bims-crepig Biomed News
on Chromatin regulation and epigenetics in cell fate and cancer
Issue of 2022‒02‒20
twenty papers selected by
Connor Rogerson
University of Cambridge, MRC Cancer Unit

  1. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Feb 12. pii: gkac089. [Epub ahead of print]
      Tet enzymes (Tet1/2/3) oxidize 5-methylcytosine to promote DNA demethylation and partner with chromatin modifiers to regulate gene expression. Tet1 is highly expressed in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), but its enzymatic and non-enzymatic roles in gene regulation are not dissected. We have generated Tet1 catalytically inactive (Tet1m/m) and knockout (Tet1-/-) ESCs and mice to study these functions. Loss of Tet1, but not loss of its catalytic activity, caused aberrant upregulation of bivalent (H3K4me3+; H3K27me3+) developmental genes, leading to defects in differentiation. Wild-type and catalytic-mutant Tet1 occupied similar genomic loci which overlapped with H3K27 tri-methyltransferase PRC2 and the deacetylase complex Sin3a at promoters of bivalent genes and with the helicase Chd4 at active genes. Loss of Tet1, but not loss of its catalytic activity, impaired enrichment of PRC2 and Sin3a at bivalent promoters leading to reduced H3K27 trimethylation and deacetylation, respectively, in absence of any changes in DNA methylation. Tet1-/-, but not Tet1m/m, embryos expressed higher levels of Gata6 and were developmentally delayed. Thus, the critical functions of Tet1 in ESCs and early development are mediated through its non-catalytic roles in regulating H3K27 modifications to silence developmental genes, and are more important than its catalytic functions in DNA demethylation.
  2. Dev Cell. 2022 Feb 10. pii: S1534-5807(22)00055-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Developmental progression and cellular diversity are largely driven by transcription factors (TFs); yet, characterizing their loss-of-function phenotypes remains challenging and often disconnected from their underlying molecular mechanisms. Here, we combine single-cell regulatory genomics with loss-of-function mutants to jointly assess both cellular and molecular phenotypes. Performing sci-ATAC-seq at eight overlapping time points during Drosophila mesoderm development could reconstruct the developmental trajectories of all major muscle types and reveal the TFs and enhancers involved. To systematically assess mutant phenotypes, we developed a single-nucleus genotyping strategy to process embryo pools of mixed genotypes. Applying this to four TF mutants could identify and quantify their characterized phenotypes de novo and discover new ones, while simultaneously revealing their regulatory input and mode of action. Our approach is a general framework to dissect the functional input of TFs in a systematic, unbiased manner, identifying both cellular and molecular phenotypes at a scale and resolution that has not been feasible before.
    Keywords:  developmental enhancers; developmental trajectories; embryogenesis; embryonic phenotyping; gene expression; loss-of-function mutants; single cell chromatin accessibility; single cell trajectories; transcription-factor occupancy
  3. Nat Biotechnol. 2022 Feb 17.
      Mounting evidence supports the idea that transcriptional patterns serve as more specific identifiers of active enhancers than histone marks; however, the optimal strategy to identify active enhancers both experimentally and computationally has not been determined. Here, we compared 13 genome-wide RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) assays in K562 cells and show that nuclear run-on followed by cap-selection assay (GRO/PRO-cap) has advantages in enhancer RNA detection and active enhancer identification. We also introduce a tool, peak identifier for nascent transcript starts (PINTS), to identify active promoters and enhancers genome wide and pinpoint the precise location of 5' transcription start sites. Finally, we compiled a comprehensive enhancer candidate compendium based on the detected enhancer RNA (eRNA) transcription start sites (TSSs) available in 120 cell and tissue types, which can be accessed at . With knowledge of the best available assays and pipelines, this large-scale annotation of candidate enhancers will pave the way for selection and characterization of their functions in a time- and labor-efficient manner.
