Taiji: System-level identification of key transcription factors reveals transcriptional waves in mouse embryonic development.
ABSTRACT: Transcriptional regulation is pivotal to the specification of distinct cell types during embryonic development. However, it still lacks a systematic way to identify key transcription factors (TFs) orchestrating the temporal and tissue specificity of gene expression. Here, we integrated epigenomic and transcriptomic data to reveal key regulators from two cells to postnatal day 0 in mouse embryogenesis. We predicted three-dimensional chromatin interactions in 12 tissues across eight developmental stages, which facilitates linking TFs to their target genes for constructing transcriptional regulatory networks. To identify driver TFs, we developed a new algorithm, dubbed Taiji, to assess the global influence of each TF and systematically uncovered TFs critical for lineage-specific and stage-dependent tissue specification. We have also identified TF combinations that function in spatiotemporal order to form transcriptional waves regulating developmental progress. Furthermore, lacking stage-specific TF combinations suggests a distributed timing strategy to orchestrate the coordination between tissues during embryonic development.
Project description:Transcription factors (TFs) control cell fates by precisely orchestrating gene expression. However, how individual TFs promote transcriptional diversity remains unclear. Here, we use the Hox TF Ultrabithorax (Ubx) as a model to explore how a single TF specifies multiple cell types. Using proximity-dependent Biotin IDentification in Drosophila, we identify Ubx interactomes in three embryonic tissues. We find that Ubx interacts with largely non-overlapping sets of proteins with few having tissue-specific RNA expression. Instead most interactors are active in many cell types, controlling gene expression from chromatin regulation to the initiation of translation. Genetic interaction assays in vivo confirm that they act strictly lineage- and process-specific. Thus, functional specificity of Ubx seems to play out at several regulatory levels and to result from the controlled restriction of the interaction potential by the cellular environment. Thereby, it challenges long-standing assumptions such as differential RNA expression as determinant for protein complexes.
Project description:A common theme in developmental biology is the repeated use of the same gene in diverse spatial and temporal domains, a process that generally involves transcriptional regulation mediated by multiple separate enhancers, each with its own arrangement of transcription factor (TF)-binding sites and associated activities. Here, by contrast, we show that the expression of the Drosophila Nidogen (Ndg) gene at different embryonic stages and in four mesodermal cell types is governed by the binding of multiple cell-specific Forkhead (Fkh) TFs - including Biniou (Bin), Checkpoint suppressor homologue (CHES-1-like) and Jumeau (Jumu) - to three functionally distinguishable Fkh-binding sites in the same enhancer. Whereas Bin activates the Ndg enhancer in the late visceral musculature, CHES-1-like cooperates with Jumu to repress this enhancer in the heart. CHES-1-like also represses the Ndg enhancer in a subset of somatic myoblasts prior to their fusion to form multinucleated myotubes. Moreover, different combinations of Fkh sites, corresponding to two different sequence specificities, mediate the particular functions of each TF. A genome-wide scan for the occurrence of both classes of Fkh domain recognition sites in association with binding sites for known cardiac TFs showed an enrichment of combinations containing the two Fkh motifs in putative enhancers found within the noncoding regions of genes having heart expression. Collectively, our results establish that different cell-specific members of a TF family regulate the activity of a single enhancer in distinct spatiotemporal domains, and demonstrate how individual binding motifs for a TF class can differentially influence gene expression.
Project description:It is known that transcription factors (TFs) work in cooperation with each other to govern gene expression and thus single TF studies may not always reflect the underlying biology. Using microarray data obtained from two independent studies of the first wave of spermatogenesis, we tested the hypothesis that co-expressed spermatogenic genes in cells committed to differentiation are regulated by a set of distinct combinations of TF modules. A computational approach was designed to identify over-represented module combinations in the promoter regions of genes associated with transcripts that either increase or decrease in abundance between the first two major spermatogenic cell types: spermatogonia and spermatocytes. We identified five TFs constituting four module combinations that were correlated with expression and repression of similarly regulated genes. These modules were biologically assessed in the context that they represent the key transcriptional mediators in the developmental transition from the spermatogonia to spermatocyte.
