Stochastic Choice of Allelic Expression in Human Neural Stem Cells
ABSTRACT Monoallelic gene expression, such as genomic imprinting, is well described. Less well-characterized are genes undergoing stochastic monoallelic expression (MA), where specific clones of cells express just one allele at a given locus. We performed genome-wide allelic expression assessment of human clonal neural stem cells derived from cerebral cortex, striatum, and spinal cord, each with differing genotypes. We assayed three separate clonal lines from each donor, distinguishing stochastic MA from genotypic effects. Roughly 2% of genes showed evidence for autosomal MA, and in about half of these, allelic expression was stochastic between different clones. Many of these loci were known neurodevelopmental genes, such as OTX2 and OLIG2. Monoallelic genes also showed increased levels of DNA methylation compared to hypomethylated biallelic loci. Identified monoallelic gene loci showed altered chromatin signatures in fetal brain, suggesting an in vivo correlate of this phenomenon. We conclude that stochastic allelic expression is prevalent in neural stem cells, providing clonal diversity to developing tissues such as the human brain.
SourceAvailable from: Meike Bartels[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: DNA methylation is one of the most extensively studied epigenetic marks in humans. Yet, it is largely unknown what causes variation in DNA methylation between individuals. The comparison of DNA methylation profiles of monozygotic (MZ) twins offers a unique experimental design to examine the extent to which such variation is related to individual-specific environmental influences and stochastic events or to familial factors (DNA sequence and shared environment). We measured genome-wide DNA methylation in buccal samples from ten MZ pairs (age 8-19) using the Illumina 450k array and examined twin correlations for methylation level at 420,921 CpGs after QC. After selecting CpGs showing the most variation in the methylation level between subjects, the mean genome-wide correlation (rho) was 0.54. The correlation was higher, on average, for CpGs within CpG islands (CGIs), compared to CGI shores, shelves and non-CGI regions, particularly at hypomethylated CpGs. This finding suggests that individual-specific environmental and stochastic influences account for more variation in DNA methylation in CpG-poor regions. Our findings also indicate that it is worthwhile to examine heritable and shared environmental influences on buccal DNA methylation in larger studies that also include dizygotic twins.06/2014; 5(2):347-65. DOI:10.3390/genes5020347
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The mechanism and significance of epigenetic variability in the same cell type between healthy individuals are not clear. Here we purify human CD34+ haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) from different individuals and find that there is increased variability of DNA methylation at loci with properties of promoters and enhancers. The variability is especially enriched at candidate enhancers near genes transitioning between silent and expressed states, and encoding proteins with leukocyte differentiation properties. Our findings of increased variability at loci with intermediate DNA methylation values, at candidate 'poised' enhancers and at genes involved in HSPC lineage commitment suggest that CD34+ cell subtype heterogeneity between individuals is a major mechanism for the variability observed. Epigenomic studies performed on cell populations, even when purified, are testing collections of epigenomes, or meta-epigenomes. Our findings show that meta-epigenomic approaches to data analysis can provide insights into cell subpopulation structure.Nature Communications 10/2014; 5:5195. DOI:10.1038/ncomms6195 · 10.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Understanding how neurons acquire specific response properties is a major goal in neuroscience. Recent studies in mouse neocortex have shown that "sister neurons" derived from the same cortical progenitor cell have a greater probability of forming synaptic connections with one another [1, 2] and are biased to respond to similar sensory stimuli [3, 4]. However, it is unknown whether such lineage-based rules contribute to functional circuit organization across different species and brain regions . To address this question, we examined the influence of lineage on the response properties of neurons within the optic tectum, a visual brain area found in all vertebrates . Tectal neurons possess well-defined spatial receptive fields (RFs) whose center positions are retinotopically organized . If lineage relationships do not influence the functional properties of tectal neurons, one prediction is that the RF positions of sister neurons should be no more (or less) similar to one another than those of neighboring control neurons. To test this prediction, we developed a protocol to unambiguously identify the daughter neurons derived from single tectal progenitor cells in Xenopus laevis tadpoles. We combined this approach with in vivo two-photon calcium imaging in order to characterize the RF properties of tectal neurons. Our data reveal that the RF centers of sister neurons are significantly more similar than would be expected by chance. Ontogenetic relationships therefore influence the fine-scale topography of the retinotectal map, indicating that lineage relationships may represent a general and evolutionarily conserved principle that contributes to the organization of neural circuits.Current Biology 08/2014; 24(16). DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.015 · 9.92 Impact Factor