  4. Sci Adv. 2022 Feb 18. 8(7): eabe4375
      Oct4 collaborates primarily with other transcriptional factors or coregulators to maintain pluripotency. However, how Oct4 exerts its function is still unclear. Here, we show that the Oct4 linker interface mediates competing yet balanced Oct4 protein interactions that are crucial for maintaining pluripotency. Oct4 linker mutant embryonic stem cells (ESCs) show decreased expression of self-renewal genes and increased expression of differentiation genes, resulting in impaired ESC self-renewal and early embryonic development. The linker mutation interrupts the balanced Oct4 interactome. In mutant ESCs, the interaction between Oct4 and Klf5 is decreased. In contrast, interactions between Oct4 and Cbx1, Ctr9, and Cdc73 are increased, disrupting the epigenetic state of ESCs. Control of the expression level of Klf5, Cbx1, or Cdc73 rebalances the Oct4 interactome and rescues the pluripotency of linker mutant ESCs, indicating that such factors interact with Oct4 competitively. Thus, we provide previously unidentified molecular insights into how Oct4 maintains pluripotency.
  5. Sci Immunol. 2022 Feb 18. 7(68): eabi4919
      The response of naive CD8+ T cells to their cognate antigen involves rapid and broad changes to gene expression that are coupled with extensive chromatin remodeling, but the mechanisms governing these changes are not fully understood. Here, we investigated how these changes depend on the basic leucine zipper ATF-like transcription factor Batf, which is essential for the early phases of the process. Through genome scale profiling, we characterized the role of Batf in chromatin organization at several levels, including the accessibility of key regulatory regions, the expression of their nearby genes, and the interactions that these regions form with each other and with key transcription factors. We identified a core network of transcription factors that cooperated with Batf, including Irf4, Runx3, and T-bet, as indicated by their colocalization with Batf and their binding in regions whose accessibility, interactions, and expression of nearby genes depend on Batf. We demonstrated the synergistic activity of this network by overexpressing the different combinations of these genes in fibroblasts. Batf and Irf4, but not Batf alone, were sufficient to increase accessibility and transcription of key loci, normally associated with T cell function. Addition of Runx3 and T-bet further contributed to fine-tuning of these changes and was essential for establishing chromatin loops characteristic of T cells. These data provide a resource for studying the epigenomic and transcriptomic landscape of effector differentiation of cytotoxic T cells and for investigating the interdependency between transcription factors and its effects on the epigenome and transcriptome of primary cells.
  6. Nat Commun. 2022 Feb 14. 13(1): 861
      Transposable elements (TEs) are robustly silenced by multiple epigenetic marks, but dynamics of crosstalk among these marks remains enigmatic. In Arabidopsis, TEs are silenced by cytosine methylation in both CpG and non-CpG contexts (mCG and mCH) and histone H3 lysine 9 methylation (H3K9me). While mCH and H3K9me are mutually dependent for their maintenance, mCG and mCH/H3K9me are independently maintained. Here, we show that establishment, rather than maintenance, of mCH depends on mCG, accounting for the synergistic colocalization of these silent marks in TEs. When mCG is lost, establishment of mCH is abolished in TEs. mCG also guides mCH in active genes, though the resulting mCH/H3K9me is removed thereafter. Unexpectedly, targeting efficiency of mCH depends on relative, rather than absolute, levels of mCG within the genome, suggesting underlying global negative controls. We propose that local positive feedback in heterochromatin dynamics, together with global negative feedback, drive robust and balanced DNA methylome patterning.
  7. Cell Rep. 2022 02 15. pii: S2211-1247(22)00085-7. [Epub ahead of print]38(7): 110364
      Mesendodermal specification is one of the earliest events in embryogenesis, where cells first acquire distinct identities. Cell differentiation is a highly regulated process that involves the function of numerous transcription factors (TFs) and signaling molecules, which can be described with gene regulatory networks (GRNs). Cell differentiation GRNs are difficult to build because existing mechanistic methods are low throughput, and high-throughput methods tend to be non-mechanistic. Additionally, integrating highly dimensional data composed of more than two data types is challenging. Here, we use linked self-organizing maps to combine chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq)/ATAC-seq with temporal, spatial, and perturbation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data from Xenopus tropicalis mesendoderm development to build a high-resolution genome scale mechanistic GRN. We recover both known and previously unsuspected TF-DNA/TF-TF interactions validated through reporter assays. Our analysis provides insights into transcriptional regulation of early cell fate decisions and provides a general approach to building GRNs using highly dimensional multi-omic datasets.
