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Articles by Julie Chaumeil in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Combined Immunofluorescence and DNA FISH on 3D-preserved Interphase Nuclei to Study Changes in 3D Nuclear Organization

1Department of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, 2New York University Center for Health Informatics and Bioinformatics, 3NYU Cancer Institute, 4Department of Pathology and Yale Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine


JoVE 50087

Here we describe a protocol for simultaneous detection of histone modifications by immunofluorescence and DNA sequences by DNA FISH followed by 3D microscopy and analyses (3D immuno-DNA FISH).

Other articles by Julie Chaumeil on PubMed

X-chromosome Inactivation in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells: Analysis of Histone Modifications and Transcriptional Activity Using Immunofluorescence and FISH

Differential Histone H3 Lys-9 and Lys-27 Methylation Profiles on the X Chromosome

Histone H3 tail modifications are among the earliest chromatin changes in the X-chromosome inactivation process. In this study we investigated the relative profiles of two important repressive marks on the X chromosome: methylation of H3 lysine 9 (K9) and 27 (K27). We found that both H3K9 dimethylation and K27 trimethylation characterize the inactive X in somatic cells and that their relative kinetics of enrichment on the X chromosome as it undergoes inactivation are similar. However, dynamic changes of H3K9 and H3K27 methylation on the inactivating X chromosome compared to the rest of the genome are distinct, suggesting that these two modifications play complementary and perhaps nonredundant roles in the establishment and/or maintenance of X inactivation. Furthermore, we show that a hotspot of H3K9 dimethylation 5' to Xist also displays high levels of H3 tri-meK27. However, analysis of this region in G9a mutant embryonic stem cells shows that these two methyl marks are dependent on different histone methyltransferases.

A Novel Role for Xist RNA in the Formation of a Repressive Nuclear Compartment into Which Genes Are Recruited when Silenced

During early mammalian female development, one of the two X chromosomes becomes inactivated. Although X-chromosome coating by Xist RNA is essential for the initiation of X inactivation, little is known about how this signal is transformed into transcriptional silencing. Here we show that exclusion of RNA Polymerase II and transcription factors from the Xist RNA-coated X chromosome represents the earliest event following Xist RNA accumulation described so far in differentiating embryonic stem (ES) cells. Paradoxically, exclusion of the transcription machinery occurs before gene silencing is complete. However, examination of the three-dimensional organization of X-linked genes reveals that, when transcribed, they are always located at the periphery of, or outside, the Xist RNA domain, in contact with the transcription machinery. Upon silencing, genes shift to a more internal location, within the Xist RNA compartment devoid of transcription factors. Surprisingly, the appearance of this compartment is not dependent on the A-repeats of the Xist transcript, which are essential for gene silencing. However, the A-repeats are required for the relocation of genes into the Xist RNA silent domain. We propose that Xist RNA has multiple functions: A-repeat-independent creation of a transcriptionally silent nuclear compartment; and A-repeat-dependent induction of gene repression, which is associated with their translocation into this silent domain.

Combined Immunofluorescence, RNA Fluorescent in Situ Hybridization, and DNA Fluorescent in Situ Hybridization to Study Chromatin Changes, Transcriptional Activity, Nuclear Organization, and X-chromosome Inactivation

Epigenetic mechanisms lead to the stable regulation of gene expression without alteration of DNA and trigger initiation and/or maintenance of cell-type-specific transcriptional profiles. Indeed, modulation of chromatin structure and the global 3D organization of the genome and nuclear architecture participate in the precise control of transcription. Thus, dissection of these epigenetic mechanisms is essential for our understanding of gene regulation. In this chapter, we describe challenging combinations of immunofluorescence, and RNA and DNA fluorescent in situ hybridization and their application to our studies of a remarkable example of epigenetic control of gene expression in female mammals, the process of X chromosome inactivation.

Specific Patterns of Histone Marks Accompany X Chromosome Inactivation in a Marsupial

The inactivation of one of the two X chromosomes in female placental mammals represents a remarkable example of epigenetic silencing. X inactivation occurs also in marsupial mammals, but is phenotypically different, being incomplete, tissue-specific and paternal. Paternal X inactivation occurs also in the extraembryonic cells of rodents, suggesting that imprinted X inactivation represents a simpler ancestral mechanism. This evolved into a complex and random process in placental mammals under the control of the XIST gene, involving notably variant and modified histones. Molecular mechanisms of X inactivation in marsupials are poorly known, but occur in the absence of an XIST homologue. We analysed the specific pattern of histone modifications using immunofluorescence on metaphasic chromosomes of a model kangaroo, the tammar wallaby. We found that all active marks are excluded from the inactive X in marsupials, as in placental mammals, so this represents a common feature of X inactivation throughout mammals. However, we were unable to demonstrate the accumulation of inactive histone marks, suggesting some fundamental differences in the molecular mechanism of X inactivation between marsupial and placental mammals. A better understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms underlying X inactivation in marsupials will provide important insights into the evolution of this complex process.

