Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications

The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific services.

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

Multi-tissue DNA methylation age predictor in mouse.
Stubbs TM, Bonder MJ, Stark AK, Krueger F, von Meyenn F, Stegle O, Reik W

DNA methylation changes at a discrete set of sites in the human genome are predictive of chronological and biological age. However, it is not known whether these changes are causative or a consequence of an underlying ageing process. It has also not been shown whether this epigenetic clock is unique to humans or conserved in the more experimentally tractable mouse.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 68, 2017

PMID: 28399939


DeepCpG: accurate prediction of single-cell DNA methylation states using deep learning.
Angermueller C, Lee HJ, Reik W, Stegle O

Recent technological advances have enabled DNA methylation to be assayed at single-cell resolution. However, current protocols are limited by incomplete CpG coverage and hence methods to predict missing methylation states are critical to enable genome-wide analyses. We report DeepCpG, a computational approach based on deep neural networks to predict methylation states in single cells. We evaluate DeepCpG on single-cell methylation data from five cell types generated using alternative sequencing protocols. DeepCpG yields substantially more accurate predictions than previous methods. Additionally, we show that the model parameters can be interpreted, thereby providing insights into how sequence composition affects methylation variability.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 67, 2017

PMID: 28395661


SBpipe: a collection of pipelines for automating repetitive simulation and analysis tasks.
Dalle Pezze P, Le Novère N

The rapid growth of the number of mathematical models in Systems Biology fostered the development of many tools to simulate and analyse them. The reliability and precision of these tasks often depend on multiple repetitions and they can be optimised if executed as pipelines. In addition, new formal analyses can be performed on these repeat sequences, revealing important insights about the accuracy of model predictions.

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BMC systems biology, 11, 1752-0509, 46, 2017

PMID: 28395655


Open Access

Long-term, hormone-responsive organoid cultures of human endometrium in a chemically defined medium.
Turco MY, Gardner L, Hughes J, Cindrova-Davies T, Gomez MJ, Farrell L, Hollinshead M, Marsh SGE, Brosens JJ, Critchley HO, Simons BD, Hemberger M, Koo BK, Moffett A, Burton GJ

In humans, the endometrium, the uterine mucosal lining, undergoes dynamic changes throughout the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Despite the importance of the endometrium as the site of implantation and nutritional support for the conceptus, there are no long-term culture systems that recapitulate endometrial function in vitro. We adapted conditions used to establish human adult stem-cell-derived organoid cultures to generate three-dimensional cultures of normal and decidualized human endometrium. These organoids expand long-term, are genetically stable and differentiate following treatment with reproductive hormones. Single cells from both endometrium and decidua can generate a fully functional organoid. Transcript analysis confirmed great similarity between organoids and the primary tissue of origin. On exposure to pregnancy signals, endometrial organoids develop characteristics of early pregnancy. We also derived organoids from malignant endometrium, and so provide a foundation to study common diseases, such as endometriosis and endometrial cancer, as well as the physiology of early gestation.

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Nature cell biology, , 1476-4679, , 2017

PMID: 28394884


Maintenance of the marginal-zone B cell compartment specifically requires the RNA-binding protein ZFP36L1.
Newman R, Ahlfors H, Saveliev A, Galloway A, Hodson DJ, Williams R, Besra GS, Cook CN, Cunningham AF, Bell SE, Turner M

RNA-binding proteins of the ZFP36 family are best known for inhibiting the expression of cytokines through binding to AU-rich elements in the 3' untranslated region and promoting mRNA decay. Here we identified an indispensable role for ZFP36L1 as the regulator of a post-transcriptional hub that determined the identity of marginal-zone B cells by promoting their proper localization and survival. ZFP36L1 controlled a gene-expression program related to signaling, cell adhesion and locomotion; it achieved this in part by limiting expression of the transcription factors KLF2 and IRF8, which are known to enforce the follicular B cell phenotype. These mechanisms emphasize the importance of integrating transcriptional and post-transcriptional processes by RNA-binding proteins for maintaining cellular identity among closely related cell types.

