bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2021‒05‒16
33 papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 May 12. pii: gkab345. [Epub ahead of print]
      Gene expression is controlled by regulatory elements within accessible chromatin. Although most regulatory elements are cell type-specific, a subset is accessible in nearly all the 517 human and 94 mouse cell and tissue types assayed by the ENCODE consortium. We systematically analyzed 9000 human and 8000 mouse ubiquitously-accessible candidate cis-regulatory elements (cCREs) with promoter-like signatures (PLSs) from ENCODE, which we denote ubi-PLSs. These are more CpG-rich than non-ubi-PLSs and correspond to genes with ubiquitously high transcription, including a majority of cell-essential genes. ubi-PLSs are enriched with motifs of ubiquitously-expressed transcription factors and preferentially bound by transcriptional cofactors regulating ubiquitously-expressed genes. They are highly conserved between human and mouse at the synteny level but exhibit frequent turnover of motif sites; accordingly, ubi-PLSs show increased variation at their centers compared with flanking regions among the ∼186 thousand human genomes sequenced by the TOPMed project. Finally, ubi-PLSs are enriched in genes implicated in Mendelian diseases, especially diseases broadly impacting most cell types, such as deficiencies in mitochondrial functions. Thus, a set of roughly 9000 mammalian promoters are actively maintained in an accessible state across cell types by a distinct set of transcription factors and cofactors to ensure the transcriptional programs of cell-essential genes.
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 May 14. 12(1): 2829
      Polycomb group (PcG) proteins maintain cell identity by repressing gene expression during development. Surprisingly, emerging studies have recently reported that a number of PcG proteins directly activate gene expression during cell fate determination process. However, the mechanisms by which they direct gene activation in pluripotency remain poorly understood. Here, we show that Phc1, a subunit of canonical polycomb repressive complex 1 (cPRC1), can exert its function in pluripotency maintenance via a PRC1-independent activation of Nanog. Ablation of Phc1 reduces the expression of Nanog and overexpression of Nanog partially rescues impaired pluripotency caused by Phc1 depletion. We find that Phc1 interacts with Nanog and activates Nanog transcription by stabilizing the genome-wide chromatin interactions of the Nanog locus. This adds to the already known canonical function of PRC1 in pluripotency maintenance via a PRC1-dependent repression of differentiation genes. Overall, our study reveals a function of Phc1 to activate Nanog transcription through regulating chromatin architecture and proposes a paradigm for PcG proteins to maintain pluripotency.
  3. Elife. 2021 May 10. pii: e66290. [Epub ahead of print]10
      In eukaryotes, histone variant distribution within the genome is the key epigenetic feature. To understand how each histone variant is targeted to the genome, we developed a new method, the RhIP (Reconstituted histone complex Incorporation into chromatin of Permeabilized cell) assay, in which epitope-tagged histone complexes are introduced into permeabilized cells and incorporated into their chromatin. Using this method, we found that H3.1 and H3.3 were incorporated into chromatin in replication-dependent and -independent manners, respectively. We further found that the incorporation of histones H2A and H2A.Z mainly occurred at less condensed chromatin (open), suggesting that condensed chromatin (closed) is a barrier for histone incorporation. To overcome this barrier, H2A, but not H2A.Z, uses a replication-coupled deposition mechanism. Our study revealed that the combination of chromatin structure and DNA replication dictates the differential histone deposition to maintain the epigenetic chromatin states.
    Keywords:  H2A.Z; Histone; chromatin; chromosomes; gene expression; human; nucleosome
  4. Cancer Sci. 2021 May 10.
      Ten-eleven translocation 1 (TET1) is an essential methylcytosine dioxygenase of the DNA demethylation pathway. Despite its dysregulation being known to occur in human cancer, the role of TET1 remains poorly understood. In this study, we report that TET1 promotes cell growth in human liver cancer. The transcriptome analysis of 68 clinical liver samples revealed a subgroup of TET1-upregulated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), demonstrating hepatoblast-like gene expression signatures. We performed comprehensive cytosine methylation and hydroxymethylation (5-hmC) profiling and found that 5-hmC was aberrantly deposited preferentially in active enhancers. TET1 knockdown in hepatoma cell lines decreased hmC deposition with cell growth suppression. HMGA2 was highly expressed in a TET1high subgroup of HCC, associated with the hyperhydroxymethylation of its intronic region, marked as histone H3K4-monomethylated, where the H3K27-acetylated active enhancer chromatin state induced interactions with its promoter. Collectively, our findings point to a novel type of epigenetic dysregulation, methylcytosine dioxygenase TET1, which promotes cell proliferation via the ectopic enhancer of its oncogenic targets, HMGA2, in hepatoblast-like HCC.
