[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Prader-Willi syndrome/Angelman syndrome (PWS/AS) imprinted domain is regulated by a bipartite imprinting control center (IC) composed of a sequence around the SNRPN promoter (PWS-IC) and a 880-bp sequence located 35 kb upstream (AS-IC). The AS-IC imprint is established during gametogenesis and confers repression upon PWS-IC on the maternal allele. Mutation at PWS-IC on the paternal allele leads to gene silencing across the entire PWS/AS domain. This silencing implies that PWS-IC functions on the paternal allele as a bidirectional activator. Here we examine the mechanism by which PWS-IC activates the paternally expressed genes (PEGs) using transgenes that include the PWS-IC sequence in the presence or absence of AS-IC and NDN, an upstream PEG, as an experimental model. We demonstrate that PWS-IC is in fact an activator of NDN. This activation requires an unmethylated PWS-IC in the gametes and during early embryogenesis. PWS-IC is dispensable later in development. Interestingly, a similar activation of a nonimprinted gene (APOA1) was observed, implying that PWS-IC is a universal activator. To decipher the mechanism by which PWS-IC confers activation of remote genes, we performed methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) array analysis on lymphoblast cell lines that revealed dispersed, rather than continued differential methylation. However, chromatin conformation capture (3c) experiments revealed a physical interaction between PWS-IC and the PEGs, suggesting that activation of PEGs may require their proximity to PWS-IC.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2012; 109(19):7403-8. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The polycomb repressive complex (PRC) 1 protein Ring1B is an ubiquitin ligase that modifies nucleosomal histone H2A, a modification which plays a critical role in regulation of gene expression. We have shown that self-ubiquitination of Ring1B generates multiply branched, "noncanonical" polyubiquitin chains that do not target the ligase for degradation, but rather stimulate its activity toward histone H2A. This finding implies that Ring1B is targeted by a heterologous E3. In this study, we identified E6-AP (E6-associated protein) as a ligase that targets Ring1B for "canonical" ubiquitination and subsequent degradation. We further demonstrated that both the self-ubiquitination of Ring1B and its modification by E6-AP target the same lysines, suggesting that the fate of Ring1B is tightly regulated (e.g., activation vs. degradation) by the type of chains and the ligase that catalyzes their formation. As expected, inactivation of E6-AP affects downstream effectors: Ring1B and ubiquitinated H2A levels are increased accompanied by repressed expression of HoxB9, a PRC1 target gene. Consistent with these findings, E6-AP knockout mice display an elevated level of Ring1B and ubiquitinated histone H2A in various tissues, including cerebellar Purkinje neurons, which may have implications to the pathogenesis of Angelman syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by deficiency of E6-AP in the brain.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2010; 107(15):6788-93. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imprinting of the PWS/AS 2.4 Mb domain in the human is controlled by a paternally active imprinting center (PWS-IC). PWS-IC on the maternal allele is methylated and inactivated by an 880-bp sequence (AS-IC) located 30 kb upstream. In this communication, we report the identification of 7 cis acting elements within AS-IC. The elements: DMR, DNS, 2 OCTA sequences, SOX, E1, and E2 bind specific proteins that form at least 2 protein complexes. Using variants of an imprinted transgene, mutated at the elements each at a time, we show that (i) all 7 elements are involved in the methylation and inactivation of the maternal PWS-IC; (ii) the OCTA and SOX elements that bind a protein complex, and the E1 and E2 elements, function in establishing the primary imprint that constitutes an active and unmethylated AS-IC in the oocyte; (iii) DNS and DMR bind a multiprotein complex that may facilitate interaction between AS-IC and PWS-IC, mediating the inactivation in cis of PWS-IC; and (iv) all 7 elements participate in maintaining an unmethylated PWS-IC in the oocyte, which is essential for its maternal methylation later in development. Altogether, the above observations imply that the cis acting elements on AS-IC display diverse functions in establishing the imprints at both AS-IC and PWS-IC in the oocyte. A postulated epigenetic mark imprints the PWS-IC in the oocyte and maintains its inactive status during development before it is translated into maternal methylation.