Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health


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

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Title / Authors / Details Open Access Download

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

Capturing Three-Dimensional Genome Organization in Individual Cells by Single-Cell Hi-C.
Nagano T, Wingett SW, Fraser P

Hi-C is a powerful method to investigate genome-wide, higher-order chromatin and chromosome conformations averaged from a population of cells. To expand the potential of Hi-C for single-cell analysis, we developed single-cell Hi-C. Similar to the existing "ensemble" Hi-C method, single-cell Hi-C detects proximity-dependent ligation events between cross-linked and restriction-digested chromatin fragments in cells. A major difference between the single-cell Hi-C and ensemble Hi-C protocol is that the proximity-dependent ligation is carried out in the nucleus. This allows the isolation of individual cells in which nearly the entire Hi-C procedure has been carried out, enabling the production of a Hi-C library and data from individual cells. With this new method, we studied genome conformations and found evidence for conserved topological domain organization from cell to cell, but highly variable interdomain contacts and chromosome folding genome wide. In addition, we found that the single-cell Hi-C protocol provided cleaner results with less technical noise suggesting it could be used to improve the ensemble Hi-C technique.

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Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 1654, 1940-6029, 79-97, 2017

PMID: 28986784

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

A RhoA-FRET Biosensor Mouse for Intravital Imaging in Normal Tissue Homeostasis and Disease Contexts.
Nobis M, Herrmann D, Warren SC, Kadir S, Leung W, Killen M, Magenau A, Stevenson D, Lucas MC, Reischmann N, Vennin C, Conway JRW, Boulghourjian A, Zaratzian A, Law AM, Gallego-Ortega D, Ormandy CJ, Walters SN, Grey ST, Bailey J, Chtanova T, Quinn JMW, Baldock PA, Croucher PI, Schwarz JP, Mrowinska A, Zhang L, Herzog H, Masedunskas A, Hardeman EC, Gunning PW, Del Monte-Nieto G, Harvey RP, Samuel MS, Pajic M, McGhee EJ, Johnsson AE, Sansom OJ, Welch HCE, Morton JP, Strathdee D, Anderson KI, Timpson P

The small GTPase RhoA is involved in a variety of fundamental processes in normal tissue. Spatiotemporal control of RhoA is thought to govern mechanosensing, growth, and motility of cells, while its deregulation is associated with disease development. Here, we describe the generation of a RhoA-fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) biosensor mouse and its utility for monitoring real-time activity of RhoA in a variety of native tissues in vivo. We assess changes in RhoA activity during mechanosensing of osteocytes within the bone and during neutrophil migration. We also demonstrate spatiotemporal order of RhoA activity within crypt cells of the small intestine and during different stages of mammary gestation. Subsequently, we reveal co-option of RhoA activity in both invasive breast and pancreatic cancers, and we assess drug targeting in these disease settings, illustrating the potential for utilizing this mouse to study RhoA activity in vivo in real time.

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Cell reports, 21, 2211-1247, 274-288, 2017

PMID: 28978480

Sarm1 Deletion, but Not Wld(S), Confers Lifelong Rescue in a Mouse Model of Severe Axonopathy.
Gilley J, Ribchester RR, Coleman MP

Studies with the Wld(S) mutant mouse have shown that axon and synapse pathology in several models of neurodegenerative diseases are mechanistically related to injury-induced axon degeneration (Wallerian degeneration). Crucially, an absence of SARM1 delays Wallerian degeneration as robustly as Wld(S), but their relative capacities to confer long-term protection against related, non-injury axonopathy and/or synaptopathy have not been directly compared. While Sarm1 deletion or Wld(S) can rescue perinatal lethality and widespread Wallerian-like axonopathy in young NMNAT2-deficient mice, we report that an absence of SARM1 enables these mice to survive into old age with no overt phenotype, whereas those rescued by Wld(S) invariantly develop a progressive neuromuscular defect in their hindlimbs from around 3 months of age. We therefore propose Sarm1 deletion as a more reliable tool than Wld(S) for investigating Wallerian-like mechanisms in disease models and suggest that SARM1 blockade may have greater therapeutic potential than WLD(S)-related strategies.

