Francois Robert

Francois Robert
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal | IRCM · Research Division of Systems Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

PhD in Molecular Biology

About

82
Publications
11,560
Reads
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11,700
Citations
Citations since 2017
17 Research Items
2820 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
Introduction
My lab is dedicated to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind transcription by RNA polymerase II, the enzyme responsible for the transcription of all protein-coding genes as well as several non-coding RNAs. We apply functional genomic and proteomic approaches to our favorite model organism, the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Additional affiliations
June 2003 - present
Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal
Position
  • Professor
January 1999 - May 2003
Education
September 1994 - January 1999
Université de Sherbrooke
Field of study
  • Molecular biology
September 1991 - August 1994
Université de Sherbrooke
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (82)
Article
Transcription by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) is coupled to mRNA processing and chromatin modifications via the C-terminal domain (CTD) of its largest subunit, consisting of multiple repeats of the heptapeptide YSPTSPS. Pioneering studies showed that CTD serines are differentially phosphorylated along genes in a prescribed pattern during the transcri...
Article
Full-text available
Mediator is an essential, broadly used eukaryotic transcriptional coactivator. How and what Mediator communicates from activators to RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) remains an open question. Here we performed genome-wide location profiling of Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mediator subunits. Mediator is not found at core promoters but rather occupies the upst...
Article
Mediator is a highly conserved transcriptional coactivator organized into four modules, namely Tail, Middle, Head, and Kinase (CKM). Previous work suggests regulatory roles for Tail and CKM, but an integrated model for these activities is lacking. Here, we analyzed the genome-wide distribution of Mediator subunits in wild-type and mutant yeast cell...
Article
Full-text available
Genomic DNA is framed by additional layers of information, referred to as the epigenome. Epigenomic marks such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, and histone variants are concentrated on specific genomic sites, where they can both instruct and reflect gene expression. How this information is maintained, notably in the face of transcription,...
Article
The histone chaperone FACT occupies transcribed regions where it plays prominent roles in maintaining chromatin integrity and preserving epigenetic information. How it is targeted to transcribed regions, however, remains unclear. Proposed models include docking on the RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) C-terminal domain (CTD), recruitment by elongation fac...
Article
The identification of FACT as a histone chaperone enabling transcription through chromatin in vitro has strongly shaped how its roles are envisioned. However, FACT has been implicated in essentially all aspects of chromatin biology, from transcription to DNA replication, DNA repair, and chromosome segregation. In this review, we focus on recent lit...
Article
Mediator is a large modular protein assembly whose function as a coactivator of transcription is conserved in all eukaryotes. The Mediator complex can integrate and relay signals from gene‐specific activators bound at enhancers to activate the general transcription machinery located at promoters. It has thus been described as a bridge between these...
Article
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The Mediator coactivator complex is divided into four modules: head, middle, tail, and kinase. Deletion of the architectural subunit Med16 separates core Mediator (cMed), comprising the head, middle, and scaffold (Med14), from the tail. However, the direct global effects of tail/cMed disconnection are unclear. We find that rapid depletion of Med16...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Mediator coactivator complex is divided into four modules: head, middle, tail, and kinase. Deletion of the architectural subunit Med16 separates core Mediator (cMed), comprising the head, middle, and scaffold (Med14), from the tail. However, the direct global effects of tail/cMed disconnection are unclear. We find that rapid depletion of Med16...
Article
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Nuclear export of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) is intimately coupled to their synthesis. pre-mRNAs assemble into dynamic ribonucleoparticles as they are being transcribed, processed, and exported. The role of ubiquitylation in this process is increasingly recognized but, while a few E3 ligases have been shown to regulate nuclear export, evidence for deub...
Preprint
Full-text available
The histone chaperone FACT occupies transcribed regions where it plays prominent roles in maintaining chromatin integrity and preserving epigenetic information. How it is targeted to transcribed regions, however, remains unclear. Proposed models for how FACT finds its way to transcriptionally active chromatin include docking on the RNA polymerase I...
