bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2021‒11‒07
forty-one papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Nov 04.
      The developmental role of histone H3K9 methylation (H3K9me), which typifies heterochromatin, remains unclear. In Caenorhabditis elegans, loss of H3K9me leads to a highly divergent upregulation of genes with tissue and developmental-stage specificity. During development H3K9me is lost from differentiated cell type-specific genes and gained at genes expressed in earlier developmental stages or other tissues. The continuous deposition of H3K9me2 by the SETDB1 homolog MET-2 after terminal differentiation is necessary to maintain repression. In differentiated tissues, H3K9me ensures silencing by restricting the activity of a defined set of transcription factors at promoters and enhancers. Increased chromatin accessibility following the loss of H3K9me is neither sufficient nor necessary to drive transcription. Increased ATAC-seq signal and gene expression correlate at a subset of loci positioned away from the nuclear envelope, while derepressed genes at the nuclear periphery remain poorly accessible despite being transcribed. In conclusion, H3K9me deposition can confer tissue-specific gene expression and maintain the integrity of terminally differentiated muscle by restricting transcription factor activity.
  2. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 02. pii: S2211-1247(21)01416-9. [Epub ahead of print]37(5): 109943
      The ARID1A subunit of SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes is a potent tumor suppressor. Here, a degron is applied to detect rapid loss of chromatin accessibility at thousands of loci where ARID1A acts to generate accessible minidomains of nucleosomes. Loss of ARID1A also results in the redistribution of the coactivator EP300. Co-incident EP300 dissociation and lost chromatin accessibility at enhancer elements are highly enriched adjacent to rapidly downregulated genes. In contrast, sites of gained EP300 occupancy are linked to genes that are transcriptionally upregulated. These chromatin changes are associated with a small number of genes that are differentially expressed in the first hours following loss of ARID1A. Indirect or adaptive changes dominate the transcriptome following growth for days after loss of ARID1A and result in strong engagement with cancer pathways. The identification of this hierarchy suggests sites for intervention in ARID1A-driven diseases.
    Keywords:  ARID1A; BAF; EP300; SWI/SNF; cancer; chromatin remodeling; enhancer transcription; nucleosomes
  3. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 04. 12(1): 6380
      We herein employ in situ Hi-C with an auxin-inducible degron (AID) system to examine the effect of chromatin remodeling on 3D genome organization in yeast. Eight selected ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers representing various subfamilies contribute to 3D genome organization differently. Among the studied remodelers, the temporary depletions of Chd1p, Swr1p, and Sth1p (a catalytic subunit of the Remodeling the Structure of Chromatin [RSC] complex) cause the most significant defects in intra-chromosomal contacts, and the regulatory roles of these three remodelers in 3D genome organization differ depending on the chromosomal context and cell cycle stage. Furthermore, even though Chd1p and Isw1p are known to share functional similarities/redundancies, their depletions lead to distinct effects on 3D structures. The RSC and cohesin complexes also differentially modulate 3D genome organization within chromosome arm regions, whereas RSC appears to support the function of cohesin in centromeric clustering at G2 phase. Our work suggests that the ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers control the 3D genome organization of yeast through their chromatin-remodeling activities.
  4. Elife. 2021 Nov 04. pii: e72062. [Epub ahead of print]10
      A longstanding hypothesis is that chromatin fiber folding mediated by interactions between nearby nucleosomes represses transcription. However, it has been difficult to determine the relationship between local chromatin fiber compaction and transcription in cells. Further, global changes in fiber diameters have not been observed, even between interphase and mitotic chromosomes. We show that an increase in the range of local inter-nucleosomal contacts in quiescent yeast drives the compaction of chromatin fibers genome-wide. Unlike actively dividing cells, inter-nucleosomal interactions in quiescent cells require a basic patch in the histone H4 tail. This quiescence-specific fiber folding globally represses transcription and inhibits chromatin loop extrusion by condensin. These results reveal that global changes in chromatin fiber compaction can occur during cell state transitions, and establish physiological roles for local chromatin fiber folding in regulating transcription and chromatin domain formation.
    Keywords:  S. cerevisiae; chromosomes; gene expression; genetics; genomics
  5. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Nov 01. pii: gkab1001. [Epub ahead of print]
      Signaling pathway-driven target gene transcription is critical for fate determination of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), but enhancer-dependent transcriptional regulation in these processes remains poorly understood. Here, we report enhancer architecture-dependent multilayered transcriptional regulation at the Halr1-Hoxa1 locus that orchestrates retinoic acid (RA) signaling-induced early lineage differentiation of ESCs. We show that both homeobox A1 (Hoxa1) and Hoxa adjacent long non-coding RNA 1 (Halr1) are identified as direct downstream targets of RA signaling and regulated by RARA/RXRA via RA response elements (RAREs). Chromosome conformation capture-based screens indicate that RA signaling promotes enhancer interactions essential for Hoxa1 and Halr1 expression and mesendoderm differentiation of ESCs. Furthermore, the results also show that HOXA1 promotes expression of Halr1 through binding to enhancer; conversely, loss of Halr1 enhances interaction between Hoxa1 chromatin and four distal enhancers but weakens interaction with chromatin inside the HoxA cluster, leading to RA signaling-induced Hoxa1 overactivation and enhanced endoderm differentiation. These findings reveal complex transcriptional regulation involving synergistic regulation by enhancers, transcription factors and lncRNA. This work provides new insight into intrinsic molecular mechanisms underlying ESC fate determination during RA signaling-induced early differentiation.