    Keywords:  TET1; enhancer; epigenome profiling; hepatocellular carcinoma; hydroxymethylation
  5. Cell Rep. 2021 May 11. pii: S2211-1247(21)00435-6. [Epub ahead of print]35(6): 109101
      Depleting the microenvironment of important nutrients such as arginine is a key strategy for immune evasion by cancer cells. Many tumors overexpress arginase, but it is unclear how these cancers, but not T cells, tolerate arginine depletion. In this study, we show that tumor cells synthesize arginine from citrulline by upregulating argininosuccinate synthetase 1 (ASS1). Under arginine starvation, ASS1 transcription is induced by ATF4 and CEBPβ binding to an enhancer within ASS1. T cells cannot induce ASS1, despite the presence of active ATF4 and CEBPβ, as the gene is repressed. Arginine starvation drives global chromatin compaction and repressive histone methylation, which disrupts ATF4/CEBPβ binding and target gene transcription. We find that T cell activation is impaired in arginine-depleted conditions, with significant metabolic perturbation linked to incomplete chromatin remodeling and misregulation of key genes. Our results highlight a T cell behavior mediated by nutritional stress, exploited by cancer cells to enable pathological immune evasion.
    Keywords:  ASS1; ATF4; H3K27me3; T cell chromatin; arginine; cancer metabolism; immunometabolism; immunosuppression; metabolic regulation; nutritional stress
  6. Nat Commun. 2021 May 11. 12(1): 2677
      To provide a multi-omics resource and investigate transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, we profile the transcriptome, chromatin accessibility, and methylation status of over 70,000 single nuclei (sn) from adult mouse pituitaries. Paired snRNAseq and snATACseq datasets from individual animals highlight a continuum between developmental epigenetically-encoded cell types and transcriptionally-determined transient cell states. Co-accessibility analysis-based identification of a putative Fshb cis-regulatory domain that overlaps the fertility-linked rs11031006 human polymorphism, followed by experimental validation illustrate the use of this resource for hypothesis generation. We also identify transcriptional and chromatin accessibility programs distinguishing each major cell type. Regulons, which are co-regulated gene sets sharing binding sites for a common transcription factor driver, recapitulate cell type clustering. We identify both cell type-specific and sex-specific regulons that are highly correlated with promoter accessibility, but not with methylation state, supporting the centrality of chromatin accessibility in shaping cell-defining transcriptional programs. The sn multi-omics atlas is accessible at
  7. Nat Genet. 2021 May;53(5): 650-662
      In cancer cells, enhancer hijacking mediated by chromosomal alterations and/or increased deposition of acetylated histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27ac) can support oncogene expression. However, how the chromatin conformation of enhancer-promoter interactions is affected by these events is unclear. In the present study, by comparing chromatin structure and H3K27ac levels in normal and lymphoma B cells, we show that enhancer-promoter-interacting regions assume different conformations according to the local abundance of H3K27ac. Genetic or pharmacological depletion of H3K27ac decreases the frequency and the spreading of these interactions, altering oncogene expression. Moreover, enhancer hijacking mediated by chromosomal translocations influences the epigenetic status of the regions flanking the breakpoint, prompting the formation of distinct intrachromosomal interactions in the two homologous chromosomes. These interactions are accompanied by allele-specific gene expression changes. Overall, our work indicates that H3K27ac dynamics modulates interaction frequency between regulatory regions and can lead to allele-specific chromatin configurations to sustain oncogene expression.
  8. Mol Cell. 2021 May 03. pii: S1097-2765(21)00319-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      Meningioma-1 (MN1) overexpression in AML is associated with poor prognosis, and forced expression of MN1 induces leukemia in mice. We sought to determine how MN1 causes AML. We found that overexpression of MN1 can be induced by translocations that result in hijacking of a downstream enhancer. Structure predictions revealed that the entire MN1 coding frame is disordered. We identified the myeloid progenitor-specific BAF complex as the key interaction partner of MN1. MN1 over-stabilizes BAF on enhancer chromatin, a function directly linked to the presence of a long polyQ-stretch within MN1. BAF over-stabilization at binding sites of transcription factors regulating a hematopoietic stem/progenitor program prevents the developmentally appropriate decommissioning of these enhancers and results in impaired myeloid differentiation and leukemia. Beyond AML, our data detail how the overexpression of a polyQ protein, in the absence of any coding sequence mutation, can be sufficient to cause malignant transformation.
