Visualising individual sequence-specific protein-DNA interactions in situ.
ABSTRACT Gene expression - a key feature for modulating cell fate-is regulated in part by histone modifications, which modulate accessibility of the chromatin to transcription factors. Until now, protein-DNA interactions (PDIs) have mostly been studied in bulk without retrieving spatial information from the sample or with poor sequence resolution. New tools are needed to reveal proteins interacting with specific DNA sequences in situ for further understanding of the orchestration of transcriptional control within the nucleus. We present herein an approach to visualise individual PDIs within cells, based on the in situ proximity ligation assay (PLA). This assay, previously used for the detection of protein-protein interactions in situ, was adapted for analysis of target PDIs, using padlock probes to identify unique DNA sequences in complex genomes. As a proof-of-principle we detected histone H3 interacting with a 26 bp consensus sequence of the Alu-repeat abundantly expressed in the human genome, but absent in mice. However, the mouse genome contains a highly similar sequence, providing a model system to analyse the selectivity of the developed methods. Although efficiency of detection currently is limiting, we conclude that in situ PLA can be used to achieve a highly selective analysis of PDIs in single cells.
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ABSTRACT: Since 2007, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have led to the identification of numerous loci of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The majority of these loci harbor genes previously not known to be involved in atherogenesis. In this review, we summarize the recent progress in understanding the pathophysiology of genetic variants in atherosclerosis. Fifty-eight loci with P < 10 have been identified in GWAS for coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction. Of these, 23 loci (40%) overlap with GWAS loci of classical risk factors such as lipids, blood pressure, and diabetes mellitus, suggesting a potential causal relation. The vast majority of the remaining 35 loci (60%) are at genomic regions where the mechanism in atherogenesis is unclear. Loci most frequently found in independent GWAS were at Chr9p21.3 (ANRIL/CDKN2B-AS1), Chr6p24.1 (PHACTR1), and Chr1p13.3 (CELSR2, PSRC1, MYBPHL, SORT1). Recent work suggests that Chr9p21.3 exerts its effects through epigenetic regulation of target genes, whereas mechanisms at Chr6p24.1 remain obscure, and Chr1p13.3 affects plasma LDL cholesterol. Novel GWAS loci indicate that our understanding of atherosclerosis is limited and implicate a role of hitherto unknown mechanisms, such as epigenetic gene regulation in atherogenesis.Current opinion in lipidology 10/2013; 24(5):410-8. · 6.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The chromosome 9p21 (Chr9p21) locus of coronary artery disease has been identified in the first surge of genome-wide association and is the strongest genetic factor of atherosclerosis known today. Chr9p21 encodes the long non-coding RNA (ncRNA) antisense non-coding RNA in the INK4 locus (ANRIL). ANRIL expression is associated with the Chr9p21 genotype and correlated with atherosclerosis severity. Here, we report on the molecular mechanisms through which ANRIL regulates target-genes in trans, leading to increased cell proliferation, increased cell adhesion and decreased apoptosis, which are all essential mechanisms of atherogenesis. Importantly, trans-regulation was dependent on Alu motifs, which marked the promoters of ANRIL target genes and were mirrored in ANRIL RNA transcripts. ANRIL bound Polycomb group proteins that were highly enriched in the proximity of Alu motifs across the genome and were recruited to promoters of target genes upon ANRIL over-expression. The functional relevance of Alu motifs in ANRIL was confirmed by deletion and mutagenesis, reversing trans-regulation and atherogenic cell functions. ANRIL-regulated networks were confirmed in 2280 individuals with and without coronary artery disease and functionally validated in primary cells from patients carrying the Chr9p21 risk allele. Our study provides a molecular mechanism for pro-atherogenic effects of ANRIL at Chr9p21 and suggests a novel role for Alu elements in epigenetic gene regulation by long ncRNAs.PLoS Genetics 07/2013; · 8.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays have contributed greatly to our understanding of the role of histone modifications in gene regulation. However, they do not permit analysis with single-cell resolution, thus confounding analyses of heterogeneous cell populations. Here we present a method that permits visualization of histone modifications of single genomic loci with single-cell resolution in formaldehyde-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections based on combined use of in situ hybridization and proximity ligation assays. We show that dimethylation of lysine 4 of histone H3 (H3K4me2) at the MYH11 locus is restricted to the smooth muscle cell (SMC) lineage in human and mouse tissue sections and that the mark persists even in phenotypically modulated SMC in atherosclerotic lesions that show no detectable expression of SMC marker genes. This methodology has promise for broad applications in the study of epigenetic mechanisms in complex multicellular tissues in development and disease.Nature Methods 01/2013; · 23.57 Impact Factor