Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon that allows a subset of genes to be expressed mono-allelically based on the parent of origin and is typically regulated by differential DNA methylation inherited from gametes. Imprinting is pervasive in murine extra-embryonic lineages, and uniquely, the imprinting of several genes has been found to be conferred non-canonically through maternally inherited repressive histone modification H3K27me3. However, the underlying regulatory mechanisms of non-canonical imprinting in post-implantation development remain unexplored.
DNA methylation is of paramount importance for mammalian embryonic development. DNA methylation has numerous functions: it is implicated in the repression of transposons and genes, but is also associated with actively transcribed gene bodies and, in some cases, with gene activation per se. In recent years, sensitive technologies have been developed that allow the interrogation of DNA methylation patterns from a small number of cells. The use of these technologies has greatly improved our knowledge of DNA methylation dynamics and heterogeneity in embryos and in specific tissues. Combined with genetic analyses, it is increasingly apparent that regulation of DNA methylation erasure and (re-)establishment varies considerably between different developmental stages. In this Review, we discuss the mechanisms and functions of DNA methylation and demethylation in both mice and humans at CpG-rich promoters, gene bodies and transposable elements. We highlight the dynamic erasure and re-establishment of DNA methylation in embryonic, germline and somatic cell development. Finally, we provide insights into DNA methylation gained from studying genetic diseases.
In order to maintain cell and organism homeostasis, the genetic material has to be faithfully and equally inherited through cell divisions while preserving its integrity. Centromeres play an essential task in this process; they are special sites on chromosomes where kinetochores form on repetitive DNA sequences to enable accurate chromosome segregation. Recent evidence suggests that centromeric DNA sequences, and epigenetic regulation of centromeres, have important roles in centromere physiology. In particular, DNA methylation is abundant at the centromere, and aberrant DNA methylation, observed in certain tumors, has been correlated to aneuploidy and genomic instability. In this review, we evaluate past and current insights on the relationship between centromere function and the DNA methylation pattern of its underlying sequences.
During mitosis, sister chromatids attach to microtubules which generate ~ 700 pN pulling force focused on the centromere. We report that chromatin-localized signals generated by Polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1) maintain the integrity of the kinetochore and centromere against this force. Without sufficient Plk1 activity, chromosomes become misaligned after normal condensation and congression. These chromosomes are silent to the mitotic checkpoint, and many lag and mis-segregate in anaphase. Their centromeres and kinetochores lack CENP-A, CENP-C, CENP-T, Hec1, Nuf2, and Knl1; however, CENP-B is retained. CENP-A loss occurs coincident with secondary misalignment and anaphase onset. This disruption occurs asymmetrically prior to anaphase and requires tension generated by microtubules. Mechanistically, centromeres highly recruit PICH DNA helicase and PICH depletion restores kinetochore disruption in pre-anaphase cells. Furthermore, anaphase defects are significantly reduced by tethering Plk1 to chromatin, including H2B, and INCENP, but not to CENP-A. Taken as a whole, this demonstrates that Plk1 signals are crucial for stabilizing centromeric architecture against tension.
The kinetochore is essential for faithful chromosome segregation during mitosis. To form a functional kinetochore, constitutive centromere-associated network (CCAN) proteins are assembled on the centromere chromatin that contains the centromere-specific histone CENP-A. CENP-C, a CCAN protein, directly interacts with the CENP-A nucleosome to nucleate the kinetochore structure. As CENP-C is a hub protein for kinetochore assembly, it is critical to address how the CENP-A-CENP-C interaction is regulated during cell cycle progression. To address this question, we investigated the CENP-C C-terminal region, including a conserved CENP-A-binding motif, in both chicken and human cells and found that CDK1-mediated phosphorylation of CENP-C facilitates its binding to CENP-A in vitro and in vivo. We observed that CENP-A binding is involved in CENP-C kinetochore localization during mitosis. We also demonstrate that the CENP-A-CENP-C interaction is critical for long-term viability in human RPE-1 cells. These results provide deeper insights into protein-interaction network plasticity in centromere proteins during cell cycle progression.
Centromeres and centrosomes are crucial mitotic players. Centromeres are unique chromosomal sites characterized by the presence of the histone H3-variant centromere protein A (CENP-A) . CENP-A recruits the majority of centromere components, collectively named the constitutive centromere associated network (CCAN) . The CCAN is necessary for kinetochore assembly, a multiprotein complex that attaches spindle microtubules (MTs) and is required for chromosome segregation . In most animal cells, the dominant site for MT nucleation in mitosis are the centrosomes, which are composed of two centrioles, surrounded by a protein-rich matrix of electron-dense pericentriolar material (PCM) . The PCM is the site of MT nucleation during mitosis . Even if centromeres and centrosomes are connected via MTs in mitosis, it is not known whether defects in either one of the two structures have an impact on the function of the other. Here, using high-resolution microscopy combined with rapid removal of CENP-A in human cells, we found that perturbation of centromere function impacts mitotic spindle pole integrity. This includes release of MT minus-ends from the centrosome, leading to PCM dispersion and centriole mis-positioning at the spindle poles. Mechanistically, we show that these defects result from abnormal spindle MT dynamics due to defective kinetochore-MT attachments. Importantly, restoring mitotic spindle pole integrity following centromere inactivation lead to a decrease in the frequency of chromosome mis-segregation. Overall, our work identifies an unexpected relationship between centromeres and maintenance of the mitotic pole integrity necessary to ensure mitotic accuracy and thus to maintain genetic stability.
