Epigenetic engineering reveals a balance between histone modifications and transcription in kinetochore maintenance.
ABSTRACT: Centromeres consist of specialized centrochromatin containing CENP-A nucleosomes intermingled with H3 nucleosomes carrying transcription-associated modifications. We have designed a novel synthetic biology 'in situ epistasis' analysis in which H3 dimethylated on lysine 4 (H3K4me2) demethylase LSD2 plus synthetic modules with competing activities are simultaneously targeted to a synthetic alphoidtetO HAC centromere. This allows us to uncouple transcription from histone modifications at the centromere. Here, we report that H3K4me2 loss decreases centromeric transcription, CENP-A assembly and stability and causes spreading of H3K9me3 across the HAC, ultimately inactivating the centromere. Surprisingly, CENP-28/Eaf6-induced transcription of the alphoidtetO array associated with H4K12 acetylation does not rescue the phenotype, whereas p65-induced transcription associated with H3K9 acetylation does rescue. Thus mitotic transcription plus histone modifications including H3K9ac constitute the 'epigenetic landscape' allowing CENP-A assembly and centrochromatin maintenance. H3K4me2 is required for the transcription and H3K9ac may form a barrier to prevent heterochromatin spreading and kinetochore inactivation at human centromeres.
Project description:Human artificial chromosomes (HACs) are vectors that offer advantages of capacity and stability for gene delivery and expression. Several studies have even demonstrated their use for gene complementation in gene-deficient recipient cell lines and animal transgenesis. Recently, we constructed an advance HAC-based vector, alphoid(tetO)-HAC, with a conditional centromere. In this HAC, a gene-loading site was inserted into a centrochromatin domain critical for kinetochore assembly and maintenance. While by definition this domain is permissive for transcription, there have been no long-term studies on transgene expression within centrochromatin. In this study, we compared the effects of three chromatin insulators, cHS4, gamma-satellite DNA, and tDNA, on the expression of an EGFP transgene inserted into the alphoid(tetO)-HAC vector. Insulator function was essential for stable expression of the transgene in centrochromatin. In two analyzed host cell lines, a tDNA insulator composed of two functional copies of tRNA genes showed the highest barrier activity. We infer that proximity to centrochromatin does not protect genes lacking chromatin insulators from epigenetic silencing. Barrier elements that prevent gene silencing in centrochromatin would thus help to optimize transgenesis using HAC vectors.
Project description:It is generally accepted that chromatin containing the histone H3 variant CENP-A is an epigenetic mark maintaining centromere identity. However, the pathways leading to the formation and maintenance of centromere chromatin remain poorly characterized due to difficulties of analysis of centromeric repeats in native chromosomes. To address this problem, in our previous studies we generated a human artificial chromosome (HAC) whose centromere contains a synthetic alpha-satellite (alphoid) DNA array containing the tetracycline operator, the alphoidtetO-HAC. The presence of tetO sequences allows the specific targeting of the centromeric region in the HAC with different chromatin modifiers fused to the tetracycline repressor. The alphoidtetO-HAC has been extensively used to investigate protein interactions within the kinetochore and to define the epigenetic signature of centromeric chromatin to maintain a functional kinetochore. In this study, we developed a novel synthetic HAC containing two alphoid DNA arrays with different targeting sequences, tetO, lacO and gal4, the alphoidhybrid-HAC. This new HAC can be used for detailed epigenetic engineering studies because its kinetochore can be simultaneously or independently targeted by different chromatin modifiers and other fusion proteins.
Project description:We have used a human artificial chromosome (HAC) to manipulate the epigenetic state of chromatin within an active kinetochore. The HAC has a dimeric alpha-satellite repeat containing one natural monomer with a CENP-B binding site, and one completely artificial synthetic monomer with the CENP-B box replaced by a tetracycline operator (tetO). This HAC exhibits normal kinetochore protein composition and mitotic stability. Targeting of several tet-repressor (tetR) fusions into the centromere had no effect on kinetochore function. However, altering the chromatin state to a more open configuration with the tTA transcriptional activator or to a more closed state with the tTS transcription silencer caused missegregation and loss of the HAC. tTS binding caused the loss of CENP-A, CENP-B, CENP-C, and H3K4me2 from the centromere accompanied by an accumulation of histone H3K9me3. Our results reveal that a dynamic balance between centromeric chromatin and heterochromatin is essential for vertebrate kinetochore activity.
