An in vitro ES cell imprinting model shows that imprinted expression of the Igf2r gene arises from an allele-specific expression bias.
ABSTRACT: Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic process that results in parental-specific gene expression. Advances in understanding the mechanism that regulates imprinted gene expression in mammals have largely depended on generating targeted manipulations in embryonic stem (ES) cells that are analysed in vivo in mice. However, genomic imprinting consists of distinct developmental steps, some of which occur in post-implantation embryos, indicating that they could be studied in vitro in ES cells. The mouse Igf2r gene shows imprinted expression only in post-implantation stages, when repression of the paternal allele has been shown to require cis-expression of the Airn non-coding (nc) RNA and to correlate with gain of DNA methylation and repressive histone modifications. Here we follow the gain of imprinted expression of Igf2r during in vitro ES cell differentiation and show that it coincides with the onset of paternal-specific expression of the Airn ncRNA. Notably, although Airn ncRNA expression leads, as predicted, to gain of repressive epigenetic marks on the paternal Igf2r promoter, we unexpectedly find that the paternal Igf2r promoter is expressed at similar low levels throughout ES cell differentiation. Our results further show that the maternal and paternal Igf2r promoters are expressed equally in undifferentiated ES cells, but during differentiation expression of the maternal Igf2r promoter increases up to 10-fold, while expression from the paternal Igf2r promoter remains constant. This indicates, contrary to expectation, that the Airn ncRNA induces imprinted Igf2r expression not by silencing the paternal Igf2r promoter, but by generating an expression bias between the two parental alleles.
Project description:To test if the imprinted long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) Airn transcription or its product silences the protein-coding Igf2r gene, we shortened the endogenous lncRNA to four different lengths by inserting polyadenylation (polyA) cassettes on the paternal chromosome via homologous recombination in ES cells. ES cell differentiation was used to recapitulate the developmental onset of Airn and Igf2r imprinted expression and polyA cassettes inserted before (T3, T16, T27) or after (T31, T51) the Igf2r promoter successfully truncated Airn, with the exception of T27. RNA hybridization to a tiling array (MIRTA) demonstrated loss of Airn upstream of the Igf2r promoter (except T27) and absence of novel spliced variants in all truncation alleles. To further test the transcriptional overlap model we moved the Airn promoter ~700bp before the Igf2r TSS in ES cells that lack an endogenous paternal Airn promoter and called this cell line FAP (Forward-Airn-Promoter). RNA hybridization to a tiling array (MIRTA) demonstrated that the moved Airn promoter expresses Airn in wildtype orientation and terminates at the wildtype 3' end. ES cell lines expressing different Airn variants were differentiated on gelatinized dishes after feeder cell depletion and LIF withdrawal by 0.27M-BM-5M retinoic acid for 5 days and Airn length was assayed.
Project description:The Airn macro ncRNA is the master regulator of imprinted expression in the Igf2r imprinted gene cluster where it silences three flanking genes in cis. Airn transcription shows unusual features normally viewed as promoter specific, such as impaired post-transcriptional processing and a macro size. The Airn transcript is 108 kb long, predominantly unspliced and nuclear localized, with only a minority being variably spliced and exported. Here, we show by deletion of the Airn ncRNA promoter and replacement with a constitutive strong or weak promoter that splicing suppression and termination, as well as silencing activity, are maintained by strong Airn expression from an exogenous promoter. This indicates that all functional regions are located within the Airn transcript. DNA methylation of the maternal imprint control element (ICE) restricts Airn expression to the paternal allele and we also show that a strong active promoter is required to maintain the unmethylated state of the paternal ICE. Thus, Airn expression not only induces silencing of flanking mRNA genes but also protects the paternal copy of the ICE from de novo methylation.
Project description:Genomic imprinting is widely conserved amongst placental mammals. Imprinted expression of IGF2R, however, differs between mice and humans. In mice, Igf2r imprinted expression is seen in all fetal and adult tissues. In humans, adult tissues lack IGF2R imprinted expression, but it is found in fetal tissues and Wilms' tumors where it is polymorphic and only seen in a small proportion of tested samples. Mouse Igf2r imprinted expression is controlled by the Air (Airn) ncRNA whose promoter lies in an intronic maternally-methylated CpG island. The human IGF2R gene carries a homologous intronic maternally-methylated CpG island of unknown function. Here, we use transfection and transgenic studies to show that the human IGF2R intronic CpG island is a ncRNA promoter. We also identify the same ncRNA at the endogenous human locus in 16-40% of Wilms' tumors. Thus, the human IGF2R gene shows evolutionary conservation of key features that control imprinted expression in the mouse.
