To broaden our understanding of the evolution of gene regulation mechanisms, we generated occupancy profiles for 34 orthologous transcription factors (TFs) in human-mouse erythroid progenitor, lymphoblast and embryonic stem-cell lines. By combining the genome-wide transcription factor occupancy repertoires, associated epigenetic signals, and co-association patterns, here we deduce several evolutionary principles of gene regulatory features operating since the mouse and human lineages diverged. The genomic distribution profiles, primary binding motifs, chromatin states, and DNA methylation preferences are well conserved for TF-occupied sequences. However, the extent to which orthologous DNA segments are bound by orthologous TFs varies both among TFs and with genomic location: binding at promoters is more highly conserved than binding at distal elements. Notably, occupancy-conserved TF-occupied sequences tend to be pleiotropic; they function in several tissues and also co-associate with many TFs. Single nucleotide variants at sites with potential regulatory functions are enriched in occupancy-conserved TF-occupied sequences.
piPipes: a set of pipelines for piRNA and transposon analysis via small RNA-seq, RNA-seq, degradome- and CAGE-seq, ChIP-seq and genomic DNA sequencing
MOTIVATION: PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), 23-36 nt small silencing RNAs, repress transposon expression in the metazoan germ line, thereby protecting the genome. Although high-throughput sequencing has made it possible to examine the genome and transcriptome at unprecedented resolution, extracting useful information from gigabytes of sequencing data still requires substantial computational skills. Additionally, researchers may analyze and interpret the same data differently, generating results that are difficult to reconcile. To address these issues, we developed a coordinated set of pipelines, 'piPipes', to analyze piRNA and transposon-derived RNAs from a variety of high-throughput sequencing libraries, including small RNA, RNA, degradome or 7-methyl guanosine cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE), chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and genomic DNA-seq. piPipes can also produce figures and tables suitable for publication. By facilitating data analysis, piPipes provides an opportunity to standardize computational methods in the piRNA field.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary information, including flowcharts and example figures for each pipeline, are available at Bioinformatics online.
AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: piPipes is implemented in Bash, C++, Python, Perl and R. piPipes is free, open-source software distributed under the GPLv3 license and is available at http://bowhan.github.io/piPipes/.
CONTACT: Phillip.Zamore@umassmed.edu or Zhiping.Weng@umassmed.edu
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Epigenetic dysregulation of hairy and enhancer of split 4 (HES4) is associated with striatal degeneration in postmortem Huntington brains
To investigate epigenetic contributions to Huntington's disease (HD) pathogenesis, we carried out genome-wide mapping of the transcriptional mark, trimethyl-histone H3-lysine 4 (H3K4me3) in neuronal nuclei extracted from prefrontal cortex of HD cases and controls using chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by deep-sequencing. Neuron-specific mapping of the genome-wide distribution of H3K4me3 revealed 136 differentially enriched loci associated with genes implicated in neuronal development and neurodegeneration, including GPR3, TMEM106B, PDIA6 and the Notch signaling genes hairy and enhancer of split 4 (HES4) and JAGGED2, supporting the view that the neuronal epigenome is affected in HD. Importantly, loss of H3K4me3 at CpG-rich sequences on the HES4 promoter was associated with excessive DNA methylation, reduced binding of nuclear proteins to the methylated region and altered expression of HES4 and HES4 targeted genes MASH1 and P21 involved in striatal development. Moreover, hypermethylation of HES4 promoter sequences was strikingly correlated with measures of striatal degeneration and age-of-onset in a cohort of 25 HD brains (r = 0.56, P = 0.006). Lastly, shRNA knockdown of HES4 in human neuroblastoma cells altered MASH1 and P21 mRNA expression and markedly increased mutated HTT-induced aggregates and cell death. These findings, taken together, suggest that epigenetic dysregulation of HES4 could play a critical role in modifying HD disease pathogenesis and severity.
As a champion of small RNA research for two decades, Caenorhabditis elegans has revealed the essential Argonaute CSR-1 to play key nuclear roles in modulating chromatin, chromosome segregation and germline gene expression via 22G-small RNAs. Despite CSR-1 being preserved among diverse nematodes, the conservation and divergence in function of the targets of small RNA pathways remains poorly resolved. Here we apply comparative functional genomic analysis between C. elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae to characterize the CSR-1 pathway, its targets and their evolution. C. briggsae CSR-1-associated small RNAs that we identified by immunoprecipitation-small RNA sequencing overlap with 22G-RNAs depleted in cbr-csr-1 RNAi-treated worms. By comparing 22G-RNAs and target genes between species, we defined a set of CSR-1 target genes with conserved germline expression, enrichment in operons and more slowly evolving coding sequences than other genes, along with a small group of evolutionarily labile targets. We demonstrate that the association of CSR-1 with chromatin is preserved, and show that depletion of cbr-csr-1 leads to chromosome segregation defects and embryonic lethality. This first comparative characterization of a small RNA pathway in Caenorhabditis establishes a conserved nuclear role for CSR-1 and highlights its key role in germline gene regulation across multiple animal species.
