bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2021‒09‒12
fifteen papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 06. 12(1): 5285
      The mammalian DNA methylome is formed by two antagonizing processes, methylation by DNA methyltransferases (DNMT) and demethylation by ten-eleven translocation (TET) dioxygenases. Although the dynamics of either methylation or demethylation have been intensively studied in the past decade, the direct effects of their interaction on gene expression remain elusive. Here, we quantify the concurrence of DNA methylation and demethylation by the percentage of unmethylated CpGs within a partially methylated read from bisulfite sequencing. After verifying 'methylation concurrence' by its strong association with the co-localization of DNMT and TET enzymes, we observe that methylation concurrence is strongly correlated with gene expression. Notably, elevated methylation concurrence in tumors is associated with the repression of 40~60% of tumor suppressor genes, which cannot be explained by promoter hypermethylation alone. Furthermore, methylation concurrence can be used to stratify large undermethylated regions with negligible differences in average methylation into two subgroups with distinct chromatin accessibility and gene regulation patterns. Together, methylation concurrence represents a unique methylation metric important for transcription regulation and is distinct from conventional metrics, such as average methylation and methylation variation.
  2. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 09. 12(1): 5341
      Polycomb repressive complexes-1 and -2 (PRC1 and 2) silence developmental genes in a spatiotemporal manner during embryogenesis. How Polycomb group (PcG) proteins orchestrate down-regulation of target genes upon differentiation, however, remains elusive. Here, by differentiating embryonic stem cells into embryoid bodies, we reveal a crucial role for the PCGF1-containing variant PRC1 complex (PCGF1-PRC1) to mediate differentiation-associated down-regulation of a group of genes. Upon differentiation cues, transcription is down-regulated at these genes, in association with PCGF1-PRC1-mediated deposition of histone H2AK119 mono-ubiquitination (H2AK119ub1) and PRC2 recruitment. In the absence of PCGF1-PRC1, both H2AK119ub1 deposition and PRC2 recruitment are disrupted, leading to aberrant expression of target genes. PCGF1-PRC1 is, therefore, required for initiation and consolidation of PcG-mediated gene repression during differentiation.
  3. J Clin Invest. 2021 Sep 07. pii: 144833. [Epub ahead of print]
      The transcription factor NFATC2 induces β-cell proliferation in mouse and human islets. However, the genomic targets that mediate these effects have not been identified. We expressed active forms of Nfatc2 and Nfatc1 in human islets. By integrating changes in gene expression with genomic binding sites for NFATC2, we identified ~2,200 transcriptional targets of NFATC2. Genes induced by NFATC2 were enriched for transcripts that regulate the cell cycle, and for DNA motifs associated with the transcription factor FOXP. Islets from an endocrine-specific Foxp1, Foxp2, and Foxp4 triple-knockout mouse are less responsive to NFATC2-induced β-cell proliferation, suggesting the FOXP family works to regulate β-cell proliferation in concert with NFATC2. NFATC2 induced β-cell proliferation in both mouse and human islets, whereas NFATC1 did so only in human islets. Exploiting this species difference, we identified ~250 direct transcriptional targets of NFAT in human islets. This gene set enriches for cell cycle-associated transcripts, and includes Nr4a1. Deletion of Nr4a1 reduced the capacity of NFATC2 to induce β-cell proliferation, suggesting that much of the effect of NFATC2 occurs through its induction of Nr4a1. Integration of non-coding RNA expression, chromatin accessibility, and NFATC2 binding sites enabled us to identify NFATC2-dependent enhancer loci that mediate β-cell proliferation.
    Keywords:  Beta cells; Cell Biology; Cell cycle; Diabetes; Endocrinology
  4. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 07. 12(1): 5325
      Distal-less homeobox-1 (DLX1) is a well-established non-invasive biomarker for prostate cancer (PCa) diagnosis, however, its mechanistic underpinnings in disease pathobiology are not known. Here, we reveal the oncogenic role of DLX1 and show that abrogating its function leads to reduced tumorigenesis and metastases. We observed that ~60% of advanced-stage and metastatic patients display higher DLX1 levels. Moreover, ~96% of TMPRSS2-ERG fusion-positive and ~70% of androgen receptor (AR)-positive patients show elevated DLX1, associated with aggressive disease and poor survival. Mechanistically, ERG coordinates with enhancer-bound AR and FOXA1 to drive transcriptional upregulation of DLX1 in ERG-positive background. However, in ERG-negative context, AR/AR-V7 and FOXA1 suffice to upregulate DLX1. Notably, inhibiting ERG/AR-mediated DLX1 transcription using BET inhibitor (BETi) or/and anti-androgen drugs reduce its expression and downstream oncogenic effects. Conclusively, this study establishes DLX1 as a direct-target of ERG/AR with an oncogenic role and demonstrates the clinical significance of BETi and anti-androgens for DLX1-positive patients.
