Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are neoplastic disorders of hematopoietic stem cells. DNA methyltransferase inhibitors, 5-azacytidine and 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (decitabine), benefit some MDS/AML patients. However, the role of DNA methyltransferase inhibitor-induced DNA hypomethylation in regulation of gene expression in AML is unclear.
Cellular senescence is a stable proliferation arrest associated with an altered secretory pathway, the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. However, cellular senescence is initiated by diverse molecular triggers, such as activated oncogenes and shortened telomeres, and is associated with varied and complex physiological endpoints, such as tumor suppression and tissue aging. The extent to which distinct triggers activate divergent modes of senescence that might be associated with different physiological endpoints is largely unknown. To begin to address this, we performed gene expression profiling to compare the senescence programs associated with two different modes of senescence, oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) and replicative senescence (RS [in part caused by shortened telomeres]). While both OIS and RS are associated with many common changes in gene expression compared to control proliferating cells, they also exhibit substantial differences. These results are discussed in light of potential physiological consequences, tumor suppression and aging.
The Wnt signaling pathway is involved in the regulation of tissue patterning and organ development during embryogenesis and continues to contribute to the maintenance of tissue homeostasis in adulthood. Recently, Wnt signaling has also been implicated in the establishment and progression of replicative cellular senescence. Given the known roles of tissue homeostasis and cellular senescence in aging, we sought to determine whether Wnt signaling changes with age. We examined the expression of 84 Wnt pathway-related genes in the liver, lung, skeletal muscle, and brain tissue from young and old mice. Expression changes were compared with those seen in cellular senescence, and transcription factors that might mediate these changes were predicted bioinformatically. In aggregate, our data are indicative of a general decrease in Wnt signaling with age, especially in the lung and brain. Furthermore, the set of genes that are differentially expressed with age is distinct from the genes differentially expressed in cellular senescence. The transcription factors predicted to regulate these changes, Nf-?B, Myb, Nkx2-1, Nr5a2, and Ep300, are known to regulate inflammation, differentiation, lipid metabolism, and chromatin remodeling, all of which have previously been implicated in aging. Although our study does not address whether altered Wnt signaling is a cause or an effect of aging, the presence of a relationship between the two provides a starting point for further investigation.
Altered DNA methylation and associated destabilization of genome integrity and function is a hallmark of cancer. Replicative senescence is a tumour suppressor process that imposes a limit on the proliferative potential of normal cells that all cancer cells must bypass. Here we show by whole-genome single-nucleotide bisulfite sequencing that replicative senescent human cells exhibit widespread DNA hypomethylation and focal hypermethylation. Hypomethylation occurs preferentially at gene-poor, late-replicating, lamin-associated domains and is linked to mislocalization of the maintenance DNA methyltransferase (DNMT1) in cells approaching senescence. Low-level gains of methylation are enriched in CpG islands, including at genes whose methylation and silencing is thought to promote cancer. Gains and losses of methylation in replicative senescence are thus qualitatively similar to those in cancer, and this reprogrammed methylation landscape is largely retained when cells bypass senescence. Consequently, the DNA methylome of senescent cells might promote malignancy, if these cells escape the proliferative barrier.
Cellular senescence is a stable proliferation arrest associated with an altered secretory pathway (senescence-associated secretory phenotype). Cellular senescence is also a tumor suppressor mechanism, to which both proliferation arrest and senescence-associated secretory phenotype are thought to contribute. The melanocytes within benign human nevi are a paradigm for tumor-suppressive senescent cells in a premalignant neoplasm. Here a comparison of proliferating and senescent melanocytes and melanoma cell lines by RNA sequencing emphasizes the importance of senescence-associated proliferation arrest in suppression of transformation. Previous studies showed that activation of the Wnt signaling pathway can delay or bypass senescence. Consistent with this, we present evidence that repression of Wnt signaling contributes to melanocyte senescence in vitro. Surprisingly, Wnt signaling is active in many senescent human melanocytes in nevi, and this is linked to histological indicators of higher proliferative and malignant potential. In a mouse, activated Wnt signaling delays senescence-associated proliferation arrest to expand the population of senescent oncogene-expressing melanocytes. These results suggest that Wnt signaling can potentiate nevogenesis in vivo by delaying senescence. Further, we suggest that activated Wnt signaling in human nevi undermines senescence-mediated tumor suppression and enhances the probability of malignancy.
