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Recent Publications

A selection of recent publications from Ludwig Oxford researchers.


Severson DT, Owen RP, White MJ, Lu X, Schuster-Böckler B. 2018. BEARscc determines robustness of single-cell clusters using simulated technical replicates. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 1187. | Show Abstract | Read more

Single-cell messenger RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has emerged as a powerful tool to study cellular heterogeneity within complex tissues. Subpopulations of cells with common gene expression profiles can be identified by applying unsupervised clustering algorithms. However, technical variance is a major confounding factor in scRNA-seq, not least because it is not possible to replicate measurements on the same cell. Here, we present BEARscc, a tool that uses RNA spike-in controls to simulate experiment-specific technical replicates. BEARscc works with a wide range of existing clustering algorithms to assess the robustness of clusters to technical variation. We demonstrate that the tool improves the unsupervised classification of cells and facilitates the biological interpretation of single-cell RNA-seq experiments.

Dedeić Z, Sutendra G, Hu Y, Chung K, Slee EA, White MJ, Zhou FY, Goldin RD, Ferguson DJP, McAndrew D et al. 2018. Cell autonomous role of iASPP deficiency in causing cardiocutaneous disorders. Cell Death Differ, pp. 1-15. | Show Abstract | Read more

Desmosome components are frequently mutated in cardiac and cutaneous disorders in animals and humans and enhanced inflammation is a common feature of these diseases. Previous studies showed that inhibitor of Apoptosis Stimulating p53 Protein (iASPP) regulates desmosome integrity at cell-cell junctions and transcription in the nucleus, and its deficiency causes cardiocutaneous disorder in mice, cattle, and humans. As iASPP is a ubiquitously expressed shuttling protein with multiple functions, a key question is whether the observed cardiocutaneous phenotypes are caused by loss of a cell autonomous role of iASPP in cardiomyocytes and keratinocytes specifically or by a loss of iASPP in other cell types such as immune cells. To address this, we developed cardiomyocyte-specific and keratinocyte-specific iASPP-deficient mouse models and show that the cell-type specific loss of iASPP in cardiomyocytes or keratinocytes is sufficient to induce cardiac or cutaneous disorders, respectively. Additionally, keratinocyte-specific iASPP-deficient mice have delayed eyelid development and wound healing. In keratinocytes, junctional iASPP is critical for stabilizing desmosomes and iASPP deficiency results in increased and disorganized cell migration, as well as impaired cell adhesion, consistent with delayed wound healing. The identification of a cell autonomous role of iASPP deficiency in causing cardiocutaneous syndrome, impaired eyelid development and wound healing suggests that variants in the iASPP gene also may contribute to polygenic heart and skin diseases.

Guna A, Volkmar N, Christianson JC, Hegde RS. 2018. The ER membrane protein complex is a transmembrane domain insertase. Science, 359 (6374), pp. 470-473. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Insertion of proteins into membranes is an essential cellular process. The extensive biophysical and topological diversity of membrane proteins necessitates multiple insertion pathways that remain incompletely defined. Here we found that known membrane insertion pathways fail to effectively engage tail-anchored membrane proteins with moderately hydrophobic transmembrane domains. These proteins are instead shielded in the cytosol by calmodulin. Dynamic release from calmodulin allowed sampling of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where the conserved ER membrane protein complex (EMC) was shown to be essential for efficient insertion in vitro and in cells. Purified EMC in synthetic liposomes catalyzed the insertion of its substrates in a reconstituted system. Thus, EMC is a transmembrane domain insertase, a function that may explain its widely pleiotropic membrane-associated phenotypes across organisms.

Tomkova M, McClellan M, Kriaucionis S, Schuster-Böckler B. 2018. DNA Replication and associated repair pathways are involved in the mutagenesis of methylated cytosine. DNA Repair (Amst), 62 pp. 1-7. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transitions of cytosine to thymine in CpG dinucleotides are the most frequent type of mutations observed in cancer. This increased mutability is commonly explained by the presence of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) and its spontaneous hydrolytic deamination into thymine. Here, we describe observations that question whether spontaneous deamination alone causes the elevated mutagenicity of 5mC. Tumours with somatic mutations in DNA mismatch-repair genes or in the proofreading domain of DNA polymerase ε (Pol ε) exhibit more 5mC to T transitions than would be expected, given the kinetics of hydrolytic deamination. This enrichment is asymmetrical around replication origins with a preference for the leading strand template, in particular in methylated cytosines flanked by guanines (GCG). Notably, GCG to GTG mutations also exhibit strand asymmetry in mismatch-repair and Pol ε wild-type tumours. Together, these findings suggest that mis-incorporation of A opposite 5mC during replication of the leading strand might be a contributing factor in the mutagenesis of methylated cytosine.

