The genetic reporter assay is a well-established and powerful tool for dissecting the relationship between DNA sequences and their gene regulatory activities. The potential throughput of this assay has, however, been limited by the need to individually clone and assay the activity of each sequence on interest using protein fluorescence or enzymatic activity as a proxy for regulatory activity. Advances in high-throughput DNA synthesis and sequencing technologies have recently made it possible to overcome these limitations by multiplexing the construction and interrogation of large libraries of reporter constructs. This protocol describes implementation of a Massively Parallel Reporter Assay (MPRA) that allows direct comparison of hundreds of thousands of putative regulatory sequences in a single cell culture dish.
We have developed a robust RNA sequencing method for generating complete de novo assemblies with intra-host variant calls of Lassa and Ebola virus genomes in clinical and biological samples. Our method uses targeted RNase H-based digestion to remove contaminating poly(rA) carrier and ribosomal RNA. This depletion step improves both the quality of data and quantity of informative reads in unbiased total RNA sequencing libraries. We have also developed a hybrid-selection protocol to further enrich the viral content of sequencing libraries. These protocols have enabled rapid deep sequencing of both Lassa and Ebola virus and are broadly applicable to other viral genomics studies.
Deep mutational scanning has emerged as a promising tool for mapping sequence-activity relationships in proteins, ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid. In this approach, diverse variants of a sequence of interest are first ranked according to their activities in a relevant assay, and this ranking is then used to infer the shape of the fitness landscape around the wild-type sequence. Little is currently known, however, about the degree to which such fitness landscapes are dependent on the specific assay conditions from which they are inferred. To explore this issue, we performed comprehensive single-substitution mutational scanning of APH(3')II, a Tn5 transposon-derived kinase that confers resistance to aminoglycoside antibiotics, in Escherichia coli under selection with each of six structurally diverse antibiotics at a range of inhibitory concentrations. We found that the resulting local fitness landscapes showed significant dependence on both antibiotic structure and concentration, and that this dependence can be exploited to guide protein engineering. Specifically, we found that differential analysis of fitness landscapes allowed us to generate synthetic APH(3')II variants with orthogonal substrate specificities.
Differentiation of osteoblasts from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is an integral part of bone development and homeostasis, and may when improperly regulated cause disease such as bone cancer or osteoporosis. Using unbiased high-throughput methods we here characterize the landscape of global changes in gene expression, histone modifications, and DNA methylation upon differentiation of human MSCs to the osteogenic lineage. Furthermore, we provide a first genome-wide characterization of DNA binding sites of the bone master regulatory transcription factor Runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2) in human osteoblasts, revealing target genes associated with regulation of proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and with a significant overlap with p53 regulated genes. These findings expand on emerging evidence of a role for RUNX2 in cancer, including bone metastases, and the p53 regulatory network. We further demonstrate that RUNX2 binds to distant regulatory elements, promoters, and with high frequency to gene 3' ends. Finally, we identify TEAD2 and GTF2I as novel regulators of osteogenesis.
Defining the transcriptional dynamics of a temporal process such as cell differentiation is challenging owing to the high variability in gene expression between individual cells. Time-series gene expression analyses of bulk cells have difficulty distinguishing early and late phases of a transcriptional cascade or identifying rare subpopulations of cells, and single-cell proteomic methods rely on a priori knowledge of key distinguishing markers. Here we describe Monocle, an unsupervised algorithm that increases the temporal resolution of transcriptome dynamics using single-cell RNA-Seq data collected at multiple time points. Applied to the differentiation of primary human myoblasts, Monocle revealed switch-like changes in expression of key regulatory factors, sequential waves of gene regulation, and expression of regulators that were not known to act in differentiation. We validated some of these predicted regulators in a loss-of function screen. Monocle can in principle be used to recover single-cell gene expression kinetics from a wide array of cellular processes, including differentiation, proliferation and oncogenic transformation.
N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a common modification of mRNA with potential roles in fine-tuning the RNA life cycle. Here, we identify a dense network of proteins interacting with METTL3, a component of the methyltransferase complex, and show that three of them (WTAP, METTL14, and KIAA1429) are required for methylation. Monitoring m6A levels upon WTAP depletion allowed the definition of accurate and near single-nucleotide resolution methylation maps and their classification into WTAP-dependent and -independent sites. WTAP-dependent sites are located at internal positions in transcripts, topologically static across a variety of systems we surveyed, and inversely correlated with mRNA stability, consistent with a role in establishing "basal" degradation rates. WTAP-independent sites form at the first transcribed base as part of the cap structure and are present at thousands of sites, forming a previously unappreciated layer of transcriptome complexity. Our data shed light on the proteomic and transcriptional underpinnings of this RNA modification.
