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Epigenetics News

December 2014

24-hour rhythms of DNA methylation and their relation with rhythms of RNA expression in the human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
Circadian rhythms modulate the biology of many human tissues, including brain tissues, and are driven by a near 24-hour transcriptional feedback loop. These rhythms are paralleled by 24-hour rhythms of large portions of the transcriptome. The role of dynamic DNA methylation in influencing these rhythms is uncertain. While recent work in Neurospora suggests that dynamic site-specific circadian rhythms of DNA methylation may play a role in modulating the fungal molecular clock, such rhythms and their relationship to RNA expression have not, to our knowledge, been elucidated in mammalian tissues, including human brain tissues. We hypothesized that 24-hour rhythms of DNA methylation exist in the human brain, and play a role in driving 24-hour rhythms of RNA expression. We analyzed DNA methylation levels in post-mortem human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex samples from 738 subjects. We assessed for 24-hour rhythmicity of 420,132 DNA methylation sites throughout the genome by considering methylation levels as a function of clock time of death and parameterizing these data using cosine functions. We determined global statistical significance by permutation. We then related rhythms of DNA methylation with rhythms of RNA expression determined by RNA sequencing. We found evidence of significant 24-hour rhythmicity of DNA methylation. Regions near transcription start sites were enriched for high-amplitude rhythmic DNA methylation sites, which were in turn time locked to 24-hour rhythms of RNA expression of nearby genes, with the nadir of methylation preceding peak transcript expression by 1-3 hours. Weak ante-mortem rest-activity rhythms were associated with lower amplitude DNA methylation rhythms as were older age and the presence of Alzheimer's disease. These findings support the hypothesis that 24-hour rhythms of DNA methylation, particularly near transcription start sites, may play a role in driving 24-hour rhythms of gene expression in the human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and may be affected by age and Alzheimer's disease.
Lim et al. (2014) PLOS Genetics. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004792
Abstract.
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A comparative encyclopedia of DNA elements in the mouse genome
The laboratory mouse shares the majority of its protein-coding genes with humans, making it the premier model organism in biomedical research, yet the two mammals differ in significant ways. To gain greater insights into both shared and species-specific transcriptional and cellular regulatory programs in the mouse, the Mouse ENCODE Consortium has mapped transcription, DNase I hypersensitivity, transcription factor binding, chromatin modifications and replication domains throughout the mouse genome in diverse cell and tissue types. By comparing with the human genome, we not only confirm substantial conservation in the newly annotated potential functional sequences, but also find a large degree of divergence of sequences involved in transcriptional regulation, chromatin state and higher order chromatin organization. Our results illuminate the wide range of evolutionary forces acting on genes and their regulatory regions, and provide a general resource for research into mammalian biology and mechanisms of human diseases.
Yue et al. (2014) Nature. doi:10.1038/nature13992
Abstract.
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Structural basis for microRNA targeting
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) control expression of thousands of genes in plants and animals. miRNAs function by guiding Argonaute proteins to complementary sites in messenger RNAs (mRNAs) targeted for repression. We determined crystal structures of human Argonaute-2 (Ago2) bound to a defined guide RNA with and without target RNAs representing miRNA recognition sites. These structures suggest a stepwise mechanism, in which Ago2 primarily exposes guide nucleotides (nt) 2 to 5 for initial target pairing. Pairing to nt 2 to 5 promotes conformational changes that expose nt 2 to 8 and 13 to 16 for further target recognition. Interactions with the guide-target minor groove allow Ago2 to interrogate target RNAs in a sequence-independent manner, whereas an adenosine binding-pocket opposite guide nt 1 further facilitates target recognition. Spurious slicing of miRNA targets is avoided through an inhibitory coordination of one catalytic magnesium ion. These results explain the conserved nucleotide-pairing patterns in animal miRNA target sites first observed over two decades ago.
Schirle et al. (2014) Science. doi:10.1126/science.1258040
Abstract.
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November 2014

Dynamic DNA methylation orchestrates cardiomyocyte development, maturation and disease
The heart is a highly specialized organ with essential function for the organism throughout life. The significance of DNA methylation in shaping the phenotype of the heart remains only partially known. Here we generate and analyse DNA methylomes from highly purified cardiomyocytes of neonatal, adult healthy and adult failing hearts. We identify large genomic regions that are differentially methylated during cardiomyocyte development and maturation. Demethylation of cardiomyocyte gene bodies correlates strongly with increased gene expression. Silencing of demethylated genes is characterized by the polycomb mark H3K27me3 or by DNA methylation. De novo methylation by DNA methyltransferases 3A/B causes repression of fetal cardiac genes, including essential components of the cardiac sarcomere. Failing cardiomyocytes partially resemble neonatal methylation patterns. This study establishes DNA methylation as a highly dynamic process during postnatal growth of cardiomyocytes and their adaptation to pathological stress in a process tightly linked to gene regulation and activity.