Glycolytic enzymes localize to ribonucleoprotein granules in Drosophila germ cells, bind Tudor and protect from transposable elements
Germ cells give rise to all cell lineages in the next-generation and are responsible for the continuity of life. In a variety of organisms, germ cells and stem cells contain large ribonucleoprotein granules. Although these particles were discovered more than 100 years ago, their assembly and functions are not well understood. Here we report that glycolytic enzymes are components of these granules in Drosophila germ cells and both their mRNAs and the enzymes themselves are enriched in germ cells. We show that these enzymes are specifically required for germ cell development and that they protect their genomes from transposable elements, providing the first link between metabolism and transposon silencing. We further demonstrate that in the granules, glycolytic enzymes associate with the evolutionarily conserved Tudor protein. Our biochemical and single-particle EM structural analyses of purified Tudor show a flexible molecule and suggest a mechanism for the recruitment of glycolytic enzymes to the granules. Our data indicate that germ cells, similarly to stem cells and tumor cells, might prefer to produce energy through the glycolytic pathway, thus linking a particular metabolism to pluripotency.
Pitfalls of mapping high-throughput sequencing data to repetitive sequences: Piwi's genomic targets still not identified
Huang et al. (2013) recently reported that chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) reveals the genome-wide sites of occupancy by Piwi, a piRNA-guided Argonaute protein central to transposon silencing in Drosophila. Their study also reported that loss of Piwi causes widespread rewiring of transcriptional patterns, as evidenced by changes in RNA polymerase II occupancy across the genome. Here we reanalyze their data and report that the underlying deep-sequencing dataset does not support the authors' genome-wide conclusions.
miR-10b-5p expression in Huntington's disease brain relates to age of onset and the extent of striatal involvement
BACKGROUND: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that recognize sites of complementarity of target messenger RNAs, resulting in transcriptional regulation and translational repression of target genes. In Huntington's disease (HD), a neurodegenerative disease caused by a trinucleotide repeat expansion, miRNA dyregulation has been reported, which may impact gene expression and modify the progression and severity of HD.
METHODS: We performed next-generation miRNA sequence analysis in prefrontal cortex (Brodmann Area 9) from 26 HD, 2 HD gene positive, and 36 control brains. Neuropathological information was available for all HD brains, including age at disease onset, CAG-repeat size, Vonsattel grade, and Hadzi-Vonsattel striatal and cortical scores, a continuous measure of the extent of neurodegeneration. Linear models were performed to examine the relationship of miRNA expression to these clinical features, and messenger RNA targets of associated miRNAs were tested for gene ontology term enrichment. RESULTS: We identified 75 miRNAs differentially expressed in HD brain (FDR q-value < 0.05). Among the HD brains, nine miRNAs were significantly associated with Vonsattel grade of neuropathological involvement and three of these, miR-10b-5p, miR-10b-3p, and miR-302a-3p, significantly related to the Hadzi-Vonsattel striatal score (a continuous measure of striatal involvement) after adjustment for CAG length. Five miRNAs (miR-10b-5p, miR-196a-5p, miR-196b-5p, miR-10b-3p, and miR-106a-5p) were identified as having a significant relationship to CAG length-adjusted age of onset including miR-10b-5p, the mostly strongly over-expressed miRNA in HD cases. Although prefrontal cortex was the source of tissue profiled in these studies, the relationship of miR-10b-5p expression to striatal involvement in the disease was independent of cortical involvement. Correlation of miRNAs to the clinical features clustered by direction of effect and the gene targets of the observed miRNAs showed association to processes relating to nervous system development and transcriptional regulation.
CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that miRNA expression in cortical BA9 provides insight into striatal involvement and support a role for these miRNAs, particularly miR-10b-5p, in HD pathogenicity. The miRNAs identified in our studies of postmortem brain tissue may be detectable in peripheral fluids and thus warrant consideration as accessible biomarkers for disease stage, rate of progression, and other important clinical characteristics of HD.
Climatologists propose different approach to detect human role in extreme events.
Nature News doi: 10.1038/nature.2015.17828