    Keywords:  ATAC-seq; ChIP-seq; RNA-seq; Xenopus; cis-regulatory modules; endoderm; gene regulatory networks; linked self-organizing maps; mesoderm; multi-omic
  8. Cancer Res. 2022 Feb 17. pii: canres.3013.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Inactivating mutations of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) are highly prevalent in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC). Improved understanding of the vulnerabilities of VHL-deficient ccRCC could lead to improved treatment strategies. The activity of DNA dioxygenase TET2 is significantly reduced in multiple cancers by different mechanisms, but its role in ccRCC progression remains unclear. Here, we report that increased expression of TET2, but not TET1 and TET3, is negatively associated with tumor metastasis and advanced tumor stage and positively associated with good prognosis uniquely in ccRCC among all 33 types of cancer in the TCGA datasets. TET2 restrained glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway metabolism in a VHL deficiency-dependent manner, thereby suppressing ccRCC progression. Notably, TET2 and VHL mutations tended to co-occur in ccRCC, providing genetic evidence that they cooperate to inhibit the progression of ccRCC. Mechanistically, TET2 was recruited by transcription factor HNF4α to activate FBP1 expression, which antagonized the function of HIF1/2α in metabolic reprogramming to impede ccRCC growth. Stimulating the TET2-FBP1 axis with vitamin C repressed the growth of VHL-deficient ccRCC with wild-type TET2 and increased the sensitivity to glycolysis inhibitors. Moreover, combined expression levels of the HNF4α-TET2-FBP1 axis served as a biomarker of prognosis in ccRCC patients. This study reveals a unique function of TET2 in the suppression of tumor metabolism and HIF signaling, and it also provides therapeutic targets, potential drugs, and prognostic markers for the management of ccRCC.
  9. Mol Cell. 2022 Feb 17. pii: S1097-2765(22)00057-0. [Epub ahead of print]82(4): 833-851.e11
      HOTTIP lncRNA is highly expressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) driven by MLL rearrangements or NPM1 mutations to mediate HOXA topologically associated domain (TAD) formation and drive aberrant transcription. However, the mechanism through which HOTTIP accesses CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) chromatin boundaries and regulates CTCF-mediated genome topology remains unknown. Here, we show that HOTTIP directly interacts with and regulates a fraction of CTCF-binding sites (CBSs) in the AML genome by recruiting CTCF/cohesin complex and R-loop-associated regulators to form R-loops. HOTTIP-mediated R-loops reinforce the CTCF boundary and facilitate formation of TADs to drive gene transcription. Either deleting CBS or targeting RNase H to eliminate R-loops in the boundary CBS of β-catenin TAD impaired CTCF boundary activity, inhibited promoter/enhancer interactions, reduced β-catenin target expression, and mitigated leukemogenesis in xenograft mouse models with aberrant HOTTIP expression. Thus, HOTTIP-mediated R-loop formation directly reinforces CTCF chromatin boundary activity and TAD integrity to drive oncogene transcription and leukemia development.
    Keywords:  AML leukemogenesis; CTCF chromatin boundary; HOTTIP lncRNA; R-loops; TAD formation; canonical Wnt transcription; cohesin complex; enhancer/promoter interactions
  10. Nat Cell Biol. 2022 Feb 17.
      Metabolic reprogramming is central to oncogene-induced tumorigenesis by providing the necessary building blocks and energy sources, but how oncogenic signalling controls metabolites that play regulatory roles in driving cell proliferation and tumour growth is less understood. Here we show that oncogene YAP/TAZ promotes polyamine biosynthesis by activating the transcription of the rate-limiting enzyme ornithine decarboxylase 1. The increased polyamine levels, in turn, promote the hypusination of eukaryotic translation factor 5A (eIF5A) to support efficient translation of histone demethylase LSD1, a transcriptional repressor that mediates a bulk of YAP/TAZ-downregulated genes including tumour suppressors in YAP/TAZ-activated cells. Accentuating the importance of the YAP/TAZ-polyamine-eIF5A hypusination-LSD1 axis, inhibiting polyamine biosynthesis or LSD1 suppressed YAP/TAZ-induced cell proliferation and tumour growth. Given the frequent upregulation of YAP/TAZ activity and polyamine levels in diverse cancers, our identification of YAP/TAZ as an upstream regulator and LSD1 as a downstream effector of the oncometabolite polyamine offers a molecular framework in which oncogene-induced metabolic and epigenetic reprogramming coordinately drives tumorigenesis, and suggests potential therapeutic strategies in YAP/TAZ- or polyamine-dependent human malignancies.