Gilsbach et al. (2014) Nature Communications. doi:10.1038/ncomms6288
Abstract.
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Application of histone modification-specific interaction domains as an alternative to antibodies
Post-translational modifications (PTMs) of histones constitute a major chromatin indexing mechanism, and their proper characterization is of highest biological importance. So far, PTM-specific antibodies have been the standard reagent for studying histone PTMs despite caveats such as lot-to-lot variability of specificity and binding affinity. Herein, we successfully employed naturally occurring and engineered histone modification interacting domains for detection and identification of histone PTMs and ChIP-like enrichment of different types of chromatin. Our results demonstrate that histone interacting domains are robust and highly specific reagents that can replace or complement histone modification antibodies. These domains can be produced recombinantly in Escherichia coli at low cost and constant quality. Protein design of reading domains allows for generation of novel specificities, addition of affinity tags, and preparation of PTM binding pocket variants as matching negative controls, which is not possible with antibodies.
Kungulovski et al. (2014) Genome Research. doi:10.1101/gr.170985.113
Abstract.
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Predicting the human epigenome from DNA motifs
The epigenome is established and maintained by the site-specific recruitment of chromatin-modifying enzymes and their cofactors. Identifying the cis elements that regulate epigenomic modification is critical for understanding the regulatory mechanisms that control gene expression patterns. We present Epigram, an analysis pipeline that predicts histone modification and DNDNA methylation patterns from DNDNA motifs. The identified cis elements represent interactions with the site-specific DNDNA-binding factors that establish and maintain epigenomic modifications. We cataloged the cis elements in embryonic stem cells and four derived lineages and found numerous motifs that have location preference, such as at the center of H3K27ac or at the edges of H3K4me3 and H3K9me3, which provides mechanistic insight about the shaping of the epigenome. The Epigram pipeline and predictive motifs are at http://wanglab.ucsd.edu/star/epigram/.
Whitaker et al. (2014) Nature Methods. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3065
Abstract.
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October 2014

Histone H2A.Z subunit exchange controls consolidation of recent and remote memory
Memory formation is a multi-stage process that initially requires cellular consolidation in the hippocampus, after which memories are downloaded to the cortex for maintenance, in a process termed systems consolidation1. Epigenetic mechanisms regulate both types of consolidation, but histone variant exchange, in which canonical histones are replaced with their variant counterparts, is an entire branch of epigenetics that has received limited attention in the brain and has never, to our knowledge, been studied in relation to cognitive function. Here we show that histone H2A.Z, a variant of histone H2A, is actively exchanged in response to fear conditioning in the hippocampus and the cortex, where it mediates gene expression and restrains the formation of recent and remote memory. Our data provide evidence for H2A.Z involvement in cognitive function and specifically implicate H2A.Z as a negative regulator of hippocampal consolidation and systems consolidation, probably through downstream effects on gene expression. Moreover, alterations in H2A.Z binding at later stages of systems consolidation suggest that this histone has the capacity to mediate stable molecular modifications required for memory retention. Overall, our data introduce histone variant exchange as a novel mechanism contributing to the molecular basis of cognitive function and implicate H2A.Z as a potential therapeutic target for memory disorders.
Zovkic et al. (2014) Nature. doi:10.1038/ nature13707
Abstract.
