bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2021‒05‒02
twenty-nine papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Cancer Cell. 2021 Apr 28. pii: S1535-6108(21)00208-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      STAG2, a cohesin family gene, is among the most recurrently mutated genes in cancer. STAG2 loss of function (LOF) is associated with aggressive behavior in Ewing sarcoma, a childhood cancer driven by aberrant transcription induced by the EWSR1-FLI1 fusion oncogene. Here, using isogenic Ewing cells, we show that, while STAG2 LOF profoundly changes the transcriptome, it does not significantly impact EWSR1-FLI1, CTCF/cohesin, or acetylated H3K27 DNA binding patterns. In contrast, it strongly alters the anchored dynamic loop extrusion process at boundary CTCF sites and dramatically decreases promoter-enhancer interactions, particularly affecting the expression of genes regulated by EWSR1-FLI1 at GGAA microsatellite neo-enhancers. Down-modulation of cis-mediated EWSR1-FLI1 activity, observed in STAG2-LOF conditions, is associated with enhanced migration and invasion properties of Ewing cells previously observed in EWSR1-FLI1low cells. Our study illuminates a process whereby STAG2-LOF fine-tunes the activity of an oncogenic transcription factor through altered CTCF-anchored loop extrusion and cis-mediated enhancer mechanisms.
    Keywords:  CTCF; Ewing sarcoma; STAG1; STAG2; anchorage; chromatin extrusion; cohesin; enhancer; loop; migration
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 Apr 30. 12(1): 2485
      CpG Island promoter genes make up more than half of human genes, and a subset regulated by Polycomb-Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2+-CGI) become DNA hypermethylated and silenced in cancer. Here, we perform a systematic analysis of CGI genes across TCGA cancer types, finding that PRC2+-CGI genes are frequently prone to transcriptional upregulation as well. These upregulated PRC2+-CGI genes control important pathways such as Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and TNFα-associated inflammatory response, and have greater cancer-type specificity than other CGI genes. Using publicly available chromatin datasets and genetic perturbations, we show that transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) within distal enhancers underlie transcriptional activation of PRC2+-CGI genes, coinciding with loss of the PRC2-associated mark H3K27me3 at the linked promoter. In contrast, PRC2-free CGI genes are predominantly regulated by promoter TFBSs which are common to most cancer types. Surprisingly, a large subset of PRC2+-CGI genes that are upregulated in one cancer type are also hypermethylated/silenced in at least one other cancer type, underscoring the high degree of regulatory plasticity of these genes, likely derived from their complex regulatory control during normal development.
  3. NAR Genom Bioinform. 2021 Jun;3(2): lqab026
      Transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene expression by binding to specific DNA motifs. Accurate models for predicting binding affinities are crucial for quantitatively understanding of transcriptional regulation. Motifs are commonly described by position weight matrices, which assume that each position contributes independently to the binding energy. Models that can learn dependencies between positions, for instance, induced by DNA structure preferences, have yielded markedly improved predictions for most TFs on in vivo data. However, they are more prone to overfit the data and to learn patterns merely correlated with rather than directly involved in TF binding. We present an improved, faster version of our Bayesian Markov model software, BaMMmotif2. We tested it with state-of-the-art motif discovery tools on a large collection of ChIP-seq and HT-SELEX datasets. BaMMmotif2 models of fifth-order achieved a median false-discovery-rate-averaged recall 13.6% and 12.2% higher than the next best tool on 427 ChIP-seq datasets and 164 HT-SELEX datasets, respectively, while being 8 to 1000 times faster. BaMMmotif2 models showed no signs of overtraining in cross-cell line and cross-platform tests, with similar improvements on the next-best tool. These results demonstrate that dependencies beyond first order clearly improve binding models for most TFs.
  4. Sci Adv. 2021 Apr;pii: eabd4676. [Epub ahead of print]7(18):
      Molecular profiling of the most aggressive brain tumor glioblastoma (GBM) on the basis of gene expression, DNA methylation, and genomic variations advances both cancer research and clinical diagnosis. The enhancer architectures and regulatory circuitries governing tumor-intrinsic transcriptional diversity and subtype identity are still elusive. Here, by mapping H3K27ac deposition, we analyze the active regulatory landscapes across 95 GBM biopsies, 12 normal brain tissues, and 38 cell line counterparts. Analyses of differentially regulated enhancers and super-enhancers uncovered previously unrecognized layers of intertumor heterogeneity. Integrative analysis of variant enhancer loci and transcriptome identified topographies of transcriptional enhancers and core regulatory circuitries in four molecular subtypes of primary tumors: AC1-mesenchymal, AC1-classical, AC2-proneural, and AC3-proneural. Moreover, this study reveals core oncogenic dependency on super-enhancer-driven transcriptional factors, long noncoding RNAs, and druggable targets in GBM. Through profiling of transcriptional enhancers, we provide clinically relevant insights into molecular classification, pathogenesis, and therapeutic intervention of GBM.