  6. NAR Genom Bioinform. 2021 Dec;3(4): lqab095
      Recent efforts to measure epigenetic marks across a wide variety of different cell types and tissues provide insights into the cell type-specific regulatory landscape. We use these data to study whether there exists a correlate of epigenetic signals in the DNA sequence of enhancers and explore with computational methods to what degree such sequence patterns can be used to predict cell type-specific regulatory activity. By constructing classifiers that predict in which tissues enhancers are active, we are able to identify sequence features that might be recognized by the cell in order to regulate gene expression. While classification performances vary greatly between tissues, we show examples where our classifiers correctly predict tissue-specific regulation from sequence alone. We also show that many of the informative patterns indeed harbor transcription factor footprints.
  7. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 04. 12(1): 6377
      Endocrine therapies for prostate cancer inhibit the androgen receptor (AR) transcription factor. In most cases, AR activity resumes during therapy and drives progression to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, therapy can also promote lineage plasticity and select for AR-independent phenotypes that are uniformly lethal. Here, we demonstrate the stem cell transcription factor Krüppel-like factor 5 (KLF5) is low or absent in prostate cancers prior to endocrine therapy, but induced in a subset of CRPC, including CRPC displaying lineage plasticity. KLF5 and AR physically interact on chromatin and drive opposing transcriptional programs, with KLF5 promoting cellular migration, anchorage-independent growth, and basal epithelial cell phenotypes. We identify ERBB2 as a point of transcriptional convergence displaying activation by KLF5 and repression by AR. ERBB2 inhibitors preferentially block KLF5-driven oncogenic phenotypes. These findings implicate KLF5 as an oncogene that can be upregulated in CRPC to oppose AR activities and promote lineage plasticity.
  8. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 03. 12(1): 6350
      Transcription modulated by the circadian clock is diverse across cell types, underlying circadian control of peripheral metabolism and its observed perturbation in human diseases. We report that knockout of the lineage-specifying Hnf4a gene in mouse liver causes associated reductions in the genome-wide distribution of core clock component BMAL1 and accessible chromatin marks (H3K4me1 and H3K27ac). Ectopically expressing HNF4A remodels chromatin landscape and nucleates distinct tissue-specific BMAL1 chromatin binding events, predominantly in enhancer regions. Circadian rhythms are disturbed in Hnf4a knockout liver and HNF4A-MODY diabetic model cells. Additionally, the epigenetic state and accessibility of the liver genome dynamically change throughout the day, synchronized with chromatin occupancy of HNF4A and clustered expression of circadian outputs. Lastly, Bmal1 knockout attenuates HNF4A genome-wide binding in the liver, likely due to downregulated Hnf4a transcription. Our results may provide a general mechanism for establishing circadian rhythm heterogeneity during development and disease progression, governed by chromatin structure.
  9. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 04. 12(1): 6407
      Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Although genomic mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms have been extensively studied, the epigenomic status in colorectal cancer patient tissues remains elusive. Here, together with genomic and transcriptomic analysis, we use ChIP-Seq to profile active enhancers at the genome wide level in colorectal cancer paired patient tissues (tumor and adjacent tissues from the same patients). In total, we sequence 73 pairs of colorectal cancer tissues and generate 147 H3K27ac ChIP-Seq, 144 RNA-Seq, 147 whole genome sequencing and 86 H3K4me3 ChIP-Seq samples. Our analysis identifies 5590 gain and 1100 lost variant enhancer loci in colorectal cancer, and 334 gain and 121 lost variant super enhancer loci. Multiple key transcription factors in colorectal cancer are predicted with motif analysis and core regulatory circuitry analysis. Further experiments verify the function of the super enhancers governing PHF19 and TBC1D16 in regulating colorectal cancer tumorigenesis, and KLF3 is identified as an oncogenic transcription factor in colorectal cancer. Taken together, our work provides an important epigenomic resource and functional factors for epigenetic studies in colorectal cancer.
  10. Mol Cell. 2021 Nov 01. pii: S1097-2765(21)00842-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      Deconvolution of regulatory mechanisms that drive transcriptional programs in cancer cells is key to understanding tumor biology. Herein, we present matched transcriptome (scRNA-seq) and chromatin accessibility (scATAC-seq) profiles at single-cell resolution from human ovarian and endometrial tumors processed immediately following surgical resection. This dataset reveals the complex cellular heterogeneity of these tumors and enabled us to quantitatively link variation in chromatin accessibility to gene expression. We show that malignant cells acquire previously unannotated regulatory elements to drive hallmark cancer pathways. Moreover, malignant cells from within the same patients show substantial variation in chromatin accessibility linked to transcriptional output, highlighting the importance of intratumoral heterogeneity. Finally, we infer the malignant cell type-specific activity of transcription factors. By defining the regulatory logic of cancer cells, this work reveals an important reliance on oncogenic regulatory elements and highlights the ability of matched scRNA-seq/scATAC-seq to uncover clinically relevant mechanisms of tumorigenesis in gynecologic cancers.
    Keywords:  chromatin accessibility; endometrial cancer; enhancer elements; gastro-intestinal stromal tumors; gene regulation; intratumoral heterogeneity; ovarian cancer; scATAC-seq; scRNA-seq; single-cell genomics
  11. Mol Syst Biol. 2021 Nov;17(11): e10323
      Recent advances in genome-wide technologies have enabled analyses using small cell numbers of even single cells. However, obtaining tissue epigenomes with cell-type resolution from large organs and tissues still remains challenging, especially when the available material is limited. Here, we present a ChIL-based approach for analyzing the diverse cellular dynamics at the tissue level using high-depth epigenomic data. "ChIL for tissues" allows the analysis of a single tissue section and can reproducibly generate epigenomic profiles from several tissue types, based on the distribution of target epigenomic states, tissue morphology, and number of cells. The proposed method enabled the independent evaluation of changes in cell populations and gene activation in cells from regenerating skeletal muscle tissues, using a statistical model of RNA polymerase II distribution on gene loci. Thus, the integrative analyses performed using ChIL can elucidate in vivo cell-type dynamics of tissues.
