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

Targeting of early endosomes by autophagy facilitates EGFR recycling and signalling.
Fraser J, Simpson J, Fontana R, Kishi-Itakura C, Ktistakis NT, Gammoh N

Despite recently uncovered connections between autophagy and the endocytic pathway, the role of autophagy in regulating endosomal function remains incompletely understood. Here, we find that the ablation of autophagy-essential players disrupts EGF-induced endocytic trafficking of EGFR. Cells lacking ATG7 or ATG16L1 exhibit increased levels of phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI(3)P), a key determinant of early endosome maturation. Increased PI(3)P levels are associated with an accumulation of EEA1-positive endosomes where EGFR trafficking is stalled. Aberrant early endosomes are recognised by the autophagy machinery in a TBK1- and Gal8-dependent manner and are delivered to LAMP2-positive lysosomes. Preventing this homeostatic regulation of early endosomes by autophagy reduces EGFR recycling to the plasma membrane and compromises downstream signalling and cell survival. Our findings uncover a novel role for the autophagy machinery in maintaining early endosome function and growth factor sensing.

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EMBO reports, 1469-3178, 2019

PMID: 31448519

Open Access

NAD cleavage activity by animal and plant TIR domains in cell death pathways.
Horsefield S, Burdett H, Zhang X, Manik MK, Shi Y, Chen J, Qi T, Gilley J, Lai JS, Rank MX, Casey LW, Gu W, Ericsson DJ, Foley G, Hughes RO, Bosanac T, von Itzstein M, Rathjen JP, Nanson JD, Boden M, Dry IB, Williams SJ, Staskawicz BJ, Coleman MP, Ve T, Dodds PN, Kobe B

SARM1 (sterile alpha and TIR motif containing 1) is responsible for depletion of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide in its oxidized form (NAD) during Wallerian degeneration associated with neuropathies. Plant nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) immune receptors recognize pathogen effector proteins and trigger localized cell death to restrict pathogen infection. Both processes depend on closely related Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domains in these proteins, which, as we show, feature self-association-dependent NAD cleavage activity associated with cell death signaling. We further show that SARM1 SAM (sterile alpha motif) domains form an octamer essential for axon degeneration that contributes to TIR domain enzymatic activity. The crystal structures of ribose and NADP (the oxidized form of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate) complexes of SARM1 and plant NLR RUN1 TIR domains, respectively, reveal a conserved substrate binding site. NAD cleavage by TIR domains is therefore a conserved feature of animal and plant cell death signaling pathways.

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Science (New York, N.Y.), 365, 1095-9203, 2019

PMID: 31439792

Epigenetic Regulation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells by Histone H3 Lysine 9 Dimethylation Attenuates Target Gene-Induction by Inflammatory Signaling.
Harman JL, Dobnikar L, Chappell J, Stokell BG, Dalby A, Foote K, Finigan A, Freire-Pritchett P, Taylor AL, Worssam MD, Madsen RR, Loche E, Uryga A, Bennett MR, Jørgensen HF

Vascular inflammation underlies cardiovascular disease. Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) upregulate selective genes, including MMPs (matrix metalloproteinases) and proinflammatory cytokines upon local inflammation, which directly contribute to vascular disease and adverse clinical outcome. Identification of factors controlling VSMC responses to inflammation is therefore of considerable therapeutic importance. Here, we determine the role of Histone H3 lysine 9 di-methylation (H3K9me2), a repressive epigenetic mark that is reduced in atherosclerotic lesions, in regulating the VSMC inflammatory response. Approach and Results: We used VSMC-lineage tracing to reveal reduced H3K9me2 levels in VSMCs of arteries after injury and in atherosclerotic lesions compared with control vessels. Intriguingly, chromatin immunoprecipitation showed H3K9me2 enrichment at a subset of inflammation-responsive gene promoters, including MMP3, MMP9, MMP12, and IL6, in mouse and human VSMCs. Inhibition of G9A/GLP, the primary enzymes responsible for H3K9me2, significantly potentiated inflammation-induced gene induction in vitro and in vivo without altering NFκB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cell) and MAPK signaling. Rather, reduced G9A/GLP activity enhanced inflammation-induced binding of transcription factors NFκB-p65 and cJUN to H3K9me2 target gene promoters MMP3 and IL6. Taken together, these results suggest that promoter-associated H3K9me2 directly attenuates the induction of target genes in response to inflammation in human VSMCs.