RAG-1 and ATM Coordinate Monoallelic Recombination and Nuclear Positioning of Immunoglobulin Loci

Coordinated recombination of homologous antigen receptor loci is thought to be important for allelic exclusion. Here we show that homologous immunoglobulin alleles pair in a stage-specific way that mirrors the recombination patterns of these loci. The frequency of homologous immunoglobulin pairing was much lower in the absence of the RAG-1-RAG-2 recombinase and was restored in Rag1-/- developing B cells with a transgene expressing a RAG-1 active-site mutant that supported DNA binding but not cleavage. The introduction of DNA breaks on one immunoglobulin allele induced ATM-dependent repositioning of the other allele to pericentromeric heterochromatin. ATM activated by the cleaved allele acts in trans on the uncleaved allele to prevent biallelic recombination and chromosome breaks or translocations.

Unravelling the Evolutionary Origins of X Chromosome Inactivation in Mammals: Insights from Marsupials and Monotremes

Determining the evolutionary origin of X inactivation mechanisms in mammals requires knowledge of features of X inactivation across all three major mammal lineages; monotremes, marsupials and eutherians. In the past, research into X inactivation in marsupials and monotremes lagged far behind the major advances made in understanding the mechanisms of X inactivation in human and mouse. Fragmentary knowledge of the genic content and sequence of marsupial and monotreme X chromosomes has been alleviated by the recent release of genome sequences for two marsupials and one monotreme. This has lead to a number of important findings, among which is the absence of XIST in marsupials and monotremes, and the surprising finding that X-borne genes in platypus are subject to stochastic transcriptional inhibition rather than whole chromosome inactivation. Availability of sequence data, and new techniques for studying expression and chromatin modification, now make rapid advance possible.

Chromosome Dynamics and the Regulation of V(D)J Recombination

Perhaps no process has provided more insight into the fine manipulation of locus accessibility than antigen receptor rearrangement. V(D)J recombination is carried out by the lymphoid-specific recombination-activating (RAG 1 and 2) proteins and the non-homologous end joining machinery; yet, it occurs only at specific loci (or portions of loci) during specific developmental stages. This spatiotemporal restriction of recombination is achieved through precise alterations in locus accessibility. In this article, we discuss the work of our laboratory in elucidating how nuclear sublocalization, chromosome conformation, and locus interactions contribute to regulating this complex process. We also discuss what is known about how key factors in B-cell development (such as the ubiquitously expressed helix loop helix protein E2A, the B-cell specific transcription factors EBF1 and Pax5, and the interleukin-7 cytokine signaling pathway) exert their effects through changes in nuclear dynamics.

Epigenetic Regulation of V(D)J Recombination

Chromosome breaks are dangerous business, carrying the risk of loss of genetic information or, even worse, misrepair of the break, leading to outcomes such as dicentric chromosomes or oncogenic translocations. Yet V(D)J recombination, a process that breaks, rearranges and repairs chromosomes, is crucial to the development of the adaptive immune system, for it gives B- and T-cells the capacity to generate a virtually unlimited repertoire of antigen receptor proteins to combat an equally vast array of antigens. To minimize the risks inherent in chromosomal breakage, V(D)J recombination is carefully orchestrated at multiple levels, ranging from DNA sequence requirements all the way up to chromatin conformation and nuclear architecture. In the present chapter we introduce various regulatory controls, with an emphasis on epigenetic mechanisms and recent work that has begun to elucidate their interdependence.

The RAG2 C Terminus Suppresses Genomic Instability and Lymphomagenesis

Misrepair of DNA double-strand breaks produced by the V(D)J recombinase (the RAG1/RAG2 proteins) at immunoglobulin (Ig) and T cell receptor (Tcr) loci has been implicated in pathogenesis of lymphoid malignancies in humans and in mice. Defects in DNA damage response factors such as ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein and combined deficiencies in classical non-homologous end joining and p53 predispose to RAG-initiated genomic rearrangements and lymphomagenesis. Although we showed previously that RAG1/RAG2 shepherd the broken DNA ends to classical non-homologous end joining for proper repair, roles for the RAG proteins in preserving genomic stability remain poorly defined. Here we show that the RAG2 carboxy (C) terminus, although dispensable for recombination, is critical for maintaining genomic stability. Thymocytes from 'core' Rag2 homozygotes (Rag2(c/c) mice) show dramatic disruption of Tcrα/δ locus integrity. Furthermore, all Rag2(c/c) p53(-/-) mice, unlike Rag1(c/c) p53(-/-) and p53(-/-) animals, rapidly develop thymic lymphomas bearing complex chromosomal translocations, amplifications and deletions involving the Tcrα/δ and Igh loci. We also find these features in lymphomas from Atm(-/-) mice. We show that, like ATM-deficiency, core RAG2 severely destabilizes the RAG post-cleavage complex. These results reveal a novel genome guardian role for RAG2 and suggest that similar 'end release/end persistence' mechanisms underlie genomic instability and lymphomagenesis in Rag2(c/c) p53(-/-) and Atm(-/-) mice.

