In human, the 39 coding HOX genes and 18 referenced non-coding antisense transcripts are arranged in four genomic clusters named HOXA, B, C, and D. This highly conserved family belongs to the homeobox class of genes that encode transcription factors required for normal development. Therefore, HOX gene deregulation might contribute to the development of many cancer types. Here, we study HOX gene deregulation in adult glioma, a common type of primary brain tumor. We performed extensive molecular analysis of tumor samples, classified according to their isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1) gene mutation status, and of glioma stem cells. We found widespread expression of sense and antisense HOX transcripts only in aggressive (IDHwt) glioma samples, although the four HOX clusters displayed DNA hypermethylation. Integrative analysis of expression-, DNA methylation- and histone modification signatures along the clusters revealed that HOX gene upregulation relies on canonical and alternative bivalent CpG island promoters that escape hypermethylation. H3K27me3 loss at these promoters emerges as the main cause of widespread HOX gene upregulation in IDHwt glioma cell lines and tumors. Our study provides the first comprehensive description of the epigenetic changes at HOX clusters and their contribution to the transcriptional changes observed in adult glioma. It also identified putative “master” HOX proteins that might contribute to the tumorigenic potential of glioma stem cells.
Minibeam radiation therapy (MBRT) is a type of spatial fractionated radiotherapy that uses submillimetric beams. This work reports on a pilot study on normal tissue response and the increase of the lifespan of glioma-bearing rats when irradiated with a tabletop x-ray system. Our results show a significant widening of the therapeutic window for brain tumours treated with MBRT: an important proportion of long-term survivals (60%) coupled with a significant reduction of toxicity when compared with conventional (broad beam) irradiations. In addition, the clinical translation of the minibeam treatment at a conventional irradiator is evaluated through a possible human head treatment plan.
The ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene is a moderate-risk breast cancer susceptibility gene; germline loss-of-function variants are found in up to 3% of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) families who undergo genetic testing. So far, no clear histopathological and molecular features of breast tumours occurring in ATM deleterious variant carriers have been described, but identification of an ATM-associated tumour signature may help in patient management.
Microtubule cytoskeleton exists in various biochemical forms in different cells due to tubulin posttranslational modifications (PTMs). Tubulin PTMs are known to affect microtubule stability, dynamics, and interaction with MAPs and motors in a specific manner, widely known as tubulin code hypothesis. At present, there exists no tool that can specifically mark tubulin PTMs in living cells, thus severely limiting our understanding of their dynamics and cellular functions. Using a yeast display library, we identified a binder against terminal tyrosine of α-tubulin, a unique PTM site. Extensive characterization validates the robustness and nonperturbing nature of our binder as tyrosination sensor, a live-cell tubulin nanobody specific towards tyrosinated microtubules. Using this sensor, we followed nocodazole-, colchicine-, and vincristine-induced depolymerization events of tyrosinated microtubules in real time and found each distinctly perturbs the microtubule polymer. Together, our work describes a novel tyrosination sensor and its potential applications to study the dynamics of microtubule and their PTM processes in living cells.
Proton therapy allows to avoid excess radiation dose on normal tissues. However, there are some limitations. Indeed, passive delivery of proton beams results in an increase in the lateral dose upstream of the tumor and active scanning leads to strong differences in dose delivery. This study aims to assess possible differences in the transcriptomic response of skin in C57BL/6 mice after TBI irradiation by active or passive proton beams at the dose of 6 Gy compared to unirradiated mice. In that purpose, total RNA was extracted from skin samples 3 months after irradiation and RNA-Seq was performed. Results showed that active and passive delivery lead to completely different transcription profiles. Indeed, 140 and 167 genes were differentially expressed after active and passive scanning compared to unirradiated, respectively, with only one common gene corresponding to RIKEN cDNA 9930021J03. Moreover, protein-protein interactions performed by STRING analysis showed that 31 and 25 genes are functionally related after active and passive delivery, respectively, with no common gene between both types of proton delivery. Analysis showed that active scanning led to the regulation of genes involved in skin development which was not the case with passive delivery. Moreover, 14 ncRNA were differentially regulated after active scanning against none for passive delivery. Active scanning led to 49 potential mRNA-ncRNA pairs with one ncRNA mainly involved, Gm44383 which is a miRNA. The 43 genes potentially regulated by the miRNA Gm44393 confirmed an important role of active scanning on skin keratin pathway. Our results demonstrated that there are differences in skin gene expression still 3 months after proton irradiation versus unirradiated mouse skin. And strong differences do exist in late skin gene expression between scattered or scanned proton beams. Further investigations are strongly needed to understand this discrepancy and to improve treatments by proton therapy.