    Keywords:  dissociation-free epigenome analysis; in situ epigenomics on single thin tissue section; tissue-specific enhancers; transcriptional state decomposition; traveling ratio
  12. Nat Cell Biol. 2021 Nov 04.
      How cancer cells adapt to evade the therapeutic effects of drugs targeting oncogenic drivers is poorly understood. Here we report an epigenetic mechanism leading to the adaptive resistance of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) to fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitors. Prolonged FGFR inhibition suppresses the function of BRG1-dependent chromatin remodelling, leading to an epigenetic state that derepresses YAP-associated enhancers. These chromatin changes induce the expression of several amino acid transporters, resulting in increased intracellular levels of specific amino acids that reactivate mTORC1. Consistent with this mechanism, addition of mTORC1 or YAP inhibitors to FGFR blockade synergistically attenuated the growth of TNBC patient-derived xenograft models. Collectively, these findings reveal a feedback loop involving an epigenetic state transition and metabolic reprogramming that leads to adaptive therapeutic resistance and provides potential therapeutic strategies to overcome this mechanism of resistance.
  13. Bioinformatics. 2021 Nov 06. pii: btab743. [Epub ahead of print]
      MOTIVATION: Chromosome conformation capture technologies (Hi-C) revealed extensive DNA folding into discrete 3D domains, such as Topologically Associating Domains and chromatin loops. The correct binding of CTCF and cohesin at domain boundaries is integral in maintaining the proper structure and function of these 3D domains. 3D domains have been mapped at the resolutions of 1 kilobase and above. However, it has not been possible to define their boundaries at the resolution of boundary-forming proteins.RESULTS: To predict domain boundaries at base-pair resolution, we developed preciseTAD, an optimized transfer learning framework trained on high-resolution genome annotation data. In contrast to current TAD/loop callers, preciseTAD-predicted boundaries are strongly supported by experimental evidence. Importantly, this approach can accurately delineate boundaries in cells without Hi-C data. preciseTAD provides a powerful framework to improve our understanding of how genomic regulators are shaping the 3D structure of the genome at base-pair resolution.
    AVAILABILITY: preciseTAD is an R/Bioconductor package available at
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
  14. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 04. 12(1): 6366
      During development, looping of an enhancer to a promoter is frequently observed in conjunction with temporal and tissue-specific transcriptional activation. The chromatin insulator-associated protein Alan Shepard (Shep) promotes Drosophila post-mitotic neuronal remodeling by repressing transcription of master developmental regulators, such as brain tumor (brat), specifically in maturing neurons. Since insulator proteins can promote looping, we hypothesized that Shep antagonizes brat promoter interaction with an as yet unidentified enhancer. Using chromatin conformation capture and reporter assays, we identified two enhancer regions that increase in looping frequency with the brat promoter specifically in pupal brains after Shep depletion. The brat promoters and enhancers function independently of Shep, ruling out direct repression of these elements. Moreover, ATAC-seq in isolated neurons demonstrates that Shep restricts chromatin accessibility of a key brat enhancer as well as other enhancers genome-wide in remodeling pupal but not larval neurons. These enhancers are enriched for chromatin targets of Shep and are located at Shep-inhibited genes, suggesting direct Shep inhibition of enhancer accessibility and gene expression during neuronal remodeling. Our results provide evidence for temporal regulation of chromatin looping and enhancer accessibility during neuronal maturation.
  15. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 04. 12(1): 6386
      A major drawback of single-cell ATAC-seq (scATAC-seq) is its sparsity, i.e., open chromatin regions with no reads due to loss of DNA material during the scATAC-seq protocol. Here, we propose scOpen, a computational method based on regularized non-negative matrix factorization for imputing and quantifying the open chromatin status of regulatory regions from sparse scATAC-seq experiments. We show that scOpen improves crucial downstream analysis steps of scATAC-seq data as clustering, visualization, cis-regulatory DNA interactions, and delineation of regulatory features. We demonstrate the power of scOpen to dissect regulatory changes in the development of fibrosis in the kidney. This identifies a role of Runx1 and target genes by promoting fibroblast to myofibroblast differentiation driving kidney fibrosis.
  16. Mol Cell. 2021 Oct 30. pii: S1097-2765(21)00837-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Histone H3.3 lysine-to-methionine substitutions K27M and K36M impair the deposition of opposing chromatin marks, H3K27me3/me2 and H3K36me3/me2. We show that these mutations induce hypotrophic and disorganized eyes in Drosophila eye primordia. Restriction of H3K27me3 spread in H3.3K27M and its redistribution in H3.3K36M result in transcriptional deregulation of PRC2-targeted eye development and of piRNA biogenesis genes, including krimp. Notably, both mutants promote redistribution of H3K36me2 away from repetitive regions into active genes, which associate with retrotransposon de-repression in eye discs. Aberrant expression of krimp represses LINE retrotransposons but does not contribute to the eye phenotype. Depletion of H3K36me2 methyltransferase ash1 in H3.3K27M, and of PRC2 component E(z) in H3.3K36M, restores the expression of eye developmental genes and normal eye growth, showing that redistribution of antagonistic marks contributes to K-to-M pathogenesis. Our results implicate a novel function for H3K36me2 and showcase convergent downstream effects of oncohistones that target opposing epigenetic marks.
