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The Babraham Institute Publications database contains details of all publications resulting from our research groups and scientific facilities. Pre-prints by Institute authors can be viewed on the Institute's bioRxiv channel. We believe that free and open access to the outputs of publicly‐funded research offers significant social and economic benefits, as well as aiding the development of new research. We are working to provide Open Access to as many publications as possible and these can be identified below by the padlock icon. Where this hasn't been possible, subscriptions may be required to view the full text.
 

Fang X, Wu Z, Raitskin O, Webb K, Voigt P, Lu T, Howard M, Dean C Epigenetics

Noncoding RNA plays essential roles in transcriptional control and chromatin silencing. At antisense transcription quantitatively influences transcriptional output, but the mechanism by which this occurs is still unclear. Proximal polyadenylation of the antisense transcripts by FCA, an RNA-binding protein that physically interacts with RNA 3' processing factors, reduces transcription. This process genetically requires FLD, a homolog of the H3K4 demethylase LSD1. However, the mechanism linking RNA processing to FLD function had not been established. Here, we show that FLD tightly associates with LUMINIDEPENDENS (LD) and SET DOMAIN GROUP 26 (SDG26) in vivo, and, together, they prevent accumulation of monomethylated H3K4 (H3K4me1) over the gene body. SDG26 interacts with the RNA 3' processing factor FY (WDR33), thus linking activities for proximal polyadenylation of the antisense transcripts to FLD/LD/SDG26-associated H3K4 demethylation. We propose this demethylation antagonizes an active transcription module, thus reducing H3K36me3 accumulation and increasing H3K27me3. Consistent with this view, we show that Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) silencing is genetically required by FCA to repress Overall, our work provides insights into RNA-mediated chromatin silencing.

+view abstract PNAS , PMID: 32541063

Chauve L, Le Pen J, Hodge F, Todtenhaupt P, Biggins L, Miska EA, Andrews S, Casanueva O Epigenetics , Bioinformatics

This paper presents a high-throughput reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) assay for Caenorhabditis elegans that is fast, robust, and highly sensitive. This protocol obtains precise measurements of gene expression from single worms or from bulk samples. The protocol presented here provides a novel adaptation of existing methods for complementary DNA (cDNA) preparation coupled to a nanofluidic RT-qPCR platform. The first part of this protocol, named 'Worm-to-CT', allows cDNA production directly from nematodes without the need for prior mRNA isolation. It increases experimental throughput by allowing the preparation of cDNA from 96 worms in 3.5 h. The second part of the protocol uses existing nanofluidic technology to run high-throughput RT-qPCR on the cDNA. This paper evaluates two different nanofluidic chips: the first runs 96 samples and 96 targets, resulting in 9,216 reactions in approximately 1.5 days of benchwork. The second chip type consists of six 12 x 12 arrays, resulting in 864 reactions. Here, the Worm-to-CT method is demonstrated by quantifying mRNA levels of genes encoding heat shock proteins from single worms and from bulk samples. Provided is an extensive list of primers designed to amplify processed RNA for the majority of coding genes within the C. elegans genome.

+view abstract Journal of visualized experiments , PMID: 32538915

Okkenhaug H, Chauve L, Masoudzadeh F, Okkenhaug L, Casanueva O Epigenetics , Imaging

An issue often encountered when acquiring image data from fixed or anesthetized C. elegans is that worms cross and cluster with their neighbors. This problem is aggravated with increasing density of worms and creates challenges for imaging and quantification. We developed a FIJI-based workflow, Worm-align, that can be used to generate single- or multi-channel montages of user-selected, straightened and aligned worms from raw image data of C. elegans. Worm-align is a simple and user-friendly workflow that does not require prior training of either the user or the analysis algorithm. Montages generated with Worm-align can aid the visual inspection of worms, their classification and representation. In addition, the output of Worm-align can be used for subsequent quantification of fluorescence intensity in single worms, either in FIJI directly, or in other image analysis software platforms. We demonstrate this by importing the Worm-align output into Worm_CP, a pipeline that uses the open-source CellProfiler software. CellProfiler's flexibility enables the incorporation of additional modules for high-content screening. As a practical example, we have used the pipeline on two datasets: the first dataset are images of heat shock reporter worms that express green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of the promoter of a heat shock inducible gene hsp-70, and the second dataset are images obtained from fixed worms, stained for fat-stores with a fluorescent dye.

