screens to dissect the γ-globin promoters and identified an activator element near the BCL11A-binding site. Using CUT&RUN and base editing, we demonstrate that a proximal CCAAT box is occupied by the activator NF-Y. BCL11A competes with NF-Y binding through steric hindrance to initiate repression. Occupancy of NF-Y is rapidly established following BCL11A depletion, and precedes γ-globin derepression and locus control region (LCR)-globin loop formation. Our findings reveal that the switch from fetal to adult globin gene expression within the >50-kb β-globin gene cluster is initiated by competition between a stage-selective repressor and a ubiquitous activating factor within a remarkably discrete region of the γ-globin promoters.
  9. Elife. 2021 Mar 04. pii: e64563. [Epub ahead of print]10
      In mammals, HP1-mediated heterochromatin forms positionally and mechanically stable genomic domains even though the component HP1 paralogs, HP1α, HP1β, and HP1γ, display rapid on-off dynamics. Here, we investigate whether phase-separation by HP1 proteins can explain these biological observations. Using bulk and single-molecule methods, we show that, within phase-separated HP1α-DNA condensates, HP1α acts as a dynamic liquid, while compacted DNA molecules are constrained in local territories. These condensates are resistant to large forces yet can be readily dissolved by HP1β. Finally, we find that differences in each HP1 paralog's DNA compaction and phase-separation properties arise from their respective disordered regions. Our findings suggest a generalizable model for genome organization in which a pool of weakly bound proteins collectively capitalize on the polymer properties of DNA to produce self-organizing domains that are simultaneously resistant to large forces at the mesoscale and susceptible to competition at the molecular scale.
    Keywords:  biochemistry; chemical biology; chromatin organization; heterochromatin; human; molecular biophysics; phase separation; structural biology
  10. Genome Res. 2021 Mar 05. pii: gr.267898.120. [Epub ahead of print]
      The AP-1 transcription factor dimer contributes to many biological processes and environmental responses. The many ways that AP-1 subunits can dimerize has posed a challenge to understanding its regulatory function. To determine patterns of AP-1 dimerization genome-wide, we definitively establish the genome-wide binding patterns and the enhancer function of five AP-1 subunits. We find limited evidence for strong dimerization preferences between specific subunits. In particular, our analysis suggests that canonical AP-1 motifs have the potential to recruit all AP-1 subunits to genomic sites that also have hallmarks of strong enhancer activity. We term those sites AP-1 hotspots. AP-1 hotspots function as a 'hub' for AP-1 subunit binding that elicits changes in cell type-specific AP-1-mediated gene expression. AP-1 hotspots are more predictive of genomic responses to glucocorticoid signaling than super enhancers, and are particularly enriched in disease-associated genetic variants. Together, these results support a model that promiscuous convergence of many subunits to common genomic locations potentiates AP-1-mediated transcription in a cell type-specific fashion.
  11. Sci Signal. 2021 Mar 02. pii: eabb4282. [Epub ahead of print]14(672):
      Renal fibrosis is a common end point for kidney injury and many chronic kidney diseases. Fibrogenesis depends on the sustained activation of myofibroblasts, which deposit the extracellular matrix that causes progressive scarring and organ failure. Here, we showed that the transcription factor SOX9 was associated with kidney fibrosis in humans and required for experimentally induced kidney fibrosis in mice. From genome-wide analysis, we identified Neuron navigator 3 (NAV3) as acting downstream of SOX9 in kidney fibrosis. NAV3 increased in abundance and colocalized with SOX9 after renal injury in mice, and both SOX9 and NAV3 were present in diseased human kidneys. In an in vitro model of renal pericyte transdifferentiation into myofibroblasts, we demonstrated that NAV3 was required for multiple aspects of fibrogenesis, including actin polymerization linked to cell migration and sustained activation of the mechanosensitive transcription factor YAP1. In summary, our work identifies a SOX9-NAV3-YAP1 axis involved in the progression of kidney fibrosis and points to NAV3 as a potential target for pharmacological intervention.
  12. Development. 2021 Mar 03. pii: dev.192401. [Epub ahead of print]
      Groucho-related genes/Transducin-like Enhancer of Split (Grgs/TLEs) are transcriptional co-repressors that are critical for many developmental processes. Several essential pancreatic transcription factors are capable of interacting with GRGs; however, the in vivo role of GRG-mediated transcriptional repression in pancreas development is still not well understood. In this study, we used complex mouse genetics and transcriptomic analyses to determine that GRG3 is essential for β cell development, and in the absence of Grg3 there is compensatory upregulation of Grg4 In Grg3/4 double mutants, mice have severe dysregulation of the pancreas gene program with ectopic expression of canonical liver genes and Foxa1, a master regulator of the liver program. Neurod1, an essential β cell transcription factor and predicted target of Foxa1, becomes downregulated in Grg3/4 mutants, resulting in reduced β cell proliferation, hyperglycemia, and early lethality. These findings uncover novel functions of GRG-mediated repression during pancreas development.
    Keywords:  Foxa1; Groucho/TLE co-repressor; Pancreas development; β cells
  13. Nat Commun. 2021 03 01. 12(1): 1355
      The Mediator complex plays an essential and multi-faceted role in regulation of RNA polymerase II transcription in all eukaryotes. Structural analysis of yeast Mediator has provided an understanding of the conserved core of the complex and its interaction with RNA polymerase II but failed to reveal the structure of the Tail module that contains most subunits targeted by activators and repressors. Here we present a molecular model of mammalian (Mus musculus) Mediator, derived from a 4.0 Å resolution cryo-EM map of the complex. The mammalian Mediator structure reveals that the previously unresolved Tail module, which includes a number of metazoan specific subunits, interacts extensively with core Mediator and has the potential to influence its conformation and interactions.