    Keywords:  Drosophila; H3K27me3; H3K36me2; K27M; K36M; ash1; krimp; oncohistones; piRNA; transposons
  17. Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 03. 11(1): 21619
      High-throughput third-generation nanopore sequencing devices have enormous potential for simultaneously observing epigenetic modifications in human cells over large regions of the genome. However, signals generated by these devices are subject to considerable noise that can lead to unsatisfactory detection performance and hamper downstream analysis. Here we develop a statistical method, CpelNano, for the quantification and analysis of 5mC methylation landscapes using nanopore data. CpelNano takes into account nanopore noise by means of a hidden Markov model (HMM) in which the true but unknown ("hidden") methylation state is modeled through an Ising probability distribution that is consistent with methylation means and pairwise correlations, whereas nanopore current signals constitute the observed state. It then estimates the associated methylation potential energy function by employing the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm and performs differential methylation analysis via permutation-based hypothesis testing. Using simulations and analysis of published data obtained from three human cell lines (GM12878, MCF-10A, and MDA-MB-231), we show that CpelNano can faithfully estimate DNA methylation potential energy landscapes, substantially improving current methods and leading to a powerful tool for the modeling and analysis of epigenetic landscapes using nanopore sequencing data.
  18. Commun Biol. 2021 Nov 02. 4(1): 1249
      Differentially DNA methylated regions (DMRs) inform on the role of epigenetic changes in cancer. We present Rocker-meth, a new computational method exploiting a heterogeneous hidden Markov model to detect DMRs across multiple experimental platforms. Through an extensive comparative study, we first demonstrate Rocker-meth excellent performance on synthetic data. Its application to more than 6,000 methylation profiles across 14 tumor types provides a comprehensive catalog of tumor type-specific and shared DMRs, and agnostically identifies cancer-related partially methylated domains (PMD). In depth integrative analysis including orthogonal omics shows the enhanced ability of Rocker-meth in recapitulating known associations, further uncovering the pan-cancer relationship between DNA hypermethylation and transcription factor deregulation depending on the baseline chromatin state. Finally, we demonstrate the utility of the catalog for the study of colorectal cancer single-cell DNA-methylation data.
  19. BMC Genomics. 2021 Nov 02. 22(Suppl 3): 787
      BACKGROUND: A new class of regulatory elements called super-enhancers, comprised of multiple neighboring enhancers, have recently been reported to be the key transcriptional drivers of cellular, developmental, and disease states.RESULTS: Here, we defined super-enhancer RNAs as highly expressed enhancer RNAs that are transcribed from a cluster of localized genomic regions. Using the cap analysis of gene expression sequencing data from FANTOM5, we systematically explored the enhancer and messenger RNA landscapes in hundreds of different cell types in response to various environments. Applying non-negative matrix factorization (NMF) to super-enhancer RNA profiles, we found that different cell types were well classified. In addition, through the NMF of individual time-course profiles from a single cell-type, super-enhancer RNAs were clustered into several states with progressive patterns. We further investigated the enriched biological functions of the proximal genes involved in each pattern, and found that they were associated with the corresponding developmental process.
    CONCLUSIONS: The proposed super-enhancer RNAs can act as a good alternative, without the complicated measurement of histone modifications, for identifying important regulatory elements of cell type specification and identifying dynamic cell states.
    Keywords:  Cell state; Enhancer RNA; FANTOM5; Super enhancer; Super-enhancer RNA
  20. New Phytol. 2021 Nov 02.
      The ripening of fleshy fruits is a unique developmental process that Arabidopsis and rice lack. This process is driven by hormones and transcription factors. However, the critical and early regulators of fruit ripening are still poorly understood. Here, we revealed that SlJMJ7, an H3K4 demethylase, is a critical negative regulator of fruit ripening in tomato. Combined genome-wide transcription, binding sites, histone H3K4me3 and DNA methylation analyses demonstrated that SlJMJ7 regulates a key group of ripening-related genes, including ethylene biosynthesis (ACS2, ACS4 and ACO6), transcriptional regulation (RIN and NOR) and DNA demethylation (DML2) genes, by H3K4me3 demethylation. Moreover, loss of SlJMJ7 function leads to increased H3K4me3 levels, which directly activates ripening-related genes, and to global DML2-mediated DNA hypomethylation in fruit, which indirectly prompts expression of ripening-related genes. Together, these effects lead to accelerated fruit ripening in sljmj7 mutant. Our findings demonstrate that SlJMJ7 acts as a master negative regulator of fruit ripening through not only direct removal of H3K4me3 from multiple key ripening-related factors, but also crosstalk between histone and DNA demethylation. These findings reveal a novel cross-talk between histone methylation and DNA methylation to regulate gene expression in plant developmental processes.
    Keywords:  DML2; DNA demethylation; epigenetic interaction; fruit ripening; histone demethylase; histone demethylation; tomato
  21. Neuron. 2021 Oct 25. pii: S0896-6273(21)00782-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      Proper assembly and function of the nervous system requires the generation of a uniquely diverse population of neurons expressing a cell-type-specific combination of effector genes that collectively define neuronal morphology, connectivity, and function. How countless partially overlapping but cell-type-specific patterns of gene expression are controlled at the genomic level remains poorly understood. Here we show that neuronal genes are associated with highly complex gene regulatory systems composed of independent cell-type- and cell-stage-specific regulatory elements that reside in expanded non-coding genomic domains. Mapping enhancer-promoter interactions revealed that motor neuron enhancers are broadly distributed across the large chromatin domains. This distributed regulatory architecture is not a unique property of motor neurons but is employed throughout the nervous system. The number of regulatory elements increased dramatically during the transition from invertebrates to vertebrates, suggesting that acquisition of new enhancers might be a fundamental process underlying the evolutionary increase in cellular complexity.
