Ana Cvejic

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (19)252.48 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Blood cells derive from hematopoietic stem cells through stepwise fating events. To characterize gene expression programs driving lineage choice, we sequenced RNA from eight primary human hematopoietic progenitor populations representing the major myeloid commitment stages and the main lymphoid stage. We identified extensive cell type-specific expression changes: 6711 genes and 10,724 transcripts, enriched in non-protein-coding elements at early stages of differentiation. In addition, we found 7881 novel splice junctions and 2301 differentially used alternative splicing events, enriched in genes involved in regulatory processes. We demonstrated experimentally cell-specific isoform usage, identifying nuclear factor I/B (NFIB) as a regulator of megakaryocyte maturation-the platelet precursor. Our data highlight the complexity of fating events in closely related progenitor populations, the understanding of which is essential for the advancement of transplantation and regenerative medicine.
    Science. 09/2014; 345:1251033.
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    ABSTRACT: The formation of mature cells by blood stem cells is very well understood at the cellular level and we know many of the key transcription factors that control fate decisions. However, many upstream signalling and downstream effector processes are only partially understood. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have been particularly useful in providing new directions to dissect these pathways. A GWAS meta-analysis identified 68 genetic loci controlling platelet size and number. Only a quarter of those genes, however, are known regulators of hematopoiesis. To determine function of the remaining genes we performed a medium-throughput genetic screen in zebrafish using antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MOs) to knock down protein expression, followed by histological analysis of selected genes using a wide panel of different hematopoietic markers. The information generated by the initial knockdown was used to profile phenotypes and to position candidate genes hierarchically in hematopoiesis. Further analysis of brd3a revealed its essential role in differentiation but not maintenance and survival of thrombocytes. Using the from-GWAS-to-function strategy we have not only identified a series of genes that represent novel regulators of thrombopoiesis and hematopoiesis, but this work also represents, to our knowledge, the first example of a functional genetic screening strategy that is a critical step toward obtaining biologically relevant functional data from GWA study for blood cell traits.
    PLoS Genetics 07/2014; 10(7):e1004450. · 8.17 Impact Factor
  • Ana Cvejic
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    ABSTRACT: Despite significant improvements in our knowledge of the mechanisms of normal and pathological haematopoiesis, our current understanding is most likely an oversimplification of the complexity of the regulatory networks at play. Thus, there have been considerable efforts to catalogue the total sum of germline alterations in individual genomes that affect human haematopoiesis. This ultimately led to the discovery of a large number of new genes not previously implicated in blood formation. While identification of novel genes is important in revealing the profiles of genetic variations associated with normal haematopoiesis, further functional studies are necessary to improve our understanding of the mechanism(s) involved in these processes. In this review, we summarise the knowledge gained from genome wide association studies in understanding the genetic contribution to variation of the blood cell traits. We discuss the most important recent advances, with an emphasis on functional follow-up studies that have been particularly useful in providing an insight into novel regulatory processes that influence blood cell formation and function. We also discuss potential future directions and challenges in the field.
    Experimental hematology 04/2014; · 3.11 Impact Factor
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    Genome Research 04/2013; 2013(23):1130-1141. · 13.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The blood group Vel was discovered 60 years ago, but the underlying gene is unknown. Individuals negative for the Vel antigen are rare and are required for the safe transfusion of patients with antibodies to Vel. To identify the responsible gene, we sequenced the exomes of five individuals negative for the Vel antigen and found that four were homozygous and one was heterozygous for a low-frequency 17-nucleotide frameshift deletion in the gene encoding the 78-amino-acid transmembrane protein SMIM1. A follow-up study showing that 59 of 64 Vel-negative individuals were homozygous for the same deletion and expression of the Vel antigen on SMIM1-transfected cells confirm SMIM1 as the gene underlying the Vel blood group. An expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL), the common SNP rs1175550 contributes to variable expression of the Vel antigen (P = 0.003) and influences the mean hemoglobin concentration of red blood cells (RBCs; P = 8.6 × 10(-15)). In vivo, zebrafish with smim1 knockdown showed a mild reduction in the number of RBCs, identifying SMIM1 as a new regulator of RBC formation. Our findings are of immediate relevance, as the homozygous presence of the deletion allows the unequivocal identification of Vel-negative blood donors.