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Nature immunology, , 1529-2916, , 2017

PMID: 28394372


GOTHiC, a probabilistic model to resolve complex biases and to identify real interactions in Hi-C data.
Mifsud B, Martincorena I, Darbo E, Sugar R, Schoenfelder S, Fraser P, Luscombe NM

Hi-C is one of the main methods for investigating spatial co-localisation of DNA in the nucleus. However, the raw sequencing data obtained from Hi-C experiments suffer from large biases and spurious contacts, making it difficult to identify true interactions. Existing methods use complex models to account for biases and do not provide a significance threshold for detecting interactions. Here we introduce a simple binomial probabilistic model that resolves complex biases and distinguishes between true and false interactions. The model corrects biases of known and unknown origin and yields a p-value for each interaction, providing a reliable threshold based on significance. We demonstrate this experimentally by testing the method against a random ligation dataset. Our method outperforms previous methods and provides a statistical framework for further data analysis, such as comparisons of Hi-C interactions between different conditions. GOTHiC is available as a BioConductor package (http://www.bioconductor.org/packages/release/bioc/html/GOTHiC.html).

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PloS one, 12, 1932-6203, e0174744, 2017

PMID: 28379994


Open Access

Dietary restriction protects from age-associated DNA methylation and induces epigenetic reprogramming of lipid metabolism.
Hahn O, Grönke S, Stubbs TM, Ficz G, Hendrich O, Krueger F, Andrews S, Zhang Q, Wakelam MJ, Beyer A, Reik W, Partridge L

Dietary restriction (DR), a reduction in food intake without malnutrition, increases most aspects of health during aging and extends lifespan in diverse species, including rodents. However, the mechanisms by which DR interacts with the aging process to improve health in old age are poorly understood. DNA methylation could play an important role in mediating the effects of DR because it is sensitive to the effects of nutrition and can affect gene expression memory over time.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 56, 2017

PMID: 28351387


Open Access

SC3: consensus clustering of single-cell RNA-seq data.
Kiselev VY, Kirschner K, Schaub MT, Andrews T, Yiu A, Chandra T, Natarajan KN, Reik W, Barahona M, Green AR, Hemberg M

Single-cell RNA-seq enables the quantitative characterization of cell types based on global transcriptome profiles. We present single-cell consensus clustering (SC3), a user-friendly tool for unsupervised clustering, which achieves high accuracy and robustness by combining multiple clustering solutions through a consensus approach (http://bioconductor.org/packages/SC3). We demonstrate that SC3 is capable of identifying subclones from the transcriptomes of neoplastic cells collected from patients.

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Nature methods, , 1548-7105, , 2017

PMID: 28346451


Comprehensive Cell Surface Protein Profiling Identifies Specific Markers of Human Naive and Primed Pluripotent States.
Collier AJ, Panula SP, Schell JP, Chovanec P, Plaza Reyes A, Petropoulos S, Corcoran AE, Walker R, Douagi I, Lanner F, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) exist in naive and primed states and provide important models to investigate the earliest stages of human development. Naive cells can be obtained through primed-to-naive resetting, but there are no reliable methods to prospectively isolate unmodified naive cells during this process. Here we report comprehensive profiling of cell surface proteins by flow cytometry in naive and primed human PSCs. Several naive-specific, but not primed-specific, proteins were also expressed by pluripotent cells in the human preimplantation embryo. The upregulation of naive-specific cell surface proteins during primed-to-naive resetting enabled the isolation and characterization of live naive cells and intermediate cell populations. This analysis revealed distinct transcriptional and X chromosome inactivation changes associated with the early and late stages of naive cell formation. Thus, identification of state-specific proteins provides a robust set of molecular markers to define the human PSC state and allows new insights into the molecular events leading to naive cell resetting.

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Cell stem cell, , 1875-9777, , 2017

PMID: 28343983


Global reorganisation of cis-regulatory units upon lineage commitment of human embryonic stem cells.
Freire-Pritchett P, Schoenfelder S, Várnai C, Wingett SW, Cairns J, Collier AJ, García-Vílchez R, Furlan-Magaril M, Osborne CS, Fraser PJ, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Spivakov M

Long-range cis-regulatory elements such as enhancers coordinate cell-specific transcriptional programmes by engaging in DNA looping interactions with target promoters. Deciphering the interplay between the promoter connectivity and activity of cis-regulatory elements during lineage commitment is crucial for understanding developmental transcriptional control. Here, we use Promoter Capture Hi-C to generate a high-resolution atlas of chromosomal interactions involving ~22,000 gene promoters in human pluripotent and lineage-committed cells, identifying putative target genes for known and predicted enhancer elements. We reveal extensive dynamics of cis-regulatory contacts upon lineage commitment, including the acquisition and loss of promoter interactions. This spatial rewiring occurs preferentially with predicted changes in the activity of cis-regulatory elements, and is associated with changes in target gene expression. Our results provide a global and integrated view of promoter interactome dynamics during lineage commitment of human pluripotent cells.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28332981