  5. Nat Commun. 2021 04 26. 12(1): 2442
      The transcription factor PAX8 is critical for the development of the thyroid and urogenital system. Comprehensive genomic screens furthermore indicate an additional oncogenic role for PAX8 in renal and ovarian cancers. While a plethora of PAX8-regulated genes in different contexts have been proposed, we still lack a mechanistic understanding of how PAX8 engages molecular complexes to drive disease-relevant oncogenic transcriptional programs. Here we show that protein isoforms originating from the MECOM locus form a complex with PAX8. These include MDS1-EVI1 (also called PRDM3) for which we map its interaction with PAX8 in vitro and in vivo. We show that PAX8 binds a large number of genomic sites and forms transcriptional hubs. At a subset of these, PAX8 together with PRDM3 regulates a specific gene expression module involved in adhesion and extracellular matrix. This gene module correlates with PAX8 and MECOM expression in large scale profiling of cell lines, patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) and clinical cases and stratifies gynecological cancer cases with worse prognosis. PRDM3 is amplified in ovarian cancers and we show that the MECOM locus and PAX8 sustain in vivo tumor growth, further supporting that the identified function of the MECOM locus underlies PAX8-driven oncogenic functions in ovarian cancer.
  6. Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 28. pii: canres.2773.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hyperactivated EGFR signaling is a driver of various human cancers, including glioblastoma (GBM). Effective EGFR-targeted therapies rely on knowledge of key signaling hubs that transfer and amplify EGFR signaling. Here we focus on the transcription factor TAZ, a potential signaling hub in the EGFR signaling network. TAZ expression was positively associated with EGFR expression in clinical GBM specimens. In patient-derived GBM neurospheres, EGF induced TAZ through EGFR-ERK and EGFR-STAT3 signaling, and the constitutively active EGFRvIII mutation caused EGF-independent hyperactivation of TAZ. Genome-wide analysis showed that the EGFR-TAZ axis activates multiple oncogenic signaling mechanisms, including an EGFR-TAZ-RTK positive feedback loop, as well as upregulating HIF1α and other oncogenic genes. TAZ hyperactivation in GBM stem-like cells induced exogenous mitogen-independent growth and promoted GBM invasion, radioresistance, and tumorigenicity. Screening a panel of brain-penetrating EGFR inhibitors identified osimertinib as the most potent inhibitor of the EGFR-TAZ signaling axis. Systemic osimertinib treatment inhibited the EGFR-TAZ axis and in vivo growth of GBM stem-like cell xenografts. Overall these results show that the therapeutic efficacy of osimertinib relies on effective TAZ inhibition, thus identifying TAZ as a potential biomarker of osimertinib sensitivity.
  7. Gastroenterology. 2021 Apr 26. pii: S0016-5085(21)00682-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is characterised by advanced disease stage at presentation, aggressive disease biology and resistance to therapy resulting in extremely poor five-year survival <10%. PDAC is classified into transcriptional subtypes with distinct survival characteristics, although how these arise is not known. Epigenetic deregulation, rather than genetics, has been proposed to underpin progression but exactly why is unclear and hindered by technical limitations of analysing clinical samples.METHODS: Genome-wide epigenetic mapping of DNA modifications 5-methylcytosine (5mc) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmc) using oxidative bisulphite sequencing (oxBS) from formalin embedded sections. Bioinformatics using iCluster and mutational profiling to identify overlap with transcriptional signatures in FFPE from resected patients and confirmation in vivo.
    RESULTS: We find that aggressive squamous-like PDAC subtypes result from epigenetic inactivation of loci including GATA6 that promote differentiated classical-pancreatic subtypes. We show that squamous-like PDAC transcriptional subtypes are associated with greater loss of 5hmc due to reduced expression of the 5mc-hydroxylase TET2. Furthermore, we find that SMAD4 directly supports TET2 levels in classical-pancreatic tumors and loss of SMAD4 expression is associated reduced 5hmc, GATA6 and squamous-like tumors. Importantly, enhancing TET2 stability using Metformin and VitaminC/ascorbic acid (AA) restores 5hmc and GATA6 levels, reverting squamous-like tumor phenotypes and WNT-dependence in vitro and in vivo.