    Keywords:  AML; BAF; IDP; IDR; Meningioma-1; SWI/SNF; intrinsically disordered protein/region; leukemia; polyQ
  9. Nat Commun. 2021 May 11. 12(1): 2683
      In flowering plants, heterochromatin is demarcated by the histone variant H2A.W, elevated levels of the linker histone H1, and specific epigenetic modifications, such as high levels of DNA methylation at both CG and non-CG sites. How H2A.W regulates heterochromatin organization and interacts with other heterochromatic features is unclear. Here, we create a h2a.w null mutant via CRISPR-Cas9, h2a.w-2, to analyze the in vivo function of H2A.W. We find that H2A.W antagonizes deposition of H1 at heterochromatin and that non-CG methylation and accessibility are moderately decreased in h2a.w-2 heterochromatin. Compared to H1 loss alone, combined loss of H1 and H2A.W greatly increases accessibility and facilitates non-CG DNA methylation in heterochromatin, suggesting co-regulation of heterochromatic features by H2A.W and H1. Our results suggest that H2A.W helps maintain optimal heterochromatin accessibility and DNA methylation by promoting chromatin compaction together with H1, while also inhibiting excessive H1 incorporation.
  10. Elife. 2021 May 13. pii: e64204. [Epub ahead of print]10
      ARID1A is one of the most frequently mutated epigenetic regulators in a wide spectrum of cancers. Recent studies have shown that ARID1A deficiency induces global changes in the epigenetic landscape of enhancers and promoters. These broad and complex effects make it challenging to identify the driving mechanisms of ARID1A deficiency in promoting cancer progression. Here, we identified the anti-senescence effect of Arid1a deficiency in the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) by profiling the transcriptome of individual PanINs in a mouse model. In a human cell line model, we found that ARID1A deficiency upregulates the expression of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1 Family Member A1 (ALDH1A1), which plays an essential role in attenuating the senescence induced by oncogenic KRAS through scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). As a subunit of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex, our ATAC sequencing data showed that ARID1A deficiency increases the accessibility of the enhancer region of ALDH1A1. This study provides the first evidence that ARID1A deficiency promotes pancreatic tumorigenesis by attenuating KRAS-induced senescence through the upregulation of ALDH1A1 expression.
    Keywords:  cancer biology; chromosomes; gene expression; human; mouse
  11. Nat Genet. 2021 May 10.
      Esophageal squamous cell carcinomas (ESCCs) harbor recurrent chromosome 3q amplifications that target the transcription factor SOX2. Beyond its role as an oncogene in ESCC, SOX2 acts in development of the squamous esophagus and maintenance of adult esophageal precursor cells. To compare Sox2 activity in normal and malignant tissue, we developed engineered murine esophageal organoids spanning normal esophagus to Sox2-induced squamous cell carcinoma and mapped Sox2 binding and the epigenetic and transcriptional landscape with evolution from normal to cancer. While oncogenic Sox2 largely maintains actions observed in normal tissue, Sox2 overexpression with p53 and p16 inactivation promotes chromatin remodeling and evolution of the Sox2 cistrome. With Klf5, oncogenic Sox2 acquires new binding sites and enhances activity of oncogenes such as Stat3. Moreover, oncogenic Sox2 activates endogenous retroviruses, inducing expression of double-stranded RNA and dependence on the RNA editing enzyme ADAR1. These data reveal SOX2 functions in ESCC, defining targetable vulnerabilities.
  12. Nat Commun. 2021 May 12. 12(1): 2751
      Sequence variants in gene regulatory regions alter gene expression and contribute to phenotypes of individual cells and the whole organism, including disease susceptibility and progression. Single-nucleotide variants in enhancers or promoters may affect gene transcription by altering transcription factor binding sites. Differential transcription factor binding in heterozygous genomic loci provides a natural source of information on such regulatory variants. We present a novel approach to call the allele-specific transcription factor binding events at single-nucleotide variants in ChIP-Seq data, taking into account the joint contribution of aneuploidy and local copy number variation, that is estimated directly from variant calls. We have conducted a meta-analysis of more than 7 thousand ChIP-Seq experiments and assembled the database of allele-specific binding events listing more than half a million entries at nearly 270 thousand single-nucleotide polymorphisms for several hundred human transcription factors and cell types. These polymorphisms are enriched for associations with phenotypes of medical relevance and often overlap eQTLs, making candidates for causality by linking variants with molecular mechanisms. Specifically, there is a special class of switching sites, where different transcription factors preferably bind alternative alleles, thus revealing allele-specific rewiring of molecular circuitry.
  13. Nat Genet. 2021 May 13.
      Precise deposition of CpG methylation is critical for mammalian development and tissue homeostasis and is often dysregulated in human diseases. The localization of de novo DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A is facilitated by its PWWP domain recognizing histone H3 lysine 36 (H3K36) methylation1,2 and is normally depleted at CpG islands (CGIs)3. However, methylation of CGIs regulated by Polycomb repressive complexes (PRCs) has also been observed4-8. Here, we report that DNMT3A PWWP domain mutations identified in paragangliomas9 and microcephalic dwarfism10 promote aberrant localization of DNMT3A to CGIs in a PRC1-dependent manner. DNMT3A PWWP mutants accumulate at regions containing PRC1-mediated formation of monoubiquitylated histone H2A lysine 119 (H2AK119ub), irrespective of the amounts of PRC2-catalyzed formation of trimethylated histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3). DNMT3A interacts with H2AK119ub-modified nucleosomes through a putative amino-terminal ubiquitin-dependent recruitment region, providing an alternative form of DNMT3A genomic targeting that is augmented by the loss of PWWP reader function. Ablation of PRC1 abrogates localization of DNMT3A PWWP mutants to CGIs and prevents aberrant DNA hypermethylation. Our study implies that a balance between DNMT3A recruitment by distinct reader domains guides de novo CpG methylation and may underlie the abnormal DNA methylation landscapes observed in select human cancer subtypes and developmental disorders.