Open Access

Stromal networking: cellular connections in the germinal centre.
Denton AE, Linterman MA

Secondary lymphoid organs are organized into distinct zones, governed by different types of mesenchymal stromal cells. These stromal cell subsets are critical for the generation of protective humoral immunity because they direct the migration of, and interaction between, multiple immune cell types to form the germinal centre. The germinal centre response generates long-lived antibody-secreting plasma cells and memory B cells which can provide long-term protection against re-infection. Stromal cell subsets mediate this response through control of immune cell trafficking, activation, localization and antigen access within the secondary lymphoid organ. Further, distinct populations of stromal cells underpin the delicate spatial organization of immune cells within the germinal centre. Because of this, the interactions between immune cells and stromal cells in secondary lymphoid organs are fundamental to the germinal centre response. Herein we review how this unique relationship leads to effective germinal centre responses.

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Current opinion in immunology, 45, 1879-0372, 103-111, 2017

PMID: 28319729


Pharmacological modulators of autophagy activate a parallel noncanonical pathway driving unconventional LC3 lipidation.
Jacquin E, Leclerc-Mercier S, Judon C, Blanchard E, Fraitag S, Florey O

The modulation of canonical macroautophagy/autophagy for therapeutic benefit is an emerging strategy of medical and pharmaceutical interest. Many drugs act to inhibit autophagic flux by targeting lysosome function, while others were developed to activate the pathway. Here, we report the surprising finding that many therapeutically relevant autophagy modulators with lysosomotropic and ionophore properties, classified as inhibitors of canonical autophagy, are also capable of activating a parallel noncanonical autophagy pathway that drives MAP1LC3/LC3 lipidation on endolysosomal membranes. Further, we provide the first evidence supporting drug-induced noncanonical autophagy in vivo using the local anesthetic lidocaine and human skin biopsies. In addition, we find that several published inducers of autophagy and mitophagy are also potent activators of noncanonical autophagy. Together, our data raise important issues regarding the interpretation of LC3 lipidation data and the use of autophagy modulators, and highlight the need for a greater understanding of the functional consequences of noncanonical autophagy.

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Autophagy, , 1554-8635, 1-14, 2017

PMID: 28296541


Higher order assembly: folding the chromosome.
Sewitz SA, Fahmi Z, Lipkow K

The linear molecules of DNA that constitute a eukaryotic genome have to be carefully organised within the nucleus to be able to correctly direct gene expression. Microscopy and chromosome capture methods have revealed a hierarchical organisation into territories, domains and subdomains that ensure the accessibility of expressed genes and eventually chromatin loops that serve to bring gene enhancers into proximity of their target promoters. A rapidly growing number of genome-wide datasets and their analyses have given detailed information into the conformation of the entire genome, allowing evolutionary insights, observations of genome rearrangements during development and the identification of new gene-to-disease associations. The field is now progressing into using computational models of genome dynamics to investigate the mechanisms that shape genome structure, placing increasing importance on the role of chromatin associated proteins for this process.

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Current opinion in structural biology, 42, 1879-033X, 162-168, 2017

PMID: 28284913


Open Access

Class (I) Phosphoinositide 3-Kinases in the Tumor Microenvironment.
Gyori D, Chessa T, Hawkins PT, Stephens LR

Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are a diverse family of enzymes which regulate various critical biological processes, such as cell proliferation and survival. Class (I) PI3Ks (PI3Kα, PI3Kβ, PI3Kγ and PI3Kδ) mediate the phosphorylation of the inositol ring at position D3 leading to the generation of PtdIns(3,4,5)P3. PtdIns(3,4,5)P3 can be dephosphorylated by several phosphatases, of which the best known is the 3-phosphatase PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog). The Class (I) PI3K pathway is frequently disrupted in human cancers where mutations are associated with increased PI3K-activity or loss of PTEN functionality within the tumor cells. However, the role of PI3Ks in the tumor stroma is less well understood. Recent evidence suggests that the white blood cell-selective PI3Kγ and PI3Kδ isoforms have an important role in regulating the immune-suppressive, tumor-associated myeloid cell and regulatory T cell subsets, respectively, and as a consequence are also critical for solid tumor growth. Moreover, PI3Kα is implicated in the direct regulation of tumor angiogenesis, and dysregulation of the PI3K pathway in stromal fibroblasts can also contribute to cancer progression. Therefore, pharmacological inhibition of the Class (I) PI3K family in the tumor microenvironment can be a highly attractive anti-cancer strategy and isoform-selective PI3K inhibitors may act as potent cancer immunotherapeutic and anti-angiogenic agents.