  14. Biochem J. 2021 Mar 02. pii: BCJ20200984. [Epub ahead of print]
      Here, we investigated transcriptional and trafficking mechanisms of human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) in normal and stressed β-cells. In high glucose-challenged human islets and rat insulinoma cells overexpressing hIAPP, cell fractionation studies revealed increased accumulation of hIAPP. Unexpectedly, a significant fraction (up to 22%) of hIAPP was found in the nuclear soluble and chromatin-enriched fractions of cultured human islet and rat insulinoma cells. The nucleolar accumulation of monomeric forms of hIAPP did not have any adverse effect on the proliferation of β-cells nor did it affect nucleolar organization or function. However, intact nucleolar organization and function were essential for hIAPP expression under normal and ER-stress conditions as RNA polymerase II inhibitor, α-amanitin, reduced hIAPP protein expression evoked by high glucose and thapsigargin. Promoter activity studies revealed the essential role of transcription factor FoxA2 in hIAPP promoter activation in ER-stressed β-cells. Transcriptome and secretory studies demonstrate that the biosynthetic and secretory capacity of islet β-cells was preserved during ER stress. Thus, the main reason for increased intracellular hIAPP accumulation is its enhanced biosynthesis under these adverse conditions.
    Keywords:  ER Stress; FoxA2; Islet amyloid polypeptide; nucleolus; trafficking; transcription
  15. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 01. 11(1): 4878
      His4r is the only known variant of histone H4 in Drosophila. It is encoded by the His4r single-copy gene that is located outside of the histone gene cluster and expressed in a different pattern than H4, although the encoded polypeptides are identical. We generated a null mutant (His4rΔ42) which is homozygous viable and fertile without any apparent morphological defects. Heterozygous His4rΔ42 is a mild suppressor of position-effect variegation, suggesting that His4r has a role in the formation or maintenance of condensed chromatin. Under standard conditions loss of His4r has a modest effect on gene expression. Upon heat-stress the induction of the Heat shock protein (HSP) genes Hsp27 and Hsp68 is stronger in His4rΔ42 mutants with concordantly increased survival rate. Analysis of chromatin accessibility after heat shock at a Hsp27 regulatory region showed less condensed chromatin in the absence of His4r while there was no difference at the gene body. Interestingly, preconditioning before heat shock led to increased chromatin accessibility, HSP gene transcription and survival rate in control flies while it did not cause notable changes in His4rΔ42. Thus, our results suggest that His4r might play a role in fine tuning chromatin structure at inducible gene promoters upon environmental stress conditions.
  16. iScience. 2021 Mar 19. 24(3): 102153
      Induced pluripotency provides a tool to explore mechanisms underlying establishment, maintenance, and differentiation of naive pluripotent stem cells (nPSCs). Here, we report that self-renewal of nPSCs requires minimal Sox2 expression (Sox2-low). Sox2-low nPSCs do not show impaired neuroectoderm specification and differentiate efficiently in vitro into all embryonic germ lineages. Strikingly, upon the removal of self-renewing cues Sox2-low nPSCs differentiate into both embryonic and extraembryonic cell fates in vitro and in vivo. This differs from previous studies which only identified conditions that allowed cells to differentiate to one fate or the other. At the single-cell level self-renewing Sox2-low nPSCs exhibit a naive molecular signature. However, they display a nearer trophoblast identity than controls and decreased ability of Oct4 to bind naïve-associated regulatory sequences. In sum, this work defines wild-type levels of Sox2 as a restrictor of developmental potential and suggests perturbation of naive network as a mechanism to increase cell plasticity.
    Keywords:  Biological Sciences; Cell Biology; Stem Cells Research
  17. iScience. 2021 Mar 19. 24(3): 102144
      Despite the recent availability of complete genome sequences of tumors from thousands of patients, isolating disease-causing (driver) non-coding mutations from the plethora of somatic variants remains challenging, and only a handful of validated examples exist. By integrating whole-genome sequencing, genetic data, and allele-specific gene expression from TCGA, we identified 320 somatic non-coding mutations that affect gene expression in cis (FDR<0.25). These mutations cluster into 47 cis-regulatory elements that modulate expression of their subject genes through diverse molecular mechanisms. We further show that these mutations have hallmark features of non-coding drivers; namely, that they preferentially disrupt transcription factor binding motifs, are associated with a selective advantage, increased oncogene expression and decreased tumor suppressor expression.
    Keywords:  Cancer Systems Biology; Genetics; Genomics
  18. Nat Cancer. 2021 Feb;2(2): 174-188
      Glioblastoma (GBM) is a devastating human malignancy. GBM stem-like cells (GSCs) drive tumor initiation and progression. Yet, the molecular determinants defining GSCs in their native state in patients remain poorly understood. Here we used single cell datasets and identified GSCs at the apex of the differentiation hierarchy of GBM. By reconstructing the GSCs' regulatory network, we identified the YAP/TAZ coactivators as master regulators of this cell state, irrespectively of GBM subtypes. YAP/TAZ are required to install GSC properties in primary cells downstream of multiple oncogenic lesions, and required for tumor initiation and maintenance in vivo in different mouse and human GBM models. YAP/TAZ act as main roadblock of GSC differentiation and their inhibition irreversibly lock differentiated GBM cells into a non-tumorigenic state, preventing plasticity and regeneration of GSC-like cells. Thus, GSC identity is linked to a key molecular hub integrating genetics and microenvironmental inputs within the multifaceted biology of GBM.