Preprint
Full-text available
Nuclear export of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) is intimately coupled to their synthesis. pre-mRNAs assemble into dynamic ribonucleoparticles as they are being transcribed, processed and exported. The role of ubiquitylation in this process is increasingly recognized but, while a few E3 ligases have been shown to regulate nuclear export, evidence for deubi...
Article
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, transcription termination at protein-coding genes is coupled to the cleavage of the nascent transcript, whereas most non-coding RNA transcription relies on a cleavage-independent termination pathway involving Nrd1, Nab3, and Sen1 (NNS). Termination involves RNA polymerase II CTD phosphorylation, but a systematic analysi...
Article
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Recent experimental and computational work revealed that transcriptional terminators in Saccharomyces cerevisiae can terminate transcription coming from both directions. This mechanism helps budding yeast cope with the pervasive nature of transcription by limiting aberrant transcription from invading neighboring genes.
Preprint
Full-text available
Cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (Cdk9) and histone H2B monoubiquitylation (H2Bub1) are both implicated in elongation by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). In fission yeast, Cdk9 and H2Bub1 regulate each other through a feedback loop involving phosphorylation of the elongation factor Spt5. Conversely, genetic interactions suggest opposing functions of H2Bub1 and...
Chapter
Chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled to DNA microarrays (ChIP-chip) is widely used in the chromatin field, notably to map the position of histone variants or histone modifications along the genome. Often, the position and the occupancy of these epigenetic marks are to be compared between different experiments. It is now increasingly recognized tha...
Article
Despite expressing high levels of Polycomb group proteins, embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are refractory to H3K27 trimethylation, notably at super-enhancers regulating key pluripotency genes. In this issue of Molecular Cell, Wang et al. (2017) report that the histone chaperone Spt6 prevents H3K27 trimethylation of key ESC super-enhancers.
Article
Mediator is an essential, large, multisubunit, transcriptional co-activator highly conserved across eukaryotes. Mediator interacts with gene-specific transcription factors at enhancers as well as with the RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) transcription machinery bound at promoters. It also interacts with several other factors involved in various aspects o...
Article
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Transcription can be quite disruptive for chromatin so cells have evolved mechanisms to preserve chromatin integrity during transcription, thereby preventing the emergence of cryptic transcripts from spurious promoter sequences. How these transcripts are regulated and processed remains poorly characterized. Notably, very little is known about the t...
Article
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Purpose of Review Histone chaperones are acidic proteins that play essential roles in gene transcription and other nuclear processes by virtue of their capacity to both uncoil nucleosomal DNA and assemble DNA into nucleosomes. In this chapter, we summarize the most recent work on histone chaperones in RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription and co...
Article
Recognition of histone marks by "reader" modules is thought to be at the heart of epigenetic mechanisms. These protein domains are considered to function by targeting regulators to chromosomal loci carrying specific histone modifications. This is important for proper gene regulation as well as propagation of epigenetic information. The NuA4 acetylt...
Article
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A regulatory circuit that controls myeloid versus B lymphoid cell fate in hematopoietic progenitors has been proposed, in which a network of the transcription factors Egr1/2, Nab, Gfi1 and PU.1 forms the core element. Here we show that a direct link between Gfi1, the transcription factor E2A and its inhibitor Id1 is a critical element of this regul...
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The proliferation and survival of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) has to be strictly coordinated to ensure the timely production of all blood cells. Here we report that the splice factor and RNA binding protein hnRNP L (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein L) is required for hematopoiesis, since its genetic ablation in mice reduces almost all bl...
Article
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Epigenetic changes can contribute to development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a malignant disease of the bone marrow. A single nucleotide polymorphism of the transcription factor growth factor independence 1 (GFI1), generates a protein with an asparagine (GFI136N) instead of a serine at position 36 (GFI136S), which is associated with de novo AM...
