PNA interference mapping demonstrates functional domains in the noncoding RNA Xist.
ABSTRACT: The noncoding RNA Xist has been shown to be essential for X-chromosome inactivation and to coat the inactive X-chromosome (Xi). Thus, an important question in understanding the formation of Xi is whether the binding reaction of Xist is necessary for X-chromosome inactivation. In this article, we demonstrate the failure of X-chromosome silencing if the association of Xist with the X-chromosome is inhibited. The chromatin-binding region was functionally mapped and evaluated by using an approach for studying noncoding RNA function in living cells that we call peptide nucleic acid (PNA) interference mapping. In the reported experiments, a single 19-bp antisense cell-permeating PNA targeted against a particular region of Xist RNA caused the disruption of the Xi. The association of the Xi with macro-histone H2A is also disturbed by PNA interference mapping.
Project description:In mammals, dosage compensation is achieved by X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) in the female. The noncoding Xist gene initiates silencing of the X chromosome, whereas its antisense partner Tsix blocks silencing. The complementarity of Xist and Tsix RNAs has long suggested a role for RNA interference (RNAi). Here, we report that murine Xist and Tsix form duplexes in vivo. During XCI, the duplexes are processed to small RNAs (sRNAs), most likely on the active X (Xa) in a Dicer-dependent manner. Deleting Dicer compromises sRNA production and derepresses Xist. Furthermore, without Dicer, Xist RNA cannot accumulate and histone 3 lysine 27 trimethylation is blocked on the inactive X (Xi). The defects are partially rescued by truncating Tsix. Thus, XCI and RNAi intersect, down-regulating Xist on Xa and spreading silencing on Xi.
Project description:We investigated whether genes escape X chromosome inactivation by positioning outside of the territory defined by XIST RNA. Results reveal an unanticipated higher order organization of genes and noncoding sequences. All 15 X-linked genes, regardless of activity, position on the border of the XIST RNA territory, which resides outside of the DAPI-dense Barr body. Although more strictly delineated on the inactive X chromosome (Xi), all genes localized predominantly to the outer rim of the Xi and active X chromosome. This outer rim is decorated only by X chromosome DNA paints and is excluded from both the XIST RNA and dense DAPI staining. The only DNA found well within the Barr body and XIST RNA territory was centromeric and Cot-1 DNA; hence, the core of the X chromosome essentially excludes genes and is composed primarily of noncoding repeat-rich DNA. Moreover, we show that this core of repetitive sequences is expressed throughout the nucleus yet is silenced throughout Xi, providing direct evidence for chromosome-wide regulation of "junk" DNA transcription. Collective results suggest that the Barr body, long presumed to be the physical manifestation of silenced genes, is in fact composed of a core of silenced noncoding DNA. Instead of acting at a local gene level, XIST RNA appears to interact with and silence core architectural elements to effectively condense and shut down the Xi.
Project description:X chromosome inactivation is an epigenetic dosage compensation mechanism in female mammals driven by the long noncoding RNA, Xist. Although recent genomic and proteomic approaches have provided a more global view of Xist's function, how Xist RNA localizes to the inactive X chromosome (Xi) and spreads in cis remains unclear. Here, we report that the CDKN1-interacting zinc finger protein CIZ1 is critical for localization of Xist RNA to the Xi chromosome territory. Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) shows a tight association of CIZ1 with Xist RNA at the single-molecule level. CIZ1 interacts with a specific region within Xist exon 7-namely, the highly repetitive Repeat E motif. Using genetic analysis, we show that loss of CIZ1 or deletion of Repeat E in female cells phenocopies one another in causing Xist RNA to delocalize from the Xi and disperse into the nucleoplasm. Interestingly, this interaction is exquisitely sensitive to CIZ1 levels, as overexpression of CIZ1 likewise results in Xist delocalization. As a consequence, this delocalization is accompanied by a decrease in H3K27me3 on the Xi. Our data reveal that CIZ1 plays a major role in ensuring stable association of Xist RNA within the Xi territory.