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Cancers, 9, , , 2017

PMID: 28273837


Open Access

Genome-wide mapping of long-range contacts unveils clustering of DNA double-strand breaks at damaged active genes.
Aymard F, Aguirrebengoa M, Guillou E, Javierre BM, Bugler B, Arnould C, Rocher V, Iacovoni JS, Biernacka A, Skrzypczak M, Ginalski K, Rowicka M, Fraser P, Legube G

The ability of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) to cluster in mammalian cells has been a subject of intense debate in recent years. Here we used a high-throughput chromosome conformation capture assay (capture Hi-C) to investigate clustering of DSBs induced at defined loci in the human genome. The results unambiguously demonstrated that DSBs cluster, but only when they are induced within transcriptionally active genes. Clustering of damaged genes occurs primarily during the G1 cell-cycle phase and coincides with delayed repair. Moreover, DSB clustering depends on the MRN complex as well as the Formin 2 (FMN2) nuclear actin organizer and the linker of nuclear and cytoplasmic skeleton (LINC) complex, thus suggesting that active mechanisms promote clustering. This work reveals that, when damaged, active genes, compared with the rest of the genome, exhibit a distinctive behavior, remaining largely unrepaired and clustered in G1, and being repaired via homologous recombination in postreplicative cells.

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Nature structural & molecular biology, , 1545-9985, , 2017

PMID: 28263325


NMN Deamidase Delays Wallerian Degeneration and Rescues Axonal Defects Caused by NMNAT2 Deficiency In Vivo.
Di Stefano M, Loreto A, Orsomando G, Mori V, Zamporlini F, Hulse RP, Webster J, Donaldson LF, Gering M, Raffaelli N, Coleman MP, Gilley J, Conforti L

Axons require the axonal NAD-synthesizing enzyme NMNAT2 to survive. Injury or genetically induced depletion of NMNAT2 triggers axonal degeneration or defective axon growth. We have previously proposed that axonal NMNAT2 primarily promotes axon survival by maintaining low levels of its substrate NMN rather than generating NAD; however, this is still debated. NMN deamidase, a bacterial enzyme, shares NMN-consuming activity with NMNAT2, but not NAD-synthesizing activity, and it delays axon degeneration in primary neuronal cultures. Here we show that NMN deamidase can also delay axon degeneration in zebrafish larvae and in transgenic mice. Like overexpressed NMNATs, NMN deamidase reduces NMN accumulation in injured mouse sciatic nerves and preserves some axons for up to three weeks, even when expressed at a low level. Remarkably, NMN deamidase also rescues axonal outgrowth and perinatal lethality in a dose-dependent manner in mice lacking NMNAT2. These data further support a pro-degenerative effect of accumulating NMN in axons in vivo. The NMN deamidase mouse will be an important tool to further probe the mechanisms underlying Wallerian degeneration and its prevention.

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Current biology : CB, , 1879-0445, , 2017

PMID: 28262487


Open Access

DNA methylation homeostasis in human and mouse development.
Iurlaro M, von Meyenn F, Reik W

The molecular pathways that regulate gain and loss of DNA methylation during mammalian development need to be tightly balanced to maintain a physiological equilibrium. Here we explore the relative contributions of the different pathways and enzymatic activities involved in methylation homeostasis in the context of genome-wide and locus-specific epigenetic reprogramming in mammals. An adaptable epigenetic machinery allows global epigenetic reprogramming to concur with local maintenance of critical epigenetic memory in the genome, and appears to regulate the tempo of global reprogramming in different cell lineages and species.

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Current opinion in genetics & development, 43, 1879-0380, 101-109, 2017

PMID: 28260631


Aging yeast gain a competitive advantage on non-optimal carbon sources.
Frenk S, Pizza G, Walker RV, Houseley J

Animals, plants and fungi undergo an aging process with remarkable physiological and molecular similarities, suggesting that aging has long been a fact of life for eukaryotes and one to which our unicellular ancestors were subject. Key biochemical pathways that impact longevity evolved prior to multicellularity, and the interactions between these pathways and the aging process therefore emerged in ancient single-celled eukaryotes. Nevertheless, we do not fully understand how aging impacts the fitness of unicellular organisms, and whether such cells gain a benefit from modulating rather than simply suppressing the aging process. We hypothesized that age-related loss of fitness in single-celled eukaryotes may be counterbalanced, partly or wholly, by a transition from a specialist to a generalist life-history strategy that enhances adaptability to other environments. We tested this hypothesis in budding yeast using competition assays and found that while young cells are more successful in glucose, highly aged cells outcompete young cells on other carbon sources such as galactose. This occurs because aged yeast divide faster than young cells in galactose, reversing the normal association between age and fitness. The impact of aging on single-celled organisms is therefore complex and may be regulated in ways that anticipate changing nutrient availability. We propose that pathways connecting nutrient availability with aging arose in unicellular eukaryotes to capitalize on age-linked diversity in growth strategy and that individual cells in higher eukaryotes may similarly diversify during aging to the detriment of the organism as a whole.

