[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transposable elements have had a profound impact on the structure and function of mammalian genomes. The retrotransposon Long INterspersed Element-1 (LINE-1 or L1), by virtue of its replicative mobilization mechanism, comprises ∼17% of the human genome. Although the vast majority of human LINE-1 sequences are inactive molecular fossils, an estimated 80-100 copies per individual retain the ability to mobilize by a process termed retrotransposition. Indeed, LINE-1 is the only active, autonomous retrotransposon in humans and its retrotransposition continues to generate both intra-individual and inter-individual genetic diversity. Here, we briefly review the types of transposable elements that reside in mammalian genomes. We will focus our discussion on LINE-1 retrotransposons and the non-autonomous Short INterspersed Elements (SINEs) that rely on the proteins encoded by LINE-1 for their mobilization. We review cases where LINE-1-mediated retrotransposition events have resulted in genetic disease and discuss how the characterization of these mutagenic insertions led to the identification of retrotransposition-competent LINE-1s in the human and mouse genomes. We then discuss how the integration of molecular genetic, biochemical, and modern genomic technologies have yielded insight into the mechanism of LINE-1 retrotransposition, the impact of LINE-1-mediated retrotransposition events on mammalian genomes, and the host cellular mechanisms that protect the genome from unabated LINE-1-mediated retrotransposition events. Throughout this review, we highlight unanswered questions in LINE-1 biology that provide exciting opportunities for future research. Clearly, much has been learned about LINE-1 and SINE biology since the publication of Mobile DNA II thirteen years ago. Future studies should continue to yield exciting discoveries about how these retrotransposons contribute to genetic diversity in mammalian genomes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transposable Elements are pieces of DNA able to mobilize from one location to another within genomes. Although they constitute more than 50% of the human genome, they have been classified as selfish DNA, with the only mission to spread within genomes and generate more copies of themselves that will ensure their presence over generations. Despite their remarkable prevalence, only a minor group of transposable elements remain active in the human genome and can sporadically be associated with the generation of a genetic disorder due to their ongoing mobility. Most of the transposable elements identified in the human genome corresponded to fixed insertions that no longer move in genomes. As selfish DNA, transposable element insertions accumulate in cell types where genetic information can be passed to the next generation. Indeed, work from different laboratories has demonstrated that the main heritable load of TE accumulation in humans occurs during early embryogenesis. Thus, active transposable elements have a clear impact on our pluripotent genome. However, recent findings suggest that the main proportion of fixed non-mobile transposable elements might also have emerging roles in cellular plasticity. In this concise review, we provide an overview of the impact of currently active transposable elements in our pluripotent genome and further discuss new roles of transposable elements (active or not) in regulating pluripotency. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Stress as a fundamental theme in cell plasticity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retrotransposons make up roughly 50% of the mammalian genome and have played an important role in genome evolution. A small fraction of non-LTR retrotransposons, LINE-1 and SINE elements, is currently active in the human genome. These elements move in our genome using an intermediate RNA and a reverse transcriptase activity by a copy and paste mechanism. Their ongoing mobilization can impact the human genome leading to several human disorders. However, how the cell controls the activity of these elements minimizing their mutagenic effect is not fully understood. Recent studies have highlighted that the intermediate RNA of retrotransposons is a target of different mechanisms that limit the mobilization of endogenous retrotransposons in mammals. Here, we provide an overview of recent discoveries that show how RNA processing events can act to control the activity of mammalian retrotransposons and discuss several arising questions that remain to be answered.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bromodomain and extra terminal (BET) protein family member BRD4 is a transcriptional regulator, critical for cell cycle progression and cellular viability. Here, we show that BRD4 plays an important role in embryonic stem cell (ESC) regulation. During differentiation of ESCs, BRD4 expression is upregulated and its gene promoter becomes demethylated. Disruption of BRD4 expression in ESCs did not induce spontaneous differentiation but severely diminished hematoendothelial potential. Although BRD4 regulates c-Myc expression, our data show that the role of BRD4 in hematopoietic commitment is not exclusively mediated by c-Myc. Our results indicate that BRD4 is epigenetically regulated during hematopoietic differentiation ESCs in the context of a still unknown signaling pathway.
Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society 01/2014; 9(4). DOI:10.4161/epi.27711 · 4.78 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wip1 phosphatase plays an important role in cancer by inactivating p53 and INK4a/ARF pathways. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Filipponi and colleagues further connect the oncogenic role of Wip1 with heterochromatin dynamics, transposable element expression, and a mutation-prone environment that may enhance heterogeneity and ultimately contribute to tumor evolution.
Cancer cell 10/2013; 24(4):405-7. DOI:10.1016/j.ccr.2013.10.002 · 23.52 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: More than half of the human genome is made of transposable elements whose ongoing mobilization is a driving force in genetic diversity; however, little is known about how the host regulates their activity. Here, we show that the Microprocessor (Drosha-DGCR8), which is required for microRNA biogenesis, also recognizes and binds RNAs derived from human long interspersed element 1 (LINE-1), Alu and SVA retrotransposons. Expression analyses demonstrate that cells lacking a functional Microprocessor accumulate LINE-1 mRNA and encoded proteins. Furthermore, we show that structured regions of the LINE-1 mRNA can be cleaved in vitro by Drosha. Additionally, we used a cell culture-based assay to show that the Microprocessor negatively regulates LINE-1 and Alu retrotransposition in vivo. Altogether, these data reveal a new role for the Microprocessor as a post-transcriptional repressor of mammalian retrotransposons and a defender of human genome integrity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposons are mobile genetic elements comprising ∼17% of the human genome. New L1 insertions can profoundly alter gene function and cause disease, though their significance in cancer remains unclear. Here, we applied enhanced retrotransposon capture sequencing (RC-seq) to 19 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) genomes and elucidated two archetypal L1-mediated mechanisms enabling tumorigenesis. In the first example, 4/19 (21.1%) donors presented germline retrotransposition events in the tumor suppressor mutated in colorectal cancers (MCC). MCC expression was ablated in each case, enabling oncogenic β-catenin/Wnt signaling. In the second example, suppression of tumorigenicity 18 (ST18) was activated by a tumor-specific L1 insertion. Experimental assays confirmed that the L1 interrupted a negative feedback loop by blocking ST18 repression of its enhancer. ST18 was also frequently amplified in HCC nodules from Mdr2(-/-) mice, supporting its assignment as a candidate liver oncogene. These proof-of-principle results substantiate L1-mediated retrotransposition as an important etiological factor in HCC.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retrotransposons are highly prevalent in mammalian genomes due to their ability to amplify in pluripotent cells or developing germ cells. Host mechanisms that silence retrotransposons in germ cells and pluripotent cells are important for limiting the accumulation of the repetitive elements in the genome during evolution. However, although silencing of selected individual retrotransposons can be relatively well-studied, many mammalian retrotransposons are seldom analysed and their silencing in germ cells, pluripotent cells or somatic cells remains poorly understood. Here we show, and experimentally verify, that cryptic repetitive element probes present in Illumina and Affymetrix gene expression microarray platforms can accurately and sensitively monitor repetitive element expression data. This computational approach to genome-wide retrotransposon expression has allowed us to identify the histone deacetylase Hdac1 as a component of the retrotransposon silencing machinery in mouse embryonic stem cells, and to determine the retrotransposon targets of Hdac1 in these cells. We also identify retrotransposons that are targets of other retrotransposon silencing mechanisms such as DNA methylation, Eset-mediated histone modification, and Ring1B/Eed-containing polycomb repressive complexes in mouse embryonic stem cells. Furthermore, our computational analysis of retrotransposon silencing suggests that multiple silencing mechanisms are independently targeted to retrotransposons in embryonic stem cells, that different genomic copies of the same retrotransposon can be differentially sensitive to these silencing