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Reduced chromatin accessibility correlates with resistance to Notch activation

van den Ameele, Jelle; Krautz, Robert; Cheetham, Seth W; Donovan, Alex P A; Llorà-Batlle, Oriol; Yakob, Rebecca; Brand, Andrea H
The Notch signalling pathway is a master regulator of cell fate transitions in development and disease. In the brain, Notch promotes neural stem cell (NSC) proliferation, regulates neuronal migration and maturation and can act as an oncogene or tumour suppressor. How NOTCH and its transcription factor RBPJ activate distinct gene regulatory networks in closely related cell types in vivo remains to be determined. Here we use Targeted DamID (TaDa), requiring only thousands of cells, to identify NOTCH and RBPJ binding in NSCs and their progeny in the mouse embryonic cerebral cortex in vivo. We find that NOTCH and RBPJ associate with a broad network of NSC genes. Repression of NSC-specific Notch target genes in intermediate progenitors and neurons correlates with decreased chromatin accessibility, suggesting that chromatin compaction may contribute to restricting NOTCH-mediated transactivation.
PMID: 35468895
ISSN: 2041-1723
CID: 5193592

Escargot controls somatic stem cell maintenance through the attenuation of the insulin receptor pathway in Drosophila

Sênos Demarco, Rafael; Stack, Brian J; Tang, Alexander M; Voog, Justin; Sandall, Sharsti L; Southall, Tony D; Brand, Andrea H; Jones, D Leanne
Adult stem cells coordinate intrinsic and extrinsic, local and systemic, cues to maintain the proper balance between self-renewal and differentiation. However, the precise mechanisms stem cells use to integrate these signals remain elusive. Here, we show that Escargot (Esg), a member of the Snail family of transcription factors, regulates the maintenance of somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs) in the Drosophila testis by attenuating the activity of the pro-differentiation insulin receptor (InR) pathway. Esg positively regulates the expression of an antagonist of insulin signaling, ImpL2, while also attenuating the expression of InR. Furthermore, Esg-mediated repression of the InR pathway is required to suppress CySC loss in response to starvation. Given the conservation of Snail-family transcription factors, characterizing the mechanisms by which Esg regulates cell-fate decisions during homeostasis and a decline in nutrient availability is likely to provide insight into the metabolic regulation of stem cell behavior in other tissues and organisms.
PMID: 35443165
ISSN: 2211-1247
CID: 5193582

In vivo targeted DamID identifies CHD8 genomic targets in fetal mouse brain

Wade, A Ayanna; van den Ameele, Jelle; Cheetham, Seth W; Yakob, Rebecca; Brand, Andrea H; Nord, Alex S
Genetic studies of autism have revealed causal roles for chromatin remodeling gene mutations. Chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 8 (CHD8) encodes a chromatin remodeler with significant de novo mutation rates in sporadic autism. However, relationships between CHD8 genomic function and autism-relevant biology remain poorly elucidated. Published studies utilizing ChIP-seq to map CHD8 protein-DNA interactions have high variability, consistent with technical challenges and limitations associated with this method. Thus, complementary approaches are needed to establish CHD8 genomic targets and regulatory functions in developing brain. We used in utero CHD8 Targeted DamID followed by sequencing (TaDa-seq) to characterize CHD8 binding in embryonic mouse cortex. CHD8 TaDa-seq reproduced interaction patterns observed from ChIP-seq and further highlighted CHD8 distal interactions associated with neuronal loci. This study establishes TaDa-seq as a useful alternative for mapping protein-DNA interactions in vivo and provides insights into the regulatory targets of CHD8 and autism-relevant pathophysiology associated with CHD8 mutations.
PMID: 34746699
ISSN: 2589-0042
CID: 5193562

Predicting novel candidate human obesity genes and their site of action by systematic functional screening in Drosophila

