Cacace2020 - Logical model of the regulatory network controlling T cell commitment
ABSTRACT: Boolean approaches and extensions thereof are becoming increasingly popular to model signaling and regulatory networks, including those controlling cell differentiation, pattern formation and embryonic development. Here, we describe a logical modeling framework relying on three steps: the delineation of a regulatory graph, the specification of multilevel components, and the encoding of Boolean rules specifying the behavior of model components depending on the levels or activities of their regulators. Referring to a non-deterministic, asynchronous updating scheme, we present several complementary methods and tools enabling the computation of stable activity patterns, the verification of the reachability of such patterns, as well as the generation of mean temporal evolution curves and the computation of the probabilities to reach distinct activity patterns. We apply this logical framework to the regulatory network controlling T lymphocyte specification. This process involves cross-regulations between specific T cell regulatory factors and factors driving alternative differentiation pathways, which remain accessible during the early steps of thymocyte development. Many transcription factors needed for T cell specification are required in other hematopoietic differentiation pathways and are combined in a fine-tuned, time-dependent fashion to achieve T cell commitment. Using the software GINsim, we integrated current knowledge into a dynamical model, which recapitulates the main developmental steps from early progenitors entering the thymus up to T cell commitment, as well as the impact of various documented environmental and genetic perturbations. Our model analysis further enabled the identification of several knowledge gaps. The model, software and whole analysis workflow are provided in computer-readable and executable form to ensure reproducibility and ease extensions.
Project description:Mammalian T lymphocytes are a prototype for development from adult pluripotent stem cells. While T-cell specification is driven by Notch signaling, T-lineage commitment is only finalized after prolonged Notch activation. However, no T-lineage specific regulatory factor has been reported that mediates commitment. We used a gene-discovery approach to identify additional candidate T-lineage transcription factors and characterized expression of >100 regulatory genes in early T-cell precursors using realtime RT-PCR. These regulatory genes were also monitored in multilineage precursors as they entered T-cell or non-T-cell pathways in vitro; in non-T cells ex vivo; and in later T-cell developmental stages after lineage commitment. At least three major expression patterns were observed. Transcription factors in the largest group are expressed at relatively stable levels throughout T-lineage specification as a legacy from prethymic precursors, with some continuing while others are downregulated after commitment. Another group is highly expressed in the earliest stages only, and is downregulated before or during commitment. Genes in a third group undergo upregulation at one of three distinct transitions, suggesting a positive regulatory cascade. However, the transcription factors induced during commitment are not T-lineage specific. Different members of the same transcription factor family can follow opposite trajectories during specification and commitment, while factors co-expressed early can be expressed in divergent patterns in later T-cell development. Some factors reveal new regulatory distinctions between alphabeta and gammadelta T-lineage differentiation. These results show that T-cell identity has an essentially complex regulatory basis and provide a detailed framework for regulatory network modeling of T-cell specification.
Project description:Defining which key factors control commitment of an embryonic lineage among a myriad of candidates is a longstanding challenge in developmental biology and an essential prerequisite for developing stem cell-based therapies. Commitment implies that the induced cells not only express early lineage markers but further undergo an autonomous differentiation into the lineage. The embryonic neural crest generates a highly diverse array of derivatives, including melanocytes, neurons, glia, cartilage, mesenchyme, and bone. A complex gene regulatory network has recently classified genes involved in the many steps of neural crest induction, specification, migration, and differentiation. However, which factor or combination of factors is sufficient to trigger full commitment of this multipotent lineage remains unknown. Here, we show that, in contrast to other potential combinations of candidate factors, coactivating transcription factors Pax3 and Zic1 not only initiate neural crest specification from various early embryonic lineages in Xenopus and chicken embryos but also trigger full neural crest determination. These two factors are sufficient to drive migration and differentiation of several neural crest derivatives in minimal culture conditions in vitro or ectopic locations in vivo. After transplantation, the induced cells migrate to and integrate into normal neural crest craniofacial target territories, indicating an efficient spatial recognition in vivo. Thus, Pax3 and Zic1 cooperate and execute a transcriptional switch sufficient to activate full multipotent neural crest development and differentiation.