  11. Cell Rep. 2022 02 15. pii: S2211-1247(22)00090-0. [Epub ahead of print]38(7): 110369
      DOT1L methylates histone H3 lysine 79 during transcriptional elongation and is stimulated by ubiquitylation of histone H2B lysine 120 (H2BK120ub) in a classical trans-histone crosstalk pathway. Aberrant genomic localization of DOT1L is implicated in mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearranged leukemias, an aggressive subset of leukemias that lacks effective targeted treatments. Despite recent atomic structures of DOT1L in complex with H2BK120ub nucleosomes, fundamental questions remain as to how DOT1L-ubiquitin and DOT1L-nucleosome acidic patch interactions observed in these structures contribute to nucleosome binding and methylation by DOT1L. Here, we combine bulk and single-molecule biophysical measurements with cancer cell biology to show that ubiquitin and cofactor binding drive conformational changes to stimulate DOT1L activity. Using structure-guided mutations, we demonstrate that ubiquitin and nucleosome acidic patch binding by DOT1L are required for cell proliferation in the MV4; 11 leukemia model, providing proof of principle for MLL targeted therapeutic strategies.
    Keywords:  DOT1L; MLL-rearranged leukemia; chromatin; histone; lysine methyltransferase; mixed lineage leukemia (MLL); nucleosome; single-molecule FRET
  12. Nat Commun. 2022 Feb 17. 13(1): 911
      Three-dimensional (3D) structures dictate the functions of RNA molecules in a wide variety of biological processes. However, direct determination of RNA 3D structures in vivo is difficult due to their large sizes, conformational heterogeneity, and dynamics. Here we present a method, Spatial 2'-Hydroxyl Acylation Reversible Crosslinking (SHARC), which uses chemical crosslinkers of defined lengths to measure distances between nucleotides in cellular RNA. Integrating crosslinking, exonuclease (exo) trimming, proximity ligation, and high throughput sequencing, SHARC enables transcriptome-wide tertiary structure contact maps at high accuracy and precision, revealing heterogeneous RNA structures and interactions. SHARC data provide constraints that improves Rosetta-based RNA 3D structure modeling at near-nanometer resolution. Integrating SHARC-exo with other crosslinking-based methods, we discover compact folding of the 7SK RNA, a critical regulator of transcriptional elongation. These results establish a strategy for measuring RNA 3D distances and alternative conformations in their native cellular context.
  13. Cell Discov. 2022 Feb 15. 8(1): 13
      The epigenomic abnormality of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has rarely been investigated due to its strong heterogeneity. Here, we used single-cell multiomics sequencing to simultaneously analyze the DNA methylome, chromatin accessibility and transcriptome in individual tumor cells of PDAC patients. We identified normal epithelial cells in the tumor lesion, which have euploid genomes, normal patterns of DNA methylation, and chromatin accessibility. Using all these normal epithelial cells as controls, we determined that DNA demethylation in the cancer genome was strongly enriched in heterochromatin regions but depleted in euchromatin regions. There were stronger negative correlations between RNA expression and promoter DNA methylation in cancer cells compared to those in normal epithelial cells. Through in-depth integrated analyses, a set of novel candidate biomarkers were identified, including ZNF667 and ZNF667-AS1, whose expressions were linked to a better prognosis for PDAC patients by affecting the proliferation of cancer cells. Our work systematically revealed the critical epigenomic features of cancer cells in PDAC patients at the single-cell level.
