Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are of fundamental relevance in regenerative medicine. Naïve hPSCs hold promise to overcome some of the limitations of conventional (primed) hPSCs, including recurrent epigenetic anomalies. Naïve-to-primed transition (capacitation) follows transcriptional dynamics of human embryonic epiblast and is necessary for somatic differentiation from naïve hPSCs. We found that capacitated hPSCs are transcriptionally closer to postimplantation epiblast than conventional hPSCs. This prompted us to comprehensively study epigenetic and related transcriptional changes during capacitation. Our results show that CpG islands, gene regulatory elements, and retrotransposons are hotspots of epigenetic dynamics during capacitation and indicate possible distinct roles of specific epigenetic modifications in gene expression control between naïve and primed hPSCs. Unexpectedly, PRC2 activity appeared to be dispensable for the capacitation. We find that capacitated hPSCs acquire an epigenetic state similar to conventional hPSCs. Significantly, however, the X chromosome erosion frequently observed in conventional female hPSCs is reversed by resetting and subsequent capacitation.
Histone methyltransferases (HMTs) catalyze the methylation of lysine and arginine residues in histone as well as nonhistone substrates. In vitro histone methyltransferase assays have been instrumental in identifying HMTs, and they continue to be invaluable tools for the study of these important enzymes, revealing novel substrates and modes of regulation.Here we describe a universal protocol to examine HMT activity in vitro that can be adapted to a range of HMTs, substrates, and experimental objectives. We provide protocols for the detection of activity based on incorporation of H-labeled methyl groups from S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), methylation-specific antibodies, and quantification of the reaction product S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH).
The tail of replication-dependent histone H3.1 varies from that of replication-independent H3.3 at the amino acid located at position 31 in plants and animals, but no function has been assigned to this residue to demonstrate a unique and conserved role for H3.1 during replication. We found that TONSOKU (TSK/TONSL), which rescues broken replication forks, specifically interacts with H3.1 via recognition of alanine 31 by its tetratricopeptide repeat domain. Our results indicate that genomic instability in the absence of ATXR5/ATXR6-catalyzed histone H3 lysine 27 monomethylation in plants depends on H3.1, TSK, and DNA polymerase theta (Pol θ). This work reveals an H3.1-specific function during replication and a common strategy used in multicellular eukaryotes for regulating post-replicative chromatin maturation and TSK, which relies on histone monomethyltransferases and reading of the H3.1 variant.
The Isw1b chromatin-remodeling complex is specifically recruited to gene bodies to help retain pre-existing histones during transcription by RNA polymerase II. Recruitment is dependent on H3K36 methylation and the Isw1b subunit Ioc4, which contains an N-terminal PWWP domain. Here, we present the crystal structure of the Ioc4-PWWP domain, including a detailed functional characterization of the domain on its own as well as in the context of full-length Ioc4 and the Isw1b remodeler. The Ioc4-PWWP domain preferentially binds H3K36me3-containing nucleosomes. Its ability to bind DNA is required for nucleosome binding. It is also furthered by the unique insertion motif present in Ioc4-PWWP. The ability to bind H3K36me3 and DNA promotes the interaction of full-length Ioc4 with nucleosomes in vitro and they are necessary for its recruitment to gene bodies in vivo. Furthermore, a fully functional Ioc4-PWWP domain promotes efficient remodeling by Isw1b and the maintenance of ordered chromatin in vivo, thereby preventing the production of non-coding RNAs.
Epigenetic mechanisms play diverse roles in the regulation of genome stability in eukaryotes. In Arabidopsis thaliana, genome stability is maintained during DNA replication by the H3.1K27 methyltransferases ARABIDOPSIS TRITHORAX-RELATED PROTEIN 5 (ATXR5) and ATXR6, which catalyze the deposition of K27me1 on replication-dependent H3.1 variants. The loss of H3.1K27me1 in atxr5 atxr6 double mutants leads to heterochromatin defects, including transcriptional de-repression and genomic instability, but the molecular mechanisms involved remain largely unknown. In this study, we identified the transcriptional co-activator and conserved histone acetyltransferase GCN5 as a mediator of transcriptional de-repression and genomic instability in the absence of H3.1K27me1. GCN5 is part of a SAGA-like complex in plants that requires the GCN5-interacting protein ADA2b and the chromatin remodeler CHR6 to mediate the heterochromatic defects in atxr5 atxr6 mutants. Our results also indicate that Arabidopsis GCN5 acetylates multiple lysine residues on H3.1 variants, but H3.1K27 and H3.1K36 play essential functions in inducing genomic instability in the absence of H3.1K27me1. Finally, we show that H3.1K36 acetylation by GCN5 is negatively regulated by H3.1K27me1 in vitro. Overall, this work reveals a key molecular role for H3.1K27me1 in maintaining transcriptional silencing and genome stability in heterochromatin by restricting GCN5-mediated histone acetylation in plants.