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Dopamine Signaling Leads to Loss of Polycomb Repression and Aberrant Gene Activation in Experimental Parkinsonism
Polycomb group (PcG) proteins bind to and repress genes in embryonic stem cells through lineage commitment to the terminal differentiated state. PcG repressed genes are commonly characterized by the presence of the epigenetic histone mark H3K27me3, catalyzed by the Polycomb repressive complex 2. Here, we present in vivo evidence for a previously unrecognized plasticity of PcG-repressed genes in terminally differentiated brain neurons of parkisonian mice. We show that acute administration of the dopamine precursor, L-DOPA, induces a remarkable increase in H3K27me3S28 phosphorylation. The induction of the H3K27me3S28p histone mark specifically occurs in medium spiny neurons expressing dopamine D1 receptors and is dependent on Msk1 kinase activity and DARPP-32-mediated inhibition of protein phosphatase-1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments showed that increased H3K27me3S28p was accompanied by reduced PcG binding to regulatory regions of genes. An analysis of the genome wide distribution of L-DOPA-induced H3K27me3S28 phosphorylation by ChIP sequencing (ChIP-seq) in combination with expression analysis by RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) showed that the induction of H3K27me3S28p correlated with increased expression of a subset of PcG repressed genes. We found that induction of H3K27me3S28p persisted during chronic L-DOPA administration to parkisonian mice and correlated with aberrant gene expression. We propose that dopaminergic transmission can activate PcG repressed genes in the adult brain and thereby contribute to long-term maladaptive responses including the motor complications, or dyskinesia, caused by prolonged administration of L-DOPA in Parkinson's disease.
Soderstenet al. (2014) PLOS Genetics. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004574
Abstract.
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K‐Lysine acetyltransferase 2a regulates a hippocampal gene expression network linked to memory formation
Neuronal histone acetylation has been linked to memory consolidation, and targeting histone acetylation has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy for neuropsychiatric diseases. However, the role of histone‐modifying enzymes in the adult brain is still far from being understood. Here we use RNA sequencing to screen the levels of all known histone acetyltransferases (HATs) in the hippocampal CA1 region and find that K‐acetyltransferase 2a (Kat2a)—a HAT that has not been studied for its role in memory function so far—shows highest expression. Mice that lack Kat2a show impaired hippocampal synaptic plasticity and long‐term memory consolidation. We furthermore show that Kat2a regulates a highly interconnected hippocampal gene expression network linked to neuroactive receptor signaling via a mechanism that involves nuclear factor kappa‐light‐chain‐enhancer of activated B cells (NF‐κB). In conclusion, our data establish Kat2a as a novel and essential regulator of hippocampal memory consolidation.
Stilling et al. (2014) EMBO Journal. doi:10.15252/embj.201487870
Abstract.
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September 2014

Alzheimer’s disease: early alterations in brain DNA methylation at ANK1, BIN1, RHBDF2 and other loci
We used a collection of 708 prospectively collected autopsied brains to assess the methylation state of the brain's DNA in relation to Alzheimer's disease (AD). We found that the level of methylation at 71 of the 415,848 interrogated CpGs was significantly associated with the burden of AD pathology, including CpGs in the ABCA7 and BIN1 regions, which harbor known AD susceptibility variants. We validated 11 of the differentially methylated regions in an independent set of 117 subjects. Furthermore, we functionally validated these CpG associations and identified the nearby genes whose RNA expression was altered in AD: ANK1, CDH23, DIP2A, RHBDF2, RPL13, SERPINF1 and SERPINF2. Our analyses suggest that these DNA methylation changes may have a role in the onset of AD given that we observed them in presymptomatic subjects and that six of the validated genes connect to a known AD susceptibility gene network.
Jager et al. (2014) Nature Neurosciences. doi:10.1038/nn.3786
Abstract.
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PRC2 loss amplifies Ras-driven transcription and confers sensitivity to BRD4-based therapies
The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) exerts oncogenic effects in many tumour types1. However, loss-of-function mutations in PRC2 components occur in a subset of haematopoietic malignancies, suggesting that this complex plays a dichotomous and poorly understood role in cancer2, 3. Here we provide genomic, cellular, and mouse modelling data demonstrating that the polycomb group gene SUZ12 functions as tumour suppressor in PNS tumours, high-grade gliomas and melanomas by cooperating with mutations in NF1. NF1 encodes a Ras GTPase-activating protein (RasGAP) and its loss drives cancer by activating Ras4. We show that SUZ12 loss potentiates the effects of NF1 mutations by amplifying Ras-driven transcription through effects on chromatin. Importantly, however, SUZ12 inactivation also triggers an epigenetic switch that sensitizes these cancers to bromodomain inhibitors. Collectively, these studies not only reveal an unexpected connection between the PRC2 complex, NF1 and Ras, but also identify a promising epigenetic-based therapeutic strategy that may be exploited for a variety of cancers.
Raedt et al. (2014) Nature. doi:10.1038/nature13561
Abstract.
