Clark SJ, Argelaguet R, Lohoff T, Krueger F, Drage D, Göttgens B, Marioni JC, Nichols J, Reik W Epigenetics

Perturbation of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and of the active DNA demethylation pathway via ten-eleven translocation (TET) methylcytosine dioxygenases results in severe developmental defects and embryonic lethality. Dynamic control of DNA methylation is therefore vital for embryogenesis, yet the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 36163261 26 Sep 2022

Patalano S, Alsina A, Gregorio-Rodríguez C, Bachman M, Dreier S, Hernando-Herraez I, Nana P, Balasubramanian S, Sumner S, Reik W, Rulands S Epigenetics

Biological systems have the capacity to not only build and robustly maintain complex structures but also to rapidly break up and rebuild such structures. Here, using primitive societies of Polistes wasps, we show that both robust specialization and rapid plasticity are emergent properties of multi-scale dynamics. We combine theory with experiments that, after perturbing the social structure by removing the queen, correlate time-resolved multi-omics with video recordings. We show that the queen-worker dimorphism relies on the balance between the development of a molecular queen phenotype in all insects and colony-scale inhibition of this phenotype via asymmetric interactions. This allows Polistes to be stable against intrinsic perturbations of molecular states while reacting plastically to extrinsic cues affecting the whole society. Long-term stability of the social structure is reinforced by dynamic DNA methylation. Our study provides a general principle of how both specialization and plasticity can be achieved in biological systems. A record of this paper's transparent peer review process is included in the supplemental information.

+view abstract Cell systems, PMID: 36044898 26 Aug 2022

Zhao C, Biondic S, Vandal K, Bjorklund AK, Hagemann-Jensen M, Sommer TM, Canizo J, Clark S, Raymond P, Zenklusen D, Rivron N, Reik W, Petropoulos S Epigenetics

The pre-conceptual, intrauterine, and early life environments can have a profound and long-lasting impact on the developmental trajectories and health outcomes of the offspring. Given the relatively low success rates of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART; ~25%), additives and adjuvants, such as glucocorticoids, are utilized to improve the success rate. Considering the dynamic developmental events that occur during this window, these exposures may alter blastocyst formation at a molecular level, and as such, affect not only the viability of the embryo and ability of the blastocyst to implant, but also the developmental trajectory of the first three cell lineages, ultimately influencing the physiology of the embryo. In this study we present a comprehensive single-cell transcriptome, methylome and small RNA atlas in the day 7 human embryo. We demonstrate that, despite no change in morphology and developmental features, preimplantation glucocorticoid exposure reprograms the molecular profile of the TE lineage and these changes are associated with an altered metabolic and inflammatory response. Our data also suggest that glucocorticoids can precociously mature the TE sub-lineages, supported by the presence of extravillous trophoblast markers in the polar sub-lineage and presence of X Chromosome dosage compensation. Further, we have elucidated that epigenetic regulation (DNA methylation and microRNAs (miRNAs)) likely underlie the transcriptional changes observed. This study suggests that exposures to exogenous compounds during preimplantation may unintentionally reprogram the human embryo, possibly leading to suboptimal development and longer-term health outcomes.

+view abstract Genome research, PMID: 35948369 10 Aug 2022

Bergmann S, Penfold CA, Slatery E, Siriwardena D, Drummer C, Clark S, Strawbridge SE, Kishimoto K, Vickers A, Tewary M, Kohler TN, Hollfelder F, Reik W, Sasaki E, Behr R, Boroviak TE Epigenetics

Gastrulation controls the emergence of cellular diversity and axis patterning in the early embryo. In mammals, this transformation is orchestrated by dynamic signalling centres at the interface of embryonic and extraembryonic tissues. Elucidating the molecular framework of axis formation in vivo is fundamental for our understanding of human development and to advance stem-cell-based regenerative approaches. Here, we illuminate early gastrulation of marmoset embryos in utero by spatial transcriptomics and stem cell-based embryo models. Gaussian process regression-based 3D-transcriptomes delineate the emergence of the anterior visceral endoderm, which is hallmarked by conserved (HHEX, LEFTY2, LHX1) and primate-specific (POSTN, SDC4, FZD5) factors. WNT signalling spatially coordinates primitive streak formation in the embryonic disc and is counteracted by SFRP1/2 to sustain pluripotency in the anterior domain. Amnion specification occurs at the boundaries of the embryonic disc through ID1/2/3 in response to BMP-signalling, providing a developmental rationale for amnion differentiation of primate pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). Spatial identity mapping demonstrates that primed marmoset PSCs exhibit highest similarity to the anterior embryonic disc, while naïve PSCs resemble the preimplantation epiblast. Our 3D-transcriptome models reveal the molecular code of lineage specification in the primate embryo and provide an in vivo reference to decipher human development.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 35709828 16 Jun 2022

Bergmann S, Penfold CA, Slatery E, Siriwardena D, Drummer C, Clark S, Strawbridge SE, Kishimoto K, Vickers A, Tewary M, Kohler TN, Hollfelder F, Reik W, Sasaki E, Behr R, Boroviak TE Epigenetics

Gastrulation controls the emergence of cellular diversity and axis patterning in the early embryo. In mammals, this transformation is orchestrated by dynamic signalling centres at the interface of embryonic and extraembryonic tissues. Elucidating the molecular framework of axis formation in vivo is fundamental for our understanding of human development and to advance stem-cell-based regenerative approaches. Here we illuminate early gastrulation of marmoset embryos in utero using spatial transcriptomics and stem-cell-based embryo models. Gaussian process regression-based 3D transcriptomes delineate the emergence of the anterior visceral endoderm, which is hallmarked by conserved (HHEX, LEFTY2, LHX1) and primate-specific (POSTN, SDC4, FZD5) factors. WNT signalling spatially coordinates the formation of the primitive streak in the embryonic disc and is counteracted by SFRP1 and SFRP2 to sustain pluripotency in the anterior domain. Amnion specification occurs at the boundaries of the embryonic disc through ID1, ID2 and ID3 in response to BMP signalling, providing a developmental rationale for amnion differentiation of primate pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). Spatial identity mapping demonstrates that primed marmoset PSCs exhibit the highest similarity to the anterior embryonic disc, whereas naive PSCs resemble the preimplantation epiblast. Our 3D transcriptome models reveal the molecular code of lineage specification in the primate embryo and provide an in vivo reference to decipher human development.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 35709828 09 2022

Parry AJ, Reik W Epigenetics

No abstract available.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 35534560 09 May 2022

Kyriakopoulos C, Nordström K, Kramer PL, Gottfreund JY, Salhab A, Arand J, Müller F, von Meyenn F, Ficz G, Reik W, Wolf V, Walter J, Giehr P Epigenetics

A precise understanding of DNA methylation dynamics is of great importance for a variety of biological processes including cellular reprogramming and differentiation. To date, complex integration of multiple and distinct genome-wide datasets is required to realize this task. We present GwEEP (genome-wide epigenetic efficiency profiling) a versatile approach to infer dynamic efficiencies of DNA modifying enzymes. GwEEP relies on genome-wide hairpin datasets, which are translated by a hidden Markov model into quantitative enzyme efficiencies with reported confidence around the estimates. GwEEP predicts and maintenance methylation efficiencies of Dnmts and furthermore the hydroxylation efficiency of Tets. Its design also allows capturing further oxidation processes given available data. We show that GwEEP predicts accurately the epigenetic changes of ESCs following a Serum-to-2i shift and applied to Tet TKO cells confirms the hypothesized mutual interference between Dnmts and Tets.

+view abstract Cell reports methods, PMID: 35475220 28 Mar 2022

Rostovskaya M, Andrews S, Reik W, Rugg-Gunn PJ Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

In primates, the amnion emerges through cavitation of the epiblast during implantation, whereas in other species it does so later at gastrulation by the folding of the ectoderm. How the mechanisms of amniogenesis diversified during evolution remains unknown. Unexpectedly, single-cell analysis of primate embryos uncovered two transcriptionally and temporally distinct amniogenesis waves. To study this, we employed the naive-to-primed transition of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to model peri-implantation epiblast development. Partially primed hPSCs transiently gained the ability to differentiate into cavitating epithelium that transcriptionally and morphologically matched the early amnion, whereas fully primed hPSCs produced cells resembling the late amnion instead, thus recapitulating the two independent differentiation waves. The early wave follows a trophectoderm-like pathway and encompasses cavitation, whereas the late wave resembles an ectoderm-like route during gastrulation. The discovery of two independent waves explains how amniogenesis through cavitation could emerge during evolution via duplication of the pre-existing trophectoderm program.

+view abstract Cell stem cell, PMID: 35439430 05 May 2022

Gill D, Parry A, Santos F, Okkenhaug H, Todd CD, Hernando-Herraez I, Stubbs TM, Milagre I, Reik W Epigenetics, Imaging

Ageing is the gradual decline in organismal fitness that occurs over time leading to tissue dysfunction and disease. At the cellular level, ageing is associated with reduced function, altered gene expression and a perturbed epigenome. Recent work has demonstrated that the epigenome is already rejuvenated by the maturation phase of somatic cell reprogramming, which suggests full reprogramming is not required to reverse ageing of somatic cells. Here we have developed the first "maturation phase transient reprogramming" (MPTR) method, where reprogramming factors are selectively expressed until this rejuvenation point then withdrawn. Applying MPTR to dermal fibroblasts from middle-aged donors, we found that cells temporarily lose and then reacquire their fibroblast identity, possibly as a result of epigenetic memory at enhancers and/or persistent expression of some fibroblast genes. Excitingly, our method substantially rejuvenated multiple cellular attributes including the transcriptome, which was rejuvenated by around 30 years as measured by a novel transcriptome clock. The epigenome was rejuvenated to a similar extent, including H3K9me3 levels and the DNA methylation ageing clock. The magnitude of rejuvenation instigated by MPTR appears substantially greater than that achieved in previous transient reprogramming protocols. In addition, MPTR fibroblasts produced youthful levels of collagen proteins, and showed partial functional rejuvenation of their migration speed. Finally, our work suggests that optimal time windows exist for rejuvenating the transcriptome and the epigenome. Overall, we demonstrate that it is possible to separate rejuvenation from complete pluripotency reprogramming, which should facilitate the discovery of novel anti-ageing genes and therapies.

+view abstract eLife, PMID: 35390271 08 Apr 2022

Chondronasiou D, Gill D, Mosteiro L, Urdinguio RG, Berenguer-Llergo A, Aguilera M, Durand S, Aprahamian F, Nirmalathasan N, Abad M, Martin-Herranz DE, Stephan-Otto Attolini C, Prats N, Kroemer G, Fraga MF, Reik W, Serrano M Epigenetics

The expression of the pluripotency factors OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and MYC (OSKM) can convert somatic differentiated cells into pluripotent stem cells in a process known as reprogramming. Notably, partial and reversible reprogramming does not change cell identity but can reverse markers of aging in cells, improve the capacity of aged mice to repair tissue injuries, and extend longevity in progeroid mice. However, little is known about the mechanisms involved. Here, we have studied changes in the DNA methylome, transcriptome, and metabolome in naturally aged mice subject to a single period of transient OSKM expression. We found that this is sufficient to reverse DNA methylation changes that occur upon aging in the pancreas, liver, spleen, and blood. Similarly, we observed reversion of transcriptional changes, especially regarding biological processes known to change during aging. Finally, some serum metabolites and biomarkers altered with aging were also restored to young levels upon transient reprogramming. These observations indicate that a single period of OSKM expression can drive epigenetic, transcriptomic, and metabolomic changes toward a younger configuration in multiple tissues and in the serum.

+view abstract Aging cell, PMID: 35235716 02 Mar 2022

Taubenschmid-Stowers J, Rostovskaya M, Santos F, Ljung S, Argelaguet R, Krueger F, Nichols J, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

The activation of the embryonic genome marks the first major wave of transcription in the developing organism. Zygotic genome activation (ZGA) in mouse 2-cell embryos and 8-cell embryos in humans is crucial for development. Here, we report the discovery of human 8-cell-like cells (8CLCs) among naive embryonic stem cells, which transcriptionally resemble the 8-cell human embryo. They express ZGA markers, including ZSCAN4 and LEUTX, and transposable elements, such as HERVL and MLT2A1. 8CLCs show reduced SOX2 levels and can be identified using TPRX1 and H3.Y marker proteins in vitro. Overexpression of the transcription factor DUX4 and spliceosome inhibition increase human ZGA-like transcription. Excitingly, the 8CLC markers TPRX1 and H3.Y are also expressed in ZGA-stage 8-cell human embryos and may thus be relevant in vivo. 8CLCs provide a unique opportunity to characterize human ZGA-like transcription and might provide critical insights into early events in embryogenesis in humans.

+view abstract Cell stem cell, PMID: 35216671 15 Feb 2022

Kubinyecz O, Santos F, Drage D, Reik W, Eckersley-Maslin MA Epigenetics

Zygotic genome activation (ZGA) represents the initiation of transcription following fertilisation. Despite its importance, we know little of the molecular events that initiate mammalian ZGA in vivo. Recent in vitro studies in mouse embryonic stem cells have revealed developmental pluripotency associated 2 and 4 (Dppa2/4) as key regulators of ZGA-associated transcription. However, their roles in initiating ZGA in vivo remain unexplored. We reveal that Dppa2/4 proteins are present in the nucleus at all stages of preimplantation development and associate with mitotic chromatin. We generated conditional single and double maternal knockout mouse models to deplete maternal stores of Dppa2/4. Importantly, Dppa2/4 maternal knockout mice were fertile when mated with wild-type males. Immunofluorescence and transcriptome analyses of two-cell embryos revealed that, although ZGA took place, there were subtle defects in embryos that lacked maternal Dppa2/4. Strikingly, heterozygous offspring that inherited the null allele maternally had higher preweaning lethality than those that inherited the null allele paternally. Together, our results show that although Dppa2/4 are dispensable for ZGA transcription, maternal stores have an important role in offspring survival, potentially via epigenetic priming of developmental genes.

+view abstract Development, PMID: 34931676 15 Dec 2021

Bleckwehl T, Crispatzu G, Schaaf K, Respuela P, Bartusel M, Benson L, Clark SJ, Dorighi KM, Barral A, Laugsch M, van IJcken WFJ, Manzanares M, Wysocka J, Reik W, Rada-Iglesias Á Epigenetics

Germline specification in mammals occurs through an inductive process whereby competent cells in the post-implantation epiblast differentiate into primordial germ cells (PGC). The intrinsic factors that endow epiblast cells with the competence to respond to germline inductive signals remain unknown. Single-cell RNA sequencing across multiple stages of an in vitro PGC-like cells (PGCLC) differentiation system shows that PGCLC genes initially expressed in the naïve pluripotent stage become homogeneously dismantled in germline competent epiblast like-cells (EpiLC). In contrast, the decommissioning of enhancers associated with these germline genes is incomplete. Namely, a subset of these enhancers partly retain H3K4me1, accumulate less heterochromatic marks and remain accessible and responsive to transcriptional activators. Subsequently, as in vitro germline competence is lost, these enhancers get further decommissioned and lose their responsiveness to transcriptional activators. Importantly, using H3K4me1-deficient cells, we show that the loss of this histone modification reduces the germline competence of EpiLC and decreases PGCLC differentiation efficiency. Our work suggests that, although H3K4me1 might not be essential for enhancer function, it can facilitate the (re)activation of enhancers and the establishment of gene expression programs during specific developmental transitions.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 34599190 01 Oct 2021

Lohoff T, Ghazanfar S, Missarova A, Koulena N, Pierson N, Griffiths JA, Bardot ES, Eng CL, Tyser RCV, Argelaguet R, Guibentif C, Srinivas S, Briscoe J, Simons BD, Hadjantonakis AK, Göttgens B, Reik W, Nichols J, Cai L, Marioni JC Epigenetics

Molecular profiling of single cells has advanced our knowledge of the molecular basis of development. However, current approaches mostly rely on dissociating cells from tissues, thereby losing the crucial spatial context of regulatory processes. Here, we apply an image-based single-cell transcriptomics method, sequential fluorescence in situ hybridization (seqFISH), to detect mRNAs for 387 target genes in tissue sections of mouse embryos at the 8-12 somite stage. By integrating spatial context and multiplexed transcriptional measurements with two single-cell transcriptome atlases, we characterize cell types across the embryo and demonstrate that spatially resolved expression of genes not profiled by seqFISH can be imputed. We use this high-resolution spatial map to characterize fundamental steps in the patterning of the midbrain-hindbrain boundary (MHB) and the developing gut tube. We uncover axes of cell differentiation that are not apparent from single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) data, such as early dorsal-ventral separation of esophageal and tracheal progenitor populations in the gut tube. Our method provides an approach for studying cell fate decisions in complex tissues and development.

+view abstract Nature biotechnology, PMID: 34489600 06 Sep 2021

Alda-Catalinas C, Eckersley-Maslin MA, Reik W Epigenetics

CRISPR/Cas9 screens are a powerful approach to identify key regulators of biological processes. By combining pooled CRISPR/Cas9 screening with single-cell RNA-sequencing readout, individual perturbations can be assessed in parallel both comprehensively and at scale. Importantly, this allows gene function and regulation to be interrogated at a cellular level in an unbiased manner. Here, we present a protocol to perform pooled CRISPR-activation screens in mouse embryonic stem cells using 10× Genomics scRNA-seq as a readout. For complete information on the generation and use of this protocol, please refer to Alda-Catalinas et al. (2020).

+view abstract STAR protocols, PMID: 33899013 18 Jun 2021

Rajewsky N, Almouzni G, Gorski SA, Aerts S, Amit I, Bertero MG, Bock C, Bredenoord AL, Cavalli G, Chiocca S, Clevers H, De Strooper B, Eggert A, Ellenberg J, Fernández XM, Figlerowicz M, Gasser SM, Hubner N, Kjems J, Knoblich JA, Krabbe G, Lichter P, Linnarsson S, Marine JC, Marioni JC, Marti-Renom MA, Netea MG, Nickel D, Nollmann M, Novak HR, Parkinson H, Piccolo S, Pinheiro I, Pombo A, Popp C, Reik W, Roman-Roman S, Rosenstiel P, Schultze JL, Stegle O, Tanay A, Testa G, Thanos D, Theis FJ, Torres-Padilla ME, Valencia A, Vallot C, van Oudenaarden A, Vidal M, Voet T, Epigenetics


+view abstract Nature, PMID: 33731935 17 Mar 2021

Halsall JA, Andrews S, Krueger F, Rutledge CE, Ficz G, Reik W, Turner BM Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Chromatin configuration influences gene expression in eukaryotes at multiple levels, from individual nucleosomes to chromatin domains several Mb long. Post-translational modifications (PTM) of core histones seem to be involved in chromatin structural transitions, but how remains unclear. To explore this, we used ChIP-seq and two cell types, HeLa and lymphoblastoid (LCL), to define how changes in chromatin packaging through the cell cycle influence the distributions of three transcription-associated histone modifications, H3K9ac, H3K4me3 and H3K27me3. We show that chromosome regions (bands) of 10-50 Mb, detectable by immunofluorescence microscopy of metaphase (M) chromosomes, are also present in G and G. They comprise 1-5 Mb sub-bands that differ between HeLa and LCL but remain consistent through the cell cycle. The same sub-bands are defined by H3K9ac and H3K4me3, while H3K27me3 spreads more widely. We found little change between cell cycle phases, whether compared by 5 Kb rolling windows or when analysis was restricted to functional elements such as transcription start sites and topologically associating domains. Only a small number of genes showed cell-cycle related changes: at genes encoding proteins involved in mitosis, H3K9 became highly acetylated in GM, possibly because of ongoing transcription. In conclusion, modified histone isoforms H3K9ac, H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 exhibit a characteristic genomic distribution at resolutions of 1 Mb and below that differs between HeLa and lymphoblastoid cells but remains remarkably consistent through the cell cycle. We suggest that this cell-type-specific chromosomal bar-code is part of a homeostatic mechanism by which cells retain their characteristic gene expression patterns, and hence their identity, through multiple mitoses.

+view abstract Scientific reports, PMID: 33542322 04 Feb 2021

Evano B, Gill D, Hernando-Herraez I, Comai G, Stubbs TM, Commere PH, Reik W, Tajbakhsh S Epigenetics

Adult skeletal muscles are maintained during homeostasis and regenerated upon injury by muscle stem cells (MuSCs). A heterogeneity in self-renewal, differentiation and regeneration properties has been reported for MuSCs based on their anatomical location. Although MuSCs derived from extraocular muscles (EOM) have a higher regenerative capacity than those derived from limb muscles, the molecular determinants that govern these differences remain undefined. Here we show that EOM and limb MuSCs have distinct DNA methylation signatures associated with enhancers of location-specific genes, and that the EOM transcriptome is reprogrammed following transplantation into a limb muscle environment. Notably, EOM MuSCs expressed host-site specific positional Hox codes after engraftment and self-renewal within the host muscle. However, about 10% of EOM-specific genes showed engraftment-resistant expression, pointing to cell-intrinsic molecular determinants of the higher engraftment potential of EOM MuSCs. Our results underscore the molecular diversity of distinct MuSC populations and molecularly define their plasticity in response to microenvironmental cues. These findings provide insights into strategies designed to improve the functional capacity of MuSCs in the context of regenerative medicine.

+view abstract PLoS genetics, PMID: 33125370 30 Oct 2020

Parry A, Rulands S, Reik W Epigenetics

DNA methylation is a key layer of epigenetic regulation. The deposition of methylation marks relies on the catalytic activity of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), and their active removal relies on the activity of ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes. Paradoxically, in important biological contexts these antagonistic factors are co-expressed and target overlapping genomic regions. The ensuing cyclic biochemistry of cytosine modifications gives rise to a continuous, out-of-thermal equilibrium transition through different methylation states. But what is the purpose of this intriguing turnover of DNA methylation? Recent evidence demonstrates that methylation turnover is enriched at gene distal regulatory elements, including enhancers, and can give rise to large-scale oscillatory dynamics. We discuss this phenomenon and propose that DNA methylation turnover might facilitate key lineage decisions.