    CONCLUSIONS: We identify epigenetic deregulation of pancreatic differentiation as an underpinning event behind the emergence of transcriptomic subtypes in PDAC. Our data shows that restoring epigenetic control increases biomarkers of classical-pancreatic tumors which are associated with improved therapeutic responses and survival.
    Keywords:  GATA6; SMAD4; TET2; epigenetics; pancreatic cancer
  8. Development. 2021 May 01. pii: dev198549. [Epub ahead of print]148(9):
      The vertebrate retina is generated by retinal progenitor cells (RPCs), which produce >100 cell types. Although some RPCs produce many cell types, other RPCs produce restricted types of daughter cells, such as a cone photoreceptor and a horizontal cell (HC). We used genome-wide assays of chromatin structure to compare the profiles of a restricted cone/HC RPC and those of other RPCs in chicks. These data nominated regions of regulatory activity, which were tested in tissue, leading to the identification of many cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) active in cone/HC RPCs and developing cones. Two transcription factors, Otx2 and Oc1, were found to bind to many of these CRMs, including those near genes important for cone development and function, and their binding sites were required for activity. We also found that Otx2 has a predicted autoregulatory CRM. These results suggest that Otx2, Oc1 and possibly other Onecut proteins have a broad role in coordinating cone development and function. The many newly discovered CRMs for cones are potentially useful reagents for gene therapy of cone diseases.
    Keywords:   Cis-regulatory module; CRM; Chick; Chromatin; Cone; Enhancer; GRN; Gene regulatory network; Horizontal cell; Onecut; Otx2; Photoreceptor; Retina
  9. EMBO J. 2021 Apr 28. e106818
      Mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) are biased toward producing embryonic rather than extraembryonic endoderm fates. Here, we identify the mechanism of this barrier and report that the histone deacetylase Hdac3 and the transcriptional corepressor Dax1 cooperatively limit the lineage repertoire of mESCs by silencing an enhancer of the extraembryonic endoderm-specifying transcription factor Gata6. This restriction is opposed by the pluripotency transcription factors Nr5a2 and Esrrb, which promote cell type conversion. Perturbation of the barrier extends mESC potency and allows formation of 3D spheroids that mimic the spatial segregation of embryonic epiblast and extraembryonic endoderm in early embryos. Overall, this study shows that transcriptional repressors stabilize pluripotency by biasing the equilibrium between embryonic and extraembryonic lineages that is hardwired into the mESC transcriptional network.
    Keywords:  Dax1/Nr0b1; Hdac3; embryonic stem cell; extraembryonic endoderm; pluripotency
  10. PLoS Genet. 2021 Apr 26. 17(4): e1009536
      Several distinct activities and functions have been described for chromatin insulators, which separate genes along chromosomes into functional units. Here, we describe a novel mechanism of functional separation whereby an insulator prevents gene repression. When the homie insulator is deleted from the end of a Drosophila even skipped (eve) locus, a flanking P-element promoter is activated in a partial eve pattern, causing expression driven by enhancers in the 3' region to be repressed. The mechanism involves transcriptional read-through from the flanking promoter. This conclusion is based on the following. Read-through driven by a heterologous enhancer is sufficient to repress, even when homie is in place. Furthermore, when the flanking promoter is turned around, repression is minimal. Transcriptional read-through that does not produce anti-sense RNA can still repress expression, ruling out RNAi as the mechanism in this case. Thus, transcriptional interference, caused by enhancer capture and read-through when the insulator is removed, represses eve promoter-driven expression. We also show that enhancer-promoter specificity and processivity of transcription can have decisive effects on the consequences of insulator removal. First, a core heat shock 70 promoter that is not activated well by eve enhancers did not cause read-through sufficient to repress the eve promoter. Second, these transcripts are less processive than those initiated at the P-promoter, measured by how far they extend through the eve locus, and so are less disruptive. These results highlight the importance of considering transcriptional read-through when assessing the effects of insulators on gene expression.
  11. Nat Genet. 2021 Apr 29.
      Dinoflagellate chromosomes represent a unique evolutionary experiment, as they exist in a permanently condensed, liquid crystalline state; are not packaged by histones; and contain genes organized into tandem gene arrays, with minimal transcriptional regulation. We analyze the three-dimensional genome of Breviolum minutum, and find large topological domains (dinoflagellate topologically associating domains, which we term 'dinoTADs') without chromatin loops, which are demarcated by convergent gene array boundaries. Transcriptional inhibition disrupts dinoTADs, implicating transcription-induced supercoiling as the primary topological force in dinoflagellates.