Noncoding RNA plays essential roles in transcriptional control and chromatin silencing. At antisense transcription quantitatively influences transcriptional output, but the mechanism by which this occurs is still unclear. Proximal polyadenylation of the antisense transcripts by FCA, an RNA-binding protein that physically interacts with RNA 3' processing factors, reduces transcription. This process genetically requires FLD, a homolog of the H3K4 demethylase LSD1. However, the mechanism linking RNA processing to FLD function had not been established. Here, we show that FLD tightly associates with LUMINIDEPENDENS (LD) and SET DOMAIN GROUP 26 (SDG26) in vivo, and, together, they prevent accumulation of monomethylated H3K4 (H3K4me1) over the gene body. SDG26 interacts with the RNA 3' processing factor FY (WDR33), thus linking activities for proximal polyadenylation of the antisense transcripts to FLD/LD/SDG26-associated H3K4 demethylation. We propose this demethylation antagonizes an active transcription module, thus reducing H3K36me3 accumulation and increasing H3K27me3. Consistent with this view, we show that Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) silencing is genetically required by FCA to repress Overall, our work provides insights into RNA-mediated chromatin silencing.
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A large fraction of plant genomes is composed of transposable elements (TE), which provide a potential source of novel genes through "domestication"-the process whereby the proteins encoded by TE diverge in sequence, lose their ability to catalyse transposition and instead acquire novel functions for their hosts. In Arabidopsis, ANTAGONIST OF LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (ALP1) arose by domestication of the nuclease component of Harbinger class TE and acquired a new function as a component of POLYCOMB REPRESSIVE COMPLEX 2 (PRC2), a histone H3K27me3 methyltransferase involved in regulation of host genes and in some cases TE. It was not clear how ALP1 associated with PRC2, nor what the functional consequence was. Here, we identify ALP2 genetically as a suppressor of Polycomb-group (PcG) mutant phenotypes and show that it arose from the second, DNA binding component of Harbinger transposases. Molecular analysis of PcG compromised backgrounds reveals that ALP genes oppose silencing and H3K27me3 deposition at key PcG target genes. Proteomic analysis reveals that ALP1 and ALP2 are components of a variant PRC2 complex that contains the four core components but lacks plant-specific accessory components such as the H3K27me3 reader LIKE HETEROCHROMATION PROTEIN 1 (LHP1). We show that the N-terminus of ALP2 interacts directly with ALP1, whereas the C-terminus of ALP2 interacts with MULTICOPY SUPPRESSOR OF IRA1 (MSI1), a core component of PRC2. Proteomic analysis reveals that in alp2 mutant backgrounds ALP1 protein no longer associates with PRC2, consistent with a role for ALP2 in recruitment of ALP1. We suggest that the propensity of Harbinger TE to insert in gene-rich regions of the genome, together with the modular two component nature of their transposases, has predisposed them for domestication and incorporation into chromatin modifying complexes.
Epigenetic marks are reprogrammed in the gametes to reset genomic potential in the next generation. In mammals, paternal chromatin is extensively reprogrammed through the global erasure of DNA methylation and the exchange of histones with protamines. Precisely how the paternal epigenome is reprogrammed in flowering plants has remained unclear since DNA is not demethylated and histones are retained in sperm. Here, we describe a multi-layered mechanism by which H3K27me3 is globally lost from histone-based sperm chromatin in Arabidopsis. This mechanism involves the silencing of H3K27me3 writers, activity of H3K27me3 erasers and deposition of a sperm-specific histone, H3.10 (ref. ), which we show is immune to lysine 27 methylation. The loss of H3K27me3 facilitates the transcription of genes essential for spermatogenesis and pre-configures sperm with a chromatin state that forecasts gene expression in the next generation. Thus, plants have evolved a specific mechanism to simultaneously differentiate male gametes and reprogram the paternal epigenome.
Chromatin modifications regulate genome function by recruiting proteins to the genome. However, the protein composition at distinct chromatin modifications has yet to be fully characterized. In this study, we used natural protein domains as modular building blocks to develop engineered chromatin readers (eCRs) selective for DNA methylation and histone tri-methylation at H3K4, H3K9 and H3K27 residues. We first demonstrated their utility as selective chromatin binders in living cells by stably expressing eCRs in mouse embryonic stem cells and measuring their subnuclear localization, genomic distribution and histone-modification-binding preference. By fusing eCRs to the biotin ligase BASU, we established ChromID, a method for identifying the chromatin-dependent protein interactome on the basis of proximity biotinylation, and applied it to distinct chromatin modifications in mouse stem cells. Using a synthetic dual-modification reader, we also uncovered the protein composition at bivalently modified promoters marked by H3K4me3 and H3K27me3. These results highlight the ability of ChromID to obtain a detailed view of protein interaction networks on chromatin.