The transcription factor SOX9 is believed to be the master regulator of chondrogenesis. SOX8 is another SOX group E transcription factor with a high degree of homology to SOX9. Here, we demonstrate that SOX8 mRNA levels decrease during in vitro dedifferentiation of human articular chondrocytes and increase during chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stromal cells. Knockdown of SOX9 reduced the expression of SOX8, COL2A1, and a range of other chondrogenic molecules. SOX8 knockdown reduced the expression of a large number of overlapping chondrogenic molecules, but not SOX9. Neither siSOX9 nor siSOX8 altered expression of the hypertrophic marker gene COL10A1. siSOX9, but not siSOX8 led to upregulation of hypertrophy associated genes MMP13 and ALPL. Transfection of synthetic SOX5, 6, and 9 mRNA trio upregulated SOX8, COL2A1, and ACAN, but not COL10A1 mRNA. Replacement of synthetic SOX9 by SOX8 in the SOX trio showed similar but lower chondrogenic effect. We conclude that SOX8 expression is regulated by SOX9, and that both together with SOX5 and SOX6 are required as a SOX quartet for transcription of COL2A1 and a large number of other chondrogenic molecules. Neither SOX8 nor SOX9 affect COL10A1 expression, but SOX9 inhibits chondrocyte hypertrophy through inhibition of MMP13 and ALPL expression.
The in vitro process of chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells for tissue engineering has been shown to require three-dimensional culture along with the addition of differentiation factors to the culture medium. In general, this leads to a phenotype lacking some of the cardinal features of native articular chondrocytes and their extracellular matrix. The factors used vary, but regularly include members of the transforming growth factor ? superfamily and dexamethasone, sometimes in conjunction with fibroblast growth factor 2 and insulin-like growth factor 1, however the use of soluble factors to induce chondrogenesis has largely been studied on a single factor basis. In the present study we combined a factorial quality-by-design experiment with high-throughput mRNA profiling of a customized chondrogenesis related gene set as a tool to study in vitro chondrogenesis of human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells in alginate. 48 different conditions of transforming growth factor ? 1, 2 and 3, bone morphogenetic protein 2, 4 and 6, dexamethasone, insulin-like growth factor 1, fibroblast growth factor 2 and cell seeding density were included in the experiment. The analysis revealed that the best of the tested differentiation cocktails included transforming growth factor ? 1 and dexamethasone. Dexamethasone acted in synergy with transforming growth factor ? 1 by increasing many chondrogenic markers while directly downregulating expression of the pro-osteogenic gene osteocalcin. However, all factors beneficial to the expression of desirable hyaline cartilage markers also induced undesirable molecules, indicating that perfect chondrogenic differentiation is not achievable with the current differentiation protocols.
ZBED6 is a recently discovered transcription factor, unique to placental mammals, that has evolved from a domesticated DNA transposon. It acts as a repressor at the IGF2 locus. Here we show that ZBED6 acts as a transcriptional modulator in mouse myoblast cells, where more than 700 genes were differentially expressed after Zbed6-silencing. The most significantly enriched GO term was muscle protein and contractile fiber, which was consistent with increased myotube formation. Twenty small nucleolar RNAs all showed increased expression after Zbed6-silencing. The co-localization of histone marks and ZBED6 binding sites and the effect of Zbed6-silencing on distribution of histone marks was evaluated by ChIP-seq analysis. There was a strong association between ZBED6 binding sites and the H3K4me3, H3K4me2 and H3K27ac modifications, which are usually found at active promoters, but no association with the repressive mark H3K27me3. Zbed6-silencing led to increased enrichment of active marks at myogenic genes, in agreement with the RNA-seq findings. We propose that ZBED6 preferentially binds to active promoters and modulates transcriptional activity without recruiting repressive histone modifications.