    Nature Genetics 04/2013; · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The characterization of thrombus formation in time-lapse DIC microscopy is of increased interest for identifying genes which account for atherothrombosis and coronary artery diseases (CADs). In particular, we are interested in large-scale studies on zebrafish, which result in large amount of data, and require automatic processing. In this work, we present an image-based solution for the automatized extraction of parameters quantifying the temporal development of thrombotic plugs. Our system is based on the joint segmentation of thrombotic and aortic regions over time. This task is made difficult by the low contrast and the high dynamic conditions observed in vivo DIC microscopic scenes. Our key idea is to perform this segmentation by distinguishing the different motion patterns in image time series rather than by solving standard image segmentation tasks in each image frame. Thus, we are able to compensate for the poor imaging conditions. We model motion patterns by energies based on the idea of dynamic textures, and regularize the model by two prior energies on the shape of the aortic region and on the topological relationship between the thrombus and the aorta. We demonstrate the performance of our segmentation algorithm by qualitative and quantitative experiments on synthetic examples as well as on real in vivo microscopic sequences.
    Medical image analysis 05/2012; 16(4):915-31. · 3.09 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The exon-junction complex (EJC) performs essential RNA processing tasks. Here, we describe the first human disorder, thrombocytopenia with absent radii (TAR), caused by deficiency in one of the four EJC subunits. Compound inheritance of a rare null allele and one of two low-frequency SNPs in the regulatory regions of RBM8A, encoding the Y14 subunit of EJC, causes TAR. We found that this inheritance mechanism explained 53 of 55 cases (P < 5 × 10(-228)) of the rare congenital malformation syndrome. Of the 53 cases with this inheritance pattern, 51 carried a submicroscopic deletion of 1q21.1 that has previously been associated with TAR, and two carried a truncation or frameshift null mutation in RBM8A. We show that the two regulatory SNPs result in diminished RBM8A transcription in vitro and that Y14 expression is reduced in platelets from individuals with TAR. Our data implicate Y14 insufficiency and, presumably, an EJC defect as the cause of TAR syndrome.
    Nature Genetics 02/2012; 44(4):435-439. · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Myelodysplastic syndromes are a diverse and common group of chronic hematologic cancers. The identification of new genetic lesions could facilitate new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. We used massively parallel sequencing technology to identify somatically acquired point mutations across all protein-coding exons in the genome in 9 patients with low-grade myelodysplasia. Targeted resequencing of the gene encoding RNA splicing factor 3B, subunit 1 (SF3B1), was also performed in a cohort of 2087 patients with myeloid or other cancers. We identified 64 point mutations in the 9 patients. Recurrent somatically acquired mutations were identified in SF3B1. Follow-up revealed SF3B1 mutations in 72 of 354 patients (20%) with myelodysplastic syndromes, with particularly high frequency among patients whose disease was characterized by ring sideroblasts (53 of 82 [65%]). The gene was also mutated in 1 to 5% of patients with a variety of other tumor types. The observed mutations were less deleterious than was expected on the basis of chance, suggesting that the mutated protein retains structural integrity with altered function. SF3B1 mutations were associated with down-regulation of key gene networks, including core mitochondrial pathways. Clinically, patients with SF3B1 mutations had fewer cytopenias and longer event-free survival than patients without SF3B1 mutations. Mutations in SF3B1 implicate abnormalities of messenger RNA splicing in the pathogenesis of myelodysplastic syndromes. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others.).
    New England Journal of Medicine 10/2011; 365(15):1384-95. · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gray platelet syndrome (GPS) is a predominantly recessive platelet disorder that is characterized by mild thrombocytopenia with large platelets and a paucity of α-granules; these abnormalities cause mostly moderate but in rare cases severe bleeding. We sequenced the exomes of four unrelated individuals and identified NBEAL2 as the causative gene; it has no previously known function but is a member of a gene family that is involved in granule development. Silencing of nbeal2 in zebrafish abrogated thrombocyte formation.
    Nature Genetics 07/2011; 43(8):735-7. · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Genomewide association meta-analysis studies have identified > 100 independent genetic loci associated with blood cell indices, including volume and count of platelets and erythrocytes. Although several of these loci encode known regulators of hematopoiesis, the mechanism by which most sequence variants exert their effect on blood cell formation remains elusive. An example is the Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor, ARHGEF3, which was previously implicated by genomewide association meta-analysis studies in bone cell biology. Here, we report on the unexpected role of ARHGEF3 in regulation of iron uptake and erythroid cell maturation. Although early erythroid differentiation progressed normally, silencing of arhgef3 in Danio rerio resulted in microcytic and hypochromic anemia. This was rescued by intracellular supplementation of iron, showing that arhgef3-depleted erythroid cells are fully capable of hemoglobinization. Disruption of the arhgef3 target, RhoA, also produced severe anemia, which was, again, corrected by iron injection. Moreover, silencing of ARHGEF3 in erythromyeloblastoid cells K562 showed that the uptake of transferrin was severely impaired. Taken together, this is the first study to provide evidence for ARHGEF3 being a regulator of transferrin uptake in erythroid cells, through activation of RHOA.