Chromosome association of the chromosomal passenger complex (CPC; consisting of Borealin, Survivin, INCENP, and the Aurora B kinase) is essential to achieve error-free chromosome segregation during cell division. Hence, understanding the mechanisms driving the chromosome association of the CPC is of paramount importance. Here using a multifaceted approach, we show that the CPC binds nucleosomes through a multivalent interaction predominantly involving Borealin. Strikingly, Survivin, previously suggested to target the CPC to centromeres, failed to bind nucleosomes on its own and requires Borealin and INCENP for its binding. Disrupting Borealin-nucleosome interactions excluded the CPC from chromosomes and caused chromosome congression defects. We also show that Borealin-mediated chromosome association of the CPC is critical for Haspin- and Bub1-mediated centromere enrichment of the CPC and works upstream of the latter. Our work thus establishes Borealin as a master regulator determining the chromosome association and function of the CPC.
R-loops are three-stranded nucleic acid structures that form during transcription, especially over unmethylated CpG-rich promoters of active genes. In mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), CpG-rich developmental regulator genes are repressed by the Polycomb complexes PRC1 and PRC2. Here, we show that R-loops form at a subset of Polycomb target genes, and we investigate their contribution to Polycomb repression. At R-loop-positive genes, R-loop removal leads to decreased PRC1 and PRC2 recruitment and Pol II activation into a productive elongation state, accompanied by gene derepression at nascent and processed transcript levels. Stable removal of PRC2 derepresses R-loop-negative genes, as expected, but does not affect R-loops, PRC1 recruitment, or transcriptional repression of R-loop-positive genes. Our results highlight that Polycomb repression does not occur via one mechanism but consists of different layers of repression, some of which are gene specific. We uncover that one such mechanism is mediated by an interplay between R-loops and RING1B recruitment.
A methionine substitution at lysine-27 on histone H3 variants (H3K27M) characterizes ~80% of diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) and inhibits polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) in a dominant-negative fashion. Yet, the mechanisms for this inhibition and abnormal epigenomic landscape have not been resolved. Using quantitative proteomics, we discovered that robust PRC2 inhibition requires levels of H3K27M greatly exceeding those of PRC2, seen in DIPG. While PRC2 inhibition requires interaction with H3K27M, we found that this interaction on chromatin is transient, with PRC2 largely being released from H3K27M. Unexpectedly, inhibition persisted even after PRC2 dissociated from H3K27M-containing chromatin, suggesting a lasting impact on PRC2. Furthermore, allosterically activated PRC2 is particularly sensitive to H3K27M, leading to the failure to spread H3K27me from PRC2 recruitment sites and consequently abrogating PRC2's ability to establish H3K27me2-3 repressive chromatin domains. In turn, levels of polycomb antagonists such as H3K36me2 are elevated, suggesting a more global, downstream effect on the epigenome. Together, these findings reveal the conditions required for H3K27M-mediated PRC2 inhibition and reconcile seemingly paradoxical effects of H3K27M on PRC2 recruitment and activity.
In vitro histone modification (HM) assays are used to characterize the activity of chromatin-modifying enzymes. These assays provide information regarding the modification sites on histones, the product specificity, and the impact of other histone or nucleotide modifications on enzyme activity. In particular, histone methyltransferase (HMT) assays have been instrumental in elucidating the activity and site specificity of many plant HMT enzymes. In this chapter, we describe a general protocol that can be used to perform HMT assays using different chromatin substrates, detection methods, and enzymes directly purified from plant material or heterologous sources.
Rapid, site-selective modification of cysteine residues with chloromethyl-triazole derivatives generates pseudo-acyl sLys motifs, mimicking important post-translational modifications. Near-native biotinylation of peptide and protein substrates is shown to be site-selective and modified histone H4 retains functional activity.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) and its paralogs, amyloid precursor-like protein 1 (APLP1) and APLP2, are metalloproteins with a putative role both in synaptogenesis and in maintaining synapse structure. Here, we studied the effect of zinc on membrane localization, adhesion, and secretase cleavage of APP, APLP1, and APLP2 in cell culture and rat neurons. For this, we employed live-cell microscopy techniques, a microcontact printing adhesion assay and ELISA for protein detection in cell culture supernatants. We report that zinc induces the multimerization of proteins of the amyloid precursor protein family and enriches them at cellular adhesion sites. Thus, zinc facilitates the formation of de novo APP and APLP1 containing adhesion complexes, whereas it does not have such influence on APLP2. Furthermore, zinc-binding prevented cleavage of APP and APLPs by extracellular secretases. In conclusion, the complexation of zinc modulates neuronal functions of APP and APLPs by (i) regulating formation of adhesion complexes, most prominently for APLP1, and (ii) by reducing the concentrations of neurotrophic soluble APP/APLP ectodomains. Earlier studies suggest a function of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) family proteins in neuronal adhesion. We report here that adhesive function of these proteins is tightly regulated by zinc, most prominently for amyloid precursor-like protein 1 (APLP1). Zinc-mediated APLP1 multimerization, which induced formation of new neuronal contacts and decreased APLP1 shedding. This suggests that APLP1 could function as a zinc receptor processing zinc signals to stabilized or new neuronal contacts.
