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The mammalian genome experiences profound setting and resetting of epigenetic patterns during the life-course. This is understood best for DNA methylation: the specification of germ cells, gametogenesis, and early embryo development are characterised by phases of widespread erasure and rewriting of methylation. While mitigating against intergenerational transmission of epigenetic information, these processes must also ensure correct genomic imprinting that depends on faithful and long-term memory of gamete-derived methylation states in the next generation. This underscores the importance of understanding the mechanisms of methylation programming in the germline. methylation in the oocyte is of particular interest because of its intimate association with transcription, which results in a bimodal methylome unique amongst mammalian cells. Moreover, this methylation landscape is entirely set up in a non-dividing cell, making the oocyte a fascinating model system in which to explore mechanistic determinants of methylation. Here, we summarise current knowledge on the oocyte DNA methylome and how it is established, focussing on recent insights from knockout models in the mouse that explore the interplay between methylation and chromatin states. We also highlight some remaining paradoxes and enigmas, in particular the involvement of non-nuclear factors for correct methylation.
The molecular mechanisms responsible for the high immunosuppressive capacity of CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) in tumors are poorly known. High-dimensional single cell profiling of T cells from chemotherapy-naïve individuals with non-small cell lung cancer identified the transcription factor IRF4 as specifically expressed by a subset of intratumoral CD4+ effector Tregs with superior suppressive activity. In contrast to the IRF4- counterparts, IRF4+ Tregs expressed a vast array of suppressive molecules, and their presence correlated with multiple exhausted subpopulations of T cells. Integration of transcriptomic and epigenomic data revealed that IRF4, either alone or in combination with its partner BATF, directly controlled a molecular program responsible for immunosuppression in tumors. Accordingly, deletion of Irf4 exclusively in Tregs resulted in delayed tumor growth in mice while the abundance of IRF4+ Tregs correlated with poor prognosis in patients with multiple human cancers. Thus, a common mechanism underlies immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment irrespectively of the tumor type.
Chromatin modifications regulate genome function by recruiting proteins to the genome. However, the protein composition at distinct chromatin modifications has yet to be fully characterized. In this study, we used natural protein domains as modular building blocks to develop engineered chromatin readers (eCRs) selective for DNA methylation and histone tri-methylation at H3K4, H3K9 and H3K27 residues. We first demonstrated their utility as selective chromatin binders in living cells by stably expressing eCRs in mouse embryonic stem cells and measuring their subnuclear localization, genomic distribution and histone-modification-binding preference. By fusing eCRs to the biotin ligase BASU, we established ChromID, a method for identifying the chromatin-dependent protein interactome on the basis of proximity biotinylation, and applied it to distinct chromatin modifications in mouse stem cells. Using a synthetic dual-modification reader, we also uncovered the protein composition at bivalently modified promoters marked by H3K4me3 and H3K27me3. These results highlight the ability of ChromID to obtain a detailed view of protein interaction networks on chromatin.
-lipid acyltransferases are enzymes involved in various processes such as lipid synthesis and remodelling. Here, we characterized the activity of an acyltransferase from (LPIAT). In vitro, this protein, expressed in membrane, displayed a 2--phosphatidylinositol acyltransferase activity with a specificity towards saturated long chain acyl CoAs (C16:0- and C18:0-CoAs), allowing the remodelling of phosphatidylinositol. , gene was expressed in mature seeds and very transiently during seed imbibition, mostly in aleurone-like layer cells. Whereas the disruption of this gene did not alter the lipid composition of seed, its overexpression in leaves promoted a strong increase in the phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIP) level without affecting the PIP2 content. The spatial and temporal narrow expression of this gene as well as the modification of PIP metabolism led us to investigate its role in the control of seed germination. Seeds from the mutant germinated faster and were less sensitive to abscisic acid (ABA) than wild-type or overexpressing lines. We also showed that the protective effect of ABA on young seedlings against dryness was reduced for line. In addition, germination of mutant seeds was more sensitive to hyperosmotic stress. All these results suggest a link between phosphoinositides and ABA signalling in the control of seed germination.