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Methylomic profiling implicates cortical deregulation of ANK1 in Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by progressive neuropathology and cognitive decline. We performed a cross-tissue analysis of methylomic variation in AD using samples from four independent human post-mortem brain cohorts. We identified a differentially methylated region in the ankyrin 1 (ANK1) gene that was associated with neuropathology in the entorhinal cortex, a primary site of AD manifestation. This region was confirmed as being substantially hypermethylated in two other cortical regions (superior temporal gyrus and prefrontal cortex), but not in the cerebellum, a region largely protected from neurodegeneration in AD, or whole blood obtained pre-mortem from the same individuals. Neuropathology-associated ANK1 hypermethylation was subsequently confirmed in cortical samples from three independent brain cohorts. This study represents, to the best of our knowledge, the first epigenome-wide association study of AD employing a sequential replication design across multiple tissues and highlights the power of this approach for identifying methylomic variation associated with complex disease.
Lunnon et al. (2014) Nature Neurosciences. doi:10.1038/nn.3782
Abstract.
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August 2014

Reconfiguration of nucleosome-depleted regions at distal regulatory elements accompanies DNA methylation of enhancers and insulators in cancer
It is well established that cancer-associated epigenetic repression occurs concomitant with CpG island hypermethylation and loss of nucleosomes at promoters, but the role of nucleosome occupancy and epigenetic reprogramming at distal regulatory elements in cancer is still poorly understood. Here, we evaluate the scope of global epigenetic alterations at enhancers and insulator elements in prostate and breast cancer cells using simultaneous genome-wide mapping of DNA methylation and nucleosome occupancy (NOMe-seq). We find that the genomic location of nucleosome depleted regions (NDRs) is mostly cell type specific and preferentially found at enhancers in normal cells. In cancer cells however, we observe a global reconfiguration of NDRs at distal regulatory elements coupled with a substantial reorganization of the cancer methylome. Aberrant acquisition of nucleosomes at enhancer-associated NDRs is associated with hypermethylation and epigenetic silencing marks and conversely, loss of nucleosomes with demethylation and epigenetic activation. Remarkably, we show that nucleosomes remain strongly organized and phased at many facultative distal regulatory elements, even in the absence of a NDR as an anchor. Finally we find that key transcription factor (TF) binding sites also show extensive peripheral nucleosome phasing, suggesting the potential for TFs to organize NDRs genome-wide and contribute to deregulation of cancer epigenomes. Together our findings suggests that 'decommissioning' of NDRs and TFs at distal regulatory elements in cancer cells is accompanied by DNA hypermethylation susceptibility of enhancers and insulator elements which in turn may contribute to an altered genome-wide architecture and epigenetic deregulation in malignancy.
Taberlay et al. (2014) Genome Research. doi:10.1101/gr.163485.113
Abstract.
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H3K4me3 Breadth Is Linked to Cell Identity and Transcriptional Consistency
Trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) is a chromatin modification known to mark the transcription start sites of active genes. Here, we show that H3K4me3 domains that spread more broadly over genes in a given cell type preferentially mark genes that are essential for the identity and function of that cell type. Using the broadest H3K4me3 domains as a discovery tool in neural progenitor cells, we identify novel regulators of these cells. Machine learning models reveal that the broadest H3K4me3 domains represent a distinct entity, characterized by increased marks of elongation. The broadest H3K4me3 domains also have more paused polymerase at their promoters, suggesting a unique transcriptional output. Indeed, genes marked by the broadest H3K4me3 domains exhibit enhanced transcriptional consistency rather than increased transcriptional levels, and perturbation of H3K4me3 breadth leads to changes in transcriptional consistency. Thus, H3K4me3 breadth contains information that could ensure transcriptional precision at key cell identity/function genes.
Benayoun et al. (2014) Cell. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.027
Abstract.
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DNA methylation dynamics of the human preimplantation embryo
In mammals, cytosine methylation is predominantly restricted to CpG dinucleotides and stably distributed across the genome, with local, cell-type-specific regulation directed by DNA binding factors1, 2, 3. This comparatively static landscape is in marked contrast with the events of fertilization, during which the paternal genome is globally reprogrammed. Paternal genome demethylation includes the majority of CpGs, although methylation remains detectable at several notable features4, 5, 6, 7. These dynamics have been extensively characterized in the mouse, with only limited observations available in other mammals, and direct measurements are required to understand the extent to which early embryonic landscapes are conserved8, 9, 10. We present genome-scale DNA methylation maps of human preimplantation development and embryonic stem cell derivation, confirming a transient state of global hypomethylation that includes most CpGs, while sites of residual maintenance are primarily restricted to gene bodies. Although most features share similar dynamics to those in mouse, maternally contributed methylation is divergently targeted to species-specific sets of CpG island promoters that extend beyond known imprint control regions. Retrotransposon regulation is also highly diverse, and transitions from maternally to embryonically expressed elements. Together, our data confirm that paternal genome demethylation is a general attribute of early mammalian development that is characterized by distinct modes of epigenetic regulation.