Project description:The Xist long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) is essential for X-chromosome inactivation (XCI), the process by which mammals compensate for unequal numbers of sex chromosomes. During XCI, Xist coats the future inactive X chromosome (Xi) and recruits Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) to the X-inactivation centre (Xic). How Xist spreads silencing on a 150-megabases scale is unclear. Here we generate high-resolution maps of Xist binding on the X chromosome across a developmental time course using CHART-seq. In female cells undergoing XCI de novo, Xist follows a two-step mechanism, initially targeting gene-rich islands before spreading to intervening gene-poor domains. Xist is depleted from genes that escape XCI but may concentrate near escapee boundaries. Xist binding is linearly proportional to PRC2 density and H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3), indicating co-migration of Xist and PRC2. Interestingly, when Xist is acutely stripped off from the Xi in post-XCI cells, Xist recovers quickly within both gene-rich and gene-poor domains on a timescale of hours instead of days, indicating a previously primed Xi chromatin state. We conclude that Xist spreading takes distinct stage-specific forms. During initial establishment, Xist follows a two-step mechanism, but during maintenance, Xist spreads rapidly to both gene-rich and gene-poor regions.
Project description:X-chromosome inactivation (XCI), the random transcriptional silencing of one X chromosome in somatic cells of female mammals, is a mechanism that ensures equal expression of X-linked genes in both sexes. XCI is initiated in cis by the noncoding Xist RNA, which coats the inactive X chromosome (Xi) from which it is produced. However, trans-acting factors that mediate XCI remain largely unknown. Here, we perform a large-scale RNA interference screen to identify trans-acting XCI factors (XCIFs) that comprise regulators of cell signaling and transcription, including the DNA methyltransferase, DNMT1. The expression pattern of the XCIFs explains the selective onset of XCI following differentiation. The XCIFs function, at least in part, by promoting expression and/or localization of Xist to the Xi. Surprisingly, we find that DNMT1, which is generally a transcriptional repressor, is an activator of Xist transcription. Small-molecule inhibitors of two of the XCIFs can reversibly reactivate the Xi, which has implications for treatment of Rett syndrome and other dominant X-linked diseases. A homozygous mouse knockout of one of the XCIFs, stanniocalcin 1 (STC1), has an expected XCI defect but surprisingly is phenotypically normal. Remarkably, X-linked genes are not overexpressed in female Stc1(-/-) mice, revealing the existence of a mechanism(s) that can compensate for a persistent XCI deficiency to regulate X-linked gene expression.
Project description:Alternative splicing of mRNA precursors results in multiple protein variants from a single gene and is critical for diverse cellular processes and development. Xist encodes a long noncoding RNA which is a central player to induce X-chromosome inactivation in female mammals and has two major splicing variants: long and short isoforms of Xist RNA. Although a differentiation-specific and a female-specific expression of Xist isoforms have been reported, the functional role of each Xist RNA isoform is largely unexplored. Using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated targeted modification of the 5' splice site in Xist intron 7, we create mutant female ES cell lines which dominantly express the long- or short-splicing isoform of Xist RNA from the inactive X-chromosome (Xi) upon differentiation. Successful execution of CRISPR/Cas-based splicing modulation indicates that our CRISPR/Cas-based targeted modification of splicing sites is a useful approach to study specific isoforms of a transcript generated by alternative splicing. Upon differentiation of splicing-mutant Xist female ES cells, we find that both long and short Xist isoforms can induce X-chromosome inactivation normally during ES cell differentiation, suggesting that the short splicing isoform of Xist RNA is sufficient to induce X-chromosome inactivation.