mechanisms, and helps define retrotransposon sequence elements that are targeted by silencing machineries. Thus repeat annotation of gene expression microarray data suggests that a complex interplay between silencing mechanisms represses retrotransposon loci in germ cells and embryonic stem cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two hereditary syndromes, lymphedema-distichiasis (LD) syndrome and blepharo-chelio-dontic (BCD) syndrome include the aberrant growth of eyelashes from the meibomian glands, known as distichiasis. LD is an autosomal dominant syndrome primarily characterized by distichiasis and the onset of lymphedema usually during puberty. Mutations in the forkhead transcription factor FOXC2 are the only known cause of LD. BCD syndrome consists of autosomal dominant abnormalities of the eyelid, lip, and teeth, and the etiology remains unknown. In this report, we describe a proband that presented with distichiasis, microcephaly, bilateral grade IV vesicoureteral reflux requiring ureteral re-implantation, mild intellectual impairment and apparent glomuvenous malformations (GVM). Distichiasis was present in three generations of the proband's maternal side of the family. The GVMs were severe in the proband, and maternal family members exhibited lower extremity varicosities of variable degree. A GLMN (glomulin) gene mutation was identified in the proband that accounts for the observed GVMs; no other family member could be tested. TIE2 sequencing revealed no mutations. In the proband, an additional submicroscopic 265 kb contiguous gene deletion was identified in 16q24.3, located 609 kb distal to the FOXC2 locus, which was inherited from the proband's mother. The deletion includes the C16ORF95, FBXO31, MAP1LC3B, and ZCCHC14 loci and 115 kb of a gene desert distal to FOXC2 and FOXL1. Thus, it is likely that the microcephaly, distichiasis, vesicoureteral, and intellectual impairment in this family may be caused by the deletion of one or more of these genes and/or deletion of distant cis-regulatory elements of FOXC2 expression.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A 04/2012; 158A(4):839-49. DOI:10.1002/ajmg.a.35229 · 2.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Half of the human genome is composed of repeated DNA, and some types are mobile within our genome (transposons and retrotransposons). Despite their abundance, only a small fraction of them are currently active in our genome (Long Interspersed Element-1 (LINE-1), Alu, and SVA elements). LINE-1 or L1 elements are a family of active non-LTR retrotransposons, the ongoing mobilization of which still impacts our genome. As selfish DNA elements, L1 activity is more prominent in early human development, where new insertions would be transmitted to the progeny. Here, we describe the conventional methods aimed to determine the expression level of LINE-1 elements in pluripotent human cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) retrotransposons account for nearly 17% of human genomic DNA and represent a major evolutionary force that has reshaped the structure and function of the human genome. However, questions remain concerning both the frequency and the developmental timing of L1 retrotransposition in vivo and whether the mobility of these retroelements commonly results in insertional and post-insertional mechanisms of genomic injury. Cells exhibiting high rates of L1 retrotransposition might be especially at risk for such injury. We assessed L1 mRNA expression and L1 retrotransposition in two biologically relevant cell types, human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), as well as in control parental human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs). Full-length L1 mRNA and the L1 open reading frame 1-encoded protein (ORF1p) were readily detected in hESCs and iPSCs, but not in HDFs. Sequencing analysis proved the expression of human-specific L1 element mRNAs in iPSCs. Bisulfite sequencing revealed that the increased L1 expression observed in iPSCs correlates with an overall decrease in CpG methylation in the L1 promoter region. Finally, retrotransposition of an engineered human L1 element was ~10-fold more efficient in iPSCs than in parental HDFs. These findings indicate that somatic cell reprogramming is associated with marked increases in L1 expression and perhaps increases in endogenous L1 retrotransposition, which could potentially impact the genomic integrity of the resultant iPSCs.