+view abstract Nature reviews. Genetics, PMID: 33024290 06 Oct 2020

Rajewsky N, Almouzni G, Gorski SA, Aerts S, Amit I, Bertero MG, Bock C, Bredenoord AL, Cavalli G, Chiocca S, Clevers H, De Strooper B, Eggert A, Ellenberg J, Fernández XM, Figlerowicz M, Gasser SM, Hubner N, Kjems J, Knoblich JA, Krabbe G, Lichter P, Linnarsson S, Marine JC, Marioni J, Marti-Renom MA, Netea MG, Nickel D, Nollmann M, Novak HR, Parkinson H, Piccolo S, Pinheiro I, Pombo A, Popp C, Reik W, Roman-Roman S, Rosenstiel P, Schultze JL, Stegle O, Tanay A, Testa G, Thanos D, Theis FJ, Torres-Padilla ME, Valencia A, Vallot C, van Oudenaarden A, Vidal M, Voet T, Epigenetics

LifeTime aims to track, understand and target human cells during the onset and progression of complex diseases and their response to therapy at single-cell resolution. This mission will be implemented through the development and integration of single-cell multi-omics and imaging, artificial intelligence and patient-derived experimental disease models during progression from health to disease. Analysis of such large molecular and clinical datasets will discover molecular mechanisms, create predictive computational models of disease progression, and reveal new drug targets and therapies. Timely detection and interception of disease embedded in an ethical and patient-centered vision will be achieved through interactions across academia, hospitals, patient-associations, health data management systems and industry. Applying this strategy to key medical challenges in cancer, neurological, infectious, chronic inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases at the single-cell level will usher in cell-based interceptive medicine in Europe over the next decade.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 32894860 07 Sep 2020

D'Anna F, Van Dyck L, Xiong J, Zhao H, Berrens RV, Qian J, Bieniasz-Krzywiec P, Chandra V, Schoonjans L, Matthews J, De Smedt J, Minnoye L, Amorim R, Khorasanizadeh S, Yu Q, Zhao L, De Borre M, Savvides SN, Simon MC, Carmeliet P, Reik W, Rastinejad F, Mazzone M, Thienpont B, Lambrechts D Epigenetics

Hypoxia is pervasive in cancer and other diseases. Cells sense and adapt to hypoxia by activating hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIFs), but it is still an outstanding question why cell types differ in their transcriptional response to hypoxia.

+view abstract Genome Biology, PMID: 32718321 27 Jul 2020

Alda-Catalinas C, Bredikhin D, Hernando-Herraez I, Santos F, Kubinyecz O, Eckersley-Maslin MA, Stegle O, Reik W Epigenetics

Zygotic genome activation (ZGA) is an essential transcriptional event in embryonic development that coincides with extensive epigenetic reprogramming. Complex manipulation techniques and maternal stores of proteins preclude large-scale functional screens for ZGA regulators within early embryos. Here, we combined pooled CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) with single-cell transcriptomics to identify regulators of ZGA-like transcription in mouse embryonic stem cells, which serve as a tractable, in vitro proxy of early mouse embryos. Using multi-omics factor analysis (MOFA+) applied to ∼200,000 single-cell transcriptomes comprising 230 CRISPRa perturbations, we characterized molecular signatures of ZGA and uncovered 24 factors that promote a ZGA-like response. Follow-up assays validated top screen hits, including the DNA-binding protein Dppa2, the chromatin remodeler Smarca5, and the transcription factor Patz1, and functional experiments revealed that Smarca5's regulation of ZGA-like transcription is dependent on Dppa2. Together, our single-cell transcriptomic profiling of CRISPRa-perturbed cells provides both system-level and molecular insights into the mechanisms that orchestrate ZGA.

+view abstract Cell systems, PMID: 32634384 29 Jun 2020

Eckersley-Maslin MA, Parry A, Blotenburg M, Krueger C, Ito Y, Franklin VNR, Narita M, D'Santos CS, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

How the epigenetic landscape is established in development is still being elucidated. Here, we uncover developmental pluripotency associated 2 and 4 (DPPA2/4) as epigenetic priming factors that establish a permissive epigenetic landscape at a subset of developmentally important bivalent promoters characterized by low expression and poised RNA-polymerase. Differentiation assays reveal that Dppa2/4 double knockout mouse embryonic stem cells fail to exit pluripotency and differentiate efficiently. DPPA2/4 bind both H3K4me3-marked and bivalent gene promoters and associate with COMPASS- and Polycomb-bound chromatin. Comparing knockout and inducible knockdown systems, we find that acute depletion of DPPA2/4 results in rapid loss of H3K4me3 from key bivalent genes, while H3K27me3 is initially more stable but lost following extended culture. Consequently, upon DPPA2/4 depletion, these promoters gain DNA methylation and are unable to be activated upon differentiation. Our findings uncover a novel epigenetic priming mechanism at developmental promoters, poising them for future lineage-specific activation.

+view abstract Nature structural & molecular biology, PMID: 32572255 22 Jun 2020

Thompson O, von Meyenn F, Hewitt Z, Alexander J, Wood A, Weightman R, Gregory S, Krueger F, Andrews S, Barbaric I, Gokhale PJ, Moore HD, Reik W, Milo M, Nik-Zainal S, Yusa K, Andrews PW Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

The occurrence of repetitive genomic changes that provide a selective growth advantage in pluripotent stem cells is of concern for their clinical application. However, the effect of different culture conditions on the underlying mutation rate is unknown. Here we show that the mutation rate in two human embryonic stem cell lines derived and banked for clinical application is low and not substantially affected by culture with Rho Kinase inhibitor, commonly used in their routine maintenance. However, the mutation rate is reduced by >50% in cells cultured under 5% oxygen, when we also found alterations in imprint methylation and reversible DNA hypomethylation. Mutations are evenly distributed across the chromosomes, except for a slight increase on the X-chromosome, and an elevation in intergenic regions suggesting that chromatin structure may affect mutation rate. Overall the results suggest that pluripotent stem cells are not subject to unusually high rates of genetic or epigenetic alterations.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 32251294 23 Mar 2020

Antunes C, Da Silva JD, Guerra-Gomes S, Alves ND, Ferreira F, Loureiro-Campos E, Branco MR, Sousa N, Reik W, Pinto L, Marques CJ Epigenetics

TET3 is a member of the ten-eleven translocation (TET) family of enzymes which oxidize 5-methylcytosine (5mC) into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). Tet3 is highly expressed in the brain, where 5hmC levels are most abundant. In adult mice, we observed that TET3 is present in mature neurons and oligodendrocytes but is absent in astrocytes. To investigate the function of TET3 in adult postmitotic neurons, we crossed Tet3 floxed mice with a neuronal Cre-expressing mouse line, Camk2a-CreERT2, obtaining a Tet3 conditional KO (cKO) mouse line. Ablation of Tet3 in adult mature neurons resulted in increased anxiety-like behavior with concomitant hypercorticalism, and impaired hippocampal-dependent spatial orientation. Transcriptome and gene-specific expression analysis of the hippocampus showed dysregulation of genes involved in glucocorticoid signaling pathway (HPA axis) in the ventral hippocampus, whereas upregulation of immediate early genes was observed in both dorsal and ventral hippocampal areas. In addition, Tet3 cKO mice exhibit increased dendritic spine maturation in the ventral CA1 hippocampal subregion. Based on these observations, we suggest that TET3 is involved in molecular alterations that govern hippocampal-dependent functions. These results reveal a critical role for epigenetic modifications in modulating brain functions, opening new insights into the molecular basis of neurological disorders.

+view abstract Molecular psychiatry, PMID: 32103150 26 Feb 2020

Argelaguet R, Clark SJ, Mohammed H, Stapel LC, Krueger C, Kapourani CA, Imaz-Rosshandler I, Lohoff T, Xiang Y, Hanna CW, Smallwood S, Ibarra-Soria X, Buettner F, Sanguinetti G, Xie W, Krueger F, Göttgens B, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Kelsey G, Dean W, Nichols J, Stegle O, Marioni JC, Reik W Epigenetics

Formation of the three primary germ layers during gastrulation is an essential step in the establishment of the vertebrate body plan and is associated with major transcriptional changes. Global epigenetic reprogramming accompanies these changes, but the role of the epigenome in regulating early cell-fate choice remains unresolved, and the coordination between different molecular layers is unclear. Here we describe a single-cell multi-omics map of chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and RNA expression during the onset of gastrulation in mouse embryos. The initial exit from pluripotency coincides with the establishment of a global repressive epigenetic landscape, followed by the emergence of lineage-specific epigenetic patterns during gastrulation. Notably, cells committed to mesoderm and endoderm undergo widespread coordinated epigenetic rearrangements at enhancer marks, driven by ten-eleven translocation (TET)-mediated demethylation and a concomitant increase of accessibility. By contrast, the methylation and accessibility landscape of ectodermal cells is already established in the early epiblast. Hence, regulatory elements associated with each germ layer are either epigenetically primed or remodelled before cell-fate decisions, providing the molecular framework for a hierarchical emergence of the primary germ layers.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 31827285 2019

Bell CG, Lowe R, Adams PD, Baccarelli AA, Beck S, Bell JT, Christensen BC, Gladyshev VN, Heijmans BT, Horvath S, Ideker T, Issa JJ, Kelsey KT, Marioni RE, Reik W, Relton CL, Schalkwyk LC, Teschendorff AE, Wagner W, Zhang K, Rakyan VK Epigenetics

Epigenetic clocks comprise a set of CpG sites whose DNA methylation levels measure subject age. These clocks are acknowledged as a highly accurate molecular correlate of chronological age in humans and other vertebrates. Also, extensive research is aimed at their potential to quantify biological aging rates and test longevity or rejuvenating interventions. Here, we discuss key challenges to understand clock mechanisms and biomarker utility. This requires dissecting the drivers and regulators of age-related changes in single-cell, tissue- and disease-specific models, as well as exploring other epigenomic marks, longitudinal and diverse population studies, and non-human models. We also highlight important ethical issues in forensic age determination and predicting the trajectory of biological aging in an individual.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 31767039 25 11 2019

Santiago M, Antunes C, Guedes M, Iacovino M, Kyba M, Reik W, Sousa N, Pinto L, Branco MR, Marques CJ Epigenetics

TET enzymes oxidize 5-methylcytosine (5mC) into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), a process thought to be intermediary in an active DNA demethylation mechanism. Notably, 5hmC is highly abundant in the brain and in neuronal cells. Here, we interrogated the function of Tet3 in neural precursor cells (NPCs), using a stable and inducible knockdown system and an in vitro neural differentiation protocol. We show that Tet3 is upregulated during neural differentiation, whereas Tet1 is downregulated. Surprisingly, Tet3 knockdown led to a de-repression of pluripotency-associated genes such as Oct4, Nanog or Tcl1, with concomitant hypomethylation. Moreover, in Tet3 knockdown NPCs, we observed the appearance of OCT4-positive cells forming cellular aggregates, suggesting de-differentiation of the cells. Notably, Tet3 KD led to a genome-scale loss of DNA methylation and hypermethylation of a smaller number of CpGs that are located at neurogenesis-related genes and at imprinting control regions (ICRs) of Peg10, Zrsr1 and Mcts2 imprinted genes. Overall, our results suggest that TET3 is necessary to maintain silencing of pluripotency genes and consequently neural stem cell identity, possibly through regulation of DNA methylation levels in neural precursor cells.

+view abstract Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS, PMID: 31646359 2019

Anikeeva P, Boyden E, Brangwynne C, Cissé II, Fiehn O, Fromme P, Gingras AC, Greene CS, Heard E, Hell SW, Hillman E, Jensen GJ, Karchin R, Kiessling LL, Kleinstiver BP, Knight R, Kukura P, Lancaster MA, Loman N, Looger L, Lundberg E, Luo Q, Miyawaki A, Myers EW, Nolan GP, Picotti P, Reik W, Sauer M, Shalek AK, Shendure J, Slavov N, Tanay A, Troyanskaya O, van Valen D, Wang HW, Yi C, Yin P, Zernicka-Goetz M, Zhuang X Epigenetics,

+view abstract Nature methods, PMID: 31562479 2019

Hernando-Herraez I, Evano B, Stubbs T, Commere PH, Jan Bonder M, Clark S, Andrews S, Tajbakhsh S, Reik W ,

Age-related tissue alterations have been associated with a decline in stem cell number and function. Although increased cell-to-cell variability in transcription or epigenetic marks has been proposed to be a major hallmark of ageing, little is known about the molecular diversity of stem cells during ageing. Here we present a single cell multi-omics study of mouse muscle stem cells, combining single-cell transcriptome and DNA methylome profiling. Aged cells show a global increase of uncoordinated transcriptional heterogeneity biased towards genes regulating cell-niche interactions. We find context-dependent alterations of DNA methylation in aged stem cells. Importantly, promoters with increased methylation heterogeneity are associated with increased transcriptional heterogeneity of the genes they drive. These results indicate that epigenetic drift, by accumulation of stochastic DNA methylation changes in promoters, is associated with the degradation of coherent transcriptional networks during stem cell ageing. Furthermore, our observations also shed light on the mechanisms underlying the DNA methylation clock.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 31554804 2019

Stuart HT, Stirparo GG, Lohoff T, Bates LE, Kinoshita M, Lim CY, Sousa EJ, Maskalenka K, Radzisheuskaya A, Malcolm AA, Alves MRP, Lloyd RL, Nestorowa S, Humphreys P, Mansfield W, Reik W, Bertone P, Nichols J, Göttgens B, Silva JCR Epigenetics,

Understanding how cell identity transitions occur and whether there are multiple paths between the same beginning and end states are questions of wide interest. Here we show that acquisition of naive pluripotency can follow transcriptionally and mechanistically distinct routes. Starting from post-implantation epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs), one route advances through a mesodermal state prior to naive pluripotency induction, whereas another transiently resembles the early inner cell mass and correspondingly gains greater developmental potency. These routes utilize distinct signaling networks and transcription factors but subsequently converge on the same naive endpoint, showing surprising flexibility in mechanisms underlying identity transitions and suggesting that naive pluripotency is a multidimensional attractor state. These route differences are reconciled by precise expression of Oct4 as a unifying, essential, and sufficient feature. We propose that fine-tuned regulation of this "transition factor" underpins multidimensional access to naive pluripotency, offering a conceptual framework for understanding cell identity transitions.

+view abstract Cell stem cell, PMID: 31422912 2019

Martin-Herranz DE, Aref-Eshghi E, Bonder MJ, Stubbs TM, Choufani S, Weksberg R, Stegle O, Sadikovic B, Reik W, Thornton JM Epigenetics,

Epigenetic clocks are mathematical models that predict the biological age of an individual using DNA methylation data and have emerged in the last few years as the most accurate biomarkers of the aging process. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that control the rate of such clocks. Here, we have examined the human epigenetic clock in patients with a variety of developmental disorders, harboring mutations in proteins of the epigenetic machinery.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 31409373 2019

Gao X, Nowak-Imialek M, Chen X, Chen D, Herrmann D, Ruan D, Chen ACH, Eckersley-Maslin MA, Ahmad S, Lee YL, Kobayashi T, Ryan D, Zhong J, Zhu J, Wu J, Lan G, Petkov S, Yang J, Antunes L, Campos LS, Fu B, Wang S, Yong Y, Wang X, Xue SG, Ge L, Liu Z, Huang Y, Nie T, Li P, Wu D, Pei D, Zhang Y, Lu L, Yang F, Kimber SJ, Reik W, Zou X, Shang Z, Lai L, Surani A, Tam PPL, Ahmed A, Yeung WSB, Teichmann SA, Niemann H, Liu P Epigenetics,

We recently derived mouse expanded potential stem cells (EPSCs) from individual blastomeres by inhibiting the critical molecular pathways that predispose their differentiation. EPSCs had enriched molecular signatures of blastomeres and possessed developmental potency for all embryonic and extra-embryonic cell lineages. Here, we report the derivation of porcine EPSCs, which express key pluripotency genes, are genetically stable, permit genome editing, differentiate to derivatives of the three germ layers in chimeras and produce primordial germ cell-like cells in vitro. Under similar conditions, human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells can be converted, or somatic cells directly reprogrammed, to EPSCs that display the molecular and functional attributes reminiscent of porcine EPSCs. Importantly, trophoblast stem-cell-like cells can be generated from both human and porcine EPSCs. Our pathway-inhibition paradigm thus opens an avenue for generating mammalian pluripotent stem cells, and EPSCs present a unique cellular platform for translational research in biotechnology and regenerative medicine.

+view abstract Nature cell biology, PMID: 31160711 2019

Montalbán-Loro R, Lozano-Ureña A, Ito M, Krueger C, Reik W, Ferguson-Smith AC, Ferrón SR Epigenetics,

Ten-eleven-translocation (TET) proteins catalyze DNA hydroxylation, playing an important role in demethylation of DNA in mammals. Remarkably, although hydroxymethylation levels are high in the mouse brain, the potential role of TET proteins in adult neurogenesis is unknown. We show here that a non-catalytic action of TET3 is essentially required for the maintenance of the neural stem cell (NSC) pool in the adult subventricular zone (SVZ) niche by preventing premature differentiation of NSCs into non-neurogenic astrocytes. This occurs through direct binding of TET3 to the paternal transcribed allele of the imprinted gene Small nuclear ribonucleoprotein-associated polypeptide N (Snrpn), contributing to transcriptional repression of the gene. The study also identifies BMP2 as an effector of the astrocytic terminal differentiation mediated by SNRPN. Our work describes a novel mechanism of control of an imprinted gene in the regulation of adult neurogenesis through an unconventional role of TET3.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 30979904 2019

Olova N, Krueger F, Andrews S, Oxley D, Berrens RV, Branco MR, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Following publication of the original article [1], it was reported that the incorrect "Additional file 3" was published. The correct additional file is given below.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 30795792 2019

Pijuan-Sala B, Griffiths JA, Guibentif C, Hiscock TW, Jawaid W, Calero-Nieto FJ, Mulas C, Ibarra-Soria X, Tyser RCV, Ho DLL, Reik W, Srinivas S, Simons BD, Nichols J, Marioni JC, Göttgens B Epigenetics,

Across the animal kingdom, gastrulation represents a key developmental event during which embryonic pluripotent cells diversify into lineage-specific precursors that will generate the adult organism. Here we report the transcriptional profiles of 116,312 single cells from mouse embryos collected at nine sequential time points ranging from 6.5 to 8.5 days post-fertilization. We construct a molecular map of cellular differentiation from pluripotency towards all major embryonic lineages, and explore the complex events involved in the convergence of visceral and primitive streak-derived endoderm. Furthermore, we use single-cell profiling to show that Tal1 chimeric embryos display defects in early mesoderm diversification, and we thus demonstrate how combining temporal and transcriptional information can illuminate gene function. Together, this comprehensive delineation of mammalian cell differentiation trajectories in vivo represents a baseline for understanding the effects of gene mutations during development, as well as a roadmap for the optimization of in vitro differentiation protocols for regenerative medicine.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 30787436 2019

Linker SM, Urban L, Clark SJ, Chhatriwala M, Amatya S, McCarthy DJ, Ebersberger I, Vallier L, Reik W, Stegle O, Bonder MJ Epigenetics,

Alternative splicing is a key regulatory mechanism in eukaryotic cells and increases the effective number of functionally distinct gene products. Using bulk RNA sequencing, splicing variation has been studied across human tissues and in genetically diverse populations. This has identified disease-relevant splicing events, as well as associations between splicing and genomic features, including sequence composition and conservation. However, variability in splicing between single cells from the same tissue or cell type and its determinants remains poorly understood.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 30744673 2019

Eckersley-Maslin M, Alda-Catalinas C, Blotenburg M, Kreibich E, Krueger C, Reik W Epigenetics,

The molecular regulation of zygotic genome activation (ZGA) in mammals remains an exciting area of research. Primed mouse embryonic stem cells contain a rare subset of "2C-like" cells that are epigenetically and transcriptionally similar to the two-cell embryo and thus represent an in vitro approximation for studying ZGA transcription regulation. Recently, the transcription factor Dux, expressed in the minor wave of ZGA, was described to activate many downstream ZGA transcripts. However, it remains unknown what upstream maternal factors initiate ZGA in either a Dux-dependent or Dux-independent manner. Here we performed a candidate-based overexpression screen, identifying, among others, developmental pluripotency-associated 2 (Dppa2) and Dppa4 as positive regulators of 2C-like cells and transcription of ZGA genes. In the germline, promoter DNA demethylation coincides with expression of Dppa2 and Dppa4, which remain expressed until embryonic day 7.5 (E7.5), when their promoters are remethylated. Furthermore, Dppa2 and Dppa4 are also expressed during induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) reprogramming at the time that 2C-like transcription transiently peaks. Through a combination of overexpression, knockdown, knockout, and rescue experiments together with transcriptional analyses, we show that Dppa2 and Dppa4 directly regulate the 2C-like cell population and associated transcripts, including Dux and the Zscan4 cluster. Importantly, we teased apart the molecular hierarchy in which the 2C-like transcriptional program is initiated and stabilized. Dppa2 and Dppa4 require Dux to initiate 2C-like transcription, suggesting that they act upstream by directly regulating Dux. Supporting this, ChIP-seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation [ChIP] combined with high-throughput sequencing) analysis revealed that Dppa2 and Dppa4 bind to the Dux promoter and gene body and drive its expression. Zscan4c is also able to induce 2C-like cells in wild-type cells but, in contrast to Dux, can no longer do so in Dppa2/4 double-knockout cells, suggesting that it may act to stabilize rather than drive the transcriptional network. Our findings suggest a model in which Dppa2/4 binding to the Dux promoter leads to Dux up-regulation and activation of the 2C-like transcriptional program, which is subsequently reinforced by Zscan4c.

