Life Sciences Research for Lifelong Health

Publications bioinformatics

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TDP-43 gains function due to perturbed autoregulation in a Tardbp knock-in mouse model of ALS-FTD.
White MA, Kim E, Duffy A, Adalbert R, Phillips BU, Peters OM, Stephenson J, Yang S, Massenzio F, Lin Z, Andrews S, Segonds-Pichon A, Metterville J, Saksida LM, Mead R, Ribchester RR, Barhomi Y, Serre T, Coleman MP, Fallon J, Bussey TJ, Brown RH, Sreedharan J

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-frontotemporal dementia (ALS-FTD) constitutes a devastating disease spectrum characterized by 43-kDa TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) pathology. Understanding how TDP-43 contributes to neurodegeneration will help direct therapeutic efforts. Here we have created a TDP-43 knock-in mouse with a human-equivalent mutation in the endogenous mouse Tardbp gene. TDP-43mice demonstrate cognitive dysfunction and a paucity of parvalbumin interneurons. Critically, TDP-43 autoregulation is perturbed, leading to a gain of TDP-43 function and altered splicing of Mapt, another pivotal dementia-associated gene. Furthermore, a new approach to stratify transcriptomic data by phenotype in differentially affected mutant mice revealed 471 changes linked with improved behavior. These changes included downregulation of two known modifiers of neurodegeneration, Atxn2 and Arid4a, and upregulation of myelination and translation genes. With one base change in murine Tardbp, this study identifies TDP-43 misregulation as a pathogenic mechanism that may underpin ALS-FTD and exploits phenotypic heterogeneity to yield candidate suppressors of neurodegenerative disease.

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Nature neuroscience, , 1546-1726, , 2018

PMID: 29556029

Comparison of whole-genome bisulfite sequencing library preparation strategies identifies sources of biases affecting DNA methylation data.
Olova N, Krueger F, Andrews S, Oxley D, Berrens RV, Branco MR, Reik W

Whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS) is becoming an increasingly accessible technique, used widely for both fundamental and disease-oriented research. Library preparation methods benefit from a variety of available kits, polymerases and bisulfite conversion protocols. Although some steps in the procedure, such as PCR amplification, are known to introduce biases, a systematic evaluation of biases in WGBS strategies is missing.

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Genome biology, 19, 1474-760X, 33, 2018

PMID: 29544553

Open Access

Long-Range Enhancer Interactions Are Prevalent in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells and Are Reorganized upon Pluripotent State Transition.
Novo CL, Javierre BM, Cairns J, Segonds-Pichon A, Wingett SW, Freire-Pritchett P, Furlan-Magaril M, Schoenfelder S, Fraser P, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Transcriptional enhancers, including super-enhancers (SEs), form physical interactions with promoters to regulate cell-type-specific gene expression. SEs are characterized by high transcription factor occupancy and large domains of active chromatin, and they are commonly assigned to target promoters using computational predictions. How promoter-SE interactions change upon cell state transitions, and whether transcription factors maintain SE interactions, have not been reported. Here, we used promoter-capture Hi-C to identify promoters that interact with SEs in mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs). We found that SEs form complex, spatial networks in which individual SEs contact multiple promoters, and a rewiring of promoter-SE interactions occurs between pluripotent states. We also show that long-range promoter-SE interactions are more prevalent in ESCs than in epiblast stem cells (EpiSCs) or Nanog-deficient ESCs. We conclude that SEs form cell-type-specific interaction networks that are partly dependent on core transcription factors, thereby providing insights into the gene regulatory organization of pluripotent cells.

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Cell reports, 22, 2211-1247, 2615-2627, 2018

PMID: 29514091

Open Access

scNMT-seq enables joint profiling of chromatin accessibility DNA methylation and transcription in single cells.
Clark SJ, Argelaguet R, Kapourani CA, Stubbs TM, Lee HJ, Alda-Catalinas C, Krueger F, Sanguinetti G, Kelsey G, Marioni JC, Stegle O, Reik W

Parallel single-cell sequencing protocols represent powerful methods for investigating regulatory relationships, including epigenome-transcriptome interactions. Here, we report a single-cell method for parallel chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and transcriptome profiling. scNMT-seq (single-cell nucleosome, methylation and transcription sequencing) uses a GpC methyltransferase to label open chromatin followed by bisulfite and RNA sequencing. We validate scNMT-seq by applying it to differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, finding links between all three molecular layers and revealing dynamic coupling between epigenomic layers during differentiation.