    Keywords:  Isl1; Lhx3; cell fate specification; cellular diversity; chromatin interactions; enhancers; gene deserts; gene regulation; neuronal development; noncoding DNA
  22. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 01. 12(1): 6276
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a collection of biologically diverse cancers characterized by distinct transcriptional patterns, biology, and immune composition. TNBCs subtypes include two basal-like (BL1, BL2), a mesenchymal (M) and a luminal androgen receptor (LAR) subtype. Through a comprehensive analysis of mutation, copy number, transcriptomic, epigenetic, proteomic, and phospho-proteomic patterns we describe the genomic landscape of TNBC subtypes. Mesenchymal subtype tumors display high mutation loads, genomic instability, absence of immune cells, low PD-L1 expression, decreased global DNA methylation, and transcriptional repression of antigen presentation genes. We demonstrate that major histocompatibility complex I (MHC-I) is transcriptionally suppressed by H3K27me3 modifications by the polycomb repressor complex 2 (PRC2). Pharmacological inhibition of PRC2 subunits EZH2 or EED restores MHC-I expression and enhances chemotherapy efficacy in murine tumor models, providing a rationale for using PRC2 inhibitors in PD-L1 negative mesenchymal tumors. Subtype-specific differences in immune cell composition and differential genetic/pharmacological vulnerabilities suggest additional treatment strategies for TNBC.
  23. Elife. 2021 Nov 05. pii: e70672. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Ten-eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase 1 (TET1) is involved in multiple biological functions in cell development, differentiation, and transcriptional regulation. Tet1 deficient mice display the defects of murine glucose metabolism. However, the role of TET1 in metabolic homeostasis keeps unknown. Here, our finding demonstrates that hepatic TET1 physically interacts with SIRT1 via its C-terminal and activates its deacetylase activity, further regulating the acetylation-dependent cellular trans-localization of transcriptional factors PGC-1a and FOXO1, resulting in the activation of hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression that includes PPARGC1A, G6PC, and SLC2A4. Importantly, the hepatic gluconeogenic gene activation program induced by fasting is inhibited in Tet1 heterozygous mice livers. The AMPK activators metformin or AICAR-two compounds that mimic fasting-elevate hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression dependent on in turn activation of the AMPK-TET1-SIRT1 axis. Collectively, our study identifies TET1 as a SIRT1 coactivator and demonstrates that the AMPK-TET1-SIRT1 axis represents a potential mechanism or therapeutic target for glucose metabolism or metabolic diseases.
    Keywords:  biochemistry; chemical biology; medicine; mouse
  24. mBio. 2021 Nov 02. e0275321
      IscR is a global transcription factor that regulates Fe-S cluster homeostasis and other functions in Escherichia coli by either activating or repressing transcription. While the interaction of IscR with its DNA sites has been studied, less is known about the mechanism of IscR regulation of transcription. Here, we show that IscR recruits RNA polymerase to an activated promoter and that IscR binding compensates for the lack of an optimal RNA polymerase σ70 -35 promoter element. We also find that the position of the -35 promoter element within the IscR DNA site impacts whether IscR activates or represses transcription. RNA polymerase binding at a distally positioned -35 element within the IscR site results in IscR activation. Molecular modeling suggests that this position of the -35 element allows IscR and RNA polymerase to bind to the promoter from opposite faces of the helix. Shifting the -35 element 1 nucleotide upstream within the IscR binding site results in IscR repression and a steric clash of IscR and RNA polymerase binding in the models. We propose that the sequence similarity of the IscR binding site with the -35 element is an important feature in allowing plasticity in the mechanism of IscR regulation. IMPORTANCE Transcription regulation is a key process in all living organisms, involving a myriad of transcription factors. In E. coli, the regulator of the iron-sulfur cluster biogenesis pathway, IscR, acts as a global transcription factor, activating the transcription of some pathways and repressing others. The mechanism by which IscR is able to activate and repress from a similar sequence space within bacterial promoter elements was not known. In this work, we show that subtle changes in the position of the σ70 -35 promoter element within an IscR binding site can switch the role of IscR from an activator to a repressor. Our work provides insights as to how the IscR site might have evolved around the -35 promoter element to allow a single transcription factor to differentially regulate promoters.
    Keywords:  Escherichia coli gene expression; IscR; transcriptional regulation; transcriptional repression
  25. Nat Methods. 2021 Nov;18(11): 1333-1341
      The recent development of experimental methods for measuring chromatin state at single-cell resolution has created a need for computational tools capable of analyzing these datasets. Here we developed Signac, a comprehensive toolkit for the analysis of single-cell chromatin data. Signac enables an end-to-end analysis of single-cell chromatin data, including peak calling, quantification, quality control, dimension reduction, clustering, integration with single-cell gene expression datasets, DNA motif analysis and interactive visualization. Through its seamless compatibility with the Seurat package, Signac facilitates the analysis of diverse multimodal single-cell chromatin data, including datasets that co-assay DNA accessibility with gene expression, protein abundance and mitochondrial genotype. We demonstrate scaling of the Signac framework to analyze datasets containing over 700,000 cells.