Zhu J, Powis de Tenbossche CG, Cané S, Colau D, van Baren N, Lurquin C, Schmitt-Verhulst A-M, Liljeström P, Uyttenhove C, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Resistance to cancer immunotherapy mediated by apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 1404. | Citations: 4 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Despite impressive clinical success, cancer immunotherapy based on immune checkpoint blockade remains ineffective in many patients due to tumoral resistance. Here we use the autochthonous TiRP melanoma model, which recapitulates the tumoral resistance signature observed in human melanomas. TiRP tumors resist immunotherapy based on checkpoint blockade, cancer vaccines or adoptive T-cell therapy. TiRP tumors recruit and activate tumor-specific CD8+T cells, but these cells then undergo apoptosis. This does not occur with isogenic transplanted tumors, which are rejected after adoptive T-cell therapy. Apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes can be prevented by interrupting the Fas/Fas-ligand axis, and is triggered by polymorphonuclear-myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which express high levels of Fas-ligand and are enriched in TiRP tumors. Blocking Fas-ligand increases the anti-tumor efficacy of adoptive T-cell therapy in TiRP tumors, and increases the efficacy of checkpoint blockade in transplanted tumors. Therefore, tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes apoptosis is a relevant mechanism of immunotherapy resistance, which could be blocked by interfering with the Fas/Fas-ligand pathway.

Vigneron N, Ferrari V, Stroobant V, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Peptide splicing by the proteasome. J Biol Chem, 292 (51), pp. 21170-21179. | Show Abstract | Read more

The proteasome is the major protease responsible for the production of antigenic peptides recognized by CD8+cytolytic T cells (CTL). These peptides, generally 8-10 amino acids long, are presented at the cell surface by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. Originally, these peptides were believed to be solely derived from linear fragments of proteins, but this concept was challenged several years ago by the isolation of anti-tumor CTL that recognized spliced peptides,i.e.peptides composed of fragments distant in the parental protein. The splicing process was shown to occur in the proteasome through a transpeptidation reaction involving an acyl-enzyme intermediate. Here, we review the steps that led to the discovery of spliced peptides as well as the recent advances that uncover the unexpected importance of spliced peptides in the composition of the MHC class I repertoire.

Hrdinka M, Gyrd-Hansen M. 2017. The Met1-Linked Ubiquitin Machinery: Emerging Themes of (De)regulation. Mol Cell, 68 (2), pp. 265-280. | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Schulz J, Avci D, Queisser MA, Gutschmidt A, Dreher L-S, Fenech EJ, Volkmar N, Hayashi Y, Hoppe T, Christianson JC. 2017. Conserved cytoplasmic domains promote Hrd1 ubiquitin ligase complex formation for ER-associated degradation (ERAD). J Cell Sci, 130 (19), pp. 3322-3335. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

The mammalian ubiquitin ligase Hrd1 is the central component of a complex facilitating degradation of misfolded proteins during the ubiquitin-proteasome-dependent process of ER-associated degradation (ERAD). Hrd1 associates with cofactors to execute ERAD, but their roles and how they assemble with Hrd1 are not well understood. Here, we identify crucial cofactor interaction domains within Hrd1 and report a previously unrecognised evolutionarily conserved segment within the intrinsically disordered cytoplasmic domain of Hrd1 (termed the HAF-H domain), which engages complementary segments in the cofactors FAM8A1 and Herp (also known as HERPUD1). This domain is required by Hrd1 to interact with both FAM8A1 and Herp, as well as to assemble higher-order Hrd1 complexes. FAM8A1 enhances binding of Herp to Hrd1, an interaction that is required for ERAD. Our findings support a model of Hrd1 complex formation, where the Hrd1 cytoplasmic domain and FAM8A1 have a central role in the assembly and activity of this ERAD machinery.