  14. Cancer Discov. 2021 May 10. pii: candisc.1334.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Epigenetic alterations such as promoter hypermethylation may drive cancer through tumor suppressor genes inactivation. However, we have limited ability to differentiate driver DNA methylation (DNAme) changes from passenger events. We developed DNAme driver inference - MethSig - accounting for the varying stochastic hypermethylation rate across the genome and between samples. We applied MethSig to bisulfite sequencing data of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, ductal carcinoma in situ, glioblastoma, and to methylation array data across 18 tumor types in TCGA. MethSig resulted in well-calibrated Quantile-Quantile plots and reproducible inference of likely DNAme drivers with increased sensitivity/specificity compared to benchmarked methods. CRISPR/Cas9 knockout of selected candidate CLL DNAme drivers provided a fitness advantage with and without therapeutic intervention. Notably, DNAme driver risk score was closely associated with adverse outcome in independent CLL cohorts. Collectively, MethSig represents a novel inference framework for DNAme driver discovery to chart the role of aberrant DNAme in cancer.
  15. Genome Biol. 2021 May 11. 22(1): 150
      BACKGROUND: The 3D organization of the chromatin fiber in cell nuclei plays a key role in the regulation of gene expression. Genome-wide techniques to score DNA-DNA contacts, such as Hi-C, reveal the partitioning of chromosomes into epigenetically defined active and repressed compartments and smaller "topologically associated" domains. These domains are often associated with chromatin loops, which largely disappear upon removal of cohesin. Because most Hi-C implementations average contact frequencies over millions of cells and do not provide direct spatial information, it remains unclear whether and how frequently chromatin domains and loops exist in single cells.RESULTS: We combine 3D single-molecule localization microscopy with a low-cost fluorescence labeling strategy that does not denature the DNA, to visualize large portions of single human chromosomes in situ at high resolution. In parallel, we develop multi-scale, whole nucleus polymer simulations, that predict chromatin structures at scales ranging from 5 kb up to entire chromosomes. We image chromosomes in G1 and M phase and examine the effect of cohesin on interphase chromatin structure. Depletion of cohesin leads to increased prevalence of loose chromatin stretches, increased gyration radii, and reduced smoothness of imaged chromatin regions. By comparison to model predictions, we estimate that 6-25 or more purely cohesin-dependent chromatin loops coexist per megabase of DNA in single cells, suggesting that the vast majority of the genome is enclosed in loops.
    CONCLUSION: Our results provide new constraints on chromatin structure and showcase an affordable non-invasive approach to study genome organization in single cells.
    Keywords:  Chromatin; Chromosomes; Cohesin; Polymer models; Super-resolution microscopy
  16. Oncogene. 2021 May 10.
      N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most abundant internal mRNA modification in eukaryotes and plays an important role in tumorigenesis. However, the underlying mechanism remains largely unclear. Here, we established a cell model of rapamycin-induced autophagy to screen m6A-modifying enzymes. We found that m6A demethylase fat mass and obesity-associated protein (FTO) plays a key role in regulating autophagy and tumorigenesis by targeting the gene encoding eukaryotic translation initiation factor gamma 1 (eIF4G1) in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Knocked down of FTO expression in OSCC cell lines, resulting in downregulation of eIF4G1 along with enhanced autophagic flux and inhibition of tumorigenesis. Rapamycin inhibited FTO activity, and directly targeted eIF4G1 transcripts and mediated their expression in an m6A-dependent manner. Dual-luciferase reporter and mutagenesis assays confirmed that YTH N6-methyladenosine RNA-binding protein 2 (YTHDF2) targets eIF4G1. Conclusively, after FTO silencing, YTHDF2 captured eIF4G1 transcripts containing m6A, resulting in mRNA degradation and decreased expression of eIF4G1 protein, thereby promoting autophagy and reducing tumor occurrence. Therefore, rapamycin may regulate m6A levels, determining the autophagic flux of OSCC, thereby affecting the biological characteristics of cancer cells. This insight expands our understanding of the crosstalk between autophagy and RNA methylation in tumorigenesis, which is essential for therapeutic strategy development for OSCC.