The simplicity of programming the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-associated nuclease Cas9 to modify specific genomic loci suggests a new way to interrogate gene function on a genome-wide scale. We show that lentiviral delivery of a genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 knockout (GeCKO) library targeting 18,080 genes with 64,751 unique guide sequences enables both negative and positive selection screening in human cells. First, we used the GeCKO library to identify genes essential for cell viability in cancer and pluripotent stem cells. Next, in a melanoma model, we screened for genes whose loss is involved in resistance to vemurafenib, a therapeutic RAF inhibitor. Our highest-ranking candidates include previously validated genes NF1 and MED12, as well as novel hits NF2, CUL3, TADA2B, and TADA1. We observe a high level of consistency between independent guide RNAs targeting the same gene and a high rate of hit confirmation, demonstrating the promise of genome-scale screening with Cas9.
Abstract Lesions of articular cartilage do not heal spontaneously. One treatment strategy would be to make cartilage in the laboratory by directed chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). To promote our understanding of the molecular control of chondrogenesis, we have compared the changes in microRNAs (miRNAs) during in vitro chondrogenesis of MSCs with those observed in uncultured and dedifferentiated articular chondrocytes (ACs). Several miRNAs showed a reciprocal relationship during the differentiation of MSCs and dedifferentiation of ACs. miR-140-5p and miR-140-3p changed the most during in vitro chondrogenesis, they were the miRNAs most highly expressed in tissue-engineered chondrocytes, and they were also among the miRNAs most highly expressed in uncultured ACs. There was a 57% overlap for the 100 most highly expressed miRNAs in differentiated MSCs and uncultured ACs, but for other miRNAs, the expression pattern was quite different. We transiently and stably inhibited and overexpressed miR-140-5p and miR-140-3p in differentiating MSCs and dedifferentiating ACs, respectively, to describe global effects and identify and validate new targets. Surprisingly, SOX9 and aggrecan proteins were found to be downregulated in anti-miR-140 transduced differentiating MSCs despite unchanged mRNA levels. This suggests that miR-140 stimulates in vitro chondrogenesis by the upregulation of these molecules at the protein level. RALA, a small GTPase, was identified as a miR-140 target and knockdown experiments showed that RALA regulated SOX9 at the protein level. These observations shed new light on the effect of miR-140 for chondrogenesis in vitro and in vivo.
EBF1 plays a crucial role in early adipogenesis; however, despite high expression in mature adipocytes, its function in these cells is currently unknown. To identify direct and indirect EBF1 targets in fat, we undertook a combination of transcriptional profiling of EBF1-deficient adipocytes and genome-wide EBF1 location analysis. Our results indicate that many components of metabolic and inflammatory pathways are positively and directly regulated by EBF1, including PI3K/AKT, MAPK, and STAT1 signaling. Accordingly, we observed significant reduction of multiple signaling events in EBF1 knockdown cells as well as a reduction in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake and lipogenesis. Inflammatory signaling, gene expression, and secretion of inflammatory cytokines were also significantly affected by loss of EBF1 in adipocytes, although ChIP-sequencing results suggest that these actions are indirect. We also found that EBF1 occupies some 35,000 sites in adipocytes, most of which occur in enhancers. Significantly, comparison with three other published EBF1 ChIP-sequencing data sets in B-cells reveals both gene- and cell type-specific patterns of EBF1 binding. These results advance our understanding of the transcriptional mechanisms regulating signaling pathways in mature fat cells and indicate that EBF1 functions as a key integrator of signal transduction, inflammation, and metabolism.
N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) is the most ubiquitous mRNA base modification, but little is known about its precise location, temporal dynamics, and regulation. Here, we generated genomic maps of m(6)A sites in meiotic yeast transcripts at nearly single-nucleotide resolution, identifying 1,308 putatively methylated sites within 1,183 transcripts. We validated eight out of eight methylation sites in different genes with direct genetic analysis, demonstrated that methylated sites are significantly conserved in a related species, and built a model that predicts methylated sites directly from sequence. Sites vary in their methylation profiles along a dense meiotic time course and are regulated both locally, via predictable methylatability of each site, and globally, through the core meiotic circuitry. The methyltransferase complex components localize to the yeast nucleolus, and this localization is essential for mRNA methylation. Our data illuminate a conserved, dynamically regulated methylation program in yeast meiosis and provide an important resource for studying the function of this epitranscriptomic modification.