Human rhinoviruses (HRV) are the most common cause of viral respiratory tract infections. While normally mild and self-limiting in healthy adults, HRV infections are associated with bronchiolitis in infants, pneumonia in immunocompromised patients, and exacerbations of asthma and COPD. The human cathelicidin LL-37 is a host defense peptide (HDP) with broad immunomodulatory and antimicrobial activities that has direct antiviral effects against HRV. However, LL-37 is known to be susceptible to the enzymatic activity of peptidyl arginine deiminases (PAD), and exposure of the peptide to these enzymes results in the conversion of positively charged arginines to neutral citrullines (citrullination). Here, we demonstrate that citrullination of LL-37 reduced its direct antiviral activity against HRV. Furthermore, while the anti-rhinovirus activity of LL-37 results in dampened epithelial cell inflammatory responses, citrullination of the peptide, and a loss in antiviral activity, ameliorates this effect. This study also demonstrates that HRV infection upregulates PAD2 protein expression, and increases levels of protein citrullination, including histone H3, in human bronchial epithelial cells. Increased gene expression and HDP citrullination during infection may represent a novel viral evasion mechanism, likely applicable to a wide range of pathogens, and should therefore be considered in the design of therapeutic peptide derivatives.
Identifying DNA cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) that control the expression of specific genes is crucial for deciphering the logic of transcriptional control. Natural genetic variation can point to the possible gene regulatory function of specific sequences through their allelic associations with gene expression. However, comprehensive identification of causal regulatory sequences in brute-force association testing without incorporating prior knowledge is challenging due to limited statistical power and effects of linkage disequilibrium. Sequence variants affecting transcription factor (TF) binding at CRMs have a strong potential to influence gene regulatory function, which provides a motivation for prioritizing such variants in association testing. Here, we generate an atlas of CRMs showing predicted allelic variation in TF binding affinity in human lymphoblastoid cell lines and test their association with the expression of their putative target genes inferred from Promoter Capture Hi-C and immediate linear proximity. We reveal >1300 CRM TF-binding variants associated with target gene expression, the majority of them undetected with standard association testing. A large proportion of CRMs showing associations with the expression of genes they contact in 3D localize to the promoter regions of other genes, supporting the notion of 'epromoters': dual-action CRMs with promoter and distal enhancer activity.
TET3 is a member of the ten-eleven translocation (TET) family of enzymes which oxidize 5-methylcytosine (5mC) into 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). Tet3 is highly expressed in the brain, where 5hmC levels are most abundant. In adult mice, we observed that TET3 is present in mature neurons and oligodendrocytes but is absent in astrocytes. To investigate the function of TET3 in adult postmitotic neurons, we crossed Tet3 floxed mice with a neuronal Cre-expressing mouse line, Camk2a-CreERT2, obtaining a Tet3 conditional KO (cKO) mouse line. Ablation of Tet3 in adult mature neurons resulted in increased anxiety-like behavior with concomitant hypercorticalism, and impaired hippocampal-dependent spatial orientation. Transcriptome and gene-specific expression analysis of the hippocampus showed dysregulation of genes involved in glucocorticoid signaling pathway (HPA axis) in the ventral hippocampus, whereas upregulation of immediate early genes was observed in both dorsal and ventral hippocampal areas. In addition, Tet3 cKO mice exhibit increased dendritic spine maturation in the ventral CA1 hippocampal subregion. Based on these observations, we suggest that TET3 is involved in molecular alterations that govern hippocampal-dependent functions. These results reveal a critical role for epigenetic modifications in modulating brain functions, opening new insights into the molecular basis of neurological disorders.
Collagen fibrils are central to the molecular organization of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and to defining the cellular microenvironment. Glycation of collagen fibrils is known to impact on cell adhesion and migration in the context of cancer and in model studies, glycation of collagen molecules has been shown to affect the binding of other ECM components to collagen. Here we use TEM to show that ribose-5-phosphate (R5P) glycation of collagen fibrils - potentially important in the microenvironment of actively dividing cells, such as cancer cells - disrupts the longitudinal ordering of the molecules in collagen fibrils and, using KFM and FLiM, that R5P-glycated collagen fibrils have a more negative surface charge than unglycated fibrils. Altered molecular arrangement can be expected to impact on the accessibility of cell adhesion sites and altered fibril surface charge on the integrity of the extracellular matrix structure surrounding glycated collagen fibrils. Both effects are highly relevant for cell adhesion and migration within the tumour microenvironment.