Vigneron N, Abi Habib J, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Learning from the Proteasome How To Fine-Tune Cancer Immunotherapy. Trends Cancer, 3 (10), pp. 726-741. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer immunotherapy has recently emerged as a forefront strategy to fight cancer. Key players in antitumor responses are CD8+cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that can detect tumor cells that carry antigens, in other words, small peptides bound to surface major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The success and safety of cancer immunotherapy strategies depends on the nature of the antigens recognized by the targeted T cells, their strict tumor specificity, and whether tumors and antigen-presenting cells can efficiently process the peptide. We review here the nature of the tumor antigens and their potential for the development of immunotherapeutic strategies. We also discuss the importance of proteasome in the production of these peptides in the context of immunotherapy and therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Song C-X, Yin S, Ma L, Wheeler A, Chen Y, Zhang Y, Liu B, Xiong J, Zhang W, Hu J et al. 2017. 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine signatures in cell-free DNA provide information about tumor types and stages. Cell Res, 27 (10), pp. 1231-1242. | Citations: 2 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Hennequart M, Pilotte L, Cane S, Hoffmann D, Stroobant V, De Plaen E, Van den Eynde BJ. 2017. Constitutive IDO1 Expression in Human Tumors Is Driven by Cyclooxygenase-2 and Mediates Intrinsic Immune Resistance. Cancer Immunol Res, 5 (8), pp. 695-709. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Tumors use various mechanisms to avoid immune destruction. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression may be a driver of immune suppression in melanoma, but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Here, we show that COX-2 expression drives constitutive expression of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) in human tumor cells. IDO1 is an immunosuppressive enzyme that degrades tryptophan. In a series of seven human tumor lines, constitutive IDO1 expression depends on COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which, upon autocrine signaling through the EP receptor, activates IDO1 via the PKC and PI3K pathways. COX-2 expression itself depends on the MAPK pathway, which therefore indirectly controls IDO1 expression. Most of these tumors carry PI3K or MAPK oncogenic mutations, which may favor constitutive IDO1 expression. Celecoxib treatment promoted immune rejection of IDO1-expressing human tumor xenografts in immunodeficient mice reconstituted with human allogeneic lymphocytes. This effect was associated with a reduced expression of IDO1 in those ovarian SKOV3 tumors and an increased infiltration of CD3+ and CD8+ cells. Our results highlight the role of COX-2 in constitutive IDO1 expression by human tumors and substantiate the use of COX-2 inhibitors to improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy, by reducing constitutive IDO1 expression, which contributes to the lack of T-cell infiltration in "cold" tumors, which fail to respond to immunotherapy. Cancer Immunol Res; 5(8); 1-15. ©2017 AACR.

Chiang IK-N, Fritzsche M, Pichol-Thievend C, Neal A, Holmes K, Lagendijk A, Overman J, D'Angelo D, Omini A, Hermkens D et al. 2017. SoxF factors induce Notch1 expression via direct transcriptional regulation during early arterial development. Development, 144 (14), pp. 2629-2639. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Arterial specification and differentiation are influenced by a number of regulatory pathways. While it is known that the Vegfa-Notch cascade plays a central role, the transcriptional hierarchy controlling arterial specification has not been fully delineated. To elucidate the direct transcriptional regulators of Notch receptor expression in arterial endothelial cells, we used histone signatures, DNaseI hypersensitivity and ChIP-seq data to identify enhancers for the human NOTCH1 and zebrafish notch1b genes. These enhancers were able to direct arterial endothelial cell-restricted expression in transgenic models. Genetic disruption of SoxF binding sites established a clear requirement for members of this group of transcription factors (SOX7, SOX17 and SOX18) to drive the activity of these enhancers in vivo Endogenous deletion of the notch1b enhancer led to a significant loss of arterial connections to the dorsal aorta in Notch pathway-deficient zebrafish. Loss of SoxF function revealed that these factors are necessary for NOTCH1 and notch1b enhancer activity and for correct endogenous transcription of these genes. These findings position SoxF transcription factors directly upstream of Notch receptor expression during the acquisition of arterial identity in vertebrates.