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Aging cell, , 1474-9726, , 2017

PMID: 28247585


Open Access

Cell cycle RNA regulons coordinating early lymphocyte development.
Galloway A, Turner M

Lymphocytes undergo dynamic changes in gene expression as they develop from progenitor cells lacking antigen receptors, to mature cells that are prepared to mount immune responses. While transcription factors have established roles in lymphocyte development, they act in concert with post-transcriptional and post-translational regulators to determine the proteome. Furthermore, the post-transcriptional regulation of RNA regulons consisting of mRNAs whose protein products act cooperatively allows RNA binding proteins to exert their effects at multiple points in a pathway. Here, we review recent evidence demonstrating the importance of RNA binding proteins that control the cell cycle in lymphocyte development and discuss the implications for tumorigenesis. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

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Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. RNA, , 1757-7012, , 2017

PMID: 28231639


The Ageing Brain: Effects on DNA Repair and DNA Methylation in Mice.
Langie SA, Cameron KM, Ficz G, Oxley D, Tomaszewski B, Gorniak JP, Maas LM, Godschalk RW, van Schooten FJ, Reik W, von Zglinicki T, Mathers JC

Base excision repair (BER) may become less effective with ageing resulting in accumulation of DNA lesions, genome instability and altered gene expression that contribute to age-related degenerative diseases. The brain is particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of DNA lesions; hence, proper functioning of DNA repair mechanisms is important for neuronal survival. Although the mechanism of age-related decline in DNA repair capacity is unknown, growing evidence suggests that epigenetic events (e.g., DNA methylation) contribute to the ageing process and may be functionally important through the regulation of the expression of DNA repair genes. We hypothesize that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in mediating the age-related decline in BER in the brain. Brains from male mice were isolated at 3-32 months of age. Pyrosequencing analyses revealed significantly increased Ogg1 methylation with ageing, which correlated inversely with Ogg1 expression. The reduced Ogg1 expression correlated with enhanced expression of methyl-CpG binding protein 2 and ten-eleven translocation enzyme 2. A significant inverse correlation between Neil1 methylation at CpG-site2 and expression was also observed. BER activity was significantly reduced and associated with increased 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine levels. These data indicate that Ogg1 and Neil1 expression can be epigenetically regulated, which may mediate the effects of ageing on DNA repair in the brain.

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Genes, 8, , , 2017

PMID: 28218666


Open Access

Obesity-Induced Metabolic Stress Leads to Biased Effector Memory CD4(+) T Cell Differentiation via PI3K p110δ-Akt-Mediated Signals.
Mauro C, Smith J, Cucchi D, Coe D, Fu H, Bonacina F, Baragetti A, Cermenati G, Caruso D, Mitro N, Catapano AL, Ammirati E, Longhi MP, Okkenhaug K, Norata GD, Marelli-Berg FM

Low-grade systemic inflammation associated to obesity leads to cardiovascular complications, caused partly by infiltration of adipose and vascular tissue by effector T cells. The signals leading to T cell differentiation and tissue infiltration during obesity are poorly understood. We tested whether saturated fatty acid-induced metabolic stress affects differentiation and trafficking patterns of CD4(+) T cells. Memory CD4(+) T cells primed in high-fat diet-fed donors preferentially migrated to non-lymphoid, inflammatory sites, independent of the metabolic status of the hosts. This was due to biased CD4(+) T cell differentiation into CD44(hi)-CCR7(lo)-CD62L(lo)-CXCR3(+)-LFA1(+) effector memory-like T cells upon priming in high-fat diet-fed animals. Similar phenotype was observed in obese subjects in a cohort of free-living people. This developmental bias was independent of any crosstalk between CD4(+) T cells and dendritic cells and was mediated via direct exposure of CD4(+) T cells to palmitate, leading to increased activation of a PI3K p110δ-Akt-dependent pathway upon priming.

