Whole genome microarray analysis of gene expression in an imprinting center deletion mouse model of Prader-Willi syndrome.
ABSTRACT: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is caused by loss of paternally expressed genes in the 15q11-q13 region. To further characterize alterations in gene expression in this classical obesity syndrome we used whole genome microarrays to study a PWS mouse model resulting from a paternally derived imprinting center (IC) deletion (PWS IC deletion). These mice die generally within 2-3 days of life (reflective of failure to thrive in infants with PWS) and therefore, the analysis was performed on RNA extracted from the whole brain of PWS IC deletion mice and normal littermates at less than 24 hr after birth. Of more than 45,000 probes examined, 26,471 (59%) were detected for further analysis, and 69 had a significant change in expression of at least 1.5-fold and a false discovery rate (FDR) of 5%. Eight of the genes with differential expression were imprinted and from the PWS critical region (PWSCR). The three genes with the highest expression in the PWS IC mice were pro-opiomelanocortin (Pomc) and two transcripts of unknown function. Pomc knockout mice have been shown to develop obesity. Therefore, elevated Pomc RNA in PWS IC deletion neonatal mice may be an important genetic factor in the survival of these mice as it may affect eating behavior. Interestingly, Mc5r, a melanocortin receptor known to directly respond to Pomc expression changes, was upregulated as well. Mc5r is known to be involved with thermoregulation which is reportedly abnormal in PWS infants. These observations support a role for Pomc and the network of genes involved in regulating energy homeostasis in the early clinical findings of failure to thrive observed in PWS. Other notable patterns include three previously unstudied transcripts that are expressed only from the paternal allele under regulatory control of the IC and include AK013560, BB3144814, and BB182944 (whose genes are located in the mouse PWSCR on chromosome 7B). As expected, all the known paternally expressed genes from the PWSCR had detection signals below the threshold in the PWS IC deletion mice but were clearly detectable in control littermates. Several of the genes in this study were further examined by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) to confirm their expression status. Further analysis of gene expression in these mice may lead to novel pathways affected in PWS. These results, along with other recent reports, suggest that the cumulative effect of modest changes in expression of many genes, especially genes involved in energy metabolism, contribute to the failure to thrive of infants with PWS.
Project description:Genomic imprinting is a phenomenon that some genes are expressed differentially according to the parent of origin. Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) are neurobehavioral disorders caused by deficiency of imprinted gene expression from paternal and maternal chromosome 15q11-q13, respectively. Imprinted genes at the PWS/AS domain are regulated through a bipartite imprinting center, the PWS-IC and AS-IC. The PWS-IC activates paternal-specific gene expression and is responsible for the paternal imprint, whereas the AS-IC functions in the maternal imprint by allele-specific repression of the PWS-IC to prevent the paternal imprinting program. Although mouse chromosome 7C has a conserved PWS/AS imprinted domain, the mouse equivalent of the human AS-IC element has not yet been identified. Here, we suggest another dimension that the PWS-IC also functions in maternal imprinting by negatively regulating the paternally expressed imprinted genes in mice, in contrast to its known function as a positive regulator for paternal-specific gene expression. Using a mouse model carrying a 4.8-kb deletion at the PWS-IC, we demonstrated that maternal transmission of the PWS-IC deletion resulted in a maternal imprinting defect with activation of the paternally expressed imprinted genes and decreased expression of the maternally expressed imprinted gene on the maternal chromosome, accompanied by alteration of the maternal epigenotype toward a paternal state spread over the PWS/AS domain. The functional significance of this acquired paternal pattern of gene expression was demonstrated by the ability to complement PWS phenotypes by maternal inheritance of the PWS-IC deletion, which is in stark contrast to paternal inheritance of the PWS-IC deletion that resulted in the PWS phenotypes. Importantly, low levels of expression of the paternally expressed imprinted genes are sufficient to rescue postnatal lethality and growth retardation in two PWS mouse models. These findings open the opportunity for a novel approach to the treatment of PWS.