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2009; 106(25):10242-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rett syndrome (RTT) is a severe neurodevelopmental disorder caused by a dominant mutation in the X-linked methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) gene. Neuroanatomically, RTT is characterized by a reduction in dendritic arborization and perikaryal size in the brain. MECP2 binds methylated promoters and facilitates assembly of a multiprotein repressor complex that includes Sin3A and the histone deacetylases HDAC1/HDAC2. MeCP2 has recently been found to be downregulated in autistic spectrum disorders such as Angelman syndrome (AS) and RTT, which share some phenotypic manifestations. We have conducted expression analysis of cytoskeleton-related genes in brain tissue of RTT and AS patients. Striking examples of genes with reduced expression were TUBA1B and TUBA3 that encode the ubiquitous alpha-tubulin and the neuronal specific alpha-tubulin, respectively. In accordance with the downregulation of expression of these genes, we have observed a reduction in the level of the corresponding protein product-tyrosinated alpha-tubulin. Low levels of alpha-tubulin and deteriorated cell morphology were also observed in MeCP2(-/y) MEF cells. The effects of MeCP2 deficiency in these cells were completely reversed by introducing and expressing the human MeCP2 gene. These results imply that MeCP2 is involved in the regulation of neuronal alpha-tubulin and add molecular evidence that reversal of the effects of MeCP2 deficiency is achievable. This raises hopes for a cure of Rett syndrome and related MeCP2 deficiency disorders of the autistic spectrum.
Human Molecular Genetics 02/2009; 18(8):1415-23. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Disruptions in the expression of the BDNF gene that encodes a neurotrophic factor involved in neuronal survival, differentiation and synaptic plasticity has been proposed to contribute to the molecular pathogenesis of Rett syndrome. Rett syndrome (RTT) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, caused by mutations in the X-linked methyl CpG binding protein 2 gene (MeCP2). MeCP2 deficiency in the brain has been shown to decrease overall expression of BDNF in spite of an observed increase in the activity of promoter III that appears to be controlled directly by MeCP2. Therefore, how MeCP2 deficiency causes an overall downregulation of BDNF expression was an enigma. Here we report that MeCP2 deficiency in human and mouse brain causes an increase in expression of two neuronal gene transcriptional repressors REST (RE1 silencing transcription factor), and CoREST. MeCP2 binds to and is involved in repression of Rest and CoRest promoters despite their unmethylated state. MeCP2 depletion is associated with a change in the histone modification profile to a more active conformation. The elevated levels of REST and CoREST in the brain of RTT patients and MeCP2 deficient mice result in downregulation of BDNF, apparently by their binding to the RE1 (element) located between the first two promoters of the BDNF gene. Interestingly, the NTRK2 gene that encodes the BDNF receptor, TRKB, was overexpressed in MeCP2 deficient human and mouse brains either directly or as an attempt to compensate for BDNF deficiency.
Epigenetics: official journal of the DNA Methylation Society 01/2007; 2(4):214-22. · 4.58 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Around 80% of Rett syndrome (RS) cases have a mutation or deletion within the coding sequence of the MeCP2 gene. The other RS patients remain genetically undiagnosed. A significant fraction (10-15%) of disease-causing mutations in humans, affect pre-mRNA splicing. Two potential splice mutations were found in the MeCP2 gene in RS patients, however it was not clear whether these mutations in fact interfere with splicing and consequently cause RS. One such mutation is a deletion of the GT dinucleotide at the 5' donor splice site of exon 1 and the other a deletion of the T nucleotide in the polypyrimidine tract (PPT) of intron 3. Here we experimentally assess the effects exerted by these mutations on the expression of MeCP2 in patients' blood samples and on splicing of the MeCP2 transcript using a hybrid minigene in transient transfection experiments. The results revealed that the Delta T mutation in the PPT is a benign polymorphism and that the GT deletion in intron 1 is a bona fide splicing mutation that causes a complete skipping of exon 1 in the minigene transfection experiment. This explains the observed complete elimination of the MeCP2 message and protein in the lymphoblast clones of the RS patient that carry the mutation on the active X. An analysis of the MeCP2 transcript and protein production in lymphoblast clones, as described here, can be used to confirm clinically diagnosed RS patients with no mutation in the MeCP2 coding sequence. This will enable RS diagnosis without specifically identifying a mutation.