Senescence is a stable proliferation arrest, associated with an altered secretory pathway, thought to promote tumor suppression and tissue aging. While chromatin regulation and lamin B1 down-regulation have been implicated as senescence effectors, functional interactions between them are poorly understood. We compared genome-wide Lys4 trimethylation on histone H3 (H3K4me3) and H3K27me3 distributions between proliferating and senescent human cells and found dramatic differences in senescence, including large-scale domains of H3K4me3- and H3K27me3-enriched "mesas" and H3K27me3-depleted "canyons." Mesas form at lamin B1-associated domains (LADs) in replicative senescence and oncogene-induced senescence and overlap DNA hypomethylation regions in cancer, suggesting that pre-malignant senescent chromatin changes foreshadow epigenetic cancer changes. Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome fibroblasts (mutant lamin A) also show evidence of H3K4me3 mesas, suggesting a link between premature chromatin changes and accelerated cell senescence. Canyons mostly form between LADs and are enriched in genes and enhancers. H3K27me3 loss is correlated with up-regulation of key senescence genes, indicating a link between global chromatin changes and local gene expression regulation. Lamin B1 reduction in proliferating cells triggers senescence and formation of mesas and canyons. Our data illustrate profound chromatin reorganization during senescence and suggest that lamin B1 down-regulation in senescence is a key trigger of global and local chromatin changes that impact gene expression, aging, and cancer.
The HIRA chaperone complex, comprised of HIRA, UBN1, and CABIN1, collaborates with histone-binding protein ASF1a to incorporate histone variant H3.3 into chromatin in a DNA replication-independent manner. To better understand HIRAs function and mechanism, we integrated HIRA, UBN1, ASF1a, and histone H3.3 chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing and gene expression analyses. Most HIRA-binding sites colocalize with UBN1, ASF1a, and H3.3 at active promoters and active and weak/poised enhancers. At promoters, binding of HIRA/UBN1/ASF1a correlates with the level of gene expression. HIRA is required for deposition of histone H3.3 at its binding sites. There are marked differences in nucleosome and coregulator composition at different classes of HIRA-bound regulatory sites. Underscoring this, we report physical interactions between the HIRA complex and transcription factors, a chromatin insulator and an ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex. Our results map the distribution of the HIRA chaperone across the chromatin landscape and point to different interacting partners at functionally distinct regulatory sites.
INTRODUCTION: Differentiation of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) in clinically relevant numbers for injection into ischaemic areas could offer therapeutic potential in the treatment of cardiovascular conditions, including myocardial infarction, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. While we and others have demonstrated successful generation of functional endothelial-like cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), little is understood regarding the complex transcriptional and epigenetic changes that occur during differentiation, in particular during early commitment to a mesodermal lineage. METHODS: We performed the first gene expression microarray study of hESCs undergoing directed differentiation to ECs using a monolayer-based, feeder-free and serum-free protocol. Microarray results were confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry, and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-PCR analysis was utilised to determine the bivalent status of differentially expressed genes. RESULTS: We identified 22 transcription factors specific to early mesoderm commitment. Among these factors, FOXA2 was observed to be the most significantly differentially expressed at the hESC-EC day 2 timepoint. ChIP-PCR analysis revealed that the FOXA2 transcription start site is bivalently marked with histone modifications for both gene activation (H3K4me3) and repression (H3K27me3) in hESCs, suggesting the transcription factor may be a key regulator of hESC differentiation. CONCLUSION: This enhanced knowledge of the lineage commitment process will help improve the design of directed differentiation protocols, increasing the yield of endothelial-like cells for regenerative medicine therapies in cardiovascular disease.
