[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effective antiviral immunity depends on the ability of infected cells or cells triggered with virus-derived nucleic acids to produce type I interferon (IFN), which activates transcription of numerous antiviral genes. However, disproportionately strong or chronic IFN expression is a common cause of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. We describe an epigenetic mechanism that determines cell type-specific differences in IFN and IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) expression in response to exogenous signals. We identify di-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9me2) as a suppressor of IFN and IFN-inducible antiviral gene expression. We show that levels of H3K9me2 at IFN and ISG correlate inversely with the scope and amplitude of IFN and ISG expression in fibroblasts and dendritic cells. Accordingly, genetic ablation or pharmacological inactivation of lysine methyltransferase G9a, which is essential for the generation of H3K9me2, resulted in phenotypic conversion of fibroblasts into highly potent IFN-producing cells and rendered these cells resistant to pathogenic RNA viruses. In summary, our studies implicate H3K9me2 and enzymes controlling its abundance as key regulators of innate antiviral immunity.
Journal of Experimental Medicine 03/2012; 209(4):661-9. · 13.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interaction of pathogens with cells of the immune system results in activation of inflammatory gene expression. This response, although vital for immune defence, is frequently deleterious to the host due to the exaggerated production of inflammatory proteins. The scope of inflammatory responses reflects the activation state of signalling proteins upstream of inflammatory genes as well as signal-induced assembly of nuclear chromatin complexes that support mRNA expression. Recognition of post-translationally modified histones by nuclear proteins that initiate mRNA transcription and support mRNA elongation is a critical step in the regulation of gene expression. Here we present a novel pharmacological approach that targets inflammatory gene expression by interfering with the recognition of acetylated histones by the bromodomain and extra terminal domain (BET) family of proteins. We describe a synthetic compound (I-BET) that by 'mimicking' acetylated histones disrupts chromatin complexes responsible for the expression of key inflammatory genes in activated macrophages, and confers protection against lipopolysaccharide-induced endotoxic shock and bacteria-induced sepsis. Our findings suggest that synthetic compounds specifically targeting proteins that recognize post-translationally modified histones can serve as a new generation of immunomodulatory drugs.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Canonical animal microRNAs (miRNAs) are generated by sequential cleavage of precursor substrates by the Drosha and Dicer RNase III enzymes. Several variant pathways exploit other RNA metabolic activities to generate functional miRNAs. However, all of these pathways culminate in Dicer cleavage, suggesting that this is a unifying feature of miRNA biogenesis. Here, we show that maturation of miR-451, a functional miRNA that is perfectly conserved among vertebrates, is independent of Dicer. Instead, structure-function and knockdown studies indicate that Drosha generates a short pre-mir-451 hairpin that is directly cleaved by Ago2 and followed by resection of its 3' terminus. We provide stringent evidence for this model by showing that Dicer knockout cells can generate mature miR-451 but not other miRNAs, whereas Ago2 knockout cells reconstituted with wild-type Ago2, but not Slicer-deficient Ago2, can process miR-451. Finally, we show that the mir-451 backbone is amenable to reprogramming, permitting vector-driven expression of diverse functional miRNAs in the absence of Dicer. Beyond the demonstration of an alternative strategy to direct gene silencing, these observations open the way for transgenic rescue of Dicer conditional knockouts.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2010; 107(34):15163-8. · 9.74 Impact Factor