  5. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 06. 12(1): 5280
      Little is known about the roles of histone tails in modulating nucleosomal DNA accessibility and its recognition by other macromolecules. Here we generate extensive atomic level conformational ensembles of histone tails in the context of the full nucleosome, totaling 65 microseconds of molecular dynamics simulations. We observe rapid conformational transitions between tail bound and unbound states, and characterize kinetic and thermodynamic properties of histone tail-DNA interactions. Different histone types exhibit distinct binding modes to specific DNA regions. Using a comprehensive set of experimental nucleosome complexes, we find that the majority of them target mutually exclusive regions with histone tails on nucleosomal/linker DNA around the super-helical locations ± 1, ± 2, and ± 7, and histone tails H3 and H4 contribute most to this process. These findings are explained within competitive binding and tail displacement models. Finally, we demonstrate the crosstalk between different histone tail post-translational modifications and mutations; those which change charge, suppress tail-DNA interactions and enhance histone tail dynamics and DNA accessibility.
  6. Cell Rep. 2021 Sep 07. pii: S2211-1247(21)01063-9. [Epub ahead of print]36(10): 109625
      The normal androgen receptor (AR) cistrome and transcriptional program are fundamentally altered in prostate cancer (PCa). Here, we profile the chromatin landscape and AR-directed transcriptional program in normal prostate cells and show the impact of SPOP mutations, an early event in prostate tumorigenesis. In genetically normal mouse prostate organoids, SPOP mutation results in accessibility and AR binding patterns similar to that of human PCa. Consistent with dependence on AR signaling, castration of SPOP mutant mouse models results in the loss of neoplastic phenotypes, and human SPOP mutant PCa shows a favorable response to AR-targeted therapies. Together, these data validate mouse prostate organoids as a robust model for studying epigenomic and transcriptional alterations in normal prostate, provide valuable datasets for further studies, and show that a single genomic alteration may be sufficient to reprogram the chromatin of normal prostate cells toward oncogenic phenotypes, with potential therapeutic implications for AR-targeting therapies.
  7. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Sep 11. pii: gkab798. [Epub ahead of print]
      Understanding how epigenetic variation in non-coding regions is involved in distal gene-expression regulation is an important problem. Regulatory regions can be associated to genes using large-scale datasets of epigenetic and expression data. However, for regions of complex epigenomic signals and enhancers that regulate many genes, it is difficult to understand these associations. We present StitchIt, an approach to dissect epigenetic variation in a gene-specific manner for the detection of regulatory elements (REMs) without relying on peak calls in individual samples. StitchIt segments epigenetic signal tracks over many samples to generate the location and the target genes of a REM simultaneously. We show that this approach leads to a more accurate and refined REM detection compared to standard methods even on heterogeneous datasets, which are challenging to model. Also, StitchIt REMs are highly enriched in experimentally determined chromatin interactions and expression quantitative trait loci. We validated several newly predicted REMs using CRISPR-Cas9 experiments, thereby demonstrating the reliability of StitchIt. StitchIt is able to dissect regulation in superenhancers and predicts thousands of putative REMs that go unnoticed using peak-based approaches suggesting that a large part of the regulome might be uncharted water.
  8. PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 Sep 07. 17(9): e1009376
      Regulatory elements control gene expression through transcription initiation (promoters) and by enhancing transcription at distant regions (enhancers). Accurate identification of regulatory elements is fundamental for annotating genomes and understanding gene expression patterns. While there are many attempts to develop computational promoter and enhancer identification methods, reliable tools to analyze long genomic sequences are still lacking. Prediction methods often perform poorly on the genome-wide scale because the number of negatives is much higher than that in the training sets. To address this issue, we propose a dynamic negative set updating scheme with a two-model approach, using one model for scanning the genome and the other one for testing candidate positions. The developed method achieves good genome-level performance and maintains robust performance when applied to other vertebrate species, without re-training. Moreover, the unannotated predicted regulatory regions made on the human genome are enriched for disease-associated variants, suggesting them to be potentially true regulatory elements rather than false positives. We validated high scoring "false positive" predictions using reporter assay and all tested candidates were successfully validated, demonstrating the ability of our method to discover novel human regulatory regions.