    Blood 06/2011; 118(18):4967-76. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hematopoietic differentiation critically depends on combinations of transcriptional regulators controlling the development of individual lineages. Here, we report the genome-wide binding sites for the five key hematopoietic transcription factors--GATA1, GATA2, RUNX1, FLI1, and TAL1/SCL--in primary human megakaryocytes. Statistical analysis of the 17,263 regions bound by at least one factor demonstrated that simultaneous binding by all five factors was the most enriched pattern and often occurred near known hematopoietic regulators. Eight genes not previously appreciated to function in hematopoiesis that were bound by all five factors were shown to be essential for thrombocyte and/or erythroid development in zebrafish. Moreover, one of these genes encoding the PDZK1IP1 protein shared transcriptional enhancer elements with the blood stem cell regulator TAL1/SCL. Multifactor ChIP-Seq analysis in primary human cells coupled with a high-throughput in vivo perturbation screen therefore offers a powerful strategy to identify essential regulators of complex mammalian differentiation processes.
    Developmental Cell 05/2011; 20(5):597-609. · 10.37 Impact Factor
  • Leukemia Research 05/2011; 35. · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The segmentation of thrombus and vessel in microscopic image sequences is of high interest for identifying genes linked to cardiovascular diseases. This task is however challenging because of the low contrast and the highly dynamic conditions observed in time-lapse DIC in-vivo microscopic scenes. In this work, we introduce a probabilistic framework for the joint segmentation of thrombus and vessel regions. Modeling the scene with dynamic textures, we derive two likelihood functions to account for both spatial and temporal discrepancies of the motion patterns. A tubular shape prior is moreover introduced to constrain the aortic region. Extensive experiments on microscopic sequences quantitatively show the good performance of our approach.
    Medical image computing and computer-assisted intervention : MICCAI ... International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 01/2011; 14(Pt 3):579-86.
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    ABSTRACT: Platelets are the second most abundant cell type in blood and are essential for maintaining haemostasis. Their count and volume are tightly controlled within narrow physiological ranges, but there is only limited understanding of the molecular processes controlling both traits. Here we carried out a high-powered meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in up to 66,867 individuals of European ancestry, followed by extensive biological and functional assessment. We identified 68 genomic loci reliably associated with platelet count and volume mapping to established and putative novel regulators of megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation. These genes show megakaryocyte-specific gene expression patterns and extensive network connectivity. Using gene silencing in Danio rerio and Drosophila melanogaster, we identified 11 of the genes as novel regulators of blood cell formation. Taken together, our findings advance understanding of novel gene functions controlling fate-determining events during megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation, providing a new example of successful translation of GWAS to function.
    Nature 01/2011; 480(7376):201-8. · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Platelets are the second most abundant cell type in blood and are essential for maintaining haemostasis. Their count and volume are tightly controlled within narrow physiological ranges, but there is only limited understanding of the molecular processes controlling both traits. Here we carried out a high-powered meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in up to 66,867 individuals of European ancestry, followed by extensive biological and functional assessment. We identified 68 genomic loci reliably associated with platelet count and volume mapping to established and putative novel regulators of megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation. These genes show megakaryocyte-specific gene expression patterns and extensive network connectivity. Using gene silencing in Danio rerio and Drosophila melanogaster, we identified 11 of the genes as novel regulators of blood cell formation. Taken together, our findings advance understanding of novel gene functions controlling fate-determining events during megakaryopoiesis and platelet formation, providing a new example of successful translation of GWAS to function.
