A selection of recent publications from Ludwig Oxford researchers.
Cell Death Differ, 24 (7), pp. 1135-1136. | Read more2017. All roads lead to ubiquitin.
The intratumor microenvironment generates phenotypically distinct but interconvertible malignant cell subpopulations that fuel metastatic spread and therapeutic resistance. Whether different microenvironmental cues impose invasive or therapy-resistant phenotypes via a common mechanism is unknown. In melanoma, low expression of the lineage survival oncogene microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) correlates with invasion, senescence, and drug resistance. However, how MITF is suppressed in vivo and how MITF-low cells in tumors escape senescence are poorly understood. Here we show that microenvironmental cues, including inflammation-mediated resistance to adoptive T-cell immunotherapy, transcriptionally repress MITF via ATF4 in response to inhibition of translation initiation factor eIF2B. ATF4, a key transcription mediator of the integrated stress response, also activates AXL and suppresses senescence to impose the MITF-low/AXL-high drug-resistant phenotype observed in human tumors. However, unexpectedly, without translation reprogramming an ATF4-high/MITF-low state is insufficient to drive invasion. Importantly, translation reprogramming dramatically enhances tumorigenesis and is linked to a previously unexplained gene expression program associated with anti-PD-1 immunotherapy resistance. Since we show that inhibition of eIF2B also drives neural crest migration and yeast invasiveness, our results suggest that translation reprogramming, an evolutionarily conserved starvation response, has been hijacked by microenvironmental stress signals in melanoma to drive phenotypic plasticity and invasion and determine therapeutic outcome.
Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 mutations drive human gliomagenesis, probably through neomorphic enzyme activity that produces D-2-hydroxyglutarate. To model this disease, we conditionally expressed Idh1R132H in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult mouse brain. The mice developed hydrocephalus and grossly dilated lateral ventricles, with accumulation of 2-hydroxyglutarate and reduced α-ketoglutarate. Stem and transit amplifying/progenitor cell populations were expanded, and proliferation increased. Cells expressing SVZ markers infiltrated surrounding brain regions. SVZ cells also gave rise to proliferative subventricular nodules. DNA methylation was globally increased, while hydroxymethylation was decreased. Mutant SVZ cells overexpressed Wnt, cell-cycle and stem cell genes, and shared an expression signature with human gliomas. Idh1R132H mutation in the major adult neurogenic stem cell niche causes a phenotype resembling gliomagenesis.
Patterns of somatic mutations in cancer genes provide information about their functional role in tumourigenesis, and thus indicate their potential for therapeutic exploitation. Yet, the classical distinction between oncogene and tumour suppressor may not always apply. For instance, TP53 has been simultaneously associated with tumour suppressing and promoting activities. Here, we uncover a similar phenomenon for GATA3, a frequently mutated, yet poorly understood, breast cancer gene. We identify two functional classes of frameshift mutations that are associated with distinct expression profiles in tumours, differential disease-free patient survival and gain- and loss-of-function activities in a cell line model. Furthermore, we find an estrogen receptor-independent synthetic lethal interaction between a GATA3 frameshift mutant with an extended C-terminus and the histone methyltransferases G9A and GLP, indicating perturbed epigenetic regulation. Our findings reveal important insights into mutant GATA3 function and breast cancer, provide the first potential therapeutic strategy and suggest that dual tumour suppressive and oncogenic activities are more widespread than previously appreciated.
The linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex (LUBAC) regulates immune signaling, and its function is regulated by the deubiquitinases OTULIN and CYLD, which associate with the catalytic subunit HOIP. However, the mechanism through which CYLD interacts with HOIP is unclear. We here show that CYLD interacts with HOIP via spermatogenesis-associated protein 2 (SPATA2). SPATA2 interacts with CYLD through its non-canonical PUB domain, which binds the catalytic CYLD USP domain in a CYLD B-box-dependent manner. Significantly, SPATA2 binding activates CYLD-mediated hydrolysis of ubiquitin chains. SPATA2 also harbors a conserved PUB-interacting motif that selectively docks into the HOIP PUB domain. In cells, SPATA2 is recruited to the TNF receptor 1 signaling complex and is required for CYLD recruitment. Loss of SPATA2 increases ubiquitination of LUBAC substrates and results in enhanced NOD2 signaling. Our data reveal SPATA2 as a high-affinity binding partner of CYLD and HOIP, and a regulatory component of LUBAC-mediated NF-κB signaling.