Article
Histone variants are specialized histones which replace their canonical counterparts in specific nucleosomes. Together with histone post-translational modifications and DNA methylation, they contribute to the epigenome. Histone variants are incorporated at specific locations by the concerted action of histone chaperones and ATP-dependent chromatin...
Article
Genetic and epigenetic aberrations contribute to the initiation and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). GFI1, a zinc-finger transcriptional repressor exerts its function by recruiting histone-deacetylases (HDACs) to target genes. We present data that low expression of GFI1 is associated with an inferior prognosis of AML patients. To elucid...
Article
The largest subunit of RNA polymerase II contains a C-terminal domain (CTD) that plays key roles in coordinating transcription with co-transcriptional events. The heptapeptide repeats that form the CTD are dynamically phosphorylated on serine, tyrosine and threonine residues during the various steps of transcription, thereby regulating the recruitm...
Article
In the analysis of experimental data corresponding to the signal enrichment of chromatin features such as histone modifications throughout the genome, it is often useful to represent the signal over known regions of interest, such as genes, using aggregate or individual profiles. In the present chapter, we describe and explain the best practices on...
Article
H2A.Z is a highly conserved histone variant involved in several key nuclear processes. It is incorporated into promoters by SWR-C-related chromatin remodeling complexes, but whether it is also actively excluded from non-promoter regions is not clear. Here we provide genomic and biochemical evidence that the RNA polymerase II (RNA Pol II) elongation...
Article
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Proper modulation of promoter chromatin architecture is crucial for gene regulation in order to precisely and efficiently orchestrate various cellular activities. Previous studies have identified the stimulatory effect of the histone modifying complex NuA4 on the incorporation of the histone variant H2A.Z (Htz1) at the PHO5 promoter. In vitro studi...
Article
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Spt6 is a multifunctional histone chaperone involved in the maintenance of chromatin structure during elongation by RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Spt6 has a tandem SH2 (tSH2) domain within its C terminus that recognizes Pol II C-terminal domain (CTD) peptides phosphorylated on Ser2, Ser5, or Try1 in vitro. Deleting the tSH2 domain, however, only has...
Article
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In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, fermentation is the major pathway for energy production, even under aerobic conditions. However, when glucose becomes scarce, ethanol produced during fermentation is used as a carbon source, requiring a shift to respiration. This adaptation results in massive reprogramming of gene expression. Increased express...
Article
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Messenger RNA (mRNA) localization is coupled to the translational repression of transcripts during their transport. It is still unknown if this coupling depends on physical interactions between translational control and mRNA localization machineries, and how these interactions are established at the molecular level. In yeast, localization of transc...
Article
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The analysis of genomic data such as ChIP-Seq usually involves representing the signal intensity level over genes or other genetic features. This is often illustrated as a curve (representing the aggregate profile of a group of genes) or as a heatmap (representing individual genes). However, no specific resource dedicated to easily generating such...
Article
Systems biology approaches can be used to study the regulatory interactions occurring between many components of the biological system at the whole-genome level and decipher the circuitries implicated in the regulation of cellular processes, including those imparting virulence to opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans (C. albicans) is a leading huma...
Article
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Little is known about the functions of chromosome Y (chrY) genes beyond their effects on sex and reproduction. In hearts, postpubertal testosterone affects the size of cells and the expression of genes differently in male C57BL/6J than in their C57.Y(A) counterparts, where the original chrY has been substituted with that from A/J mice. We further c...
Article
CTD modifications occur dynamically as RNAPII travels along genes, and it is now very well established that this allows for RNAPII to dynamically recruit regulatory factors to specific regions during transcription. Via this spatiotemporal recruitment of factors, the CTD allows for the coupling of transcription by RNAPII to RNA processing and chroma...