+view abstract Journal of visualized experiments , PMID: 32538914

Coleman MP

Axons are diverse. They have different lengths, different branching patterns, and different biological roles. Methods to study axon degeneration are also diverse. The result is a bewildering range of experimental systems in which to study mechanisms of axon degeneration, and it is difficult to extrapolate from one neuron type and one method to another. The purpose of this chapter is to help readers to do this and to choose the methods most appropriate for answering their particular research question.

+view abstract Methods in molecular biology , PMID: 32524468

Villaseñor R, Pfaendler R, Ambrosi C, Butz S, Giuliani S, Bryan E, Sheahan TW, Gable AL, Schmolka N, Manzo M, Wirz J, Feller C, von Mering C, Aebersold R, Voigt P, Baubec T Epigenetics

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

+view abstract Nature biotechnology , PMID: 32518402

Grant FM, Yang J, Nasrallah R, Clarke J, Sadiyah F, Whiteside SK, Imianowski CJ, Kuo P, Vardaka P, Todorov T, Zandhuis N, Patrascan I, Tough DF, Kometani K, Eil R, Kurosaki T, Okkenhaug K, Roychoudhuri R Immunology

Regulatory T (Treg) cell populations are composed of functionally quiescent resting Treg (rTreg) cells which differentiate into activated Treg (aTreg) cells upon antigen stimulation. How rTreg cells remain quiescent despite chronic exposure to cognate self- and foreign antigens is unclear. The transcription factor BACH2 is critical for early Treg lineage specification, but its function following lineage commitment is unresolved. Here, we show that BACH2 is repurposed following Treg lineage commitment and promotes the quiescence and long-term maintenance of rTreg cells. Bach2 is highly expressed in rTreg cells but is down-regulated in aTreg cells and during inflammation. In rTreg cells, BACH2 binds to enhancers of genes involved in aTreg differentiation and represses their TCR-driven induction by competing with AP-1 factors for DNA binding. This function promotes rTreg cell quiescence and long-term maintenance and is required for immune homeostasis and durable immunosuppression in cancer. Thus, BACH2 supports a "division of labor" between quiescent rTreg cells and their activated progeny in Treg maintenance and function, respectively.

+view abstract The Journal of experimental medicine , PMID: 32515782

Nasrallah R, Imianowski CJ, Bossini-Castillo L, Grant FM, Dogan M, Placek L, Kozhaya L, Kuo P, Sadiyah F, Whiteside SK, Mumbach MR, Glinos D, Vardaka P, Whyte CE, Lozano T, Fujita T, Fujii H, Liston A, Andrews S, Cozzani A, Yang J, Mitra S, Lugli E, Chang HY, Unutmaz D, Trynka G, Roychoudhuri R Immunology , Bioinformatics

Genetic variations underlying susceptibility to complex autoimmune and allergic diseases are concentrated within noncoding regulatory elements termed enhancers. The functions of a large majority of disease-associated enhancers are unknown, in part owing to their distance from the genes they regulate, a lack of understanding of the cell types in which they operate, and our inability to recapitulate the biology of immune diseases in vitro. Here, using shared synteny to guide loss-of-function analysis of homologues of human enhancers in mice, we show that the prominent autoimmune and allergic disease risk locus at chromosome 11q13.5 contains a distal enhancer that is functional in CD4 regulatory T (T) cells and required for T-mediated suppression of colitis. The enhancer recruits the transcription factors STAT5 and NF-κB to mediate signal-driven expression of Lrrc32, which encodes the protein glycoprotein A repetitions predominant (GARP). Whereas disruption of the Lrrc32 gene results in early lethality, mice lacking the enhancer are viable but lack GARP expression in Foxp3 T cells, which are unable to control colitis in a cell-transfer model of the disease. In human T cells, the enhancer forms conformational interactions with the promoter of LRRC32 and enhancer risk variants are associated with reduced histone acetylation and GARP expression. Finally, functional fine-mapping of 11q13.5 using CRISPR-activation (CRISPRa) identifies a CRISPRa-responsive element in the vicinity of risk variant rs11236797 capable of driving GARP expression. These findings provide a mechanistic basis for association of the 11q13.5 risk locus with immune-mediated diseases and identify GARP as a potential target in their therapy.