  12. Genome Biol. 2021 Apr 29. 22(1): 125
      BACKGROUND: Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum and brainstem. Frequent somatic mutations and deregulated expression of epigenetic regulators in MB highlight the substantial role of epigenetic alterations. 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) is a highly abundant cytosine modification in the developing cerebellum and is regulated by ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes.RESULTS: We investigate the alterations of 5hmC and TET enzymes in MB and their significance to cerebellar cancer formation. We show total abundance of 5hmC is reduced in MB, but identify significant enrichment of MB-specific 5hmC marks at regulatory regions of genes implicated in stem-like properties and Nanog-binding motifs. While TET1 and TET2 levels are high in MBs, only knockout of Tet1 in the smoothened (SmoA1) mouse model attenuates uncontrolled proliferation, leading to a favorable prognosis. The pharmacological Tet1 inhibition reduces cell viability and platelet-derived growth factor signaling pathway-associated genes.
    CONCLUSIONS: These results together suggest a potential key role of 5hmC and indicate an oncogenic nature for TET1 in MB tumorigenesis, suggesting it as a potential therapeutic target for MBs.
    Keywords:  5-hydroxymethylcytosine; Medulloblastoma; NANOG; PDGF signaling pathway; Stem-like property; TET1
  13. Nat Biotechnol. 2021 Apr 29.
      CRISPR screens have been used to connect genetic perturbations with changes in gene expression and phenotypes. Here we describe a CRISPR-based, single-cell combinatorial indexing assay for transposase-accessible chromatin (CRISPR-sciATAC) to link genetic perturbations to genome-wide chromatin accessibility in a large number of cells. In human myelogenous leukemia cells, we apply CRISPR-sciATAC to target 105 chromatin-related genes, generating chromatin accessibility data for ~30,000 single cells. We correlate the loss of specific chromatin remodelers with changes in accessibility globally and at the binding sites of individual transcription factors (TFs). For example, we show that loss of the H3K27 methyltransferase EZH2 increases accessibility at heterochromatic regions involved in embryonic development and triggers expression of genes in the HOXA and HOXD clusters. At a subset of regulatory sites, we also analyze changes in nucleosome spacing following the loss of chromatin remodelers. CRISPR-sciATAC is a high-throughput, single-cell method for studying the effect of genetic perturbations on chromatin in normal and disease states.
  14. Gastroenterology. 2021 Apr 27. pii: S0016-5085(21)00680-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic relapsing inflammatory disorder associated with an elevated risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). IBD-associated CRC (IBD-CRC) may represent a distinct pathway of tumorigenesis compared to sporadic CRC (sCRC). Our aim was to comprehensively characterize IBD-associated tumorigenesis integrating multiple high-throughput approaches, and to compare the results with in-house data sets from sCRCs.METHODS: Whole-genome sequencing, single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, RNA sequencing, genome-wide methylation analysis, and immunohistochemistry were performed using fresh frozen and formalin-fixed tissue samples of tumor and corresponding normal tissues from 31 IBD-CRC patients.
    RESULTS: Transcriptome-based tumor subtyping revealed the complete absence of canonical epithelial tumor subtype associated with WNT signaling in IBD-CRCs, dominated instead by mesenchymal stroma-rich subtype. Negative WNT regulators AXIN2 and RNF43 were strongly downregulated in IBD-CRCs and chromosomal gains at HNF4A, a negative regulator of WNT-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), were less frequent compared to sCRCs. Enrichment of hypomethylation at HNF4α binding sites was detected solely in sCRC genomes. PIGR and OSMR involved in mucosal immunity were dysregulated via epigenetic modifications in IBD-CRCs. Genome-wide analysis showed significant enrichment of noncoding mutations to 5'UTR of TP53 in IBD-CRCs. As previously reported, somatic mutations in APC and KRAS were less frequent in IBD-CRCs compared to sCRCs.