  14. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Feb 12. pii: gkac081. [Epub ahead of print]
      In leiomyosarcoma class IIa HDACs (histone deacetylases) bind MEF2 and convert these transcription factors into repressors to sustain proliferation. Disruption of this complex with small molecules should antagonize cancer growth. NKL54, a PAOA (pimeloylanilide o-aminoanilide) derivative, binds a hydrophobic groove of MEF2, which is used as a docking site by class IIa HDACs. However, NKL54 could also act as HDAC inhibitor (HDACI). Therefore, it is unclear which activity is predominant. Here, we show that NKL54 and similar derivatives are unable to release MEF2 from binding to class IIa HDACs. Comparative transcriptomic analysis classifies these molecules as HDACIs strongly related to SAHA/vorinostat. Low expressed genes are upregulated by HDACIs, while abundant genes are repressed. This transcriptional resetting correlates with a reorganization of H3K27 acetylation around the transcription start site (TSS). Among the upregulated genes there are several BH3-only family members, thus explaining the induction of apoptosis. Moreover, NKL54 triggers the upregulation of MEF2 and the downregulation of class IIa HDACs. NKL54 also increases the binding of MEF2D to promoters of genes that are upregulated after treatment. In summary, although NKL54 cannot outcompete MEF2 from binding to class IIa HDACs, it supports MEF2-dependent transcription through several actions, including potentiation of chromatin binding.
  15. Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 16. 12(1): 2651
      Myelin sheath formation in the peripheral nervous system and the ensuing saltatory conduction rely on differentiated Schwann cells. We have previously shown that transition of Schwann cells from an immature into a differentiated state requires Brg1 that serves as the central energy generating subunit in two related SWI/SNF-type chromatin remodelers, the BAF and the PBAF complex. Here we used conditional deletion of Pbrm1 to selectively interfere with the PBAF complex in Schwann cells. Despite efficient loss of Pbrm1 early during lineage progression, we failed to detect any substantial alterations in the number, proliferation or survival of immature Schwann cells as well as in their rate and timing of terminal differentiation. As a consequence, postnatal myelin formation in peripheral nerves appeared normal. There were no inflammatory alterations in the nerve or other signs of a peripheral neuropathy. We conclude from our study that Pbrm1 and very likely the PBAF complex are dispensable for proper Schwann cell development and that Schwann cell defects previously observed upon Brg1 deletion are mostly attributable to altered or absent function of the BAF complex.
  16. Development. 2022 Feb 15. pii: dev200133. [Epub ahead of print]149(4):
      The epicardium is a mesothelial tissue layer that envelops the heart. Cardiac injury activates dynamic gene expression programs in epicardial tissue, which in zebrafish enables subsequent regeneration through paracrine and vascularizing effects. To identify tissue regeneration enhancer elements (TREEs) that control injury-induced epicardial gene expression during heart regeneration, we profiled transcriptomes and chromatin accessibility in epicardial cells purified from regenerating zebrafish hearts. We identified hundreds of candidate TREEs, which are defined by increased chromatin accessibility of non-coding elements near genes with increased expression during regeneration. Several of these candidate TREEs were incorporated into stable transgenic lines, with five out of six elements directing injury-induced epicardial expression but not ontogenetic epicardial expression in larval hearts. Whereas two independent TREEs linked to the gene gnai3 showed similar functional features of gene regulation in transgenic lines, two independent ncam1a-linked TREEs directed distinct spatiotemporal domains of epicardial gene expression. Thus, multiple TREEs linked to a regeneration gene can possess either matching or complementary regulatory controls. Our study provides a new resource and principles for understanding the regulation of epicardial genetic programs during heart regeneration. This article has an associated 'The people behind the papers' interview.
    Keywords:  ATAC-seq; Enhancer; Epicardium; Heart regeneration; TREE; Zebrafish
  17. Sci Adv. 2022 Feb 18. 8(7): eabi7127
      The contribution of epigenetic dysregulation to metastasis remains understudied. Through a meta-analysis of gene expression datasets followed by a mini-screen, we identified Plant Homeodomain Finger protein 8 (PHF8), a histone demethylase of the Jumonji C protein family, as a previously unidentified prometastatic gene in melanoma. Loss- and gain-of-function approaches demonstrate that PHF8 promotes cell invasion without affecting proliferation in vitro and increases dissemination but not subcutaneous tumor growth in vivo, thus supporting its specific contribution to the acquisition of metastatic potential. PHF8 requires its histone demethylase activity to enhance melanoma cell invasion. Transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses revealed that PHF8 orchestrates a molecular program that directly controls the TGFβ signaling pathway and, as a consequence, melanoma invasion and metastasis. Our findings bring a mechanistic understanding of epigenetic regulation of metastatic fitness in cancer, which may pave the way for improved therapeutic interventions.
