Enhancers in the Peril lincRNA locus regulate distant but not local genes.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Recently, it has become clear that some promoters function as long-range regulators of gene expression. However, direct and quantitative assessment of enhancer activity at long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) or mRNA gene bodies has not been performed. To unbiasedly assess the enhancer capacity across lincRNA and mRNA loci, we performed a massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA) on six lincRNA loci and their closest protein-coding neighbors. RESULTS:For both gene classes, we find significantly more MPRA activity in promoter regions than in gene bodies. However, three lincRNA loci, Lincp21, LincEnc1, and Peril, and one mRNA locus, Morc2a, display significant enhancer activity within their gene bodies. We hypothesize that such peaks may mark long-range enhancers, and test this in vivo using RNA sequencing from a knockout mouse model and high-throughput chromosome conformation capture (Hi-C). We find that ablation of a high-activity MPRA peak in the Peril gene body leads to consistent dysregulation of Mccc1 and Exosc9 in the neighboring topologically associated domain (TAD). This occurs irrespective of Peril lincRNA expression, demonstrating this regulation is DNA-dependent. Hi-C confirms long-range contacts with the neighboring TAD, and these interactions are altered upon Peril knockout. Surprisingly, we do not observe consistent regulation of genes within the local TAD. Together, these data suggest a long-range enhancer-like function for the Peril gene body. CONCLUSIONS:A multi-faceted approach combining high-throughput enhancer discovery with genetic models can connect enhancers to their gene targets and provides evidence of inter-TAD gene regulation.
Project description:HLA-G, a nonclassical HLA molecule uniquely expressed in the placenta, is a central component of fetus-induced immune tolerance during pregnancy. The tissue-specific expression of HLA-G, however, remains poorly understood. Here, systematic interrogation of the HLA-G locus using massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA) uncovered a previously unidentified cis-regulatory element 12 kb upstream of HLA-G with enhancer activity, Enhancer L Strikingly, clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9-mediated deletion of this enhancer resulted in ablation of HLA-G expression in JEG3 cells and in primary human trophoblasts isolated from placenta. RNA-seq analysis demonstrated that Enhancer L specifically controls HLA-G expression. Moreover, DNase-seq and chromatin conformation capture (3C) defined Enhancer L as a cell type-specific enhancer that loops into the HLA-G promoter. Interestingly, MPRA-based saturation mutagenesis of Enhancer L identified motifs for transcription factors of the CEBP and GATA families essential for placentation. These factors associate with Enhancer L and regulate HLA-G expression. Our findings identify long-range chromatin looping mediated by core trophoblast transcription factors as the mechanism controlling tissue-specific HLA-G expression at the maternal-fetal interface. More broadly, these results establish the combination of MPRA and CRISPR/Cas9 deletion as a powerful strategy to investigate human immune gene regulation.
Project description:The three-dimensional (3D) organization of the genome is intimately related to numerous key biological functions including gene expression and DNA replication regulations. The mechanisms by which molecular drivers functionally organize the 3D genome, such as topologically associating domains (TADs), remain to be explored. Current approaches consist in assessing the enrichments or influences of proteins at TAD borders. Here, we propose a TAD-free model to directly estimate the blocking effects of architectural proteins, insulators and DNA motifs on long-range contacts, making the model intuitive and biologically meaningful. In addition, the model allows analyzing the whole Hi-C information content (2D information) instead of only focusing on TAD borders (1D information). The model outperforms multiple logistic regression at TAD borders in terms of parameter estimation accuracy and is validated by enhancer-blocking assays. In Drosophila, the results support the insulating role of simple sequence repeats and suggest that the blocking effects depend on the number of repeats. Motif analysis uncovered the roles of the transcriptional factors pannier and tramtrack in blocking long-range contacts. In human, the results suggest that the blocking effects of the well-known architectural proteins CTCF, cohesin and ZNF143 depend on the distance between loci, where each protein may participate at different scales of the 3D chromatin organization.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) nominate 3073 genetic variants at 91 risk loci. To systematically screen these variants for allelic transcriptional enhancer activity, we construct a massively parallel reporter assay (MPRA) library comprising 12,396 DNA oligonucleotides containing the genomic context around every allele of each SLE variant. Transfection into the Epstein-Barr virus-transformed B cell line GM12878 reveals 482 variants with enhancer activity, with 51 variants showing genotype-dependent (allelic) enhancer activity at 27 risk loci. Comparison of MPRA results in GM12878 and Jurkat T cell lines highlights shared and unique allelic transcriptional regulatory mechanisms at SLE risk loci. In-depth analysis of allelic transcription factor (TF) binding at and around allelic variants identifies one class of TFs whose DNA-binding motif tends to be directly altered by the risk variant and a second class of TFs that bind allelically without direct alteration of their motif by the variant. Collectively, our approach provides a blueprint for the discovery of allelic gene regulation at risk loci for any disease and offers insight into the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms underlying SLE.