+view abstract Nature , PMID: 32499651

Nützmann HW, Doerr D, Ramírez-Colmenero A, Sotelo-Fonseca JE, Wegel E, Di Stefano M, Wingett SW, Fraser P, Hurst L, Fernandez-Valverde SL, Osbourn A Bioinformatics

While colocalization within a bacterial operon enables coexpression of the constituent genes, the mechanistic logic of clustering of nonhomologous monocistronic genes in eukaryotes is not immediately obvious. Biosynthetic gene clusters that encode pathways for specialized metabolites are an exception to the classical eukaryote rule of random gene location and provide paradigmatic exemplars with which to understand eukaryotic cluster dynamics and regulation. Here, using 3C, Hi-C, and Capture Hi-C (CHi-C) organ-specific chromosome conformation capture techniques along with high-resolution microscopy, we investigate how chromosome topology relates to transcriptional activity of clustered biosynthetic pathway genes in Our analyses reveal that biosynthetic gene clusters are embedded in local hot spots of 3D contacts that segregate cluster regions from the surrounding chromosome environment. The spatial conformation of these cluster-associated domains differs between transcriptionally active and silenced clusters. We further show that silenced clusters associate with heterochromatic chromosomal domains toward the periphery of the nucleus, while transcriptionally active clusters relocate away from the nuclear periphery. Examination of chromosome structure at unrelated clusters in maize, rice, and tomato indicates that integration of clustered pathway genes into distinct topological domains is a common feature in plant genomes. Our results shed light on the potential mechanisms that constrain coexpression within clusters of nonhomologous eukaryotic genes and suggest that gene clustering in the one-dimensional chromosome is accompanied by compartmentalization of the 3D chromosome.

+view abstract PNAS , PMID: 32493747

Jhamat N, Niazi A, Guo Y, Chanrot M, Ivanova E, Kelsey G, Bongcam-Rudloff E, Andersson G, Humblot P Epigenetics

Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) endotoxin stimulates pro-inflammatory pathways and is a key player in the pathological mechanisms involved in the development of endometritis. This study aimed to investigate LPS-induced DNA methylation changes in bovine endometrial epithelial cells (bEECs), which may affect endometrial function. Following in vitro culture, bEECs from three cows were either untreated (0) or exposed to 2 and 8 μg/mL LPS for 24 h.

+view abstract BMC genomics , PMID: 32493210

Ipseiz N, Pickering RJ, Rosas M, Tyrrell VJ, Davies LC, Orr SJ, Czubala MA, Fathalla D, Robertson AA, Bryant CE, O'Donnell V, Taylor PR Signalling

The alarm cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is a potent activator of the inflammatory cascade following pathogen recognition. IL-1β production typically requires two signals: first, priming by recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns leads to the production of immature pro-IL-1β; subsequently, inflammasome activation by a secondary signal allows cleavage and maturation of IL-1β from its pro-form. However, despite the important role of IL-1β in controlling local and systemic inflammation, its overall regulation is still not fully understood. Here we demonstrate that peritoneal tissue-resident macrophages use an active inhibitory pathway, to suppress IL-1β processing, which can otherwise occur in the absence of a second signal. Programming by the transcription factor Gata6 controls the expression of prostacyclin synthase, which is required for prostacyclin production after lipopolysaccharide stimulation and optimal induction of IL-10. In the absence of secondary signal, IL-10 potently inhibits IL-1β processing, providing a previously unrecognized control of IL-1β in tissue-resident macrophages.

+view abstract The EMBO journal , PMID: 32484988

Reiterer V, Pawłowski K, Desrochers G, Pause A, Sharpe HJ, Farhan H Signalling

Phosphatases are a diverse family of enzymes, comprising at least 10 distinct protein folds. Like most other enzyme families, many have sequence variations that predict an impairment or loss of catalytic activity classifying them as pseudophosphatases. Research on pseudoenzymes is an emerging area of interest, with new biological functions repurposed from catalytically active relatives. Here, we provide an overview of the pseudophosphatases identified to date in all major phosphatase families. We will highlight the degeneration of the various catalytic sequence motifs and discuss the challenges associated with the experimental determination of catalytic inactivity. We will also summarize the role of pseudophosphatases in various diseases and discuss the major challenges and future directions in this field.

+view abstract The FEBS journal , PMID: 32484316

Hill CS, Sreedharan J, Loreto A, Menon DK, Coleman MP

Traumatic brain injury is a major global cause of death and disability. Axonal injury is a major underlying mechanism of TBI and could represent a major therapeutic target. We provide evidence that targeting the axonal death pathway known as Wallerian degeneration improves outcome in a model of high impact trauma. This cell-autonomous neurodegenerative pathway is initiated following axon injury, and in Drosophila, involves activity of the E3 ubiquitin ligase . We demonstrate that a loss-of-function mutation in the gene rescues deleterious effects of a traumatic injury, including-improved functional outcomes, lifespan, survival of dopaminergic neurons, and retention of synaptic proteins. This data suggests that represents a potential therapeutic target in traumatic injury.