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Nature communications, 9, 2041-1723, 781, 2018

PMID: 29472610

MLL2 conveys transcription-independent H3K4 trimethylation in oocytes.
Hanna CW, Taudt A, Huang J, Gahurova L, Kranz A, Andrews S, Dean W, Stewart AF, Colomé-Tatché M, Kelsey G

Histone 3 K4 trimethylation (depositing H3K4me3 marks) is typically associated with active promoters yet paradoxically occurs at untranscribed domains. Research to delineate the mechanisms of targeting H3K4 methyltransferases is ongoing. The oocyte provides an attractive system to investigate these mechanisms, because extensive H3K4me3 acquisition occurs in nondividing cells. We developed low-input chromatin immunoprecipitation to interrogate H3K4me3, H3K27ac and H3K27me3 marks throughout oogenesis. In nongrowing oocytes, H3K4me3 was restricted to active promoters, but as oogenesis progressed, H3K4me3 accumulated in a transcription-independent manner and was targeted to intergenic regions, putative enhancers and silent H3K27me3-marked promoters. Ablation of the H3K4 methyltransferase gene Mll2 resulted in loss of transcription-independent H3K4 trimethylation but had limited effects on transcription-coupled H3K4 trimethylation or gene expression. Deletion of Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b showed that DNA methylation protects regions from acquiring H3K4me3. Our findings reveal two independent mechanisms of targeting H3K4me3 to genomic elements, with MLL2 recruited to unmethylated CpG-rich regions independently of transcription.

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Nature structural & molecular biology, 25, 1545-9985, 73-82, 2018

PMID: 29323282

Local Chromatin Features Including PU.1 and IKAROS Binding and H3K4 Methylation Shape the Repertoire of Immunoglobulin Kappa Genes Chosen for V(D)J Recombination.
Matheson LS, Bolland DJ, Chovanec P, Krueger F, Andrews S, Koohy H, Corcoran AE

V(D)J recombination is essential for the generation of diverse antigen receptor (AgR) repertoires. In B cells, immunoglobulin kappa (Igκ) light chain recombination follows immunoglobulin heavy chain (Igh) recombination. We recently developed the DNA-based VDJ-seq assay for the unbiased quantitation of Igh VH and DH repertoires. Integration of VDJ-seq data with genome-wide datasets revealed that two chromatin states at the recombination signal sequence (RSS) of VH genes are highly predictive of recombination in mouse pro-B cells. It is unknown whether local chromatin states contribute to Vκ gene choice during Igκ recombination. Here we adapt VDJ-seq to profile the Igκ VκJκ repertoire and present a comprehensive readout in mouse pre-B cells, revealing highly variable Vκ gene usage. Integration with genome-wide datasets for histone modifications, DNase hypersensitivity, transcription factor binding and germline transcription identified PU.1 binding at the RSS, which was unimportant for Igh, as highly predictive of whether a Vκ gene will recombine or not, suggesting that it plays a binary, all-or-nothing role, priming genes for recombination. Thereafter, the frequency with which these genes recombine was shaped both by the presence and level of enrichment of several other chromatin features, including H3K4 methylation and IKAROS binding. Moreover, in contrast to the Igh locus, the chromatin landscape of the promoter, as well as of the RSS, contributes to Vκ gene recombination. Thus, multiple facets of local chromatin features explain much of the variation in Vκ gene usage. Together, these findings reveal shared and divergent roles for epigenetic features and transcription factors in AgR V(D)J recombination and provide avenues for further investigation of chromatin signatures that may underpin V(D)J-mediated chromosomal translocations.

