Clinical Epigenetic Therapies Disrupt Sex Chromosome Dosage Compensation in Human Female Cells.
ABSTRACT: Sex chromosome gene dosage compensation is required to ensure equivalent levels of X-linked gene expression between males (46, XY) and females (46, XX). To achieve similar expression, X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) is initiated in female cells during early stages of embryogenesis. Within each cell, either the maternal or paternal X chromosome is selected for whole chromosome transcriptional silencing, which is initiated and maintained by epigenetic and chromatin conformation mechanisms. With the emergence of small-molecule epigenetic inhibitors for the treatment of disease, such as cancer, the epigenetic mechanism underlying XCI may be inadvertently targeted. Here, we test 2 small-molecule epigenetic inhibitors being used clinically, GSK126 (a histone H3 lysine 27 methyltransferase inhibitor) and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (a histone deacetylase inhibitor), on their effects of the inactive X (Xi) in healthy human female fibroblasts. The combination of these modifiers, at subcancer therapeutic levels, leads to the inability to detect the repressive H3K27me3 modification characteristic of XCI in the majority of the cells. Importantly, genes positioned near the X-inactivation center (Xic), where inactivation is initiated, exhibit robust expression with treatment of the inhibitors, while genes located near the distal ends of the X chromosome intriguingly exhibit significant downregulation. These results demonstrate that small-molecule epigenetic inhibitors can have profound consequences on XCI in human cells, and they underscore the importance of considering gender when developing and clinically testing small-molecule epigenetic inhibitors, in particular those that target the well-characterized mechanisms of X inactivation.
Project description:X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is a mechanism specifically initiated in female cells to silence one X chromosome, thereby equalizing the dose of X-linked gene products between male and female cells. XCI is regulated by a locus on the X chromosome termed the X-inactivation centre (XIC). Located within the XIC is XIST, which acts as a master regulator of XCI. During XCI, XIST is upregulated on the inactive X chromosome and chromosome-wide cis spreading of XIST leads to inactivation. In mouse, the Xic comprises Xist and all cis-regulatory elements and genes involved in Xist regulation. The activity of the XIC is regulated by trans-acting factors located elsewhere in the genome: X-encoded XCI activators positively regulating XCI, and autosomally encoded XCI inhibitors providing the threshold for XCI initiation. Whether human XCI is regulated through a similar mechanism, involving trans-regulatory factors acting on the XIC has remained elusive so far. Here, we describe a female individual with ovarian dysgenesis and a small X chromosomal deletion of the XIC. SNP-array and targeted locus amplification (TLA) analysis defined the deletion to a 1.28 megabase region, including XIST and all elements and genes that perform cis-regulatory functions in mouse XCI. Cells carrying this deletion still initiate XCI on the unaffected X chromosome, indicating that XCI can be initiated in the presence of only one XIC. Our results indicate that the trans-acting factors required for XCI initiation are located outside the deletion, providing evidence that the regulatory mechanisms of XCI are conserved between mouse and human.This article is part of the themed issue 'X-chromosome inactivation: a tribute to Mary Lyon'.
Project description:Differentiation of female murine ES cells triggers silencing of one X chromosome through X-chromosome inactivation (XCI). Immunofluorescence studies showed that soon after Xist RNA coating the inactive X (Xi) undergoes many heterochromatic changes, including the acquisition of H3K27me3. However, the mechanisms that lead to the establishment of heterochromatin remain unclear. We first analyze chromatin changes by ChIP-chip, as well as RNA expression, around the X-inactivation center (Xic) in female and male ES cells, and their day 4 and 10 differentiated derivatives. A dynamic epigenetic landscape is observed within the Xic locus. Tsix repression is accompanied by deposition of H3K27me3 at its promoter during differentiation of both female and male cells. However, only in female cells does an active epigenetic landscape emerge at the Xist locus, concomitant with high Xist expression. Several regions within and around the Xic show unsuspected chromatin changes, and we define a series of unusual loci containing highly enriched H3K27me3. Genome-wide ChIP-seq analyses show a female-specific quantitative increase of H3K27me3 across the X chromosome as XCI proceeds in differentiating female ES cells. Using female ES cells with nonrandom XCI and polymorphic X chromosomes, we demonstrate that this increase is specific to the Xi by allele-specific SNP mapping of the ChIP-seq tags. H3K27me3 becomes evenly associated with the Xi in a chromosome-wide fashion. A selective and robust increase of H3K27me3 and concomitant decrease in H3K4me3 is observed over active genes. This indicates that deposition of H3K27me3 during XCI is tightly associated with the act of silencing of individual genes across the Xi.
Project description:In mammals, homologous chromosomes rarely pair outside meiosis. One exception is the X chromosome, which transiently pairs during X-chromosome inactivation (XCI). How two chromosomes find each other in 3D space is not known. Here, we reveal a required interaction between the X-inactivation center (Xic) and the telomere in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. The subtelomeric, pseudoautosomal regions (PARs) of the two sex chromosomes (X and Y) also undergo pairing in both female and male cells. PARs transcribe a class of telomeric RNA, dubbed PAR-TERRA, which accounts for a vast majority of all TERRA transcripts. PAR-TERRA binds throughout the genome, including to the PAR and Xic. During X-chromosome pairing, PAR-TERRA anchors the Xic to the PAR, creating a 'tetrad' of pairwise homologous interactions (Xic-Xic, PAR-PAR, and Xic-PAR). Xic pairing occurs within the tetrad. Depleting PAR-TERRA abrogates pairing and blocks initiation of XCI, whereas autosomal PAR-TERRA induces ectopic pairing. We propose a 'constrained diffusion model' in which PAR-TERRA creates an interaction hub to guide Xic homology searching during XCI.