Polycomb repressive complex-1 (PRC1) is essential for the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. SCML2 is a mammalian homolog of Drosophila SCM, a Polycomb-group protein that associates with PRC1. In this study, we show that SCML2A, an SCML2 isoform tightly associated to chromatin, contributes to PRC1 localization and also directly enforces repression of certain Polycomb target genes. SCML2A binds to PRC1 via its SPM domain and interacts with ncRNAs through a novel RNA-binding region (RBR). Targeting of SCML2A to chromatin involves the coordinated action of the MBT domains, RNA binding, and interaction with PRC1 through the SPM domain. Deletion of the RBR reduces the occupancy of SCML2A at target genes and overexpression of a mutant SCML2A lacking the RBR causes defects in PRC1 recruitment. These observations point to a role for ncRNAs in regulating SCML2 function and suggest that SCML2 participates in the epigenetic control of transcription directly and in cooperation with PRC1.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.02637.001.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) and the APP-like proteins 1 and 2 (APLP1 and APLP2) are a family of multidomain transmembrane proteins possessing homo- and heterotypic contact sites in their ectodomains. We previously reported that divalent metal ions dictate the conformation of the extracellular APP E2 domain (Dahms, S. O., Könnig, I., Roeser, D., Gührs, K.-H., Mayer, M. C., Kaden, D., Multhaup, G., and Than, M. E. (2012) J. Mol. Biol. 416, 438-452), but unresolved is the nature and functional importance of metal ion binding to APLP1 and APLP2. We found here that zinc ions bound to APP and APLP1 E2 domains and mediated their oligomerization, whereas the APLP2 E2 domain interacted more weakly with zinc possessing a less surface-exposed zinc-binding site, and stayed monomeric. Copper ions bound to E2 domains of all three proteins. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) analyses examined the effect of metal ion binding to APP and APLPs in the cellular context in real time. Zinc ions specifically induced APP and APLP1 oligomerization and forced APLP1 into multimeric clusters at the plasma membrane consistent with zinc concentrations in the blood and brain. The observed effects were mediated by a novel zinc-binding site within the APLP1 E2 domain as APLP1 deletion mutants revealed. Based upon its cellular localization and its dominant response to zinc ions, APLP1 is mainly affected by extracellular zinc among the APP family proteins. We conclude that zinc binding and APP/APLP oligomerization are intimately linked, and we propose that this represents a novel mechanism for regulating APP/APLP protein function at the molecular level.
Histone variants have been proposed to act as determinants for posttranslational modifications with widespread regulatory functions. We identify a histone-modifying enzyme that selectively methylates the replication-dependent histone H3 variant H3.1. The crystal structure of the SET domain of the histone H3 lysine-27 (H3K27) methyltransferase ARABIDOPSIS TRITHORAX-RELATED PROTEIN 5 (ATXR5) in complex with a H3.1 peptide shows that ATXR5 contains a bipartite catalytic domain that specifically "reads" alanine-31 of H3.1. Variation at position 31 between H3.1 and replication-independent H3.3 is conserved in plants and animals, and threonine-31 in H3.3 is responsible for inhibiting the activity of ATXR5 and its paralog, ATXR6. Our results suggest a simple model for the mitotic inheritance of the heterochromatic mark H3K27me1 and the protection of H3.3-enriched genes against heterochromatization during DNA replication.
Histone modifications and chromatin-associated protein complexes are crucially involved in the control of gene expression, supervising cell fate decisions and differentiation. Many promoters in embryonic stem (ES) cells harbor a distinctive histone modification signature that combines the activating histone H3 Lys 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) mark and the repressive H3K27me3 mark. These bivalent domains are considered to poise expression of developmental genes, allowing timely activation while maintaining repression in the absence of differentiation signals. Recent advances shed light on the establishment and function of bivalent domains; however, their role in development remains controversial, not least because suitable genetic models to probe their function in developing organisms are missing. Here, we explore avenues to and from bivalency and propose that bivalent domains and associated chromatin-modifying complexes safeguard proper and robust differentiation.
Two new studies show that the known histone H3 alteration p.Lys27Met in pediatric glioma leads to globally diminished trimethylation at histone H3 lysine 27. The mutant histone H3 acts as a selective inhibitor of the PRC2 chromatin-modifying complex by binding and presumably sequestering it, shedding light on how this variant may contribute to the etiology of these highly malignant brain tumors.