Project description:Chromosome conformation capture technologies have revealed important insights into genome folding. Yet, how spatial genome architecture is related to gene expression and cell fate remains unclear. We comprehensively mapped 3D chromatin organization during mouse neural differentiation in vitro and in vivo, generating the highest-resolution Hi-C maps available to date. We found that transcription is correlated with chromatin insulation and long-range interactions, but dCas9-mediated activation is insufficient for creating TAD boundaries de novo. Additionally, we discovered long-range contacts between gene bodies of exon-rich, active genes in all cell types. During neural differentiation, contacts between active TADs become less pronounced while inactive TADs interact more strongly. An extensive Polycomb network in stem cells is disrupted, while dynamic interactions between neural transcription factors appear in vivo. Finally, cell type-specific enhancer-promoter contacts are established concomitant to gene expression. This work shows that multiple factors influence the dynamics of chromatin interactions in development.
Project description:Chromatin topology is intricately linked to gene expression, yet its functional requirement remains unclear. Here, we comprehensively assessed the interplay between genome topology and gene expression using highly rearranged chromosomes (balancers) spanning ~75% of the Drosophila genome. Using transheterozyte (balancer/wild-type) embryos, we measured allele-specific changes in topology and gene expression in cis, while minimizing trans effects. Through genome sequencing, we resolved eight large nested inversions, smaller inversions, duplications and thousands of deletions. These extensive rearrangements caused many changes to chromatin topology, disrupting long-range loops, topologically associating domains (TADs) and promoter interactions, yet these are not predictive of changes in expression. Gene expression is generally not altered around inversion breakpoints, indicating that mis-appropriate enhancer-promoter activation is a rare event. Similarly, shuffling or fusing TADs, changing intra-TAD connections and disrupting long-range inter-TAD loops does not alter expression for the majority of genes. Our results suggest that properties other than chromatin topology ensure productive enhancer-promoter interactions.
Project description:Three-dimensional genome structure plays an important role in gene regulation. Globally, chromosomes are organized into active and inactive compartments while, at the gene level, looping interactions connect promoters to regulatory elements. Topologically associating domains (TADs), typically several hundred kilobases in size, form an intermediate level of organization. Major questions include how TADs are formed and how they are related to looping interactions between genes and regulatory elements. Here we performed a focused 5C analysis of a 2.8 Mb chromosome 7 region surrounding CFTR in a panel of cell types. We find that the same TAD boundaries are present in all cell types, indicating that TADs represent a universal chromosome architecture. Furthermore, we find that these TAD boundaries are present irrespective of the expression and looping of genes located between them. In contrast, looping interactions between promoters and regulatory elements are cell-type specific and occur mostly within TADs. This is exemplified by the CFTR promoter that in different cell types interacts with distinct sets of distal cell-type-specific regulatory elements that are all located within the same TAD. Finally, we find that long-range associations between loci located in different TADs are also detected, but these display much lower interaction frequencies than looping interactions within TADs. Interestingly, interactions between TADs are also highly cell-type-specific and often involve loci clustered around TAD boundaries. These data point to key roles of invariant TAD boundaries in constraining as well as mediating cell-type-specific long-range interactions and gene regulation.
Project description:Large intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) are still poorly functionally characterized. We analyzed the genetic and epigenetic regulation of human lincRNA expression in the GenCord collection by using three cell types from 195 unrelated European individuals. We detected a considerable number of cis expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTLs) and demonstrated that the genetic regulation of lincRNA expression is independent of the regulation of neighboring protein-coding genes. lincRNAs have relatively more cis-eQTLs than do equally expressed protein-coding genes with the same exon number. lincRNA cis-eQTLs are located closer to transcription start sites (TSSs) and their effect sizes are higher than cis-eQTLs found for protein-coding genes, suggesting that lincRNA expression levels are less constrained than that of protein-coding genes. Additionally, lincRNA cis-eQTLs can influence the expression level of nearby protein-coding genes and thus could be considered as QTLs for enhancer activity. Enrichment of expressed lincRNA promoters in enhancer marks provides an additional argument for the involvement of lincRNAs in the regulation of transcription in cis. By investigating the epigenetic regulation of lincRNAs, we observed both positive and negative correlations between DNA methylation and gene expression (expression quantitative trait methylation [eQTMs]), as expected, and found that the landscapes of passive and active roles of DNA methylation in gene regulation are similar to protein-coding genes. However, lincRNA eQTMs are located closer to TSSs than are protein-coding gene eQTMs. These similarities and differences in genetic and epigenetic regulation between lincRNAs and protein-coding genes contribute to the elucidation of potential functions of lincRNAs.