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Cell metabolism, , 1932-7420, , 2017

PMID: 28190771


Specifications of Standards in Systems and Synthetic Biology: Status and Developments in 2016.
Schreiber F, Bader GD, Gleeson P, Golebiewski M, Hucka M, Le Novère N, Myers C, Nickerson D, Sommer B, Walthemath D

Standards are essential to the advancement of science and technology. In systems and synthetic biology, numerous standards and associated tools have been developed over the last 16 years. This special issue of the Journal of Integrative Bioinformatics aims to support the exchange, distribution and archiving of these standards, as well as to provide centralised and easily citable access to them.

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Journal of integrative bioinformatics, 13, 1613-4516, 289, 2016

PMID: 28187405


Genome-wide base-resolution mapping of DNA methylation in single cells using single-cell bisulfite sequencing (scBS-seq).
Clark SJ, Smallwood SA, Lee HJ, Krueger F, Reik W, Kelsey G

DNA methylation (DNAme) is an important epigenetic mark in diverse species. Our current understanding of DNAme is based on measurements from bulk cell samples, which obscures intercellular differences and prevents analyses of rare cell types. Thus, the ability to measure DNAme in single cells has the potential to make important contributions to the understanding of several key biological processes, such as embryonic development, disease progression and aging. We have recently reported a method for generating genome-wide DNAme maps from single cells, using single-cell bisulfite sequencing (scBS-seq), allowing the quantitative measurement of DNAme at up to 50% of CpG dinucleotides throughout the mouse genome. Here we present a detailed protocol for scBS-seq that includes our most recent developments to optimize recovery of CpGs, mapping efficiency and success rate; reduce hands-on time; and increase sample throughput with the option of using an automated liquid handler. We provide step-by-step instructions for each stage of the method, comprising cell lysis and bisulfite (BS) conversion, preamplification and adaptor tagging, library amplification, sequencing and, lastly, alignment and methylation calling. An individual with relevant molecular biology expertise can complete library preparation within 3 d. Subsequent computational steps require 1-3 d for someone with bioinformatics expertise.

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Nature protocols, 12, 1750-2799, 534-547, 2017

PMID: 28182018


Tracking the embryonic stem cell transition from ground state pluripotency.
Kalkan T, Olova N, Roode M, Mulas C, Lee HJ, Nett I, Marks H, Walker R, Stunnenberg HG, Lilley KS, Nichols J, Reik W, Bertone P, Smith A

Mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are locked into self-renewal by shielding from inductive cues. Release from this ground state in minimal conditions offers a system for delineating developmental progression from naive pluripotency. Here we examined the initial transition process. The ES cell population behaves asynchronously. We therefore exploited a short-half-life Rex1::GFP reporter to isolate cells either side of exit from naive status. Extinction of ES cell identity in single cells is acute. It occurs only after near-complete elimination of naïve pluripotency factors, but precedes appearance of lineage specification markers. Cells newly departed from the ES cell state display features of early post-implantation epiblast and are distinct from primed epiblast. They also exhibit a genome-wide increase in DNA methylation, intermediate between early and late epiblast. These findings are consistent with the proposition that naive cells transition to a distinct formative phase of pluripotency preparatory to lineage priming.

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Development (Cambridge, England), , 1477-9129, , 2017

PMID: 28174249


Open Access

Gender Differences in Global but Not Targeted Demethylation in iPSC Reprogramming.
Milagre I, Stubbs TM, King MR, Spindel J, Santos F, Krueger F, Bachman M, Segonds-Pichon A, Balasubramanian S, Andrews SR, Dean W, Reik W

Global DNA demethylation is an integral part of reprogramming processes in vivo and in vitro, but whether it occurs in the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) is not known. Here, we show that iPSC reprogramming involves both global and targeted demethylation, which are separable mechanistically and by their biological outcomes. Cells at intermediate-late stages of reprogramming undergo transient genome-wide demethylation, which is more pronounced in female cells. Global demethylation requires activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID)-mediated downregulation of UHRF1 protein, and abolishing demethylation leaves thousands of hypermethylated regions in the iPSC genome. Independently of AID and global demethylation, regulatory regions, particularly ESC enhancers and super-enhancers, are specifically targeted for hypomethylation in association with transcription of the pluripotency network. Our results show that global and targeted DNA demethylation are conserved and distinct reprogramming processes, presumably because of their respective roles in epigenetic memory erasure and in the establishment of cell identity.

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Cell reports, 18, 2211-1247, 1079-1089, 2017

PMID: 28147265