  17. Sci Adv. 2021 May;pii: eabf2229. [Epub ahead of print]7(20):
      CpG islands (CGIs) are key regulatory DNA elements at most promoters, but how they influence the chromatin status and transcription remains elusive. Here, we identify and characterize SAMD1 (SAM domain-containing protein 1) as an unmethylated CGI-binding protein. SAMD1 has an atypical winged-helix domain that directly recognizes unmethylated CpG-containing DNA via simultaneous interactions with both the major and the minor groove. The SAM domain interacts with L3MBTL3, but it can also homopolymerize into a closed pentameric ring. At a genome-wide level, SAMD1 localizes to H3K4me3-decorated CGIs, where it acts as a repressor. SAMD1 tethers L3MBTL3 to chromatin and interacts with the KDM1A histone demethylase complex to modulate H3K4me2 and H3K4me3 levels at CGIs, thereby providing a mechanism for SAMD1-mediated transcriptional repression. The absence of SAMD1 impairs ES cell differentiation processes, leading to misregulation of key biological pathways. Together, our work establishes SAMD1 as a newly identified chromatin regulator acting at unmethylated CGIs.
  18. Nat Commun. 2021 May 14. 12(1): 2850
      Functional assessment of disease-associated sequence variation at non-coding regulatory elements is complicated by their high degree of context sensitivity to both the local chromatin and nuclear environments. Allelic profiling of DNA accessibility across individuals has shown that only a select minority of sequence variation affects transcription factor (TF) occupancy, yet low sequence diversity in human populations means that no experimental assessment is available for the majority of disease-associated variants. Here we describe high-resolution in vivo maps of allelic DNA accessibility in liver, kidney, lung and B cells from 5 increasingly diverged strains of F1 hybrid mice. The high density of heterozygous sites in these hybrids enables precise quantification of effect size and cell-type specificity for hundreds of thousands of variants throughout the mouse genome. We show that chromatin-altering variants delineate characteristic sensitivity profiles for hundreds of TF motifs. We develop a compendium of TF-specific sensitivity profiles accounting for genomic context effects. Finally, we link maps of allelic accessibility to allelic transcript levels in the same samples. This work provides a foundation for quantitative prediction of cell-type specific effects of non-coding variation on TF activity, which will facilitate both fine-mapping and systems-level analyses of common disease-associated variation in human genomes.
  19. Science. 2021 May 14. 372(6543): 716-721
      Transcription and metabolism both influence cell function, but dedicated transcriptional control of metabolic pathways that regulate cell fate has rarely been defined. We discovered, using a chemical suppressor screen, that inhibition of the pyrimidine biosynthesis enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) rescues erythroid differentiation in bloodless zebrafish moonshine (mon) mutant embryos defective for transcriptional intermediary factor 1 gamma (tif1γ). This rescue depends on the functional link of DHODH to mitochondrial respiration. The transcription elongation factor TIF1γ directly controls coenzyme Q (CoQ) synthesis gene expression. Upon tif1γ loss, CoQ levels are reduced, and a high succinate/α-ketoglutarate ratio leads to increased histone methylation. A CoQ analog rescues mon's bloodless phenotype. These results demonstrate that mitochondrial metabolism is a key output of a lineage transcription factor that drives cell fate decisions in the early blood lineage.
  20. Bioinformatics. 2021 May 11. pii: btab362. [Epub ahead of print]
      MOTIVATION: N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is the most abundant mammalian mRNA methylation with versatile functions. To date, although a number of bioinformatics tools have been developed for location discovery of m6A modification, functional understanding is still quite limited. As the focus of RNA epigenetics gradually shifts from site discovery to functional studies, there is an urgent need for user-friendly tools to identify and explore the functional relevance of context-specific m6A methylation to gain insights into the epitranscriptome layer of gene expression regulation.RESULTS: We introduced here Funm6AViewer, a novel platform to identify, prioritize, and visualize the functional gene interaction networks mediated by dynamic m6A RNA methylation unveiled from a case control study. By taking the differential RNA methylation (DM) data and differential gene expression (DE) data, both of which can be inferred from the widely used MeRIP-seq data, as the inputs, Funm6AViewer enables a series of analysis, including: (1) examining the distribution of differential m6A sites, (2) prioritizing the genes mediated by dynamic m6A methylation, and (3) characterizing functionally the gene regulatory networks mediated by condition-specific m6A RNA methylation. Funm6AViewer should effectively facilitate the understanding of the epitranscriptome circuitry mediated by this reversible RNA modification. Funm6AViewer is available both as a convenient web server ( with graphical interface and as an independent R package ( for local usage.