Reverse genetic screens have driven gene annotation and target discovery in model organisms. However, many disease-relevant genotypes and phenotypes cannot be studied in lower organisms. It is therefore essential to overcome technical hurdles associated with large-scale reverse genetics in human cells. Here, we establish a reverse genetic approach based on highly robust and sensitive multiplexed RNA sequencing of mutant human cells. We conduct 10 parallel screens using a collection of engineered haploid isogenic cell lines with knockouts covering tyrosine kinases and identify known and unexpected effects on signaling pathways. Our study provides proof of concept for a scalable approach to link genotype to phenotype in human cells, which has broad applications. In particular, it clears the way for systematic phenotyping of still poorly characterized human genes and for systematic study of uncharacterized genomic features associated with human disease.
Chromosomal abnormalities are implicated in a substantial number of human developmental syndromes, but for many such disorders little is known about the causative genes. The recently described 1q41q42 microdeletion syndrome is characterized by characteristic dysmorphic features, intellectual disability and brain morphological abnormalities, but the precise genetic basis for these abnormalities remains unknown. Here, our detailed analysis of the genetic abnormalities of 1q41q42 microdeletion cases identified TP53BP2, which encodes apoptosis-stimulating protein of p53 2 (ASPP2), as a candidate gene for brain abnormalities. Consistent with this, Trp53bp2-deficient mice show dilation of lateral ventricles resembling the phenotype of 1q41q42 microdeletion patients. Trp53bp2 deficiency causes 100% neonatal lethality in the C57BL/6 background associated with a high incidence of neural tube defects and a range of developmental abnormalities such as congenital heart defects, coloboma, microphthalmia, urogenital and craniofacial abnormalities. Interestingly, abnormalities show a high degree of overlap with 1q41q42 microdeletion-associated abnormalities. These findings identify TP53BP2 as a strong candidate causative gene for central nervous system (CNS) defects in 1q41q42 microdeletion syndrome, and open new avenues for investigation of the mechanisms underlying CNS abnormalities.
European Journal of Cancer, 61 pp. S110-S110. | Read more2016. Pro-survival p53 target genes have evolved clusters of interacting polymorphic response elements that can affect cancer risk
Many proteins originally identified as cytoplasmic - including many associated with the cytoskeleton or cell junctions - are increasingly being found in the nucleus, where they have specific functions. Here, we focus on proteins that translocate from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in response to external signals and regulate transcription without binding to DNA directly (for example, through interaction with transcription factors). We propose that proteins with such characteristics are classified as a distinct group of extracellular signalling effectors, and we suggest the term STRaND (shuttling transcriptional regulators and non-DNA binding) to refer to this group. Crucial roles of STRaNDs include linking cell morphology and adhesion with changes in transcriptional programmes in response to signals such as mechanical stresses.
CpG dinucleotides are the main mutational hot-spot in most cancers. The characteristic elevated C>T mutation rate in CpG sites has been related to 5-methylcytosine (5mC), an epigenetically modified base which resides in CpGs and plays a role in transcription silencing. In brain nearly a third of 5mCs have recently been found to exist in the form of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC), yet the effect of 5hmC on mutational processes is still poorly understood. Here we show that 5hmC is associated with an up to 53% decrease in the frequency of C>T mutations in a CpG context compared to 5mC. Tissue specific 5hmC patterns in brain, kidney and blood correlate with lower regional CpG>T mutation frequency in cancers originating in the respective tissues. Together our data reveal global and opposing effects of the two most common cytosine modifications on the frequency of cancer causing somatic mutations in different cell types.
The modifications 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) are the two major DNA epigenetic modifications in mammalian genomes and play crucial roles in development and pathogenesis. Little is known about the colocalization or potential correlation of these two modifications. Here we present an ultrasensitive single-molecule imaging technology capable of detecting and quantifying 5hmC and 5mC from trace amounts of DNA. We used this approach to perform single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET) experiments which measure the proximity between 5mC and 5hmC in the same DNA molecule. Our results reveal high levels of adjacent and opposing methylated and hydroxymethylated CpG sites (5hmC/5mCpGs) in mouse genomic DNA across multiple tissues. This identifies the previously undetectable and unappreciated 5hmC/5mCpGs as one of the major states for 5hmC in the mammalian genome and suggest that they could function in promoting gene expression.
