Functional characterization of noncoding sequences is crucial for understanding the human genome and learning how genetic variation contributes to disease. 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) are an important class of noncoding sequences, but their functions remain largely uncharacterized. We developed a method for massively parallel functional annotation of sequences from 3' UTRs (fast-UTR) and used this approach to measure the effects of a total of >450 kilobases of 3' UTR sequences from >2,000 human genes on steady-state mRNA abundance, mRNA stability and protein production. We found widespread regulatory effects on mRNA that were coupled to effects on mRNA stability and protein production. Furthermore, we discovered 87 novel cis-regulatory elements and measured the effects of genetic variation within known and novel 3' UTR motifs. This work shows how massively parallel approaches can improve the functional annotation of noncoding sequences, advance our understanding of cis-regulatory mechanisms and quantify the effects of human genetic variation.
The maintenance of immunological tolerance requires the deletion of self-reactive T cells in the thymus. The expression of genes encoding tissue-specific antigens (TSAs) by thymic epithelial cells is critical for this process and depends on activity of the transcriptional regulator Aire; however, the molecular mechanisms Aire uses to target loci encoding TSAs are unknown. Here we identified two Aire-interacting proteins known to be involved in gene repression, ATF7ip and MBD1, that were required for Aire's targeting of loci encoding TSAs. Moreover, Mbd1(-/-) mice developed pathological autoimmunity and had a defect in Aire-dependent thymic expression of genes encoding TSAs, which underscores the importance of Aire's interaction with the ATF7ip-MBD1 protein complex in maintaining central tolerance.
Asthma is characterized by increased airway narrowing in response to nonspecific stimuli. The disorder is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. Exosomes are nanosized vesicles of endosomal origin released from inflammatory and epithelial cells that have been implicated in asthma. In this study we characterized the microRNA (miRNA) content of exosomes in healthy control subjects and patients with mild intermittent asthma both at unprovoked baseline and in response to environmental challenge.
The medial ganglionic eminence (MGE) is an embryonic forebrain structure that generates the majority of cortical interneurons. MGE transplantation into specific regions of the postnatal central nervous system modifies circuit function and improves deficits in mouse models of epilepsy, Parkinsons disease, pain, and phencyclidine-induced cognitive deficits. Herein, we describe approaches to generate MGE-like progenitor cells from mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. Using a modified embryoid body method, we provided gene expression evidence that mouse ES-derived Lhx6(+) cells closely resemble immature interneurons generated from authentic MGE-derived Lhx6(+) cells. We hypothesized that enhancers that are active in the mouse MGE would be useful tools in detecting when ES cells differentiate into MGE cells. Here we demonstrate the utility of enhancer elements [422 (DlxI12b), Lhx6, 692, 1056, and 1538] as tools to mark MGE-like cells in ES cell differentiation experiments. We found that enhancers DlxI12b, 692, and 1538 are active in Lhx6-GFP(+) cells, while enhancer 1056 is active in Olig2(+) cells. These data demonstrate unique techniques to follow and purify MGE-like derivatives from ES cells, including GABAergic cortical interneurons and oligodendrocytes, for use in stem cell-based therapeutic assays and treatments.
Messenger RNAs (mRNAs) contain prominent untranslated regions (UTRs) that are increasingly recognized to play roles in mRNA processing, transport, stability, and translation. 3 UTRs are believed to harbor recognition sites for a diverse set of RNA-binding proteins that regulate gene expression as well as most active microRNA target sites. Although the roles of 3 UTRs in the normal and diseased lung have not yet been studied extensively, available evidence suggests important roles for 3 UTRs in lung development, inflammation, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and cancer. Systematic, genome-wide approaches are beginning to catalog functional elements within 3 UTRs and identify the proteins and microRNAs that interact with these elements. Application of new data sets and experimental approaches should provide powerful insights into how 3 UTR-mediated regulatory events contribute to disease and may inspire novel therapeutic approaches.
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