+view abstract Frontiers in neurology , PMID: 32477254

Olsen KW, Castillo-Fernandez J, Zedeler A, Freiesleben NC, Bungum M, Chan AC, Cardona A, Perry JRB, Skouby SO, Borup R, Hoffmann ER, Kelsey G, Grøndahl ML Epigenetics

Does women's age affect the DNA methylation (DNAm) profile differently in mural granulosa cells (MGCs) from other somatic cells?

+view abstract Human reproduction , PMID: 32474592

Velanis CN, Perera P, Thomson B, de Leau E, Liang SC, Hartwig B, Förderer A, Thornton H, Arede P, Chen J, Webb KM, Gümüs S, De Jaeger G, Page CA, Hancock CN, Spanos C, Rappsilber J, Voigt P, Turck F, Wellmer F, Goodrich J Epigenetics

A large fraction of plant genomes is composed of transposable elements (TE), which provide a potential source of novel genes through "domestication"-the process whereby the proteins encoded by TE diverge in sequence, lose their ability to catalyse transposition and instead acquire novel functions for their hosts. In Arabidopsis, ANTAGONIST OF LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (ALP1) arose by domestication of the nuclease component of Harbinger class TE and acquired a new function as a component of POLYCOMB REPRESSIVE COMPLEX 2 (PRC2), a histone H3K27me3 methyltransferase involved in regulation of host genes and in some cases TE. It was not clear how ALP1 associated with PRC2, nor what the functional consequence was. Here, we identify ALP2 genetically as a suppressor of Polycomb-group (PcG) mutant phenotypes and show that it arose from the second, DNA binding component of Harbinger transposases. Molecular analysis of PcG compromised backgrounds reveals that ALP genes oppose silencing and H3K27me3 deposition at key PcG target genes. Proteomic analysis reveals that ALP1 and ALP2 are components of a variant PRC2 complex that contains the four core components but lacks plant-specific accessory components such as the H3K27me3 reader LIKE HETEROCHROMATION PROTEIN 1 (LHP1). We show that the N-terminus of ALP2 interacts directly with ALP1, whereas the C-terminus of ALP2 interacts with MULTICOPY SUPPRESSOR OF IRA1 (MSI1), a core component of PRC2. Proteomic analysis reveals that in alp2 mutant backgrounds ALP1 protein no longer associates with PRC2, consistent with a role for ALP2 in recruitment of ALP1. We suggest that the propensity of Harbinger TE to insert in gene-rich regions of the genome, together with the modular two component nature of their transposases, has predisposed them for domestication and incorporation into chromatin modifying complexes.

+view abstract PLoS genetics , PMID: 32463832

Senner CE, Chrysanthou S, Burge S, Lin HY, Branco MR, Hemberger M

The ten-eleven translocation factor TET1 and its conferred epigenetic modification 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) have important roles in maintaining the pluripotent state of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We previously showed that TET1 is also essential to maintain the stem cell state of trophoblast stem cells (TSCs). Here, we establish an integrated panel of absolute 5hmC levels, genome-wide DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation patterns, transcriptomes, and TET1 chromatin occupancy in TSCs and differentiated trophoblast cells. We show that the combined presence of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5hmC correlates with transcriptional activity of associated genes. Hypoxia can slow down the global loss of 5hmC that occurs upon differentiation of TSCs. Notably, unlike in ESCs and epiblast cells, most TET1-bound regions overlap with active chromatin marks and TFAP2C binding sites and demarcate putative trophoblast enhancer regions. These chromatin modification and occupancy patterns are highly informative to identify novel candidate regulators of the TSC state.

+view abstract Stem cell reports , PMID: 32442533

Kwok A, Zvetkova I, Virtue S, Luijten I, Huang-Doran I, Tomlinson P, Bulger DA, West J, Murfitt S, Griffin J, Alam R, Hart D, Knox R, Voshol P, Vidal-Puig A, Jensen J, O'Rahilly S, Semple RK Immunology

Insulin signaling via phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) requires PIK3R1-encoded regulatory subunits. C-terminal PIK3R1 mutations cause SHORT syndrome, including lipodystrophy and insulin resistance (IR), surprisingly without fatty liver or metabolic dyslipidemia. We sought to investigate this discordance.