    CONCLUSIONS: Distinct mechanisms of WNT pathway dysregulation skew IBD-CRCs towards mesenchymal tumor subtype, which may affect prognosis and treatment options. Increased OSMR signaling may favor the establishment of mesenchymal tumors in IBD patients.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; colorectal cancer; consensus molecular subtype; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; inflammatory bowel disease
  15. Cell Metab. 2021 Apr 21. pii: S1550-4131(21)00167-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      The ever-increasing understanding of the complexity of factors and regulatory layers that contribute to immune evasion facilitates the development of immunotherapies. However, the diversity of malignant tumors limits many known mechanisms in specific genetic and epigenetic contexts, manifesting the need to discover general driver genes. Here, we have identified the m6A demethylase FTO as an essential epitranscriptomic regulator utilized by tumors to escape immune surveillance through regulation of glycolytic metabolism. We show that FTO-mediated m6A demethylation in tumor cells elevates the transcription factors c-Jun, JunB, and C/EBPβ, which allows the rewiring of glycolytic metabolism. Fto knockdown impairs the glycolytic activity of tumor cells, which restores the function of CD8+ T cells, thereby inhibiting tumor growth. Furthermore, we developed a small-molecule compound, Dac51, that can inhibit the activity of FTO, block FTO-mediated immune evasion, and synergize with checkpoint blockade for better tumor control, suggesting reprogramming RNA epitranscriptome as a potential strategy for immunotherapy.
    Keywords:  RNA m6A modification; demethylase FTO; epitranscriptome; glycolytic metabolism; immune surveillance and immunotherapy
  16. Nature. 2021 Apr 26.
      Mediator is a conserved coactivator that enables regulated transcription initiation at eukaryotic genes1-3. Mediator is recruited by transcriptional activators and binds the pre-initiation complex (PIC) to stimulate RNA polymerase II (Pol II) phosphorylation and promoter escape1-6. Here we prepare a recombinant human Mediator, reconstitute a 50-subunit Mediator-PIC complex, and determine the structure of the complex by cryo-EM. Mediator uses its head module to contact the Pol II stalk and the general transcription factors TFIIB and TFIIE, resembling the Mediator-PIC interactions in the corresponding yeast complex7-9. The metazoan subunits MED27-MED30 associate with exposed regions in MED14 and MED17 to form the proximal part of the Mediator tail module that binds activators. Mediator positions the flexibly linked CDK-activating kinase (CAK) of the general transcription factor TFIIH near the linker to the C-terminal repeat domain (CTD) of Pol II. The Mediator shoulder domain holds the CAK subunit CDK7, whereas the hook domain contacts a CDK7 element that flanks the kinase active site. The shoulder and hook reside in the Mediator head and middle modules, respectively, which can move relative to each other and may induce an active conformation of the CDK7 kinase to allosterically stimulate CTD phosphorylation.
  17. Immunity. 2021 Apr 27. pii: S1074-7613(21)00167-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      The transcription factor Foxp3 plays crucial roles for Treg cell development and function. Conserved non-coding sequences (CNSs) at the Foxp3 locus control Foxp3 transcription, but how they developmentally contribute to Treg cell lineage specification remains obscure. Here, we show that among Foxp3 CNSs, the promoter-upstream CNS0 and the intergenic CNS3, which bind distinct transcription factors, were activated at early stages of thymocyte differentiation prior to Foxp3 promoter activation, with sequential genomic looping bridging these regions and the promoter. While deletion of either CNS0 or CNS3 partially compromised thymic Treg cell generation, deletion of both completely abrogated the generation and impaired the stability of Foxp3 expression in residual Treg cells. As a result, CNS0 and CNS3 double-deleted mice succumbed to lethal systemic autoimmunity and inflammation. Thus, hierarchical and coordinated activation of Foxp3 CNS0 and CNS3 initiates and stabilizes Foxp3 gene expression, thereby crucially controlling Treg cell development, maintenance, and consequently immunological self-tolerance.
    Keywords:  Foxp3; Treg; conserved non-coding sequence; immune tolerance; regulatory T cell
  18. Elife. 2021 Apr 27. pii: e68068. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Gene activator proteins comprise distinct DNA-binding and transcriptional activation domains (ADs). Because few ADs have been described, we tested domains tiling all yeast transcription factors for activation in vivo and identified 150 ADs. By mRNA display, we showed that 73% of ADs bound the Med15 subunit of Mediator, and that binding strength was correlated with activation. AD-Mediator interaction in vitro was unaffected by a large excess of free activator protein, pointing to a dynamic mechanism of interaction. Structural modeling showed that ADs interact with Med15 without shape complementarity ('fuzzy' binding). ADs shared no sequence motifs, but mutagenesis revealed biochemical and structural constraints. Finally, a neural network trained on AD sequences accurately predicted ADs in human proteins and in other yeast proteins, including chromosomal proteins and chromatin remodeling complexes. These findings solve the longstanding enigma of AD structure and function and provide a rationale for their role in biology.