Understanding the extent of genomic transcription and its functional relevance is a central goal in genomics research. However, detailed genome-wide investigations of transcriptome complexity in major mammalian organs have been scarce. Here, using extensive RNA-seq data, we show that transcription of the genome is substantially more widespread in the testis than in other organs across representative mammals. Furthermore, we reveal that meiotic spermatocytes and especially postmeiotic round spermatids have remarkably diverse transcriptomes, which explains the high transcriptome complexity of the testis as a whole. The widespread transcriptional activity in spermatocytes and spermatids encompasses protein-coding and long noncoding RNA genes but also poorly conserves intergenic sequences, suggesting that it may not be of immediate functional relevance. Rather, our analyses of genome-wide epigenetic data suggest that this prevalent transcription, which most likely promoted the birth of new genes during evolution, is facilitated by an overall permissive chromatin in these germ cells that results from extensive chromatin remodeling.
Genome-wide chromatin annotations have permitted the mapping of putative regulatory elements across multiple human cell types. However, their experimental dissection by directed regulatory motif disruption has remained unfeasible at the genome scale. Here, we use a massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA) to measure the transcriptional levels induced by 145-bp DNA segments centered on evolutionarily conserved regulatory motif instances within enhancer chromatin states. We select five predicted activators (HNF1, HNF4, FOXA, GATA, NFE2L2) and two predicted repressors (GFI1, ZFP161) and measure reporter expression in erythroleukemia (K562) and liver carcinoma (HepG2) cell lines. We test 2104 wild-type sequences and 3314 engineered enhancer variants containing targeted motif disruptions, each using 10 barcode tags and two replicates. The resulting data strongly confirm the enhancer activity and cell-type specificity of enhancer chromatin states, the ability of 145-bp segments to recapitulate both, the necessary role of regulatory motifs in enhancer function, and the complementary roles of activator and repressor motifs. We find statistically robust evidence that (1) disrupting the predicted activator motifs abolishes enhancer function, while silent or motif-improving changes maintain enhancer activity; (2) evolutionary conservation, nucleosome exclusion, binding of other factors, and strength of the motif match are predictive of enhancer activity; (3) scrambling repressor motifs leads to aberrant reporter expression in cell lines where the enhancers are usually inactive. Our results suggest a general strategy for deciphering cis-regulatory elements by systematic large-scale manipulation and provide quantitative enhancer activity measurements across thousands of constructs that can be mined to develop predictive models of gene expression.
For safe clinical application of engineered cartilage made from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), molecular mechanisms for chondrogenic differentiation must be known in detail. Changes in gene expression and extracellular matrix synthesis have been extensively studied, but the epigenomic modifications underlying these changes have not been described. To this end we performed whole-genome chromatin immunoprecipitation and deep sequencing to quantify six histone modifications, reduced representation bisulphite sequencing to quantify DNA methylation and mRNA microarrays to quantify gene expression before and after 7 days of chondrogenic differentiation of MSCs in an alginate scaffold. To add to the clinical relevance of our observations, the study is based on primary bone marrow-derived MSCs from four donors, allowing us to investigate inter-individual variations.
Chromatin profiling has emerged as a powerful means of genome annotation and detection of regulatory activity. The approach is especially well suited to the characterization of non-coding portions of the genome, which critically contribute to cellular phenotypes yet remain largely uncharted. Here we map nine chromatin marks across nine cell types to systematically characterize regulatory elements, their cell-type specificities and their functional interactions. Focusing on cell-type-specific patterns of promoters and enhancers, we define multicell activity profiles for chromatin state, gene expression, regulatory motif enrichment and regulator expression. We use correlations between these profiles to link enhancers to putative target genes, and predict the cell-type-specific activators and repressors that modulate them. The resulting annotations and regulatory predictions have implications for the interpretation of genome-wide association studies. Top-scoring disease single nucleotide polymorphisms are frequently positioned within enhancer elements specifically active in relevant cell types, and in some cases affect a motif instance for a predicted regulator, thus suggesting a mechanism for the association. Our study presents a general framework for deciphering cis-regulatory connections and their roles in disease.
The NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Mapping Consortium aims to produce a public resource of epigenomic maps for stem cells and primary ex vivo tissues selected to represent the normal counterparts of tissues and organ systems frequently involved in human disease.