Human Molecular Genetics 01/2012; 21(1):208-18. DOI:10.1093/hmg/ddr455 · 6.39 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long interspersed element-1 (L1) retrotransposons compose ∼20% of the mammalian genome, and ongoing L1 retrotransposition events can impact genetic diversity by various mechanisms. Previous studies have demonstrated that endogenous L1 retrotransposition can occur in the germ line and during early embryonic development. In addition, recent data indicate that engineered human L1s can undergo somatic retrotransposition in human neural progenitor cells and that an increase in human-specific L1 DNA content can be detected in the brains of normal controls, as well as in Rett syndrome patients. Here, we demonstrate an increase in the retrotransposition efficiency of engineered human L1s in cells that lack or contain severely reduced levels of ataxia telangiectasia mutated, a serine/threonine kinase involved in DNA damage signaling and neurodegenerative disease. We demonstrate that the increase in L1 retrotransposition in ataxia telangiectasia mutated-deficient cells most likely occurs by conventional target-site primed reverse transcription and generate either longer, or perhaps more, L1 retrotransposition events per cell. Finally, we provide evidence suggesting an increase in human-specific L1 DNA copy number in postmortem brain tissue derived from ataxia telangiectasia patients compared with healthy controls. Together, these data suggest that cellular proteins involved in the DNA damage response may modulate L1 retrotransposition.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2011; 108(51):20382-7. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1100273108 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) retrotransposons encode two proteins (ORF1p and ORF2p) that contain activities required for conventional retrotransposition by a mechanism termed target-site primed reverse transcription. Previous experiments in XRCC4 or DNA protein kinase catalytic subunit-deficient CHO cell lines, which are defective for the nonhomologous end-joining DNA repair pathway, revealed an alternative endonuclease-independent (ENi) pathway for L1 retrotransposition. Interestingly, some ENi retrotransposition events in DNA protein kinase catalytic subunit-deficient cells are targeted to dysfunctional telomeres. Here we used an in vitro assay to detect L1 reverse transcriptase activity to demonstrate that wild-type or endonuclease-defective L1 ribonucleoprotein particles can use oligonucleotide adapters that mimic telomeric ends as primers to initiate the reverse transcription of L1 mRNA. Importantly, these ribonucleoprotein particles also contain a nuclease activity that can process the oligonucleotide adapters before the initiation of reverse transcription. Finally, we demonstrate that ORF1p is not strictly required for ENi retrotransposition at dysfunctional telomeres. Thus, these data further highlight similarities between the mechanism of ENi L1 retrotransposition and telomerase.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2011; 108(51):20345-50. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1100275108 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Members of the APOBEC3 (A3) family of cytidine deaminase enzymes act as host defense mechanisms limiting both infections by exogenous retroviruses and mobilization of endogenous retrotransposons. Previous studies revealed that the overexpression of some A3 proteins could restrict engineered human Long INterspersed Element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) retrotransposition in HeLa cells. However, whether endogenous A3 proteins play a role in restricting L1 retrotransposition remains largely unexplored. Here, we show that HeLa cells express endogenous A3B and A3C, whereas human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) express A3B, A3C, A3DE, A3F, and A3G. To study the relative contribution of endogenous A3 proteins in restricting L1 retrotransposition, we first generated small hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) to suppress endogenous A3 mRNA expression, and then assessed L1 mobility using a cell-based L1 retrotransposition assay. We demonstrate that in both HeLa and hESCs, shRNA-based knockdown of A3B promotes a ∼2-3.7-fold increase in the retrotransposition efficiency of an engineered human L1. Knockdown of the other A3s produced no significant increase in L1 activity. Thus, A3B appears to restrict engineered L1 retrotransposition in a broad range of cell types, including pluripotent cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human ESCs provide access to the earliest stages of human development and may serve as an unlimited source of functional cells for future cell therapies. The optimization of methods directing the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into tissue-specific precursors becomes crucial. We report an efficient enrichment of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from hESCs through specific inhibition of SMAD-2/3 signaling. Human