Project description:Kinetochores assemble on distinct 'centrochromatin' containing the histone H3 variant CENP-A and interspersed nucleosomes dimethylated on H3K4 (H3K4me2). Little is known about how the chromatin environment at active centromeres governs centromeric structure and function. Here, we report that centrochromatin resembles K4-K36 domains found in the body of some actively transcribed housekeeping genes. By tethering the lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1), we specifically depleted H3K4me2, a modification thought to have a role in transcriptional memory, from the kinetochore of a synthetic human artificial chromosome (HAC). H3K4me2 depletion caused kinetochores to suffer a rapid loss of transcription of the underlying ?-satellite DNA and to no longer efficiently recruit HJURP, the CENP-A chaperone. Kinetochores depleted of H3K4me2 remained functional in the short term, but were defective in incorporation of CENP-A, and were gradually inactivated. Our data provide a functional link between the centromeric chromatin, ?-satellite transcription, maintenance of CENP-A levels and kinetochore stability.
Project description:Since their description in the late 1990s, Human Artificial Chromosomes (HACs) bearing functional kinetochores have been considered as promising systems for gene delivery and expression. More recently a HAC assembled from a synthetic alphoid DNA array has been exploited in studies of centromeric chromatin and in assessing the impact of different epigenetic modifications on kinetochore structure and function in human cells. This HAC was termed the alphoidtetO-HAC, as the synthetic monomers each contained a tetO sequence in place of the CENP-B box that can be targeted specifically with tetR-fusion proteins. Studies in which the kinetochore chromatin of the alphoidtetO-HAC was specifically modified, revealed that heterochromatin is incompatible with centromere function and that centromeric transcription is important for centromere assembly and maintenance. In addition, the alphoidtetO-HAC was modified to carry large gene inserts that are expressed in target cells under conditions that recapitulate the physiological regulation of endogenous loci. Importantly, the phenotypes arising from stable gene expression can be reversed when cells are "cured" of the HAC by inactivating its kinetochore in proliferating cell populations, a feature that provides a control for phenotypic changes attributed to expression of HAC-encoded genes. AlphoidtetO-HAC-based technology has also been used to develop new drug screening and assessment strategies to manipulate the CIN phenotype in cancer cells. In summary, the alphoidtetO-HAC is proving to be a versatile tool for studying human chromosome transactions and structure as well as for genome and cancer studies.
Project description:CENP-B binds to CENP-B boxes on centromeric satellite DNAs (known as alphoid DNA in humans). CENP-B maintains kinetochore function through interactions with CENP-A nucleosomes and CENP-C. CENP-B binding to transfected alphoid DNA can induce de novo CENP-A assembly, functional centromere and kinetochore formation, and subsequent human artificial chromosome (HAC) formation. Furthermore, CENP-B also facilitates H3K9 (histone H3 lysine 9) trimethylation on alphoid DNA, mediated by Suv39h1, at ectopic alphoid DNA integration sites. Excessive heterochromatin invasion into centromere chromatin suppresses CENP-A assembly. It is unclear how CENP-B controls such different chromatin states. Here, we show that the CENP-B acidic domain recruits histone chaperones and many chromatin modifiers, including the H3K36 methylase ASH1L, as well as the heterochromatin components Suv39h1 and HP1 (HP1?, ? and ?, also known as CBX5, CBX1 and CBX3, respectively). ASH1L facilitates the formation of open chromatin competent for CENP-A assembly on alphoid DNA. These results indicate that CENP-B is a nexus for histone modifiers that alternatively promote or suppress CENP-A assembly by mutually exclusive mechanisms. Besides the DNA-binding domain, the CENP-B acidic domain also facilitates CENP-A assembly de novo on transfected alphoid DNA. CENP-B therefore balances CENP-A assembly and heterochromatin formation on satellite DNA.
Project description:Human artificial chromosome (HAC)-based vectors represent an alternative technology for gene delivery and expression with a potential to overcome the problems caused by the use of viral-based vectors. The recently developed alphoid(tetO)-HAC has an advantage over other HAC vectors because it can be easily eliminated from cells by inactivation of the HAC kinetochore via binding of tTS chromatin modifiers to its centromeric tetO sequences. This provides unique control for phenotypes induced by genes loaded into the alphoid(tetO)-HAC. However, inactivation of the HAC kinetochore requires transfection of cells by a retrovirus vector, a step that is potentially mutagenic. Here, we describe an approach to re-engineering the alphoid(tetO)-HAC that allows verification of phenotypic changes attributed to expression of genes from the HAC without a transfection step. In the new HAC vector, a tTS-EYFP cassette is inserted into a gene-loading site along with a gene of interest. Expression of the tTS generates a self-regulating fluctuating heterochromatin on the alphoid(tetO)-HAC that induces fast silencing of the genes on the HAC without significant effects on HAC segregation. This silencing of the HAC-encoded genes can be readily recovered by adding doxycycline. The newly modified alphoid(tetO)-HAC-based system has multiple applications in gene function studies.