+view abstract Genes & development, PMID: 30692203 2019

Messmer T, von Meyenn F, Savino A, Santos F, Mohammed H, Lun ATL, Marioni JC, Reik W Epigenetics,

Conventional human embryonic stem cells are considered to be primed pluripotent but can be induced to enter a naive state. However, the transcriptional features associated with naive and primed pluripotency are still not fully understood. Here we used single-cell RNA sequencing to characterize the differences between these conditions. We observed that both naive and primed populations were mostly homogeneous with no clear lineage-related structure and identified an intermediate subpopulation of naive cells with primed-like expression. We found that the naive-primed pluripotency axis is preserved across species, although the timing of the transition to a primed state is species specific. We also identified markers for distinguishing human naive and primed pluripotency as well as strong co-regulatory relationships between lineage markers and epigenetic regulators that were exclusive to naive cells. Our data provide valuable insights into the transcriptional landscape of human pluripotency at a cellular and genome-wide resolution.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 30673604 2019

Gdula MR, Nesterova TB, Pintacuda G, Godwin J, Zhan Y, Ozadam H, McClellan M, Moralli D, Krueger F, Green CM, Reik W, Kriaucionis S, Heard E, Dekker J, Brockdorff N Epigenetics,

The inactive X chromosome (Xi) in female mammals adopts an atypical higher-order chromatin structure, manifested as a global loss of local topologically associated domains (TADs), A/B compartments and formation of two mega-domains. Here we demonstrate that the non-canonical SMC family protein, SmcHD1, which is important for gene silencing on Xi, contributes to this unique chromosome architecture. Specifically, allelic mapping of the transcriptome and epigenome in SmcHD1 mutant cells reveals the appearance of sub-megabase domains defined by gene activation, CpG hypermethylation and depletion of Polycomb-mediated H3K27me3. These domains, which correlate with sites of SmcHD1 enrichment on Xi in wild-type cells, additionally adopt features of active X chromosome higher-order chromosome architecture, including A/B compartments and partial restoration of TAD boundaries. Xi chromosome architecture changes also occurred following SmcHD1 knockout in a somatic cell model, but in this case, independent of Xi gene derepression. We conclude that SmcHD1 is a key factor in defining the unique chromosome architecture of Xi.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 30604745 2019

Hahn O, Stubbs TM, Reik W, Grönke S, Beyer A, Partridge L Epigenetics,

Dietary, pharmacological and genetic interventions can extend health- and lifespan in diverse mammalian species. DNA methylation has been implicated in mediating the beneficial effects of these interventions; methylation patterns deteriorate during ageing, and this is prevented by lifespan-extending interventions. However, whether these interventions also actively shape the epigenome, and whether such epigenetic reprogramming contributes to improved health at old age, remains underexplored. We analysed published, whole-genome, BS-seq data sets from mouse liver to explore DNA methylation patterns in aged mice in response to three lifespan-extending interventions: dietary restriction (DR), reduced TOR signaling (rapamycin), and reduced growth (Ames dwarf mice). Dwarf mice show enhanced DNA hypermethylation in the body of key genes in lipid biosynthesis, cell proliferation and somatotropic signaling, which strongly correlates with the pattern of transcriptional repression. Remarkably, DR causes a similar hypermethylation in lipid biosynthesis genes, while rapamycin treatment increases methylation signatures in genes coding for growth factor and growth hormone receptors. Shared changes of DNA methylation were restricted to hypermethylated regions, and they were not merely a consequence of slowed ageing, thus suggesting an active mechanism driving their formation. By comparing the overlap in ageing-independent hypermethylated patterns between all three interventions, we identified four regions, which, independent of genetic background or gender, may serve as novel biomarkers for longevity-extending interventions. In summary, we identified gene body hypermethylation as a novel and partly conserved signature of lifespan-extending interventions in mouse, highlighting epigenetic reprogramming as a possible intervention to improve health at old age.

+view abstract PLoS genetics, PMID: 30462643 2018

Boroviak T, Stirparo GG, Dietmann S, Hernando-Herraez I, Mohammed H, Reik W, Smith A, Sasaki E, Nichols J, Bertone P Epigenetics,

The mouse embryo is the canonical model for mammalian preimplantation development. Recent advances in single cell profiling allow detailed analysis of embryogenesis in other eutherian species, including human, to distinguish conserved from divergent regulatory programs and signalling pathways in the rodent paradigm. Here, we identify and compare transcriptional features of human, marmoset and mouse embryos by single cell RNA-seq. Zygotic genome activation correlates with the presence of polycomb repressive complexes in all three species, while ribosome biogenesis emerges as a predominant attribute in primate embryos, supporting prolonged translation of maternally deposited RNAs. We find that transposable element expression signatures are species, stage and lineage specific. The pluripotency network in the primate epiblast lacks certain regulators that are operative in mouse, but encompasses WNT components and genes associated with trophoblast specification. Sequential activation of GATA6, SOX17 and GATA4 markers of primitive endoderm identity is conserved in primates. Unexpectedly, OTX2 is also associated with primitive endoderm specification in human and non-human primate blastocysts. Our cross-species analysis demarcates both conserved and primate-specific features of preimplantation development, and underscores the molecular adaptability of early mammalian embryogenesis.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 30413530 2018

Raiber EA, Portella G, Martínez Cuesta S, Hardisty R, Murat P, Li Z, Iurlaro M, Dean W, Spindel J, Beraldi D, Liu Z, Dawson MA, Reik W, Balasubramanian S Epigenetics,

Nucleosomes are the basic unit of chromatin that help the packaging of genetic material while controlling access to the genetic information. The underlying DNA sequence, together with transcription-associated proteins and chromatin remodelling complexes, are important factors that influence the organization of nucleosomes. Here, we show that the naturally occurring DNA modification, 5-formylcytosine (5fC) is linked to tissue-specific nucleosome organization. Our study reveals that 5fC is associated with increased nucleosome occupancy in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that 5fC-associated nucleosomes at enhancers in the mammalian hindbrain and heart are linked to elevated gene expression. Our study also reveals the formation of a reversible-covalent Schiff base linkage between lysines of histone proteins and 5fC within nucleosomes in a cellular environment. We define their specific genomic loci in mouse embryonic stem cells and look into the biological consequences of these DNA-histone Schiff base sites. Collectively, our findings show that 5fC is a determinant of nucleosome organization and plays a role in establishing distinct regulatory regions that control transcription.

+view abstract Nature chemistry, PMID: 30349137 2018

Sarker G, Berrens R, von Arx J, Pelczar P, Reik W, Wolfrum C, Peleg-Raibstein D Epigenetics,

Maternal overnutrition has been associated with increased susceptibility to develop obesity and neurological disorders later in life. Most epidemiological as well as experimental studies have focused on the metabolic consequences across generations following an early developmental nutritional insult. Recently, it has been shown that maternal high-fat diet (HFD) affects third-generation female body mass via the paternal lineage. We showed here that the offspring born to HFD ancestors displayed addictive-like behaviors as well as obesity and insulin resistance up to the third generation in the absence of any further exposure to HFD. These findings, implicate that the male germ line is a major player in transferring phenotypic traits. These behavioral and physiological alterations were paralleled by reduced striatal dopamine levels and increased dopamine 2 receptor density. Interestingly, by the third generation a clear gender segregation emerged, where females showed addictive-like behaviors while male HFD offspring showed an obesogenic phenotype. However, methylome profiling of F1 and F2 sperm revealed no significant difference between the offspring groups, suggesting that the sperm methylome might not be the major carrier for the transmission of the phenotypes observed in our mouse model. Together, our study for the first time demonstrates that maternal HFD insult causes sustained alterations of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system suggestive of a predisposition to develop obesity and addictive-like behaviors across multiple generations.

+view abstract Translational psychiatry, PMID: 30315171 2018

Rulands S, Lee HJ, Clark SJ, Angermueller C, Smallwood SA, Krueger F, Mohammed H, Dean W, Nichols J, Rugg-Gunn P, Kelsey G, Stegle O, Simons BD, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Pluripotency is accompanied by the erasure of parental epigenetic memory, with naïve pluripotent cells exhibiting global DNA hypomethylation both in vitro and in vivo. Exit from pluripotency and priming for differentiation into somatic lineages is associated with genome-wide de novo DNA methylation. We show that during this phase, co-expression of enzymes required for DNA methylation turnover, DNMT3s and TETs, promotes cell-to-cell variability in this epigenetic mark. Using a combination of single-cell sequencing and quantitative biophysical modeling, we show that this variability is associated with coherent, genome-scale oscillations in DNA methylation with an amplitude dependent on CpG density. Analysis of parallel single-cell transcriptional and epigenetic profiling provides evidence for oscillatory dynamics both in vitro and in vivo. These observations provide insights into the emergence of epigenetic heterogeneity during early embryo development, indicating that dynamic changes in DNA methylation might influence early cell fate decisions.

+view abstract Cell systems, PMID: 30031774 2018

Sun W, Dong H, Becker AS, Dapito DH, Modica S, Grandl G, Opitz L, Efthymiou V, Straub LG, Sarker G, Balaz M, Balazova L, Perdikari A, Kiehlmann E, Bacanovic S, Zellweger C, Peleg-Raibstein D, Pelczar P, Reik W, Burger IA, von Meyenn F, Wolfrum C Epigenetics,

Recent research has focused on environmental effects that control tissue functionality and systemic metabolism. However, whether such stimuli affect human thermogenesis and body mass index (BMI) has not been explored. Here we show retrospectively that the presence of brown adipose tissue (BAT) and the season of conception are linked to BMI in humans. In mice, we demonstrate that cold exposure (CE) of males, but not females, before mating results in improved systemic metabolism and protection from diet-induced obesity of the male offspring. Integrated analyses of the DNA methylome and RNA sequencing of the sperm from male mice revealed several clusters of co-regulated differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and differentially expressed genes (DEGs), suggesting that the improved metabolic health of the offspring was due to enhanced BAT formation and increased neurogenesis. The conclusions are supported by cell-autonomous studies in the offspring that demonstrate an enhanced capacity to form mature active brown adipocytes, improved neuronal density and more norepinephrine release in BAT in response to cold stimulation. Taken together, our results indicate that in humans and in mice, seasonal or experimental CE induces an epigenetic programming of the sperm such that the offspring harbor hyperactive BAT and an improved adaptation to overnutrition and hypothermia.

+view abstract Nature medicine, PMID: 29988127 2018

Vasiliauskaitė L, Berrens RV, Ivanova I, Carrieri C, Reik W, Enright AJ, O'Carroll D Epigenetics,

Defective germline reprogramming in Piwil4 (Miwi2)- and Dnmt3l-deficient mice results in the failure to reestablish transposon silencing, meiotic arrest and progressive loss of spermatogonia. Here we sought to understand the molecular basis for this spermatogonial dysfunction. Through a combination of imaging, conditional genetics and transcriptome analysis, we demonstrate that germ cell elimination in the respective mutants arises as a result of defective de novo genome methylation during reprogramming rather than because of a function for the respective factors within spermatogonia. In both Miwi2 and Dnmt3l spermatogonia, the intracisternal-A particle (IAP) family of endogenous retroviruses is derepressed, but, in contrast to meiotic cells, DNA damage is not observed. Instead, we find that unmethylated IAP promoters rewire the spermatogonial transcriptome by driving expression of neighboring genes. Finally, spermatogonial numbers, proliferation and differentiation are altered in Miwi2 and Dnmt3l mice. In summary, defective reprogramming deregulates the spermatogonial transcriptome and may underlie spermatogonial dysfunction.

+view abstract Nature structural & molecular biology, PMID: 29728652 2018

Eckersley-Maslin MA, Alda-Catalinas C, Reik W Epigenetics,

A remarkable epigenetic remodelling process occurs shortly after fertilization, which restores totipotency to the zygote. This involves global DNA demethylation, chromatin remodelling, genome spatial reorganization and substantial transcriptional changes. Key to these changes is the transition from the maternal environment of the oocyte to an embryonic-driven developmental expression programme, a process termed the maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT). Zygotic genome activation occurs predominantly at the two-cell stage in mice and the eight-cell stage in humans, yet the dynamics of its control are still mostly obscure. In recent years, partly due to single-cell and low-cell number epigenomic studies, our understanding of the epigenetic and chromatin landscape of preimplantation development has improved considerably. In this Review, we discuss the latest advances in the study of the MZT, focusing on DNA methylation, histone post-translational modifications, local chromatin structure and higher-order genome organization. We also discuss key mechanistic studies that investigate the mode of action of chromatin regulators, transcription factors and non-coding RNAs during preimplantation development. Finally, we highlight areas requiring additional research, as well as new technological advances that could assist in eventually completing our understanding of the MZT.

+view abstract Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology, PMID: 29686419 2018

Guo G, von Meyenn F, Rostovskaya M, Clarke J, Dietmann S, Baker D, Sahakyan A, Myers S, Bertone P, Reik W, Plath K, Smith A Epigenetics,

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 29669738 2018

Olova N, Krueger F, Andrews S, Oxley D, Berrens RV, Branco MR, Reik W Epigenetics, Mass Spectrometry

Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) is becoming an increasingly accessible technique, used widely for both fundamental and disease-oriented research. Library preparation methods benefit from a variety of available kits, polymerases and bisulfite conversion protocols. Although some steps in the procedure, such as PCR amplification, are known to introduce biases, a systematic evaluation of biases in WGBS strategies is missing.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 29544553 2018

Clark SJ, Argelaguet R, Kapourani CA, Stubbs TM, Lee HJ, Alda-Catalinas C, Krueger F, Sanguinetti G, Kelsey G, Marioni JC, Stegle O, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Parallel single-cell sequencing protocols represent powerful methods for investigating regulatory relationships, including epigenome-transcriptome interactions. Here, we report a single-cell method for parallel chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and transcriptome profiling. scNMT-seq (single-cell nucleosome, methylation and transcription sequencing) uses a GpC methyltransferase to label open chromatin followed by bisulfite and RNA sequencing. We validate scNMT-seq by applying it to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, finding links between all three molecular layers and revealing dynamic coupling between epigenomic layers during differentiation.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 29472610 2018

Regev A, Teichmann SA, Lander ES, Amit I, Benoist C, Birney E, Bodenmiller B, Campbell PJ, Carninci P, Clatworthy M, Clevers H, Deplancke B, Dunham I, Eberwine J, Eils R, Enard W, Farmer A, Fugger L, Göttgens B, Hacohen N, Haniffa M, Hemberg M, Kim SK, Klenerman P, Kriegstein A, Lein E, Linnarsson S, Lundberg E, Lundeberg J, Majumder P, Marioni JC, Merad M, Mhlanga M, Nawijn M, Netea M, Nolan G, Pe'er D, Phillipakis A, Ponting CP, Quake SR, Reik W, Rozenblatt-Rosen O, Sanes JR, Satija R, Schumacher TN, Shalek AK, Shapiro E, Sharma P, Shin JW, Stegle O, Stratton MR, Stubbington MJT, Theis FJ, Uhlen M, van Oudenaarden A, Wagner A, Watt FM, Weissman JS, Wold BJ, Xavier RJ, Yosef N, Epigenetics,

The recent advent of methods for high-throughput single-cell molecular profiling has catalyzed a growing sense in the scientific community that the time is ripe to complete the 150-year-old effort to identify all cell types in the human body. The Human Cell Atlas Project is an international collaborative effort that aims to define all human cell types in terms of distinctive molecular profiles (such as gene expression profiles) and to connect this information with classical cellular descriptions (such as location and morphology). An open comprehensive reference map of the molecular state of cells in healthy human tissues would propel the systematic study of physiological states, developmental trajectories, regulatory circuitry and interactions of cells, and also provide a framework for understanding cellular dysregulation in human disease. Here we describe the idea, its potential utility, early proofs-of-concept, and some design considerations for the Human Cell Atlas, including a commitment to open data, code, and community.

+view abstract eLife, PMID: 29206104 2017

Aarts M, Georgilis A, Beniazza M, Beolchi P, Banito A, Carroll T, Kulisic M, Kaemena DF, Dharmalingam G, Martin N, Reik W, Zuber J, Kaji K, Chandra T, Gil J Epigenetics,

Expression of the transcription factors OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and cMYC (OSKM) reprograms somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Reprogramming is a slow and inefficient process, suggesting the presence of safeguarding mechanisms that counteract cell fate conversion. One such mechanism is senescence. To identify modulators of reprogramming-induced senescence, we performed a genome-wide shRNA screen in primary human fibroblasts expressing OSKM. In the screen, we identified novel mediators of OSKM-induced senescence and validated previously implicated genes such as CDKN1A We developed an innovative approach that integrates single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) with the shRNA screen to investigate the mechanism of action of the identified candidates. Our data unveiled regulation of senescence as a novel way by which mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) influences reprogramming. On one hand, mTOR inhibition blunts the induction of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors (CDKIs), including p16(INK4a), p21(CIP1), and p15(INK4b), preventing OSKM-induced senescence. On the other hand, inhibition of mTOR blunts the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which itself favors reprogramming. These contrasting actions contribute to explain the complex effect that mTOR has on reprogramming. Overall, our study highlights the advantage of combining functional screens with scRNA-seq to accelerate the discovery of pathways controlling complex phenotypes.

+view abstract Genes & development, PMID: 29138277 2017

Berrens RV, Andrews S, Spensberger D, Santos F, Dean W, Gould P, Sharif J, Olova N, Chandra T, Koseki H, von Meyenn F, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Erasure of DNA methylation and repressive chromatin marks in the mammalian germline leads to risk of transcriptional activation of transposable elements (TEs). Here, we used mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to identify an endosiRNA-based mechanism involved in suppression of TE transcription. In ESCs with DNA demethylation induced by acute deletion of Dnmt1, we saw an increase in sense transcription at TEs, resulting in an abundance of sense/antisense transcripts leading to high levels of ARGONAUTE2 (AGO2)-bound small RNAs. Inhibition of Dicer or Ago2 expression revealed that small RNAs are involved in an immediate response to demethylation-induced transposon activation, while the deposition of repressive histone marks follows as a chronic response. In vivo, we also found TE-specific endosiRNAs present during primordial germ cell development. Our results suggest that antisense TE transcription is a "trap" that elicits an endosiRNA response to restrain acute transposon activity during epigenetic reprogramming in the mammalian germline.

+view abstract Cell stem cell, PMID: 29100015 2017

Martin-Herranz DE, Ribeiro AJM, Krueger F, Thornton JM, Reik W, Stubbs TM Epigenetics,

DNA methylation is an important epigenetic modification in many species that is critical for development, and implicated in ageing and many complex diseases, such as cancer. Many cost-effective genome-wide analyses of DNA modifications rely on restriction enzymes capable of digesting genomic DNA at defined sequence motifs. There are hundreds of restriction enzyme families but few are used to date, because no tool is available for the systematic evaluation of restriction enzyme combinations that can enrich for certain sites of interest in a genome. Herein, we present customised Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (cuRRBS), a novel and easy-to-use computational method that solves this problem. By computing the optimal enzymatic digestions and size selection steps required, cuRRBS generalises the traditional MspI-based Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS) protocol to all restriction enzyme combinations. In addition, cuRRBS estimates the fold-reduction in sequencing costs and provides a robustness value for the personalised RRBS protocol, allowing users to tailor the protocol to their experimental needs. Moreover, we show in silico that cuRRBS-defined restriction enzymes consistently out-perform MspI digestion in many biological systems, considering both CpG and CHG contexts. Finally, we have validated the accuracy of cuRRBS predictions for single and double enzyme digestions using two independent experimental datasets.

+view abstract Nucleic acids research, PMID: 29036576 2017

Yang J, Ryan DJ, Wang W, Tsang JC, Lan G, Masaki H, Gao X, Antunes L, Yu Y, Zhu Z, Wang J, Kolodziejczyk AA, Campos LS, Wang C, Yang F, Zhong Z, Fu B, Eckersley-Maslin MA, Woods M, Tanaka Y, Chen X, Wilkinson AC, Bussell J, White J, Ramirez-Solis R, Reik W, Göttgens B, Teichmann SA, Tam PPL, Nakauchi H, Zou X, Lu L, Liu P Epigenetics,

Mouse embryonic stem cells derived from the epiblast contribute to the somatic lineages and the germline but are excluded from the extra-embryonic tissues that are derived from the trophectoderm and the primitive endoderm upon reintroduction to the blastocyst. Here we report that cultures of expanded potential stem cells can be established from individual eight-cell blastomeres, and by direct conversion of mouse embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Remarkably, a single expanded potential stem cell can contribute both to the embryo proper and to the trophectoderm lineages in a chimaera assay. Bona fide trophoblast stem cell lines and extra-embryonic endoderm stem cells can be directly derived from expanded potential stem cells in vitro. Molecular analyses of the epigenome and single-cell transcriptome reveal enrichment for blastomere-specific signature and a dynamic DNA methylome in expanded potential stem cells. The generation of mouse expanded potential stem cells highlights the feasibility of establishing expanded potential stem cells for other mammalian species.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 29019987 2017

Kelsey G, Stegle O, Reik W Epigenetics,

Single-cell multi-omics has recently emerged as a powerful technology by which different layers of genomic output-and hence cell identity and function-can be recorded simultaneously. Integrating various components of the epigenome into multi-omics measurements allows for studying cellular heterogeneity at different time scales and for discovering new layers of molecular connectivity between the genome and its functional output. Measurements that are increasingly available range from those that identify transcription factor occupancy and initiation of transcription to long-lasting and heritable epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation. Together with techniques in which cell lineage is recorded, this multilayered information will provide insights into a cell's past history and its future potential. This will allow new levels of understanding of cell fate decisions, identity, and function in normal development, physiology, and disease.