Project description:A CpG island (CGI) lies at the 5' end of the Airn macro non-protein-coding (nc) RNA that represses the flanking Igf2r promoter in cis on paternally inherited chromosomes. In addition to being modified on maternally inherited chromosomes by a DNA methylation imprint, the Airn CGI shows two unusual organization features: its position immediately downstream of the Airn promoter and transcription start site and a series of tandem direct repeats (TDRs) occupying its second half. The physical separation of the Airn promoter from the CGI provides a model to investigate if the CGI plays distinct transcriptional and epigenetic roles. We used homologous recombination to generate embryonic stem cells carrying deletions at the endogenous locus of the entire CGI or just the TDRs. The deleted Airn alleles were analyzed by using an ES cell imprinting model that recapitulates the onset of Igf2r imprinted expression in embryonic development or by using knock-out mice. The results show that the CGI is required for efficient Airn initiation and to maintain the unmethylated state of the Airn promoter, which are both necessary for Igf2r repression on the paternal chromosome. The TDRs occupying the second half of the CGI play a minor role in Airn transcriptional elongation or processivity, but are essential for methylation on the maternal Airn promoter that is necessary for Igf2r to be expressed from this chromosome. Together the data indicate the existence of a class of regulatory CGIs in the mammalian genome that act downstream of the promoter and transcription start.
Project description:To test if the imprinted long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) Airn transcription or its product silences the protein-coding Igf2r gene, we shortened the endogenous lncRNA to four different lengths by inserting polyadenylation (polyA) cassettes on the paternal chromosome via homologous recombination in ES cells. ES cell differentiation was used to recapitulate the developmental onset of Airn and Igf2r imprinted expression and polyA cassettes inserted before (T3, T16, T27) or after (T31, T51) the Igf2r promoter successfully truncated Airn, with the exception of T27. RNA hybridization to a tiling array (MIRTA) demonstrated loss of Airn upstream of the Igf2r promoter (except T27) and absence of novel spliced variants in all truncation alleles. To further test the transcriptional overlap model we moved the Airn promoter ~700bp before the Igf2r TSS in ES cells that lack an endogenous paternal Airn promoter and called this cell line FAP (Forward-Airn-Promoter). RNA hybridization to a tiling array (MIRTA) demonstrated that the moved Airn promoter expresses Airn in wildtype orientation and terminates at the wildtype 3' end. ES cell lines expressing different Airn variants were differentiated on gelatinized dishes after feeder cell depletion and LIF withdrawal by 0.27µM retinoic acid for 5 days and Airn length was assayed.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Genomic imprinting leads to maternal expression of IGF2R in both mouse and opossum. In mouse, the antisense long noncoding (lnc) RNA Airn, which is paternally expressed from the differentially methylated region (DMR) in the second intron of Igf2r, is required to silence the paternal Igf2r. In opossum, however, intriguingly, the DMR was reported to be in a different downstream intron (intron 11) and there was no antisense lncRNA detected in previous analyses. Therefore, clarifying the imprinting mechanism of marsupial IGF2R is of great relevance for understanding the origin and evolution of genomic imprinting in the IGF2R locus. Thus, the antisense lncRNA associated with the marsupial DMR can be considered as the 'missing link'. In this study, we identified a novel antisense lncRNA, ALID, after detailed analysis of the IGF2R locus in an Australian marsupial, the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, and compared it to that of the grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica.<h4>Results</h4>Tammar IGF2R showed maternal expression and had a maternally methylated CpG island (CGI) in intron 12 as well as a promoter CGI without differential methylation, but none in the second intron. Re-analysis of the IGF2R of opossum detected the CGI in intron 12, not intron 11, as previously reported, confirming that the DMR in intron 12 is conserved between these marsupials and so is the putative imprinting control region of marsupial IGF2R. ALID is paternally expressed from the middle of the DMR and is approximately 650 bp long with a single exon structure that is extremely short compared to Airn. Hence, the lncRNA transcriptional overlap of the IGF2R promoter, which is essential for the Igf2r silencing in the mouse, is likely absent in tammar. This suggests that fundamental differences in the lncRNA-based silencing mechanisms evolved in eutherian and marsupial IGF2R and may reflect the lack of differential methylation in the promoter CGI of marsupial IGF2R.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our study thus provides the best candidate factor for establishing paternal silencing of marsupial IGF2R without transcriptional overlap, which is distinct from the Igf2r silencing mechanism of Airn, but which may be analogous to the mode of action for the flanking Slc22a2 and Slc22a3 gene silencing in the mouse placenta.