    Keywords:  S. cerevisiae; chromosomes; computational biology; gene expression; human; systems biology
  19. Sci Rep. 2021 Apr 26. 11(1): 9008
      The transcription factor MYB is a master regulator in haematopoietic progenitor cells and a pioneer factor affecting differentiation and proliferation of these cells. Leukaemic transformation may be promoted by high MYB levels. Despite much accumulated molecular knowledge of MYB, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of its target genes and its chromatin action. In the present work, we performed a ChIP-seq analysis of MYB in K562 cells accompanied by detailed bioinformatics analyses. We found that MYB occupies both promoters and enhancers. Five clusters (C1-C5) were found when we classified MYB peaks according to epigenetic profiles. C1 was enriched for promoters and C2 dominated by enhancers. C2-linked genes were connected to hematopoietic specific functions and had GATA factor motifs as second in frequency. C1 had in addition to MYB-motifs a significant frequency of ETS-related motifs. Combining ChIP-seq data with RNA-seq data allowed us to identify direct MYB target genes. We also compared ChIP-seq data with digital genomic footprinting. MYB is occupying nearly a third of the super-enhancers in K562. Finally, we concluded that MYB cooperates with a subset of the other highly expressed TFs in this cell line, as expected for a master regulator.
  20. Nat Protoc. 2021 Apr 28.
      Determining chromatin-associated protein localization across the genome has provided insight into the functions of DNA-binding proteins and their connections to disease. However, established protocols requiring large quantities of cell or tissue samples currently limit applications for clinical and biomedical research in this field. Furthermore, most technologies have been optimized to assess abundant histone protein localization, prohibiting the investigation of nonhistone protein localization in low cell numbers. We recently described a protocol to profile chromatin-associated protein localization in as low as one cell: ultra-low-input cleavage under targets and release using nuclease (uliCUT&RUN). Optimized from chromatin immunocleavage and CUT&RUN, uliCUT&RUN is a tethered enzyme-based protocol that utilizes a combination of recombinant protein, antibody recognition and stringent purification to selectively target proteins of interest and isolate the associated DNA. Performed in native conditions, uliCUT&RUN profiles protein localization to chromatin with low input and high precision. Compared with other profiling technologies, uliCUT&RUN can determine nonhistone protein chromatin occupancies in low cell numbers, permitting the investigation into the molecular functions of a range of DNA-binding proteins within rare samples. From sample preparation to sequencing library submission, the uliCUT&RUN protocol takes <2 d to perform, with the accompanying data analysis timeline dependent on experience level.
  21. Oncogene. 2021 Apr 30.
      The SNF5 subunit of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex has been shown to act as a tumor suppressor through multiple mechanisms, including impairing the ability of the oncoprotein transcription factor MYC to bind chromatin. Beyond SNF5, however, it is unknown to what extent MYC can access additional SWI/SNF subunits or how these interactions affect the ability of MYC to drive transcription, particularly in SNF5-null cancers. Here, we report that MYC interacts with multiple SWI/SNF components independent of SNF5. We show that MYC binds the pan-SWI/SNF subunit BAF155 through the BAF155 SWIRM domain, an interaction that is inhibited by the presence of SNF5. In SNF5-null cells, MYC binds with remaining SWI/SNF components to essential genes, although for a purpose that is distinct from chromatin remodeling. Analysis of MYC-SWI/SNF target genes in SNF5-null cells reveals that they are associated with core biological functions of MYC linked to protein synthesis. These data reveal that MYC can bind SWI/SNF in an SNF5-independent manner and that SNF5 modulates access of MYC to core SWI/SNF complexes. This work provides a framework in which to interrogate the influence of SWI/SNF on MYC function in cancers in which SWI/SNF or MYC are altered.
  22. Sci Adv. 2021 Apr;pii: eabd4742. [Epub ahead of print]7(18):
      m6A RNA modification is implicated in multiple cellular responses. However, its function in the innate immune cells is poorly understood. Here, we identified major m6A "writers" as the top candidate genes regulating macrophage activation by LPS in an RNA binding protein focused CRISPR screening. We have confirmed that Mettl3-deficient macrophages exhibited reduced TNF-α production upon LPS stimulation in vitro. Consistently, Mettl3 flox/flox;Lyzm-Cre mice displayed increased susceptibility to bacterial infection and showed faster tumor growth. Mechanistically, the transcripts of the Irakm gene encoding a negative regulator of TLR4 signaling were highly decorated by m6A modification. METTL3 deficiency led to the loss of m6A modification on Irakm mRNA and slowed down its degradation, resulting in a higher level of IRAKM, which ultimately suppressed TLR signaling-mediated macrophage activation. Our findings demonstrate a previously unknown role for METTL3-mediated m6A modification in innate immune responses and implicate the m6A machinery as a potential cancer immunotherapy target.
