bims-gerecp Biomed News
on Gene regulatory networks of epithelial cell plasticity
Issue of 2024‒06‒16
five papers selected by
Xiao Qin, University of Oxford

  1. Nat Methods. 2024 Jun 13.
      Single-cell RNA sequencing allows us to model cellular state dynamics and fate decisions using expression similarity or RNA velocity to reconstruct state-change trajectories; however, trajectory inference does not incorporate valuable time point information or utilize additional modalities, whereas methods that address these different data views cannot be combined or do not scale. Here we present CellRank 2, a versatile and scalable framework to study cellular fate using multiview single-cell data of up to millions of cells in a unified fashion. CellRank 2 consistently recovers terminal states and fate probabilities across data modalities in human hematopoiesis and endodermal development. Our framework also allows combining transitions within and across experimental time points, a feature we use to recover genes promoting medullary thymic epithelial cell formation during pharyngeal endoderm development. Moreover, we enable estimating cell-specific transcription and degradation rates from metabolic-labeling data, which we apply to an intestinal organoid system to delineate differentiation trajectories and pinpoint regulatory strategies.
  2. NPJ Syst Biol Appl. 2024 Jun 13. 10(1): 67
      Biological networks, such as gene regulatory networks, possess desirable properties. They are more robust and controllable than random networks. This motivates the search for structural and dynamical features that evolution has incorporated into biological networks. A recent meta-analysis of published, expert-curated Boolean biological network models has revealed several such features, often referred to as design principles. Among others, the biological networks are enriched for certain recurring network motifs, the dynamic update rules are more redundant, more biased, and more canalizing than expected, and the dynamics of biological networks are better approximable by linear and lower-order approximations than those of comparable random networks. Since most of these features are interrelated, it is paramount to disentangle cause and effect, that is, to understand which features evolution actively selects for, and thus truly constitute evolutionary design principles. Here, we compare published Boolean biological network models with different ensembles of null models and show that the abundance of canalization in biological networks can almost completely explain their recently postulated high approximability. Moreover, an analysis of random N-K Kauffman models reveals a strong dependence of approximability on the dynamical robustness of a network.
  3. Nat Cell Biol. 2024 Jun 13.
    SU2C/PCF West Coast Prostate Cancer Dream Team
      Transcription factor (TF) proteins regulate gene activity by binding to regulatory regions, most importantly at gene promoters. Many genes have alternative promoters (APs) bound by distinct TFs. The role of differential TF activity at APs during tumour development is poorly understood. Here we show, using deep RNA sequencing in 274 biopsies of benign prostate tissue, localized prostate tumours and metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, that AP usage increases as tumours progress and APs are responsible for a disproportionate amount of tumour transcriptional activity. Expression of the androgen receptor (AR), the key driver of prostate tumour activity, is correlated with elevated AP usage. We identified AR, FOXA1 and MYC as potential drivers of AP activation. DNA methylation is a likely mechanism for AP activation during tumour progression and lineage plasticity. Our data suggest that prostate tumours activate APs to magnify the transcriptional impact of tumour drivers, including AR and MYC.