Article
MNase-Seq and ChIP-Seq have evolved as popular techniques to study chromatin and histone modification. Although many tools have been developed to identify enriched regions, software tools for nucleosome positioning are still limited. We introduce a flexible and powerful open-source R package, PING 2.0, for nucleosome positioning using MNase-Seq dat...
Article
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Transcript elongation by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) is accompanied by conserved patterns of histone modification. Whereas histone modifications have established roles in transcription initiation, their functions during elongation are not understood. Mono-ubiquitylation of histone H2B (H2Bub1) plays a key role in coordinating co-transcriptional hist...
Article
Upon glucose depletion, a massive reprogramming of gene expression occurs in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the use of alternate carbon sources such as the nonfermentable compounds ethanol and glycerol. This process is mediated by the master kinase Snf1 that controls the activity of various targets including the transcriptional regulators C...
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Rapamycin is an anticancer agent and immunosuppressant that acts by inhibiting the TOR signaling pathway. In yeast, rapamycin mediates a profound transcriptional response for which the RRD1 gene is required. To further investigate this connection, we performed genome-wide location analysis of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) and Rrd1 in response to rapam...
Article
Spt6 is a highly conserved factor required for normal transcription and chromatin structure. To gain new insights into the roles of Spt6, we measured nucleosome occupancy along Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome III in an spt6 mutant. We found that the level of nucleosomes is greatly reduced across some, but not all, coding regions in an spt6 muta...
Article
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During heat shock (HS) and other stresses, HS gene transcription in eukaryotes is up-regulated by the transcription factor heat shock factor (HSF). While the identities of the major HS genes have been known for more than 30 years, it has been suspected that HSF binds to numerous other genes and potentially regulates their transcription. In this stu...
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Author Summary Acetylation of histone N-terminal tails occurs on nucleosomes as a gene is being transcribed, therefore helping the RNA polymerase II traveling through nucleosomes. Histone acetylation, however, has to be reversed in the wake of the polymerase in order to prevent transcription from initiating at the wrong place. Rpd3S is a histone de...
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Despite the fact that it has been intensively studied during the last decade, the function of the histone variant H2A.Z remains enigmatic. In the last few years, we and others have determined the localization of H2A.Z in various organisms. These studies have revealed that H2A.Z occupies different well defined regions in the genome. Interestingly, H...
Article
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Phosphorylation of histone H2AX is an early response to DNA damage in eukaryotes. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, DNA damage or replication-fork stalling results in phosphorylation of histone H2A yielding gamma-H2A (yeast gamma-H2AX) in a Mec1 (ATR)- and Tel1 (ATM)-dependent manner. Here, we describe the genome-wide location analysis of gamma-H2A as a...
Article
Transcription termination of messenger RNA (mRNA) is normally achieved by polyadenylation followed by Rat1p-dependent 5'-3' exoribonuleolytic degradation of the downstream transcript. Here we show that the yeast ortholog of the dsRNA-specific ribonuclease III (Rnt1p) may trigger Rat1p-dependent termination of RNA transcripts that fail to terminate...
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Author Summary DNA in living cells is packaged into chromatin by histones and non-histone proteins. This packaging is very dynamic, allowing the controlled access of regulatory proteins such as transcription factors to DNA. Most chromatin is packaged with so-called canonical histones; namely H2A, H2B, H3, and H4. In some regions, however, variant h...
Article
Saccharomyces cerevisiae preferentially uses glucose as a carbon source, but following its depletion, it can utilize a wide variety of other carbons including nonfermentable compounds such as ethanol. A shift to a nonfermentable carbon source results in massive reprogramming of gene expression including genes involved in gluconeogenesis, the glyoxy...
Article
Incorporation of H2A.Z into the chromatin of inactive promoters has been shown to poise genes for their expression. Here we provide strong evidence that H2A.Z is incorporated into the promoter regions of estrogen receptor (ERalpha) target genes only upon gene induction, and that, in a cyclic pattern. Moreover, members of the human H2A.Z-depositing...