+view abstract Molecular metabolism , PMID: 32439336

Marshall JD, Courage ER, Elliott RF, Fitzpatrick MN, Kim AD, Lopez-Clavijo AF, Woolfrey BA, Ouimet M, Wakelam MJO, Brown RJ Signalling , Lipidomics

Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) is upregulated in atherosclerotic lesions and it may promote the progression of atherosclerosis, but the mechanisms behind this process are not completely understood. We previously showed that the phosphorylation of Akt within THP-1 macrophages is increased in response to the lipid hydrolysis products generated by LPL from total lipoproteins. Notably, the free fatty acid (FFA) component was responsible for this effect. In the present study, we aimed to reveal more detail as to how the FFA component may affect Akt signalling. We show that the phosphorylation of Akt within THP-1 macrophages increases with total FFA concentration and that phosphorylation is elevated up to 18 hours. We further show that specifically the palmitoleate component of the total FFA affects Akt phosphorylation. This is tied with changes to the levels of select molecular species of phosphoinositides. We further show that the total FFA component, and specifically palmitoleate, reduces apolipoprotein A-I-mediated cholesterol efflux, and that the reduction can be reversed in the presence of the Akt inhibitor MK-2206. Overall, our data support a negative role for the FFA component of lipoprotein hydrolysis products generated by LPL, by impairing macrophage cholesterol efflux via Akt activation.

+view abstract PloS one , PMID: 32437392

Pikor NB, Mörbe U, Lütge M, Gil-Cruz C, Perez-Shibayama C, Novkovic M, Cheng HW, Nombela-Arrieta C, Nagasawa T, Linterman MA, Onder L, Ludewig B Immunology

Efficient generation of germinal center (GC) responses requires directed movement of B cells between distinct microenvironments underpinned by specialized B cell-interacting reticular cells (BRCs). How BRCs are reprogrammed to cater to the developing GC remains unclear, and studying this process is largely hindered by incomplete resolution of the cellular composition of the B cell follicle. Here we used genetic targeting of Cxcl13-expressing cells to define the molecular identity of the BRC landscape. Single-cell transcriptomic analysis revealed that BRC subset specification was predetermined in the primary B cell follicle. Further topological remodeling of light and dark zone follicular dendritic cells required CXCL12-dependent crosstalk with B cells and dictated GC output by retaining B cells in the follicle and steering their interaction with follicular helper T cells. Together, our results reveal that poised BRC-defined microenvironments establish a feed-forward system that determines the efficacy of the GC reaction.

+view abstract Nature immunology , PMID: 32424359

Ma CY, Marioni JC, Griffiths GM, Richard AC Immunology

Millions of naïve T cells with different TCRs may interact with a peptide-MHC ligand, but very few will activate. Remarkably, this fine control is orchestrated using a limited set of intracellular machinery. It remains unclear whether changes in stimulation strength alter the programme of signalling events leading to T cell activation. Using mass cytometry to simultaneously measure multiple signalling pathways during activation of murine CD8 T cells, we found a programme of distal signalling events that is shared, regardless of the strength of TCR stimulation. Moreover, the relationship between transcription of early response genes and and activation of the ribosomal protein S6 is also conserved across stimuli. Instead, we found that stimulation strength dictates the rate with which cells initiate signalling through this network. These data suggest that TCR-induced signalling results in a coordinated activation program, modulated in rate but not organization by stimulation strength.

+view abstract eLife , PMID: 32412411

Quinn KM, Linterman MA Immunology

In Covre et al. and Pereira et al., the authors demonstrate the parallels between senescent NK cells and senescent CD8 T cells, and formalise the mechanism by which senescent CD8 T cells become more NK cell-like, through the action of sestrins.

+view abstract Immunology and cell biology , PMID: 32406096

Meckelmann SW, Hawksworth JI, White D, Andrews R, Rodrigues P, O'Connor A, Alvarez-Jarreta J, Tyrrell VJ, Hinz C, Zhou Y, Williams J, Aldrovandi M, Watkins WJ, Engler AJ, Lo Sardo V, Slatter DA, Allen SM, Acharya J, Mitchell J, Cooper J, Aoki J, Kano K, Humphries SE, O'Donnell VB Signalling

Common chromosome 9p21 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) increase coronary heart disease risk, independent of traditional lipid risk factors. However, lipids comprise large numbers of structurally related molecules not measured in traditional risk measurements, and many have inflammatory bioactivities. Here, we applied lipidomic and genomic approaches to 3 model systems to characterize lipid metabolic changes in common Chr9p21 SNPs, which confer ≈30% elevated coronary heart disease risk associated with altered expression of ANRIL, a long ncRNA.