OBJECTIVE: The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor Flk1 is essential for vascular development, but the signaling and transcriptional pathways by which its expression is regulated in endothelial cells remain unclear. Although previous studies have identified 2 Flk1 regulatory enhancers, these are dispensable for Flk1 expression, indicating that additional enhancers contribute to Flk1 regulation in endothelial cells. In the present study, we sought to identify Flk1 enhancers contributing to expression in endothelial cells. APPROACH AND RESULTS: A region of the 10th intron of the Flk1 gene (Flk1in10) was identified as a putative enhancer and tested in mouse and zebrafish transgenic models. This region robustly directed reporter gene expression in arterial endothelial cells. Using a combination of targeted mutagenesis of transcription factor-binding sites and gene silencing of transcription factors, we found that Gata and Ets factors are required for Flk1in10 enhancer activity in all endothelial cells. Furthermore, we showed that activity of the Flk1in10 enhancer is restricted to arteries through repression of gene expression in venous endothelial cells by the Notch pathway transcriptional regulator Rbpj. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates a novel mechanism of arterial-venous identity acquisition, indicates a direct link between the Notch and VEGF signaling pathways, and illustrates how cis-regulatory diversity permits differential expression outcomes from a limited repertoire of transcriptional regulators.
The NRF2/sMAF protein complex regulates the oxidative stress response by occupying cis-acting enhancers containing an antioxidant response element (ARE). Integrating genome-wide maps of NRF2/sMAF occupancy with disease-susceptibility loci, we discovered eight polymorphic AREs linked to 14 highly ranked disease-risk SNPs in individuals of European ancestry. Among these SNPs was rs242561, located within a regulatory region of the MAPT gene (encoding microtubule-associated protein Tau). It was consistently occupied by NRF2/sMAF in multiple experiments and its strong-binding allele associated with higher mRNA levels in cell lines and human brain tissue. Induction of MAPT transcription by NRF2 was confirmed using a human neuroblastoma cell line and a Nrf2-deficient mouse model. Most importantly, rs242561 displayed complete linkage disequilibrium with a highly protective allele identified in multiple GWASs of progressive supranuclear palsy, Parkinson's disease, and corticobasal degeneration. These observations suggest a potential role for NRF2/sMAF in tauopathies and a possible role for NRF2 pathway activators in disease prevention.
Decades of research have shown that mutations in the p53 stress response pathway affect the incidence of diverse cancers more than mutations in other pathways. However, most evidence is limited to somatic mutations and rare inherited mutations. Using newly abundant genomic data, we demonstrate that commonly inherited genetic variants in the p53 pathway also affect the incidence of a broad range of cancers more than variants in other pathways. The cancer-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the p53 pathway have strikingly similar genetic characteristics to well-studied p53 pathway cancer-causing somatic mutations. Our results enable insights into p53-mediated tumour suppression in humans and into p53 pathway-based cancer surveillance and treatment strategies.
Innate immune signaling relies on the deposition of non-degradative polyubiquitin at receptor-signaling complexes, but how these ubiquitin modifications are regulated by deubiquitinases remains incompletely understood. Met1-linked ubiquitin (Met1-Ub) is assembled by the linear ubiquitin assembly complex (LUBAC), and this is counteracted by the Met1-Ub-specific deubiquitinase OTULIN, which binds to the catalytic LUBAC subunit HOIP. In this study, we report that HOIP also interacts with the deubiquitinase CYLD but that CYLD does not regulate ubiquitination of LUBAC components. Instead, CYLD limits extension of Lys63-Ub and Met1-Ub conjugated to RIPK2 to restrict signaling and cytokine production. Accordingly, Met1-Ub and Lys63-Ub were individually required for productive NOD2 signaling. Our study thus suggests that LUBAC, through its associated deubiquitinases, coordinates the deposition of not only Met1-Ub but also Lys63-Ub to ensure an appropriate response to innate immune receptor activation.