+view abstract Science (New York, N.Y.), PMID: 28983045 2017

Takashima Y, Guo G, Loos R, Nichols J, Ficz G, Krueger F, Oxley D, Santos F, Clarke J, Mansfield W, Reik W, Bertone P, Smith A ,

+view abstract Cell, PMID: 28843285 2015

Mohammed H, Hernando-Herraez I, Savino A, Scialdone A, Macaulay I, Mulas C, Chandra T, Voet T, Dean W, Nichols J, Marioni JC, Reik W Epigenetics,

The mouse inner cell mass (ICM) segregates into the epiblast and primitive endoderm (PrE) lineages coincident with implantation of the embryo. The epiblast subsequently undergoes considerable expansion of cell numbers prior to gastrulation. To investigate underlying regulatory principles, we performed systematic single-cell RNA sequencing (seq) of conceptuses from E3.5 to E6.5. The epiblast shows reactivation and subsequent inactivation of the X chromosome, with Zfp57 expression associated with reactivation and inactivation together with other candidate regulators. At E6.5, the transition from epiblast to primitive streak is linked with decreased expression of polycomb subunits, suggesting a key regulatory role. Notably, our analyses suggest elevated transcriptional noise at E3.5 and within the non-committed epiblast at E6.5, coinciding with exit from pluripotency. By contrast, E6.5 primitive streak cells became highly synchronized and exhibit a shortened G1 cell-cycle phase, consistent with accelerated proliferation. Our study systematically charts transcriptional noise and uncovers molecular processes associated with early lineage decisions.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 28768204 2017

Guo G, von Meyenn F, Rostovskaya M, Clarke J, Dietmann S, Baker D, Sahakyan A, Myers S, Bertone P, Reik W, Plath K, Smith A Epigenetics,

Much attention has focussed on the conversion of human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) to a more naïve developmental status. Here we provide a method for resetting via transient histone deacetylase inhibition. The protocol is effective across multiple PSC lines and can proceed without karyotype change. Reset cells can be expanded without feeders with a doubling time of around 24 h. WNT inhibition stabilises the resetting process. The transcriptome of reset cells diverges markedly from that of primed PSCs and shares features with human inner cell mass (ICM). Reset cells activate expression of primate-specific transposable elements. DNA methylation is globally reduced to a level equivalent to that in the ICM and is non-random, with gain of methylation at specific loci. Methylation imprints are mostly lost, however. Reset cells can be re-primed to undergo tri-lineage differentiation and germline specification. In female reset cells, appearance of biallelic X-linked gene transcription indicates reactivation of the silenced X chromosome. On reconversion to primed status, XIST-induced silencing restores monoallelic gene expression. The facile and robust conversion routine with accompanying data resources will enable widespread utilisation, interrogation, and refinement of candidate naïve cells.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 28765214 2017

Kirschner K, Chandra T, Kiselev V, Flores-Santa Cruz D, Macaulay IC, Park HJ, Li J, Kent DG, Kumar R, Pask DC, Hamilton TL, Hemberg M, Reik W, Green AR Epigenetics,

Aging of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment is characterized by lineage bias and reduced stem cell function, the molecular basis of which is largely unknown. Using single-cell transcriptomics, we identified a distinct subpopulation of old HSCs carrying a p53 signature indicative of stem cell decline alongside pro-proliferative JAK/STAT signaling. To investigate the relationship between JAK/STAT and p53 signaling, we challenged HSCs with a constitutively active form of JAK2 (V617F) and observed an expansion of the p53-positive subpopulation in old mice. Our results reveal cellular heterogeneity in the onset of HSC aging and implicate a role for JAK2V617F-driven proliferation in the p53-mediated functional decline of old HSCs.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 28538171 2017

Vasiliauskaitė L, Vitsios D, Berrens RV, Carrieri C, Reik W, Enright AJ, O'Carroll D Epigenetics,

In mice, the pathway involving PIWI and PIWI-interacting RNA (PIWI-piRNA) is essential to re-establish transposon silencing during male-germline reprogramming. The cytoplasmic PIWI protein MILI mediates piRNA-guided transposon RNA cleavage as well as piRNA amplification. MIWI2's binding to piRNA and its nuclear localization are proposed to be dependent upon MILI function. Here, we demonstrate the existence of a piRNA biogenesis pathway that sustains partial MIWI2 function and reprogramming activity in the absence of MILI.

+view abstract Nature structural & molecular biology, PMID: 28530707 2017

Stubbs TM, Bonder MJ, Stark AK, Krueger F, Bolland D, Butcher G, Chandra T, Clark SJ, Corcoran A, Eckersley-Maslin M, Field L, Frising UC, Gilbert C, Guedes J, Hernando-Herraez I, Houseley J, Kemp F, MacQueen A, Okkenhaug K, Rhoades M, Santbergen MJC, Stebegg M, von Meyenn F, Stegle O, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

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.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 28399939 2017

Angermueller C, Lee HJ, Reik W, Stegle O Epigenetics,

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.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 28395661 2017

Hahn O, Grönke S, Stubbs TM, Ficz G, Hendrich O, Krueger F, Andrews S, Zhang Q, Wakelam MJ, Beyer A, Reik W, Partridge L Epigenetics, Lipidomics

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.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 28351387 2017

Kiselev VY, Kirschner K, Schaub MT, Andrews T, Yiu A, Chandra T, Natarajan KN, Reik W, Barahona M, Green AR, Hemberg M Epigenetics,

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 ( We demonstrate that SC3 is capable of identifying subclones from the transcriptomes of neoplastic cells collected from patients.

+view abstract Nature methods, PMID: 28346451 2017

Iurlaro M, von Meyenn F, Reik W Epigenetics,

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.

+view abstract Current opinion in genetics & development, PMID: 28260631 2017

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 Epigenetics, Mass Spectrometry

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.

+view abstract Genes, PMID: 28218666 2017

Clark SJ, Smallwood SA, Lee HJ, Krueger F, Reik W, Kelsey G Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

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.

+view abstract Nature protocols, PMID: 28182018 2017

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 Epigenetics, Flow Cytometry

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.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 28174249 2017

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 Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

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.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 28147265 2017

Selleri L, Bartolomei MS, Bickmore WA, He L, Stubbs L, Reik W, Barsh GS Epigenetics,

+view abstract PLoS genetics, PMID: 27977680 2016

Stepper P, Kungulovski G, Jurkowska RZ, Chandra T, Krueger F, Reinhardt R, Reik W, Jeltsch A, Jurkowski TP Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

DNA methylation plays a critical role in the regulation and maintenance of cell-type specific transcriptional programs. Targeted epigenome editing is an emerging technology to specifically regulate cellular gene expression in order to modulate cell phenotypes or dissect the epigenetic mechanisms involved in their control. In this work, we employed a DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a-Dnmt3L construct fused to the nuclease-inactivated dCas9 programmable targeting domain to introduce DNA methylation into the human genome specifically at the EpCAM, CXCR4 and TFRC gene promoters. We show that targeting of these loci with single gRNAs leads to efficient and widespread methylation of the promoters. Multiplexing of several guide RNAs does not increase the efficiency of methylation. Peaks of targeted methylation were observed around 25 bp upstream and 40 bp downstream of the PAM site, while 20-30 bp of the binding site itself are protected against methylation. Potent methylation is dependent on the multimerization of Dnmt3a/Dnmt3L complexes on the DNA. Furthermore, the introduced methylation causes transcriptional repression of the targeted genes. These new programmable epigenetic editors allow unprecedented control of the DNA methylation status in cells and will lead to further advances in the understanding of epigenetic signaling.

+view abstract Nucleic acids research, PMID: 27899645 2016

Thienpont B, Aronsen JM, Robinson EL, Okkenhaug H, Loche E, Ferrini A, Brien P, Alkass K, Tomasso A, Agrawal A, Bergmann O, Sjaastad I, Reik W, Roderick HL Epigenetics, Imaging

Cardiac hypertrophic growth in response to pathological cues is associated with reexpression of fetal genes and decreased cardiac function and is often a precursor to heart failure. In contrast, physiologically induced hypertrophy is adaptive, resulting in improved cardiac function. The processes that selectively induce these hypertrophic states are poorly understood. Here, we have profiled 2 repressive epigenetic marks, H3K9me2 and H3K27me3, which are involved in stable cellular differentiation, specifically in cardiomyocytes from physiologically and pathologically hypertrophied rat hearts, and correlated these marks with their associated transcriptomes. This analysis revealed the pervasive loss of euchromatic H3K9me2 as a conserved feature of pathological hypertrophy that was associated with reexpression of fetal genes. In hypertrophy, H3K9me2 was reduced following a miR-217-mediated decrease in expression of the H3K9 dimethyltransferases EHMT1 and EHMT2 (EHMT1/2). miR-217-mediated, genetic, or pharmacological inactivation of EHMT1/2 was sufficient to promote pathological hypertrophy and fetal gene reexpression, while suppression of this pathway protected against pathological hypertrophy both in vitro and in mice. Thus, we have established a conserved mechanism involving a departure of the cardiomyocyte epigenome from its adult cellular identity to a reprogrammed state that is accompanied by reexpression of fetal genes and pathological hypertrophy. These results suggest that targeting miR-217 and EHMT1/2 to prevent H3K9 methylation loss is a viable therapeutic approach for the treatment of heart disease.

+view abstract The Journal of clinical investigation, PMID: 27893464 2016

Hore TA, von Meyenn F, Ravichandran M, Bachman M, Ficz G, Oxley D, Santos F, Balasubramanian S, Jurkowski TP, Reik W Epigenetics, Mass Spectrometry

Epigenetic memory, in particular DNA methylation, is established during development in differentiating cells and must be erased to create naïve (induced) pluripotent stem cells. The ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes can catalyze the oxidation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and further oxidized derivatives, thereby actively removing this memory. Nevertheless, the mechanism by which the TET enzymes are regulated, and the extent to which they can be manipulated, are poorly understood. Here we report that retinoic acid (RA) or retinol (vitamin A) and ascorbate (vitamin C) act as modulators of TET levels and activity. RA or retinol enhances 5hmC production in naïve embryonic stem cells by activation of TET2 and TET3 transcription, whereas ascorbate potentiates TET activity and 5hmC production through enhanced Fe(2+) recycling, and not as a cofactor as reported previously. We find that both ascorbate and RA or retinol promote the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells synergistically and enhance the erasure of epigenetic memory. This mechanistic insight has significance for the development of cell treatments for regenenerative medicine, and enhances our understanding of how intrinsic and extrinsic signals shape the epigenome.

+view abstract Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: 27729528 2016

von Meyenn F, Berrens RV, Andrews S, Santos F, Collier AJ, Krueger F, Osorno R, Dean W, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Primordial germ cell (PGC) development is characterized by global epigenetic remodeling, which resets genomic potential and establishes an epigenetic ground state. Here we recapitulate PGC specification in vitro from naive embryonic stem cells and characterize the early events of epigenetic reprogramming during the formation of the human and mouse germline. Following rapid de novo DNA methylation during priming to epiblast-like cells, methylation is globally erased in PGC-like cells. Repressive chromatin marks (H3K9me2/3) and transposable elements are enriched at demethylation-resistant regions, while active chromatin marks (H3K4me3 or H3K27ac) are more prominent at regions that demethylate faster. The dynamics of specification and epigenetic reprogramming show species-specific differences, in particular markedly slower reprogramming kinetics in the human germline. Differences in developmental kinetics may be explained by differential regulation of epigenetic modifiers. Our work establishes a robust and faithful experimental system of the early events of epigenetic reprogramming and regulation in the germline.

+view abstract Developmental cell, PMID: 27728778 2016

Eckersley-Maslin MA, Svensson V, Krueger C, Stubbs TM, Giehr P, Krueger F, Miragaia RJ, Kyriakopoulos C, Berrens RV, Milagre I, Walter J, Teichmann SA, Reik W Epigenetics,

Mouse embryonic stem cells are dynamic and heterogeneous. For example, rare cells cycle through a state characterized by decondensed chromatin and expression of transcripts, including the Zscan4 cluster and MERVL endogenous retrovirus, which are usually restricted to preimplantation embryos. Here, we further characterize the dynamics and consequences of this transient cell state. Single-cell transcriptomics identified the earliest upregulated transcripts as cells enter the MERVL/Zscan4 state. The MERVL/Zscan4 transcriptional network was also upregulated during induced pluripotent stem cell reprogramming. Genome-wide DNA methylation and chromatin analyses revealed global DNA hypomethylation accompanying increased chromatin accessibility. This transient DNA demethylation was driven by a loss of DNA methyltransferase proteins in the cells and occurred genome-wide. While methylation levels were restored once cells exit this state, genomic imprints remained hypomethylated, demonstrating a potential global and enduring influence of endogenous retroviral activation on the epigenome.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 27681430 2016

Iurlaro M, McInroy GR, Burgess HE, Dean W, Raiber EA, Bachman M, Beraldi D, Balasubramanian S, Reik W Epigenetics,

Genome-wide methylation of cytosine can be modulated in the presence of TET and thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG) enzymes. TET is able to oxidise 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), 5-formylcytosine (5fC) and 5-carboxylcytosine (5caC). TDG can excise the oxidative products 5fC and 5caC, initiating base excision repair. These modified bases are stable and detectable in the genome, suggesting that they could have epigenetic functions in their own right. However, functional investigation of the genome-wide distribution of 5fC has been restricted to cell culture-based systems, while its in vivo profile remains unknown.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 27356509 2016

von Meyenn F, Iurlaro M, Habibi E, Liu NQ, Salehzadeh-Yazdi A, Santos F, Petrini E, Milagre I, Yu M, Xie Z, Kroeze LI, Nesterova TB, Jansen JH, Xie H, He C, Reik W, Stunnenberg HG Epigenetics,

+view abstract Molecular cell, PMID: 27315559 2016

von Meyenn F, Iurlaro M, Habibi E, Liu NQ, Salehzadeh-Yazdi A, Santos F, Petrini E, Milagre I, Yu M, Xie Z, Kroeze LI, Nesterova TB, Jansen JH, Xie H, He C, Reik W, Stunnenberg HG Epigenetics,

Global demethylation is part of a conserved program of epigenetic reprogramming to naive pluripotency. The transition from primed hypermethylated embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to naive hypomethylated ones (serum-to-2i) is a valuable model system for epigenetic reprogramming. We present a mathematical model, which accurately predicts global DNA demethylation kinetics. Experimentally, we show that the main drivers of global demethylation are neither active mechanisms (Aicda, Tdg, and Tet1-3) nor the reduction of de novo methylation. UHRF1 protein, the essential targeting factor for DNMT1, is reduced upon transition to 2i, and so is recruitment of the maintenance methylation machinery to replication foci. Concurrently, there is global loss of H3K9me2, which is needed for chromatin binding of UHRF1. These mechanisms synergistically enforce global DNA hypomethylation in a replication-coupled fashion. Our observations establish the molecular mechanism for global demethylation in naive ESCs, which has key parallels with those operating in primordial germ cells and early embryos.

+view abstract Molecular cell, PMID: 27237052 2016

Clark SJ, Lee HJ, Smallwood SA, Kelsey G, Reik W Epigenetics,

Emerging single-cell epigenomic methods are being developed with the exciting potential to transform our knowledge of gene regulation. Here we review available techniques and future possibilities, arguing that the full potential of single-cell epigenetic studies will be realized through parallel profiling of genomic, transcriptional, and epigenetic information.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 27091476 2016

Guo G, von Meyenn F, Santos F, Chen Y, Reik W, Bertone P, Smith A, Nichols J Epigenetics,

Conventional generation of stem cells from human blastocysts produces a developmentally advanced, or primed, stage of pluripotency. In vitro resetting to a more naive phenotype has been reported. However, whether the reset culture conditions of selective kinase inhibition can enable capture of naive epiblast cells directly from the embryo has not been determined. Here, we show that in these specific conditions individual inner cell mass cells grow into colonies that may then be expanded over multiple passages while retaining a diploid karyotype and naive properties. The cells express hallmark naive pluripotency factors and additionally display features of mitochondrial respiration, global gene expression, and genome-wide hypomethylation distinct from primed cells. They transition through primed pluripotency into somatic lineage differentiation. Collectively these attributes suggest classification as human naive embryonic stem cells. Human counterparts of canonical mouse embryonic stem cells would argue for conservation in the phased progression of pluripotency in mammals.

+view abstract Stem cell reports, PMID: 26947977 2016

Branco MR, King M, Perez-Garcia V, Bogutz AB, Caley M, Fineberg E, Lefebvre L, Cook SJ, Dean W, Hemberger M, Reik W Epigenetics,

Critical roles for DNA methylation in embryonic development are well established, but less is known about its roles during trophoblast development, the extraembryonic lineage that gives rise to the placenta. We dissected the role of DNA methylation in trophoblast development by performing mRNA and DNA methylation profiling of Dnmt3a/3b mutants. We find that oocyte-derived methylation plays a major role in regulating trophoblast development but that imprinting of the key placental regulator Ascl2 is only partially responsible for these effects. We have identified several methylation-regulated genes associated with trophoblast differentiation that are involved in cell adhesion and migration, potentially affecting trophoblast invasion. Specifically, trophoblast-specific DNA methylation is linked to the silencing of Scml2, a Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 protein that drives loss of cell adhesion in methylation-deficient trophoblast. Our results reveal that maternal DNA methylation controls multiple differentiation-related and physiological processes in trophoblast via both imprinting-dependent and -independent mechanisms.

+view abstract Developmental cell, PMID: 26812015 2016

Angermueller C, Clark SJ, Lee HJ, Macaulay IC, Teng MJ, Hu TX, Krueger F, Smallwood SA, Ponting CP, Voet T, Kelsey G, Stegle O, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

We report scM&T-seq, a method for parallel single-cell genome-wide methylome and transcriptome sequencing that allows for the discovery of associations between transcriptional and epigenetic variation. Profiling of 61 mouse embryonic stem cells confirmed known links between DNA methylation and transcription. Notably, the method revealed previously unrecognized associations between heterogeneously methylated distal regulatory elements and transcription of key pluripotency genes.

+view abstract Nature methods, PMID: 26752769 2016

Patalano S, Vlasova A, Wyatt C, Ewels P, Camara F, Ferreira PG, Asher CL, Jurkowski TP, Segonds-Pichon A, Bachman M, González-Navarrete I, Minoche AE, Krueger F, Lowy E, Marcet-Houben M, Rodriguez-Ales JL, Nascimento FS, Balasubramanian S, Gabaldon T, Tarver JE, Andrews S, Himmelbauer H, Hughes WO, Guigó R, Reik W, Sumner S Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Phenotypic plasticity is important in adaptation and shapes the evolution of organisms. However, we understand little about what aspects of the genome are important in facilitating plasticity. Eusocial insect societies produce plastic phenotypes from the same genome, as reproductives (queens) and nonreproductives (workers). The greatest plasticity is found in the simple eusocial insect societies in which individuals retain the ability to switch between reproductive and nonreproductive phenotypes as adults. We lack comprehensive data on the molecular basis of plastic phenotypes. Here, we sequenced genomes, microRNAs (miRNAs), and multiple transcriptomes and methylomes from individual brains in a wasp (Polistes canadensis) and an ant (Dinoponera quadriceps) that live in simple eusocial societies. In both species, we found few differences between phenotypes at the transcriptional level, with little functional specialization, and no evidence that phenotype-specific gene expression is driven by DNA methylation or miRNAs. Instead, phenotypic differentiation was defined more subtly by nonrandom transcriptional network organization, with roles in these networks for both conserved and taxon-restricted genes. The general lack of highly methylated regions or methylome patterning in both species may be an important mechanism for achieving plasticity among phenotypes during adulthood. These findings define previously unidentified hypotheses on the genomic processes that facilitate plasticity and suggest that the molecular hallmarks of social behavior are likely to differ with the level of social complexity.

+view abstract Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: 26483466 2015

Bachman M, Uribe-Lewis S, Yang X, Burgess HE, Iurlaro M, Reik W, Murrell A, Balasubramanian S Epigenetics,

5-Formylcytosine (5fC) is a rare base found in mammalian DNA and thought to be involved in active DNA demethylation. Here, we show that developmental dynamics of 5fC levels in mouse DNA differ from those of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), and using stable isotope labeling in vivo, we show that 5fC can be a stable DNA modification. These results suggest that 5fC has functional roles in DNA that go beyond being a demethylation intermediate.

+view abstract Nature chemical biology, PMID: 26098680 2015

von Meyenn F, Reik W Epigenetics,

Epigenetic reprogramming in the germline resets genomic potential and erases epigenetic memory. Three studies by Gkountela et al., Guo et al., and Tang et al. analyze the transcriptional and epigenetic landscape of human primordial germ cells, revealing a unique transcriptional network and progressive and conserved global erasure of DNA methylation.