Project description:RATIONALE:Increasing evidence indicates the presence of lncRNAs in various cell types. Airn is an imprinting gene transcribed from the paternal chromosome. It is in antisense orientation to the imprinted, but maternally derived, Igf2r gene, on which Airn exerts its regulation in cis. Although Airn is highly expressed in the heart, functions aside from imprinting remain unknown. OBJECTIVE:Here, we studied the functions of Airn in the heart, especially cardiomyocytes. METHODS AND RESULTS:Silencing of Airn via siRNAs augmented cell death, vulnerability to cellular stress, and reduced cell migration. To find the cause of such phenotypes, the potential binding partners of Airn were identified via RNA pull-down followed by mass spectrometry, which indicated Igf2bp2 (insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding protein 2) and Rpa1 (replication protein A1) as potential binding partners. Further experiments showed that Airn binds to Igf2bp2 to control the translation of several genes. Moreover, silencing of Airn caused less binding of Igf2bp2 to other mRNAs and reduced translation of Igf2bp2 protein. CONCLUSIONS:Our study uncovers a new function of Airn and demonstrates that Airn is important for the physiology of cardiomyocytes.
Project description:Long non-coding (lnc) RNAs are numerous and found throughout the mammalian genome, and many are thought to be involved in the regulation of gene expression. However, the majority remain relatively uncharacterised and of uncertain function making the use of model systems to uncover their mode of action valuable. Imprinted lncRNAs target and recruit epigenetic silencing factors to a cluster of imprinted genes on the same chromosome, making them one of the best characterized lncRNAs for silencing distant genes in cis. In this study we examined silencing of the distant imprinted gene Slc22a3 by the lncRNA Airn in the Igf2r imprinted cluster in mouse. Previously we proposed that imprinted lncRNAs may silence distant imprinted genes by disrupting promoter-enhancer interactions by being transcribed through the enhancer, which we called the enhancer interference hypothesis. Here we tested this hypothesis by first using allele-specific chromosome conformation capture (3C) to detect interactions between the Slc22a3 promoter and the locus of the Airn lncRNA that silences it on the paternal chromosome. In agreement with the model, we found interactions enriched on the maternal allele across the entire Airn gene consistent with multiple enhancer-promoter interactions. Therefore, to test the enhancer interference hypothesis we devised an approach to delete the entire Airn gene. However, the deletion showed that there are no essential enhancers for Slc22a2, Pde10a and Slc22a3 within the Airn gene, strongly indicating that the Airn RNA rather than its transcription is responsible for silencing distant imprinted genes. Furthermore, we found that silent imprinted genes were covered with large blocks of H3K27me3 on the repressed paternal allele. Therefore we propose an alternative hypothesis whereby the chromosome interactions may initially guide the lncRNA to target imprinted promoters and recruit repressive chromatin, and that these interactions are lost once silencing is established.
Project description:Imprinted maternal-allele-specific expression of the mouse insulin-like growth-factor type 2 receptor (Igf2r) gene depends on a 3.7-kb element named region 2, located in the second intron of the gene. Region 2 carries a maternal-allele-specific methylation imprint and contains an imprinted CpG island promoter (Air) that expresses a noncoding antisense RNA from the paternal inherited allele only. Here, we use transgenes to test the minimal requirements for imprinting of Air and to test if the action of region 2 is restricted to Igf2r. Transgenes up to 9 kb with Air as a single promoter are expressed but not imprinted. When coupled to the Igf2r CpG island promoter on a 44-kb transgene, Air was imprinted in one of three lines. However, Air on a 4.6-kb fragment is also imprinted in 2 of 14 lines when inserted in an intron of an adenine phosphoribosyltransferase (Aprt) transgene, and in one line, the imprinted methylation and expression of Air have been transferred onto the Aprt CpG island promoter. These data suggest that a dual CpG island promoter setting may facilitate Air imprinting as a short transgene and also show that Air can transfer imprinting onto other genes. However, for reliable Air imprinting, elements are necessary that are located outside a 44-kb region spanning the Air-Igf2r promoters.
Project description:Imprinting of the maternally-expressed Igf2r gene is controlled by an intronic imprint control element (ICE) known as Region2 that contains the promoter of the noncoding Air RNA, whose transcript overlaps the silenced paternal Igf2r promoter in an antisense orientation. Two novel imprinted genes, Slc22a2 and Slc22a3 are described here that lie 110 and 155 kb 3' to Igf2r and that are not overlapped by the Air transcript but are regulated by the Igf2r-ICE, as previously shown for Igf2r. These results identify a new cluster of imprinted genes whose repression by the bidirectional action of the Region2-ICE is independent of transcript overlap by the Air RNA.