  26. Cancer Lett. 2021 Nov 01. pii: S0304-3835(21)00555-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major cancer burden worldwide with increasing incidence in many developed countries. Super-enhancers (SEs) drive gene expressions required for cell type-specificity and tumor cell identity. However, their roles in HCC remain unclear because of data scarcity from primary tumors. Herein, chromatin profiling of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)-associated HCCs and matched liver tissues uncovered an average of ∼500 somatically-acquired SEs per patient. The identified SE-target genes were functionally enriched for aberrant metabolism and cancer phenotypes, especially chromatin regulators including deacetylases and Polycomb repressive complexes. Notably, all examined tumors exhibited SE activation of Sirtuin 7 (SIRT7), genome-wide promoter H3K18 deacetylation and concurrent H3K27me3, as well as tumor-suppressor gene silencing. Depletion of SIRT7 SE in hepatoma cells induced global H3K18 acetylation and reactivated key metabolic and immune regulators, leading to marked suppression of tumorigenicity in vitro and in vivo. In concordance, SIRT7 physically interacted with the methyltransferase EZH2, and they were co-expressed in primary HCCs. In summary, our integrative analysis establishes a compendium of SEs in NAFLD-associated HCCs and uncovers SIRT7-driven chromatin regulatory network as potential druggable vulnerability of this increasingly prevalent cancer.
    Keywords:  Enhancer; Epigenetics; HCC; Histone modifications; Immunoevasion; Metabolism; Sirtuin
  27. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 03. 12(1): 6318
      RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) transcriptional recycling is a mechanism for which the required factors and contributions to overall gene expression levels are poorly understood. We describe an in vitro methodology facilitating unbiased identification of putative RNA Pol II transcriptional recycling factors and quantitative measurement of transcriptional output from recycled transcriptional components. Proof-of-principle experiments identified PAF1 complex components among recycling factors and detected defective transcriptional output from Pol II recycling following PAF1 depletion. Dynamic ChIP-seq confirmed PAF1 silencing triggered defective Pol II recycling in human cells. Prostate tumors exhibited enhanced transcriptional recycling, which was attenuated by antibody-based PAF1 depletion. These findings identify Pol II recycling as a potential target in cancer and demonstrate the applicability of in vitro and cellular transcription assays to characterize Pol II recycling in other disease states.
  28. Nature. 2021 Nov 03.
      Plants use seasonal temperature cues to time the transition to reproduction. In Arabidopsis thaliana, winter cold epigenetically silences the floral repressor locus FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) through POLYCOMB REPRESSIVE COMPLEX 2 (PRC2)1. This vernalization process aligns flowering with spring. A prerequisite for silencing is transcriptional downregulation of FLC, but how this occurs in the fluctuating temperature regimes of autumn is unknown2-4. Transcriptional repression correlates with decreased local levels of histone H3 trimethylation at K36 (H3K36me3) and H3 trimethylation at K4 (H3K4me3)5,6, which are deposited during FRIGIDA (FRI)-dependent activation of FLC7-10. Here we show that cold rapidly promotes the formation of FRI nuclear condensates that do not colocalize with an active FLC locus. This correlates with reduced FRI occupancy at the FLC promoter and FLC repression. Warm temperature spikes reverse this process, buffering FLC shutdown to prevent premature flowering. The accumulation of condensates in the cold is affected by specific co-transcriptional regulators and cold induction of a specific isoform of the antisense RNA COOLAIR5,11. Our work describes the dynamic partitioning of a transcriptional activator conferring plasticity in response to natural temperature fluctuations, thus enabling plants to effectively monitor seasonal progression.
  29. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 02. pii: S2211-1247(21)01411-X. [Epub ahead of print]37(5): 109938
      The transition from a fasted to a fed state is associated with extensive transcriptional remodeling in hepatocytes facilitated by hormonal- and nutritional-regulated transcription factors. Here, we use a liver-specific glucocorticoid receptor (GR) knockout (L-GRKO) model to investigate the temporal hepatic expression of GR target genes in response to feeding. Interestingly, in addition to the well-described fasting-regulated genes, we identify a subset of hepatic feeding-induced genes that requires GR for full expression. This includes Gck, which is important for hepatic glucose uptake, utilization, and storage. We show that insulin and glucocorticoids cooperatively regulate hepatic Gck expression in a direct GR-dependent manner by a 4.6 kb upstream GR binding site operating as a Gck enhancer. L-GRKO blunts preprandial and early postprandial Gck expression, which ultimately affects early postprandial hepatic glucose uptake, phosphorylation, and glycogen storage. Thus, GR is positively involved in feeding-induced gene expression and important for postprandial glucose metabolism in the liver.
    Keywords:  Gck; RNA-seq; feeding; gene expression; glucocorticoid receptor; glucose metabolism; liver; temporal
  30. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Nov 09. pii: e2102222118. [Epub ahead of print]118(45):
      Abnormalities of lipid/lipoprotein and glucose metabolism are hallmarks of hepatic insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. The former antedate the latter, but the latter become progressively refractory to treatment and contribute to therapeutic failures. It's unclear whether the two processes share a common pathogenesis and what underlies their progressive nature. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that genes in the lipid/lipoprotein pathway and those in the glucose metabolic pathway are governed by different transcriptional regulatory logics that affect their response to physiologic (fasting/refeeding) as well as pathophysiologic cues (insulin resistance and hyperglycemia). To this end, we obtained genomic and transcriptomic maps of the key insulin-regulated transcription factor, FoxO1, and integrated them with those of CREB, PPAR-α, and glucocorticoid receptor. We found that glucose metabolic genes are primarily regulated by promoter and intergenic enhancers in a fasting-dependent manner, while lipid genes are regulated through fasting-dependent intron enhancers and fasting-independent enhancerless introns. Glucose genes also showed a remarkable transcriptional resiliency (i.e., the ability to compensate following constitutive FoxO1 ablation through an enrichment of active marks at shared PPAR-α/FoxO1 regulatory elements). Unexpectedly, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia were associated with a "spreading" of FoxO1 binding to enhancers and the emergence of unique target sites. We surmise that this unusual pattern correlates with the progressively intractable nature of hepatic insulin resistance. This transcriptional logic provides an integrated model to interpret the combined lipid and glucose abnormalities of type 2 diabetes.