The mammalian HIRA/UBN1/ASF1a complex is a histone chaperone complex that is conserved from yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to humans. This complex preferentially deposits the histone variant H3.3 into chromatin in a DNA replication-independent manner and is implicated in diverse chromatin regulatory events from gene activation to heterochromatinization. In yeast, the orthologous complex consists of three Hir proteins (Hir1p, Hir2p, and Hir3p), Hpc2p, and Asf1p. Yeast Hir3p has weak homology to CABIN1, a fourth member of the human complex, suggesting that Hir3p and CABIN1 may be orthologs. Here we show that HIRA and CABIN1 interact at ectopic and endogenous levels of expression in cells, and we isolate the quaternary HIRA/UBN1/CABIN1/ASF1a (HUCA) complex, assembled from recombinant proteins. Mutational analyses support the view that HIRA acts as a scaffold to bring together UBN1, ASF1a, and CABIN1 into a quaternary complex. We show that, like HIRA, UBN1, and ASF1a, CABIN1 is involved in heterochromatinization of the genome of senescent human cells. Moreover, in proliferating cells, HIRA and CABIN1 regulate overlapping sets of genes, and these genes are enriched in the histone variant H3.3. In sum, these data demonstrate that CABIN1 is a functional member of the human HUCA complex and so is the likely ortholog of yeast Hir3p.
Mutations in both RAS and the PTEN/PIK3CA/AKT signaling module are found in the same human tumors. PIK3CA and AKT are downstream effectors of RAS, and the selective advantage conferred by mutation of two genes in the same pathway is unclear. Based on a comparative molecular analysis, we show that activated PIK3CA/AKT is a weaker inducer of senescence than is activated RAS. Moreover, concurrent activation of RAS and PIK3CA/AKT impairs RAS-induced senescence. In vivo, bypass of RAS-induced senescence by activated PIK3CA/AKT correlates with accelerated tumorigenesis. Thus, not all oncogenes are equally potent inducers of senescence, and, paradoxically, a weak inducer of senescence (PIK3CA/AKT) can be dominant over a strong inducer of senescence (RAS). For tumor growth, one selective advantage of concurrent mutation of RAS and PTEN/PIK3CA/AKT is suppression of RAS-induced senescence. Evidence is presented that this new understanding can be exploited in rational development and targeted application of prosenescence cancer therapies.
Cellular senescence is a permanent growth arrest that occurs in response to cellular stressors, such as telomere shortening or activation of oncogenes. Although the process of senescence growth arrest is somewhat conserved between mouse and human cells, there are some critical differences in the molecular pathways of senescence between these two species. Recent studies in human fibroblasts have defined a cell signaling pathway that is initiated by repression of a specific Wnt ligand, Wnt2. This, in turn, activates a histone chaperone HIRA, and culminates in formation of specialized punctate domains of facultative heterochromatin, called Senescence-Associated Heterochromatin Foci (SAHF), that are enriched in the histone variant, macroH2A. SAHF are thought to repress expression of proliferation-promoting genes, thereby contributing to senescence-associated proliferation arrest. We asked whether this Wnt2-HIRA-SAHF pathway is conserved in mouse fibroblasts.
Senescence is thought to play an important role in the progressive age-related decline in tissue integrity and concomitant diseases, but not much is known about the complex interplay between upstream regulators and downstream effectors. We profiled whole genome gene expression of non-stressed and rotenone-stressed human fibroblast strains from young and oldest old subjects, and measured senescence associated ?-gal activity. Microarray results identified gene sets involved in carbohydrate metabolism, Wnt/?-catenin signaling, the cell cycle, glutamate signaling, RNA-processing and mitochondrial function as being differentially regulated with chronological age. The most significantly differentially regulated mRNA corresponded to the p16 gene. p16 was then investigated using qPCR, Western blotting and immunocytochemistry. In conclusion, we have identified cellular pathways that are differentially expressed between fibroblast strains from young and old subjects.
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