Human Genetics 11/2005; 118(1):91-8. · 4.63 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rett syndrome (RS) is a severe and progressive neurodevelopmental disorder caused by heterozygous mutations in the X-linked methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2) gene. MeCP2 is a nuclear protein that binds specifically to methylated DNA and functions as a general transcription repressor in the context of chromatin remodeling complexes. RS shares clinical features with those of Angelman syndrome (AS), an imprinting neurodevelopmental disorder. In AS patients, the maternally expressed copy of UBE3A that codes for the ubiquitin protein ligase 3A (E6-AP) is repressed. The similar phenotype of these two syndromes led us to hypothesize that part of the RS phenotype is due to MeCP2-associated silencing of UBE3A. Indeed, UBE3A mRNA and protein are shown here to be significantly reduced in human and mouse MECP2 deficient brains. This reduced UBE3A level was associated with biallelic production of the UBE3A antisense RNA. In addition, MeCP2 deficiency resulted in elevated histone H3 acetylation and H3(K4) methylation and reduced H3(K9) methylation at the PWS/AS imprinting center, with no effect on DNA methylation or SNRPN expression. We conclude, therefore, that MeCP2 deficiency causes epigenetic aberrations at the PWS imprinting center. These changes in histone modifications result in loss of imprinting of the UBE3A antisense gene in the brain, increase in UBE3A antisense RNA level and, consequently reduction in UBE3A production.
Human Molecular Genetics 05/2005; 14(8):1049-58. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Prader-Willi/Angelman imprinted domain on human chromosome 15q11-q13 is regulated by an imprinting control center (IC) composed of a sequence around the SNRPN promoter (PWS-SRO) and a sequence located 35 kb upstream (AS-SRO). We have previously hypothesized that the primary imprint is established on AS-SRO, which then confers imprinting on PWS-SRO. Here we examine this hypothesis using a transgene that includes both AS-SRO and PWS-SRO sequences and carries out the entire imprinting process. The epigenetic features of this transgene resemble those previously observed on the endogenous locus, thus allowing analyses in the gametes and early embryo. We demonstrate that the primary imprint is in fact established in the gametes, creating a differentially methylated CpG cluster (DMR) on AS-SRO, presumably by an adjacent de novo signal (DNS). The DMR and DNS bind specific proteins: an allele-discrimination protein (ADP) and a de novo methylation protein, respectively. ADP, being a maternal protein, is involved in both the establishment of DMR in the gametes and in its maintenance through implantation when methylation of PWS-SRO on the maternal allele takes place. Importantly, while the AS-SRO is required in the gametes to confer methylation on PWS-SRO, it is dispensable later in development.
Human Molecular Genetics 12/2004; 13(22):2767-79. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A cluster of imprinted genes on human chromosome 15q11-q13 (the PWS/AS domain) and its ortholog on mouse chromosome 7c is believed to be regulated by an imprinting control center. Although minideletions in this region in Angelman syndrome (AS) and Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) patients revealed that two elements, shortest deletion regions of overlap in AS families and PWS families (AS-SRO and PWS-SRO), respectively, constitute the IC, the molecular mechanism that governs this regional control remains obscure. To understand how this imprinting center works, a mouse model was sought. The striking similarity between the human and mouse sequences allowed the generation of a minitransgene (AS-SMP) composed of AS-SRO and the Snrpn minimal promoter (SMP) the mouse ortholog of PWS-SRO. This minitransgene carries out, in a highly reliable and reproducible manner, all steps of the imprinting process. In an attempt to decipher the molecular mechanism of the imprinting process, we generated and tested for imprinting five minitransgenes based on AS-SMP, in which various parts of the 160 bp SMP were deleted. These experiments revealed a set of five cis elements that carry out the various steps of the imprinting process. This set includes: (i). two copies of a de novo methylation signal (DNS) that establish the maternal imprint during oogenesis; (ii). an allele discrimination signal that establishes the paternal imprint; and (iii). two elements that act together to maintain the paternal imprint. Two functionally redundant sets of the five elements were found on the respective endogenous mouse sequence explaining the previously published contradictory results of targeted deletion experiments. Together with the fact that all five elements bind specific proteins that are presumably the factors acting in trans in the imprinting process, our observations set the stage for a comprehensive study of the molecular mechanism involved in the control of the imprinting process.