Agrawal, Neha; Lawler, Katherine; Davidson, Catherine M; Keogh, Julia M; Legg, Robert; Barroso, Inês; Farooqi, I Sadaf; Brand, Andrea H
The discovery of human obesity-associated genes can reveal new mechanisms to target for weight loss therapy. Genetic studies of obese individuals and the analysis of rare genetic variants can identify novel obesity-associated genes. However, establishing a functional relationship between these candidate genes and adiposity remains a significant challenge. We uncovered a large number of rare homozygous gene variants by exome sequencing of severely obese children, including those from consanguineous families. By assessing the function of these genes in vivo in Drosophila, we identified 4 genes, not previously linked to human obesity, that regulate adiposity (itpr, dachsous, calpA, and sdk). Dachsous is a transmembrane protein upstream of the Hippo signalling pathway. We found that 3 further members of the Hippo pathway, fat, four-jointed, and hippo, also regulate adiposity and that they act in neurons, rather than in adipose tissue (fat body). Screening Hippo pathway genes in larger human cohorts revealed rare variants in TAOK2 associated with human obesity. Knockdown of Drosophila tao increased adiposity in vivo demonstrating the strength of our approach in predicting novel human obesity genes and signalling pathways and their site of action.
PMID: 34748544
ISSN: 1545-7885
CID: 5193572

The Serine Protease Homolog, Scarface, Is Sensitive to Nutrient Availability and Modulates the Development of the Drosophila Blood-Brain Barrier

Contreras, Esteban G; Glavic, Álvaro; Brand, Andrea H; Sierralta, Jimena A
The adaptable transcriptional response to changes in food availability not only ensures animal survival but also lets embryonic development progress. Interestingly, the CNS is preferentially protected from periods of malnutrition, a phenomenon known as "brain sparing." However, the mechanisms that mediate this response remain poorly understood. To get a better understanding of this, we used Drosophila melanogaster as a model, analyzing the transcriptional response of neural stem cells (neuroblasts) and glia of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) from larvae of both sexes during nutrient restriction using targeted DamID. We found differentially expressed genes in both neuroblasts and glia of the BBB, although the effect of nutrient deficiency was primarily observed in the BBB. We characterized the function of a nutritional sensitive gene expressed in the BBB, the serine protease homolog, scarface (scaf). Scaf is expressed in subperineurial glia in the BBB in response to nutrition. Tissue-specific knockdown of scaf increases subperineurial glia endoreplication and proliferation of perineurial glia in the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, neuroblast proliferation is diminished on scaf knockdown in subperineurial glia. Interestingly, reexpression of Scaf in subperineurial glia is able to enhance neuroblast proliferation and brain growth of animals in starvation. Finally, we show that loss of scaf in the blood-brain barrier increases sensitivity to drugs in adulthood, suggesting a physiological impairment. We propose that Scaf integrates the nutrient status to modulate the balance between neurogenesis and growth of the BBB, preserving the proper equilibrium between the size of the barrier and the brain.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The Drosophila BBB separates the CNS from the open circulatory system. The BBB glia are not only acting as a physical segregation of tissues but participate in the regulation of the metabolism and neurogenesis during development. Here we analyze the transcriptional response of the BBB glia to nutrient deprivation during larval development, a condition in which protective mechanisms are switched on in the brain. Our findings show that the gene scarface reduces growth in the BBB while promoting the proliferation of neural stem, assuring the balanced growth of the larval brain. Thus, Scarface would link animal nutrition with brain development, coordinating neurogenesis with the growth of the BBB.
PMID: 34210781
ISSN: 1529-2401
CID: 5193552

Stem cell niche organization in the Drosophila ovary requires the ECM component Perlecan

Díaz-Torres, Alfonsa; Rosales-Nieves, Alicia E; Pearson, John R; Santa-Cruz Mateos, Carmen; Marín-Menguiano, Miriam; Marshall, Owen J; Brand, Andrea H; González-Reyes, Acaimo
Stem cells reside in specialized microenvironments or niches that balance stem cell proliferation and differentiation.1
PMID: 33621481
ISSN: 1879-0445
CID: 5193542

Quiescent Neural Stem Cells for Brain Repair and Regeneration: Lessons from Model Systems