Autophagy defends cells against proliferation of bacteria such as Salmonella in the cytosol. After escape from a damaged Salmonella-containing vacuole (SCV) exposing luminal glycans that bind to Galectin-8, the host cell ubiquitination machinery deposits a dense layer of ubiquitin around the cytosolic bacteria. The nature and spatial distribution of this ubiquitin coat in relation to other autophagy-related membranes are unknown. Using Transmission Electron Microscopy we determined the exact localisation of ubiquitin, the ruptured SCV membrane and phagophores around cytosolic Salmonella. Ubiquitin was not predominantly present on the Salmonella surface, but enriched on the fragmented SCV. Cytosolic bacteria without SCVs were less efficiently targeted by phagophores. Single bacteria were contained in single phagophores but multiple bacteria could be within large autophagic vacuoles reaching 30 μm in circumference. These large phagophores followed the contour of the engulfed bacteria, they were frequently in close association with endoplasmic reticulum membranes and, within them, remnants of the SCV were seen associated with each engulfed particle. Our data suggest that the Salmonella SCV has a major role in the formation of autophagic phagophores and highlight evolutionary conserved parallel mechanisms between xenophagy and mitophagy with the fragmented SCV and the damaged outer mitochondrial membrane serving similar functions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 1 (PTBP1) is a RNA-binding protein (RBP) expressed throughout B cell development. Deletion of in mouse pro-B cells results in upregulation of PTBP2 and normal B cell development. We show that PTBP2 compensates for PTBP1 in B cell ontogeny as deletion of both and results in a complete block at the pro-B cell stage and a lack of mature B cells. In pro-B cells PTBP1 ensures precise synchronisation of the activity of cyclin dependent kinases at distinct stages of the cell cycle, suppresses S-phase entry and promotes progression into mitosis. PTBP1 controls mRNA abundance and alternative splicing of important cell cycle regulators including CYCLIN-D2, c-MYC, p107 and CDC25B. Our results reveal a previously unrecognised mechanism mediated by a RBP that is essential for B cell ontogeny and integrates transcriptional and post-translational determinants of progression through the cell cycle.
For the last two decades there has been wide ranging debate about the status of macroautophagy during mitosis. Because metazoan cells undergo an "open" mitosis in which the nuclear envelope breaks down, it has been proposed that macroautophagy must be inhibited to maintain genome integrity. While many studies have agreed that the number of autophagosomes is greatly reduced in cells undergoing mitosis, there has been no consensus on whether this reflects decreased autophagosome synthesis or increased autophagosome degradation. Reviewing the literature we were concerned that many studies relied too heavily on autophagy assays that were simply not appropriate for a relatively brief event such as mitosis. Using highly dynamic omegasome markers we have recently shown unequivocally that autophagosome synthesis is repressed at the onset of mitosis and is restored once cell division is complete. This is accomplished by CDK1, the master regulator of mitosis, taking over the function of MTORC1, to ensure autophagy is repressed during mitosis.
Eukaryotic genomes are folded into loops. It is thought that these are formed by cohesin complexes extrusion, either until loop expansion is arrested by CTCF or until cohesin is removed from DNA by WAPL. Although WAPL limits cohesin's chromatin residence time to minutes, it has been reported that some loops exist for hours. How these loops can persist is unknown. We show that during G1-phase, mammalian cells contain acetylated cohesin which binds chromatin for hours, whereas cohesin binds chromatin for minutes. Our results indicate that CTCF and the acetyltransferase ESCO1 protect a subset of cohesin complexes from WAPL, thereby enable formation of long and presumably long-lived loops, and that ESCO1, like CTCF, contributes to boundary formation in chromatin looping. Our data are consistent with a model of nested loop extrusion, in which acetylated cohesin forms stable loops between CTCF sites, demarcating the boundaries of more transient cohesin extrusion activity.
Calmodulin sits at the center of molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Its complex and sometimes opposite influences, mediated via the binding to various proteins, are yet to be fully understood. Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) and calcineurin (CaN) both bind open calmodulin, favoring Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) or Depression (LTD) respectively. Neurogranin binds to the closed conformation of calmodulin and its impact on synaptic plasticity is less clear. We set up a mechanistic computational model based on allosteric principles to simulate calmodulin state transitions and its interactions with calcium ions and the three binding partners mentioned above. We simulated calcium spikes at various frequencies and show that neurogranin regulates synaptic plasticity along three modalities. At low spike frequencies, neurogranin inhibits the onset of LTD by limiting CaN activation. At intermediate frequencies, neurogranin facilitates LTD, but limits LTP by precluding binding of CaMKII with calmodulin. Finally, at high spike frequencies, neurogranin promotes LTP by enhancing CaMKII autophosphorylation. While neurogranin might act as a calmodulin buffer, it does not significantly preclude the calmodulin opening by calcium. On the contrary, neurogranin synchronizes the opening of calmodulin's two lobes and promotes their activation at specific frequencies. Neurogranin suppresses basal CaN activity, thus increasing the chance of CaMKII trans-autophosphorylation at high-frequency calcium spikes. Taken together, our study reveals dynamic regulatory roles played by neurogranin on synaptic plasticity, which provide mechanistic explanations for opposing experimental findings.
