Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Davis (2009)
Mutations in the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene Rb are involved in many forms of human cancer. In this study, we investigated the early consequences of inactivating Rb in the context of cellular reprogramming. We found that Rb inactivation promotes the reprogramming of differentiated cells to a pluripotent state. Unexpectedly, this effect is cell cycle independent, and instead reflects direct binding of Rb to pluripotency genes, including Sox2 and Oct4, which leads to a repressed chromatin state. More broadly, this regulation of pluripotency networks and Sox2 in particular is critical for the initiation of tumors upon loss of Rb in mice. These studies therefore identify Rb as a global transcriptional repressor of pluripotency networks, providing a molecular basis for previous reports about its involvement in cell fate pliability, and implicate misregulation of pluripotency factors such as Sox2 in tumorigenesis related to loss of Rb function.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2014.10.019
View details for PubMedID 25467916
Histone modifications and DNA methylation represent two layers of heritable epigenetic information that regulate eukaryotic chromatin structure and gene activity. UHRF1 is a unique factor that bridges these two layers; it is required for maintenance DNA methylation at hemimethylated CpG sites, which are specifically recognized through its SRA domain and also interacts with histone H3 trimethylated on lysine 9 (H3K9me3) in an unspecified manner. Here we show that UHRF1 contains a tandem Tudor domain (TTD) that recognizes H3 tail peptides with the heterochromatin-associated modification state of trimethylated lysine 9 and unmodified lysine 4 (H3K4me0/K9me3). Solution NMR and crystallographic data reveal the TTD simultaneously recognizes H3K9me3 through a conserved aromatic cage in the first Tudor subdomain and unmodified H3K4 within a groove between the tandem subdomains. The subdomains undergo a conformational adjustment upon peptide binding, distinct from previously reported mechanisms for dual histone mark recognition. Mutant UHRF1 protein deficient for H3K4me0/K9me3 binding shows altered localization to heterochromatic chromocenters and fails to reduce expression of a target gene, p16(INK4A), when overexpressed. Our results demonstrate a novel recognition mechanism for the combinatorial readout of histone modification states associated with gene silencing and add to the growing evidence for coordination of, and cross-talk between, the modification states of H3K4 and H3K9 in regulation of gene expression.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M111.234104
View details for Web of Science ID 000292294900071
View details for PubMedID 21489993
The DNTM3A and DNMT3B de novo DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) are responsible for setting genomic DNA methylation patterns, a key layer of epigenetic information. Here, using an in vivo episomal methylation assay and extensive bisulfite methylation sequencing, we show that human DNMT3A and DNMT3B possess significant and distinct flanking sequence preferences for target CpG sites. Selection for high or low efficiency sites is mediated by the base composition at the -2 and +2 positions flanking the CpG site for DNMT3A, and at the -1 and +1 positions for DNMT3B. This intrinsic preference reproducibly leads to the formation of specific de novo methylation patterns characterized by up to 34-fold variations in the efficiency of DNA methylation at individual sites. Furthermore, analysis of the distribution of signature methylation hotspot and coldspot motifs suggests that DNMT flanking sequence preference has contributed to shaping the composition of CpG islands in the human genome. Our results also show that the DNMT3L stimulatory factor modulates the formation of de novo methylation patterns in two ways. First, DNMT3L selectively focuses the DNA methylation machinery on properly chromatinized DNA templates. Second, DNMT3L attenuates the impact of the intrinsic DNMT flanking sequence preference by providing a much greater boost to the methylation of poorly methylated sites, thus promoting the formation of broader and more uniform methylation patterns. This study offers insights into the manner by which DNA methylation patterns are deposited and reveals a new level of interplay between members of the de novo DNMT family.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001106
View details for Web of Science ID 000282369200044
View details for PubMedID 20838592
The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (Rb) is a potent and ubiquitously expressed cell cycle regulator, but patients with a germline Rb mutation develop a very specific tumor spectrum. This surprising observation raises the possibility that mechanisms that compensate for loss of Rb function are present or activated in many cell types. In particular, p107, a protein related to Rb, has been shown to functionally overlap for loss of Rb in several cellular contexts. To investigate the mechanisms underlying this functional redundancy between Rb and p107 in vivo, we used gene targeting in embryonic stem cells to engineer point mutations in two consensus E2F binding sites in the endogenous p107 promoter. Analysis of normal and mutant cells by gene expression and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that members of the Rb and E2F families directly bound these two sites. Furthermore, we found that these two E2F sites controlled both the repression of p107 in quiescent cells and also its activation in cycling cells, as well as in Rb mutant cells. Cell cycle assays further indicated that activation of p107 transcription during S phase through the two E2F binding sites was critical for controlled cell cycle progression, uncovering a specific role for p107 to slow proliferation in mammalian cells. Direct transcriptional repression of p107 by Rb and E2F family members provides a molecular mechanism for a critical negative feedback loop during cell cycle progression and tumorigenesis. These experiments also suggest novel therapeutic strategies to increase the p107 levels in tumor cells.