Project description:The mammalian genome is intricately folded in a three-dimensional topology believed to be important for the orchestration of gene expression regulating development, differentiation and tissue homeostasis. Important features of spatial genome conformation in the nucleus are promoter-enhancer contacts regulating gene expression within topologically-associated domains (TADs), short- and long-range interactions between TADs and associations of chromatin with nucleoli and nuclear speckles. In addition, anchoring of chromosomes to the nuclear lamina via lamina-associated domains (LADs) at the nuclear periphery is a key regulator of the radial distribution of chromatin. To what extent TADs and LADs act in concert as genomic organizers to shape the three-dimensional topology of chromatin has long remained unknown. A new study addressing this key question provides evidence of (i) preferred long-range associations between TADs forming TAD "cliques" which organize large heterochromatin domains, and (ii) stabilization of TAD cliques by LADs at the nuclear periphery after induction of terminal differentiation. Here, we review these findings, address the issue of whether TAD cliques exist in single cells and discuss the extent of cell-to-cell heterogeneity in higher-order chromatin conformation. The recent observations provide a first appreciation of changes in 4-dimensional higher-order genome topologies during differentiation.
Project description:An inducible gene expression program is a hallmark of the host inflammatory response. Recently, long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) have been shown to regulate the magnitude, duration, and resolution of these responses. Among these is lincRNA-Cox2, a dynamically regulated gene that broadly controls immune gene expression. To evaluate the in vivo functions of this lincRNA, we characterized multiple models of lincRNA-Cox2-deficient mice. LincRNA-Cox2-deficient macrophages and murine tissues had altered expression of inflammatory genes. Transcriptomic studies from various tissues revealed that deletion of the lincRNA-Cox2 locus also strongly impaired the basal and inducible expression of the neighboring gene prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase (Ptgs2), encoding cyclooxygenase-2, a key enzyme in the prostaglandin biosynthesis pathway. By utilizing different genetic manipulations in vitro and in vivo, we found that lincRNA-Cox2 functions through an enhancer RNA mechanism to regulate Ptgs2. More importantly, lincRNA-Cox2 also functions in trans, independently of Ptgs2, to regulate critical innate immune genes in vivo.
Project description:FOXG1 syndrome is caused by FOXG1 intragenic point mutations, or by long-range position effects (LRPE) of intergenic structural variants. However, the size of the FOXG1 regulatory landscape is uncertain, because the associated topologically associating domain (TAD) in fibroblasts is split into two domains in embryonic stem cells (hESC). Indeed, it has been suggested that the pathogenetic mechanism of deletions that remove the stem-cell-specific TAD boundary may be enhancer adoption due to ectopic activity of enhancer(s) located in the distal hESC-TAD. Herein we map three de novo translocation breakpoints to the proximal regulatory domain of FOXG1. The classical FOXG1 syndrome in these and in other translocation patients, and in a patient with an intergenic deletion that removes the hESC-specific TAD boundary, do not support the hypothesised enhancer adoption as a main contributor to the FOXG1 syndrome. Also, virtual 4?C and HiC-interaction data suggest that the hESC-specific TAD boundary may not be critical for FOXG1 regulation in a majority of human cells and tissues, including brain tissues and a neuronal progenitor cell line. Our data support the importance of a critical regulatory region (SRO) proximal to the hESC-specific TAD boundary. We further narrow this critical region by a deletion distal to the hESC-specific boundary, associated with a milder clinical phenotype. The distance from FOXG1 to the SRO (?>?500?kb) highlight a limitation of ENCODE DNase hypersensitivity data for functional prediction of LRPE. Moreover, the SRO has little overlap with a cluster of frequently associating regions (FIREs) located in the proximal hESC-TAD.