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Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 1, 1524-4636, 2019

PMID: 31434493

Open Access

A Negative Feedback Loop Regulates Integrin Inactivation and Promotes Neutrophil Recruitment to Inflammatory Sites.
McCormick B, Craig HE, Chu JY, Carlin LM, Canel M, Wollweber F, Toivakka M, Michael M, Astier AL, Norton L, Lilja J, Felton JM, Sasaki T, Ivaska J, Hers I, Dransfield I, Rossi AG, Vermeren S

Neutrophils are abundant circulating leukocytes that are rapidly recruited to sites of inflammation in an integrin-dependent fashion. Contrasting with the well-characterized regulation of integrin activation, mechanisms regulating integrin inactivation remain largely obscure. Using mouse neutrophils, we demonstrate in this study that the GTPase activating protein ARAP3 is a critical regulator of integrin inactivation; experiments with Chinese hamster ovary cells indicate that this is not restricted to neutrophils. Specifically, ARAP3 acts in a negative feedback loop downstream of PI3K to regulate integrin inactivation. Integrin ligand binding drives the activation of PI3K and of its effectors, including ARAP3, by outside-in signaling. ARAP3, in turn, promotes localized integrin inactivation by negative inside-out signaling. This negative feedback loop reduces integrin-mediated PI3K activity, with ARAP3 effectively switching off its own activator, while promoting turnover of substrate adhesions. In vitro, ARAP3-deficient neutrophils display defective PIP3 polarization, adhesion turnover, and transendothelial migration. In vivo, ARAP3-deficient neutrophils are characterized by a neutrophil-autonomous recruitment defect to sites of inflammation.

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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 203, 1550-6606, 2019

PMID: 31427445

Open Access

Distinct Molecular Trajectories Converge to Induce Naive Pluripotency.
Stuart HT, Stirparo GG, Lohoff T, Bates LE, Kinoshita M, Lim CY, Sousa EJ, Maskalenka K, Radzisheuskaya A, Malcolm AA, Alves MRP, Lloyd RL, Nestorowa S, Humphreys P, Mansfield W, Reik W, Bertone P, Nichols J, Göttgens B, Silva JCR

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

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Cell stem cell, 1875-9777, 2019

PMID: 31422912

An intergenic non-coding RNA promoter required for histone modifications in the human β-globin chromatin domain.
Debrand E, Chakalova L, Miles J, Dai YF, Goyenechea B, Dye S, Osborne CS, Horton A, Harju-Baker S, Pink RC, Caley D, Carter DRF, Peterson KR, Fraser P

Transcriptome analyses show a surprisingly large proportion of the mammalian genome is transcribed; much more than can be accounted for by genes and introns alone. Most of this transcription is non-coding in nature and arises from intergenic regions, often overlapping known protein-coding genes in sense or antisense orientation. The functional relevance of this widespread transcription is unknown. Here we characterize a promoter responsible for initiation of an intergenic transcript located approximately 3.3 kb and 10.7 kb upstream of the adult-specific human β-globin genes. Mutational analyses in β-YAC transgenic mice show that alteration of intergenic promoter activity results in ablation of H3K4 di- and tri-methylation and H3 hyperacetylation extending over a 30 kb region immediately downstream of the initiation site, containing the adult δ- and β-globin genes. This results in dramatically decreased expression of the adult genes through position effect variegation in which the vast majority of definitive erythroid cells harbor inactive adult globin genes. In contrast, expression of the neighboring ε- and γ-globin genes is completely normal in embryonic erythroid cells, indicating a developmentally specific variegation of the adult domain. Our results demonstrate a role for intergenic non-coding RNA transcription in the propagation of histone modifications over chromatin domains and epigenetic control of β-like globin gene transcription during development.