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001003
View details for Web of Science ID 000279805200032
View details for PubMedID 20585628
Causes underlying inter-individual variations in DNA methylation profiles among normal healthy populations are not thoroughly understood. To investigate the contribution of genetic variation in DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) genes to such epigenetic variation, we performed a systematic search for polymorphisms in all known human DNMT genes [DNMT1, DNMT3A, DNMT3B, DNMT3L and DNMT2 (TRDMT1)] in 192 healthy males and females. One hundred and eleven different polymorphisms were detected. Of these, 24 were located in coding regions and 10 resulted in an amino acid change that may affect the corresponding DNMT protein structure or function. Association analysis between all major polymorphisms (frequency > 1%) and quantitative DNA methylation profiles did not return significant results after correction for multiple testing. Polymorphisms leading to an amino acid change were further investigated for changes in global DNA methylation by differential methylation hybridization. This analysis revealed that a rare change at DNMT3L (R271Q) was associated with significant DNA hypomethylation. Biochemical characterization confirmed that DNMT3L(R271Q) is impaired in its ability to stimulate de novo DNA methylation by DNMT3A. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation based analysis using CpG island microarrays revealed that the hypomethylation in this sample preferentially clustered to subtelomeric genomic regions with affected loci corresponding to a subset of repetitive CpG islands with low predicted promoter potential located outside of genes.
View details for DOI 10.1093/hmg/ddp088
View details for Web of Science ID 000265525400003
View details for PubMedID 19246518
Post-translational modifications of histones serve as docking sites and signals for effector proteins and chromatin-remodeling enzymes, thereby influencing many fundamental cellular processes. Nevertheless, there are huge gaps in the knowledge of which proteins read and write the 'histone code'. Several techniques have been used to decipher complex histone-modification patterns. However, none is entirely satisfactory owing to the inherent limitations of in vitro studies of histones, such as deficits in the knowledge of the proteins involved, and the associated difficulties in the consistent and quantitative generation of histone marks. An alternative technique that could prove to be a useful tool in the study of the histone code is the use of synthetic peptide arrays (SPOT blot analysis) as a screening approach to characterize macromolecules that interact with specific covalent modifications of histone tails.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tibs.2008.04.014
View details for Web of Science ID 000258041900004
View details for PubMedID 18538573
The DNMT3-like protein, DNMT3L, is required for germ line DNA methylation, although it is inactive as a DNA methyltransferase per se. Previous studies have shown that DNMT3L physically associates with the active de novo DNA methyltransferases, DNMT3A and DNMT3B, and stimulates their catalytic activities in a cell culture system. However, the mechanism by which DNMT3L stimulates de novo methylation remains unclear. Here, we have purified the full-length human DNMT3A2 and DNMT3L proteins and determined unique conditions that allow for the proper reconstitution of the stimulation of DNMT3A2 de novo methyltransferase activity by DNMT3L. These conditions include the use of buffers resembling physiological conditions and the preincubation of the two proteins. Under these conditions, maximal stimulation is reached at equimolar amounts of DNMT3L and DNMT3A2 proteins, and the catalytic efficiency of DNMT3A2 is increased up to 20-fold. Biochemical analysis revealed that whereas DNMT3L on its own does not significantly bind to the methyl group donor, S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM), it strongly increases the binding of SAM to DNMT3A2. DNA binding, on the contrary, was not appreciably improved. Analysis of DNA methyltransferase complexes in solution using size exclusion chromatography revealed that DNMT3A2 forms large structures of heterogeneous sizes, whereas DNMT3L appears as a monomer. Binding of DNMT3L to DNMT3A2 promotes a dramatic reorganization of DNMT3A2 subunits and leads to the formation of specific complexes with enhanced DNA methyltransferase activity and increased SAM binding.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M603140200
View details for Web of Science ID 000240249500004
View details for PubMedID 16829525