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
  21. Cancer Discov. 2021 May 12. pii: candisc.1793.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      In acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with inv(3)(q21;q26) or t(3;3)(q21;q26), a translocated GATA2 enhancer drives oncogenic expression of EVI1. We generated an EVI1-GFP AML model and applied an unbiased CRISPR/Cas9 enhancer scan to uncover sequence motifs essential for EVI1 transcription. Using this approach, we pinpointed a single regulatory element in the translocated GATA2 enhancer that is critically required for aberrant EVI1 expression. This element contained a DNA binding motif for the transcription factor MYB which specifically occupied this site at the translocated allele and was dispensable for GATA2 expression. MYB knockout as well as peptidomimetic blockade of CBP/p300-dependent MYB functions resulted in downregulation of EVI1 but not of GATA2. Targeting MYB or mutating its DNA-binding motif within the GATA2 enhancer resulted in myeloid differentiation and cell death, suggesting that interference with MYB-driven EVI1 transcription provides a potential entry point for therapy of inv(3)/t(3;3) AMLs.
  22. Sci Adv. 2021 May;pii: eabf2066. [Epub ahead of print]7(20):
      Intellectual disability encompasses a wide spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders, with many linked genetic loci. However, the underlying molecular mechanism for more than 50% of the patients remains elusive. We describe pathogenic variants in SMARCA5, encoding the ATPase motor of the ISWI chromatin remodeler, as a cause of a previously unidentified neurodevelopmental disorder, identifying 12 individuals with de novo or dominantly segregating rare heterozygous variants. Accompanying phenotypes include mild developmental delay, frequent postnatal short stature and microcephaly, and recurrent dysmorphic features. Loss of function of the SMARCA5 Drosophila ortholog Iswi led to smaller body size, reduced sensory dendrite complexity, and tiling defects in larvae. In adult flies, Iswi neural knockdown caused decreased brain size, aberrant mushroom body morphology, and abnormal locomotor function. Iswi loss of function was rescued by wild-type but not mutant SMARCA5. Our results demonstrate that SMARCA5 pathogenic variants cause a neurodevelopmental syndrome with mild facial dysmorphia.
  23. Genome Biol. 2021 May 11. 22(1): 149
      BACKGROUND: Androgen receptor (AR) is critical to the initiation, growth, and progression of prostate cancer. Once activated, the AR binds to cis-regulatory enhancer elements on DNA that drive gene expression. Yet, there are 10-100× more binding sites than differentially expressed genes. It is unclear how or if these excess binding sites impact gene transcription.RESULTS: To characterize the regulatory logic of AR-mediated transcription, we generated a locus-specific map of enhancer activity by functionally testing all common clinical AR binding sites with Self-Transcribing Active Regulatory Regions sequencing (STARRseq). Only 7% of AR binding sites displayed androgen-dependent enhancer activity. Instead, the vast majority of AR binding sites were either inactive or constitutively active enhancers. These annotations strongly correlated with enhancer-associated features of both in vitro cell lines and clinical prostate cancer samples. Evaluating the effect of each enhancer class on transcription, we found that AR-regulated enhancers frequently interact with promoters and form central chromosomal loops that are required for transcription. Somatic mutations of these critical AR-regulated enhancers often impact enhancer activity.
    CONCLUSIONS: Using a functional map of AR enhancer activity, we demonstrated that AR-regulated enhancers act as a regulatory hub that increases interactions with other AR binding sites and gene promoters.
    Keywords:  Androgen receptor; Enhancers; Non-coding mutations; Prostate cancer; STARRseq
  24. Genome Biol. 2021 May 10. 22(1): 129
      BACKGROUND: Cellular senescence is a permanent state of replicative arrest defined by a specific pattern of gene expression. The epigenome in senescent cells is sculptured in order to sustain the new transcriptional requirements, particularly at enhancers and super-enhancers. How these distal regulatory elements are dynamically modulated is not completely defined.RESULTS: Enhancer regions are defined by the presence of H3K27 acetylation marks, which can be modulated by class IIa HDACs, as part of multi-protein complexes. Here, we explore the regulation of class IIa HDACs in different models of senescence. We find that HDAC4 is polyubiquitylated and degraded during all types of senescence and it selectively binds and monitors H3K27ac levels at specific enhancers and super-enhancers that supervise the senescent transcriptome. Frequently, these HDAC4-modulated elements are also monitored by AP-1/p300. The deletion of HDAC4 in transformed cells which have bypassed oncogene-induced senescence is coupled to the re-appearance of senescence and the execution of the AP-1/p300 epigenetic program.
    CONCLUSIONS: Overall, our manuscript highlights a role of HDAC4 as an epigenetic reader and controller of enhancers and super-enhancers that supervise the senescence program. More generally, we unveil an epigenetic checkpoint that has important consequences in aging and cancer.
