Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications wolf-reik

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Science Forum: The Human Cell Atlas.
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,

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.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 29206104

Open Access

Coupling shRNA screens with single-cell RNA-seq identifies a dual role for mTOR in reprogramming-induced senescence.
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

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.

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Genes & development, , 1549-5477, , 2017

PMID: 29138277

Open Access

An endosiRNA-Based Repression Mechanism Counteracts Transposon Activation during Global DNA Demethylation in Embryonic Stem Cells.
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

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.

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Cell stem cell, 21, 1875-9777, 694-703.e7, 2017

PMID: 29100015

cuRRBS: simple and robust evaluation of enzyme combinations for reduced representation approaches.
Martin-Herranz DE, Ribeiro AJM, Krueger F, Thornton JM, Reik W, Stubbs TM

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.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2017

PMID: 29036576

Establishment of mouse expanded potential stem cells.
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

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.

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Nature, , 1476-4687, , 2017

PMID: 29019987

Single-cell epigenomics: Recording the past and predicting the future.
Kelsey G, Stegle O, Reik W

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.

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Science (New York, N.Y.), 358, 1095-9203, 69-75, 2017

PMID: 28983045

Single-Cell Landscape of Transcriptional Heterogeneity and Cell Fate Decisions during Mouse Early Gastrulation.
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

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.

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Cell reports, 20, 2211-1247, 1215-1228, 2017

PMID: 28768204

Open Access

Epigenetic resetting of human pluripotency.
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

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.

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Development (Cambridge, England), 144, 1477-9129, 2748-2763, 2017

PMID: 28765214

Open Access

Proliferation Drives Aging-Related Functional Decline in a Subpopulation of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Compartment.
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

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.

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Cell reports, 19, 2211-1247, 1503-1511, 2017

PMID: 28538171

A MILI-independent piRNA biogenesis pathway empowers partial germline reprogramming.
Vasiliauskaitė L, Vitsios D, Berrens RV, Carrieri C, Reik W, Enright AJ, O'Carroll D

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.

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

PMID: 28530707

Multi-tissue DNA methylation age predictor in mouse.
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

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

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

PMID: 28399939

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28395661

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

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

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

PMID: 28351387

Open Access

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

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

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Nature methods, , 1548-7105, , 2017

PMID: 28346451

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

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

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

PMID: 28260631

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

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

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Genes, 8, , , 2017

PMID: 28218666

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28182018

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

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

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

PMID: 28174249

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28147265

Open Access

A Hox-Embedded Long Noncoding RNA: Is It All Hot Air?
Selleri L, Bartolomei MS, Bickmore WA, He L, Stubbs L, Reik W, Barsh GS

PLoS genetics, 12, 1553-7404, e1006485, 2016

PMID: 27977680

Open Access

Efficient targeted DNA methylation with chimeric dCas9-Dnmt3a-Dnmt3L methyltransferase.
Stepper P, Kungulovski G, Jurkowska RZ, Chandra T, Krueger F, Reinhardt R, Reik W, Jeltsch A, Jurkowski TP

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.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2016

PMID: 27899645

Open Access

The H3K9 dimethyltransferases EHMT1/2 protect against pathological cardiac hypertrophy.
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

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.

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The Journal of clinical investigation, , 1558-8238, , 2016

PMID: 27893464

Open Access

Retinol and ascorbate drive erasure of epigenetic memory and enhance reprogramming to naïve pluripotency by complementary mechanisms.
Hore TA, von Meyenn F, Ravichandran M, Bachman M, Ficz G, Oxley D, Santos F, Balasubramanian S, Jurkowski TP, Reik W

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.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, , 1091-6490, , 2016

PMID: 27729528

Open Access

Comparative Principles of DNA Methylation Reprogramming during Human and Mouse In Vitro Primordial Germ Cell Specification.
von Meyenn F, Berrens RV, Andrews S, Santos F, Collier AJ, Krueger F, Osorno R, Dean W, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Reik W

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.

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Developmental cell, 39, 1878-1551, 104-115, 2016

PMID: 27728778

Open Access

MERVL/Zscan4 Network Activation Results in Transient Genome-wide DNA Demethylation of mESCs.
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

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.

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Cell reports, 17, 2211-1247, 179-92, 2016

PMID: 27681430

Open Access