The histone chaperone CAF-1 safeguards somatic cell identity
2015; 528 (7581): 218-?
Cellular differentiation involves profound remodelling of chromatic landscapes, yet the mechanisms by which somatic cell identity is subsequently maintained remain incompletely understood. To further elucidate regulatory pathways that safeguard the somatic state, we performed two comprehensive RNA interference (RNAi) screens targeting chromatin factors during transcription-factor-mediated reprogramming of mouse fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). Subunits of the chromatin assembly factor-1 (CAF-1) complex, including Chaf1a and Chaf1b, emerged as the most prominent hits from both screens, followed by modulators of lysine sumoylation and heterochromatin maintenance. Optimal modulation of both CAF-1 and transcription factor levels increased reprogramming efficiency by several orders of magnitude and facilitated iPS cell formation in as little as 4 days. Mechanistically, CAF-1 suppression led to a more accessible chromatin structure at enhancer elements early during reprogramming. These changes were accompanied by a decrease in somatic heterochromatin domains, increased binding of Sox2 to pluripotency-specific targets and activation of associated genes. Notably, suppression of CAF-1 also enhanced the direct conversion of B cells into macrophages and fibroblasts into neurons. Together, our findings reveal the histone chaperone CAF-1 to be a novel regulator of somatic cell identity during transcription-factor-induced cell-fate transitions and provide a potential strategy to modulate cellular plasticity in a regenerative setting.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature15749
View details for PubMedID 26659182
Intrinsic retroviral reactivation in human preimplantation embryos and pluripotent cells.
2015; 522 (7555): 221-225
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are remnants of ancient retroviral infections, and comprise nearly 8% of the human genome. The most recently acquired human ERV is HERVK(HML-2), which repeatedly infected the primate lineage both before and after the divergence of the human and chimpanzee common ancestor. Unlike most other human ERVs, HERVK retained multiple copies of intact open reading frames encoding retroviral proteins. However, HERVK is transcriptionally silenced by the host, with the exception of in certain pathological contexts such as germ-cell tumours, melanoma or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Here we demonstrate that DNA hypomethylation at long terminal repeat elements representing the most recent genomic integrations, together with transactivation by OCT4 (also known as POU5F1), synergistically facilitate HERVK expression. Consequently, HERVK is transcribed during normal human embryogenesis, beginning with embryonic genome activation at the eight-cell stage, continuing through the emergence of epiblast cells in preimplantation blastocysts, and ceasing during human embryonic stem cell derivation from blastocyst outgrowths. Remarkably, we detected HERVK viral-like particles and Gag proteins in human blastocysts, indicating that early human development proceeds in the presence of retroviral products. We further show that overexpression of one such product, the HERVK accessory protein Rec, in a pluripotent cell line is sufficient to increase IFITM1 levels on the cell surface and inhibit viral infection, suggesting at least one mechanism through which HERVK can induce viral restriction pathways in early embryonic cells. Moreover, Rec directly binds a subset of cellular RNAs and modulates their ribosome occupancy, indicating that complex interactions between retroviral proteins and host factors can fine-tune pathways of early human development.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14308
View details for PubMedID 25896322
Congenital nephrogenic diabetes insipidus: the current state of affairs
2012; 27 (12): 2183-2204
The anti-diuretic hormone arginine vasopressin (AVP) is released from the pituitary upon hypovolemia or hypernatremia, and regulates water reabsorption in the renal collecting duct principal cells. Binding of AVP to the arginine vasopressin receptor type 2 (AVPR2) in the basolateral membrane leads to translocation of aquaporin 2 (AQP2) water channels to the apical membrane of the collecting duct principal cells, inducing water permeability of the membrane. This results in water reabsorption from the pro-urine into the medullary interstitium following an osmotic gradient. Congenital nephrogenic diabetes insipidus (NDI) is a disorder associated with mutations in either the AVPR2 or AQP2 gene, causing the inability of patients to concentrate their pro-urine, which leads to a high risk of dehydration. This review focuses on the current knowledge regarding the cell biological aspects of congenital X-linked, autosomal-recessive and autosomal-dominant NDI while specifically addressing the latest developments in the field. Based on deepened mechanistic understanding, new therapeutic strategies are currently being explored, which we also discuss here.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00467-012-2118-8
View details for Web of Science ID 000310829700004
View details for PubMedID 22427315