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Frontiers in immunology, 8, 1664-3224, 1550, 2017

PMID: 29204143

Open Access

BioModels: expanding horizons to include more modelling approaches and formats.
Glont M, Nguyen TVN, Graesslin M, Hälke R, Ali R, Schramm J, Wimalaratne SM, Kothamachu VB, Rodriguez N, Swat MJ, Eils J, Eils R, Laibe C, Malik-Sheriff RS, Chelliah V, Le Novère N, Hermjakob H

BioModels serves as a central repository of mathematical models representing biological processes. It offers a platform to make mathematical models easily shareable across the systems modelling community, thereby supporting model reuse. To facilitate hosting a broader range of model formats derived from diverse modelling approaches and tools, a new infrastructure for BioModels has been developed that is available at This new system allows submitting and sharing of a wide range of models with improved support for formats other than SBML. It also offers a version-control backed environment in which authors and curators can work collaboratively to curate models. This article summarises the features available in the current system and discusses the potential benefit they offer to the users over the previous system. In summary, the new portal broadens the scope of models accepted in BioModels and supports collaborative model curation which is crucial for model reproducibility and sharing.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2017

PMID: 29106614

An endosiRNA-Based Repression Mechanism Counteracts Transposon Activation during Global DNA Demethylation in Embryonic Stem Cells.
Berrens RV, Andrews S, Spensberger D, Santos F, Dean W, Gould P, Sharif J, Olova N, Chandra T, Koseki H, von Meyenn F, Reik W

Erasure of DNA methylation and repressive chromatin marks in the mammalian germline leads to risk of transcriptional activation of transposable elements (TEs). Here, we used mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) to identify an endosiRNA-based mechanism involved in suppression of TE transcription. In ESCs with DNA demethylation induced by acute deletion of Dnmt1, we saw an increase in sense transcription at TEs, resulting in an abundance of sense/antisense transcripts leading to high levels of ARGONAUTE2 (AGO2)-bound small RNAs. Inhibition of Dicer or Ago2 expression revealed that small RNAs are involved in an immediate response to demethylation-induced transposon activation, while the deposition of repressive histone marks follows as a chronic response. In vivo, we also found TE-specific endosiRNAs present during primordial germ cell development. Our results suggest that antisense TE transcription is a "trap" that elicits an endosiRNA response to restrain acute transposon activity during epigenetic reprogramming in the mammalian germline.

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

PMID: 29100015

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

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

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

PMID: 28986784

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

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

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Tumori, , 2038-2529, 0, 2017

PMID: 28885677

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

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

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

PMID: 28870212

Open Access

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

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

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Nature genetics, , 1546-1718, , 2017

PMID: 28805829

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

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

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

PMID: 28655341

Open Access

Transcription and chromatin determinants of de novo DNA methylation timing in oocytes.
Gahurova L, Tomizawa SI, Smallwood SA, Stewart-Morgan KR, Saadeh H, Kim J, Andrews SR, Chen T, Kelsey G

Gametogenesis in mammals entails profound re-patterning of the epigenome. In the female germline, DNA methylation is acquired late in oogenesis from an essentially unmethylated baseline and is established largely as a consequence of transcription events. Molecular and functional studies have shown that imprinted genes become methylated at different times during oocyte growth; however, little is known about the kinetics of methylation gain genome wide and the reasons for asynchrony in methylation at imprinted loci.

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Epigenetics & chromatin, 10, 1756-8935, 25, 2017

PMID: 28507606

Open Access

Multi-tissue DNA methylation age predictor in mouse.
Stubbs TM, Bonder MJ, Stark AK, Krueger F, Bolland D, Butcher G, Chandra T, Clark SJ, Corcoran A, Eckersley-Maslin M, Field L, Frising UC, Gilbert C, Guedes J, Hernando-Herraez I, Houseley J, Kemp F, MacQueen A, Okkenhaug K, Rhoades M, Santbergen MJC, Stebegg M, von Meyenn F, Stegle O, Reik W

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

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

PMID: 28399939

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28351387

Open Access

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

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

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

PMID: 28182018

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

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

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

PMID: 28147265

Open Access

DNA methylation and gene expression changes derived from assisted reproductive technologies can be decreased by reproductive fluids.
Canovas S, Ivanova E, Romar R, García-Martínez S, Soriano-Úbeda C, García-Vázquez FA, Saadeh H, Andrews S, Kelsey G, Coy P

The number of children born since the origin of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) exceeds 5 million. The majority seem healthy, but a higher frequency of defects has been reported among ART-conceived infants, suggesting an epigenetic cost. We report the first whole-genome DNA methylation datasets from single pig blastocysts showing differences between in vivo and in vitro produced embryos. Blastocysts were produced in vitro either without (C-IVF) or in the presence of natural reproductive fluids (Natur-IVF). Natur-IVF embryos were of higher quality than C-IVF in terms of cell number and hatching ability to. RNA-Seq and DNA methylation analyses showed that Natur-IVF embryos have expression and methylation patterns closer to in vivo blastocysts. Genes involved in reprogramming, imprinting and development were affected by culture, with fewer aberrations in Natur-IVF embryos. Methylation analysis detected methylated changes in C-IVF, but not in Natur-IVF, at genes whose methylation could be critical, such as IGF2R and NNAT.