+view abstract Circulation. Genomic and precision medicine , PMID: 32396387

Borg M, Jacob Y, Susaki D, LeBlanc C, Buendía D, Axelsson E, Kawashima T, Voigt P, Boavida L, Becker J, Higashiyama T, Martienssen R, Berger F Epigenetics

Epigenetic marks are reprogrammed in the gametes to reset genomic potential in the next generation. In mammals, paternal chromatin is extensively reprogrammed through the global erasure of DNA methylation and the exchange of histones with protamines. Precisely how the paternal epigenome is reprogrammed in flowering plants has remained unclear since DNA is not demethylated and histones are retained in sperm. Here, we describe a multi-layered mechanism by which H3K27me3 is globally lost from histone-based sperm chromatin in Arabidopsis. This mechanism involves the silencing of H3K27me3 writers, activity of H3K27me3 erasers and deposition of a sperm-specific histone, H3.10 (ref. ), which we show is immune to lysine 27 methylation. The loss of H3K27me3 facilitates the transcription of genes essential for spermatogenesis and pre-configures sperm with a chromatin state that forecasts gene expression in the next generation. Thus, plants have evolved a specific mechanism to simultaneously differentiate male gametes and reprogram the paternal epigenome.

+view abstract Nature cell biology , PMID: 32393884

Ivanova E, Canovas S, Garcia-Martínez S, Romar R, Lopes JS, Rizos D, Sanchez-Calabuig MJ, Krueger F, Andrews S, Perez-Sanz F, Kelsey G, Coy P Epigenetics , Bioinformatics

Preimplantation embryos experience profound resetting of epigenetic information inherited from the gametes. Genome-wide analysis at single-base resolution has shown similarities but also species differences between human and mouse preimplantation embryos in DNA methylation patterns and reprogramming. Here, we have extended such analysis to two key livestock species, the pig and the cow. We generated genome-wide DNA methylation and whole-transcriptome datasets from gametes to blastocysts in both species. In oocytes from both species, a distinctive bimodal methylation landscape is present, with hypermethylated domains prevalent over hypomethylated domains, similar to human, while in the mouse the proportions are reversed.An oocyte-like pattern of methylation persists in the cleavage stages, albeit with some reduction in methylation level, persisting to blastocysts in cow, while pig blastocysts have a highly hypomethylated landscape. In the pig, there was evidence of transient de novo methylation at the 8-16 cell stages of domains unmethylated in oocytes, revealing a complex dynamic of methylation reprogramming. The methylation datasets were used to identify germline differentially methylated regions (gDMRs) of known imprinted genes and for the basis of detection of novel imprinted loci. Strikingly in the pig, we detected a consistent reduction in gDMR methylation at the 8-16 cell stages, followed by recovery to the blastocyst stage, suggesting an active period of imprint stabilization in preimplantation embryos. Transcriptome analysis revealed absence of expression in oocytes of both species of ZFP57, a key factor in the mouse for gDMR methylation maintenance, but presence of the alternative imprint regulator ZNF445. In conclusion, our study reveals species differences in DNA methylation reprogramming and suggests that porcine or bovine models may be closer to human in key aspects than in the mouse model.

+view abstract Clinical epigenetics , PMID: 32393379

Stammers M, Ivanova IM, Niewczas IS, Segonds-Pichon A, Streeter M, Spiegel DA, Clark J Biological Chemistry

Collagen is a structural protein whose internal cross-linking critically determines the properties and functions of connective tissue. Knowing how the cross-linking of collagen changes with age is key to understanding why the mechanical properties of tissues change over a lifetime. The current scientific consensus is that collagen cross-linking increases with age and that this increase leads to tendon stiffening. Here, we show that this view should be reconsidered. Using MS-based analyses, we demonstrate that during aging of healthy C57BL/6 mice, the overall levels of collagen cross-linking in tail tendon decrease with age. However, the levels of lysine glycation in collagen, which is not considered a cross-link, increased dramatically with age. We found that in 16-week-old diabetic db/db mice, glycation reaches levels similar to those observed in 98-week-old C57BL/6 mice, while the other cross-links typical of tendon collagen either decreased or remained the same as those observed in 20 week old WT mice. These results, combined with findings from mechanical testing of tendons from these mice, indicate that overall collagen cross-linking in mouse tendon decreases with age. Our findings also reveal that lysine glycation appears to be an important factor that contributes to tendon stiffening with age and in diabetes.

+view abstract The Journal of biological chemistry , PMID: 32381510