+view abstract Cell, PMID: 26046435 2015

Relton CL, Gaunt T, McArdle W, Ho K, Duggirala A, Shihab H, Woodward G, Lyttleton O, Evans DM, Reik W, Paul YL, Ficz G, Ozanne SE, Wipat A, Flanagan K, Lister A, Heijmans BT, Ring SM, Davey Smith G Epigenetics,

+view abstract International journal of epidemiology, PMID: 25991711 2015

Berrens RV, Reik W Epigenetics,

+view abstract The EMBO journal, PMID: 25687507 2015

Chandra T, Ewels PA, Schoenfelder S, Furlan-Magaril M, Wingett SW, Kirschner K, Thuret JY, Andrews S, Fraser P, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Cellular senescence has been implicated in tumor suppression, development, and aging and is accompanied by large-scale chromatin rearrangements, forming senescence-associated heterochromatic foci (SAHF). However, how the chromatin is reorganized during SAHF formation is poorly understood. Furthermore, heterochromatin formation in senescence appears to contrast with loss of heterochromatin in Hutchinson-Gilford progeria. We mapped architectural changes in genome organization in cellular senescence using Hi-C. Unexpectedly, we find a dramatic sequence- and lamin-dependent loss of local interactions in heterochromatin. This change in local connectivity resolves the paradox of opposing chromatin changes in senescence and progeria. In addition, we observe a senescence-specific spatial clustering of heterochromatic regions, suggesting a unique second step required for SAHF formation. Comparison of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), somatic cells, and senescent cells shows a unidirectional loss in local chromatin connectivity, suggesting that senescence is an endpoint of the continuous nuclear remodelling process during differentiation.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 25640177 2015

Arand J, Wossidlo M, Lepikhov K, Peat JR, Reik W, Walter J Epigenetics,

DNA methylomes are extensively reprogrammed during mouse pre-implantation and early germ cell development. The main feature of this reprogramming is a genome-wide decrease in 5-methylcytosine (5mC). Standard high-resolution single-stranded bisulfite sequencing techniques do not allow discrimination of the underlying passive (replication-dependent) or active enzymatic mechanisms of 5mC loss. We approached this problem by generating high-resolution deep hairpin bisulfite sequencing (DHBS) maps, allowing us to follow the patterns of symmetric DNA methylation at CpGs dyads on both DNA strands over single replications.

+view abstract Epigenetics & chromatin, PMID: 25621012 2015

Peat JR, Dean W, Clark SJ, Krueger F, Smallwood SA, Ficz G, Kim JK, Marioni JC, Hore TA, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Fertilization triggers global erasure of paternal 5-methylcytosine as part of epigenetic reprogramming during the transition from gametic specialization to totipotency. This involves oxidation by TET3, but our understanding of its targets and the wider context of demethylation is limited to a small fraction of the genome. We employed an optimized bisulfite strategy to generate genome-wide methylation profiles of control and TET3-deficient zygotes, using SNPs to access paternal alleles. This revealed that in addition to pervasive removal from intergenic sequences and most retrotransposons, gene bodies constitute a major target of zygotic demethylation. Methylation loss is associated with zygotic genome activation and at gene bodies is also linked to increased transcriptional noise in early development. Our data map the primary contribution of oxidative demethylation to a subset of gene bodies and intergenic sequences and implicate redundant pathways at many loci. Unexpectedly, we demonstrate that TET3 activity also protects certain CpG islands against methylation buildup.

+view abstract Cell reports, PMID: 25497087 2014

Saksouk N, Barth TK, Ziegler-Birling C, Olova N, Nowak A, Rey E, Mateos-Langerak J, Urbach S, Reik W, Torres-Padilla ME, Imhof A, Déjardin J Epigenetics,

Constitutive heterochromatin is typically defined by high levels of DNA methylation and H3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9Me3), whereas facultative heterochromatin displays DNA hypomethylation and high H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27Me3). The two chromatin types generally do not coexist at the same loci, suggesting mutual exclusivity. During development or in cancer, pericentromeric regions can adopt either epigenetic state, but the switching mechanism is unknown. We used a quantitative locus purification method to characterize changes in pericentromeric chromatin-associated proteins in mouse embryonic stem cells deficient for either the methyltransferases required for DNA methylation or H3K9Me3. DNA methylation controls heterochromatin architecture and inhibits Polycomb recruitment. BEND3, a protein enriched on pericentromeric chromatin in the absence of DNA methylation or H3K9Me3, allows Polycomb recruitment and H3K27Me3, resulting in a redundant pathway to generate repressive chromatin. This suggests that BEND3 is a key factor in mediating a switch from constitutive to facultative heterochromatin.

+view abstract Molecular cell, PMID: 25457167 2014

Takashima Y, Guo G, Loos R, Nichols J, Ficz G, Krueger F, Oxley D, Santos F, Clarke J, Mansfield W, Reik W, Bertone P, Smith A Epigenetics, Mass Spectrometry

Current human pluripotent stem cells lack the transcription factor circuitry that governs the ground state of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC). Here, we report that short-term expression of two components, NANOG and KLF2, is sufficient to ignite other elements of the network and reset the human pluripotent state. Inhibition of ERK and protein kinase C sustains a transgene-independent rewired state. Reset cells self-renew continuously without ERK signaling, are phenotypically stable, and are karyotypically intact. They differentiate in vitro and form teratomas in vivo. Metabolism is reprogrammed with activation of mitochondrial respiration as in ESC. DNA methylation is dramatically reduced and transcriptome state is globally realigned across multiple cell lines. Depletion of ground-state transcription factors, TFCP2L1 or KLF4, has marginal impact on conventional human pluripotent stem cells but collapses the reset state. These findings demonstrate feasibility of installing and propagating functional control circuitry for ground-state pluripotency in human cells.

+view abstract Cell, PMID: 25215486 2014

Smallwood SA,Lee HJ,Angermueller C,Krueger F,Saadeh H,Peat J,Andrews SR,Stegle O,Reik W,Kelsey G Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

We report a single-cell bisulfite sequencing (scBS-seq) method that can be used to accurately measure DNA methylation at up to 48.4% of CpG sites. Embryonic stem cells grown in serum or in 2i medium displayed epigenetic heterogeneity, with '2i-like' cells present in serum culture. Integration of 12 individual mouse oocyte datasets largely recapitulated the whole DNA methylome, which makes scBS-seq a versatile tool to explore DNA methylation in rare cells and heterogeneous populations.

+view abstract Nature methods, PMID: 25042786 2014

Franchini DM, Chan CF, Morgan H, Incorvaia E, Rangam G, Dean W, Santos F, Reik W, Petersen-Mahrt SK Epigenetics,

Base modifications of cytosine are an important aspect of chromatin biology, as they can directly regulate gene expression, while DNA repair ensures that those modifications retain genome integrity. Here we characterize how cytosine DNA deaminase AID can initiate DNA demethylation. In vitro, AID initiated targeted DNA demethylation of methyl CpGs when in combination with DNA repair competent extracts. Mechanistically, this is achieved by inducing base alterations at or near methyl-cytosine, with the lesion being resolved either via single base substitution or a more efficient processive polymerase dependent repair. The biochemical findings are recapitulated in an in vivo transgenic targeting assay, and provide the genetic support of the molecular insight into DNA demethylation. This targeting approach supports the hypothesis that mCpG DNA demethylation can proceed via various pathways and mCpGs do not have to be targeted to be demethylated.

+view abstract PloS one, PMID: 25025377 2014

Radford EJ, Ito M, Shi H, Corish JA, Yamazawa K, Isganaitis E, Seisenberger S, Hore TA, Reik W, Erkek S, Peters AH, Patti ME, Ferguson-Smith AC Epigenetics,

Adverse prenatal environments can promote metabolic disease in offspring and subsequent generations. Animal models and epidemiological data implicate epigenetic inheritance, but the mechanisms remain unknown. In an intergenerational developmental programming model affecting F2 mouse metabolism, we demonstrate that the in utero nutritional environment of F1 embryos alters the germline DNA methylome of F1 adult males in a locus-specific manner. Differentially methylated regions are hypomethylated and enriched in nucleosome-retaining regions. A substantial fraction is resistant to early embryo methylation reprogramming, which may have an impact on F2 development. Differential methylation is not maintained in F2 tissues, yet locus-specific expression is perturbed. Thus, in utero nutritional exposures during critical windows of germ cell development can impact the male germline methylome, associated with metabolic disease in offspring.

+view abstract Science (New York, N.Y.), PMID: 25011554 2014

Lee HJ, Hore TA, Reik W Epigenetics,

The inheritance of epigenetic marks, in particular DNA methylation, provides a molecular memory that ensures faithful commitment to transcriptional programs during mammalian development. Epigenetic reprogramming results in global hypomethylation of the genome together with a profound loss of memory, which underlies naive pluripotency. Such global reprogramming occurs in primordial germ cells, early embryos, and embryonic stem cells where reciprocal molecular links connect the methylation machinery to pluripotency. Priming for differentiation is initiated upon exit from pluripotency, and we propose that epigenetic mechanisms create diversity of transcriptional states, which help with symmetry breaking during cell fate decisions and lineage commitment.

+view abstract Cell stem cell, PMID: 24905162 2014

LJ Lambert, S Walker, J Feltham, HJ Lee, W Reik, J Houseley ,

During B cell activation, the DNA lesions that initiate somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination are introduced by activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID). AID is a highly mutagenic protein that is maintained in the cytoplasm at steady state, however AID is shuttled across the nuclear membrane and the protein transiently present in the nucleus appears sufficient for targeted alteration of immunoglobulin loci. AID has been implicated in epigenetic reprogramming in primordial germ cells and cell fusions and in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), however AID expression in non-B cells is very low. We hypothesised that epigenetic reprogramming would require a pathway that instigates prolonged nuclear residence of AID. Here we show that AID is completely re-localised to the nucleus during drug withdrawal following etoposide treatment, in the period in which double strand breaks (DSBs) are repaired. Re-localisation occurs 2-6 hours after etoposide treatment, and AID remains in the nucleus for 10 or more hours, during which time cells remain live and motile. Re-localisation is cell-cycle dependent and is only observed in G2. Analysis of DSB dynamics shows that AID is re-localised in response to etoposide treatment, however re-localisation occurs substantially after DSB formation and the levels of re-localisation do not correlate with γH2AX levels. We conclude that DSB formation initiates a slow-acting pathway which allows stable long-term nuclear localisation of AID, and that such a pathway may enable AID-induced DNA demethylation during epigenetic reprogramming.

+view abstract PloS one, PMID: 24324754 2013

Santos F, Peat J, Burgess H, Rada C, Reik W, Dean W Epigenetics,

DNA methylation in mammals is an epigenetic mark necessary for normal embryogenesis. During development active loss of methylation occurs in the male pronucleus during the first cell cycle after fertilisation. This is accompanied by major chromatin remodelling and generates a marked asymmetry between the paternal and maternal genomes. The mechanism(s) by which this is achieved implicate, among others, base excision repair (BER) components and more recently a major role for TET3 hydroxylase. To investigate these methylation dynamics further we have analysed DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in fertilised mouse oocytes by indirect immunofluorescence (IF) and evaluated the relative contribution of different candidate factors for active demethylation in knock-out zygotes by three-dimensional imaging and IF semi-quantification.

+view abstract Epigenetics & chromatin, PMID: 24279473 2013

Iurlaro M, Ficz G, Oxley D, Raiber EA, Bachman M, Booth MJ, Andrews S, Balasubramanian S, Reik W Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

DNA methylation (5mC) plays important roles in epigenetic regulation of genome function. Recently, TET hydroxylases have been found to oxidise 5mC to hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), formylcytosine (5fC) and carboxylcytosine (5caC) in DNA. These derivatives have a role in demethylation of DNA but in addition may have epigenetic signaling functions in their own right. A recent study identified proteins which showed preferential binding to 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and its oxidised forms, where readers for 5mC and 5hmC showed little overlap, and proteins bound to further oxidation forms were enriched for repair proteins and transcription regulators. We extend this study by using promoter sequences as baits and compare protein binding patterns to unmodified or modified cytosine using DNA from mouse embryonic stem cell extracts.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 24156278 2013

Booth MJ, Ost TW, Beraldi D, Bell NM, Branco MR, Reik W, Balasubramanian S Epigenetics,

To uncover the function of and interplay between the mammalian cytosine modifications 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), new techniques and advances in current technology are needed. To this end, we have developed oxidative bisulfite sequencing (oxBS-seq), which can quantitatively locate 5mC and 5hmC marks at single-base resolution in genomic DNA. In bisulfite sequencing (BS-seq), both 5mC and 5hmC are read as cytosines and thus cannot be discriminated; however, in oxBS-seq, specific oxidation of 5hmC to 5-formylcytosine (5fC) and conversion of the newly formed 5fC to uracil (under bisulfite conditions) means that 5hmC can be discriminated from 5mC. A positive readout of actual 5mC is gained from a single oxBS-seq run, and 5hmC levels are inferred by comparison with a BS-seq run. Here we describe an optimized second-generation protocol that can be completed in 2 d.

+view abstract Nature protocols, PMID: 24008380 2013

DJ Bolland, MR King, W Reik, AE Corcoran, C Krueger ,

3D DNA FISH has become a major tool for analyzing three-dimensional organization of the nucleus, and several variations of the technique have been published. In this article we describe a protocol which has been optimized for robustness, reproducibility, and ease of use. Brightly fluorescent directly labeled probes are generated by nick-translation with amino-allyldUTP followed by chemical coupling of the dye. 3D DNA FISH is performed using a freeze-thaw step for cell permeabilization and a heating step for simultaneous denaturation of probe and nuclear DNA. The protocol is applicable to a range of cell types and a variety of probes (BACs, plasmids, fosmids, or Whole Chromosome Paints) and allows for high-throughput automated imaging. With this method we routinely investigate nuclear localization of up to three chromosomal regions.

+view abstract Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, PMID: 23978815 2013

G Ficz, TA Hore, F Santos, HJ Lee, W Dean, J Arand, F Krueger, D Oxley, YL Paul, J Walter, SJ Cook, S Andrews, MR Branco, W Reik Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Genome-wide erasure of DNA methylation takes place in primordial germ cells (PGCs) and early embryos and is linked with pluripotency. Inhibition of Erk1/2 and Gsk3β signaling in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) by small-molecule inhibitors (called 2i) has recently been shown to induce hypomethylation. We show by whole-genome bisulphite sequencing that 2i induces rapid and genome-wide demethylation on a scale and pattern similar to that in migratory PGCs and early embryos. Major satellites, intracisternal A particles (IAPs), and imprinted genes remain relatively resistant to erasure. Demethylation involves oxidation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), impaired maintenance of 5mC and 5hmC, and repression of the de novo methyltransferases (Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b) and Dnmt3L. We identify a Prdm14- and Nanog-binding cis-acting regulatory region in Dnmt3b that is highly responsive to signaling. These insights provide a framework for understanding how signaling pathways regulate reprogramming to an epigenetic ground state of pluripotency.

+view abstract Cell stem cell, PMID: 23850245 2013

Oda M, Oxley D, Dean W, Reik W Epigenetics, Mass Spectrometry

DNA methylation is reprogrammed during early embryogenesis by active and passive mechanisms in advance of the first differentiation event producing the embryonic and extraembryonic lineage cells which contribute to the future embryo proper and to the placenta respectively. Embryonic lineage cells re-acquire a highly methylated genome dependent on the DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b that are required for de novo methylation. By contrast, extraembryonic lineage cells remain globally hypomethylated but the mechanisms that underlie this hypomethylation remain unknown.

+view abstract PloS one, PMID: 23825703 2013

Raddatz G, Guzzardo PM, Olova N, Fantappié MR, Rampp M, Schaefer M, Reik W, Hannon GJ, Lyko F Epigenetics,

Several organisms have retained methyltransferase 2 (Dnmt2) as their only candidate DNA methyltransferase gene. However, information about Dnmt2-dependent methylation patterns has been limited to a few isolated loci and the results have been discussed controversially. In addition, recent studies have shown that Dnmt2 functions as a tRNA methyltransferase, which raised the possibility that Dnmt2-only genomes might be unmethylated. We have now used whole-genome bisulfite sequencing to analyze the methylomes of Dnmt2-only organisms at single-base resolution. Our results show that the genomes of Schistosoma mansoni and Drosophila melanogaster lack detectable DNA methylation patterns. Residual unconverted cytosine residues shared many attributes with bisulfite deamination artifacts and were observed at comparable levels in Dnmt2-deficient flies. Furthermore, genetically modified Dnmt2-only mouse embryonic stem cells lost the DNA methylation patterns found in wild-type cells. Our results thus uncover fundamental differences among animal methylomes and suggest that DNA methylation is dispensable for a considerable number of eukaryotic organisms.

+view abstract Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: 23641003 2013

Ficz G, Reik W Epigenetics,

Pluripotent cells, when fused with somatic cells, have the dominant ability to reprogram the somatic genome. Work by Piccolo et al. (2013) shows that the Tet1 and Tet2 hydroxylases are important for DNA methylation reprogramming of pluripotency genes and parental imprints.

+view abstract Molecular cell, PMID: 23541036 2013

Seisenberger S, Peat JR, Reik W Epigenetics,

DNA methylation is a carrier of important regulatory information that undergoes global reprogramming in the mammalian germ line, including pre-implantation embryos and primordial germ cells (PGCs). A flurry of recent studies have employed technical advances to generate global profiles of methylation and hydroxymethylation in these cells, unravelling the dynamics of methylation erasure at single locus resolution. Active demethylation in the zygote, involving extensive oxidation, is followed by passive loss over early cell divisions. Certain gamete-contributed methylation marks appear to have evolved non-canonical mechanisms for targeted maintenance of methylation in the face of these processes. These protected sequences include the imprinting control regions (ICRs) required for parental imprinting but also a surprising number of other regions. Such targeted maintenance mechanisms may also operate at certain sequences during early PGC migration when global passive demethylation occurs. In later gonadal PGCs, imprints must be reset and this may be achieved through the targeting of active mechanisms including oxidation. Thus, emerging evidence paints a complex picture whereby active and passive demethylation pathways operate synergistically and in parallel to ensure robust erasure in the early embryo and PGCs.

+view abstract Current opinion in cell biology, PMID: 23510682 2013

Costa Y, Ding J, Theunissen TW, Faiola F, Hore TA, Shliaha PV, Fidalgo M, Saunders A, Lawrence M, Dietmann S, Das S, Levasseur DN, Li Z, Xu M, Reik W, Silva JC, Wang J Epigenetics,

Molecular control of the pluripotent state is thought to reside in a core circuitry of master transcription factors including the homeodomain-containing protein NANOG, which has an essential role in establishing ground state pluripotency during somatic cell reprogramming. Whereas the genomic occupancy of NANOG has been extensively investigated, comparatively little is known about NANOG-associated proteins and their contribution to the NANOG-mediated reprogramming process. Using enhanced purification techniques and a stringent computational algorithm, we identify 27 high-confidence protein interaction partners of NANOG in mouse embryonic stem cells. These consist of 19 previously unknown partners of NANOG that have not been reported before, including the ten-eleven translocation (TET) family methylcytosine hydroxylase TET1. We confirm physical association of NANOG with TET1, and demonstrate that TET1, in synergy with NANOG, enhances the efficiency of reprogramming. We also find physical association and reprogramming synergy of TET2 with NANOG, and demonstrate that knockdown of TET2 abolishes the reprogramming synergy of NANOG with a catalytically deficient mutant of TET1. These results indicate that the physical interaction between NANOG and TET1/TET2 proteins facilitates reprogramming in a manner that is dependent on the catalytic activity of TET1/TET2. TET1 and NANOG co-occupy genomic loci of genes associated with both maintenance of pluripotency and lineage commitment in embryonic stem cells, and TET1 binding is reduced upon NANOG depletion. Co-expression of NANOG and TET1 increases 5-hydroxymethylcytosine levels at the top-ranked common target loci Esrrb and Oct4 (also called Pou5f1), resulting in priming of their expression before reprogramming to naive pluripotency. We propose that TET1 is recruited by NANOG to enhance the expression of a subset of key reprogramming target genes. These results provide an insight into the reprogramming mechanism of NANOG and uncover a new role for 5-methylcytosine hydroxylases in the establishment of naive pluripotency.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 23395962 2013

Coupland P, Chandra T, Quail M, Reik W, Swerdlow H Epigenetics, Genomics

We have developed a sequencing method on the Pacific Biosciences RS sequencer (the PacBio) for small DNA molecules that avoids the need for a standard library preparation. To date this approach has been applied toward sequencing single-stranded and double-stranded viral genomes, bacterial plasmids, plasmid vector models for DNA-modification analysis, and linear DNA fragments covering an entire bacterial genome. Using direct sequencing it is possible to generate sequence data from as little as 1 ng of DNA, offering a significant advantage over current protocols which typically require 400-500 ng of sheared DNA for the library preparation.

+view abstract BioTechniques, PMID: 23227987 2012

S Seisenberger, S Andrews, F Krueger, J Arand, J Walter, F Santos, C Popp, B Thienpont, W Dean, W Reik ,

Genome-wide DNA methylation reprogramming occurs in mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) and preimplantation embryos, but the precise dynamics and biological outcomes are largely unknown. We have carried out whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (BS-Seq) and RNA-Seq across key stages from E6.5 epiblast to E16.5 PGCs. Global loss of methylation takes place during PGC expansion and migration with evidence for passive demethylation, but sequences that carry long-term epigenetic memory (imprints, CpG islands on the X chromosome, germline-specific genes) only become demethylated upon entry of PGCs into the gonads. The transcriptional profile of PGCs is tightly controlled despite global hypomethylation, with transient expression of the pluripotency network, suggesting that reprogramming and pluripotency are inextricably linked. Our results provide a framework for the understanding of the epigenetic ground state of pluripotency in the germline.

+view abstract Molecular cell, PMID: 23219530 2012

Seisenberger S, Peat JR, Hore TA, Santos F, Dean W, Reik W Epigenetics,

In mammalian development, epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation patterns, play a crucial role in defining cell fate but also represent epigenetic barriers that restrict developmental potential. At two points in the life cycle, DNA methylation marks are reprogrammed on a global scale, concomitant with restoration of developmental potency. DNA methylation patterns are subsequently re-established with the commitment towards a distinct cell fate. This reprogramming of DNA methylation takes place firstly on fertilization in the zygote, and secondly in primordial germ cells (PGCs), which are the direct progenitors of sperm or oocyte. In each reprogramming window, a unique set of mechanisms regulates DNA methylation erasure and re-establishment. Recent advances have uncovered roles for the TET3 hydroxylase and passive demethylation, together with base excision repair (BER) and the elongator complex, in methylation erasure from the zygote. Deamination by AID, BER and passive demethylation have been implicated in reprogramming in PGCs, but the process in its entirety is still poorly understood. In this review, we discuss the dynamics of DNA methylation reprogramming in PGCs and the zygote, the mechanisms involved and the biological significance of these events. Advances in our understanding of such natural epigenetic reprogramming are beginning to aid enhancement of experimental reprogramming in which the role of potential mechanisms can be investigated in vitro. Conversely, insights into in vitro reprogramming techniques may aid our understanding of epigenetic reprogramming in the germline and supply important clues in reprogramming for therapies in regenerative medicine.

