Publications 2016: Nanomedicine

Scientific publications of the research group on Nanomedicine in 2016

02

Dec 2016

The effect of exposure to nanoparticles and nanomaterials on the mammalian epigenome

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Human exposure to nanomaterials and nanoparticles is increasing rapidly, but their effects on human health are still largely unknown. Epigenetic modifications are attracting ever more interest as possible underlying molecular mechanisms of gene–environment interactions, highlighting them as potential molecular targets following exposure to nanomaterials and nanoparticles. Interestingly, recent research has identified changes in DNA methylation, histone post-translational modifications, and noncoding RNAs in mammalian cells exposed to nanomaterials and nanoparticles. However, the challenge for the future will be to determine the molecular pathways driving these epigenetic alterations, the possible functional consequences, and the potential effects on health.

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07

Nov 2016

Differentiation of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells Toward Functional Pancreatic β-Cell Surrogates Through Epigenetic Regulation of Pdx1 by Nitric Oxide

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Pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (Pdx1) is a transcription factor that regulates the embryonic development of the pancreas and the differentiation toward β cells. Previously, we have shown that exposure of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to high concentrations of diethylenetriamine nitric oxide adduct (DETA-NO) triggers differentiation events and promotes the expression of Pdx1. Here we report evidence that Pdx1 expression is associated with release of polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and P300 from its promoter region. These events are accompanied by epigenetic changes in bivalent markers of histones trimethylated histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) and H3K4me3, site-specific changes in DNA methylation, and no change in H3 acetylation. On the basis of these findings, we developed a protocol to differentiate mESCs toward insulin-producing cells consisting of sequential exposure to DETA-NO, valproic acid, and P300 inhibitor (C646) to enhance Pdx1 expression and a final maturation step of culture in suspension to form cell aggregates. This small molecule-based protocol succeeds in obtaining cells that express pancreatic β-cell markers such as PDX1, INS1, GCK, and GLUT2 and respond in vitro to high glucose and KCl.

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07

Nov 2016

Development Refractoriness of MLL-Rearranged Human B Cell Acute Leukemias to Reprogramming into Pluripotency

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Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a powerful tool for disease modeling. They are routinely generated from healthy donors and patients from multiple cell types at different developmental stages. However, reprogramming leukemias is an extremely inefficient process. Few studies generated iPSCs from primary chronic myeloid leukemias, but iPSC generation from acute myeloid or lymphoid leukemias (ALL) has not been achieved. We attempted to generate iPSCs from different subtypes of B-ALL to address the developmental impact of leukemic fusion genes. OKSM(L)-expressing mono/polycistronic-, retroviral/lentiviral/episomal-, and Sendai virus vector-based reprogramming strategies failed to render iPSCs in vitro and in vivo. Addition of transcriptomic-epigenetic reprogramming “boosters” also failed to generate iPSCs from B cell blasts and B-ALL lines, and when iPSCs emerged they lacked leukemic fusion genes, demonstrating non-leukemic myeloid origin. Conversely, MLL-AF4-overexpressing hematopoietic stem cells/B progenitors were successfully reprogrammed, indicating that B cell origin and leukemic fusion gene were not reprogramming barriers. Global transcriptome/DNA methylome profiling suggested a developmental/differentiation refractoriness of MLL-rearranged B-ALL to reprogramming into pluripotency.

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09

Oct 2016

Age-associated hydroxymethylation in human bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cells

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Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are implicated in many different biological processes, such as regulation of chromatin structure, X chromosome inactivation, gene imprinting, and genomic instability [1,23]. It is well known that genomic

Background

Age-associated changes in genomic DNA methylation have been primarily attributed to 5-methylcytosine (5mC). However, the recent discovery of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) suggests that this epigenetic mark might also play a role in the process.

Methods

Here, we analyzed the genome-wide profile of 5hmc in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) obtained from bone-marrow donors, aged 2–89 years.

Results

We identified 10,685 frequently hydroxymethylated CpG sites in MSCs that were, as in other cell types, significantly associated with low density CpG regions, introns, the histone posttranslational modification H3k4me1 and enhancers. Study of the age-associated changes to 5hmC identified 785 hyper- and 846 hypo-hydroxymethylated CpG sites in the MSCs obtained from older individuals.

Conclusions

DNA hyper-hydroxymethylation in the advanced-age group was associated with loss of 5mC, which suggests that, at specific CpG sites, this epigenetic modification might play a role in DNA methylation changes during lifetime. Since bone-marrow MSCs have many clinical applications, and the fact that the epigenomic alterations in this cell type associated with aging identified in this study could have associated functional effects, the age of donors should be taken into account in clinical settings.