  23. Nature. 2021 Apr 26.
      The initiation of transcription is a focal point for the regulation of gene activity during mammalian cell differentiation and development. For transcription initiation, RNA polymerase II (Pol II) assembles with general transcription factors into a pre-initiation complex (PIC) that opens promoter DNA. Previous work provided the molecular architecture of the yeast1-9 and human10,11 PIC and a topological model for DNA opening by the general factor TFIIH12-14. Here we report the high-resolution cryo-EM PIC structure comprising human general factors and Sus scrofa domesticus Pol II, which is 99.9% identical to human Pol II. We determine PIC structures with closed and opened promoter DNA at 2.5-2.8 Å resolution, and resolve TFIIH at 2.9-4.0 Å resolution. We capture the TFIIH translocase XPB in the pre- and post-translocation states and show that XPB induces and propagates a DNA twist to initiate DNA opening ~30 base pairs downstream of the TATA box. We also provide evidence that DNA opening occurs in two steps and leads to TFIIH detachment from the core PIC, which may stop DNA twisting and enable RNA chain initiation.
  24. Elife. 2021 Apr 29. pii: e62857. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) is a vascular sarcoma that metastasizes early in its clinical course and lacks an effective medical therapy. The TAZ-CAMTA1 and YAP-TFE3 fusion proteins are chimeric transcription factors and initiating oncogenic drivers of EHE. A combined proteomic/genetic screen in human cell lines identified YEATS2 and ZZZ3, components of the Ada2a-containing histone acetyltransferase (ATAC) complex, as key interactors of both fusion proteins despite the dissimilarity of the C terminal fusion partners CAMTA1 and TFE3. Integrative next generation sequencing approaches in human and murine cell lines showed that the fusion proteins drive a unique transcriptome by simultaneously hyperactivating a TEAD-based transcriptional program and modulating the chromatin environment via interaction with the ATAC complex. Interaction of the ATAC complex with both fusion proteins indicates that it is a key oncogenic driver and unifying enzymatic therapeutic target for this sarcoma. This study presents an approach to mechanistically dissect how chimeric transcription factors drive the formation of human cancers.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; chromosomes; gene expression; human; mouse
  25. Nature. 2021 Apr 26.
      The N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is an abundant internal RNA modification1,2 catalysed predominantly by the METTL3-METTL14 methyltransferase complex3,4. The m6A writer METTL3 has been linked to the initiation and maintenance of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), but its true therapeutic importance is still unknown5-7. Here we present the identification and characterization of a highly potent and selective first-in-class catalytic inhibitor of METTL3 (STM2457) and its co-crystal structure bound to METTL3/METTL14. Treatment with STM2457 leads to reduced AML growth, and an increase in differentiation and apoptosis. These cellular effects are accompanied by selective reduction of m6A levels on known leukaemogenic mRNAs and a decrease in their expression consistent with a translational defect. We demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of METTL3 in vivo leads to impaired engraftment and prolonged survival in various AML mouse models, specifically targeting key stem-cell subpopulations of AML. Collectively, these results reveal the inhibition of METTL3 as a potential therapeutic strategy against AML, and provide proof of concept that the targeting of RNA modifying enzymes represents a promising new avenue for anti-cancer therapy.
  26. PLoS Pathog. 2021 Apr 28. 17(4): e1009567
      Histones are rapidly loaded on the HSV genome upon entry into the nucleus of human fibroblasts, but the effects of histone loading on viral replication have not been fully defined. We showed recently that ATRX is dispensable for de novo deposition of H3 to HSV genomes after nuclear entry but restricted infection through maintenance of viral heterochromatin. To further investigate the roles that ATRX and other histone H3 chaperones play in restriction of HSV, we infected human fibroblasts that were systematically depleted of nuclear H3 chaperones. We found that the ATRX/DAXX complex is unique among nuclear H3 chaperones in its capacity to restrict ICP0-null HSV infection. Only depletion of ATRX significantly alleviated restriction of viral replication. Interestingly, no individual nuclear H3 chaperone was required for deposition of H3 onto input viral genomes, suggesting that during lytic infection, H3 deposition may occur through multiple pathways. ChIP-seq for total histone H3 in control and ATRX-KO cells infected with ICP0-null HSV showed that HSV DNA is loaded with high levels of histones across the entire viral genome. Despite high levels of H3, ATAC-seq analysis revealed that HSV DNA is highly accessible, especially in regions of high GC content, and is not organized largely into ordered nucleosomes during lytic infection. ATRX reduced accessibility of viral DNA to the activity of a TN5 transposase and enhanced accumulation of viral DNA fragment sizes associated with nucleosome-like structures. Together, these findings support a model in which ATRX restricts viral infection by altering the structure of histone H3-loaded viral chromatin that reduces viral DNA accessibility for transcription. High GC rich regions of the HSV genome, especially the S component inverted repeats of the HSV-1 genome, show increased accessibility, which may lead to increased ability to transcribe the IE genes encoded in these regions during initiation of infection.