+view abstract Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, PMID: 23166394 2013

JA Hackett, JP Reddington, CE Nestor, DS Dunican, MR Branco, J Reichmann, W Reik, MA Surani, IR Adams, RR Meehan ,

Mouse primordial germ cells (PGCs) erase global DNA methylation (5mC) as part of the comprehensive epigenetic reprogramming that occurs during PGC development. 5mC plays an important role in maintaining stable gene silencing and repression of transposable elements (TE) but it is not clear how the extensive loss of DNA methylation impacts on gene expression and TE repression in developing PGCs. Using a novel epigenetic disruption and recovery screen and genetic analyses, we identified a core set of germline-specific genes that are dependent exclusively on promoter DNA methylation for initiation and maintenance of developmental silencing. These gene promoters appear to possess a specialised chromatin environment that does not acquire any of the repressive H3K27me3, H3K9me2, H3K9me3 or H4K20me3 histone modifications when silenced by DNA methylation. Intriguingly, this methylation-dependent subset is highly enriched in genes with roles in suppressing TE activity in germ cells. We show that the mechanism for developmental regulation of the germline genome-defence genes involves DNMT3B-dependent de novo DNA methylation. These genes are then activated by lineage-specific promoter demethylation during distinct global epigenetic reprogramming events in migratory (~E8.5) and post-migratory (E10.5-11.5) PGCs. We propose that genes involved in genome defence are developmentally regulated primarily by promoter DNA methylation as a sensory mechanism that is coupled to the potential for TE activation during global 5mC erasure, thereby acting as a failsafe to ensure TE suppression and maintain genomic integrity in the germline.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 22949617 2012

JR Peat, W Reik ,

The cloning of Dolly the sheep was a remarkable demonstration of the oocyte's ability to reprogram a specialized nucleus. However, embryos derived from such somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) very rarely result in live births-a fate that may be linked to observed epigenetic defects. A new genome-wide study shows that epigenetic reprogramming in SCNT embryos does not fully recapitulate the natural DNA demethylation events occurring at fertilization, resulting in aberrant methylation at some promoters and repetitive elements that may contribute to developmental failure.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 22932499 2012

EA Raiber, D Beraldi, G Ficz, HE Burgess, MR Branco, P Murat, D Oxley, MJ Booth, W Reik, S Balasubramanian

ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Methylation of cytosine in DNA (5mC) is an important epigenetic mark that is involved in the regulation of genome function. During early embryonic development in mammals, the methylation landscape is dynamically reprogrammed in part through active demethylation. Recent advances have identified key players involved in active demethylation pathways, including oxidation of 5mC to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) and 5-formylcytosine (5fC) by the TET enzymes, and excision of 5fC by the base excision repair enzyme thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG). Here, we provide the first genome-wide map of 5fC in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells and evaluate potential roles for 5fC in differentiation. RESULTS: Our method exploits the unique reactivity of 5fC for pulldown and high-throughput sequencing. Genome-wide mapping revealed 5fC enrichment in CpG islands (CGIs) of promoters and exons. CGI promoters in which 5fC was relatively more enriched than 5mC or 5hmC corresponded to transcriptionally active genes. Accordingly, 5fC-rich promoters had elevated H3K4me3 levels, associated with active transcription, and were frequently bound by RNA polymerase II. TDG down-regulation led to 5fC accumulation in CGIs in ES cells, which correlates with increased methylation in these genomic regions during differentiation of ES cells in wild-type and TDG knockout contexts. CONCLUSIONS: Collectively, our data suggest that 5fC plays a role in epigenetic reprogramming within specific genomic regions, which is controlled in part by TDG-mediated excision. Notably, 5fC excision in ES cells is necessary for the correct establishment of CGI methylation patterns during differentiation and hence for appropriate patterns of gene expression during development.

+view abstract Genome biology, PMID: 22902005 2012

C Krueger, MR King, F Krueger, MR Branco, CS Osborne, KK Niakan, MJ Higgins, W Reik ,

Although somatic homologous pairing is common in Drosophila it is not generally observed in mammalian cells. However, a number of regions have recently been shown to come into close proximity with their homologous allele, and it has been proposed that pairing might be involved in the establishment or maintenance of monoallelic expression. Here, we investigate the pairing properties of various imprinted and non-imprinted regions in mouse tissues and ES cells. We find by allele-specific 4C-Seq and DNA FISH that the Kcnq1 imprinted region displays frequent pairing but that this is not dependent on monoallelic expression. We demonstrate that pairing involves larger chromosomal regions and that the two chromosome territories come close together. Frequent pairing is not associated with imprinted status or DNA repair, but is influenced by chromosomal location and transcription. We propose that homologous pairing is not exclusive to specialised regions or specific functional events, and speculate that it provides the cell with the opportunity of trans-allelic effects on gene regulation.

+view abstract PloS one, PMID: 22802932 2012

A Keniry, D Oxley, P Monnier, M Kyba, L Dandolo, G Smits, W Reik ,

The H19 large intergenic non-coding RNA (lincRNA) is one of the most highly abundant and conserved transcripts in mammalian development, being expressed in both embryonic and extra-embryonic cell lineages, yet its physiological function is unknown. Here we show that miR-675, a microRNA (miRNA) embedded in H19's first exon, is expressed exclusively in the placenta from the gestational time point when placental growth normally ceases, and placentas that lack H19 continue to grow. Overexpression of miR-675 in a range of embryonic and extra-embryonic cell lines results in their reduced proliferation; targets of the miRNA are upregulated in the H19 null placenta, including the growth-promoting insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (Igf1r) gene. Moreover, the excision of miR-675 from H19 is dynamically regulated by the stress-response RNA-binding protein HuR. These results suggest that H19's main physiological role is in limiting growth of the placenta before birth, by regulated processing of miR-675. The controlled release of miR-675 from H19 may also allow rapid inhibition of cell proliferation in response to cellular stress or oncogenic signals.

+view abstract Nature cell biology, PMID: 22684254 2012

MJ Booth, MR Branco, G Ficz, D Oxley, F Krueger, W Reik, S Balasubramanian Epigenetics, Mass Spectrometry

5-Methylcytosine can be converted to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in mammalian DNA by the ten-eleven translocation (TET) enzymes. We introduce oxidative bisulfite sequencing (oxBS-Seq), the first method for quantitative mapping of 5hmC in genomic DNA at single-nucleotide resolution. Selective chemical oxidation of 5hmC to 5-formylcytosine (5fC) enables bisulfite conversion of 5fC to uracil. We demonstrate the utility of oxBS-Seq to map and quantify 5hmC at CpG islands (CGIs) in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells and identify 800 5hmC-containing CGIs that have on average 3.3% hydroxymethylation. High levels of 5hmC were found in CGIs associated with transcriptional regulators and in long interspersed nuclear elements, suggesting that these regions might undergo epigenetic reprogramming in ES cells. Our results open new questions on 5hmC dynamics and sequence-specific targeting by TETs.

+view abstract Science (New York, N.Y.), PMID: 22539555 2012

S Patalano, TA Hore, W Reik, S Sumner ,

Epigenetic modifications are ancient and widely utilised mechanisms that have been recruited across fungi, plants and animals for diverse but fundamental biological functions, such as cell differentiation. Recently, a functional DNA methylation system was identified in the honeybee, where it appears to underlie queen and worker caste differentiation. This discovery, along with other insights into the epigenetics of social insects, allows provocative analogies to be drawn between insect caste differentiation and cellular differentiation, particularly in mammals. Developing larvae in social insect colonies are totipotent: they retain the ability to specialise as queens or workers, in a similar way to the totipotent cells of early embryos before they differentiate into specific cell lineages. Further, both differentiating cells and insect castes lose phenotypic plasticity by committing to their lineage, losing the ability to be readily reprogrammed. Hence, a comparison of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying lineage differentiation (and reprogramming) between cells and social insects is worthwhile. Here we develop a conceptual model of how loss and regain of phenotypic plasticity might be conserved for individual specialisation in both cells and societies. This framework forges a novel link between two fields of biological research, providing predictions for a unified approach to understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying biological complexity.

+view abstract Current opinion in cell biology, PMID: 22429916 2012

O Taiwo, GA Wilson, T Morris, S Seisenberger, W Reik, D Pearce, S Beck, LM Butcher ,

DNA methylation is an epigenetic mark that has a crucial role in many biological processes. To understand the functional consequences of DNA methylation on phenotypic plasticity, a genome-wide analysis should be embraced. This in turn requires a technique that balances accuracy, genome coverage, resolution and cost, yet is low in DNA input in order to minimize the drain on precious samples. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation-sequencing (MeDIP-seq) fulfils these criteria, combining MeDIP with massively parallel DNA sequencing. Here we report an improved protocol using 100-fold less genomic DNA than that commonly used. We show comparable results for specificity (>97%) and enrichment (>100-fold) over a wide range of DNA concentrations (5,000-50 ng) and demonstrate the utility of the protocol for the generation of methylomes from rare bone marrow cells using 160-300 ng of starting DNA. The protocol described here, i.e., DNA extraction to generation of MeDIP-seq library, can be completed within 3-5 d.

+view abstract Nature protocols, PMID: 22402632 2012

D Adams, L Altucci, SE Antonarakis, J Ballesteros, S Beck, A Bird, C Bock, B Boehm, E Campo, A Caricasole, F Dahl, ET Dermitzakis, T Enver, M Esteller, X Estivill, A Ferguson-Smith, J Fitzgibbon, P Flicek, C Giehl, T Graf, F Grosveld, R Guigo, I Gut, K Helin, J Jarvius, R Küppers, H Lehrach, T Lengauer, Å Lernmark, D Leslie, M Loeffler, E Macintyre, A Mai, JH Martens, S Minucci, WH Ouwehand, PG Pelicci, H Pendeville, B Porse, V Rakyan, W Reik, M Schrappe, D Schübeler, M Seifert, R Siebert, D Simmons, N Soranzo, S Spicuglia, M Stratton, HG Stunnenberg, A Tanay, D Torrents, A Valencia, E Vellenga, M Vingron, J Walter, S Willcocks ,

+view abstract Nature biotechnology, PMID: 22398613 2012

MR Branco, G Ficz, W Reik ,

Just over 2 years ago, TET1 was found to catalyse the oxidation of 5-methylcytosine, a well-known epigenetic mark, into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in mammalian DNA. The exciting prospect of a novel epigenetic modification that may dynamically regulate DNA methylation has led to the rapid accumulation of publications from a wide array of fields, from biochemistry to stem cell biology. Although we have only started to scratch the surface, interesting clues on the role of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine are quickly emerging.

+view abstract Nature reviews. Genetics, PMID: 22083101 2012

N Carey, CJ Marques, W Reik ,

DNA methylation is one of the most extensively studied, and one of the most stable, of all epigenetic modifications. Two drugs that target DNA methyltransferase enzymes are licensed for clinical use in oncology but relatively little attention has focused on the enzymatic pathways by which DNA methylation can be reversed. Recent breakthroughs have identified at least two classes of enzymes that can achieve functional reversal. This review discusses the significance of DNA demethylation in a range of human diseases, the candidate proteins that mediate the demethylation and the opportunities and challenges in targeting these candidates to develop new therapeutics.

+view abstract Drug discovery today, PMID: 21601651 2011

G Ficz, MR Branco, S Seisenberger, F Santos, F Krueger, TA Hore, CJ Marques, S Andrews, W Reik ,

Methylation at the 5' position of cytosine in DNA has important roles in genome function and is dynamically reprogrammed during early embryonic and germ cell development. The mammalian genome also contains 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), which seems to be generated by oxidation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) by the TET family of enzymes that are highly expressed in embryonic stem (ES) cells. Here we use antibodies against 5hmC and 5mC together with high throughput sequencing to determine genome-wide patterns of methylation and hydroxymethylation in mouse wild-type and mutant ES cells and differentiating embryoid bodies. We find that 5hmC is mostly associated with euchromatin and that whereas 5mC is under-represented at gene promoters and CpG islands, 5hmC is enriched and is associated with increased transcriptional levels. Most, if not all, 5hmC in the genome depends on pre-existing 5mC and the balance between these two modifications is different between genomic regions. Knockdown of Tet1 and Tet2 causes downregulation of a group of genes that includes pluripotency-related genes (including Esrrb, Prdm14, Dppa3, Klf2, Tcl1 and Zfp42) and a concomitant increase in methylation of their promoters, together with an increased propensity of ES cells for extraembryonic lineage differentiation. Declining levels of TETs during differentiation are associated with decreased hydroxymethylation levels at the promoters of ES cell-specific genes together with increased methylation and gene silencing. We propose that the balance between hydroxymethylation and methylation in the genome is inextricably linked with the balance between pluripotency and lineage commitment.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 21460836 2011

M Wossidlo, T Nakamura, K Lepikhov, CJ Marques, V Zakhartchenko, M Boiani, J Arand, T Nakano, W Reik, J Walter ,

The epigenomes of early mammalian embryos are extensively reprogrammed to acquire a totipotent developmental potential. A major initial event in this reprogramming is the active loss/demethylation of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) in the zygote. Here, we report on findings that link this active demethylation to molecular mechanisms. We detect 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) as a novel modification in mouse, bovine and rabbit zygotes. On zygotic development 5hmC accumulates in the paternal pronucleus along with a reduction of 5mC. A knockdown of the 5hmC generating dioxygenase Tet3 simultaneously affects the patterns of 5hmC and 5mC in the paternal pronucleus. This finding links the loss of 5mC to its conversion into 5hmC. The maternal pronucleus seems to be largely protected against this mechanism by PGC7/Dppa3/Stella, as in PGC7 knockout zygotes 5mC also becomes accessible to oxidation into 5hmC. In summary, our data suggest an important role of 5hmC and Tet3 for DNA methylation reprogramming processes in the mammalian zygote.

+view abstract Nature communications, PMID: 21407207 2011

CJ Petry, ML Evans, DL Wingate, KK Ong, W Reik, M Constância, DB Dunger Epigenetics,

At the beginning of the third week of pregnancy, mouse fetuses with targeted disruption of their paternally-transmitted insulin-like growth factor 2 gene placental-specific transcripts have growth-restricted placentas but normal body weights due to upregulated placental nutrient transport. We assessed whether increased placental glucose transport rates were associated with raised maternal glucose concentrations by performing intraperitoneal glucose tolerance tests (ipGTT) in pregnant mice carrying knockout pups and comparing them with mice carrying genotype-matched phenotypically wild type pups. Mean ± SD body weights of affected pups were 95 ± 8% of control values at e16 and 73 ± 7% at e18. There were no differences in areas under the maternal ipGTT curves at either e16 (mean ± SD being 99.0 ± 9.1% of control values; P = .9) or e18 (91.4 ± 13.4%; P = .3), suggesting that effects on transplacental glucose transport in these mice are not mediated through changes in maternal glucose concentrations.

+view abstract Experimental diabetes research, PMID: 21331382 2011

E Angiolini, PM Coan, I Sandovici, OH Iwajomo, G Peck, GJ Burton, CP Sibley, W Reik, AL Fowden, M Constância Epigenetics,

The healthy development of the fetus depends on an optimal balance between fetal genetic drive for growth and the maternal ability to provide nutrients through the placenta. Nothing is known about fetal-placental signaling in response to increased fetal demand in the situation of overgrowth. Here, we examined this question using the H19(Δ13) mouse model, shown previously to result in elevated levels of Igf2. Fetal and placental weights in H19(Δ13) were increased by 23% and 45%, respectively, at E19, when compared with wild-type mice. Unexpectedly, we found that disproportionately large H19(Δ13) placentas transport 20-35% less (per gram placenta) glucose and system A amino acids and have similar reductions in passive permeability, despite a significantly greater surface area for nutrient exchange and theoretical diffusion capacity compared with wild-type mice. Expression of key transporter genes Slc2a3 and Slc38a4 was reduced by ∼20%. Decreasing the overgrowth of the H19(Δ13) placenta by genetically reducing levels of Igf2P0 resulted in up-regulation of system A activity and maintenance of fetal overgrowth. Our results provide direct evidence that large placentas can modify their nutrient transfer capacity to regulate fetal nutrient acquisition. Our findings are indicative of fetal-placental signaling mechanisms that limit total demand for maternal nutrients.

+view abstract FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, PMID: 21282203 2011

S Feng, SE Jacobsen, W Reik Epigenetics,

Epigenetic modifications of the genome are generally stable in somatic cells of multicellular organisms. In germ cells and early embryos, however, epigenetic reprogramming occurs on a genome-wide scale, which includes demethylation of DNA and remodeling of histones and their modifications. The mechanisms of genome-wide erasure of DNA methylation, which involve modifications to 5-methylcytosine and DNA repair, are being unraveled. Epigenetic reprogramming has important roles in imprinting, the natural as well as experimental acquisition of totipotency and pluripotency, control of transposons, and epigenetic inheritance across generations. Small RNAs and the inheritance of histone marks may also contribute to epigenetic inheritance and reprogramming. Reprogramming occurs in flowering plants and in mammals, and the similarities and differences illuminate developmental and reproductive strategies.

+view abstract Science (New York, N.Y.), PMID: 21030646 2010

S Seisenberger, C Popp, W Reik Epigenetics,

The evolutionary success of retrotransposable elements is reflected by their abundance in mammalian genomes. To restrict their further advance, a number of defence mechanisms have been put in place by the host. These seem to be particularly effective in the germ line while somatic lineages might be more permissive to new insertions, as recent work by Kano and colleagues suggests.

+view abstract F1000 biology reports, PMID: 20948789 2010

F Santos, L Hyslop, P Stojkovic, C Leary, A Murdoch, W Reik, M Stojkovic, M Herbert, W Dean Epigenetics,

It has long been appreciated that environmental cues may trigger adaptive responses. Many of these responses are a result of changes in the epigenetic landscape influencing transcriptional states and consequently altering phenotypes. In the context of human reproductive health, the procedures necessary for assisted reproduction may result in altered phenotypes by primarily influencing DNA methylation. Among the well-documented effects of assisted reproduction technologies (ART), imprinted genes appear to be frequently altered, likely owing to their reliance on DNA methylation to impose parent-specific monoallelic expression. However, the generality of the potential deregulation of DNA methylation in ART-derived human embryos has not been evaluated.

+view abstract Human reproduction (Oxford, England), PMID: 20634187 2010

C Popp, W Dean, S Feng, SJ Cokus, S Andrews, M Pellegrini, SE Jacobsen, W Reik Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

Epigenetic reprogramming including demethylation of DNA occurs in mammalian primordial germ cells (PGCs) and in early embryos, and is important for the erasure of imprints and epimutations, and the return to pluripotency. The extent of this reprogramming and its molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. We previously showed that the cytidine deaminases AID and APOBEC1 can deaminate 5-methylcytosine in vitro and in Escherichia coli, and in the mouse are expressed in tissues in which demethylation occurs. Here we profiled DNA methylation throughout the genome by unbiased bisulphite next generation sequencing in wild-type and AID-deficient mouse PGCs at embryonic day (E)13.5. Wild-type PGCs revealed marked genome-wide erasure of methylation to a level below that of methylation deficient (Np95(-/-), also called Uhrf1(-/-)) embryonic stem cells, with female PGCs being less methylated than male ones. By contrast, AID-deficient PGCs were up to three times more methylated than wild-type ones; this substantial difference occurred throughout the genome, with introns, intergenic regions and transposons being relatively more methylated than exons. Relative hypermethylation in AID-deficient PGCs was confirmed by analysis of individual loci in the genome. Our results reveal that erasure of DNA methylation in the germ line is a global process, hence limiting the potential for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. AID deficiency interferes with genome-wide erasure of DNA methylation patterns, indicating that AID has a critical function in epigenetic reprogramming and potentially in restricting the inheritance of epimutations in mammals.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 20098412 2010

R Nativio, KS Wendt, Y Ito, JE Huddleston, S Uribe-Lewis, K Woodfine, C Krueger, W Reik, JM Peters, A Murrell Epigenetics,

Cohesin is a chromatin-associated protein complex that mediates sister chromatid cohesion by connecting replicated DNA molecules. Cohesin also has important roles in gene regulation, but the mechanistic basis of this function is poorly understood. In mammalian genomes, cohesin co-localizes with CCCTC binding factor (CTCF), a zinc finger protein implicated in multiple gene regulatory events. At the imprinted IGF2-H19 locus, CTCF plays an important role in organizing allele-specific higher-order chromatin conformation and functions as an enhancer blocking transcriptional insulator. Here we have used chromosome conformation capture (3C) assays and RNAi-mediated depletion of cohesin to address whether cohesin affects higher order chromatin conformation at the IGF2-H19 locus in human cells. Our data show that cohesin has a critical role in maintaining CTCF-mediated chromatin conformation at the locus and that disruption of this conformation coincides with changes in IGF2 expression. We show that the cohesin-dependent, higher-order chromatin conformation of the locus exists in both G1 and G2 phases of the cell cycle and is therefore independent of cohesin's function in sister chromatid cohesion. We propose that cohesin can mediate interactions between DNA molecules in cis to insulate genes through the formation of chromatin loops, analogous to the cohesin mediated interaction with sister chromatids in trans to establish cohesion.