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Cell reports, 21, 2211-1247, 10-16, 2017

PMID: 28978465

DNA Methylation in Embryo Development: Epigenetic Impact of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies).
Canovas S, Ross PJ, Kelsey G, Coy P

DNA methylation can be considered a component of epigenetic memory with a critical role during embryo development, and which undergoes dramatic reprogramming after fertilization. Though it has been a focus of research for many years, the reprogramming mechanism is still not fully understood. Recent results suggest that absence of maintenance at DNA replication is a major factor, and that there is an unexpected role for TET3-mediated oxidation of 5mC to 5hmC in guarding against de novo methylation. Base-resolution and genome-wide profiling methods are enabling more comprehensive assessments of the extent to which ART might impair DNA methylation reprogramming, and which sequence elements are most vulnerable. Indeed, as we also review here, studies showing the effect of culture media, ovarian stimulation or embryo transfer on the methylation pattern of embryos emphasize the need to face ART-associated defects and search for strategies to mitigate adverse effects on the health of ART-derived children.

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BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, , 1521-1878, , 2017

PMID: 28940661

ERK1/2 signalling protects against apoptosis following endoplasmic reticulum stress but cannot provide long-term protection against BAX/BAK-independent cell death.
Darling NJ, Balmanno K, Cook SJ

Disruption of protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) causes ER stress. Activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) acts to restore protein homeostasis or, if ER stress is severe or persistent, drive apoptosis, which is thought to proceed through the cell intrinsic, mitochondrial pathway. Indeed, cells that lack the key executioner proteins BAX and BAK are protected from ER stress-induced apoptosis. Here we show that chronic ER stress causes the progressive inhibition of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1/2) signalling pathway. This is causally related to ER stress since reactivation of ERK1/2 can protect cells from ER stress-induced apoptosis whilst ERK1/2 pathway inhibition sensitises cells to ER stress. Furthermore, cancer cell lines harbouring constitutively active BRAFV600E are addicted to ERK1/2 signalling for protection against ER stress-induced cell death. ERK1/2 signalling normally represses the pro-death proteins BIM, BMF and PUMA and it has been proposed that ER stress induces BIM-dependent cell death. We found no evidence that ER stress increased the expression of these proteins; furthermore, BIM was not required for ER stress-induced death. Rather, ER stress caused the PERK-dependent inhibition of cap-dependent mRNA translation and the progressive loss of pro-survival proteins including BCL2, BCLXL and MCL1. Despite these observations, neither ERK1/2 activation nor loss of BAX/BAK could confer long-term clonogenic survival to cells exposed to ER stress. Thus, ER stress induces cell death by at least two biochemically and genetically distinct pathways: a classical BAX/BAK-dependent apoptotic response that can be inhibited by ERK1/2 signalling and an alternative ERK1/2- and BAX/BAK-independent cell death pathway.

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PloS one, 12, 1932-6203, e0184907, 2017

PMID: 28931068

Open Access

Genomic imprinting beyond DNA methylation: a role for maternal histones.
Hanna CW, Kelsey G

Inheritance of DNA methylation states from gametes determines genomic imprinting in mammals. A new study shows that repressive chromatin in oocytes can also confer imprinting.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 177, 2017

PMID: 28927436

Open Access

Tia1 dependent regulation of mRNA subcellular location and translation controls p53 expression in B cells.
Díaz-Muñoz MD, Kiselev VY, Novère NL, Curk T, Ule J, Turner M

Post-transcriptional regulation of cellular mRNA is essential for protein synthesis. Here we describe the importance of mRNA translational repression and mRNA subcellular location for protein expression during B lymphocyte activation and the DNA damage response. Cytoplasmic RNA granules are formed upon cell activation with mitogens, including stress granules that contain the RNA binding protein Tia1. Tia1 binds to a subset of transcripts involved in cell stress, including p53 mRNA, and controls translational silencing and RNA granule localization. DNA damage promotes mRNA relocation and translation in part due to dissociation of Tia1 from its mRNA targets. Upon DNA damage, p53 mRNA is released from stress granules and associates with polyribosomes to increase protein synthesis in a CAP-independent manner. Global analysis of cellular mRNA abundance and translation indicates that this is an extended ATM-dependent mechanism to increase protein expression of key modulators of the DNA damage response.Sequestering mRNA in cytoplasmic stress granules is a mechanism for translational repression. Here the authors find that p53 mRNA, present in stress granules in activated B lymphocytes, is released upon DNA damage and is translated in a CAP-independent manner.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 530, 2017

PMID: 28904350

Open Access

RNA-binding protein ZFP36L1 maintains posttranscriptional regulation of bile acid metabolism.
Tarling EJ, Clifford BL, Cheng J, Morand P, Cheng A, Lester E, Sallam T, Turner M, de Aguiar Vallim TQ