The establishment of the epigenetic mark H4K20me1 (monomethylation of H4K20) by PR-Set7 during G2/M directly impacts S-phase progression and genome stability. However, the mechanisms involved in the regulation of this event are not well understood. Here we show that SirT2 regulates H4K20me1 deposition through the deacetylation of H4K16Ac (acetylation of H4K16) and determines the levels of H4K20me2/3 throughout the cell cycle. SirT2 binds and deacetylates PR-Set7 at K90, modulating its chromatin localization. Consistently, SirT2 depletion significantly reduces PR-Set7 chromatin levels, alters the size and number of PR-Set7 foci, and decreases the overall mitotic deposition of H4K20me1. Upon stress, the interaction between SirT2 and PR-Set7 increases along with the H4K20me1 levels, suggesting a novel mitotic checkpoint mechanism. SirT2 loss in mice induces significant defects associated with defective H4K20me1-3 levels. Accordingly, SirT2-deficient animals exhibit genomic instability and chromosomal aberrations and are prone to tumorigenesis. Our studies suggest that the dynamic cross-talk between the environment and the genome during mitosis determines the fate of the subsequent cell cycle.
Mixed-lineage leukemia 4 (MLL4; also called MLL2 and ALR) enzymatically generates trimethylated histone H3 Lys 4 (H3K4me3), a hallmark of gene activation. However, how MLL4-deposited H3K4me3 interplays with other histone marks in epigenetic processes remains largely unknown. Here, we show that MLL4 plays an essential role in differentiating NT2/D1 stem cells by activating differentiation-specific genes. A tandem plant homeodomain (PHD(4-6)) of MLL4 recognizes unmethylated or asymmetrically dimethylated histone H4 Arg 3 (H4R3me0 or H4R3me2a) and is required for MLL4's nucleosomal methyltransferase activity and MLL4-mediated differentiation. Kabuki syndrome mutations in PHD(4-6) reduce PHD(4-6)'s binding ability and MLL4's catalytic activity. PHD(4-6)'s binding strength is inhibited by H4R3 symmetric dimethylation (H4R3me2s), a gene-repressive mark. The protein arginine methyltransferase 7 (PRMT7), but not PRMT5, represses MLL4 target genes by up-regulating H4R3me2s levels and antagonizes MLL4-mediated differentiation. Consistently, PRMT7 knockdown increases MLL4-catalyzed H3K4me3 levels. During differentiation, decreased H4R3me2s levels are associated with increased H3K4me3 levels at a cohort of genes, including many HOXA and HOXB genes. These findings indicate that the trans-tail inhibition of MLL4-generated H3K4me3 by PRMT7-regulated H4R3me2s may result from H4R3me2s's interference with PHD(4-6)'s binding activity and is a novel epigenetic mechanism that underlies opposing effects of MLL4 and PRMT7 on cellular differentiation.
Mononucleosomes, the basic building blocks of chromatin, contain two copies of each core histone. The associated posttranslational modifications regulate essential chromatin-dependent processes, yet whether each histone copy is identically modified in vivo is unclear. We demonstrate that nucleosomes in embryonic stem cells, fibroblasts, and cancer cells exist in both symmetrically and asymmetrically modified populations for histone H3 lysine 27 di/trimethylation (H3K27me2/3) and H4K20me1. Further, we obtained direct physical evidence for bivalent nucleosomes carrying H3K4me3 or H3K36me3 along with H3K27me3, albeit on opposite H3 tails. Bivalency at target genes was resolved upon differentiation of ES cells. Polycomb repressive complex 2-mediated methylation of H3K27 was inhibited when nucleosomes contain symmetrically, but not asymmetrically, placed H3K4me3 or H3K36me3. These findings uncover a potential mechanism for the incorporation of bivalent features into nucleosomes and demonstrate how asymmetry might set the stage to diversify functional nucleosome states.
The chromatin adapter BRD4 may be crucial for transmitting epigenetic information by acting as a histone acetylation-dependent gene bookmark and accelerating post-mitotic transcriptional reactivation.
Cytosine DNA methylation is evolutionarily ancient, and in eukaryotes this epigenetic modification is associated with gene silencing. Proteins with SRA (SET- or RING-associated) methyl-binding domains are required for the establishment and/or maintenance of DNA methylation in both plants and mammals. The 5-methyl-cytosine (5mC)-binding specificity of several SRA domains have been characterized, and each one has a preference for DNA methylation in different sequence contexts. Here we demonstrate through mobility shift assays and calorimetric measurements that the SU(VAR)3-9 HOMOLOG 5 (SUVH5) SRA domain differs from other SRA domains in that it can bind methylated DNA in all contexts to similar extents. Crystal structures of the SUVH5 SRA domain bound to 5mC-containing DNA in either the fully or hemimethylated CG context or the methylated CHH context revealed a dual flip-out mechanism where both the 5mC and a base (5mC, C, or G, respectively) from the partner strand are simultaneously extruded from the DNA duplex and positioned within binding pockets of individual SRA domains. Our structure-based in vivo studies suggest that a functional SUVH5 SRA domain is required for both DNA methylation and accumulation of the H3K9 dimethyl modification in vivo, suggesting a role for the SRA domain in recruitment of SUVH5 to genomic loci.