  9. Cell Rep. 2021 Sep 07. pii: S2211-1247(21)01115-3. [Epub ahead of print]36(10): 109671
      Phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain Y1S2P3T4S5P6S7 consensus sequence coordinates key events during transcription, and its deregulation leads to defects in transcription and RNA processing. Here, we report that the histone deacetylase activity of the fission yeast Hos2/Set3 complex plays an important role in suppressing cryptic initiation of antisense transcription when RNA polymerase II phosphorylation is dysregulated due to the loss of Ssu72 phosphatase. Interestingly, although single Hos2 and Set3 mutants have little effect, loss of Hos2 or Set3 combined with ssu72Δ results in a synergistic increase in antisense transcription globally and correlates with elevated sensitivity to genotoxic agents. We demonstrate a key role for the Ssu72/Hos2/Set3 mechanism in the suppression of cryptic antisense transcription at the 3' end of convergent genes that are most susceptible to these defects, ensuring the fidelity of gene expression within dense genomes of simple eukaryotes.
    Keywords:  Hos2/Set3 complex; RNA polymerase II phosphorylation; Ssu72 phosphatase; convergent genes; cryptic antisense transcription; histone deacetylase; transcription termination
  10. Epigenetics Chromatin. 2021 Sep 09. 14(1): 43
      BACKGROUND: Cell types in ventral midbrain are involved in diseases with variable genetic susceptibility, such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. Many genetic variants affect regulatory regions and alter gene expression in a cell-type-specific manner depending on the chromatin structure and accessibility.RESULTS: We report 20,658 single-nuclei chromatin accessibility profiles of ventral midbrain from two genetically and phenotypically distinct mouse strains. We distinguish ten cell types based on chromatin profiles and analysis of accessible regions controlling cell identity genes highlights cell-type-specific key transcription factors. Regulatory variation segregating the mouse strains manifests more on transcriptome than chromatin level. However, cell-type-level data reveals changes not captured at tissue level. To discover the scope and cell-type specificity of cis-acting variation in midbrain gene expression, we identify putative regulatory variants and show them to be enriched at differentially expressed loci. Finally, we find TCF7L2 to mediate trans-acting variation selectively in midbrain neurons.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our data set provides an extensive resource to study gene regulation in mesencephalon and provides insights into control of cell identity in the midbrain and identifies cell-type-specific regulatory variation possibly underlying phenotypic and behavioural differences between mouse strains.
    Keywords:  Cell-type identity; Genetic variation; Midbrain; Mouse strains; Single-nuclei ATAC-seq; Wnt signalling
  11. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Sep 06.
      Cancers adapt to increasingly potent targeted therapies by reprogramming their phenotype. Here we investigated such a phenomenon in prostate cancer, in which tumours can escape epithelial lineage confinement and transition to a high-plasticity state as an adaptive response to potent androgen receptor (AR) antagonism. We found that AR activity can be maintained as tumours adopt alternative lineage identities, with changes in chromatin architecture guiding AR transcriptional rerouting. The epigenetic regulator enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2) co-occupies the reprogrammed AR cistrome to transcriptionally modulate stem cell and neuronal gene networks-granting privileges associated with both fates. This function of EZH2 was associated with T350 phosphorylation and establishment of a non-canonical polycomb subcomplex. Our study provides mechanistic insights into the plasticity of the lineage-infidelity state governed by AR reprogramming that enabled us to redirect cell fate by modulating EZH2 and AR, highlighting the clinical potential of reversing resistance phenotypes.