Project description:Reduced representation bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) was used to analyze DNA methylation patterns across the mouse brain genome in mice carrying a deletion of the Prader-Willi syndrome imprinting center (PWS-IC) on either the maternally- or paternally-inherited chromosome. Within the ~3.7 Mb imprinted Angelman/Prader-Willi syndrome (AS/PWS) domain, 254 CpG sites were interrogated for changes in methylation due to PWS-IC deletion. Paternally-inherited deletion of the PWS-IC increased methylation levels ~2-fold at each CpG site (compared to wild-type controls) at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) associated with 5' CpG island promoters of paternally-expressed genes; these methylation changes extended, to a variable degree, into the adjacent CpG island shores. Maternal PWS-IC deletion yielded little or no changes in methylation at these DMRs, and methylation of CpG sites outside of promoter DMRs also was unchanged upon maternal or paternal PWS-IC deletion. Using stringent ascertainment criteria, ~750,000 additional CpG sites were also interrogated across the entire mouse genome. This analysis identified 26 loci outside of the imprinted AS/PWS domain showing altered DNA methylation levels of ?25% upon PWS-IC deletion. Curiously, altered methylation at 9 of these loci was a consequence of maternal PWS-IC deletion (maternal PWS-IC deletion by itself is not known to be associated with a phenotype in either humans or mice), and 10 of these loci exhibited the same changes in methylation irrespective of the parental origin of the PWS-IC deletion. These results suggest that the PWS-IC may affect DNA methylation at these loci by directly interacting with them, or may affect methylation at these loci through indirect downstream effects due to PWS-IC deletion. They further suggest the PWS-IC may have a previously uncharacterized function outside of the imprinted AS/PWS domain.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS [MIM 176270]) is a neurogenetic disorder characterized by decreased fetal activity, muscular hypotonia, failure to thrive, short stature, obesity, mental retardation, and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. It is caused by the loss of function of one or more imprinted, paternally expressed genes on the proximal long arm of chromosome 15. Several potential PWS mouse models involving the orthologous region on chromosome 7C exist. Based on the analysis of deletions in the mouse and gene expression in PWS patients with chromosomal translocations, a critical region (PWScr) for neonatal lethality, failure to thrive, and growth retardation was narrowed to the locus containing a cluster of neuronally expressed MBII-85 small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) genes. Here, we report the deletion of PWScr. Mice carrying the maternally inherited allele (PWScr(m-/p+)) are indistinguishable from wild-type littermates. All those with the paternally inherited allele (PWScr(m+/p-)) consistently display postnatal growth retardation, with about 15% postnatal lethality in C57BL/6, but not FVB/N crosses. This is the first example in a multicellular organism of genetic deletion of a C/D box snoRNA gene resulting in a pronounced phenotype.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a complex and multisystem neurobehavioral disorder. The molecular mechanism of PWS is deficiency of paternally expressed gene gene or genes from the chromosome 15q11-q13. Due to imprinted gene regulation, the same genes in the maternal chromosome 15q11-q13 are structurally intact but transcriptionally repressed by an epigenetic mechanism. The unique molecular defect underlying PWS renders an exciting opportunity to explore epigenetic-based therapy to reactivate the expression of repressed PWS genes from the maternal chromosome. Inactivation of H3K9m3 methyltransferase SETDB1 and zinc finger protein ZNF274 results in reactivation of SNRPN and SNORD116 cluster from the maternal chromosomes in PWS patient iPSCs and iPSC-derived neurons, respectively. High content screening of small molecule libraries using cells derived from transgenic mice carrying the SNRPN-EGFP fusion protein has discovered that inhibitors of EHMT2/G9a, a histone 3 lysine 9 methyltransferase, are capable of reactivating expression of paternally expressed SNRPN and SNORD116 from the maternal chromosome, both in cultured PWS patient-derived fibroblasts and in a PWS mouse model. Treatment with an EMHT2/G9a inhibitor also rescues perinatal lethality and failure to thrive phenotypes in a PWS mouse model. These findings present the first evidence to support a proof-of-principle for epigenetic-based therapy for the PWS in humans.