Gyrd-Hansen M. 2017. All roads lead to ubiquitin. Cell Death Differ, 24 (7), pp. 1135-1136. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Read more

Falletta P, Sanchez-Del-Campo L, Chauhan J, Effern M, Kenyon A, Kershaw CJ, Siddaway R, Lisle R, Freter R, Daniels MJ et al. 2017. Translation reprogramming is an evolutionarily conserved driver of phenotypic plasticity and therapeutic resistance in melanoma. Genes Dev, 31 (1), pp. 18-33. | Citations: 20 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Sacilotto N, Chouliaras KM, Nikitenko LL, Lu YW, Fritzsche M, Wallace MD, Nornes S, García-Moreno F, Payne S, Bridges E et al. 2016. MEF2 transcription factors are key regulators of sprouting angiogenesis. Genes Dev, 30 (20), pp. 2297-2309. | Citations: 7 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Angiogenesis, the fundamental process by which new blood vessels form from existing ones, depends on precise spatial and temporal gene expression within specific compartments of the endothelium. However, the molecular links between proangiogenic signals and downstream gene expression remain unclear. During sprouting angiogenesis, the specification of endothelial cells into the tip cells that lead new blood vessel sprouts is coordinated by vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) and Delta-like ligand 4 (Dll4)/Notch signaling and requires high levels of Notch ligand DLL4. Here, we identify MEF2 transcription factors as crucial regulators of sprouting angiogenesis directly downstream from VEGFA. Through the characterization of a Dll4 enhancer directing expression to endothelial cells at the angiogenic front, we found that MEF2 factors directly transcriptionally activate the expression of Dll4 and many other key genes up-regulated during sprouting angiogenesis in both physiological and tumor vascularization. Unlike ETS-mediated regulation, MEF2-binding motifs are not ubiquitous to all endothelial gene enhancers and promoters but are instead overrepresented around genes associated with sprouting angiogenesis. MEF2 target gene activation is directly linked to VEGFA-induced release of repressive histone deacetylases and concurrent recruitment of the histone acetyltransferase EP300 to MEF2 target gene regulatory elements, thus establishing MEF2 factors as the transcriptional effectors of VEGFA signaling during angiogenesis.

Bardella C, Al-Dalahmah O, Krell D, Brazauskas P, Al-Qahtani K, Tomkova M, Adam J, Serres S, Lockstone H, Freeman-Mills L et al. 2016. Expression of Idh1R132Hin the Murine Subventricular Zone Stem Cell Niche Recapitulates Features of Early Gliomagenesis. Cancer Cell, 30 (4), pp. 578-594. | Citations: 13 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 mutations drive human gliomagenesis, probably through neomorphic enzyme activity that produces D-2-hydroxyglutarate. To model this disease, we conditionally expressed Idh1R132Hin 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. Idh1R132Hmutation in the major adult neurogenic stem cell niche causes a phenotype resembling gliomagenesis.

Mair B, Konopka T, Kerzendorfer C, Sleiman K, Salic S, Serra V, Muellner MK, Theodorou V, Nijman SMB. 2016. Gain- and Loss-of-Function Mutations in the Breast Cancer Gene GATA3 Result in Differential Drug Sensitivity. PLoS Genet, 12 (9), pp. e1006279. | Citations: 8 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Elliott PR, Leske D, Hrdinka M, Bagola K, Fiil BK, McLaughlin SH, Wagstaff J, Volkmar N, Christianson JC, Kessler BM et al. 2016. SPATA2 Links CYLD to LUBAC, Activates CYLD, and Controls LUBAC Signaling. Mol Cell, 63 (6), pp. 990-1005. | Citations: 19 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Gapp BV, Konopka T, Penz T, Dalal V, Bürckstümmer T, Bock C, Nijman SM. 2016. Parallel reverse genetic screening in mutant human cells using transcriptomics. Mol Syst Biol, 12 (8), pp. 879. | Citations: 3 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Zak J, Vives V, Szumska D, Vernet A, Schneider JE, Miller P, Slee EA, Joss S, Lacassie Y, Chen E et al. 2016. ASPP2 deficiency causes features of 1q41q42 microdeletion syndrome. Cell Death Differ, 23 (12), pp. 1973-1984. | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Zhang P, Stracquadanio G, Wang X, Pybus M, Zeron-Medina J, Nornes S, Moore S, Bi Y, Wallace M, Bond E et al. 2016. Pro-survival p53 target genes have evolved clusters of interacting polymorphic response elements that can affect cancer risk European Journal of Cancer, 61 pp. S110-S110. | Read more

Volkmar N, Fenech E, Christianson JC. 2016. New MAPS for misfolded proteins. Nat Cell Biol, 18 (7), pp. 724-726. | Citations: 3 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

Clearing misfolded proteins from the cytoplasm is essential to maintain cellular homeostasis. Now, a parallel clearance system is described that uses the deubiquitylase USP19 to enable secretion of misfolded cytoplasmic proteins when conventional proteasomal degradation is compromised. Misfolding-associated protein secretion (MAPS) has important implications for protein quality control and prion-like transmission.