Cross-presentation enables dendritic cells to present on their MHC class I molecules antigenic peptides derived from exogenous material, through a mechanism that remains partly unclear. It is particularly efficient with long peptides, which are used in cancer vaccines. We studied the mechanism of long-peptide cross-presentation using human dendritic cells and specific CTL clones against melanoma Ags gp100 and Melan-A/MART1. We found that cross-presentation of those long peptides does not depend on the proteasome or the transporter associated with Ag processing, and therefore follows a vacuolar pathway. We also observed that it makes use of newly synthesized MHC class I molecules, through peptide exchange in vesicles distinct from the endoplasmic reticulum and classical secretory pathway, in an SEC22b- and CD74-independent manner. Our results indicate a nonclassical secretion pathway followed by nascent HLA-I molecules that are used for cross-presentation of those long melanoma peptides in the vacuolar pathway. Our results may have implications for the development of vaccines based on long peptides.
An intriguing biological question relating to cell signaling is how the inflammatory mediator NF-kB and the tumour suppressor protein p53 can be induced by similar triggers, like DNA damage or infection, yet have seemingly opposing or sometimes cooperative biological functions. For example, the NF-κB subunit RelA/p65 has been shown to inhibit apoptosis, whereas p53 induces apoptosis. One potential explanation may be their co-regulation by common cellular factors: inhibitor of Apoptosis Stimulating p53 Protein (iASPP) is one such common regulator of both RelA/p65 and p53. Here we show that iASPP is a novel substrate of caspases in response to apoptotic stimuli. Caspase cleaves the N-terminal region of iASPP at SSLD294 resulting in a prominent 80kDa fragment of iASPP. This caspase cleavage site is conserved in various species from zebrafish to Homo sapiens. The 80kDa fragment of iASPP translocates from the cytoplasm to the nucleus via the RaDAR nuclear import pathway, independent of p53. The 80kDa iASPP fragment can bind and inhibit p53 or RelA/p65 more efficiently than full-length iASPP. Overall, these data reveal a potential novel regulation of p53 and RelA/p65 activities in response to apoptotic stimuli.
The upswing in US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency drug approvals in 2014 may have marked an end to the dry spell that has troubled the pharmaceutical industry over the past decade. Regardless, the attrition rate of drugs in late clinical phases remains high, and a lack of target validation has been highlighted as an explanation. This has led to a resurgence in appreciation of phenotypic drug screens, as these may be more likely to yield compounds with relevant modes of action. However, cell-based screening approaches do not directly reveal cellular targets, and hence target deconvolution and a detailed understanding of drug action are needed for efficient lead optimization and biomarker development. Here, recently developed functional genomics technologies that address this need are reviewed. The approaches pioneered in model organisms, particularly in yeast, and more recently adapted to mammalian systems are discussed. Finally, areas of particular interest and directions for future tool development are highlighted.
Ventilatory sensitivity to hypoxia increases in response to continued hypoxic exposure as part of acute acclimatisation. Although this process is incompletely understood, insights have been gained through studies of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) hydroxylase system. Genetic studies implicate these pathways widely in the integrated physiology of hypoxia, through effects on developmental or adaptive processes. In keeping with this, mice that are heterozygous for the principal HIF prolyl hydroxylase, PHD2, show enhanced ventilatory sensitivity to hypoxia and carotid body hyperplasia. Here we have sought to understand this process better through comparative analysis of inducible and constitutive inactivation of PHD2 and its principal targets HIF-1α and HIF-2α. We demonstrate that general inducible inactivation of PHD2 in tamoxifen-treated Phd2(f/f);Rosa26(+/CreERT2) mice, like constitutive, heterozygous PHD2 deficiency, enhances hypoxic ventilatory responses (HVRs: 7.2 ± 0.6 vs. 4.4 ± 0.4 ml min(-1) g(-1) in controls, P < 0.01). The ventilatory phenotypes associated with both inducible and constitutive inactivation of PHD2 were strongly compensated for by concomitant inactivation of HIF-2α, but not HIF-1α. Furthermore, inducible inactivation of HIF-2α strikingly impaired ventilatory acclimatisation to chronic hypoxia (HVRs: 4.1 ± 0.5 vs. 8.6 ± 0.5 ml min(-1) g(-1) in controls, P < 0.0001), as well as carotid body cell proliferation (400 ± 81 vs. 2630 ± 390 bromodeoxyuridine-positive cells mm(-2) in controls, P < 0.0001). The findings demonstrate the importance of the PHD2/HIF-2α enzyme-substrate couple in modulating ventilatory sensitivity to hypoxia.