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PloS one, 14, 1932-6203, 2019

PMID: 31412036

Open Access

Screening for genes that accelerate the epigenetic aging clock in humans reveals a role for the H3K36 methyltransferase NSD1.
Martin-Herranz DE, Aref-Eshghi E, Bonder MJ, Stubbs TM, Choufani S, Weksberg R, Stegle O, Sadikovic B, Reik W, Thornton JM

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

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Genome biology, 20, 1474-760X, 2019

PMID: 31409373

Open Access

Aldosterone, STX and amyloid-β peptides modulate GPER (GPR30) signalling in an embryonic mouse hippocampal cell line (mHippoE-18).
Evans PD

The GPCR, GPER, mediates many of the rapid, non-genomic actions of 17β-estradiol in multiple tissues, including the nervous system. Controversially, it has also been suggested to be activated by aldosterone, and by the non-steroidal diphenylacrylamide compound, STX, in some preparations. Here, the ability of the GPER agonist, G-1, and aldosterone in the presence of the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, eplerenone, to potentiate forskolin-stimulated cyclic AMP levels in the hippocampal clonal cell line, mHippoE-18, are compared. Both stimulatory effects are blocked by the GPER antagonist G36, by PTX, (suggesting the involvement of Gi/o G proteins), by BAPTA-AM, (suggesting they are calcium sensitive), by wortmannin (suggesting an involvement of PI3Kinase) and by soluble amyloid-β peptides. STX also stimulates cyclic AMP levels in mHippoE-18 cells and these effects are blocked by G36 and PTX, as well as by amyloid-β peptides. This suggests that both aldosterone and STX may modulate GPER signalling in mHippoE-18 cells.

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Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 496, 1872-8057, 2019

PMID: 31404576

Open Access

Progressing the care, husbandry and management of ageing mice used in scientific studies.
Wilkinson MJ, Selman C, McLaughlin L, Horan L, Hamilton L, Gilbert C, Chadwick C, Flynn JN

Driven by the longer lifespans of humans, particularly in Westernised societies, and the need to know more about 'healthy ageing', ageing mice are being used increasingly in scientific research. Many departments and institutes involved with ageing research have developed their own systems to determine intervention points for potential refinements and to identify humane end points. Several good systems are in use, but variations between them could contribute to poor reproducibility of the science achieved. Working with scientific and regulatory communities in the UK, we have reviewed the clinical signs observed in ageing mice and developed recommendations for enhanced monitoring, behaviour assessment, husbandry and veterinary interventions. We advocate that the default time point for enhanced monitoring should be 15 months of age, unless prior information is available. Importantly, the enhanced monitoring should cause no additional harms to the animals. Where a mouse strain is well characterised, the onset of age-related enhanced monitoring may be modified based on knowledge of the onset of an expected age-related clinical sign. In progeroid models where ageing is accelerated, enhanced monitoring may need to be brought forward. Information on the background strain must be considered, as it influences the onset of age-related clinical signs. The range of ageing models currently used means that there will be no 'one-size fits all' solution. Increased awareness of the issues will lead to more refined and consistent husbandry of ageing mice, and application of humane end points will help to reduce the numbers of animals maintained for longer than is scientifically justified.

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Laboratory animals, 1758-1117, 2019

PMID: 31403890

ZFP57 regulation of transposable elements and gene expression within and beyond imprinted domains.
Shi H, Strogantsev R, Takahashi N, Kazachenka A, Lorincz MC, Hemberger M, Ferguson-Smith AC

KRAB zinc finger proteins (KZFPs) represent one of the largest families of DNA-binding proteins in vertebrate genomes and appear to have evolved to silence transposable elements (TEs) including endogenous retroviruses through sequence-specific targeting of repressive chromatin states. ZFP57 is required to maintain the post-fertilization DNA methylation memory of parental origin at genomic imprints. Here we conduct RNA-seq and ChIP-seq analyses in normal and ZFP57 mutant mouse ES cells to understand the relative importance of ZFP57 at imprints, unique and repetitive regions of the genome.