+view abstract PLoS genetics, PMID: 19956766 2009

CJ Petry, ML Evans, DL Wingate, KK Ong, W Reik, M Constância, DB Dunger Epigenetics,

We have hypothesized that variation in imprinted growth-promoting fetal genes may affect maternal glucose concentrations in pregnancy. To test this hypothesis we evaluated the effects of fetal disruption of murine H19(Delta13) on maternal glucose concentrations in pregnancy.

+view abstract Diabetes, PMID: 19794064 2010

M Hemberger, W Dean, W Reik Epigenetics,

Cells of the early mammalian embryo, including pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells and primordial germ cells (PGCs), are epigenetically dynamic and heterogeneous. During early development, this heterogeneity of epigenetic states is associated with stochastic expression of lineage-determining transcription factors that establish an intimate crosstalk with epigenetic modifiers. Lineage-specific epigenetic modification of crucial transcription factor loci (for example, methylation of the Elf5 promoter) leads to the restriction of transcriptional circuits and the fixation of lineage fate. The intersection of major epigenetic reprogramming and programming events in the early embryo creates plasticity followed by commitment to the principal cell lineages of the early conceptus.

+view abstract Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology, PMID: 19603040 2009

E Meyer, D Lim, S Pasha, LJ Tee, F Rahman, JR Yates, CG Woods, W Reik, ER Maher Epigenetics,

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a fetal overgrowth and human imprinting disorder resulting from the deregulation of a number of genes, including IGF2 and CDKN1C, in the imprinted gene cluster on chromosome 11p15.5. Most cases are sporadic and result from epimutations at either of the two 11p15.5 imprinting centres (IC1 and IC2). However, rare familial cases may be associated with germline 11p15.5 deletions causing abnormal imprinting in cis. We report a family with BWS and an IC2 epimutation in which affected siblings had inherited different parental 11p15.5 alleles excluding an in cis mechanism. Using a positional-candidate gene approach, we found that the mother was homozygous for a frameshift mutation in exon 6 of NLRP2. While germline mutations in NLRP7 have previously been associated with familial hydatidiform mole, this is the first description of NLRP2 mutation in human disease and the first report of a trans mechanism for disordered imprinting in BWS. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that NLRP2 has a previously unrecognised role in establishing or maintaining genomic imprinting in humans.

+view abstract PLoS genetics, PMID: 19300480 2009

CP Ponting, PL Oliver, W Reik Epigenetics,

RNA is not only a messenger operating between DNA and protein. Transcription of essentially the entire eukaryotic genome generates a myriad of non-protein-coding RNA species that show complex overlapping patterns of expression and regulation. Although long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are among the least well-understood of these transcript species, they cannot all be dismissed as merely transcriptional "noise." Here, we review the evolution of lncRNAs and their roles in transcriptional regulation, epigenetic gene regulation, and disease.

+view abstract Cell, PMID: 19239885 2009

L Redrup, MR Branco, ER Perdeaux, C Krueger, A Lewis, F Santos, T Nagano, BS Cobb, P Fraser, W Reik Epigenetics,

Long noncoding RNAs are implicated in a number of regulatory functions in eukaryotic genomes. The paternally expressed long noncoding RNA (ncRNA) Kcnq1ot1 regulates epigenetic gene silencing in an imprinted gene cluster in cis over a distance of 400 kb in the mouse embryo, whereas the silenced region extends over 780 kb in the placenta. Gene silencing by the Kcnq1ot1 RNA involves repressive histone modifications, including H3K9me2 and H3K27me3, which are partly brought about by the G9a and Ezh2 histone methyltransferases. Here, we show that Kcnq1ot1 is transcribed by RNA polymerase II, is unspliced, is relatively stable and is localised in the nucleus. Analysis of conditional Dicer mutants reveals that the RNAi pathway is not involved in gene silencing in the Kcnq1ot1 cluster. Instead, using RNA/DNA FISH we show that the Kcnq1ot1 RNA establishes a nuclear domain within which the genes that are epigenetically inactivated in cis are frequently found, whereas nearby genes that are not regulated by Kcnq1ot1 are localised outside of the domain. The Kcnq1ot1 RNA domain is larger in the placenta than in the embryo, consistent with more genes in the cluster being silenced in the placenta. Our results show for the first time that autosomal long ncRNAs can establish nuclear domains, which might create a repressive environment for epigenetic silencing of adjacent genes. Long ncRNAs in imprinting clusters and the Xist RNA on the inactive X chromosome thus appear to regulate epigenetic gene silencing by similar mechanisms.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 19144718 2009

M Gehring, W Reik, S Henikoff Epigenetics,

Active DNA demethylation underlies key facets of reproduction in flowering plants and mammals and serves a general genome housekeeping function in plants. A family of 5-methylcytosine DNA glycosylases catalyzes plant demethylation via the well-known DNA base-excision-repair process. Although the existence of active demethylation has been known for a longer time in mammals, the means of achieving it remain murky and mammals lack counterparts to the plant demethylases. Several intriguing experiments have indicated, but not conclusively proven, that DNA repair is also a plausible mechanism for animal demethylation. Here, we examine what is known from flowering plants about the pathways and function of enzymatic demethylation and discuss possible mechanisms whereby DNA repair might also underlie global demethylation in mammals.

+view abstract Trends in genetics : TIG, PMID: 19144439 2009

D Lim, SC Bowdin, L Tee, GA Kirby, E Blair, A Fryer, W Lam, C Oley, T Cole, LA Brueton, W Reik, F Macdonald, ER Maher Epigenetics,

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a model imprinting disorder resulting from mutations or epigenetic events affecting imprinted genes at 11p15.5. Most BWS cases are sporadic and result from imprinting errors (epimutations) involving either of the two 11p15.5 imprinting control regions (IC1 and IC2). Previously, we and other reported an association between sporadic BWS and assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs).

+view abstract Human reproduction (Oxford, England), PMID: 19073614 2009

RK Ng, W Dean, C Dawson, D Lucifero, Z Madeja, W Reik, M Hemberger Epigenetics,

Mouse ES cells can differentiate into all three germ layers of the embryo but are generally excluded from the trophoblast lineage. Here we show that ES cells deficient in DNA methylation can differentiate efficiently into trophoblast derivatives. In a genome-wide screen we identified the transcription factor Elf5 as methylated and repressed in ES cells, and hypomethylated and expressed in TS and methylation-deficient ES cells. Elf5 creates a positive-feedback loop with the TS cell determinants Cdx2 and Eomes that is restricted to the trophoblast lineage by epigenetic regulation of Elf5. Importantly, the late-acting function of Elf5 allows initial plasticity and regulation in the early blastocyst. Thus, Elf5 functions as a gatekeeper, downstream of initial lineage determination, to reinforce commitment to the trophoblast lineage or to abort this pathway in epiblast cells. This epigenetic restriction of cell lineage fate provides a molecular mechanism for Waddington's concept of canalization of developmental pathways.

+view abstract Nature cell biology, PMID: 18836439 2008

G Smits, AJ Mungall, S Griffiths-Jones, P Smith, D Beury, L Matthews, J Rogers, AJ Pask, G Shaw, JL VandeBerg, JR McCarrey, , MB Renfree, W Reik, I Dunham Epigenetics,

Comparisons between eutherians and marsupials suggest limited conservation of the molecular mechanisms that control genomic imprinting in mammals. We have studied the evolution of the imprinted IGF2-H19 locus in therians. Although marsupial orthologs of protein-coding exons were easily identified, the use of evolutionarily conserved regions and low-stringency Bl2seq comparisons was required to delineate a candidate H19 noncoding RNA sequence. The therian H19 orthologs show miR-675 and exon structure conservation, suggesting functional selection on both features. Transcription start site sequences and poly(A) signals are also conserved. As in eutherians, marsupial H19 is maternally expressed and paternal methylation upstream of the gene originates in the male germline, encompasses a CTCF insulator, and spreads somatically into the H19 gene. The conservation in all therians of the mechanism controlling imprinting of the IGF2-H19 locus suggests a sequential model of imprinting evolution.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 18587395 2008

CR Farthing, G Ficz, RK Ng, CF Chan, S Andrews, W Dean, M Hemberger, W Reik Epigenetics, Bioinformatics

DNA methylation patterns are reprogrammed in primordial germ cells and in preimplantation embryos by demethylation and subsequent de novo methylation. It has been suggested that epigenetic reprogramming may be necessary for the embryonic genome to return to a pluripotent state. We have carried out a genome-wide promoter analysis of DNA methylation in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, embryonic germ (EG) cells, sperm, trophoblast stem (TS) cells, and primary embryonic fibroblasts (pMEFs). Global clustering analysis shows that methylation patterns of ES cells, EG cells, and sperm are surprisingly similar, suggesting that while the sperm is a highly specialized cell type, its promoter epigenome is already largely reprogrammed and resembles a pluripotent state. Comparisons between pluripotent tissues and pMEFs reveal that a number of pluripotency related genes, including Nanog, Lefty1 and Tdgf1, as well as the nucleosome remodeller Smarcd1, are hypomethylated in stem cells and hypermethylated in differentiated cells. Differences in promoter methylation are associated with significant differences in transcription levels in more than 60% of genes analysed. Our comparative approach to promoter methylation thus identifies gene candidates for the regulation of pluripotency and epigenetic reprogramming. While the sperm genome is, overall, similarly methylated to that of ES and EG cells, there are some key exceptions, including Nanog and Lefty1, that are highly methylated in sperm. Nanog promoter methylation is erased by active and passive demethylation after fertilisation before expression commences in the morula. In ES cells the normally active Nanog promoter is silenced when targeted by de novo methylation. Our study suggests that reprogramming of promoter methylation is one of the key determinants of the epigenetic regulation of pluripotency genes. Epigenetic reprogramming in the germline prior to fertilisation and the reprogramming of key pluripotency genes in the early embryo is thus crucial for transmission of pluripotency.

+view abstract PLoS genetics, PMID: 18584034 2008

MR Branco, M Oda, W Reik Epigenetics,

During early mammalian embryogenesis, the genome undergoes global epigenetic reprogramming, losing most of its methylation before re-establishing it de novo at implantation. However, faithful maintenance of methylation at imprinted genes during this process is vital for embryonic development, but the DNA methyltransferase responsible for this maintenance has remained unknown. In this issue of Genes & Development, Hirasawa and colleagues (pp. 1607-1616) show that Dnmt1, and not Dnmt3a or Dnmt3b, maintains methylation at genomic imprints during preimplantation development.

+view abstract Genes & development, PMID: 18559472 2008

S Schoenfelder, G Smits, P Fraser, W Reik, R Paro Epigenetics,

The imprinting control region (ICR) upstream of H19 is the key regulatory element conferring monoallelic expression on H19 and Igf2 (insulin-like growth factor 2). Epigenetic marks in the ICR regulate its interaction with the chromatin protein CCCTC-binding factor and with other control factors to coordinate gene silencing in the imprinting cluster. Here, we show that the H19 ICR is biallelically transcribed, producing both sense and antisense RNAs. We analyse the function of the non-coding transcripts in a Drosophila transgenic system in which the H19 upstream region silences the expression of a reporter gene. We show that knockdown of H19 ICR non-coding RNA (ncRNA) by RNA interference leads to the loss of reporter gene silencing. Our results are, to the best of our knowledge, the first to show that ncRNAs in the H19 ICR are functionally significant, and also indicate that they have a role in regulating gene expression and perhaps epigenetic marks at the H19/Igf2 locus.

+view abstract EMBO reports, PMID: 17948025 2007

W Reik Epigenetics,

During development, cells start in a pluripotent state, from which they can differentiate into many cell types, and progressively develop a narrower potential. Their gene-expression programmes become more defined, restricted and, potentially, 'locked in'. Pluripotent stem cells express genes that encode a set of core transcription factors, while genes that are required later in development are repressed by histone marks, which confer short-term, and therefore flexible, epigenetic silencing. By contrast, the methylation of DNA confers long-term epigenetic silencing of particular sequences--transposons, imprinted genes and pluripotency-associated genes--in somatic cells. Long-term silencing can be reprogrammed by demethylation of DNA, and this process might involve DNA repair. It is not known whether any of the epigenetic marks has a primary role in determining cell and lineage commitment during development.

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 17522676 2007

AV Probst, F Santos, W Reik, G Almouzni, W Dean Epigenetics,

In mammals, paternal and maternal pronuclei undergo profound chromatin reorganisation upon fertilisation. How these events are orchestrated within centromeric regions to ensure proper chromosome segregation in the following cellular divisions is unknown. In this study, we followed the dynamic unfolding of the centromeric regions, i.e. the centric and pericentric satellite repeats, by DNA fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) during the first cell cycle up to the two-cell stage. The distinct chromatin from female and male gametes both undergo rapid remodelling and reach a zygotic organisation in which the satellites occupy restricted spatial domains surrounding the nucleolar precursor body. A transition from this zygotic to a somatic cell-like organisation takes place during the two-cell stage. Using 3D immuno-FISH, we find that, whereas maternal pericentric regions are marked with H3K9me3, H4K20me3 and HP1beta, paternal ones only showed HP1beta marking. Thus, despite different chromatin features, male and female pronuclei organise their centromeric regions in the same way within the nuclei to align chromosomes on the metaphase plate and segregate them appropriately. Our findings highlight the importance of ensuring a proper centromere function while preserving the distinction of parental genome origin during the return to totipotency in the zygote.

+view abstract Chromosoma, PMID: 17447080 2007

K Green, A Lewis, C Dawson, W Dean, B Reinhart, JR Chaillet, W Reik Epigenetics,

The Kcnq1 imprinted domain encodes a paternally expressed noncoding RNA Kcnq1ot1 and several paternally repressed protein-coding genes. Transcriptional regulation is controlled by the Kcnq1ot1 gene whose maternal germline methylation imprint overlaps with the Kcnq1ot1 promoter. The domain can be divided into two groups of genes. One group is imprinted in all lineages and is reliant on DNA methylation for its imprinting. The other group contains genes that are imprinted specifically in the placenta and retain their imprinting in the absence of Dnmt1, the primary DNA maintenance methylase. In the placenta paternal Kcnq1ot1 expression is associated with the acquisition of repressive histone modifications throughout the domain. Using the Dnmt1o knockout, we have analyzed the effect of removing DNA maintenance methylation at the eight-cell stage on the Kcnq1 imprinted domain. In the placenta the expression of the normally silent maternal Kcnq1ot1 allele leads to reduced expression of the surrounding maternally expressed genes. This repression is seen in both the placental-specific imprinted genes and the ubiquitously imprinted genes. Conversely, reduction of functional Dnmt1 results solely in reduced expression of the ubiquitously imprinted genes in the placenta. This suggests that Kcnq1ot1 expression can epigenetically silence placentally imprinted genes in the cluster only during a specific developmental window. This highlights the possibility that Kcnq1ot1-mediated repression is temporally regulated leading to epigenetic silencing of placental-specific genes. We show that allele-specific histone modifications are still present in the Dnmt1 ( -/- ) trophoblast at placental-specific imprinted loci and are likely responsible for maintaining the imprinting of these genes in the absence of DNA methylation.

+view abstract Mammalian genome : official journal of the International Mammalian Genome Society, PMID: 17245608 2007

Lewis A, Green K, Dawson C, Redrup L, Huynh KD, Lee JT, Hemberger M, Reik W Epigenetics,

The mouse Kcnq1 imprinted domain is located on distal chromosome 7 and contains several imprinted genes that are paternally repressed. Repression of these genes is regulated by a non-coding antisense transcript, Kcnq1ot1, which is paternally expressed. Maternal repression of Kcnq1ot1 is controlled by DNA methylation originating in the oocyte. Some genes in the region are imprinted only in the placenta, whereas others are imprinted in both extra-embryonic and embryonic lineages. Here, we show that Kcnq1ot1 is paternally expressed in preimplantation embryos from the two-cell stage, and that ubiquitously imprinted genes proximal to Kcnq1ot1 are already repressed in blastocysts, ES cells and TS cells. Repressive histone marks such as H3K27me3 are present on the paternal allele of these genes in both ES and TS cells. Placentally imprinted genes that are distal to Kcnq1ot1, by contrast, are not imprinted in blastocysts, ES or TS cells. In these genes, paternal silencing and differential histone marks arise during differentiation of the trophoblast lineage between E4.5 and E7.5. Our findings show that the dynamics during preimplantation development of gene inactivation and acquisition of repressive histone marks in ubiquitously imprinted genes of the Kcnq1 domain are very similar to those of imprinted X inactivation. By contrast, genes that are only imprinted in the placenta, while regulated by the same non-coding RNA transcript Kcnq1ot1, undergo epigenetic inactivation during differentiation of the trophoblast lineage. Our findings establish a model for how epigenetic gene silencing by non-coding RNA may depend on distance from the non-coding RNA and on lineage and differentiation specific factors.

+view abstract Development (Cambridge, England), PMID: 17021040 2006

Lucifero D, Reik W Epigenetics,

+view abstract Nature biotechnology, PMID: 16964217 2006

Kurukuti S, Tiwari VK, Tavoosidana G, Pugacheva E, Murrell A, Zhao Z, Lobanenkov V, Reik W, Ohlsson R Epigenetics,

It is thought that the H19 imprinting control region (ICR) directs the silencing of the maternally inherited Igf2 allele through a CTCF-dependent chromatin insulator. The ICR has been shown to interact physically with a silencer region in Igf2, differentially methylated region (DMR)1, but the role of CTCF in this chromatin loop and whether it restricts the physical access of distal enhancers to Igf2 is not known. We performed systematic chromosome conformation capture analyses in the Igf2/H19 region over >160 kb, identifying sequences that interact physically with the distal enhancers and the ICR. We found that, on the paternal chromosome, enhancers interact with the Igf2 promoters but that, on the maternal allele, this is prevented by CTCF binding within the H19 ICR. CTCF binding in the maternal ICR regulates its interaction with matrix attachment region (MAR)3 and DMR1 at Igf2, thus forming a tight loop around the maternal Igf2 locus, which may contribute to its silencing. Mutation of CTCF binding sites in the H19 ICR leads to loss of CTCF binding and de novo methylation of a CTCF target site within Igf2 DMR1, showing that CTCF can coordinate regional epigenetic marks. This systematic chromosome conformation capture analysis of an imprinting cluster reveals that CTCF has a critical role in the epigenetic regulation of higher-order chromatin structure and gene silencing over considerable distances in the genome.

+view abstract Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: 16815976 2006

Fowden AL, Sibley C, Reik W, Constancia M Epigenetics,

In mammals, imprinted genes have an important role in feto-placental development. They affect the growth, morphology and nutrient transfer capacity of the placenta and, thereby, control the nutrient supply for fetal growth. In particular, the reciprocally imprinted Igf2-H19 gene complex has a central role in these processes and matches the placental nutrient supply to the fetal nutrient demands for growth. Comparison of Igf2P0 and complete Igf2 null mice has shown that interplay between placental and fetal Igf2 regulates both placental growth and nutrient transporter abundance. In turn, epigenetic modification of imprinted genes via changes in DNA methylation may provide a mechanism linking environmental cues to placental phenotype, with consequences for development both before and after birth. Changes in expression of imprinted genes, therefore, have major implications for developmental programming and may explain the poor prognosis of the infant born small for gestational age and the wide spectrum of adult-onset diseases that originate in utero.

+view abstract Hormone research, PMID: 16612114 2006

Lewis A, Reik W Epigenetics,

Imprinted genes tend to be clustered in the genome. Most of these clusters have been found to be under the control of discrete DNA elements called imprinting centres (ICs) which are normally differentially methylated in the germline. ICs can regulate imprinted expression and epigenetic marks at many genes in the region, even those which lie several megabases away. Some of the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which ICs control other genes and regulatory regions in the cluster are becoming clear. One involves the insulation of genes on one side of the IC from enhancers on the other, mediated by the insulator protein CTCF and higher-order chromatin interactions. Another mechanism may involve non-coding RNAs that originate from the IC, targeting histone modifications to the surrounding genes. Given that several imprinting clusters contain CTCF dependent insulators and/or non-coding RNAs, it is likely that one or both of these two mechanisms regulate imprinting at many loci. Both mechanisms involve a variety of epigenetic marks including DNA methylation and histone modifications but the hierarchy of and interactions between these modifications are not yet understood. The challenge now is to establish a chain of developmental events beginning with differential methylation of an IC in the germline and ending with imprinting of many genes, often in a lineage dependent manner.

+view abstract Cytogenetic and genome research, PMID: 16575166 2006

Monk D, Sanches R, Arnaud P, Apostolidou S, Hills FA, Abu-Amero S, Murrell A, Friess H, Reik W, Stanier P, Constância M, Moore GE Epigenetics,

Genomic imprinting is limited to a subset of genes that play critical roles in fetal growth, development and behaviour. One of the most studied imprinted genes encodes insulin-like growth factor 2, and aberrant imprinting and DNA methylation of this gene is associated with the growth disorders Beckwith-Wiedemann and Silver-Russell syndromes and many human cancers. Specific isoforms of this gene have been shown to be essential for normal placental function, as mice carrying paternal null alleles for the Igf2-P0 transcript are growth restricted at birth. We report here the identification of three novel human transcripts from the IGF2 locus. One is equivalent to the mouse Igf2-P0 transcript, whereas the two others (INSIGF long and short) originate from the upstream INS gene that alternatively splices to downstream IGF2 exons. In order to elucidate the molecular mechanisms involved in the complex imprinting of these novel IGF2 transcripts, both the allele-specific expression and methylation for all the IGF2 promoters including P0 and the INSIGF transcripts were analysed in human tissues. Similar to the mouse, the human IGF2-P0 transcript is paternally expressed; however, its expression is not limited to placenta. This expression correlates with tissue-specific promoter methylation on the maternal allele. The two novel INSIGF transcripts reported here use the INS promoter and show highly restricted tissue expression profiles including the pancreas. As previously reported for INS in the yolk sac, we demonstrate complex, tissue-specific imprinting of these transcripts. The finding of additional transcripts within this locus will have important implications for IGF2 regulation in both cancer and metabolism.