Intrinsic genomic features of individual chromosomes can contribute to chromosome-specific aneuploidy. Centromeres are key elements for the maintenance of chromosome segregation fidelity via a specialized chromatin marked by CENP-A wrapped by repetitive DNA. These long stretches of repetitive DNA vary in length among human chromosomes. Using CENP-A genetic inactivation in human cells, we directly interrogate if differences in the centromere length reflect the heterogeneity of centromeric DNA-dependent features and whether this, in turn, affects the genesis of chromosome-specific aneuploidy. Using three distinct approaches, we show that mis-segregation rates vary among different chromosomes under conditions that compromise centromere function. Whole-genome sequencing and centromere mapping combined with cytogenetic analysis, small molecule inhibitors, and genetic manipulation revealed that inter-chromosomal heterogeneity of centromeric features, but not centromere length, influences chromosome segregation fidelity. We conclude that faithful chromosome segregation for most of human chromosomes is biased in favor of centromeres with high abundance of DNA-dependent centromeric components. These inter-chromosomal differences in centromere features can translate into non-random aneuploidy, a hallmark of cancer and genetic diseases.
Filopodia are actin-filled protrusions employed by cells to interact with their environment. Filopodia formation in Amoebozoa and Metazoa requires the phylogenetically diverse MyTH4-FERM (MF) myosins DdMyo7 and Myo10, respectively. While Myo10 is known to form antiparallel dimers, DdMyo7 lacks a coiled-coil domain in its proximal tail region, raising the question of how such divergent motors perform the same function. Here, it is shown that the DdMyo7 lever arm plays a role in both autoinhibition and function while the proximal tail region can mediate weak dimerization, and is proposed to be working in cooperation with the C-terminal MF domain to promote partner-mediated dimerization. Additionally, a forced dimer of the DdMyo7 motor is found to weakly rescue filopodia formation, further highlighting the importance of the C-terminal MF domain. Thus, weak dimerization activity of the DdMyo7 proximal tail allows for sensitive regulation of myosin activity to prevent inappropriate activation of filopodia formation. The results reveal that the principles of MF myosin-based filopodia formation are conserved via divergent mechanisms for dimerization.
During epithelial tissue development, repair, and homeostasis, adherens junctions (AJs) ensure intercellular adhesion and tissue integrity while allowing for cell and tissue dynamics. Mechanical forces play critical roles in AJs’ composition and dynamics. Recent findings highlight that beyond a well-established role in reinforcing cell-cell adhesion, AJ mechanosensitivity promotes junctional remodeling and polarization, thereby regulating critical processes such as cell intercalation, division, and collective migration. Here, we provide an integrated view of mechanosensing mechanisms that regulate cell-cell contact composition, geometry, and integrity under tension and highlight pivotal roles for mechanosensitive AJ remodeling in preserving epithelial integrity and sustaining tissue dynamics.
Two types of cortical actin networks act during mitotic pseudocleavage furrowing in the Drosophila syncytium, but how they interact has remained elusive. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Zhang et al. (2018) show how these networks shape each other and propose that furrowing is driven by actin polymerization-derived pushing forces.
As the result of an intricate interplay between mechanical and biochemical cues, coordinated cell dynamics are at the basis of tissue development, homeostasis and repair. Numerous studies have addressed the interplay between these two inputs and their impact on cellular dynamics. These studies largely focus on bicellular junctions (BCJs). Recent works have illuminated that tricellular junctions (TCJs), the junctions where three cells contact, play important roles in epithelial tissues beyond their well-known structural function in preserving epithelial barrier integrity. Indeed, TJCs have recently been implicated in the regulation of collective cell migration, division orientation, cell proliferation and cell mechanical properties. More generally, the TCJ distribution aligns with the cell shape and mechanical stress orientation within the tissue, while their number encapsulates the packing topology. Importantly, known regulators of growth signalling and of cell mechanical properties are also localized at TCJs. Therefore, TCJs emerge as spatial sites to sense and integrate biochemical and mechanical inputs to guide epithelial tissue dynamics.
In epithelial tissue, new cell-cell junctions are formed upon cytokinesis. To understand junction formation during cytokinesis, we explored formation of tricellular septate junctions (TCJs) in epithelium. We found that upon midbody formation, the membranes of the two daughter cells and of the neighbouring cells located below the adherens junction (AJ) remain entangled in a 4-cell structure apposed to the midbody. The septate junction protein Discs-Large and components of the TCJ, Gliotactin and Anakonda accumulate in this 4-cell structure. Subsequently, a basal movement of the midbody parallels the detachment of the neighbouring cell membranes from the midbody, the disengagement of the daughter cells from their neighbours and the reorganisation of TCJs between the two daughter cells and their neighbouring cells. While the movement of midbody is independent of the Alix and Shrub abscission regulators, the loss of Gliotactin or Anakonda function impedes both the resolution of the connection between the daughter-neighbour cells and midbody movement. TCJ proteins therefore control an additional step of cytokinesis necessary for the disentanglement of the daughter cells from their neighbours during cytokinesis.