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Epigenetics & chromatin, 12, 1756-8935, 2019

PMID: 31399135

Open Access

DNA methylation and mRNA expression of imprinted genes in blastocysts derived from an improved in vitro maturation method for oocytes from small antral follicles in polycystic ovary syndrome patients.
Saenz-de-Juano MD, Ivanova E, Romero S, Lolicato F, Sánchez F, Van Ranst H, Krueger F, Segonds-Pichon A, De Vos M, Andrews S, Smitz J, Kelsey G, Anckaert E

Does imprinted DNA methylation or imprinted gene expression differ between human blastocysts from conventional ovarian stimulation (COS) and an optimized two-step IVM method (CAPA-IVM) in age-matched polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients?

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Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 34, 1460-2350, 2019

PMID: 31398248

Dosage compensation plans: protein aggregation provides additional insurance against aneuploidy.
Samant RS, Masto VB, Frydman J

Gene dosage alterations caused by aneuploidy are a common feature of most cancers yet pose severe proteotoxic challenges. Therefore, cells have evolved various dosage compensation mechanisms to limit the damage caused by the ensuing protein level imbalances. For instance, for heteromeric protein complexes, excess nonstoichiometric subunits are rapidly recognized and degraded. In this issue of , Brennan et al. (pp. 1031-1047) reveal that sequestration of nonstoichiometric subunits into aggregates is an alternative mechanism for dosage compensation in aneuploid budding yeast and human cell lines. Using a combination of proteomic and genetic techniques, they found that excess proteins undergo either degradation or aggregation but not both. Which route is preferred depends on the half-life of the protein in question. Given the multitude of diseases linked to either aneuploidy or protein aggregation, this study could serve as a springboard for future studies with broad-spanning implications.

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Genes & development, 33, 1549-5477, 2019

PMID: 31371460

Selective Autophagy of Mitochondria on a Ubiquitin-Endoplasmic-Reticulum Platform.
Zachari M, Gudmundsson SR, Li Z, Manifava M, Shah R, Smith M, Stronge J, Karanasios E, Piunti C, Kishi-Itakura C, Vihinen H, Jokitalo E, Guan JL, Buss F, Smith AM, Walker SA, Eskelinen EL, Ktistakis NT

The dynamics and coordination between autophagy machinery and selective receptors during mitophagy are unknown. Also unknown is whether mitophagy depends on pre-existing membranes or is triggered on the surface of damaged mitochondria. Using a ubiquitin-dependent mitophagy inducer, the lactone ivermectin, we have combined genetic and imaging experiments to address these questions. Ubiquitination of mitochondrial fragments is required the earliest, followed by auto-phosphorylation of TBK1. Next, early essential autophagy proteins FIP200 and ATG13 act at different steps, whereas ULK1 and ULK2 are dispensable. Receptors act temporally and mechanistically upstream of ATG13 but downstream of FIP200. The VPS34 complex functions at the omegasome step. ATG13 and optineurin target mitochondria in a discontinuous oscillatory way, suggesting multiple initiation events. Targeted ubiquitinated mitochondria are cradled by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) strands even without functional autophagy machinery and mitophagy adaptors. We propose that damaged mitochondria are ubiquitinated and dynamically encased in ER strands, providing platforms for formation of the mitophagosomes.