Bile acids function not only as detergents that facilitate lipid absorption but also as signaling molecules that activate the nuclear receptor farnesoid X receptor (FXR). FXR agonists are currently being evaluated as therapeutic agents for a number of hepatic diseases due to their lipid-lowering and antiinflammatory properties. FXR is also essential for maintaining bile acid homeostasis and prevents the accumulation of bile acids. Elevated bile acids activate FXR, which in turn switches off bile acid synthesis by reducing the mRNA levels of bile acid synthesis genes, including cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (Cyp7a1). Here, we show that FXR activation triggers a rapid posttranscriptional mechanism to degrade Cyp7a1 mRNA. We identified the RNA-binding protein Zfp36l1 as an FXR target gene and determined that gain and loss of function of ZFP36L1 reciprocally regulate Cyp7a1 mRNA and bile acid levels in vivo. Moreover, we found that mice lacking hepatic ZFP36L1 were protected from diet-induced obesity and steatosis. The reduced adiposity and antisteatotic effects observed in ZFP36L1-deficient mice were accompanied by impaired lipid absorption that was consistent with altered bile acid metabolism. Thus, the ZFP36L1-dependent regulation of bile acid metabolism is an important metabolic contributor to obesity and hepatosteatosis.

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The Journal of clinical investigation, , 1558-8238, , 2017

PMID: 28891815

Open Access

Significance of stroma in biology of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
Vucicevic Boras V, Fucic A, Virag M, Gabric D, Blivajs I, Tomasovic-Loncaric C, Rakusic Z, Bisof V, Le Novere N, Velimir Vrdoljak D

The worldwide annual incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is over 300,000 cases with a mortality rate of 48%. This cancer type accounts for 90% of all oral cancers, with the highest incidence in men over 50 years of age. A significantly increased risk of developing OSCC exists among smokers and people who consume alcohol daily. OSCC is an aggressive cancer that metastasizes rapidly. Despite the development of new therapies in the treatment of OSCC, no significant increase in 5-year survival has been recorded in the past decades. The latest research suggests focus should be put on examining tumor stroma activation within OSCC, as the stroma may contain cells that can produce signal molecules and a microenvironment crucial for the development of metastases. The aim of this review is to provide an insight into the factors that activate OSCC stroma and hence faciliate neoplastic progression. It is based on the currently available data on the role and interaction between metalloproteinases, cytokines, growth factors, hypoxia factor and extracellular adhesion proteins in the stroma of OSCC and neoplastic cells. Their interplay is additionally presented using the Systems Biology Graphical Notation in order to sublimate the collected knowledge and enable the more efficient recognition of possible new biomarkers in the diagnostics and follow-up of OSCC or in finding new therapeutic targets.

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Tumori, , 2038-2529, 0, 2017

PMID: 28885677

Decidualisation and placentation defects are a major cause of age-related reproductive decline.
Woods L, Perez-Garcia V, Kieckbusch J, Wang X, DeMayo F, Colucci F, Hemberger M

Mammalian reproductive performance declines rapidly with advanced maternal age. This effect is largely attributed to the exponential increase in chromosome segregation errors in the oocyte with age. Yet many pregnancy complications and birth defects that become more frequent in older mothers, in both humans and mice, occur in the absence of karyotypic abnormalities. Here, we report that abnormal embryonic development in aged female mice is associated with severe placentation defects, which result from major deficits in the decidualisation response of the uterine stroma. This problem is rooted in a blunted hormonal responsiveness of the ageing uterus. Importantly, a young uterine environment can restore normal placental as well as embryonic development. Our data highlight the pivotal, albeit under-appreciated, impact of maternal age on uterine adaptability to pregnancy as major contributor to the decline in reproductive success in older females.Advanced maternal age has been associated with lower reproductive success and higher risk of pregnancy complications. Here the authors show that maternal ageing-related embryonic abnormalities in mouse are caused by decidualisation and placentation defects that can be rescued by transferring the embryo from an old to a young uterus.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 352, 2017

PMID: 28874785

Open Access

Chromosome contacts in activated T cells identify autoimmune disease candidate genes.
Burren OS, Rubio García A, Javierre BM, Rainbow DB, Cairns J, Cooper NJ, Lambourne JJ, Schofield E, Castro Dopico X, Ferreira RC, Coulson R, Burden F, Rowlston SP, Downes K, Wingett SW, Frontini M, Ouwehand WH, Fraser P, Spivakov M, Todd JA, Wicker LS, Cutler AJ, Wallace C