Mitotic spindle orientation has been linked to asymmetric cell divisions, tissue morphogenesis and homeostasis. The canonical pathway to orient the mitotic spindle is composed of the cortical recruitment factor NuMA and the molecular motor dynein, which exerts pulling forces on astral microtubules to orient the spindle. Recent work has defined a novel role for NuMA as a direct contributor to force generation. In addition, the exploration of geometrical and physical cues combined with the study of classical polarity pathways has led to deeper insights into the upstream regulation of spindle orientation. Here, we focus on how cell shape, junctions and mechanical tension act to orient spindle pulling forces in epithelia, and discuss different roles for spindle orientation in epithelia.
Genetic mutations affecting chromatin modifiers are widespread in cancers. In malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs), Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), which plays a crucial role in gene silencing, is inactivated through recurrent mutations in core subunits embryonic ectoderm development (EED) and suppressor of zeste 12 homolog (SUZ12), but mutations in PRC2’s main catalytic subunit enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) have never been found. This is in contrast to myeloid and lymphoid malignancies, which harbor frequent loss-of-function mutations in EZH2. Here, we investigated whether the absence of EZH2 mutations in MPNST is due to a PRC2-independent (i.e., noncanonical) function of the enzyme or to redundancy with EZH1. We show that, in the absence of SUZ12, EZH2 remains bound to EED but loses its interaction with all other core and accessory PRC2 subunits. Through genetic and pharmacological analyses, we unambiguously establish that EZH2 is functionally inert in this context, thereby excluding a PRC2-independent function. Instead, we show that EZH1 and EZH2 are functionally redundant in the slowly proliferating MPNST precursors. We provide evidence that the compensatory function of EZH1 is alleviated upon higher proliferation. This work reveals how context-dependent redundancies can shape tumor-type specific mutation patterns in chromatin regulators.
Oriented cell division patterns tissues by modulating cell position and fate. While cell geometry, junctions, cortical tension, and polarity are known to control division orientation, relatively little is known about how these are coordinated to ensure robust patterning. Here, we systematically characterize cell division, volume, and shape changes during mouse pre-implantation development by in toto live imaging. The analysis leads us to a model in which the apical domain competes with cell shape to determine division orientation. Two key predictions of the model are verified experimentally: when outside cells of the 16-cell embryo are released from cell shape asymmetry, the axis of division is guided by the apical domain. Conversely, orientation cues from the apical domain can be overcome by applied shape asymmetry in the 8-cell embryo. We propose that such interplay between cell shape and polarity in controlling division orientation ensures robust patterning of the blastocyst and possibly other tissues.
A UV-vis, CD, and differential pulse voltammetric study was performed on the deactivation of the activity of parallel G-quadruplex/hemin DNAzymes (G4 DNAzymes) by Pb(II). The G4 DNAzyme carries a d[TC] sequence at its 3extasciiacutex end and is stabilized by potassium(I). On addition of Pb(II), the K(I) ions in the parallel G4 are replaced by Pb(II) to keep the parallel topology. Intruded Pb(II) decrease the affinity between the topology and hemin, this leads to a decrease of DNAzyme activity for catalyzing the oxidation of 2,2extasciiacutex-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) by hydrogen peroxide to form a green dye with an absorption maximum at 420 nm. The assay does not use any amplification, and has a linear response in the 0.01 to 10 muM Pb(II) concentration range and a 7.1 nM limit of detection. The method was successfully applied to the analysis of spiked water samples.
The use of RNA-sequencing technologies held a promise of improved diagnostic tools based on comprehensive transcript sets. However, mining human transcriptome data for disease biomarkers in clinical specimens are restricted by the limited power of conventional reference-based protocols relying on unique and annotated transcripts. Here, we implemented a blind reference-free computational protocol, DE-kupl, to infer yet unreferenced RNA variations from total stranded RNA-sequencing datasets of tissue origin. As a bench test, this protocol was powered for detection of RNA subsequences embedded into putative long noncoding (lnc)RNAs expressed in prostate cancer. Through filtering of 1,179 candidates, we defined 21 lncRNAs that were further validated by NanoString for robust tumor-specific expression in 144 tissue specimens. Predictive modeling yielded a restricted probe panel enabling more than 90% of true-positive detections of cancer in an independent The Cancer Genome Atlas cohort. Remarkably, this clinical signature made of only nine unannotated lncRNAs largely outperformed PCA3, the only used prostate cancer lncRNA biomarker, in detection of high-risk tumors. This modular workflow is highly sensitive and can be applied to any pathology or clinical application.