    Keywords:  AP-1; BRD4; Class IIa HDACs; H3K27; H3K4me1; HDAC4; OIS; SASP; Senescence; Super-enhancers; p300
  25. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2021 May;28(5): 435-442
      RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) pausing immediately downstream of the transcription start site is a critical rate-limiting step for the expression of most metazoan genes. During pause release, RNAPII encounters a highly conserved +1 H2A.Z nucleosome, yet how this histone variant contributes to transcription is poorly understood. Here, using an inducible protein degron system combined with genomic approaches and live cell super-resolution microscopy, we show that H2A.Z.1 modulates RNAPII dynamics across most genes in murine embryonic stem cells. Our quantitative analysis shows that H2A.Z.1 slows the rate of RNAPII pause release and consequently impacts negative elongation factor dynamics as well as nascent transcription. Consequently, H2A.Z.1 also impacts re-loading of the pre-initiation complex components TFIIB and TBP. Altogether, this work provides a critical mechanistic link between H2A.Z.1 and the proper induction of mammalian gene expression programs through the regulation of RNAPII dynamics and pause release.
  26. Cell Death Dis. 2021 May 12. 12(5): 476
      Loss of β cell identity and functional immaturity are thought to be involved in β cell failure in type 2 diabetes. CREB-binding protein (CBP) and its paralogue p300 act as multifunctional transcriptional co-activators and histone acetyltransferases (HAT) with extensive biological functions. However, whether the regulatory role of CBP/p300 in islet β cell function depends on the HAT activity remains uncertain. In this current study, A-485, a selective inhibitor of CBP/p300 HAT activity, greatly impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from rat islets in vitro and in vivo. RNA-sequencing analysis showed a comprehensive downregulation of β cell and α cell identity genes in A-485-treated islets, without upregulation of dedifferentiation markers and derepression of disallowed genes. A-485 treatment decreased the expressions of genes involved in glucose sensing, not in glycolysis, tricarboxylic acid cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. In the islets of prediabetic db/db mice, CBP/p300 displayed a significant decrease with key genes for β cell function. The deacetylation of histone H3K27 as well as the transcription factors Hnf1α and Foxo1 was involved in CBP/p300 HAT inactivation-repressed expressions of β cell identity and functional genes. These findings highlight the dominant role of CBP/p300 HAT in the maintenance of β cell identity by governing transcription network.
  27. Genome Res. 2021 May 11. pii: gr.275145.120. [Epub ahead of print]
      Most eukaryotic transcription factors (TFs) are part of large protein families, with members of the same family (i.e. paralogous TFs) recognizing similar DNA-binding motifs but performing different regulatory functions. Many TF paralogs are coexpressed in the cell, and thus can compete for target sites across the genome. However, this competition is rarely taken into account when studying the in vivo binding patterns of eukaryotic TFs. Here, we show that direct competition for DNA binding between TF paralogs is a major determinant of their genomic binding patterns. Using yeast proteins Cbf1 and Pho4 as our model system, we designed a high-throughput quantitative assay to capture the genomic binding profiles of competing TFs in a cell-free system. Our data shows that Cbf1 and Pho4 greatly influence each other's occupancy by competing for their common putative genomic binding sites. The competition is different at different genomic sites, as dictated by the TFs' expression levels and their divergence in DNA-binding specificity and affinity. Analyses of ChIP-seq data show that the biophysical rules that dictate the competitive TF binding patterns in vitro are also followed in vivo, in the complex cellular environment. Furthermore, the Cbf1-Pho4 competition for genomic sites, as characterized in vitro using our new assay, plays a critical role in the specific activation of their target genes in the cell. Overall, our study highlights the importance of direct TF-TF competition for genomic binding and gene regulation by TF paralogs, and proposes an approach for studying this competition in a quantitative and high-throughput manner.
  28. Mol Cell. 2021 May 05. pii: S1097-2765(21)00326-9. [Epub ahead of print]
      DNA replication initiates at genomic locations known as origins of replication, which, in S. cerevisiae, share a common DNA consensus motif. Despite being virtually nucleosome-free, origins of replication are greatly influenced by the surrounding chromatin state. Here, we show that histone H3 lysine 37 mono-methylation (H3K37me1) is catalyzed by Set1p and Set2p and that it regulates replication origin licensing. H3K37me1 is uniformly distributed throughout most of the genome, but it is scarce at replication origins, where it increases according to the timing of their firing. We find that H3K37me1 hinders Mcm2 interaction with chromatin, maintaining low levels of MCM outside of conventional replication origins. Lack of H3K37me1 results in defective DNA replication from canonical origins while promoting replication events at inefficient and non-canonical sites. Collectively, our results indicate that H3K37me1 ensures correct execution of the DNA replication program by protecting the genome from inappropriate origin licensing and spurious DNA replication.