Project description:Transcription factors (TFs) act within wider regulatory networks to control cell identity and fate. Numerous TFs, including Scl (Tal1) and PU.1 (Spi1), are known regulators of developmental and adult haematopoiesis, but how they act within wider TF networks is still poorly understood. Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are a novel class of genetic tool based on the modular DNA-binding domains of Xanthomonas TAL proteins, which enable DNA sequence-specific targeting and the manipulation of endogenous gene expression. Here, we report TALEs engineered to target the PU.1-14kb and Scl+40kb transcriptional enhancers as efficient new tools to perturb the expression of these key haematopoietic TFs. We confirmed the efficiency of these TALEs at the single-cell level using high-throughput RT-qPCR, which also allowed us to assess the consequences of both PU.1 activation and repression on wider TF networks during developmental haematopoiesis. Combined with comprehensive cellular assays, these experiments uncovered novel roles for PU.1 during early haematopoietic specification. Finally, transgenic mouse studies confirmed that the PU.1-14kb element is active at sites of definitive haematopoiesis in vivo and PU.1 is detectable in haemogenic endothelium and early committing blood cells. We therefore establish TALEs as powerful new tools to study the functionality of transcriptional networks that control developmental processes such as early haematopoiesis.
Project description:Single-cell transcriptomes are established by transcription factors (TFs), which determine a cell's gene-expression complement. Post-transcriptional regulation of single-cell transcriptomes, and the RNA binding proteins (RBPs) responsible, are more technically challenging to determine, and combinatorial TF-RBP coordination of single-cell transcriptomes remains unexplored. We used fluorescent reporters to visualize alternative splicing in single Caenorhabditis elegans neurons, identifying complex splicing patterns in the neuronal kinase sad-1. Most neurons express both isoforms, but the ALM mechanosensory neuron expresses only the exon-included isoform, while its developmental sister cell the BDU neuron expresses only the exon-skipped isoform. A cascade of three cell-specific TFs and two RBPs are combinatorially required for sad-1 exon inclusion. Mechanistically, TFs combinatorially ensure expression of RBPs, which interact with sad-1 pre-mRNA. Thus a combinatorial TF-RBP code controls single-neuron sad-1 splicing. Additionally, we find 'phenotypic convergence,' previously observed for TFs, also applies to RBPs: different RBP combinations generate similar splicing outcomes in different neurons.
Project description:During development and differentiation of an organism, accurate gene regulation is central for cells to maintain and balance their differentiation processes. Transcriptional interactions between cis-acting DNA elements such as promoters and enhancers are the basis for precise and balanced transcriptional regulation. We identified modules of combinations of binding sites in proximal and distal regulatory regions upstream of all transcription start sites (TSSs) in silico and applied these modules to gene expression time-series of mouse embryonic development and differentiation of human stem cells. In addition to tissue-specific regulation controlled by combinations of transcription factors (TFs) binding at promoters, we observed that in particular the combination of TFs binding at promoters together with TFs binding at the respective enhancers regulate highly specifically temporal progression during development: whereas 40% of TFs were specific for time intervals, 79% of TF pairs and even 97% of promoter-enhancer modules showed specificity for single time intervals of the human stem cells. Predominantly SP1 and E2F contributed to temporal specificity at promoters and the forkhead (FOX) family of TFs at enhancer regions. Altogether, we characterized three classes of TFs: with binding sites being enriched at the TSS (like SP1), depleted at the TSS (like FOX), and rather uniformly distributed.
Project description:Several transcription factors (TFs) have been implicated in neuroectoderm (NE) development, and recently, the TF PAX6 was shown to be critical for human NE specification. However, microRNA networks regulating human NE development have been poorly documented. We hypothesized that microRNAs activated by PAX6 should promote NE development. Using a genomics approach, we identified PAX6 binding sites and active enhancers genome-wide in an in vitro model of human NE development that was based on neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESC). PAX6 binding to active enhancers was found in the proximity of several microRNAs, including hsa-miR-135b. MiR-135b was activated during NE development, and ectopic expression of miR-135b in hESC promoted differentiation toward NE. MiR-135b promotes neural conversion by targeting components of the TGF-? and BMP signaling pathways, thereby inhibiting differentiation into alternate developmental lineages. Our results demonstrate a novel TF-miRNA module that is activated during human neuroectoderm development and promotes the irreversible fate specification of human pluripotent cells toward the neural lineage.