Post-translational modifications (PTMs) on histone proteins have emerged as a central theme in the regulation of gene expression and other chromatin-associated processes. The discovery that certain protein domains can recognize acetylated and methylated lysine residues of histones has spurred efforts to uncover and characterize histone PTM-binding proteins. In this task, chromatin biology has strongly benefited from synthetic approaches stemming from chemical biology. Peptide-based techniques have been instrumental in identifying histone mark-binding proteins and analyzing their binding specificities. To explore how histone PTMs carry out their function in the context of chromatin, reconstituted systems based on recombinant histones carrying defined modifications are increasingly being used. They constitute promising tools to analyze mechanistic aspects of histone PTMs, including their role in transcription and their transmission in replication. In this review, we present strategies that have been used successfully to investigate the role of histone modifications, concepts that have emerged from their application, and their potential to contribute to current developments in the field.
The mechanism by which newly synthesized histones are imported into the nucleus and deposited onto replicating chromatin alongside segregating nucleosomal counterparts is poorly understood, yet this program is expected to bear on the putative epigenetic nature of histone post-translational modifications. To define the events by which naive pre-deposition histones are imported into the nucleus, we biochemically purified and characterized the full gamut of histone H3.1-containing complexes from human cytoplasmic fractions and identified their associated histone post-translational modifications. Through reconstitution assays, biophysical analyses and live cell manipulations, we describe in detail this series of events, namely the assembly of H3-H4 dimers, the acetylation of histones by the HAT1 holoenzyme and the transfer of histones between chaperones that culminates with their karyopherin-mediated nuclear import. We further demonstrate the high degree of conservation for this pathway between higher and lower eukaryotes.
Polycomb group proteins have an essential role in the epigenetic maintenance of repressive chromatin states. The gene-silencing activity of the Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) depends on its ability to trimethylate lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27) by the catalytic SET domain of the EZH2 subunit, and at least two other subunits of the complex: SUZ12 and EED. Here we show that the carboxy-terminal domain of EED specifically binds to histone tails carrying trimethyl-lysine residues associated with repressive chromatin marks, and that this leads to the allosteric activation of the methyltransferase activity of PRC2. Mutations in EED that prevent it from recognizing repressive trimethyl-lysine marks abolish the activation of PRC2 in vitro and, in Drosophila, reduce global methylation and disrupt development. These findings suggest a model for the propagation of the H3K27me3 mark that accounts for the maintenance of repressive chromatin domains and for the transmission of a histone modification from mother to daughter cells.
In inflammation, pain is regulated by a balance of pro- and analgesic mediators. Analgesic mediators include opioid peptides which are secreted by neutrophils at the site of inflammation, leading to activation of opioid receptors on peripheral sensory neurons. In humans, local opioids and opioid peptides significantly downregulate postoperative as well as arthritic pain. In rats, inflammatory pain is induced by intraplantar injection of heat inactivated Mycobacterium butyricum, a component of complete Freund's adjuvant. We hypothesized that mycobacterially derived formyl peptide receptor (FPR) and/or toll like receptor (TLR) agonists could activate neutrophils, leading to opioid peptide release and inhibition of inflammatory pain. In complete Freund's adjuvant-induced inflammation, thermal and mechanical nociceptive thresholds of the paw were quantified (Hargreaves and Randall-Selitto methods, respectively). Withdrawal time to heat was decreased following systemic neutrophil depletion as well as local injection of opioid receptor antagonists or anti-opioid peptide (i.e. Met-enkephalin, beta-endorphin) antibodies indicating an increase in pain. In vitro, opioid peptide release from human and rat neutrophils was measured by radioimmunoassay. Met-enkephalin release was triggered by Mycobacterium butyricum and formyl peptides but not by TLR-2 or TLR-4 agonists. Mycobacterium butyricum induced a rise in intracellular calcium as determined by FURA loading and calcium imaging. Opioid peptide release was blocked by intracellular calcium chelation as well as phosphoinositol-3-kinase inhibition. The FPR antagonists Boc-FLFLF and cyclosporine H reduced opioid peptide release in vitro and increased inflammatory pain in vivo while TLR 2/4 did not appear to be involved. In summary, mycobacteria activate FPR on neutrophils, resulting in tonic secretion of opioid peptides from neutrophils and in a decrease in inflammatory pain. Future therapeutic strategies may aim at selective FPR agonists to boost endogenous analgesia.