Project description:Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen presenting cells that develop from hematopoietic stem cells through successive steps of lineage commitment and differentiation. Multipotent progenitors (MPP) are committed to DC restricted common DC progenitors (CDP), which differentiate into specific DC subsets, classical DC (cDC) and plasmacytoid DC (pDC). To determine epigenetic states and regulatory circuitries during DC differentiation, we measured consecutive changes of genome-wide gene expression, histone modification and transcription factor occupancy during the sequel MPP-CDP-cDC/pDC. Specific histone marks in CDP reveal a DC-primed epigenetic signature, which is maintained and reinforced during DC differentiation. Epigenetic marks and transcription factor PU.1 occupancy increasingly coincide upon DC differentiation. By integrating PU.1 occupancy and gene expression we devised a transcription factor regulatory circuitry for DC commitment and subset specification. The circuitry provides the transcription factor hierarchy that drives the sequel MPP-CDP-cDC/pDC, including Irf4, Irf8, Tcf4, Spib and Stat factors. The circuitry also includes feedback loops inferred for individual or multiple factors, which stabilize distinct stages of DC development and DC subsets. In summary, here we describe the basic regulatory circuitry of transcription factors that drives DC development.
Project description:Epidermal homeostasis depends on a balance between stem cell renewal and terminal differentiation. The transition between the two cell states, termed commitment, is poorly understood. Here, we characterise commitment by integrating transcriptomic and proteomic data from disaggregated primary human keratinocytes held in suspension to induce differentiation. Cell detachment induces several protein phosphatases, five of which - DUSP6, PPTC7, PTPN1, PTPN13 and PPP3CA - promote differentiation by negatively regulating ERK MAPK and positively regulating AP1 transcription factors. Conversely, DUSP10 expression antagonises commitment. The phosphatases form a dynamic network of transient positive and negative interactions that change over time, with DUSP6 predominating at commitment. Boolean network modelling identifies a mandatory switch between two stable states (stem and differentiated) via an unstable (committed) state. Phosphatase expression is also spatially regulated in vivo and in vitro. We conclude that an auto-regulatory phosphatase network maintains epidermal homeostasis by controlling the onset and duration of commitment.
Project description:Epidermal homeostasis depends on a balance between stem cell renewal and terminal differentiation. The transition between the two cell states,termed commitment, is poorly understood. Here we characterise commitment by integrating transcriptomic and proteomic data from disaggregated primary human keratinocytes held in suspension to induce differentiation. Cell detachment induces several protein phosphatases, five of which - DUSP6, PPTC7, PTPN1, PTPN13 and PPP3CA – promote differentiation by negatively regulating ERK MAPK and positively regulating AP1 transcription factors. Conversely, DUSP10 expression antagonises commitment. The phosphatases form a dynamic network of transient positive and negative interactions that change over time, with DUSP6 predominating at commitment. Boolean network modelling identifies a mandatory switch between two stable states (stem and differentiated) via an unstable (committed) state. Phosphatase expression is also spatially regulated in vivo and in vitro. We conclude that an auto-regulatory phosphatase network maintains epidermal homeostasis by controlling the onset and duration of commitment.
Project description:Generation of widely differing and specialized cell types from a single totipotent zygote involves large-scale transcriptional changes and chromatin reorganization. Pioneer transcription factors play key roles in programming the epigenome and facilitating recruitment of additional regulatory factors during successive cell lineage specification and differentiation steps. Here we show that Isl1 acts as a pioneer factor driving cardiomyocyte lineage commitment by shaping the chromatin landscape of cardiac progenitor cells. Using an Isl1 hypomorphic mouse line which shows congenital heart defects, genome-wide profiling of Isl1 binding together with RNA- and ATAC-sequencing of cardiac progenitor cells and their derivatives, we uncover a regulatory network downstream of Isl1 that orchestrates cardiogenesis. Mechanistically, we show that Isl1 binds to compacted chromatin and works in concert with the Brg1-Baf60c-based SWI/SNF complex to promote permissive cardiac lineage-specific alterations in the chromatin landscape not only of genes with critical functions in cardiac progenitor cells, but also of cardiomyocyte structural genes that are highly expressed when Isl1 itself is no longer present. Thus, the Isl1/Brg1-Baf60c complex plays a crucial role in orchestrating proper cardiogenesis and in establishing epigenetic memory of cardiomyocyte fate commitment.