    Keywords:  H3K37methylation; Histone modifications; MCM; Origin licensing; Replication origins; Set1; Set2
  29. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 May;23(5): 511-525
      Epithelial cells rapidly adapt their behaviour in response to increasing tissue demands. However, the processes that finely control these cell decisions remain largely unknown. The postnatal period covering the transition between early tissue expansion and the establishment of adult homeostasis provides a convenient model with which to explore this question. Here, we demonstrate that the onset of homeostasis in the epithelium of the mouse oesophagus is guided by the progressive build-up of mechanical strain at the organ level. Single-cell RNA sequencing and whole-organ stretching experiments revealed that the mechanical stress experienced by the growing oesophagus triggers the emergence of a bright Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) committed basal population, which balances cell proliferation and marks the transition towards homeostasis in a yes-associated protein (YAP)-dependent manner. Our results point to a simple mechanism whereby mechanical changes experienced at the whole-tissue level are integrated with those sensed at the cellular level to control epithelial cell fate.
  30. Commun Biol. 2021 May 13. 4(1): 571
      Histone H3 lysine 9 dimethylation (H3K9me2) is a highly conserved silencing epigenetic mark. Chromatin marked with H3K9me2 forms large domains in mammalian cells and overlaps well with lamina-associated domains and the B compartment defined by Hi-C. However, the role of H3K9me2 in 3-dimensional (3D) genome organization remains unclear. Here, we investigated genome-wide H3K9me2 distribution, transcriptome, and 3D genome organization in mouse embryonic stem cells following the inhibition or depletion of H3K9 methyltransferases (MTases): G9a, GLP, SETDB1, SUV39H1, and SUV39H2. We show that H3K9me2 is regulated by all five MTases; however, H3K9me2 and transcription in the A and B compartments are regulated by different MTases. H3K9me2 in the A compartments is primarily regulated by G9a/GLP and SETDB1, while H3K9me2 in the B compartments is regulated by all five MTases. Furthermore, decreased H3K9me2 correlates with changes to more active compartmental state that accompanied transcriptional activation. Thus, H3K9me2 contributes to inactive compartment setting.
  31. Nat Genet. 2021 May 13.
      ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers are commonly mutated in human cancer. Mammalian SWI/SNF complexes comprise three conserved multisubunit chromatin remodelers (cBAF, ncBAF and PBAF) that share the BRG1 (also known as SMARCA4) subunit responsible for the main ATPase activity. BRG1 is the most frequently mutated Snf2-like ATPase in cancer. In the present study, we have investigated the role of SWI/SNF in genome instability, a hallmark of cancer cells, given its role in transcription, DNA replication and DNA-damage repair. We show that depletion of BRG1 increases R-loops and R-loop-dependent DNA breaks, as well as transcription-replication (T-R) conflicts. BRG1 colocalizes with R-loops and replication fork blocks, as determined by FANCD2 foci, with BRG1 depletion being epistatic to FANCD2 silencing. Our study, extended to other components of SWI/SNF, uncovers a key role of the SWI/SNF complex, in particular cBAF, in helping resolve R-loop-mediated T-R conflicts, thus, unveiling a new mechanism by which chromatin remodeling protects genome integrity.
  32. Nat Commun. 2021 May 13. 12(1): 2770
      CRISPR-based transcriptional activation is a powerful tool for functional gene interrogation; however, delivery difficulties have limited its applications in vivo. Here, we created a mouse model expressing all components of the CRISPR-Cas9 guide RNA-directed Synergistic Activation Mediator (SAM) from a single transcript that is capable of activating target genes in a tissue-specific manner. We optimized Lipid Nanoparticles and Adeno-Associated Virus guide RNA delivery approaches to achieve expression modulation of one or more genes in vivo. We utilized the SAM mouse model to generate a hypercholesteremia disease state that we could bidirectionally modulate with various guide RNAs. Additionally, we applied SAM to optimize gene expression in a humanized Transthyretin mouse model to recapitulate human expression levels. These results demonstrate that the SAM gene activation platform can facilitate in vivo research and drug discovery.
  33. Nat Commun. 2021 May 11. 12(1): 2655
      The epigenome has been shown to deteriorate with age, potentially impacting on ageing-related disease. tRNA, while arising from only ˜46 kb (<0.002% genome), is the second most abundant cellular transcript. tRNAs also control metabolic processes known to affect ageing, through core translational and additional regulatory roles. Here, we interrogate the DNA methylation state of the genomic loci of human tRNA. We identify a genomic enrichment for age-related DNA hypermethylation at tRNA loci. Analysis in 4,350 MeDIP-seq peripheral-blood DNA methylomes (16-82 years), identifies 44 and 21 hypermethylating specific tRNAs at study-and genome-wide significance, respectively, contrasting with none hypomethylating. Validation and replication (450k array and independent targeted Bisuphite-sequencing) supported the hypermethylation of this functional unit. Tissue-specificity is a significant driver, although the strongest consistent signals, also independent of major cell-type change, occur in tRNA-iMet-CAT-1-4 and tRNA-Ser-AGA-2-6. This study presents a comprehensive evaluation of the genomic DNA methylation state of human tRNA genes and reveals a discreet hypermethylation with advancing age.