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Developmental cell, 1878-1551, 2019

PMID: 31353311

Open Access

Embryonic FAP lymphoid tissue organizer cells generate the reticular network of adult lymph nodes.
Denton AE, Carr EJ, Magiera LP, Watts AJB, Fearon DT

The induction of adaptive immunity is dependent on the structural organization of LNs, which is in turn governed by the stromal cells that underpin LN architecture. Using a novel fate-mapping mouse model, we trace the developmental origin of mesenchymal LN stromal cells (mLNSCs) to a previously undescribed embryonic fibroblast activation protein-α (FAP) progenitor. FAP cells of the LN anlagen express lymphotoxin β receptor (LTβR) and vascular cell adhesion molecule (VCAM), but not intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM), suggesting they are early mesenchymal lymphoid tissue organizer (mLTo) cells. Clonal labeling shows that FAP progenitors locally differentiate into mLNSCs. This process is also coopted in nonlymphoid tissues in response to infection to facilitate the development of tertiary lymphoid structures, thereby mimicking the process of LN ontogeny in response to infection.

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The Journal of experimental medicine, 216, 1540-9538, 2019

PMID: 31324739

Open Access

Transcriptome analysis identifies a robust gene expression program in the mouse intestinal epithelium on aging.
Kazakevych J, Stoyanova E, Liebert A, Varga-Weisz P

The intestinal epithelium undergoes constant regeneration driven by intestinal stem cells. How old age affects the transcriptome in this highly dynamic tissue is an important, but poorly explored question. Using transcriptomics on sorted intestinal stem cells and adult enterocytes, we identified candidate genes, which change expression on aging. Further validation of these on intestinal epithelium of multiple middle-aged versus old-aged mice highlighted the consistent up-regulation of the expression of the gene encoding chemokine receptor Ccr2, a mediator of inflammation and several disease processes. We observed also increased expression of Strc, coding for stereocilin, and dramatically decreased expression of Rps4l, coding for a ribosome subunit. Ccr2 and Rps4l are located close to the telomeric regions of chromosome 9 and 6, respectively. As only few genes were differentially expressed and we did not observe significant protein level changes of identified ageing markers, our analysis highlights the overall robustness of murine intestinal epithelium gene expression to old age.

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Scientific reports, 9, 2045-2322, 2019

PMID: 31320724

Open Access

Neuronal XBP-1 Activates Intestinal Lysosomes to Improve Proteostasis in C. elegans.
Imanikia S, Özbey NP, Krueger C, Casanueva MO, Taylor RC

The unfolded protein response of the endoplasmic reticulum (UPR) is a crucial mediator of secretory pathway homeostasis. Expression of the spliced and active form of the UPR transcription factor XBP-1, XBP-1s, in the nervous system triggers activation of the UPR in the intestine of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) through release of a secreted signal, leading to increased longevity. We find that expression of XBP-1s in the neurons or intestine of the worm strikingly improves proteostasis in multiple tissues, through increased clearance of toxic proteins. To identify the mechanisms behind this enhanced proteostasis, we conducted intestine-specific RNA-seq analysis to identify genes upregulated in the intestine when XBP-1s is expressed in neurons. This revealed that neuronal XBP-1s increases the expression of genes involved in lysosome function. Lysosomes in the intestine of animals expressing neuronal XBP-1s are more acidic, and lysosomal protease activity is higher. Moreover, intestinal lysosome function is necessary for enhanced lifespan and proteostasis. These findings suggest that activation of the UPR in the intestine through neuronal signaling can increase the activity of lysosomes, leading to extended longevity and improved proteostasis across tissues.

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Current biology : CB, 29, 1879-0445, 2019

PMID: 31303493

Open Access

The murine IgH locus contains a distinct DNA sequence motif for the chromatin regulatory factor CTCF.
Ciccone DN, Namiki Y, Chen C, Morshead KB, Wood AL, Johnston CM, Morris JW, Wang Y, Sadreyev R, Corcoran AE, Matthews AGW, Oettinger MA