Project description:Intrathymic T cell development converts multipotent precursors to committed pro-T cells, silencing progenitor genes while inducing T cell genes, but the underlying steps have remained obscure. Single-cell profiling was used to define the order of regulatory changes, employing single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) for full-transcriptome analysis, plus sequential multiplexed single-molecule fluorescent in situ hybridization (seqFISH) to quantitate functionally important transcripts in intrathymic precursors. Single-cell cloning verified high T cell precursor frequency among the immunophenotypically defined "early T cell precursor" (ETP) population; a discrete committed granulocyte precursor subset was also distinguished. We established regulatory phenotypes of sequential ETP subsets, confirmed initial co-expression of progenitor with T cell specification genes, defined stage-specific relationships between cell cycle and differentiation, and generated a pseudotime model from ETP to T lineage commitment, supported by RNA velocity and transcription factor perturbations. This model was validated by developmental kinetics of ETP subsets at population and clonal levels. The results imply that multilineage priming is integral to T cell specification.
Project description:The isthmic organizer mediating differentiation of mid- and hindbrain during vertebrate development is characterized by a well-defined pattern of locally restricted gene expression domains around the mid-hindbrain boundary (MHB). This pattern is established and maintained by a regulatory network between several transcription and secreted factors that is not yet understood in full detail. In this contribution we show that a Boolean analysis of the characteristic spatial gene expression patterns at the murine MHB reveals key regulatory interactions in this network. Our analysis employs techniques from computational logic for the minimization of Boolean functions. This approach allows us to predict also the interplay of the various regulatory interactions. In particular, we predict a maintaining, rather than inducing, effect of Fgf8 on Wnt1 expression, an issue that remained unclear from published data. Using mouse anterior neural plate/tube explant cultures, we provide experimental evidence that Fgf8 in fact only maintains but does not induce ectopic Wnt1 expression in these explants. In combination with previously validated interactions, this finding allows for the construction of a regulatory network between key transcription and secreted factors at the MHB. Analyses of Boolean, differential equation and reaction-diffusion models of this network confirm that it is indeed able to explain the stable maintenance of the MHB as well as time-courses of expression patterns both under wild-type and various knock-out conditions. In conclusion, we demonstrate that similar to temporal also spatial expression patterns can be used to gain information about the structure of regulatory networks. We show, in particular, that the spatial gene expression patterns around the MHB help us to understand the maintenance of this boundary on a systems level.
Project description:Understanding how differentiation programs originate from the gene-expression 'landscape' of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is crucial for the development of new clinical therapies. We mapped the transcriptional dynamics underlying the first steps of commitment by tracking transcriptome changes in human HSCs and eight early progenitor populations. We found that transcriptional programs were extensively shared, extended across lineage-potential boundaries and were not strictly lineage affiliated. Elements of stem, lymphoid and myeloid programs were retained in multilymphoid progenitors (MLPs), which reflected a hybrid transcriptional state. By functional single cell analysis, we found that the transcription factors Bcl-11A, Sox4 and TEAD1 (TEF1) governed transcriptional networks in MLPs, which led to B cell specification. Overall, we found that integrated transcriptome approaches can be used to identify previously unknown regulators of multipotency and show additional complexity in lymphoid commitment.
Project description:Background:Investigating cell fate decision and subpopulation specification in the context of the neural lineage is fundamental to understanding neurogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases. The differentiation process of neural-tube-like rosettes in vitro is representative of neural tube structures, which are composed of radially organized, columnar epithelial cells and give rise to functional neural cells. However, the underlying regulatory network of cell fate commitment during early neural differentiation remains elusive. Results:In this study, we investigated the genome-wide transcriptome profile of single cells from six consecutive reprogramming and neural differentiation time points and identified cellular subpopulations present at each differentiation stage. Based on the inferred reconstructed trajectory and the characteristics of subpopulations contributing the most toward commitment to the central nervous system lineage at each stage during differentiation, we identified putative novel transcription factors in regulating neural differentiation. In addition, we dissected the dynamics of chromatin accessibility at the neural differentiation stages and revealed active cis-regulatory elements for transcription factors known to have a key role in neural differentiation as well as for those that we suggest are also involved. Further, communication network analysis demonstrated that cellular interactions most frequently occurred in the embryoid body stage and that each cell subpopulation possessed a distinctive spectrum of ligands and receptors associated with neural differentiation that could reflect the identity of each subpopulation. Conclusions:Our study provides a comprehensive and integrative study of the transcriptomics and epigenetics of human early neural differentiation, which paves the way for a deeper understanding of the regulatory mechanisms driving the differentiation of the neural lineage.