    Nature. 2011 Nov 30. doi: 10.1038/nature10659. [Epub ahead of print]. 01/2011;
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    ABSTRACT: The Meis1 protein represents an important cofactor for Hox and Pbx1 and is implicated in human and murine leukemias. Though much is known about the role of meis1 in leukemogenesis, its function in normal hematopoiesis remains largely unclear. Here we characterized the role of the proto-oncogene, meis1, during zebrafish primitive and definitive hematopoiesis. Zebrafish embryos were stained with o-dianisidine to detect hemoglobin-containing cells and Sudan black to quantify neutrophils. The numbers of other cells (scl-, gata1- and alas2-positive cells) were also quantified by measuring the corresponding stained areas of the embryos. We used anti-Meis1 antibody and whole mount immunohistochemistry to determine the pattern of expression of Meis1 during zebrafish development and then analyzed the functional role of Meis1 by knocking-down the meis1 gene. Using antisense morpholino oligomers to interrupt meis1 expression we found that, although primitive macrophage development could occur unhampered, posterior erythroid differentiation required meis1, and its absence resulted in a severe decrease in the number of mature erythrocytes. Furthermore a picture emerged that meis1 exerts important effects on later stages of erythrocyte maturation and that these effects are independent of gata1, but under the control of scl. In addition, meis1 morpholino knock-down led to dramatic single arteriovenous tube formation. We also found that knock-down of pbx1 resulted in a phenotype that was strikingly similar to that of meis1 knock-down zebrafish. These results imply that meis1, jointly with pbx1, regulates primitive hematopoiesis as well as vascular development.
    Haematologica 11/2010; 96(2):190-8. · 5.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The genetic factors of thrombosis are commonly explored by microscopically imaging the coagulation of blood cells induced by injuring a vessel of mice or of zebrafish mutants. The latter species is particularly interesting since skin transparency permits to non-invasively acquire microscopic images of the scene with a CCD camera and to estimate the parameters characterizing the thrombus development. These parameters are currently determined by manual outlining, which is both error prone and extremely time consuming. Even though a technique for automatic thrombus extraction would be highly valuable for gene analysts, little work can be found, which is mainly due to very low image contrast and spurious structures. In this work, we propose to semi-automatically segment the thrombus over time from microscopic image sequences of wild-type zebrafish larvae. To compensate the lack of valuable spatial information, our main idea consists of exploiting the temporal information by modeling the variations of the pixel intensities over successive temporal windows with a linear Markov-based dynamic texture formalization. We then derive an image from the estimated model parameters, which represents the probability of a pixel to belong to the thrombus. We employ this probability image to accurately estimate the thrombus position via an active contour segmentation incorporating also prior and spatial information of the underlying intensity images. The performance of our approach is tested on three microscopic image sequences. We show that the thrombus is accurately tracked over time in each sequence if the respective parameters controlling prior influence and contour stiffness are correctly chosen.
    Proc SPIE 03/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we demonstrate the suitability of the vertebrate Danio rerio (zebrafish) for functional screening of novel platelet genes in vivo by reverse genetics. Comparative transcript analysis of platelets and their precursor cell, the megakaryocyte, together with nucleated blood cell elements, endothelial cells, and erythroblasts, identified novel platelet membrane proteins with hitherto unknown roles in thrombus formation. We determined the phenotype induced by antisense morpholino oligonucleotide (MO)-based knockdown of 5 of these genes in a laser-induced arterial thrombosis model. To validate the model, the genes for platelet glycoprotein (GP) IIb and the coagulation protein factor VIII were targeted. MO-injected fish showed normal thrombus initiation but severely impaired thrombus growth, consistent with the mouse knockout phenotypes, and concomitant knockdown of both resulted in spontaneous bleeding. Knockdown of 4 of the 5 novel platelet proteins altered arterial thrombosis, as demonstrated by modified kinetics of thrombus initiation and/or development. We identified a putative role for BAMBI and LRRC32 in promotion and DCBLD2 and ESAM in inhibition of thrombus formation. We conclude that phenotypic analysis of MO-injected zebrafish is a fast and powerful method for initial screening of novel platelet proteins for function in thrombosis.
    Blood 01/2009; 113(19):4754-62. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The larva of wild-type zebrafish is an excellent model to study clot formation, however, the analysis of respec- tive microscopic image sequences mainly remains manual, thus tedious and error-prone. Despite the obvious benefit of automatic segmentation algorithms for biologists, no satisfactory solution exists yet, which is mainly due to inherent problems like low contrast, motion perturbation, and disturbing edges. In this work we propose a semi-automatic segmentation algorithm, which combines a novel measure derived from dynamic textures, a temporal prior, and an edge-based refinement. With this mixture of time, texture, and gradients, we exploit a large range of temporal and spatial information and thus drive a contour-based segmentation to the accurate solution. Tests on a sequence of hand-labeled microscopic images demonstrate the merit of our approach.

Publication Stats

524 Citations
252.48 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2014
    • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009–2014
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Haematology
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2012
    • NHS Blood and Transplant
      Watford, England, United Kingdom
    • Technische Universität München
      • Department für Informatik-Anwendungen in der Medizin
      München, Bavaria, Germany