Antigen receptor assembly in lymphocytes involves stringently regulated coordination of specific DNA rearrangement events across several large chromosomal domains. Previous studies indicate that transcription factors such as paired box 5 (PAX5), Yin Yang 1 (YY1), and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) play a role in regulating the accessibility of the antigen receptor loci to the V(D)J recombinase, which is required for these rearrangements. To gain clues about the role of CTCF binding at the murine immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) locus, we utilized a computational approach that identified 144 putative CTCF-binding sites within this locus. We found that these CTCF sites share a consensus motif distinct from other CTCF sites in the mouse genome. Additionally, we could divide these CTCF sites into three categories: intergenic sites remote from any coding element, upstream sites present within 8 kb of the VH-leader exon, and recombination signal sequence (RSS)-associated sites characteristically located at a fixed distance (~18 bp) downstream of the RSS. We noted that the intergenic and upstream sites are located in the distal portion of the VH locus, whereas the RSS-associated sites are located in the DH-proximal region. Computational analysis indicated that the prevalence of CTCF-binding sites at the IgH locus is evolutionarily conserved. In all species analyzed, these sites exhibit a striking strand-orientation bias, with > 98% of the murine sites being present in one orientation with respect to VH gene transcription. Electrophoretic mobility shift and enhancer-blocking assays and ChIP-chip analysis confirmed CTCF binding to these sites both in vitro and in vivo.

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The Journal of biological chemistry, 1083-351X, 2019

PMID: 31285261

Open Access

RNA proximity sequencing reveals the spatial organization of the transcriptome in the nucleus.
Morf J, Wingett SW, Farabella I, Cairns J, Furlan-Magaril M, Jiménez-García LF, Liu X, Craig FF, Walker S, Segonds-Pichon A, Andrews S, Marti-Renom MA, Fraser P

The global, three-dimensional organization of RNA molecules in the nucleus is difficult to determine using existing methods. Here we introduce Proximity RNA-seq, which identifies colocalization preferences for pairs or groups of nascent and fully transcribed RNAs in the nucleus. Proximity RNA-seq is based on massive-throughput RNA barcoding of subnuclear particles in water-in-oil emulsion droplets, followed by cDNA sequencing. Our results show RNAs of varying tissue-specificity of expression, speed of RNA polymerase elongation and extent of alternative splicing positioned at varying distances from nucleoli. The simultaneous detection of multiple RNAs in proximity to each other distinguishes RNA-dense from sparse compartments. Application of Proximity RNA-seq will facilitate study of the spatial organization of transcripts in the nucleus, including non-coding RNAs, and its functional relevance.

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Nature biotechnology, 37, 1546-1696, 2019

PMID: 31267103

Human pancreatic islet three-dimensional chromatin architecture provides insights into the genetics of type 2 diabetes.
Miguel-Escalada I, Bonàs-Guarch S, Cebola I, Ponsa-Cobas J, Mendieta-Esteban J, Atla G, Javierre BM, Rolando DMY, Farabella I, Morgan CC, García-Hurtado J, Beucher A, Morán I, Pasquali L, Ramos-Rodríguez M, Appel EVR, Linneberg A, Gjesing AP, Witte DR, Pedersen O, Grarup N, Ravassard P, Torrents D, Mercader JM, Piemonti L, Berney T, de Koning EJP, Kerr-Conte J, Pattou F, Fedko IO, Groop L, Prokopenko I, Hansen T, Marti-Renom MA, Fraser P, Ferrer J

Genetic studies promise to provide insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying type 2 diabetes (T2D). Variants associated with T2D are often located in tissue-specific enhancer clusters or super-enhancers. So far, such domains have been defined through clustering of enhancers in linear genome maps rather than in three-dimensional (3D) space. Furthermore, their target genes are often unknown. We have created promoter capture Hi-C maps in human pancreatic islets. This linked diabetes-associated enhancers to their target genes, often located hundreds of kilobases away. It also revealed >1,300 groups of islet enhancers, super-enhancers and active promoters that form 3D hubs, some of which show coordinated glucose-dependent activity. We demonstrate that genetic variation in hubs impacts insulin secretion heritability, and show that hub annotations can be used for polygenic scores that predict T2D risk driven by islet regulatory variants. Human islet 3D chromatin architecture, therefore, provides a framework for interpretation of T2D genome-wide association study (GWAS) signals.