We report the generation and comparative analysis of genome-wide chromatin state maps, PPAR? and CTCF localization maps, and gene expression profiles from murine and human models of adipogenesis. The data provide high-resolution views of chromatin remodeling during cellular differentiation and allow identification of thousands of putative preadipocyte- and adipocyte-specific cis-regulatory elements based on dynamic chromatin signatures. We find that the specific locations of most such elements differ between the two models, including at orthologous loci with similar expression patterns. Based on sequence analysis and reporter assays, we show that these differences are determined, in part, by evolutionary turnover of transcription factor motifs in the genome sequences and that this turnover may be facilitated by the presence of multiple distal regulatory elements at adipogenesis-dependent loci. We also utilize the close relationship between open chromatin marks and transcription factor motifs to identify and validate PLZF and SRF as regulators of adipogenesis.
Bisulfite sequencing measures absolute levels of DNA methylation at single-nucleotide resolution, providing a robust platform for molecular diagnostics. We optimized bisulfite sequencing for genome-scale analysis of clinical samples: here we outline how restriction digestion targets bisulfite sequencing to hotspots of epigenetic regulation and describe a statistical method for assessing significance of altered DNA methylation patterns. Thirty nanograms of DNA was sufficient for genome-scale analysis and our protocol worked well on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples.
A single nucleotide substitution in intron 3 of IGF2 in pigs abrogates a binding site for a repressor and leads to a 3-fold up-regulation of IGF2 in skeletal muscle. The mutation has major effects on muscle growth, size of the heart, and fat deposition. Here, we have identified the repressor and find that the protein, named ZBED6, is previously unknown, specific for placental mammals, and derived from an exapted DNA transposon. Silencing of Zbed6 in mouse C2C12 myoblasts affected Igf2 expression, cell proliferation, wound healing, and myotube formation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) sequencing using C2C12 cells identified about 2,500 ZBED6 binding sites in the genome, and the deduced consensus motif gave a perfect match with the established binding site in Igf2. Genes associated with ZBED6 binding sites showed a highly significant enrichment for certain Gene Ontology classifications, including development and transcriptional regulation. The phenotypic effects in mutant pigs and ZBED6-silenced C2C12 myoblasts, the extreme sequence conservation, its nucleolar localization, the broad tissue distribution, and the many target genes with essential biological functions suggest that ZBED6 is an important transcription factor in placental mammals, affecting development, cell proliferation, and growth.
There is growing recognition that mammalian cells produce many thousands of large intergenic transcripts. However, the functional significance of these transcripts has been particularly controversial. Although there are some well-characterized examples, most (>95%) show little evidence of evolutionary conservation and have been suggested to represent transcriptional noise. Here we report a new approach to identifying large non-coding RNAs using chromatin-state maps to discover discrete transcriptional units intervening known protein-coding loci. Our approach identified approximately 1,600 large multi-exonic RNAs across four mouse cell types. In sharp contrast to previous collections, these large intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) show strong purifying selection in their genomic loci, exonic sequences and promoter regions, with greater than 95% showing clear evolutionary conservation. We also developed a functional genomics approach that assigns putative functions to each lincRNA, demonstrating a diverse range of roles for lincRNAs in processes from embryonic stem cell pluripotency to cell proliferation. We obtained independent functional validation for the predictions for over 100 lincRNAs, using cell-based assays. In particular, we demonstrate that specific lincRNAs are transcriptionally regulated by key transcription factors in these processes such as p53, NFkappaB, Sox2, Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) and Nanog. Together, these results define a unique collection of functional lincRNAs that are highly conserved and implicated in diverse biological processes.
In the vertebrate neural tube, regional Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling invokes a time- and concentration-dependent induction of six different cell populations mediated through Gli transcriptional regulators. Elsewhere in the embryo, Shh/Gli responses invoke different tissue-appropriate regulatory programs. A genome-scale analysis of DNA binding by Gli1 and Sox2, a pan-neural determinant, identified a set of shared regulatory regions associated with key factors central to cell fate determination and neural tube patterning. Functional analysis in transgenic mice validates core enhancers for each of these factors and demonstrates the dual requirement for Gli1 and Sox2 inputs for neural enhancer activity. Furthermore, through an unbiased determination of Gli-binding site preferences and analysis of binding site variants in the developing mammalian CNS, we demonstrate that differential Gli-binding affinity underlies threshold-level activator responses to Shh input. In summary, our results highlight Sox2 input as a context-specific determinant of the neural-specific Shh response and differential Gli-binding site affinity as an important cis-regulatory property critical for interpreting Shh morphogen action in the mammalian neural tube.
Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon resulting in parent-of-origin specific monoallelic gene expression. It is postulated to have evolved in placental mammals to modulate intrauterine resource allocation to the offspring. In this study, we determined the imprint status of metatherian orthologues of eutherian imprinted genes.
The molecular role of corepressors is poorly understood. Here, we studied the transcriptional function of the corepressor SMRT during terminal adipogenesis. Genome-wide DNA-binding profiling revealed that this corepressor is predominantly located in active chromatin regions and that most distal SMRT binding events are lost after differentiation induction. Promoter-proximal tethering of SMRT in preadipocytes is primarily mediated by KAISO through the conserved TCTCGCGAGA motif. Further characterization revealed that KAISO, similar to SMRT, accelerates the cell cycle and increases fat accumulation upon knockdown, identifying KAISO as an adipogenic repressor that likely modulates the mitotic clonal expansion phase of this process. SMRT-bound promoter-distal sites tend to overlap with C/EBP?-bound regions, which become occupied by proadipogenic transcription factors after SMRT clearance. This reveals a role for SMRT in masking enhancers from proadipogenic factors in preadipocytes. Finally, we identified SMRT as an adipogenic gatekeeper as it directly fine-tunes transcription of pro- and antiadipogenic genes.
DNA methylation is highly dynamic during mammalian embryogenesis. It is broadly accepted that the paternal genome is actively depleted of 5-methylcytosine at fertilization, followed by passive loss that reaches a minimum at the blastocyst stage. However, this model is based on limited data, and so far no base-resolution maps exist to support and refine it. Here we generate genome-scale DNA methylation maps in mouse gametes and from the zygote through post-implantation. We find that the oocyte already exhibits global hypomethylation, particularly at specific families of long interspersed element 1 and long terminal repeat retroelements, which are disparately methylated between gametes and have lower methylation values in the zygote than in sperm. Surprisingly, the oocyte contributes a unique set of differentially methylated regions (DMRs)--including many CpG island promoters--that are maintained in the early embryo but are lost upon specification and absent from somatic cells. In contrast, sperm-contributed DMRs are largely intergenic and become hypermethylated after the blastocyst stage. Our data provide a genome-scale, base-resolution timeline of DNA methylation in the pre-specified embryo, when this epigenetic modification is most dynamic, before returning to the canonical somatic pattern.
Learning to read and write the transcriptional regulatory code is of central importance to progress in genetic analysis and engineering. Here we describe a massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA) that facilitates the systematic dissection of transcriptional regulatory elements. In MPRA, microarray-synthesized DNA regulatory elements and unique sequence tags are cloned into plasmids to generate a library of reporter constructs. These constructs are transfected into cells and tag expression is assayed by high-throughput sequencing. We apply MPRA to compare >27,000 variants of two inducible enhancers in human cells: a synthetic cAMP-regulated enhancer and the virus-inducible interferon-? enhancer. We first show that the resulting data define accurate maps of functional transcription factor binding sites in both enhancers at single-nucleotide resolution. We then use the data to train quantitative sequence-activity models (QSAMs) of the two enhancers. We show that QSAMs from two cellular states can be combined to design enhancer variants that optimize potentially conflicting objectives, such as maximizing induced activity while minimizing basal activity.
The adipocyte-derived hormone leptin is a critical regulator of many physiological functions, ranging from satiety to immunity. Surprisingly, very little is known about the transcriptional pathways that regulate adipocyte-specific expression of leptin. Here, we report studies in which we pursued a strategy integrating BAC transgenic reporter mice, reporter assays, and chromatin state mapping to locate an adipocyte-specific cis-element upstream of the leptin (LEP) gene in human fat cells. Quantitative proteomics with affinity enrichment of protein-DNA complexes identified the transcription factor FOS-like antigen 2 (FOSL2) as binding specifically to the identified region, a result that was confirmed by ChIP. Knockdown of FOSL2 in human adipocytes decreased LEP expression, and overexpression of Fosl2 increased Lep expression in mouse adipocytes. Moreover, the elevated LEP expression observed in obesity correlated well with increased FOSL2 levels in mice and humans, and adipocyte-specific genetic deletion of Fosl2 in mice reduced Lep expression. Taken together, these data identify FOSL2 as a critical regulator of leptin expression in adipocytes.
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