Otsuki, Leo; Brand, Andrea H
Neural stem cells (NSCs) are multipotent progenitors that are responsible for producing all of the neurons and macroglia in the nervous system. In adult mammals, NSCs reside predominantly in a mitotically dormant, quiescent state, but they can proliferate in response to environmental inputs such as feeding or exercise. It is hoped that quiescent NSCs could be activated therapeutically to contribute towards repair in humans. This will require an understanding of quiescent NSC heterogeneities and regulation during normal physiology and following brain injury. Non-mammalian vertebrates (zebrafish and salamanders) and invertebrates (Drosophila) offer insights into brain repair and quiescence regulation that are difficult to obtain using rodent models alone. We review conceptual progress from these various models, a first step towards harnessing quiescent NSCs for therapeutic purposes.
PMID: 32209453
ISSN: 1878-108x
CID: 5193522

Tailless/TLX reverts intermediate neural progenitors to stem cells driving tumourigenesis via repression of asense/ASCL1

Hakes, Anna E; Brand, Andrea H
Understanding the sequence of events leading to cancer relies in large part upon identifying the tumour cell of origin. Glioblastoma is the most malignant brain cancer but the early stages of disease progression remain elusive. Neural lineages have been implicated as cells of origin, as have glia. Interestingly, high levels of the neural stem cell regulator TLX correlate with poor patient prognosis. Here we show that high levels of the Drosophila TLX homologue, Tailless, initiate tumourigenesis by reverting intermediate neural progenitors to a stem cell state. Strikingly, we could block tumour formation completely by re-expressing Asense (homologue of human ASCL1), which we show is a direct target of Tailless. Our results predict that expression of TLX and ASCL1 should be mutually exclusive in glioblastoma, which was verified in single-cell RNA-seq of human glioblastoma samples. Counteracting high TLX is a potential therapeutic strategy for suppressing tumours originating from intermediate progenitor cells.
PMID: 32073402
ISSN: 2050-084x
CID: 5193512

Mapping RNA-Chromatin Interactions In Vivo with RNA-DamID

Cheetham, Seth W; Brand, Andrea H
Long-noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as regulators of development and disease. lncRNAs are expressed in exquisitely precise expression patterns in vivo and many interact with chromatin to regulate gene expression. However, the limited sensitivity of RNA-purification techniques has precluded the identification of genomic targets of cell-type specific lncRNAs. RNA-DamID is a powerful new approach to understand the mechanisms by which lncRNAs act in vivo. RNA-DamID is highly sensitive and accurate, and can resolve cell-type-specific chromatin binding patterns without cell isolation. The determinants of RNA-chromatin interactions can be identified with RNA-DamID by analyzing RNA and protein cofactor mutants. Here we describe how to implement RNA-DamID and the design considerations to take into account to accurately identify lncRNA-chromatin interactions in vivo.
PMID: 32681518
ISSN: 1940-6029
CID: 5193532

Epigenetic remodelling licences adult cholangiocytes for organoid formation and liver regeneration

Aloia, Luigi; McKie, Mikel Alexander; Vernaz, Grégoire; Cordero-Espinoza, Lucía; Aleksieva, Niya; van den Ameele, Jelle; Antonica, Francesco; Font-Cunill, Berta; Raven, Alexander; Aiese Cigliano, Riccardo; Belenguer, German; Mort, Richard L; Brand, Andrea H; Zernicka-Goetz, Magdalena; Forbes, Stuart J; Miska, Eric A; Huch, Meritxell
Following severe or chronic liver injury, adult ductal cells (cholangiocytes) contribute to regeneration by restoring both hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. We recently showed that ductal cells clonally expand as self-renewing liver organoids that retain their differentiation capacity into both hepatocytes and ductal cells. However, the molecular mechanisms by which adult ductal-committed cells acquire cellular plasticity, initiate organoids and regenerate the damaged tissue remain largely unknown. Here, we describe that ductal cells undergo a transient, genome-wide, remodelling of their transcriptome and epigenome during organoid initiation and in vivo following tissue damage. TET1-mediated hydroxymethylation licences differentiated ductal cells to initiate organoids and activate the regenerative programme through the transcriptional regulation of stem-cell genes and regenerative pathways including the YAP-Hippo signalling. Our results argue in favour of the remodelling of genomic methylome/hydroxymethylome landscapes as a general mechanism by which differentiated cells exit a committed state in response to tissue damage.
PMID: 31685987
ISSN: 1476-4679
CID: 5193502