Autoimmune disease-associated variants are preferentially found in regulatory regions in immune cells, particularly CD4(+) T cells. Linking such regulatory regions to gene promoters in disease-relevant cell contexts facilitates identification of candidate disease genes.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 165, 2017

PMID: 28870212

Open Access

In praise of M. Anselmier who first used the term "autophagie" in 1859.
Ktistakis NT

Autophagy, , 1554-8635, 0, 2017

PMID: 28837378

Lineage-specific dynamic and pre-established enhancer-promoter contacts cooperate in terminal differentiation.
Rubin AJ, Barajas BC, Furlan-Magaril M, Lopez-Pajares V, Mumbach MR, Howard I, Kim DS, Boxer LD, Cairns J, Spivakov M, Wingett SW, Shi M, Zhao Z, Greenleaf WJ, Kundaje A, Snyder M, Chang HY, Fraser P, Khavari PA

Chromosome conformation is an important feature of metazoan gene regulation; however, enhancer-promoter contact remodeling during cellular differentiation remains poorly understood. To address this, genome-wide promoter capture Hi-C (CHi-C) was performed during epidermal differentiation. Two classes of enhancer-promoter contacts associated with differentiation-induced genes were identified. The first class ('gained') increased in contact strength during differentiation in concert with enhancer acquisition of the H3K27ac activation mark. The second class ('stable') were pre-established in undifferentiated cells, with enhancers constitutively marked by H3K27ac. The stable class was associated with the canonical conformation regulator cohesin, whereas the gained class was not, implying distinct mechanisms of contact formation and regulation. Analysis of stable enhancers identified a new, essential role for a constitutively expressed, lineage-restricted ETS-family transcription factor, EHF, in epidermal differentiation. Furthermore, neither class of contacts was observed in pluripotent cells, suggesting that lineage-specific chromatin structure is established in tissue progenitor cells and is further remodeled in terminal differentiation.

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Nature genetics, , 1546-1718, , 2017

PMID: 28805829

Human blood Tfr cells are indicators of ongoing humoral activity not fully licensed with suppressive function.
Fonseca VR, Agua-Doce A, Maceiras AR, Pierson W, Ribeiro F, Romão VC, Pires AR, da Silva SL, Fonseca JE, Sousa AE, Linterman MA, Graca L

Germinal center (GC) responses are controlled by T follicular helper (Tfh) and T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells and are crucial for the generation of high-affinity antibodies. Although the biology of human circulating and tissue Tfh cells has been established, the relationship between blood and tissue Tfr cells defined as CXCR5(+)Foxp3(+) T cells remains elusive. We found that blood Tfr cells are increased in Sjögren syndrome, an autoimmune disease with ongoing GC reactions, especially in patients with high autoantibody titers, as well as in healthy individuals upon influenza vaccination. Although blood Tfr cells correlated with humoral responses, they lack full B cell-suppressive capacity, despite being able to suppress T cell proliferation. Blood Tfr cells have a naïve-like phenotype, although they are absent from human thymus or cord blood. We found that these cells were generated in peripheral lymphoid tissues before T-B interaction, as they are maintained in B cell-deficient patients. Therefore, blood CXCR5(+)Foxp3(+) T cells in human pathology indicate ongoing humoral activity but are not fully competent circulating Tfr cells.

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Science immunology, 2, 2470-9468, , 2017

PMID: 28802258

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

Platelet function is modified by common sequence variation in megakaryocyte super enhancers.
Petersen R, Lambourne JJ, Javierre BM, Grassi L, Kreuzhuber R, Ruklisa D, Rosa IM, Tomé AR, Elding H, van Geffen JP, Jiang T, Farrow S, Cairns J, Al-Subaie AM, Ashford S, Attwood A, Batista J, Bouman H, Burden F, Choudry FA, Clarke L, Flicek P, Garner SF, Haimel M, Kempster C, Ladopoulos V, Lenaerts AS, Materek PM, McKinney H, Meacham S, Mead D, Nagy M, Penkett CJ, Rendon A, Seyres D, Sun B, Tuna S, van der Weide ME, Wingett SW, Martens JH, Stegle O, Richardson S, Vallier L, Roberts DJ, Freson K, Wernisch L, Stunnenberg HG, Danesh J, Fraser P, Soranzo N, Butterworth AS, Heemskerk JW, Turro E, Spivakov M, Ouwehand WH, Astle WJ, Downes K, Kostadima M, Frontini M