Antibodies secreted within the intestinal tract provide protection from the invasion of microbes into the host tissues. Germinal center (GC) formation in lymph nodes and spleen strictly requires SLAM-associated protein (SAP)-mediated T cell functions; however, it is not known whether this mechanism plays a similar role in mucosal-associated lymphoid tissues. Here, we find that in Peyer's patches (PPs), SAP-mediated T cell help is required for promoting B cell selection in GCs, but not for clonal diversification. PPs of SAP-deficient mice host chronic GCs that are absent in T cell-deficient mice. GC B cells in SAP-deficient mice express AID and Bcl6 and generate plasma cells in proportion to the GC size. Single-cell IgA sequencing analysis reveals that these mice host few diversified clones that were subjected to mild selection forces. These findings demonstrate that T cell-derived help to B cells in PPs includes SAP-dependent and SAP-independent functions.
Amyloid beta peptides (Aβ) proteins play a key role in vascular pathology in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) including impairment of the blood-brain barrier and aberrant angiogenesis. Although previous work has demonstrated a pro-angiogenic role of Aβ, the exact mechanisms by which amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing and endothelial angiogenic signalling cascades interact in AD remain a largely unsolved problem. Here, we report that increased endothelial sprouting in human-APP transgenic mouse (TgCRND8) tissue is dependent on β-secretase (BACE1) processing of APP. Higher levels of Aβ processing in TgCRND8 tissue coincides with decreased NOTCH3/JAG1 signalling, overproduction of endothelial filopodia and increased numbers of vascular pericytes. Using a novel in vitro approach to study sprouting angiogenesis in TgCRND8 organotypic brain slice cultures (OBSCs), we find that BACE1 inhibition normalises excessive endothelial filopodia formation and restores NOTCH3 signalling. These data present the first evidence for the potential of BACE1 inhibition as an effective therapeutic target for aberrant angiogenesis in AD.
Children from low- and middle-income countries, where there is a high incidence of infectious disease, have the greatest need for the protection afforded by vaccination, but vaccines often show reduced efficacy in these populations. An improved understanding of how age, infection, nutrition, and genetics influence immune ontogeny and function is key to informing vaccine design for this at-risk population. We sought to identify factors that shape immune development in children under 5 years of age from Tanzania and Mozambique by detailed immunophenotyping of longitudinal blood samples collected during the RTS,S malaria vaccine phase 3 trial. In these cohorts, the composition of the immune system is dynamically transformed during the first years of life, and this was further influenced by geographical location, with some immune cell types showing an altered rate of development in Tanzanian children compared to Dutch children enrolled in the Generation R population-based cohort study. High-titer antibody responses to the RTS,S/AS01E vaccine were associated with an activated immune profile at the time of vaccination, including an increased frequency of antibody-secreting plasmablasts and follicular helper T cells. Anemic children had lower frequencies of recent thymic emigrant T cells, isotype-switched memory B cells, and plasmablasts; modulating iron bioavailability in vitro could recapitulate the B cell defects observed in anemic children. Our findings demonstrate that the composition of the immune system in children varies according to age, geographical location, and anemia status.
Effective T cell responses against infections and tumors require a swift and ample production of cytokines, chemokines, and cytotoxic molecules. The production of these effector molecules relies on rapid changes of gene expression, determined by cell-intrinsic signals and environmental cues. Here, we review our current understanding of gene-specific regulatory networks that define the magnitude and timing of cytokine production in CD8 T cells. We discuss the dynamic features of post-transcriptional control during CD8 T cell homeostasis and activation, and focus on the crosstalk between cell signaling and RNA-binding proteins. Elucidating gene-specific regulatory circuits may help in the future to rectify dysfunctional T cell responses.