Cells require nucleotides to support DNA replication and repair damaged DNA. In addition to de novo synthesis, cells recycle nucleotides from the DNA of dying cells or from cellular material ingested through the diet. Salvaged nucleosides come with the complication that they can contain epigenetic modifications. Because epigenetic inheritance of DNA methylation mainly relies on copying of the modification pattern from parental strands, random incorporation of pre-modified bases during replication could have profound implications for epigenome fidelity and yield adverse cellular phenotypes. Although the salvage mechanism of 5-methyl-2'deoxycytidine (5mdC) has been investigated before, it remains unknown how cells deal with the recently identified oxidized forms of 5mdC: 5-hydroxymethyl-2'deoxycytidine (5hmdC), 5-formy-2'deoxycytidine (5fdC) and 5-carboxyl-2'deoxycytidine (5cadC). Here we show that enzymes of the nucleotide salvage pathway display substrate selectivity, effectively protecting newly synthesized DNA from the incorporation of epigenetically modified forms of cytosine. Thus, cell lines and animals can tolerate high doses of these modified cytidines without any deleterious effects on physiology. Notably, by screening cancer cell lines for growth defects after exposure to 5hmdC, we unexpectedly identify a subset of cell lines in which 5hmdC or 5fdC administration leads to cell lethality. Using genomic approaches, we show that the susceptible cell lines overexpress cytidine deaminase (CDA). CDA converts 5hmdC and 5fdC into variants of uridine that are incorporated into DNA, resulting in accumulation of DNA damage, and ultimately, cell death. Our observations extend current knowledge of the nucleotide salvage pathway by revealing the metabolism of oxidized epigenetic bases, and suggest a new therapeutic option for cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, that have CDA overexpression and are resistant to treatment with other cytidine analogues.
Eliminating hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with DNA damage is necessary to maintain the homeostasis of HSCs, but the mechanisms underlying this apoptotic elimination are unclear. Now in Cell Stem Cell, Yamashita et al. (2015) show that Aspp1 coordinates with p53 to protect HSC pool integrity, guarding against hematological malignancies.
Hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) are α/β heterodimeric transcription factors that direct multiple cellular and systemic responses in response to changes in oxygen availability. The oxygen sensitive signal is generated by a series of iron and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that catalyze post-translational hydroxylation of specific prolyl and asparaginyl residues in HIFα subunits and thereby promote their destruction and inactivation in the presence of oxygen. In hypoxia, these processes are suppressed allowing HIF to activate a massive transcriptional cascade. Elucidation of these pathways has opened several new fields of cardiovascular research. Here, we review the role of HIF hydroxylase pathways in cardiac development and in cardiovascular control. We also consider the current status, opportunities, and challenges of therapeutic modulation of HIF hydroxylases in the therapy of cardiovascular disease.
5-Hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) is an important mammalian DNA epigenetic modification that has been linked to gene regulation and cancer pathogenesis. Here we explored the diagnostic potential of 5hmC in circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) using a sensitive chemical labeling-based low-input shotgun sequencing approach. We sequenced cell-free 5hmC from 49 patients of seven different cancer types and found distinct features that could be used to predict cancer types and stages with high accuracy. Specifically, we discovered that lung cancer leads to a progressive global loss of 5hmC in cfDNA, whereas hepatocellular carcinoma and pancreatic cancer lead to disease-specific changes in the cell-free hydroxymethylome. Our proof-of-principle results suggest that cell-free 5hmC signatures may potentially be used not only to identify cancer types but also to track tumor stage in some cancers.
The linear ubiquitin chain assembly complex, LUBAC, is the only known mammalian ubiquitin ligase that makes methionine 1 (Met1)-linked polyubiquitin (also referred to as linear ubiquitin). A decade after LUBAC was discovered as a cellular activity of unknown function, there are now many lines of evidence connecting Met1-linked polyubiquitin to NF-κB signaling, cell death, inflammation, immunity, and cancer. We now know that Met1-linked polyubiquitin has potent signaling functions and that its deregulation is connected to disease. Indeed, mutations and deficiencies in several factors involved in conjugation and deconjugation of Met1-linked polyubiquitin have been implicated in immune-related disorders. Here, we discuss current knowledge and recent insights into the role and regulation of Met1-linked polyubiquitin, with an emphasis on the mechanisms controlling the function of LUBAC.
Total publications on this page: 24
Total citations for publications on this page: 206