Linking non-coding genetic variants associated with the risk of diseases or disease-relevant traits to target genes is a crucial step to realize GWAS potential in the introduction of precision medicine. Here we set out to determine the mechanisms underpinning variant association with platelet quantitative traits using cell type-matched epigenomic data and promoter long-range interactions. We identify potential regulatory functions for 423 of 565 (75%) non-coding variants associated with platelet traits and we demonstrate, through ex vivo and proof of principle genome editing validation, that variants in super enhancers play an important role in controlling archetypical platelet functions.

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Nature communications, 8, 2041-1723, 16058, 2017

PMID: 28703137

Open Access

Assessing the Safety of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells and Their Derivatives for Clinical Applications.
Andrews PW, Ben-David U, Benvenisty N, Coffey P, Eggan K, Knowles BB, Nagy A, Pera M, Reubinoff B, Rugg-Gunn PJ, Stacey GN

Pluripotent stem cells may acquire genetic and epigenetic variants during culture following their derivation. At a conference organized by the International Stem Cell Initiative, and held at The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, October 2016, participants discussed how the appearance of such variants can be monitored and minimized and, crucially, how their significance for the safety of therapeutic applications of these cells can be assessed. A strong recommendation from the meeting was that an international advisory group should be set up to review the genetic and epigenetic changes observed in human pluripotent stem cell lines and establish a framework for evaluating the risks that they may pose for clinical use.

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Stem cell reports, 9, 2213-6711, 1-4, 2017

PMID: 28700896

Open Access

Mitosis can drive cell cannibalism through entosis.
Durgan J, Tseng YY, Hamann JC, Domart MC, Collinson L, Hall A, Overholtzer M, Florey O

Entosis is a form of epithelial cell cannibalism that is prevalent in human cancer, typically triggered by loss of matrix adhesion. Here, we report an alternative mechanism for entosis in human epithelial cells, driven by mitosis. Mitotic entosis is regulated by Cdc42, which controls mitotic morphology. Cdc42 depletion enhances mitotic deadhesion and rounding, and these biophysical changes, which depend on RhoA activation and are phenocopied by Rap1 inhibition, permit subsequent entosis. Mitotic entosis occurs constitutively in some human cancer cell lines and mitotic index correlates with cell cannibalism in primary human breast tumours. Adherent, wild-type cells can act efficiently as entotic hosts, suggesting that normal epithelia may engulf and kill aberrantly dividing neighbours. Finally, we report that Paclitaxel/taxol promotes mitotic rounding and subsequent entosis, revealing an unconventional activity of this drug. Together, our data uncover an intriguing link between cell division and cannibalism, of significance to both cancer and chemotherapy.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28693721

Open Access

Cell-cycle dynamics of chromosomal organization at single-cell resolution.
Nagano T, Lubling Y, Várnai C, Dudley C, Leung W, Baran Y, Mendelson Cohen N, Wingett S, Fraser P, Tanay A

Chromosomes in proliferating metazoan cells undergo marked structural metamorphoses every cell cycle, alternating between highly condensed mitotic structures that facilitate chromosome segregation, and decondensed interphase structures that accommodate transcription, gene silencing and DNA replication. Here we use single-cell Hi-C (high-resolution chromosome conformation capture) analysis to study chromosome conformations in thousands of individual cells, and discover a continuum of cis-interaction profiles that finely position individual cells along the cell cycle. We show that chromosomal compartments, topological-associated domains (TADs), contact insulation and long-range loops, all defined by bulk Hi-C maps, are governed by distinct cell-cycle dynamics. In particular, DNA replication correlates with a build-up of compartments and a reduction in TAD insulation, while loops are generally stable from G1 to S and G2 phase. Whole-genome three-dimensional structural models reveal a radial architecture of chromosomal compartments with distinct epigenomic signatures. Our single-cell data therefore allow re-interpretation of chromosome conformation maps through the prism of the cell cycle.