Project description:In human chromosomes, centromeric regions comprise megabase-size arrays of 171 bp alpha-satellite DNA monomers. The large distances spanned by these arrays preclude their replication from external sites and imply that the repetitive monomers contain replication origins. However, replication within these arrays has not previously been profiled and the role of alpha-satellite DNA in initiation of DNA replication has not yet been demonstrated. Here, replication of alpha-satellite DNA in endogenous human centromeric regions and in de novo formed Human Artificial Chromosome (HAC) was analyzed. We showed that alpha-satellite monomers could function as origins of DNA replication and that replication of alphoid arrays organized into centrochromatin occurred earlier than those organized into heterochromatin. The distribution of inter-origin distances within centromeric alphoid arrays was comparable to the distribution of inter-origin distances on randomly selected non-centromeric chromosomal regions. Depletion of CENP-B, a kinetochore protein that binds directly to a 17 bp CENP-B box motif common to alpha-satellite DNA, resulted in enrichment of alpha-satellite sequences for proteins of the ORC complex, suggesting that CENP-B may have a role in regulating the replication of centromeric regions. Mapping of replication initiation sites in the HAC revealed that replication preferentially initiated in transcriptionally active regions.
Project description:Human artificial chromosomes (HACs) represent a novel promising episomal system for functional genomics, gene therapy, and synthetic biology. HACs are engineered from natural and synthetic alphoid DNA arrays upon transfection into human cells. The use of HACs for gene expression studies requires the knowledge of their structural organization. However, none of the de novo HACs constructed so far has been physically mapped in detail. Recently we constructed a synthetic alphoid(tetO)-HAC that was successfully used for expression of full-length genes to correct genetic deficiencies in human cells. The HAC can be easily eliminated from cell populations by inactivation of its conditional kinetochore. This unique feature provides a control for phenotypic changes attributed to expression of HAC-encoded genes. This work describes organization of a megabase-size synthetic alphoid DNA array in the alphoid(tetO)-HAC that has been formed from a ~50 kb synthetic alphoid(tetO)-construct. Our analysis showed that this array represents a 1.1 Mb continuous sequence assembled from multiple copies of input DNA, a significant part of which was rearranged before assembling. The tandem and inverted alphoid DNA repeats in the HAC range in size from 25 to 150 kb. In addition, we demonstrated that the structure and functional domains of the HAC remains unchanged after several rounds of its transfer into different host cells. The knowledge of the alphoid(tetO)-HAC structure provides a tool to control HAC integrity during different manipulations. Our results also shed light on a mechanism for de novo HAC formation in human cells.
Project description:Human artificial chromosome (HAC)-based vectors represent an alternative technology for gene delivery and expression with a potential to overcome the problems caused by virus-based vectors. The recently developed alphoid(tetO)-HAC has an advantage over other HAC vectors because it can be easily eliminated from cells by inactivation of the HAC kinetochore via binding of chromatin modifiers, tTA or tTS, to its centromeric tetO sequences. This provides a unique control for phenotypes induced by genes loaded into the HAC. The alphoid(tetO)-HAC elimination is highly efficient when a high level of chromatin modifiers as tetR fusion proteins is achieved following transfection of cells by a retrovirus vector. However, such vectors are potentially mutagenic and might want to be avoided under some circumstances. Here, we describe a novel system that allows verification of phenotypic changes attributed to expression of genes from the HAC without a transfection step. We demonstrated that a single copy of tTA(VP64) carrying four tandem repeats of the VP16 domain constitutively expressed from the HAC is capable to generate chromatin changes in the HAC kinetochore that are not compatible with its function. To adopt the alphoid(tetO)-HAC for routine gene function studies, we constructed a new TAR-BRV- tTA(VP64) cloning vector that allows a selective isolation of a gene of interest from genomic DNA in yeast followed by its direct transfer to bacterial cells and subsequent loading into the loxP site of the alphoid(tetO)-HAC in hamster CHO cells from where the HAC may be MMCT-transferred to the recipient human cells.