Retrotransposons provide both threats and evolutionary opportunities for their hosts. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Laureau et al. describe a fascinating host-retrotransposon relationship that may lead to retrotransposon domestication: Ty3/Gypsy exploit meiosis networks to sustain their transcription, while the host deploys RNA-binding proteins to prevent their translation.
Early preimplantation embryos are precious and scarce samples that contain limited numbers of cells, which can be problematic for quantitative gene expression analyses. Nonetheless, low-input genome-wide techniques coupled with cDNA amplification steps have become a gold standard for RNA profiling of as minimal as a single blastomere. Here, we describe a single-cell/single-embryo RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) method, from embryo collection to sample validation steps prior to DNA library preparation and sequencing. Key quality controls and external Spike-In normalization approaches are also detailed.
Do assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and in vitro embryo culture influence the epigenetic control of imprinted genes (IGs) and transposable elements (TEs) in children?
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are abundant and heterogenous groups of integrated retroviral sequences that affect genome regulation and cell physiology throughout their RNA-centred life cycle. Failure to repress ERVs is associated with cancer, infertility, senescence and neurodegenerative diseases. Here, using an unbiased genome-scale CRISPR knockout screen in mouse embryonic stem cells, we identify mA RNA methylation as a way to restrict ERVs. Methylation of ERV mRNAs is catalysed by the complex of methyltransferase-like METTL3-METTL14 proteins, and we found that depletion of METTL3-METTL14, along with their accessory subunits WTAP and ZC3H13, led to increased mRNA abundance of intracisternal A-particles (IAPs) and related ERVK elements specifically, by targeting their 5′ untranslated region. Using controlled auxin-dependent degradation of the METTL3-METTL14 enzymatic complex, we showed that IAP mRNA and protein abundance is dynamically and inversely correlated with mA catalysis. By monitoring chromatin states and mRNA stability upon METTL3-METTL14 double depletion, we found that mA methylation mainly acts by reducing the half-life of IAP mRNA, and this occurs by the recruitment of the YTHDF family of mA reader proteins. Together, our results indicate that RNA methylation provides a protective effect in maintaining cellular integrity by clearing reactive ERV-derived RNA species, which may be especially important when transcriptional silencing is less stringent.
Ovarian cancer risk in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers has been shown to decrease with longer duration of oral contraceptive use. Although the effects of using oral contraceptives in the general population are well established (approximately 50% risk reduction in ovarian cancer), the estimated risk reduction in mutation carriers is much less precise because of potential bias and small sample sizes. In addition, only a few studies on oral contraceptive use have examined the associations of duration of use, time since last use, starting age, and calendar year of start with risk of ovarian cancer.
Cutaneous melanoma is a multifactorial disease resulting from both environmental and genetic factors. Five susceptibility genes have been identified over the past years, comprising high-risk susceptibility genes (CDKN2A, CDK4, and BAP1 genes) and intermediate-risk susceptibility genes (MITF, and MC1R genes). The aim of this expert consensus was to define clinical contexts justifying genetic analyses, to describe the conduct of these analyses, and to propose surveillance recommendations. Given the regulatory constraints, it is recommended that dermatologists work in tandem with a geneticist. Genetic analysis may be prescribed when at least two episodes of histologically proven invasive cutaneous melanoma have been diagnosed before the age of 75 years in two 1st or 2nd degree relatives or in the same individual. The occurrence in the same individual or in a relative of invasive cutaneous melanoma with ocular melanoma, pancreatic cancer, renal cancer, mesothelioma or a central nervous system tumour are also indications for genetic testing. Management is based upon properly managed photoprotection and dermatological monitoring according to genetic status. Finally, depending on the mutated gene and the familial history, associated tumour risks require specific management (e.g. ocular melanoma, pancreatic cancer). Due to the rapid progress in genetics, these recommendations will need to be updated regularly.