  18. EMBO Rep. 2022 Feb 15. e53581
      Di- or tri-methylated H3K9 (H3K9me2/3) is an epigenetic mark of heterochromatin. Heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) specifically recognizes H3K9me2/3, contributing to transcriptional suppression and spread of H3K9me2/3. Here, we demonstrate another role of HP1 in heterochromatin organization: regulation of protein stability of H3K9 methyltransferases (H3K9 MTs) and demethylases (H3K9 DMs). We show that HP1 interaction-defective mutants of H3K9 MTs, Suv39h1 and Setdb1, undergo protein degradation. We further establish mouse embryonic stem cell lines lacking all three HP1 paralogs. In the HP1-deficient cells, Suv39h1, Suv39h2, Setdb1, and G9a/GLP complex decrease at the protein level, and the enzymes are released from chromatin. HP1 mutants that cannot recognize H3K9me2/3 or form dimers cannot stabilize these enzymes, indicating that the tethering of H3K9 MTs to chromatin is critical for their protein stability. We show that HP1 also stabilizes H3K9 DMs, Jmjd1a and Jmjd1b. Our study indicates that mammalian HP1 forms a heterochromatin hub that governs protein stability of H3K9 MTs and H3K9 DMs.
    Keywords:  H3K9 demethylase; H3K9 methyltransferase; H3K9me2/3; HP1; heterochromatin
  19. Cell Rep. 2022 02 15. pii: S2211-1247(22)00082-1. [Epub ahead of print]38(7): 110361
      Many lncRNAs have been discovered using transcriptomic data; however, it is unclear what fraction of lncRNAs is functional and what structural properties affect their phenotype. MUNC lncRNA (also known as DRReRNA) acts as an enhancer RNA for the Myod1 gene in cis and stimulates the expression of other promyogenic genes in trans by recruiting the cohesin complex. Here, experimental probing of the RNA structure revealed that MUNC contains multiple structural domains not detected by prediction algorithms in the absence of experimental information. We show that these specific and structurally distinct domains are required for induction of promyogenic genes, for binding genomic sites and gene expression regulation, and for binding the cohesin complex. Myod1 induction and cohesin interaction comprise only a subset of MUNC phenotype. Our study reveals unexpectedly complex, structure-driven functions for the MUNC lncRNA and emphasizes the importance of experimentally determined structures for understanding structure-function relationships in lncRNAs.
    Keywords:  (DRR)eRNA; ChIRP; MUNC lncRNA; SHAPE-MaP; differentiation; lncRNA structure-function studies; myogenesis; skeletal muscles
  20. EMBO Rep. 2022 Feb 18. e53684
      Preservation of nucleosomes during replication has been extensively studied, while the maintenance of nucleosomes during transcription has gotten less attention. The histone chaperone FACT has a role in transcription elongation, although whether it disassembles or assembles nucleosomes during this process is unclear. To elucidate the function of FACT in mammals, we deleted the Ssrp1 subunit of FACT in adult mice. FACT loss is lethal, possibly due to the loss of the earliest progenitors in bone marrow and intestine, while more differentiated cells are not affected. Using cells isolated from several tissues, we show that FACT loss reduces the viability of stem cells but not of cells differentiated in vitro. FACT depletion increases chromatin accessibility in a transcription-dependent manner in adipose mesenchymal stem cells, indicating that nucleosomes are lost in these cells during transcription in the absence of FACT. We also observe activation of interferon (IFN) signaling and the accumulation of immunocytes in organs sensitive to FACT loss. Our data indicate that FACT maintains chromatin integrity during transcription in mammalian adult stem cells, suggesting that chromatin transcription in stem cells and differentiated cells is different.
    Keywords:  SPT16; SSRP1; nucleosome; stem cell; transcription