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The human Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) domain and its mouse orthologue include a cluster of paternally expressed genes which imprinted expression is co-ordinately regulated by an imprinting center (IC) closely associated to the Snurf-Snrpn gene. Besides their co-regulated imprinted expression, two observations suggest that the spatio-temporal expression of these genes could also be co-regulated. First, the PWS genes have all been reported to be expressed in the mouse nervous system. Second, Snurf-Snrpn and its associated IC are the most ancient elements of the domain which later acquired additional functional genes by retrotransposition. Although located at least 1.5 megabases from the IC, these retroposons acquired the same imprinted regulation as Snurf-Snrpn. In this study, we ask whether the IC, in addition to its function in imprinting, could also be involved in the spatio-temporal regulation of genes in the PWS domain. RESULTS: We compared the expression pattern of Snurf-Snrpn and C/D-box small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) MBII-85 and MBII-52 to the expression pattern of the two evolutionary related retroposons Ndn and Magel2, in the developing mouse embryo. We show that these genes have highly similar expression patterns in the central nervous system, suggesting that they share a common central nervous system-specific regulatory element. Among these genes, Ndn and Magel2 display the most similar expression patterns. Using transgenic mice containing the Ndn and Magel2 genes, we show that the transgenic Ndn gene whereas not imprinted is correctly expressed. Search for DNase I hypersensitive sites in the Ndn-Magel2 genomic region and comparative genomic analyses were performed in order to identify potential transcriptional cis-regulatory elements. CONCLUSIONS: These results strongly suggest that paternally expressed genes of the PWS domain share a common central nervous system-specific regulatory element. We proposed that this regulatory element could co-localize with the IC. However, we demonstrate that the IC, if required for imprinted regulation, is not involved in the spatio-temporal regulation of distantly located retrotransposed genes such as the Ndn gene in the PWS domain.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is an imprinting disorder caused by a deficiency of paternally expressed gene(s) in the 15q11-q13 chromosomal region. The regulation of imprinted gene expression in this region is coordinated by an imprinting center (PWS-IC). In individuals with PWS, genes responsible for PWS on the maternal chromosome are present, but repressed epigenetically, which provides an opportunity for the use of epigenetic therapy to restore expression from the maternal copies of PWS-associated genes. Through a high-content screen (HCS) of >9,000 small molecules, we discovered that UNC0638 and UNC0642-two selective inhibitors of euchromatic histone lysine N-methyltransferase-2 (EHMT2, also known as G9a)-activated the maternal (m) copy of candidate genes underlying PWS, including the SnoRNA cluster SNORD116, in cells from humans with PWS and also from a mouse model of PWS carrying a paternal (p) deletion from small nuclear ribonucleoprotein N (Snrpn (S)) to ubiquitin protein ligase E3A (Ube3a (U)) (mouse model referred to hereafter as m+/p?S-U). Both UNC0642 and UNC0638 caused a selective reduction of the dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me2) at PWS-IC, without changing DNA methylation, when analyzed by bisulfite genomic sequencing. This indicates that histone modification is essential for the imprinting of candidate genes underlying PWS. UNC0642 displayed therapeutic effects in the PWS mouse model by improving the survival and the growth of m+/p?S-U newborn pups. This study provides the first proof of principle for an epigenetics-based therapy for PWS.
Project description:Imprinted gene expression associated with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and Angelman syndrome (AS) is controlled by two imprinting centers (ICs), the PWS-IC and the AS-IC. The PWS-IC operates in cis to activate transcription of genes that are expressed exclusively from the paternal allele. We have created a conditional allele of the PWS-IC to investigate its developmental activity. Deletion of the paternal PWS-IC in the embryo before implantation abolishes expression of the paternal-only genes in the neonatal brain. Surprisingly, deletion of the PWS-IC in early brain progenitors does not affect the subsequent imprinted status of PWS/AS genes in the newborn brain. These results indicate that the PWS-IC functions to protect the paternal epigenotype at the epiblast stage of development but is dispensable thereafter.