Human Molecular Genetics 05/2004; 13(7):751-62. · 7.69 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA methylation had been implicated in the assembly of multiprotein repressory complexes that affect chromatin architecture thereby rendering genes inactive. Proteins containing methyl binding domains (MBDs) are major components of these complexes. MBD3 is a component of the HDAC associated chromatin remodeling complex Mi2/NuRD. The addition of MBD2 to the Mi2/NuRD complex creates MeCP1, a complex that is known to inactivate methylated promoters. The undermethylated state of the mouse preimplantation embryo prompted us to investigate the known repressory complexes at this developmental stage. We found individual components of Mi2/NuRD: MBD3, Mi2, HDAC1 and HDAC2 to be expressed from a very early stage of embryo development and to localize in close proximity with each other and with constitutive heterochromatin by the blastula stage. Expression of MBD2, a component of MeCP1, starts in the blastula stage. Then it is also found to be in proximity with heterochromatin (based on DAPI staining) and with MBD3, Mi2 and HDAC1. In contrast, expression of MeCP2, an MBD containing component of a third repressory complex (MeCP2/Sin3A), is not seen in the preimplantation embryo. Our results suggest that both Mi2/NuRD and MeCP1 complexes are already present at the very early stages of embryo development, while a MeCP2 complex is added to the arsenal of repressory complexes post-implantation at a stage when DNA methylation takes place.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 2 Mb domain on chromosome 15q11-q13 that carries the imprinted genes involved in Prader-Willi (PWS) and Angelman (AS) syndromes is under the control of an imprinting center comprising two regulatory regions, the PWS-SRO located around the SNRPN promoter and the AS-SRO located 35 kb upstream. Here we describe the results of an analysis of the epigenetic features of these two sequences and their interaction. The AS-SRO is sensitive to DNase I, and packaged with acetylated histone H4 and methylated histone H3(K4) only on the maternal allele, and this imprinted epigenetic structure is maintained in dividing cells despite the absence of clearcut differential DNA methylation. Genetic analysis shows that the maternal AS-SRO is essential for setting up the DNA methylation state and closed chromatin structure of the neighboring PWS-SRO. In contrast, the PWS-SRO has no influence on the epigenetic features of the AS-SRO. These results suggest a stepwise, unidirectional program in which structural imprinting at the AS-SRO brings about allele-specific repression of the maternal PWS-SRO, thereby preventing regional activation of genes on this allele.
The EMBO Journal 12/2002; 21(21):5807-14. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Microdeletions in chromosome 15q13-15 of Prader-Willi (PWS) and Angelman Syndrome (AS) patients suggested that SNRPN promoter/exon 1, together with a short sequence located approximately 35 kb upstream, constitute an imprinting control centre that regulates the entire 2 Mb PWS/AS imprinted domain. We have recently shown that a minitransgene composed of the human upstream sequence and mouse Snrpn promoter/exon 1 harbours all the elements necessary for establishing and maintaining an imprinted state.Results Here we describe, using transfection experiments, the Snrpn minimal promoter (SMP), being composed of the entire 76 bp exon 1 and 84 bp of upstream sequence. A 7 bp element (SBE) within SMP that, in its unmethylated state binds a specific protein, is absolutely required for promoter activity. The orthologous human sequence, in spite of the fact that it possesses an identical SBE, failed to display promoter activity in transfection experiments and failed to create a methylated state of the maternal allele. Transgenic experiments reveal that a mutation in SBE of the mouse sequence did not completely abolish methylation of the maternal allele, indicating that sequences outside SBE participate in this process. Replacement of human exon 1 with the mouse orthologue replenished promoter activity, but left the maternal allele in the transgenic experiment unmethylated. The reciprocal chimera, in which mouse exon 1 was replaced by the human orthologue resulted in loss of promoter activity and did not support differential methylation.Conclusions The observations made by in vitro and in vivo experiments suggest that several cis elements which are involved in Snrpn promoter activity and the imprinting process are present in the mouse promoter and absent in the human orthologous sequence.