Smith et al. (2014) Nature. doi:10.1038/nature13581
Abstract.
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July 2014

Decoding the regulatory landscape of medulloblastoma using DNA methylation sequencing
Epigenetic alterations, that is, disruption of DNA methylation and chromatin architecture, are now acknowledged as a universal feature of tumorigenesis1. Medulloblastoma, a clinically challenging, malignant childhood brain tumour, is no exception. Despite much progress from recent genomics studies, with recurrent changes identified in each of the four distinct tumour subgroups (WNT-pathway-activated, SHH-pathway-activated, and the less-well-characterized Group 3 and Group 4)2, 3, 4, many cases still lack an obvious genetic driver. Here we present whole-genome bisulphite-sequencing data from thirty-four human and five murine tumours plus eight human and three murine normal controls, augmented with matched whole-genome, RNA and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing data. This comprehensive data set allowed us to decipher several features underlying the interplay between the genome, epigenome and transcriptome, and its effects on medulloblastoma pathophysiology. Most notable were highly prevalent regions of hypomethylation correlating with increased gene expression, extending tens of kilobases downstream of transcription start sites. Focal regions of low methylation linked to transcription-factor-binding sites shed light on differential transcriptional networks between subgroups, whereas increased methylation due to re-normalization of repressed chromatin in DNA methylation valleys was positively correlated with gene expression. Large, partially methylated domains affecting up to one-third of the genome showed increased mutation rates and gene silencing in a subgroup-specific fashion. Epigenetic alterations also affected novel medulloblastoma candidate genes (for example, LIN28B), resulting in alternative promoter usage and/or differential messenger RNA/microRNA expression. Analysis of mouse medulloblastoma and precursor-cell methylation demonstrated a somatic origin for many alterations. Our data provide insights into the epigenetic regulation of transcription and genome organization in medulloblastoma pathogenesis, which are probably also of importance in a wider developmental and disease context.
Hovestadt et al. (2014) Nature. doi:10.1038/nature13268
Abstract.
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The Enhancer hijacking activates GFI1 family oncogenes in medulloblastoma
Medulloblastoma is a highly malignant paediatric brain tumour currently treated with a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, posing a considerable burden of toxicity to the developing child. Genomics has illuminated the extensive intertumoral heterogeneity of medulloblastoma, identifying four distinct molecular subgroups. Group 3 and group 4 subgroup medulloblastomas account for most paediatric cases; yet, oncogenic drivers for these subtypes remain largely unidentified. Here we describe a series of prevalent, highly disparate genomic structural variants, restricted to groups 3 and 4, resulting in specific and mutually exclusive activation of the growth factor independent 1 family proto-oncogenes, GFI1 and GFI1B. Somatic structural variants juxtapose GFI1 or GFI1B coding sequences proximal to active enhancer elements, including super-enhancers, instigating oncogenic activity. Our results, supported by evidence from mouse models, identify GFI1 and GFI1B as prominent medulloblastoma oncogenes and implicate ‘enhancer hijacking’ as an efficient mechanism driving oncogene activation in a childhood cancer.
Northcott et al. (2014) NAture. doi:10.1038/nature13379
Abstract.
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Variation in chromatin accessibility in human kidney cancer links H3K36 methyltransferase loss with widespread RNA processing defects
Comprehensive sequencing of human cancers has identified recurrent mutations in genes encoding chromatin regulatory proteins. For clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), three of the five commonly mutated genes encode the chromatin regulators PBRM1, SETD2, and BAP1. How these mutations alter the chromatin landscape and transcriptional program in ccRCC or other cancers is not understood. Here, we identified alterations in chromatin organization and transcript profiles associated with mutations in chromatin regulators in a large cohort of primary human kidney tumors. By associating variation in chromatin organization with mutations in SETD2, which encodes the enzyme responsible for H3K36 trimethylation, we found that changes in chromatin accessibility occurred primarily within actively transcribed genes. This increase in chromatin accessibility was linked with widespread alterations in RNA processing, including intron retention and aberrant splicing, affecting ∼25% of all expressed genes. Furthermore, decreased nucleosome occupancy proximal to misspliced exons was observed in tumors lacking H3K36me3. These results directly link mutations in SETD2 to chromatin accessibility changes and RNA processing defects in cancer. Detecting the functional consequences of specific mutations in chromatin regulatory proteins in primary human samples could ultimately inform the therapeutic application of an emerging class of chromatin-targeted compounds.