Project description:The Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS [MIM 17620]) and Angelman syndrome (AS [MIM 105830]) locus is controlled by a bipartite imprinting center (IC) consisting of the PWS-IC and the AS-IC. The most widely accepted model of IC function proposes that the PWS-IC activates gene expression from the paternal allele, while the AS-IC acts to epigenetically inactivate the PWS-IC on the maternal allele, thus silencing the paternally expressed genes. Gene order and imprinting patterns at the PWS/AS locus are well conserved from human to mouse; however, a murine AS-IC has yet to be identified. We investigated a potential regulatory role for transcription from the Snrpn alternative upstream exons in silencing the maternal allele using a murine transgene containing Snrpn and three upstream exons. This transgene displayed appropriate imprinted expression and epigenetic marks, demonstrating the presence of a functional AS-IC. Transcription of the upstream exons from the endogenous locus correlates with imprint establishment in oocytes, and this upstream exon expression pattern was conserved on the transgene. A transgene bearing targeted deletions of each of the three upstream exons exhibited loss of imprinting upon maternal transmission. These results support a model in which transcription from the Snrpn upstream exons directs the maternal imprint at the PWS-IC.
Project description:The Prader-Willi syndrome/Angelman syndrome (PWS/AS) imprinted domain is regulated by a bipartite imprinting control center (IC) composed of a sequence around the SNRPN promoter (PWS-IC) and a 880-bp sequence located 35 kb upstream (AS-IC). The AS-IC imprint is established during gametogenesis and confers repression upon PWS-IC on the maternal allele. Mutation at PWS-IC on the paternal allele leads to gene silencing across the entire PWS/AS domain. This silencing implies that PWS-IC functions on the paternal allele as a bidirectional activator. Here we examine the mechanism by which PWS-IC activates the paternally expressed genes (PEGs) using transgenes that include the PWS-IC sequence in the presence or absence of AS-IC and NDN, an upstream PEG, as an experimental model. We demonstrate that PWS-IC is in fact an activator of NDN. This activation requires an unmethylated PWS-IC in the gametes and during early embryogenesis. PWS-IC is dispensable later in development. Interestingly, a similar activation of a nonimprinted gene (APOA1) was observed, implying that PWS-IC is a universal activator. To decipher the mechanism by which PWS-IC confers activation of remote genes, we performed methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) array analysis on lymphoblast cell lines that revealed dispersed, rather than continued differential methylation. However, chromatin conformation capture (3c) experiments revealed a physical interaction between PWS-IC and the PEGs, suggesting that activation of PEGs may require their proximity to PWS-IC.
Project description:Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a multisystem disorder caused by genetic loss of function of a cluster of imprinted, paternally expressed genes. Neonatal failure to thrive in PWS is followed by childhood-onset hyperphagia and obesity among other endocrine and behavioral abnormalities. PWS is typically assumed to be caused by an unknown hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction, but the underlying pathogenesis remains unknown. A transgenic deletion mouse model (TgPWS) has severe failure to thrive, with very low levels of plasma insulin and glucagon in fetal and neonatal life prior to and following onset of progressive hypoglycemia. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that primary deficits in pancreatic islet development or function may play a fundamental role in the TgPWS neonatal phenotype. Major pancreatic islet hormones (insulin, glucagon) were decreased in TgPWS mice, consistent with plasma levels. Immunohistochemical analysis of the pancreas demonstrated disrupted morphology of TgPWS islets, with reduced ?- and ?-cell mass arising from an increase in apoptosis. Furthermore, in vivo and in vitro studies show that the rate of insulin secretion is significantly impaired in TgPWS ?-cells. In TgPWS pancreas, mRNA levels for genes encoding all pancreatic hormones, other secretory factors, and the ISL1 transcription factor are upregulated by either a compensatory response to plasma hormone deficiencies or a primary effect of a deleted gene. Our findings identify a cluster of imprinted genes required for the development, survival, coordinate regulation of genes encoding hormones, and secretory function of pancreatic endocrine cells, which may underlie the neonatal phenotype of the TgPWS mouse model.