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Nature genetics, 51, 1546-1718, 2019

PMID: 31253982

Open Access

Common and distinct transcriptional signatures of mammalian embryonic lethality.
Collins JE, White RJ, Staudt N, Sealy IM, Packham I, Wali N, Tudor C, Mazzeo C, Green A, Siragher E, Ryder E, White JK, Papatheodoru I, Tang A, Füllgrabe A, Billis K, Geyer SH, Weninger WJ, Galli A, Hemberger M, Stemple DL, Robertson E, Smith JC, Mohun T, Adams DJ, Busch-Nentwich EM

The Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders programme has analysed the morphological and molecular phenotypes of embryonic and perinatal lethal mouse mutant lines in order to investigate the causes of embryonic lethality. Here we show that individual whole-embryo RNA-seq of 73 mouse mutant lines (>1000 transcriptomes) identifies transcriptional events underlying embryonic lethality and associates previously uncharacterised genes with specific pathways and tissues. For example, our data suggest that Hmgxb3 is involved in DNA-damage repair and cell-cycle regulation. Further, we separate embryonic delay signatures from mutant line-specific transcriptional changes by developing a baseline mRNA expression catalogue of wild-type mice during early embryogenesis (4-36 somites). Analysis of transcription outside coding sequence identifies deregulation of repetitive elements in Morc2a mutants and a gene involved in gene-specific splicing. Collectively, this work provides a large scale resource to further our understanding of early embryonic developmental disorders.

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Nature communications, 10, 2041-1723, 2019

PMID: 31243271

Open Access

Fetal and trophoblast PI3K p110α have distinct roles in regulating resource supply to the growing fetus in mice.
López-Tello J, Pérez-García V, Khaira J, Kusinski LC, Cooper WN, Andreani A, Grant I, Fernández de Liger E, Lam BY, Hemberger M, Sandovici I, Constancia M, Sferruzzi-Perri AN

Studies suggest that placental nutrient supply adapts according to fetal demands. However, signaling events underlying placental adaptations remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that phosphoinositide 3-kinase p110α in the fetus and the trophoblast interplay to regulate placental nutrient supply and fetal growth. Complete loss of fetal p110α caused embryonic death, whilst heterozygous loss resulted in fetal growth restriction and impaired placental formation and nutrient transport. Loss of trophoblast p110α resulted in viable fetuses, abnormal placental development and a failure of the placenta to transport sufficient nutrients to match fetal demands for growth. Using RNA-seq we identified genes downstream of p110α in the trophoblast that are important in adapting placental phenotype. Using CRISPR/Cas9 we showed loss of p110α differentially affects gene expression in trophoblast and embryonic stem cells. Our findings reveal important, but distinct roles for p110α in the different compartments of the conceptus, which control fetal resource acquisition and growth.

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eLife, 8, 2050-084X, 2019

PMID: 31241463

Open Access

Autophagy, Inflammation, and Metabolism (AIM) Center in its second year.
Deretic V, Prossnitz E, Burge M, Campen MJ, Cannon J, Liu KJ, Liu M, Hall P, Sklar LA, Allers L, Mariscal L, Garcia SA, Weaver J, Baehrecke EH, Behrends C, Cecconi F, Codogno P, Chen GC, Elazar Z, Eskelinen EL, Fourie B, Gozuacik D, Hong W, Jo EK, Johansen T, Juhász G, Kimchi A, Ktistakis N, Kroemer G, Mizushima N, Münz C, Reggiori F, Rubinsztein D, Ryan K, Schroder K, Shen HM, Simonsen A, Tooze SA, Vaccaro M, Yoshimori T, Yu L, Zhang H, Klionsky DJ