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eLife, 6, 2050-084X, , 2017

PMID: 28134613

Open Access

Deletion of the Polycomb-Group Protein EZH2 Leads to Compromised Self-Renewal and Differentiation Defects in Human Embryonic Stem Cells.
Collinson A, Collier AJ, Morgan NP, Sienerth AR, Chandra T, Andrews S, Rugg-Gunn PJ

Through the histone methyltransferase EZH2, the Polycomb complex PRC2 mediates H3K27me3 and is associated with transcriptional repression. PRC2 regulates cell-fate decisions in model organisms; however, its role in regulating cell differentiation during human embryogenesis is unknown. Here, we report the characterization of EZH2-deficient human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). H3K27me3 was lost upon EZH2 deletion, identifying an essential requirement for EZH2 in methylating H3K27 in hESCs, in contrast to its non-essential role in mouse ESCs. Developmental regulators were derepressed in EZH2-deficient hESCs, and single-cell analysis revealed an unexpected acquisition of lineage-restricted transcriptional programs. EZH2-deficient hESCs show strongly reduced self-renewal and proliferation, thereby identifying a more severe phenotype compared to mouse ESCs. EZH2-deficient hESCs can initiate differentiation toward developmental lineages; however, they cannot fully differentiate into mature specialized tissues. Thus, EZH2 is required for stable ESC self-renewal, regulation of transcriptional programs, and for late-stage differentiation in this model of early human development.

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Cell reports, 17, 2211-1247, 2700-2714, 2016

PMID: 27926872

Open Access

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

DNA methylation plays a critical role in the regulation and maintenance of cell-type specific transcriptional programs. Targeted epigenome editing is an emerging technology to specifically regulate cellular gene expression in order to modulate cell phenotypes or dissect the epigenetic mechanisms involved in their control. In this work, we employed a DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a-Dnmt3L construct fused to the nuclease-inactivated dCas9 programmable targeting domain to introduce DNA methylation into the human genome specifically at the EpCAM, CXCR4 and TFRC gene promoters. We show that targeting of these loci with single gRNAs leads to efficient and widespread methylation of the promoters. Multiplexing of several guide RNAs does not increase the efficiency of methylation. Peaks of targeted methylation were observed around 25 bp upstream and 40 bp downstream of the PAM site, while 20-30 bp of the binding site itself are protected against methylation. Potent methylation is dependent on the multimerization of Dnmt3a/Dnmt3L complexes on the DNA. Furthermore, the introduced methylation causes transcriptional repression of the targeted genes. These new programmable epigenetic editors allow unprecedented control of the DNA methylation status in cells and will lead to further advances in the understanding of epigenetic signaling.

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Nucleic acids research, , 1362-4962, , 2016

PMID: 27899645

Open Access

Lineage-Specific Genome Architecture Links Enhancers and Non-coding Disease Variants to Target Gene Promoters.
Javierre BM, Burren OS, Wilder SP, Kreuzhuber R, Hill SM, Sewitz S, Cairns J, Wingett SW, Várnai C, Thiecke MJ, Burden F, Farrow S, Cutler AJ, Rehnström K, Downes K, Grassi L, Kostadima M, Freire-Pritchett P, Wang F, , Stunnenberg HG, Todd JA, Zerbino DR, Stegle O, Ouwehand WH, Frontini M, Wallace C, Spivakov M, Fraser P

Long-range interactions between regulatory elements and gene promoters play key roles in transcriptional regulation. The vast majority of interactions are uncharted, constituting a major missing link in understanding genome control. Here, we use promoter capture Hi-C to identify interacting regions of 31,253 promoters in 17 human primary hematopoietic cell types. We show that promoter interactions are highly cell type specific and enriched for links between active promoters and epigenetically marked enhancers. Promoter interactomes reflect lineage relationships of the hematopoietic tree, consistent with dynamic remodeling of nuclear architecture during differentiation. Interacting regions are enriched in genetic variants linked with altered expression of genes they contact, highlighting their functional role. We exploit this rich resource to connect non-coding disease variants to putative target promoters, prioritizing thousands of disease-candidate genes and implicating disease pathways. Our results demonstrate the power of primary cell promoter interactomes to reveal insights into genomic regulatory mechanisms underlying common diseases.