Lu M, Muers MR, Lu X. 2016. Introducing STRaNDs: shuttling transcriptional regulators that are non-DNA binding. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol, 17 (8), pp. 523-532. | Citations: 1 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Tomkova M, McClellan M, Kriaucionis S, Schuster-Boeckler B. 2016. 5-hydroxymethylcytosine marks regions with reduced mutation frequency in human DNA. Elife, 5 (MAY2016), | Citations: 7 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Song C-X, Diao J, Brunger AT, Quake SR. 2016. Simultaneous single-molecule epigenetic imaging of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113 (16), pp. 4338-4343. | Citations: 10 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Becker PW, Sacilotto N, Nornes S, Neal A, Thomas MO, Liu K, Preece C, Ratnayaka I, Davies B, Bou-Gharios G, De Val S. 2016. An Intronic Flk1 Enhancer Directs Arterial-Specific Expression via RBPJ-Mediated Venous Repression. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, 36 (6), pp. 1209-1219. | Citations: 5 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Wang X, Campbell MR, Lacher SE, Cho H-Y, Wan M, Crowl CL, Chorley BN, Bond GL, Kleeberger SR, Slattery M, Bell DA. 2016. A Polymorphic Antioxidant Response Element Links NRF2/sMAF Binding to Enhanced MAPT Expression and Reduced Risk of Parkinsonian Disorders. Cell Rep, 15 (4), pp. 830-842. | Citations: 8 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Stracquadanio G, Wang X, Wallace MD, Grawenda AM, Zhang P, Hewitt J, Zeron-Medina J, Castro-Giner F, Tomlinson IP, Goding CR et al. 2016. The importance of p53 pathway genetics in inherited and somatic cancer genomes. Nat Rev Cancer, 16 (4), pp. 251-265. | Citations: 33 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Hrdinka M, Fiil BK, Zucca M, Leske D, Bagola K, Yabal M, Elliott PR, Damgaard RB, Komander D, Jost PJ, Gyrd-Hansen M. 2016. CYLD Limits Lys63- and Met1-Linked Ubiquitin at Receptor Complexes to Regulate Innate Immune Signaling. Cell Rep, 14 (12), pp. 2846-2858. | Citations: 29 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Ma W, Zhang Y, Vigneron N, Stroobant V, Thielemans K, van der Bruggen P, Van den Eynde BJ. 2016. Long-Peptide Cross-Presentation by Human Dendritic Cells Occurs in Vacuoles by Peptide Exchange on Nascent MHC Class I Molecules. J Immunol, 196 (4), pp. 1711-1720. | Citations: 10 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Hu Y, Ge W, Wang X, Sutendra G, Zhao K, Dedeić Z, Slee EA, Baer C, Lu X. 2015. Caspase cleavage of iASPP potentiates its ability to inhibit p53 and NF-κB. Oncotarget, 6 (40), pp. 42478-42490. | Citations: 4 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Nijman SMB. 2015. Functional genomics to uncover drug mechanism of action. Nat Chem Biol, 11 (12), pp. 942-948. | Citations: 21 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Hodson EJ, Nicholls LG, Turner PJ, Llyr R, Fielding JW, Douglas G, Ratnayaka I, Robbins PA, Pugh CW, Buckler KJ et al. 2016. Regulation of ventilatory sensitivity and carotid body proliferation in hypoxia by the PHD2/HIF-2 pathway. J Physiol, 594 (5), pp. 1179-1195. | Citations: 10 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Zauri M, Berridge G, Thézénas M-L, Pugh KM, Goldin R, Kessler BM, Kriaucionis S. 2015. CDA directs metabolism of epigenetic nucleosides revealing a therapeutic window in cancer. Nature, 524 (7563), pp. 114-118. | Citations: 20 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Zak J, Lu X. 2015. Aspp1: A Guardian of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Integrity. Cell Stem Cell, 17 (1), pp. 3-5. | Citations: 2 (Web of Science Lite) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Bishop T, Ratcliffe PJ. 2015. HIF hydroxylase pathways in cardiovascular physiology and medicine. Circ Res, 117 (1), pp. 65-79. | Citations: 40 (Scopus) | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

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Total citations for publications on this page: 288