ESC-derived MSCs (hESC-MSCs) emerged as a population of fibroblastoid cells expressing a MSC phenotype: CD73+ CD90+ CD105+ CD44+ CD166+ CD45- CD34- CD14- CD19- human leucocyte antigen-DR (HLA-DR)-. After 28 days of SMAD-2/3 inhibition, hESC cultures were enriched (>42%) in multipotent MSCs. CD73+CD90+ hESC-MSCs were fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS)-isolated and long-term cultures were established and maintained for many passages displaying a faster growth than somatic tissue-derived MSCs while maintaining MSC morphology and phenotype. They displayed osteogenic, adipogenic, and chondrocytic differentiation potential and exhibited potent immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro and in vivo, where hESC-MSCs were capable of protecting against an experimental model of inflammatory bowel disease. Interestingly, the efficient enrichment of hESCs into MSCs through inhibition of SMAD-2/3 signaling was not reproducible with distinct induced pluripotent stem cell lines. Our findings provide mechanistic insights into the differentiation of hESCs into immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory multipotent MSCs with potential future clinical applications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The ongoing activity of the human retrotransposon Long Interspersed Element 1 (LINE-1 or L1) continues to impact the human genome in various ways. Throughout evolution, mammalian and primate genomes have been under selection to generate strategies to reduce the activity of selfish DNA like L1. Similarly, selfish DNA has evolved to elude these containment systems. This intragenomic conflict has left many inactive versions of LINEs and other Transposable Elements (TEs) littering the human genome, which together account for roughly half of our DNA. Here, we survey the distinct mechanisms operating in the human genome that seem to reduce the mobility of L1s. In addition, we discuss recent findings that strongly suggest epigenetic mechanisms specifically regulate L1 activity in pluripotent human cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long interspersed element 1s (LINE-1s or L1s) are a family of non-long-terminal-repeat retrotransposons that predominate in
the human genome. Active LINE-1 elements encode proteins required for their mobilization. L1-encoded proteins also act in
trans to mobilize short interspersed elements (SINEs), such as Alu elements. L1 and Alu insertions have been implicated in many human diseases, and their retrotransposition provides an ongoing source of human
genetic diversity. L1/Alu elements are expected to ensure their transmission to subsequent generations by retrotransposing in germ cells or during
early embryonic development. Here, we determined that several subfamilies of Alu elements are expressed in undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and that most expressed Alu elements are active elements. We also exploited expression from the L1 antisense promoter to map expressed elements in hESCs.
Remarkably, we found that expressed Alu elements are enriched in the youngest subfamily, Y, and that expressed L1s are mostly located within genes, suggesting an
epigenetic control of retrotransposon expression in hESCs. Together, these data suggest that distinct subsets of active L1/Alu elements are expressed in hESCs and that the degree of somatic mosaicism attributable to L1 insertions during early development
may be higher than previously anticipated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here, we provide data suggesting that the absence of silencing of the ectopic reprogramming factors used to reprogram somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may predispose iPSCs to genomic instability. We encourage stem cell scientists to undertake an extensive characterization and standardization of much larger cohorts of iPSC lines in order to set up rigorous criteria to define safe and stable bona fide iPSCs.
Cell Research 10/2010; 20(10):1092-5. DOI:10.1038/cr.2010.125 · 12.41 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The completion of the human genome reference sequence ushered in a new era for the study and discovery of human transposable elements. It now is undeniable that transposable elements, historically dismissed as junk DNA, have had an instrumental role in sculpting the structure and function of our genomes. In particular, long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) and short interspersed elements (SINEs) continue to affect our genome, and their movement can lead to sporadic cases of disease. Here, we briefly review the types of transposable elements present in the human genome and their mechanisms of mobility. We next highlight how advances in DNA sequencing and genomic technologies have enabled the discovery of novel retrotransposons in individual genomes. Finally, we discuss how L1-mediated retrotransposition events impact human genomes.
Annual review of genomics and human genetics 09/2010; 12(1):187-215. DOI:10.1146/annurev-genom-082509-141802 · 8.96 Impact Factor