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Cell, 167, 1097-4172, 1369-1384.e19, 2016

PMID: 27863249

Open Access

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

Primordial germ cell (PGC) development is characterized by global epigenetic remodeling, which resets genomic potential and establishes an epigenetic ground state. Here we recapitulate PGC specification in vitro from naive embryonic stem cells and characterize the early events of epigenetic reprogramming during the formation of the human and mouse germline. Following rapid de novo DNA methylation during priming to epiblast-like cells, methylation is globally erased in PGC-like cells. Repressive chromatin marks (H3K9me2/3) and transposable elements are enriched at demethylation-resistant regions, while active chromatin marks (H3K4me3 or H3K27ac) are more prominent at regions that demethylate faster. The dynamics of specification and epigenetic reprogramming show species-specific differences, in particular markedly slower reprogramming kinetics in the human germline. Differences in developmental kinetics may be explained by differential regulation of epigenetic modifiers. Our work establishes a robust and faithful experimental system of the early events of epigenetic reprogramming and regulation in the germline.

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

PMID: 27728778

Open Access

The Phospholipase D2 Knock Out Mouse Has Ectopic Purkinje Cells and Suffers from Early Adult-Onset Anosmia.
Vermeren MM, Zhang Q, Smethurst E, Segonds-Pichon A, Schrewe H, Wakelam MJ

Phospholipase D2 (PLD2) is an enzyme that produces phosphatidic acid (PA), a lipid messenger molecule involved in a number of cellular events including, through its membrane curvature properties, endocytosis. The PLD2 knock out (PLD2KO) mouse has been previously reported to be protected from insult in a model of Alzheimer's disease. We have further analysed a PLD2KO mouse using mass spectrophotometry of its lipids and found significant differences in PA species throughout its brain. We have examined the expression pattern of PLD2 which allowed us to define which region of the brain to analyse for defect, notably PLD2 was not detected in glial-rich regions. The expression pattern lead us to specifically examine the mitral cells of olfactory bulbs, the Cornus Amonis (CA) regions of the hippocampus and the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum. We find that the change to longer PA species correlates with subtle architectural defect in the cerebellum, exemplified by ectopic Purkinje cells and an adult-onset deficit of olfaction. These observations draw parallels to defects in the reelin heterozygote as well as the effect of high fat diet on olfaction.

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PloS one, 11, 1932-6203, e0162814, 0

PMID: 27658289

Open Access

MYC activation and BCL2L11 silencing by a tumour virus through the large-scale reconfiguration of enhancer-promoter hubs.
Wood CD, Veenstra H, Khasnis S, Gunnell A, Webb HM, Shannon-Lowe C, Andrews S, Osborne CS, West MJ

Lymphomagenesis in the presence of deregulated MYC requires suppression of MYC-driven apoptosis, often through downregulation of the pro-apoptotic BCL2L11 gene (Bim). Transcription factors (EBNAs) encoded by the lymphoma-associated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) activate MYC and silence BCL2L11. We show that the EBNA2 transactivator activates multiple MYC enhancers and reconfigures the MYC locus to increase upstream and decrease downstream enhancer-promoter interactions. EBNA2 recruits the BRG1 ATPase of the SWI/SNF remodeller to MYC enhancers and BRG1 is required for enhancer-promoter interactions in EBV-infected cells. At BCL2L11, we identify a haematopoietic enhancer hub that is inactivated by the EBV repressors EBNA3A and EBNA3C through recruitment of the H3K27 methyltransferase EZH2. Reversal of enhancer inactivation using an EZH2 inhibitor upregulates BCL2L11 and induces apoptosis. EBV therefore drives lymphomagenesis by hijacking long-range enhancer hubs and specific cellular co-factors. EBV-driven MYC enhancer activation may contribute to the genesis and localisation of MYC-Immunoglobulin translocation breakpoints in Burkitt's lymphoma.

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eLife, 5, 2050-084X, , 2016

PMID: 27490482

Open Access