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Nature, 547, 1476-4687, 61-67, 2017

PMID: 28682332

Identifiers for the 21st century: How to design, provision, and reuse persistent identifiers to maximize utility and impact of life science data.
McMurry JA, Juty N, Blomberg N, Burdett T, Conlin T, Conte N, Courtot M, Deck J, Dumontier M, Fellows DK, Gonzalez-Beltran A, Gormanns P, Grethe J, Hastings J, Hériché JK, Hermjakob H, Ison JC, Jimenez RC, Jupp S, Kunze J, Laibe C, Le Novère N, Malone J, Martin MJ, McEntyre JR, Morris C, Muilu J, Müller W, Rocca-Serra P, Sansone SA, Sariyar M, Snoep JL, Soiland-Reyes S, Stanford NJ, Swainston N, Washington N, Williams AR, Wimalaratne SM, Winfree LM, Wolstencroft K, Goble C, Mungall CJ, Haendel MA, Parkinson H

In many disciplines, data are highly decentralized across thousands of online databases (repositories, registries, and knowledgebases). Wringing value from such databases depends on the discipline of data science and on the humble bricks and mortar that make integration possible; identifiers are a core component of this integration infrastructure. Drawing on our experience and on work by other groups, we outline 10 lessons we have learned about the identifier qualities and best practices that facilitate large-scale data integration. Specifically, we propose actions that identifier practitioners (database providers) should take in the design, provision and reuse of identifiers. We also outline the important considerations for those referencing identifiers in various circumstances, including by authors and data generators. While the importance and relevance of each lesson will vary by context, there is a need for increased awareness about how to avoid and manage common identifier problems, especially those related to persistence and web-accessibility/resolvability. We focus strongly on web-based identifiers in the life sciences; however, the principles are broadly relevant to other disciplines.

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PLoS biology, 15, 1545-7885, e2001414, 2017

PMID: 28662064

Open Access

Hi-C as a tool for precise detection and characterisation of chromosomal rearrangements and copy number variation in human tumours.
Harewood L, Kishore K, Eldridge MD, Wingett S, Pearson D, Schoenfelder S, Collins VP, Fraser P

Chromosomal rearrangements occur constitutionally in the general population and somatically in the majority of cancers. Detection of balanced rearrangements, such as reciprocal translocations and inversions, is troublesome, which is particularly detrimental in oncology where rearrangements play diagnostic and prognostic roles. Here we describe the use of Hi-C as a tool for detection of both balanced and unbalanced chromosomal rearrangements in primary human tumour samples, with the potential to define chromosome breakpoints to bp resolution. In addition, we show copy number profiles can also be obtained from the same data, all at a significantly lower cost than standard sequencing approaches.

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Genome biology, 18, 1474-760X, 125, 2017

PMID: 28655341

Open Access

Environmental change drives accelerated adaptation through stimulated copy number variation.
Hull RM, Cruz C, Jack CV, Houseley J

Copy number variation (CNV) is rife in eukaryotic genomes and has been implicated in many human disorders, particularly cancer, in which CNV promotes both tumorigenesis and chemotherapy resistance. CNVs are considered random mutations but often arise through replication defects; transcription can interfere with replication fork progression and stability, leading to increased mutation rates at highly transcribed loci. Here we investigate whether inducible promoters can stimulate CNV to yield reproducible, environment-specific genetic changes. We propose a general mechanism for environmentally-stimulated CNV and validate this mechanism for the emergence of copper resistance in budding yeast. By analysing a large cohort of individual cells, we directly demonstrate that CNV of the copper-resistance gene CUP1 is stimulated by environmental copper. CNV stimulation accelerates the formation of novel alleles conferring enhanced copper resistance, such that copper exposure actively drives adaptation to copper-rich environments. Furthermore, quantification of CNV in individual cells reveals remarkable allele selectivity in the rate at which specific environments stimulate CNV. We define the key mechanistic elements underlying this selectivity, demonstrating that CNV is regulated by both promoter activity and acetylation of histone H3 lysine 56 (H3K56ac) and that H3K56ac is required for CUP1 CNV and efficient copper adaptation. Stimulated CNV is not limited to high-copy CUP1 repeat arrays, as we find that H3K56ac also regulates CNV in 3 copy arrays of CUP1 or SFA1 genes. The impact of transcription on DNA damage is well understood, but our research reveals that this apparently problematic association forms a pathway by which mutations can be directed to particular loci in particular environments and furthermore that this mutagenic process can be regulated through histone acetylation. Stimulated CNV therefore represents an unanticipated and remarkably controllable pathway facilitating organismal adaptation to new environments.

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PLoS biology, 15, 1545-7885, e2001333, 2017

PMID: 28654659

Open Access