    Keywords:  animal models of human disease; chromatin structure; diabetes; drug failures; insulin sensitizers
  31. Mol Cell. 2021 Oct 26. pii: S1097-2765(21)00836-4. [Epub ahead of print]
      Biosynthesis scales with cell size such that protein concentrations generally remain constant as cells grow. As an exception, synthesis of the cell-cycle inhibitor Whi5 "sub-scales" with cell size so that its concentration is lower in larger cells to promote cell-cycle entry. Here, we find that transcriptional control uncouples Whi5 synthesis from cell size, and we identify histones as the major class of sub-scaling transcripts besides WHI5 by screening for similar genes. Histone synthesis is thereby matched to genome content rather than cell size. Such sub-scaling proteins are challenged by asymmetric cell division because proteins are typically partitioned in proportion to newborn cell volume. To avoid this fate, Whi5 uses chromatin-binding to partition similar protein amounts to each newborn cell regardless of cell size. Disrupting both Whi5 synthesis and chromatin-based partitioning weakens G1 size control. Thus, specific transcriptional and partitioning mechanisms determine protein sub-scaling to control cell size.
    Keywords:  cell cycle; cell size; cell size control; gene expression; scaling
  32. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 03. 12(1): 6323
      Cancers develop from the accumulation of somatic mutations, yet it remains unclear how oncogenic lesions cooperate to drive cancer progression. Using a mouse model harboring NRasG12D and EZH2 mutations that recapitulates leukemic progression, we employ single-cell transcriptomic profiling to map cellular composition and gene expression alterations in healthy or diseased bone marrows during leukemogenesis. At cellular level, NRasG12D induces myeloid lineage-biased differentiation and EZH2-deficiency impairs myeloid cell maturation, whereas they cooperate to promote myeloid neoplasms with dysregulated transcriptional programs. At gene level, NRasG12D and EZH2-deficiency independently and synergistically deregulate gene expression. We integrate results from histopathology, leukemia repopulation, and leukemia-initiating cell assays to validate transcriptome-based cellular profiles. We use this resource to relate developmental hierarchies to leukemia phenotypes, evaluate oncogenic cooperation at single-cell and single-gene levels, and identify GEM as a regulator of leukemia-initiating cells. Our studies establish an integrative approach to deconvolute cancer evolution at single-cell resolution in vivo.
  33. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 04. 12(1): 6395
      Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) provides unprecedented technical and statistical potential to study gene regulation but is subject to technical variations and sparsity. Furthermore, statistical association testing remains difficult for scRNA-seq. Here we present Normalisr, a normalization and statistical association testing framework that unifies single-cell differential expression, co-expression, and CRISPR screen analyses with linear models. By systematically detecting and removing nonlinear confounders arising from library size at mean and variance levels, Normalisr achieves high sensitivity, specificity, speed, and generalizability across multiple scRNA-seq protocols and experimental conditions with unbiased p-value estimation. The superior scalability allows us to reconstruct robust gene regulatory networks from trans-effects of guide RNAs in large-scale single cell CRISPRi screens. On conventional scRNA-seq, Normalisr recovers gene-level co-expression networks that recapitulated known gene functions.
  34. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 01. 12(1): 6282
      Despite the importance of nitric oxide signaling in multiple biological processes, its role in tissue regeneration remains largely unexplored. Here, we provide evidence that inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNos) translocates to the nucleus during zebrafish tailfin regeneration and is associated with alterations in the nuclear S-nitrosylated proteome. iNos inhibitors or nitric oxide scavengers reduce protein S-nitrosylation and impair tailfin regeneration. Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry reveals an increase of up to 11-fold in the number of S-nitrosylated proteins during regeneration. Among these, Kdm1a, a well-known epigenetic modifier, is S-nitrosylated on Cys334. This alters Kdm1a binding to the CoRest complex, thus impairing its H3K4 demethylase activity, which is a response specific to the endothelial compartment. Rescue experiments show S-nitrosylation is essential for tailfin regeneration, and we identify downstream endothelial targets of Kdm1a S-nitrosylation. In this work, we define S-nitrosylation as an essential post-translational modification in tissue regeneration.
  35. Genome Biol. 2021 Nov 01. 22(1): 302
      BACKGROUND: Precise gene dosage of the X chromosomes is critical for normal development and cellular function. In mice, XX female somatic cells show transcriptional X chromosome upregulation of their single active X chromosome, while the other X chromosome is inactive. Moreover, the inactive X chromosome is reactivated during development in the inner cell mass and in germ cells through X chromosome reactivation, which can be studied in vitro by reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency. How chromatin processes and gene regulatory networks evolved to regulate X chromosome dosage in the somatic state and during X chromosome reactivation remains unclear.RESULTS: Using genome-wide approaches, allele-specific ATAC-seq and single-cell RNA-seq, in female embryonic fibroblasts and during reprogramming to pluripotency, we show that chromatin accessibility on the upregulated mammalian active X chromosome is increased compared to autosomes. We further show that increased accessibility on the active X chromosome is erased by reprogramming, accompanied by erasure of transcriptional X chromosome upregulation and the loss of increased transcriptional burst frequency. In addition, we characterize gene regulatory networks during reprogramming and X chromosome reactivation, revealing changes in regulatory states. Our data show that ZFP42/REX1, a pluripotency-associated gene that evolved specifically in placental mammals, targets multiple X-linked genes, suggesting an evolutionary link between ZFP42/REX1, X chromosome reactivation, and pluripotency.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our data reveal the existence of intrinsic compensatory mechanisms that involve modulation of chromatin accessibility to counteract X-to-Autosome gene dosage imbalances caused by evolutionary or in vitro X chromosome loss and X chromosome inactivation in mammalian cells.