  27. Sci Rep. 2021 Apr 27. 11(1): 9123
      PAX2 is a transcription factor essential for kidney development and the main causative gene for renal coloboma syndrome (RCS). The mechanisms of PAX2 action during kidney development have been evaluated in mice but not in humans. This is a critical gap in knowledge since important differences have been reported in kidney development in the two species. In the present study, we hypothesized that key human PAX2-dependent kidney development genes are differentially expressed in nephron progenitor cells from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in patients with RCS relative to healthy individuals. Cap analysis of gene expression revealed 189 candidate promoters and 71 candidate enhancers that were differentially activated by PAX2 in this system in three patients with RCS with PAX2 mutations. By comparing this list with the list of candidate Pax2-regulated mouse kidney development genes obtained from the Functional Annotation of the Mouse/Mammalian (FANTOM) database, we prioritized 17 genes. Furthermore, we ranked three genes-PBX1, POSTN, and ITGA9-as the top candidates based on closely aligned expression kinetics with PAX2 in the iPSC culture system and susceptibility to suppression by a Pax2 inhibitor in cultured mouse embryonic kidney explants. Identification of these genes may provide important information to clarify the pathogenesis of RCS, human kidney development, and kidney regeneration.
  28. Cancer Res. 2021 Apr 26. pii: canres.CAN-20-4263-E.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Activating mutations in some isoforms of Ras or Raf are drivers of a substantial proportion of cancers. The main Raf effector, Mek1/2, can be targeted with several highly specific inhibitors. The clinical activity of these inhibitors seems to be mixed, showing efficacy against mutant BRAF-driven tumors but not K-Ras-driven tumors, such as pancreatic adenocarcinomas. To improve our understanding of this context-dependent efficacy, we generated pancreatic cancer cells resistant to Mek1/2 inhibition, which were also resistant to KRAS and Erk1/2 inhibitors. Compared to parental cells, inhibitor-resistant cells showed several phenotypic changes including increased metastatic ability in vivo. The transcription factor Slug, which is known to induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), was identified as the key factor responsible for both resistance to Mek1/2 inhibition and increased metastasis. Slug, but not similar transcription factors, predicted poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients and induced the transition to a cellular phenotype in which cell cycle progression becomes independent of the KRAS-Raf-Mek1/2-Erk1/2 pathway. Slug was targeted using two independent strategies: i) inhibition of the Mek5-Erk5 pathway, which is responsible for upregulation of Slug upon Mek1/2 inhibition, and ii) direct PROTAC-mediated degradation. Both strategies were efficacious in preclinical pancreatic cancer models, paving the path for the development of more effective therapies against pancreatic cancer.
  29. PLoS Genet. 2021 Apr 26. 17(4): e1009240
      Examining the role of chromatin modifications and gene expression in neurons is critical for understanding how the potential for behaviors are established and maintained. We investigate this question by examining Drosophila melanogaster fru P1 neurons that underlie reproductive behaviors in both sexes. We developed a method to purify cell-type-specific chromatin (Chromatag), using a tagged histone H2B variant that is expressed using the versatile Gal4/UAS gene expression system. Here, we use Chromatag to evaluate five chromatin modifications, at three life stages in both sexes. We find substantial changes in chromatin modification profiles across development and fewer differences between males and females. Additionally, we find chromatin modifications that persist in different sets of genes from pupal to adult stages, which may point to genes important for cell fate determination in fru P1 neurons. We generated cell-type-specific RNA-seq data sets, using translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP). We identify actively translated genes in fru P1 neurons, revealing novel stage- and sex-differences in gene expression. We also find chromatin modification enrichment patterns that are associated with gene expression. Next, we use the chromatin modification data to identify cell-type-specific super-enhancer-containing genes. We show that genes with super-enhancers in fru P1 neurons differ across development and between the sexes. We validated that a set of genes are expressed in fru P1 neurons, which were chosen based on having a super-enhancer and TRAP-enriched expression in fru P1 neurons.