Project description:In mammalian female cells, one X chromosome is inactivated to prevent a dose difference in the expression of X-encoded proteins between males and females. Xist RNA, required for X chromosome inactivation, is transcribed from the future inactivated X chromosome (Xi), where it spreads in cis, to initiate silencing. We have analyzed Xist RNA transcription and localization throughout the cell cycle. It was found that Xist transcription is constant and that the mature RNA remains attached to the Xi throughout mitosis. Diploid and tetraploid cell lines with an MS2-tagged Xist gene were used to investigate spreading of Xist. Most XXXX(MS2) tetraploid mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells inactivate the X(MS2) chromosome and one other X chromosome. Analysis of cells with two Xi's indicates that Xist RNA is retained by the Xi of its origin and does not spread in trans. Also, in XX(MS2) diploid mouse ES cells with an autosomal Xist transgene, there is no trans exchange of Xist RNA from the Xi to the autosome. We propose that Xist RNA does not dissociate from the Xi of its origin, which precludes a model of diffusion-mediated trans spreading of Xist RNA.
Project description:Long non-coding RNA Xist plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) which is a paradigm of long non-coding RNA-mediated gene regulation. Xist has Xist-specific repeat elements A-F which are conserved among eutherian mammals, underscoring their functional importance. Here we report that Xist RNA repeat E, a conserved Xist repeat element in the Xist exon 7, interacts with ASH2L and contributes to maintenance of escape gene expression level on the inactive X-chromosome (Xi) during XCI. The Xist repeat E-deletion mutant female ES cells show the depletion of ASH2L from the Xi upon differentiation. Furthermore, a subset of escape genes exhibits unexpectedly higher expression in the repeat E mutant cells than the cells expressing wildtype Xist during X-inactivation, whereas the silencing of X-linked non-escape genes is not affected. We discuss the implications of these results to understand the role of ASH2L and Xist repeat E for histone modifications and escape gene regulation during random X-chromosome inactivation.
Project description:X inactive-specific transcript (Xist) is a long noncoding RNA that plays an essential role in X chromosome inactivation. Although Xist RNA, like common protein-coding mRNAs, is transcribed by RNA polymerase II, spliced and polyadenylated, it is retained in the nucleus and associates with the X chromosome it originates from. It has been assumed that Xist RNA recruits proteins involved in epigenetic modifications and chromatin compaction to the X chromosome. One of the major proteins constituting the nuclear matrix, hnRNP U, has been shown to be required for the association of Xist RNA with the inactive X chromosome (Xi). In this study, we found that the first 950-nt sequence of Xist RNA had the potential to associate with chromatin in a manner independent of hnRNP U. Furthermore, its chromatin association is apparently dependent on the presence of an intact A-repeat sequence, which is one of the repeats in Xist/XIST RNA conserved among many mammalian species, and has been shown to be important for Xist RNA-mediated silencing. Taking this unexpected finding and a previous study demonstrating the effect of Xist RNA lacking the A-repeat on the formation of the silent heterochromatin domain together, we suggest that the A-repeat captures chromatin near the initial loading site of Xist RNA and relocates it into the core of the heterochromatin domain.
Project description:Mammals compensate X chromosome gene dosage between the sexes by silencing of one of the two female X chromosomes. X inactivation is initiated in the early embryo and requires the non-coding Xist RNA, which encompasses the inactive X chromosome (Xi) and triggers its silencing. In differentiated cells, several factors including the histone variant macroH2A and the scaffold attachment factor SAF-A are recruited to the Xi and maintain its repression. Consequently, in female somatic cells the Xi remains stably silenced independently of Xist. Here, we identify the Trithorax group protein Ash2l as a novel component of the Xi. Ash2l is recruited by Xist concomitantly with Saf-A and macroH2A at the transition to Xi maintenance. Recruitment of these factors characterizes a developmental transition point for the chromatin composition of the Xi. Surprisingly, expression of a mutant Xist RNA that does not cause gene repression can trigger recruitment of Ash2l, Saf-A and macroH2A to the X chromosome, and can cause chromosome-wide histone H4 hypoacetylation. This suggests that a chromatin configuration is established on non-genic chromatin on the Xi by Xist to provide a repressive compartment that could be used for maintaining gene silencing. Gene silencing is mechanistically separable from the formation of this repressive compartment and, thus, requires additional pathways. This observation highlights a crucial role for spatial organization of chromatin changes in the maintenance of X inactivation.