Article
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Chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled to DNA microarray has become a widely used method to study transcription factors and chromatin structure. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for the localization of the variant histone Htz1 in the S. cerevisiae genome. This protocol can easily be adapted to fit other purposes such as profiling histone modific...
Article
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The transcription factor p110 CUX1 was shown to stimulate cell proliferation by accelerating entry into S phase. As p110 CUX1 can function as a transcriptional repressor or activator depending on promoter context, we investigated its mechanism of transcriptional activation using the DNA polymerase alpha gene promoter as a model system. Linker-scann...
Article
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Upc2p, a transcription factor of the zinc cluster family, is an important regulator of sterol biosynthesis and azole drug resistance in Candida albicans. To better understand Upc2p function in C. albicans, we used genomewide location profiling to identify the transcriptional targets of Upc2p in vivo. A triple hemagglutinin epitope, introduced at th...
Article
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Proteolytic processing of the CUX1 transcription factor generates an isoform, p110 that accelerates entry into S phase. To identify targets of p110 CUX1 that are involved in cell cycle progression, we performed genome-wide location analysis using a promoter microarray. Since there are no antibodies that specifically recognize p110, but not the full...
Article
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In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, RDS2 encodes a zinc cluster transcription factor with unknown function. Here, we unravel a key function of Rds2 in gluconeogenesis using chromatin immunoprecipitation-chip technology. While we observed that Rds2 binds to only a few promoters in glucose-containing medium, it binds many additional genes when the medium is...
Article
In yeast, histone H3/H4 exchange independent of replication is poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the deposition of histone H3 molecules, synthesized during G1, using a high-density microarray histone exchange assay. While we found that H3 exchange in coding regions requires high levels of transcription, promoters exchange H3 molecules in the abs...
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Macrophage activation by the proinflammatory cytokine interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) is a critical component of the host innate response to bacterial pathogenesis. However, the precise nature of the IFN-gamma-induced activation pathway is not known. Here we show using genome-wide expression and chromatin-binding profiling that IFN-gamma induces the e...
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We describe PReMod, a new database of genome-wide cis-regulatory module (CRM) predictions for both the human and the mouse genomes. The prediction algorithm, described previously in Blanchette et al. (2006) Genome Res., 16, 656–668, exploits the fact that many known CRMs are made of clusters of phylogenetically conserved and repeated transcription...
Article
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In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, zinc cluster protein Pdr1 can form homodimers as well as heterodimers with Pdr3 and Stb5, suggesting that different combinations of these proteins may regulate the expression of different genes. To gain insight into the interplay among these regulators, we performed genome-wide location analysis (chromatin immunoprecipi...
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The identification of regulatory regions is one of the most important and challenging problems toward the functional annotation of the human genome. In higher eukaryotes, transcription-factor (TF) binding sites are often organized in clusters called cis-regulatory modules (CRM). While the prediction of individual TF-binding sites is a notoriously d...
Article
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Spt2/Sin1 is a DNA binding protein with HMG-like domains that has been suggested to play a role in chromatin-mediated transcription in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Previous studies have suggested models in which Spt2 plays an inhibitory role in the initiation of transcription of certain genes. In this work, we have taken several approaches to study Sp...
Article
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H2A.Z is an evolutionary conserved histone variant involved in transcriptional regulation, antisilencing, silencing, and genome stability. The mechanism(s) by which H2A.Z regulates these various biological functions remains poorly defined, in part due to the lack of knowledge regarding its physical location along chromosomes and the bearing it has...
Article
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Nuclear receptors can activate diverse biological pathways within a target cell in response to their cognate ligands, but how this compartmentalization is achieved at the level of gene regulation is poorly understood. We used a genome-wide analysis of promoter occupancy by the estrogen receptor α (ERα) in MCF-7 cells to investigate the molecular me...