Project description:In mammals, the silencing step of the X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) process is initiated by the non-coding Xist RNA. Xist is known to be controlled by the non-coding Xite and Tsix loci, but the mechanisms by which Tsix and Xite regulate Xist are yet to be fully elucidated. Here, we examine the role of higher order chromatin structure across the 100-kb region of the mouse X-inactivation center (Xic) and map domains of specialized chromatin in vivo. By hypersensitive site mapping and chromosome conformation capture (3C), we identify two domains of higher order chromatin structure. Xite makes looping interactions with Tsix, while Xist makes contacts with Jpx/Enox, another non-coding gene not previously implicated in XCI. These regions interact in a developmentally-specific and sex-specific manner that is consistent with a regulatory role in XCI. We propose that dynamic changes in three-dimensional architecture leads to formation of separate chromatin hubs in Tsix and Xist that together regulate the initiation of X-chromosome inactivation.
Project description:In female mammals, X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is a key process in the control of gene dosage compensation between X-linked genes and autosomes. Xist and Tsix, two overlapping antisense-transcribed noncoding genes, are central elements of the X inactivation center (Xic) regulating XCI. Xist upregulation results in the coating of the entire X chromosome by Xist RNA in cis, whereas Tsix transcription acts as a negative regulator of Xist Here, we generated Xist and Tsix reporter mouse embryonic stem (ES) cell lines to study the genetic and dynamic regulation of these genes upon differentiation. Our results revealed mutually antagonistic roles for Tsix on Xist and vice versa and indicate the presence of semistable transcriptional states of the Xic locus predicting the outcome of XCI. These transcriptional states are instructed by the X-to-autosome ratio, directed by regulators of XCI, and can be modulated by tissue culture conditions.
Project description:Once protein-coding, the X-inactivation center (Xic) is now dominated by large noncoding RNAs (ncRNA). X chromosome inactivation (XCI) equalizes gene expression between mammalian males and females by inactivating one X in female cells. XCI requires Xist, an ncRNA that coats the X and recruits Polycomb proteins. How Xist is controlled remains unclear but likely involves negative and positive regulators. For the active X, the antisense Tsix RNA is an established Xist repressor. For the inactive X, here, we identify Xic-encoded Jpx as an Xist activator. Jpx is developmentally regulated and accumulates during XCI. Deleting Jpx blocks XCI and is female lethal. Posttranscriptional Jpx knockdown recapitulates the knockout, and supplying Jpx in trans rescues lethality. Thus, Jpx is trans-acting and functions as ncRNA. Furthermore, ?Jpx is rescued by truncating Tsix, indicating an antagonistic relationship between the ncRNAs. We conclude that Xist is controlled by two RNA-based switches: Tsix for Xa and Jpx for Xi.
Project description:In mammals, X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) equalizes X-linked gene expression between XY males and XX females and is controlled by a specialized region known as the X-inactivation center (Xic). The Xic harbors two chromatin interaction domains, one centered around the noncoding Xist gene and the other around the antisense Tsix counterpart. Previous work demonstrated the existence of a chromatin transitional zone between the two domains. Here, we investigate the region and discover a conserved element, RS14, that presents a strong binding site for Ctcf protein. RS14 possesses an insulatory function suggestive of a boundary element and is crucial for cell differentiation and growth. Knocking out RS14 results in compromised Xist induction and aberrant XCI in female cells. These data demonstrate that a junction element between Tsix and Xist contributes to the initiation of XCI.
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:X chromosome inactivation (XCI) achieves dosage balance in mammals by repressing one of two X chromosomes in females. During XCI, the long noncoding Xist RNA and Polycomb proteins spread along the inactive X (Xi) to initiate chromosome-wide silencing. Although inactivation is known to commence at the X-inactivation center (Xic), how it propagates remains unknown. Here, we examine allele-specific binding of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and chromatin composition during XCI and generate a chromosome-wide profile of Xi and Xa (active X) at nucleosome-resolution. Initially, Polycomb proteins are localized to ∼150 strong sites along the X and concentrated predominantly within bivalent domains coinciding with CpG islands ("canonical sites"). As XCI proceeds, ∼4000 noncanonical sites are recruited, most of which are intergenic, nonbivalent, and lack CpG islands. Polycomb sites are depleted of LINE repeats but enriched for SINEs and simple repeats. Noncanonical sites cluster around the ∼150 strong sites, and their H3K27me3 levels reflect a graded concentration originating from strong sites. This suggests that PRC2 and H3K27 methylation spread along a gradient unique to XCI. We propose that XCI is governed by a hierarchy of defined Polycomb stations that spread H3K27 methylation in cis.
Project description:X-Chromosome Inactivation (XCI) is the process whereby one, randomly chosen X becomes transcriptionally silenced in female cells. XCI is governed by the Xic, a locus on the X encompassing an array of genes which interact with each other and with key molecular factors. The mechanism, though, establishing the fate of the X's, and the corresponding alternative modifications of the Xic architecture, is still mysterious. In this study, by use of computer simulations, we explore the scenario where chromatin conformations emerge from its interaction with diffusing molecular factors. Our aim is to understand the physical mechanisms whereby stable, non-random conformations are established on the Xic's, how complex architectural changes are reliably regulated, and how they lead to opposite structures on the two alleles. In particular, comparison against current experimental data indicates that a few key cis-regulatory regions orchestrate the organization of the Xic, and that two major molecular regulators are involved.