    Keywords:  Chromatin accessibility; Gene dosage compensation; Gene regulatory networks; X chromosome inactivation; X chromosome reactivation; X chromosome upregulation; iPSC reprogramming
  36. Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Oct 30. pii: gkab950. [Epub ahead of print]
      Transcription co-factors (TcoFs) play crucial roles in gene expression regulation by communicating regulatory cues from enhancers to promoters. With the rapid accumulation of TcoF associated chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) data, the comprehensive collection and integrative analyses of these data are urgently required. Here, we developed the TcoFBase database (, which aimed to document a large number of available resources for mammalian TcoFs and provided annotations and enrichment analyses of TcoFs. TcoFBase curated 2322 TcoFs and 6759 TcoFs associated ChIP-seq data from over 500 tissues/cell types in human and mouse. Importantly, TcoFBase provided detailed and abundant (epi) genetic annotations of ChIP-seq based TcoF binding regions. Furthermore, TcoFBase supported regulatory annotation information and various functional annotations for TcoFs. Meanwhile, TcoFBase embedded five types of TcoF regulatory analyses for users, including TcoF gene set enrichment, TcoF binding genomic region annotation, TcoF regulatory network analysis, TcoF-TF co-occupancy analysis and TcoF regulatory axis analysis. TcoFBase was designed to be a useful resource that will help reveal the potential biological effects of TcoFs and elucidate TcoF-related regulatory mechanisms.
  37. Bioinformatics. 2021 Oct 28. pii: btab746. [Epub ahead of print]
      MOTIVATION: The adoption of current single-cell DNA methylation sequencing protocols is hindered by incomplete coverage, outlining the need for effective imputation techniques. The task of imputing single-cell (methylation) data requires models to build an understanding of underlying biological processes.RESULTS: We adapt the transformer neural network architecture to operate on methylation matrices through combining axial attention with sliding window self-attention. The obtained CpG Transformer displays state-of-the-art performances on a wide range of scBS-seq and scRRBS-seq datasets. Furthermore, we demonstrate the interpretability of CpG Transformer and illustrate its rapid transfer learning properties, allowing practitioners to train models on new datasets with a limited computational and time budget.
    AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: CpG Transformer is freely available at
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
  38. Cell Rep. 2021 Nov 02. pii: S2211-1247(21)01417-0. [Epub ahead of print]37(5): 109944
      Heterochromatin formation requires three distinct steps: nucleation, self-propagation (spreading) along the chromosome, and faithful maintenance after each replication cycle. Impeding any of those steps induces heterochromatin defects and improper gene expression. The essential histone chaperone FACT (facilitates chromatin transcription) has been implicated in heterochromatin silencing, but the mechanisms by which FACT engages in this process remain opaque. Here, we pinpoint its function to the heterochromatin spreading process in fission yeast. FACT impairment reduces nucleation-distal H3K9me3 and HP1/Swi6 accumulation at subtelomeres and derepresses genes in the vicinity of heterochromatin boundaries. FACT promotes spreading by repressing heterochromatic histone turnover, which is crucial for the H3K9me2 to me3 transition that enables spreading. FACT mutant spreading defects are suppressed by removal of the H3K9 methylation antagonist Epe1. Together, our study identifies FACT as a histone chaperone that promotes heterochromatin spreading and lends support to the model that regulated histone turnover controls the propagation of repressive methylation marks.
    Keywords:  Epe1; FACT; heterochromatin spreading; histone chaperone; histone turnover
  39. Cell. 2021 Nov 03. pii: S0092-8674(21)01230-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      RNA, DNA, and protein molecules are highly organized within three-dimensional (3D) structures in the nucleus. Although RNA has been proposed to play a role in nuclear organization, exploring this has been challenging because existing methods cannot measure higher-order RNA and DNA contacts within 3D structures. To address this, we developed RNA & DNA SPRITE (RD-SPRITE) to comprehensively map the spatial organization of RNA and DNA. These maps reveal higher-order RNA-chromatin structures associated with three major classes of nuclear function: RNA processing, heterochromatin assembly, and gene regulation. These data demonstrate that hundreds of ncRNAs form high-concentration territories throughout the nucleus, that specific RNAs are required to recruit various regulators into these territories, and that these RNAs can shape long-range DNA contacts, heterochromatin assembly, and gene expression. These results demonstrate a mechanism where RNAs form high-concentration territories, bind to diffusible regulators, and guide them into compartments to regulate essential nuclear functions.
    Keywords:  RNA processing; cajal bodies; chromocenters; histone locus bodies; lncRNAs; ncRNAs; nuclear bodies; nuclear structure
  40. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(11): e0252848
      Although many long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) exhibit lineage-specific expression, the vast majority remain functionally uncharacterized in the context of development. Here, we report the first described human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines to repress (CRISPRi) or activate (CRISPRa) transcription during differentiation into all three germ layers, facilitating the modulation of lncRNA expression during early development. We performed an unbiased, genome-wide CRISPRi screen targeting thousands of lncRNA loci expressed during endoderm differentiation. While dozens of lncRNA loci were required for proper differentiation, most differentially expressed lncRNAs were not, supporting the necessity for functional screening instead of relying solely on gene expression analyses. In parallel, we developed a clustering approach to infer mechanisms of action of lncRNA hits based on a variety of genomic features. We subsequently identified and validated FOXD3-AS1 as a functional lncRNA essential for pluripotency and differentiation. Taken together, the cell lines and methodology described herein can be adapted to discover and characterize novel regulators of differentiation into any lineage.