In , the cold-induced epigenetic regulation of () involves distinct phases of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) silencing. During cold, a PHD-PRC2 complex metastably and digitally nucleates H3K27me3 within On return to warm, PHD-PRC2 spreads across the locus delivering H3K27me3 to maintain long-term silencing. Here, we studied natural variation in this process in accessions, exploring Lov-1, which shows reactivation on return to warm, a feature characteristic of in perennial This analysis identifies an additional phase in this Polycomb silencing mechanism downstream from H3K27me3 spreading. In this long-term silencing (perpetuated) phase, the PHD proteins are lost from the nucleation region and silencing is likely maintained by the read-write feedbacks associated with H3K27me3. A combination of noncoding SNPs in the nucleation region mediates instability in this long-term silencing phase with the result that Lov-1 frequently digitally reactivates in individual cells, with a probability that diminishes with increasing cold duration. We propose that this decrease in reactivation probability is due to reduced DNA replication after flowering. Overall, this work defines an additional phase in the Polycomb mechanism instrumental in natural variation of silencing, and provides avenues to dissect broader evolutionary changes at .
We have previously developed and described a method for measuring RNA co-locations within cells, called Proximity RNA-seq, which promises insights into RNA expression, processing, storage and translation. Here, we describe transcriptome-wide proximity RNA-seq datasets obtained from human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell nuclei. To aid future users of this method, we also describe and release our analysis pipeline, CloseCall, which maps cDNA to a custom transcript annotation and allocates cDNA-linked barcodes to barcode groups. CloseCall then performs Monte Carlo simulations on the data to identify pairs of transcripts, which are co-barcoded more frequently than expected by chance. Furthermore, derived co-barcoding frequencies for individual transcripts, dubbed valency, serve as proxies for RNA density or connectivity for that given transcript. We outline how this pipeline was applied to these sequencing datasets and openly share the processed data outputs and access to a virtual machine that runs CloseCall. The resulting data specify the spatial organization of RNAs and builds hypotheses for potential regulatory relationships between RNAs.
The microbiota in the human gut are an important component of normal physiology that has co-evolved from the earliest multicellular organisms. Therefore, it is unsurprising that there is intimate crosstalk between the microbial world in the gut and the host. Genome regulation through microbiota-host interactions not only affects the host's immunity, but also metabolic health and resilience against cancer. Chromatin dynamics of the host epithelium involving histone modifications and other facets of the epigenetic machinery play an important role in this process.
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The germinal center (GC) response is critical for generating high-affinity humoral immunity and immunological memory, which forms the basis of successful immunization. Control of the GC response is thought to require follicular regulatory T (Tfr) cells, a subset of suppressive Foxp3 regulatory T cells located within GCs. Relatively little is known about the exact role of Tfr cells within the GC and how they exert their suppressive function. A unique feature of Tfr cells is their reported CXCR5-dependent localization to the GC. Here, we show that the lack of CXCR5 on Foxp3 regulatory T cells results in a reduced frequency, but not an absence, of GC-localized Tfr cells. This reduction in Tfr cells is not sufficient to alter the magnitude or output of the GC response. This demonstrates that additional, CXCR5-independent mechanisms facilitate Treg cell homing to the GC.
Interpretation of metabolomics data in the context of biological pathways is important to gain knowledge about underlying metabolic processes. In this chapter we present methods to analyze genome-scale models (GSMs) and metabolomics data together. This includes reading and mining of GSMs using the SBTab format to retrieve information on genes, reactions, and metabolites. Furthermore, the chapter showcases the generation of metabolic pathway maps using the Escher tool, which can be used for data visualization. Lastly, approaches to constrain flux balance analysis (FBA) by metabolomics data are presented.
Autophagy is an important cellular degradation pathway with a central role in metabolism as well as basic quality control, two processes inextricably linked to ageing. A decrease in autophagy is associated with increasing age, yet it is unknown if this is causal in the ageing process, and whether autophagy restoration can counteract these ageing effects. Here we demonstrate that systemic autophagy inhibition induces the premature acquisition of age-associated phenotypes and pathologies in mammals. Remarkably, autophagy restoration provides a near complete recovery of morbidity and a significant extension of lifespan; however, at the molecular level this rescue appears incomplete. Importantly autophagy-restored mice still succumb earlier due to an increase in spontaneous tumour formation. Thus, our data suggest that chronic autophagy inhibition confers an irreversible increase in cancer risk and uncovers a biphasic role of autophagy in cancer development being both tumour suppressive and oncogenic, sequentially.