+view abstract Human molecular genetics, PMID: 16531418 2006

Angiolini E, Fowden A, Coan P, Sandovici I, Smith P, Dean W, Burton G, Tycko B, Reik W, Sibley C, Constância M Epigenetics,

Intrauterine growth and development can impact upon the long-term health of an individual. The fetus is dependent upon the placenta for its supply of nutrients and oxygen from the mother. In turn, the functional capacity of the placenta to supply that demand is under the control of the fetal and maternal genomes. Recent evidence suggests that imprinted genes, a class of genes found in placental mammals whose expression depends on their parental origin, have multiple roles in the placenta. The imprinted genes regulate the growth and transport capacity of the placenta, thereby controlling the supply of nutrients. They may also regulate the growth rate of fetal tissues directly, thereby controlling nutrient demand by the fetus. Recent studies using mice with deletions or disruption of imprinted genes with an altered balance between placental and fetal growth and changes in placental efficiency are indicative of feto-placental signalling of fetal nutrient demand. We propose that signalling mechanisms involving growth demand signals and nutrient transporters are likely to occur and are important for fine tuning normal fetal growth.

+view abstract Placenta, PMID: 16503350 2006

Constância M, Angiolini E, Sandovici I, Smith P, Smith R, Kelsey G, Dean W, Ferguson-Smith A, Sibley CP, Reik W, Fowden A Epigenetics,

The mammalian fetus is unique in its dependence during gestation on the supply of maternal nutrients through the placenta. Maternal supply and fetal demand for nutrients need to be fine tuned for healthy growth and development of the fetus along its genetic trajectory. An altered balance between supply and demand can lead to deviations from this trajectory with long-term consequences for health. We have previously shown that in a knockout lacking the imprinted placental-specific Igf2 transcript (P0), growth of the placenta is compromised from early gestation but fetal growth is normal until late gestation, suggesting functional adaptation of the placenta to meet the fetal demands. Here, we show that placental transport of glucose and amino acids are increased in the Igf2 P0(+/-) null and that this up-regulation of transport occurs, at least in part, through increased expression of the transporter genes Slc2a3 and Slc38a4, the imprinted member of the System A amino acid transporter gene family. Decreasing fetal demand genetically by removal of fetal Igf2 abolished up-regulation of both transport systems and reduced placental System A amino acid transport activity and expression of Slc38a2 in late gestation. Our results provide direct evidence that the placenta can respond to fetal demand signals through regulation of expression of specific placental transport systems. Thus, crosstalk between an imprinted growth demand gene (Igf2) and placental supply transporter genes (Slc38a4, Slc38a2, and Slc2a3) may be a component of the genetic control of nutrient supply and demand during mammalian development.

+view abstract Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: 16365304 2005

Reik W, Ferguson-Smith AC ,

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 16292295 2005

Reik W, Murrell A, Lewis A, Mitsuya K, Umlauf D, Dean W, Higgins M, Feil R Epigenetics,

+view abstract Cold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology, PMID: 16117630 2004

Mikl MC, Watt IN, Lu M, Reik W, Davies SL, Neuberger MS, Rada C Epigenetics,

The activation-induced deaminase/apolipoprotein B-editing catalytic subunit 1 (AID/APOBEC) family comprises four groups of proteins. Both AID, a lymphoid-specific DNA deaminase that triggers antibody diversification, and APOBEC2 (function unknown) are found in all vertebrates examined. In contrast, APOBEC1, an RNA-editing enzyme in gastrointestinal cells, and APOBEC3 are restricted to mammals. The function of most APOBEC3s, of which there are seven in human but one in mouse, is unknown, although several human APOBEC3s act as host restriction factors that deaminate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication intermediates. A more primitive function of APOBEC3s in protecting against the transposition of endogenous retroelements has, however, been proposed. Here, we focus on mouse APOBEC2 (a muscle-specific protein for which we find no evidence of a deaminating activity on cytidine whether as a free nucleotide or in DNA) and mouse APOBEC3 (a DNA deaminase which we find widely expressed but most abundant in lymphoid tissue). Gene-targeting experiments reveal that both APOBEC2 (despite being an ancestral member of the family with no obvious redundancy in muscle) and APOBEC3 (despite its proposed role in restricting endogenous retrotransposition) are inessential for mouse development, survival, or fertility.

+view abstract Molecular and cellular biology, PMID: 16055735 2005

Cooper WN, Luharia A, Evans GA, Raza H, Haire AC, Grundy R, Bowdin SC, Riccio A, Sebastio G, Bliek J, Schofield PN, Reik W, Macdonald F, Maher ER Epigenetics,

Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS) results from mutations or epigenetic events involving imprinted genes at 11p15.5. Most BWS cases are sporadic and uniparental disomy (UPD) or putative imprinting errors predominate in this group. Sporadic cases with putative imprinting defects may be subdivided into (a) those with loss of imprinting (LOI) of IGF2 and H19 hypermethylation and silencing due to a defect in a distal 11p15.5 imprinting control element (IC1) and (b) those with loss of methylation at KvDMR1, LOI of KCNQ1OT1 (LIT1) and variable LOI of IGF2 in whom there is a defect at a more proximal imprinting control element (IC2). We investigated genotype/epigenotype-phenotype correlations in 200 cases with a confirmed molecular genetic diagnosis of BWS (16 with CDKN1C mutations, 116 with imprinting centre 2 defects, 14 with imprinting centre 1 defects and 54 with UPD). Hemihypertrophy was strongly associated with UPD (P<0.0001) and exomphalos was associated with an IC2 defect or CDKN1C mutation but not UPD or IC1 defect (P<0.0001). When comparing birth weight centile, IC1 defect cases were significantly heavier than the patients with CDKN1C mutations or IC2 defect (P=0.018). The risk of neoplasia was significantly higher in UPD and IC1 defect cases than in IC2 defect and CDKN1C mutation cases. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed a risk of neoplasia for all patients of 9% at age 5 years, but 24% in the UPD subgroup. The risk of Wilms' tumour in the IC2 defect subgroup appears to be minimal and intensive screening for Wilms' tumour appears not to be indicated. In UPD patients, UPD extending to WT1 was associated with renal neoplasia (P=0.054). These findings demonstrate that BWS represents a spectrum of disorders. Identification of the molecular subtype allows more accurate prognostic predictions and enhances the management and surveillance of BWS children such that screening for Wilms' tumour and hepatoblastoma can be focused on those at highest risk.

+view abstract European journal of human genetics : EJHG, PMID: 15999116 2005

Petry CJ, Ong KK, Barratt BJ, Wingate D, Cordell HJ, Ring SM, Pembrey ME, Reik W, Todd JA, Dunger DB, Epigenetics,

Common genetic variation at genes that are imprinted and exclusively maternally expressed could explain the apparent maternal-specific inheritance of low birthweight reported in large family pedigrees. We identified ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in H19, and we genotyped three of these SNPs in families from the contemporary ALSPAC UK birth cohort (1,696 children, 822 mothers and 661 fathers) in order to explore associations with size at birth and cord blood IGF-II levels.

+view abstract BMC genetics, PMID: 15885138 2005

Reik W, Lewis A Epigenetics,

Recent studies have revealed mechanistic parallels between imprinted X-chromosome inactivation and autosomal imprinting. We suggest that neither mechanism was present in ancestral egg-laying mammals, and that both arose when the evolution of the placenta exerted selective pressure to imprint growth-related genes. We also propose that non-coding RNAs and histone modifications were adopted for the imprinting of growth suppressors on the X chromosome and on autosomes. This provides a unified hypothesis for the evolution of X-chromosome inactivation and imprinting.

+view abstract Nature reviews. Genetics, PMID: 15818385 2005

Morgan HD, Santos F, Green K, Dean W, Reik W Epigenetics,

Epigenetic marking systems confer stability of gene expression during mammalian development. Genome-wide epigenetic reprogramming occurs at stages when developmental potency of cells changes. At fertilization, the paternal genome exchanges protamines for histones, undergoes DNA demethylation, and acquires histone modifications, whereas the maternal genome appears epigenetically more static. During preimplantation development, there is passive DNA demethylation and further reorganization of histone modifications. In blastocysts, embryonic and extraembryonic lineages first show different epigenetic marks. This epigenetic reprogramming is likely to be needed for totipotency, correct initiation of embryonic gene expression, and early lineage development in the embryo. Comparative work demonstrates reprogramming in all mammalian species analysed, but the extent and timing varies, consistent with notable differences between species during preimplantation development. Parental imprinting marks originate in sperm and oocytes and are generally protected from this genome-wide reprogramming. Early primordial germ cells possess imprinting marks similar to those of somatic cells. However, rapid DNA demethylation after midgestation erases these parental imprints, in preparation for sex-specific de novo methylation during gametogenesis. Aberrant reprogramming of somatic epigenetic marks after somatic cell nuclear transfer leads to epigenetic defects in cloned embryos and stem cells. Links between epigenetic marking systems appear to be developmentally regulated contributing to plasticity. A number of activities that confer epigenetic marks are firmly established, while for those that remove marks, particularly methylation, some interesting candidates have emerged recently which need thorough testing in vivo. A mechanistic understanding of reprogramming will be crucial for medical applications of stem cell technology.

+view abstract Human molecular genetics, PMID: 15809273 2005

Santos F, Peters AH, Otte AP, Reik W, Dean W Epigenetics,

On fertilisation, gametes undergo epigenetic reorganisation and re-establish totipotency. Here, we investigate links between chromatin remodelling and asymmetric maintenance of DNA methylation in the early mouse embryo. Using antibodies for lysine specific H3 methylation reveals that the male pronucleus is negative for di- and trimethyl H3-K9 yet the female is positive for these residues. However, the male is positive for monomethyl H3-K9 and H3-K27 and these signals increase during pronuclear maturation. Non-histone chromatin proteins of the Polycomb group are found in the paternal compartment as early as sperm decondensation. However, trimethyl H3-K27 is not observed in the male until the completion of DNA replication. Heterochromatin protein 1 beta (HP1beta) is abundant in the male pronucleus, despite the absence of di- and trimethyl H3-K9, and co-localises with monomethyl H3-K9. Recent evidence identifies monomethyl H3-K9 as the preferred substrate of Suvar39h, the histone methyl transferase (HMT) responsible for heterochromatic H3-K9 trimethylation. The association of HP1beta with monomethyl H3-K9 may assist in preventing further modification of H3-K9. Association of dimethylation but not trimethylation of H3-K9 with DNA methylation, in the female pronucleus, suggests a mechanistically significant link. These differences begin to provide a chromatin based explanation for paternal-specific active DNA demethylation and maternal specific protection in the mouse.

+view abstract Developmental biology, PMID: 15766761 2005

Cerrato F, Sparago A, Di Matteo I, Zou X, Dean W, Sasaki H, Smith P, Genesio R, Bruggemann M, Reik W, Riccio A Epigenetics,

A large cluster of imprinted genes is located on the mouse distal chromosome 7. This cluster is well conserved in humans and its dysregulation results in the overgrowth- and tumour-associated Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Two imprinting centres (IC1 and IC2) controlling different sets of genes have been identified in the cluster, raising the hypothesis that the cluster is divided into two functionally independent domains. However, the mechanisms by which imprinting of genes in the IC2 domain (e.g. Cdkn1c and Kcnq1) is regulated have not been well defined, and recent evidence indicates that distantly located cis-acting elements are required for IC2 imprinting. We show that the maternal germ-line methylation at IC2 and the imprinted expression of five genes of the IC2 domain are correctly reproduced on an 800 kb YAC transgene when transferred outside of their normal chromosomal context. These results, together with previous transgenic studies, locate key imprinting control elements within a 400 kb region centromeric of IC2 and demonstrate that each of the two domains of the cluster contains the cis-acting elements required for the imprinting control of its own genes. Finally, maternal, but not paternal, transmission of the transgene results in fetal growth restriction, suggesting that during evolution the acquisition of imprinting may have been facilitated by the opposite effects of the two domains on embryo growth.

+view abstract Human molecular genetics, PMID: 15640248 2005

Constância M, Kelsey G, Reik W Epigenetics,

+view abstract Nature, PMID: 15525980 2004

Lewis A, Mitsuya K, Umlauf D, Smith P, Dean W, Walter J, Higgins M, Feil R, Reik W Epigenetics,

Imprinted genes are expressed from only one of the parental chromosomes and are marked epigenetically by DNA methylation and histone modifications. The imprinting center 2 (IC2) on mouse distal chromosome 7 is flanked by several paternally repressed genes, with the more distant ones imprinted exclusively in the placenta. We found that most of these genes lack parent-specific DNA methylation, and genetic ablation of methylation does not lead to loss of their imprinting in the trophoblast (placenta). The silent paternal alleles of the genes are marked in the trophoblast by repressive histone modifications (dimethylation at Lys9 of histone H3 and trimethylation at Lys27 of histone H3), which are disrupted when IC2 is deleted, leading to reactivation of the paternal alleles. Thus, repressive histone methylation is recruited by IC2 (potentially through a noncoding antisense RNA) to the paternal chromosome in a region of at least 700 kb and maintains imprinting in this cluster in the placenta, independently of DNA methylation. We propose that an evolutionarily older imprinting mechanism limited to extraembryonic tissues was based on histone modifications, and that this mechanism was subsequently made more stable for use in embryonic lineages by the recruitment of DNA methylation.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 15516931 2004

Cetin I, Foidart JM, Miozzo M, Raun T, Jansson T, Tsatsaris V, Reik W, Cross J, Hauguel-de-Mouzon S, Illsley N, Kingdom J, Huppertz B Epigenetics,

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is associated with significantly increased perinatal morbidity and mortality as well as cardiovascular disease and glucose intolerance in adult life. A number of disorders from genetic to metabolic, vascular, coagulative, autoimmune, as well as infectious, can influence fetal growth by damaging the placenta, leading to IUGR as a result of many possible fetal, placental and maternal disorders. Strict definitions of IUGR and of its severity are needed in order to eventually distinguish among different phenotypes, such as gestational age at onset, degree of growth restriction and presence of hypoxia. This report explores and reviews some of the most recent developments in both clinical and basic research on intrauterine growth restriction, by seeking mechanisms that involve genetic factors, utero-placental nutrient availability and vascular growth factors. New exciting findings on the genomic imprinting defects potentially associated with IUGR, and the placental anomalies associated with the decreased nutrient transport are summarized. Moreover, recent data on angiogenic growth factors as well as new information arising from application of gene chip technologies are discussed.

+view abstract Placenta, PMID: 15450396 0

Morgan HD, Dean W, Coker HA, Reik W, Petersen-Mahrt SK Epigenetics,

DNA deaminases of the Aid/Apobec family convert cytosine into uracil and play key roles in acquired and innate immunity. The epigenetic modification by methylation of cytosine in CpG dinucleotides is also mutagenic, but this is thought to occur by spontaneous deamination. Here we show that Aid and Apobec1 are 5-methylcytosine deaminases resulting in a thymine base opposite a guanine. Their action can thus lead to C --&gt; T transition mutations in methylated DNA, or in conjunction with repair of the T:G mismatch, to demethylation. The Aid and Apobec1 genes are located in a cluster of pluripotency genes including Nanog and Stella and are co-expressed with these genes in oocytes, embryonic germ cells, and embryonic stem cells. These results suggest that Aid and perhaps some of its family members may have roles in epigenetic reprogramming and cell plasticity. Transition in CpG dinucleotides is the most frequent mutation in human genetic diseases, and sequence context analysis of CpG transitions in the APC tumor suppressor gene suggests that DNA deaminases may play a significant role in tumor etiology.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry, PMID: 15448152 2004

CS Osborne, L Chakalova, KE Brown, D Carter, A Horton, E Debrand, B Goyenechea, JA Mitchell, S Lopes, W Reik, P Fraser Epigenetics,

The intranuclear position of many genes has been correlated with their activity state, suggesting that migration to functional subcompartments may influence gene expression. Indeed, nascent RNA production and RNA polymerase II seem to be localized into discrete foci or 'transcription factories'. Current estimates from cultured cells indicate that multiple genes could occupy the same factory, although this has not yet been observed. Here we show that, during transcription in vivo, distal genes colocalize to the same transcription factory at high frequencies. Active genes are dynamically organized into shared nuclear subcompartments, and movement into or out of these factories results in activation or abatement of transcription. Thus, rather than recruiting and assembling transcription complexes, active genes migrate to preassembled transcription sites.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 15361872 2004

Murrell A, Heeson S, Reik W Epigenetics,

Imprinted genes are expressed from only one of the parental alleles and are marked epigenetically by DNA methylation and histone modifications. The paternally expressed gene insulin-like growth-factor 2 (Igf2) is separated by approximately 100 kb from the maternally expressed noncoding gene H19 on mouse distal chromosome 7. Differentially methylated regions in Igf2 and H19 contain chromatin boundaries, silencers and activators and regulate the reciprocal expression of the two genes in a methylation-sensitive manner by allowing them exclusive access to a shared set of enhancers. Various chromatin models have been proposed that separate Igf2 and H19 into active and silent domains. Here we used a GAL4 knock-in approach as well as the chromosome conformation capture technique to show that the differentially methylated regions in the imprinted genes Igf2 and H19 interact in mice. These interactions are epigenetically regulated and partition maternal and paternal chromatin into distinct loops. This generates a simple epigenetic switch for Igf2 through which it moves between an active and a silent chromatin domain.

+view abstract Nature genetics, PMID: 15273689 2004

Lewis A, Mitsuya K, Constancia M, Reik W Epigenetics,

Igf2 and H19 are reciprocally imprinted genes on mouse distal chromosome 7. They share several regulatory elements, including a differentially methylated region (DMR) upstream of H19 that is paternally methylated throughout development. The cis-acting sequence requirements for targeting DNA methylation to the DMR remain unknown; however, it has been suggested that direct tandem repeats near DMRs could be involved. Previous studies of the imprinted Rasgrf1 locus demonstrate indeed that a direct repeat element adjacent to a DMR is responsible for establishing paternal allele-specific methylation at the DMR and therefore allelic expression of the Rasgrf1 transcript. We identified a prominent and conserved direct tandem repeat 1 kb upstream of the H19 DMR and proposed that it played a similar role in imprinted regulation of H19. To test our hypothesis, we generated mice harboring a 1.7-kb targeted deletion of the direct repeat element and analyzed fetal growth, allelic expression, and methylation within the Igf2-H19 region. Surprisingly the deletion had no effect on imprinting. These results together with deletions of other repeats close to imprinted genes suggest that direct repeats may not be important for the targeting of methylation at the majority of imprinted loci and that the Rasgrf1 locus may be an exception to this rule.

+view abstract Molecular and cellular biology, PMID: 15199123 2004

Sibley CP, Coan PM, Ferguson-Smith AC, Dean W, Hughes J, Smith P, Reik W, Burton GJ, Fowden AL, Constância M Epigenetics,

Restricted fetal growth is associated with postnatal mortality and morbidity and may be directly related to alterations in the capacity of the placenta to supply nutrients. We proposed previously that imprinted genes can regulate nutrient supply by the placenta. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the insulin-like growth factor 2 gene (Igf2) transcribed from the placental-specific promoter (P0) regulates the development of the diffusional permeability properties of the mouse placenta. Using mice in which placental-specific Igf2 had been deleted (P0), we measured the transfer in vivo of three inert hydrophilic solutes of increasing size (14C-mannitol, 51CrEDTA, and 14C-inulin). At embryonic day 19, placental and fetal weights in P0 conceptuses were reduced to 66% and 76%, respectively, of wild type. In P0 mutants, the permeability.surface area product for the tracers at this stage of development was 68% of that of controls; this effect was independent of tracer size. Stereological analysis of histological sections revealed the surface area of the exchange barrier in the labyrinth of the mouse placenta to be reduced and thickness increased in P0 fetuses compared to wild type. As a result, the average theoretical diffusing capacity in P0 knockout placentas was dramatically reduced to 40% of that of wild-type placentas. These data show that placental Igf2 regulates the development of the diffusional exchange characteristics of the mouse placenta. This provides a mechanism for the role of imprinted genes in controlling placental nutrient supply and fetal growth. Altered placental Igf2 could be a cause of idiopathic intrauterine growth restriction in the human.

+view abstract Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PMID: 15150410 2004

Murrell A, Heeson S, Cooper WN, Douglas E, Apostolidou S, Moore GE, Maher ER, Reik W Epigenetics,

Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (BWS) is a fetal overgrowth disorder involving the deregulation of a number of genes, including IGF2 and CDKN1C, in the imprinted gene cluster on chromosome 11p15.5. In sporadic BWS cases the majority of patients have epimutations in this region. Loss of imprinting of the IGF2 gene is frequently observed in BWS, as is reduced CDKN1C expression related to loss of maternal allele-specific methylation (LOM) of the differentially methylated region KvDMR1. The causes of epimutations are unknown, although recently an association with assisted reproductive technologies has been described. To date the only genetic mutations described in BWS are in the CDKN1C gene. In order to screen for other genetic predispositions to BWS, the conserved sequences between human and mouse differentially methylated regions (DMRs) of the IGF2 gene were analyzed for variants. Four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found in DMR0 (T123C, G358A, T382G and A402G) which occurred in three out of 16 possible haplotypes: TGTA, CATG and CAGA. DNA samples from a cohort of sporadic BWS patients and healthy controls were genotyped for the DMR0 SNPs. There was a significant increase in the frequency of the CAGA haplotype and a significant decrease in the frequency of the CATG haplotype in the patient cohort compared to controls. These associations were still significant in a BWS subgroup with KvDMR1 LOM, suggesting that the G allele at T382G SNP (CAGA haplotype) is associated with LOM at KvDMR1. This indicates either a genetic predisposition to LOM or interactions between genotype and epigenotype that impinge on the disease phenotype.

+view abstract Human molecular genetics, PMID: 14645199 2004