RUNX Transcription Factor-mediated Association of Cd4 and Cd8 Enables Coordinate Gene Regulation

T cell fate is associated with mutually exclusive expression of CD4 or CD8 in helper and cytotoxic T cells, respectively. How expression of one locus is temporally coordinated with repression of the other has been a long-standing enigma, though we know RUNX transcription factors activate the Cd8 locus, silence the Cd4 locus, and repress the Zbtb7b locus (encoding the transcription factor ThPOK), which is required for CD4 expression. Here we found that nuclear organization was altered by interplay among members of this transcription factor circuitry: RUNX binding mediated association of Cd4 and Cd8 whereas ThPOK binding kept the loci apart. Moreover, targeted deletions within Cd4 modulated CD8 expression and pericentromeric repositioning of Cd8. Communication between Cd4 and Cd8 thus appears to enable long-range epigenetic regulation to ensure that expression of one excludes the other in mature CD4 or CD8 single-positive (SP) cells.

Evolution from XIST-independent to XIST-controlled X-chromosome Inactivation: Epigenetic Modifications in Distantly Related Mammals

X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is the transcriptional silencing of one X in female mammals, balancing expression of X genes between females (XX) and males (XY). In placental mammals non-coding XIST RNA triggers silencing of one X (Xi) and recruits a characteristic suite of epigenetic modifications, including the histone mark H3K27me3. In marsupials, where XIST is missing, H3K27me3 association seems to have different degrees of stability, depending on cell-types and species. However, the complete suite of histone marks associated with the Xi and their stability throughout cell cycle remain a mystery, as does the evolution of an ancient mammal XCI system. Our extensive immunofluorescence analysis (using antibodies against specific histone modifications) in nuclei of mammals distantly related to human and mouse, revealed a general absence from the mammalian Xi territory of transcription machinery and histone modifications associated with active chromatin. Specific repressive modifications associated with XCI in human and mouse were also observed in elephant (a distantly related placental mammal), as was accumulation of XIST RNA. However, in two marsupial species the Xi either lacked these modifications (H4K20me1), or they were restricted to specific windows of the cell cycle (H3K27me3, H3K9me2). Surprisingly, the marsupial Xi was stably enriched for modifications associated with constitutive heterochromatin in all eukaryotes (H4K20me3, H3K9me3). We propose that marsupial XCI is comparable to a system that evolved in the common therian (marsupial and placental) ancestor. Silent chromatin of the early inactive X was exapted from neighbouring constitutive heterochromatin and, in early placental evolution, was augmented by the rise of XIST and the stable recruitment of specific histone modifications now classically associated with XCI.

Equal Opportunity for All

The Role of CTCF in Regulating V(D)J Recombination

V(D)J recombination in B and T cells is required for the generation of receptors with a broad spectrum of specificity to foreign antigen. A total number of three immunoglobulin (Ig) and four T cell receptor (Tcr) loci can be targeted by the recombinase enzyme (RAG1/2) in a defined series of recombination events, which drive the progression of B and T cell development. This process is regulated at multiple levels to ensure lineage specific, ordered rearrangement and allelic exclusion. One key component of this is modulation of chromatin looping and locus contraction, which is important in bringing widely separated gene segments into close contact with each other to enable synapse formation for lineage and stage specific V gene rearrangement [2,3,4(•),5,6(•)]. Recent studies provide new insight into looping and its role in these processes. In this review we focus on the contribution of the 11 zinc finger nuclear protein, CTCF, in mediating loop formation and conformational changes that are important for the regulation of Ig and Tcr rearrangement.

IL-7 Functionally Segregates the Pro-B Cell Stage by Regulating Transcription of Recombination Mediators Across Cell Cycle

Ag receptor diversity involves the introduction of DNA double-stranded breaks during lymphocyte development. To ensure fidelity, cleavage is confined to the G(0)-G(1) phase of the cell cycle. One established mechanism of regulation is through periodic degradation of the RAG2 recombinase protein. However, there are additional levels of protection. In this paper, we show that cyclical changes in the IL-7R signaling pathway functionally segregate pro-B cells according to cell cycle status. In consequence, the level of a downstream effector of IL-7 signaling, phospho-STAT5, is inversely correlated with cell cycle expression of Rag, a key gene involved in recombination. Higher levels of phopho-STAT5 in S-G(2) correlate with decreased Rag expression and Rag relocalization to pericentromeric heterochromatin. These cyclical changes in transcription and locus repositioning are ablated upon transformation with v-Abl, which renders STAT5 constitutively active across the cell cycle. We propose that this activity of the IL-7R/STAT5 pathway plays a critical protective role in development, complementing regulation of RAG2 at the protein level, to ensure that recombination does not occur during replication. Our data, suggesting that pro-B cells are not a single homogeneous population, explain inconsistencies in the role of IL-7 signaling in regulating Igh recombination.

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