  12. EMBO J. 2021 Sep 06. e107795
      Somatic mutations in DNA-binding sites for CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) are significantly elevated in many cancers. Prior analysis has suggested that elevated mutation rates at CTCF-binding sites in skin cancers are a consequence of the CTCF-cohesin complex inhibiting repair of UV damage. Here, we show that CTCF binding modulates the formation of UV damage to induce mutation hot spots. Analysis of genome-wide CPD-seq data in UV-irradiated human cells indicates that formation of UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs) is primarily suppressed by CTCF binding but elevated at specific locations within the CTCF motif. Locations of CPD hot spots in the CTCF-binding motif coincide with mutation hot spots in melanoma. A similar pattern of damage formation is observed at CTCF-binding sites in vitro, indicating that UV damage modulation is a direct consequence of CTCF binding. We show that CTCF interacts with binding sites containing UV damage and inhibits repair by a model repair enzyme in vitro. Structural analysis and molecular dynamic simulations reveal the molecular mechanism for how CTCF binding modulates CPD formation.
    Keywords:  CCCTC-binding factor; DNA damage; DNA repair; skin cancer; ultraviolet light
  13. Elife. 2021 Sep 06. pii: e67403. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Enhancers and silencers often depend on the same transcription factors (TFs) and are conflated in genomic assays of TF binding or chromatin state. To identify sequence features that distinguish enhancers and silencers, we assayed massively parallel reporter libraries of genomic sequences targeted by the photoreceptor TF CRX in mouse retinas. Both enhancers and silencers contain more TF motifs than inactive sequences, but relative to silencers, enhancers contain motifs from a more diverse collection of TFs. We developed a measure of information content that describes the number and diversity of motifs in a sequence and found that, while both enhancers and silencers depend on CRX motifs, enhancers have higher information content. The ability of information content to distinguish enhancers and silencers targeted by the same TF illustrates how motif context determines the activity of cis-regulatory sequences.
    Keywords:  computational biology; genetics; genomics; mouse; systems biology
  14. JCI Insight. 2021 Sep 08. pii: 138088. [Epub ahead of print]6(17):
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is a major pathophysiological contributor to the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD); however, whether it contributes to epigenetic dysregulation remains unknown. Here, we show that both chemically and genetically driven mitochondrial dysfunctions share a common mechanism of epigenetic dysregulation. Under both scenarios, lysine 27 acetylation of likely variant H3.3 (H3.3K27ac) increased in dopaminergic neuronal models of PD, thereby opening that region to active enhancer activity via H3K27ac. These vulnerable epigenomic loci represent potential transcription factor motifs for PD pathogenesis. We further confirmed that mitochondrial dysfunction induces H3K27ac in ex vivo and in vivo (MitoPark) neurodegenerative models of PD. Notably, the significantly increased H3K27ac in postmortem PD brains highlights the clinical relevance to the human PD population. Our results reveal an exciting mitochondrial dysfunction-metabolism-H3K27ac-transcriptome axis for PD pathogenesis. Collectively, the mechanistic insights link mitochondrial dysfunction to epigenetic dysregulation in dopaminergic degeneration and offer potential new epigenetic intervention strategies for PD.
    Keywords:  Epigenetics; Mitochondria; Neuroscience; Parkinson disease
  15. F1000Res. 2021 ;10 570
      Many biological studies of transcriptional control mechanisms produce lists of genes and non-coding genomic intervals from corresponding gene expression and epigenomic assays. In higher organisms, such as eukaryotes, genes may be regulated by distal elements, with these elements lying 10s-100s of kilobases away from a gene transcription start site. To gain insight into these distal regulatory mechanisms, it is important to determine comparative enrichment of genes of interest in relation to genomic regions of interest, and to be able to do so at a range of distances. Existing bioinformatics tools can annotate genomic regions to nearest known genes, or look for transcription factor binding sites in relation to gene transcription start sites. Here, we present PEGS ( Peak set Enrichment in Gene Sets). This tool efficiently provides an exploratory analysis by calculating enrichment of multiple gene sets, associated with multiple non-coding elements (peak sets), at multiple genomic distances, and within topologically associated domains. We apply PEGS to gene sets derived from gene expression studies, and genomic intervals from corresponding ChIP-seq and ATAC-seq experiments to derive biologically meaningful results. We also demonstrate an extended application to tissue-specific gene sets and publicly available GWAS data, to find enrichment of sleep trait associated SNPs in relation to tissue-specific gene expression profiles.
    Keywords:  ChIP-seq; Genomic data integration; RNA-seq; gene set enrichment; genomic intervals