Studies in animals have reported that normalized or elevated Cu levels can inhibit or even remove Alzheimer's disease-related pathological plaques and exert a desirable amyloid-modifying effect. We tested engineered nanocarriers composed of diverse core-shell architectures to modulate Cu levels under physiological conditions through bypassing the cellular Cu uptake systems. Two different nanocarrier systems were able to transport Cu across the plasma membrane of yeast or higher eukaryotic cells, CS-NPs (core-shell nanoparticles) and CMS-NPs (core-multishell nanoparticles). Intracellular Cu levels could be increased up to 3-fold above normal with a sublethal dose of carriers. Both types of carriers released their bound guest molecules into the cytosolic compartment where they were accessible for the Cu-dependent enzyme SOD1. In particular, CS-NPs reduced Abeta levels and targeted intracellular organelles more efficiently than CMS-NPs. Fluorescently labeled CMS-NPs unraveled a cellular uptake mechanism, which depended on clathrin-mediated endocytosis in an energy-dependent manner. In contrast, the transport of CS-NPs was most likely driven by a concentration gradient. Overall, nanocarriers depending on the nature of the surrounding shell functioned by mediating import of Cu across cellular membranes, increased levels of bioavailable Cu, and affected Abeta turnover. Our studies illustrate that Cu-charged nanocarriers can achieve a reasonable metal ion specificity and represent an alternative to metal-complexing agents. The results demonstrate that carrier strategies have potential for the treatment of metal ion deficiency disorders.
The molecular association between APP and its mammalian homologs has hardly been explored. In systematically addressing this issue, we show by live cell imaging that APLP1 mainly localizes to the cell surface, whereas APP and APLP2 are mostly found in intracellular compartments. Homo- and heterotypic cis interactions of APP family members could be detected by FRET and co-immunoprecipitation analysis and occur in a modular mode. Only APLP1 formed trans interactions, supporting the argument for a putative specific role of APLP1 in cell adhesion. Deletion mutants of APP family members revealed two highly conserved regions as important for the protein crosstalk. In particular, the N-terminal half of the ectodomain was crucial for APP and APLP2 interactions. By contrast, multimerization of APLP1 was only partially dependent on this domain but strongly on the C-terminal half of the ectodomain. We further observed that coexpression of APP with APLP1 or APLP2 leads to diminished generation of Abeta42. The current data suggest that this is due to the formation of heteromeric complexes, opening the way for novel therapeutic strategies targeting these complexes.
We found previously by fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments that amyloid precursor protein (APP) homodimerizes in living cells. APP homodimerization is likely to be mediated by two sites of the ectodomain and a third site within the transmembrane sequence of APP. We have now investigated the role of the N-terminal growth factor-like domain in APP dimerization by NMR, biochemical, and cell biological approaches. Under nonreducing conditions, the N-terminal domain of APP formed SDS-labile and SDS-stable complexes. The presence of SDS was sufficient to convert native APP dimers entirely into monomers. Addition of an excess of a synthetic peptide (APP residues 91-116) containing the disulfide bridge-stabilized loop inhibited cross-linking of pre-existing SDS-labile APP ectodomain dimers. Surface plasmon resonance analysis revealed that this peptide specifically bound to the N-terminal domain of APP and that binding was entirely dependent on the oxidation of the thiol groups. By solution-state NMR we detected small chemical shift changes indicating that the loop peptide interacted with a large protein surface rather than binding to a defined pocket. Finally, we studied the effect of the loop peptide added to the medium of living cells. Whereas the levels of alpha-secretory APP increased, soluble beta-cleaved APP levels decreased. Because Abeta40 and Abeta42 decreased to similar levels as soluble beta-cleaved APP, we conclude either that beta-secretase binding to APP was impaired or that the peptide allosterically affected APP processing. We suggest that APP acquires a loop-mediated homodimeric state that is further stabilized by interactions of hydrophobic residues of neighboring domains.
Processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by beta- and gamma-secretases leads to the generation of amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides with varying lengths. Particularly Abeta42 contributes to cytotoxicity and amyloid accumulation in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the precise molecular mechanism of Abeta42 generation has remained unclear. Here, we show that an amino-acid motif GxxxG within the APP transmembrane sequence (TMS) has regulatory impact on the Abeta species produced. In a neuronal cell system, mutations of glycine residues G29 and G33 of the GxxxG motif gradually attenuate the TMS dimerization strength, specifically reduce the formation of Abeta42, leave the level of Abeta40 unaffected, but increase Abeta38 and shorter Abeta species. We show that glycine residues G29 and G33 are part of a dimerization site within the TMS, but do not impair oligomerization of the APP ectodomain. We conclude that gamma-secretase cleavages of APP are intimately linked to the dimerization strength of the substrate TMS. The results demonstrate that dimerization of APP TMS is a risk factor for AD due to facilitating Abeta42 production.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) gamma has been implicated in a vast array of physiological settings including the activation of different leukocyte species and the regulation of myocardial contractility. Activation of PI3Kgamma is primarily mediated by Gbetagamma subunits of heterotrimeric G proteins, which are recognized by a p101 regulatory subunit. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of a novel regulatory subunit of PI3Kgamma, which we termed p87(PIKAP) (PI3Kgamma adapter protein of 87 kDa). It is homologous to p101 in areas that we have recently shown that they mediate binding to the catalytic p110gamma subunit and to Gbetagamma. Like p101, p87(PIKAP) binds to both p110gamma and Gbetagamma and mediates activation of p110gamma downstream of G protein-coupled receptors. In contrast to p101, p87(PIKAP) is highly expressed in heart and may therefore be crucial to PI3Kgamma cardiac function. Moreover, p87(PIKAP) and p101 are both expressed in dendritic cells, macrophages, and neutrophils, raising the possibility of regulatory subunit-dependent differences in PI3Kgamma signaling within the same cell type. We further provide evidence that p87(PIKAP) physically interacts with phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3B, suggesting that p87(PIKAP) is also involved in the recently described noncatalytic scaffolding interaction of p110gamma with PDE3B. However, coexpression of PDE3B and PI3Kgamma subunits was not sufficient to reconstitute the regulatory effect of PI3Kgamma on PDE3B activity observed in heart, implying further molecules to be present in the complex regulating PDE3B in heart.
Color variants of green fluorescent protein (GFP) are increasingly used for multicolor imaging, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP). Here we show that experimental settings commonly used in these imaging experiments may induce an as yet uncharacterized reversible photobleaching of fluorescent proteins, which is more pronounced at acidic pH. Whereas the reversible photobleaching spectrum of eCFP corresponds to its absorption spectrum, reversible photobleaching spectra of yellow variants resemble absorption spectra of their protonated states. Fluorescence intensities recover spontaneously with time constants of 25-58 s. The recovery of eCFP can be further accelerated by illumination. The resulting steady-state fluorescence reflects a variable equilibrium between reversible photobleaching, spontaneous recovery, and light-induced recovery. These processes can cause significant artifacts in commonly applied imaging techniques, photobleach-based FRET determinations, and FRAP assays.
Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase (PI3K) gamma is a lipid kinase that is regulated by G-protein-coupled receptors. It plays a crucial role in inflammatory and allergic processes. Activation of PI3Kgamma is primarily mediated by Gbetagamma subunits. The regulatory p101 subunit of PI3Kgamma binds to Gbetagamma and, thereby, recruits the catalytic p110gamma subunit to the plasma membrane. Despite its crucial role in the activation of PI3Kgamma, the structural organization of p101 is still largely elusive. Employing fluorescence resonance energy transfer measurements, coimmunoprecipitation and colocalization studies with p101 deletion mutants, we show here that distinct regions within the p101 primary structure are responsible for interaction with p110gamma and Gbetagamma. The p110gamma binding site is confined to the N terminus, whereas binding to Gbetagamma is mediated by a C-terminal domain of p101. These domains appear to be highly conserved among various species ranging from Xenopus to men. In addition to establishing a domain structure for p101, our results point to the existence of a previously unknown, p101-related regulatory subunit for PI3Kgamma.
The photosynthetic reaction center (RC) from Rhodopseudomonas viridis contains four cytochrome c hemes. They establish the initial part of the electron transfer (ET) chain through the RC. Despite their chemical identity, their midpoint potentials cover an interval of 440 mV. The individual heme midpoint potentials determine the ET kinetics and are therefore tuned by specific interactions with the protein environment. Here, we use an electrostatic approach based on the solution of the linearized Poisson-Boltzmann equation to evaluate the determinants of individual heme redox potentials. Our calculated redox potentials agree within 25 meV with the experimentally measured values. The heme redox potentials are mainly governed by solvent accessibility of the hemes and propionic acids, by neutralization of the negative charges at the propionates through either protonation or formation of salt bridges, by interactions with other hemes, and to a lesser extent, with other titratable protein side chains. In contrast to earlier computations on this system, we used quantum chemically derived atomic charges, considered an equilibrium-distributed protonation pattern, and accounted for interdependencies of site-site interactions. We provide values for the working potentials of all hemes as a function of the solution redox potential, which are crucial for calculations of ET rates. We identify residues whose site-directed mutation might significantly influence ET processes in the cytochrome c part of the RC. Redox potentials measured on a previously generated mutant could be reproduced by calculations based on a model structure of the mutant generated from the wild type RC.