The NIH-funded center for autophagy research named Autophagy, Inflammation, and Metabolism (AIM) Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, located at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center is now completing its second year as a working center with a mission to promote autophagy research locally, nationally, and internationally. The center has thus far supported a cadre of 6 junior faculty (mentored PIs; mPIs) at a near-R01 level of funding. Two mPIs have graduated by obtaining their independent R01 funding and 3 of the remaining 4 have won significant funding from NIH in the form of R21 and R56 awards. The first year and a half of setting up the center has been punctuated by completion of renovations and acquisition and upgrades for equipment supporting autophagy, inflammation and metabolism studies. The scientific cores usage, and the growth of new studies is promoted through pilot grants and several types of enablement initiatives. The intent to cultivate AIM as a scholarly hub for autophagy and related studies is manifested in its Vibrant Campus Initiative, and the Tuesday AIM Seminar series, as well as by hosting a major scientific event, the 2019 AIM symposium, with nearly one third of the faculty from the International Council of Affiliate Members being present and leading sessions, giving talks, and conducting workshop activities. These and other events are often videostreamed for a worldwide scientific audience, and information about events at AIM and elsewhere are disseminated on Twitter and can be followed on the AIM web site. AIM intends to invigorate research on overlapping areas between autophagy, inflammation and metabolism with a number of new initiatives to promote metabolomic research. With the turnover of mPIs as they obtain their independent funding, new junior faculty are recruited and appointed as mPIs. All these activities are in keeping with AIM's intention to enable the next generation of autophagy researchers and help anchor, disseminate, and convey the depth and excitement of the autophagy field.

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Autophagy, 15, 1554-8635, 2019

PMID: 31234750

Inhibition of Phosphoinositide-3-Kinase Signaling Promotes the Stem Cell State of Trophoblast.
Lee CQE, Bailey A, Lopez-Tello J, Sferruzzi-Perri AN, Okkenhaug K, Moffett A, Rossant J, Hemberger M

Trophoblast stem cells (TSCs) are a heterogeneous cell population despite the presence of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) and transforming growth factor β (TGFB) as key growth factors in standard culture conditions. To understand what other signaling cascades control the stem cell state of mouse TSCs, we performed a kinase inhibitor screen and identified several novel pathways that cause TSC differentiation. Surprisingly, inhibition of phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling increased the mRNA and protein expression of stem cell markers instead, and resulted in a tighter epithelial colony morphology and fewer differentiated cells. PI3K inhibition could not substitute for FGF or TGFB and did not affect phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase, and thus acts independently of these pathways. Upon removal of PI3K inhibition, TSC transcription factor levels reverted to normal TSC levels, indicating that murine TSCs can reversibly switch between these two states. In summary, PI3K inhibition reduces the heterogeneity and seemingly heightens the stem cell state of TSCs as indicated by the simultaneous upregulation of multiple key marker genes and cell morphology. Stem Cells 2019;37:1307-1318.

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Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio), 37, 1549-4918, 2019

PMID: 31233251

Regulatory T cells in cancer: where are we now?
Gallimore A, Quezada SA, Roychoudhuri R

There have been substantial strides forward in our understanding of the contribution of regulatory T (Treg) cells to cancer immunosuppression. In this issue, we present a series of papers highlighting emerging themes on this topic relevant not only to our understanding of the fundamental biology of tumour immunosuppression but also to the design of new immunotherapeutic approaches. The substantially shared biology of CD4 conventional T (Tconv) and Treg cells necessitates a detailed understanding of the potentially opposing functional consequences that immunotherapies will have on Treg and Tconv cells, a prominent example being the potential for Treg-mediated hyperprogressive disease following anti-PD-1 therapy. Such understanding will aid patient stratification and the rational design of combination therapies. It is also becoming clear, however, that Treg cells within tumours exhibit distinct biological features to both Tconv cells and Treg cells in other tissues. These distinct features provide the opportunity for development of targeted immunotherapies with greater efficacy and reduced potential for inducing systemic toxicity.

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Immunology, 157, 1365-2567, 2019

PMID: 31225653