Simon Andrews

Simon Andrews did his first degree in Microbiology at the University of Warwick.  After a breif period working for Sandoz pharmaceuticals he went on  to do a PhD in protein engineering a the University of Newcastle with Harry Gilbert.  During his PhD his interests moved from bench work toward the emerging field of bioinformatics, and he decided to follow this direction in his future career.

After completing his PhD Simon worked with the BBSRC IT Services where he developed and then presented a series of bioinformatics training courses in protein structure analysis to the BBSRC institutes.  At one of these courses at Babraham he met John Coadwell who establised the Babraham bioinformatics group and was then employed as the second member of the bioinformatics team.  Since joining Babraham Simon has seen the group grow from two people to nine as the field has become far more prominent in the biological research community.  He took over the running of the group in 2010.

Latest Publications

High-Throughput Quantitative RT-PCR in Single and Bulk C. elegans Samples Using Nanofluidic Technology.
Chauve L, Le Pen J, Hodge F, Todtenhaupt P, Biggins L, Miska EA, Andrews S, Casanueva O

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

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Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, 1, 159, 28 May 2020

PMID: 32538915

A distal enhancer at risk locus 11q13.5 promotes suppression of colitis by T cells.
Nasrallah R, Imianowski CJ, Bossini-Castillo L, Grant FM, Dogan M, Placek L, Kozhaya L, Kuo P, Sadiyah F, Whiteside SK, Mumbach MR, Glinos D, Vardaka P, Whyte CE, Lozano T, Fujita T, Fujii H, Liston A, Andrews S, Cozzani A, Yang J, Mitra S, Lugli E, Chang HY, Unutmaz D, Trynka G, Roychoudhuri R

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

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Nature, 1, 1, 13 May 2020

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2296-7

PMID: 32499651

DNA methylation changes during preimplantation development reveal inter-species differences and reprogramming events at imprinted genes.
Ivanova E, Canovas S, Garcia-Martínez S, Romar R, Lopes JS, Rizos D, Sanchez-Calabuig MJ, Krueger F, Andrews S, Perez-Sanz F, Kelsey G, Coy P

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

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Clinical epigenetics, 12, 1, 11 May 2020

DOI: 10.1186/s13148-020-00857-x

PMID: 32393379

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