Simon et al. (2014) Genome Research. doi: 10.1101/gr.158253
Abstract.
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June 2014

miR-155 Activates Cytokine Gene Expression in Th17 Cells by Regulating the DNA-Binding Protein Jarid2 to Relieve Polycomb-Mediated Repression
Specification of the T helper 17 (Th17) cell lineage requires a well-defined set of transcription factors, but how these integrate with posttranscriptional and epigenetic programs to regulate gene expression is poorly understood. Here we found defective Th17 cell cytokine expression in miR-155-deficient CD4+ T cells in vitro and in vivo. Mir155 was bound by Th17 cell transcription factors and was highly expressed during Th17 cell differentiation. miR-155-deficient Th17 and T regulatory (Treg) cells expressed increased amounts of Jarid2, a DNA-binding protein that recruits the Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) to chromatin. PRC2 binding to chromatin and H3K27 histone methylation was increased in miR-155-deficient cells, coinciding with failure to express Il22, Il10, Il9, and Atf3. Defects in Th17 cell cytokine expression and Treg cell homeostasis in the absence of Mir155 could be partially suppressed by Jarid2 deletion. Thus, miR-155 contributes to Th17 cell function by suppressing the inhibitory effects of Jarid2.
Escobar et al. (2014) Immunity. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2014.03.014
Abstract.
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The TRPM7 Chanzyme Is Cleaved to Release a Chromatin-Modifying Kinase
TRPM7 is a ubiquitous ion channel and kinase, a unique “chanzyme,” required for proper early embryonic development. It conducts Zn2+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ as well as monovalent cations and contains a functional serine/threonine kinase at its carboxyl terminus. Here, we show that in normal tissues and cell lines, the kinase is proteolytically cleaved from the channel domain in a cell-type-specific manner. These TRPM7 cleaved kinase fragments (M7CKs) translocate to the nucleus and bind multiple components of chromatin-remodeling complexes, including Polycomb group proteins. In the nucleus, the kinase phosphorylates specific serines/threonines of histones. M7CK-dependent phosphorylation of H3Ser10 at promoters of TRPM7-dependent genes correlates with their activity. We also demonstrate that cytosolic free [Zn2+] is TRPM7 dependent and regulates M7CK binding to transcription factors containing zinc-finger domains. These findings suggest that TRPM7-mediated modulation of intracellular Zn2+ concentration couples ion-channel signaling to epigenetic chromatin covalent modifications that affect gene expression patterns.
Krapivinsky et al. (2014) Cell. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.046
Abstract.
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SMYD3 links lysine methylation of MAP3K2 to Ras-driven cancer
Deregulation of lysine methylation signalling has emerged as a common aetiological factor in cancer pathogenesis, with inhibitors of several histone lysine methyltransferases (KMTs) being developed as chemotherapeutics1. The largely cytoplasmic KMT SMYD3 (SET and MYND domain containing protein 3) is overexpressed in numerous human tumours2, 3, 4. However, the molecular mechanism by which SMYD3 regulates cancer pathways and its relationship to tumorigenesis in vivo are largely unknown. Here we show that methylation of MAP3K2 by SMYD3 increases MAP kinase signalling and promotes the formation of Ras-driven carcinomas. Using mouse models for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and lung adenocarcinoma, we found that abrogating SMYD3 catalytic activity inhibits tumour development in response to oncogenic Ras. We used protein array technology to identify the MAP3K2 kinase as a target of SMYD3. In cancer cell lines, SMYD3-mediated methylation of MAP3K2 at lysine 260 potentiates activation of the Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signalling module and SMYD3 depletion synergizes with a MEK inhibitor to block Ras-driven tumorigenesis. Finally, the PP2A phosphatase complex, a key negative regulator of the MAP kinase pathway, binds to MAP3K2 and this interaction is blocked by methylation. Together, our results elucidate a new role for lysine methylation in integrating cytoplasmic kinase-signalling cascades and establish a pivotal role for SMYD3 in the regulation of oncogenic Ras signalling.
Mazur et al. (2014) Nature. 10.1038/nature13320
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