Project description:Mapping the chromatin occupancy of transcription factors (TFs) is a key step in deciphering developmental transcriptional programs. Here we use biotinylated knockin alleles of seven key cardiac TFs (GATA4, NKX2-5, MEF2A, MEF2C, SRF, TBX5, TEAD1) to sensitively and reproducibly map their genome-wide occupancy in the fetal and adult mouse heart. These maps show that TF occupancy is dynamic between developmental stages and that multiple TFs often collaboratively occupy the same chromatin region through indirect cooperativity. Multi-TF regions exhibit features of functional regulatory elements, including evolutionary conservation, chromatin accessibility, and activity in transcriptional enhancer assays. H3K27ac, a feature of many enhancers, incompletely overlaps multi-TF regions, and multi-TF regions lacking H3K27ac retain conservation and enhancer activity. TEAD1 is a core component of the cardiac transcriptional network, co-occupying cardiac regulatory regions and controlling cardiomyocyte-specific gene functions. Our study provides a resource for deciphering the cardiac transcriptional regulatory network and gaining insights into the molecular mechanisms governing heart development.
Project description:Cell-type specific gene expression is regulated by the combinatorial action of transcription factors (TFs). In this study, we predict transcription factor (TF) combinations that cooperatively bind in a cell-type specific manner. We first divide DNase hypersensitive sites into cell-type specifically open vs. ubiquitously open sites in 64 cell types to describe possible cell-type specific enhancers. Based on the pattern contrast between these two groups of sequences we develop "co-occurring TF predictor on Cell-Type specific Enhancers" (coTRaCTE) - a novel statistical method to determine regulatory TF co-occurrences. Contrasting the co-binding of TF pairs between cell-type specific and ubiquitously open chromatin guarantees the high cell-type specificity of the predictions. coTRaCTE predicts more than 2000 co-occurring TF pairs in 64 cell types. The large majority (70%) of these TF pairs is highly cell-type specific and overlaps in TF pair co-occurrence are highly consistent among related cell types. Furthermore, independently validated co-occurring and directly interacting TFs are significantly enriched in our predictions. Focusing on the regulatory network derived from the predicted co-occurring TF pairs in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) we find that it consists of three subnetworks with distinct functions: maintenance of pluripotency governed by OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG, regulation of early development governed by KLF4, STAT3, ZIC3 and ZNF148 and general functions governed by MYC, TCF3 and YY1. In summary, coTRaCTE predicts highly cell-type specific co-occurring TFs which reveal new insights into transcriptional regulatory mechanisms.
Project description:Stem cell fate is orchestrated by core transcription factors (TFs) and epigenetic modifications. Although regulatory genes that control cell type specification are identified, the transcriptional circuit and the cross-talk among regulatory factors during cell fate decisions remain poorly understood. To identify the "time-lapse" TF networks during B-lineage commitment, we used multipotent progenitors harboring a tamoxifen-inducible form of Id3, an in vitro system in which virtually all cells became B cells within 6 d by simply withdrawing 4-hydroxytamoxifen (4-OHT). Transcriptome and epigenome analysis at multiple time points revealed that ?10%-30% of differentially expressed genes were virtually controlled by the core TFs, including E2A, EBF1, and PAX5. Strikingly, we found unexpected transcriptional priming before the onset of the key TF program. Inhibition of the immediate early genes such as Nr4a2, Klf4, and Egr1 severely impaired the generation of B cells. Integration of multiple data sets, including transcriptome, protein interactome, and epigenome profiles, identified three representative transcriptional circuits. Single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis of lymphoid progenitors in bone marrow strongly supported the three-step TF network model during specification of multipotent progenitors toward B-cell lineage in vivo. Thus, our findings will provide a blueprint for studying the normal and neoplastic development of B lymphocytes.