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09

Oct 2016

DNMT1 Inhibition Reprograms Pancreatic Cancer Stem Cells via Upregulation of the miR-17-92 Cluster

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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and other carcinomas are hierarchically organized, with cancer stem cells (CSC) residing at the top of the hierarchy, where they drive tumor progression, metastasis, and chemoresistance. As CSC and non-CSC share an identical genetic background, we hypothesize that differences in epigenetics account for the striking functional differences between these two cell populations. Epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, play an important role in maintaining pluripotency and regulating the differentiation of stem cells, but the role of DNA methylation in pancreatic CSC is obscure. In this study, we investigated the genome-wide DNA methylation profile of PDAC CSC, and we determined the importance of DNA methyltransferases for CSC maintenance and tumorigenicity. Using high-throughput methylation analysis, we discovered that sorted CSCs have a higher level of DNA methylation, regardless of the heterogeneity or polyclonality of the CSC populations present in the tumors analyzed. Mechanistically, CSC expressed higher DNMT1 levels than non-CSC. Pharmacologic or genetic targeting of DNMT1 in CSCs reduced their self-renewal and in vivo tumorigenic potential, defining DNMT1 as a candidate CSC therapeutic target. The inhibitory effect we observed was mediated in part through epigenetic reactivation of previously silenced miRNAs, in particular the miR-17-92 cluster. Together, our findings indicate that DNA methylation plays an important role in CSC biology and also provide a rationale to develop epigenetic modulators to target CSC plasticity and improve the poor outcome of PDAC patients.

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04

Jul 2016

Quantitative comparison of DNA methylation assays for biomarker development and clinical applications

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DNA methylation patterns are altered in numerous diseases and often correlate with clinically relevant information such as disease subtypes, prognosis and drug response. With suitable assays and after validation in large cohorts, such associations can be exploited for clinical diagnostics and personalized treatment decisions. Here we describe the results of a community-wide benchmarking study comparing the performance of all widely used methods for DNA methylation analysis that are compatible with routine clinical use. We shipped 32 reference samples to 18 laboratories in seven different countries. Researchers in those laboratories collectively contributed 21 locus-specific assays for an average of 27 predefined genomic regions, as well as six global assays. We evaluated assay sensitivity on low-input samples and assessed the assays’ ability to discriminate between cell types. Good agreement was observed across all tested methods, with amplicon bisulfite sequencing and bisulfite pyrosequencing showing the best all-round performance. Our technology comparison can inform the selection, optimization and use of DNA methylation assays in large-scale validation studies, biomarker development and clinical diagnostics.

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15

Jun 2016

Generation of a human iPSC line from a patient with Leigh syndrome caused by a mutation in the MT-ATP6 gene

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Human iPSC line L749.1 was generated from fibroblasts of a patient with Leigh syndrome associated with a heteroplasmic mutation in the MT-ATP6 gene. Reprogramming factors OCT4, SOX2, CMYC and KLF4 were delivered using retroviruses.

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08

Jun 2016

Longitudinal study of DNA methylation during the first 5 years of life

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Background

Early life epigenetic programming influences adult health outcomes. Moreover, DNA methylation levels have been found to change more rapidly during the first years of life. Our aim was the identification and characterization of the CpG sites that are modified with time during the first years of life. We hypothesize that these DNA methylation changes would lead to the detection of genes that might be epigenetically modulated by environmental factors during early childhood and which, if disturbed, might contribute to susceptibility to diseases later in life.

Methods

The study of the DNA methylation pattern of 485577 CpG sites was performed on 30 blood samples from 15 subjects, collected both at birth and at 5 years old, using Illumina® Infinium 450 k array. To identify differentially methylated CpG (dmCpG) sites, the methylation status of each probe was examined using linear models and the Empirical Bayes Moderated t test implemented in the limma package of R/Bioconductor. Surogate variable analysis was used to account for batch effects.

Results

DNA methylation levels significantly changed from birth to 5 years of age in 6641 CpG sites. Of these, 36.79 % were hypermethylated and were associated with genes related mainly to developmental ontology terms, while 63.21 % were hypomethylated probes and associated with genes related to immune function.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that DNA methylation alterations with age during the first years of life might play a significant role in development and the regulation of leukocyte-specific functions. This supports the idea that blood leukocytes experience genome remodeling related to their interaction with environmental factors, underlining the importance of environmental exposures during the first years of life and suggesting that new strategies should be take into consideration for disease prevention.

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05

Apr 2016

Allele-Specific Reprogramming of Cancer Metabolism by the Long Non-coding RNA CCAT2

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Altered energy metabolism is a cancer hallmark as malignant cells tailor their metabolic pathways to meet their energy requirements. Glucose and glutamine are the major nutrients that fuel cellular metabolism, and the pathways utilizing these nutrients are often altered in cancer. Here, we show that the long ncRNA CCAT2, located at the 8q24 amplicon on cancer risk-associated rs6983267 SNP, regulates cancer metabolism in vitro and in vivo in an allele-specific manner by binding the Cleavage Factor I (CFIm) complex with distinct affinities for the two subunits (CFIm25 and CFIm68). The CCAT2 interaction with the CFIm complex fine-tunes the alternative splicing of Glutaminase (GLS) by selecting the poly(A) site in intron 14 of the precursor mRNA. These findings uncover a complex, allele-specific regulatory mechanism of cancer metabolism orchestrated by the two alleles of a long ncRNA.

 

Allele-Specific Reprogramming of Cancer Metabolism by the Long Non-coding RNA CCAT2

Allele-Specific Reprogramming of Cancer Metabolism by the Long Non-coding RNA CCAT2

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05

Apr 2016

Oncometabolic Nuclear Reprogramming of Cancer Stemness

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By impairing histone demethylation and locking cells into a reprogramming-prone state, oncometabolites can partially mimic the process of induced pluripotent stem cell generation. Using a systems biology approach, combining mathematical modeling, computation, and proof-of-concept studies with live cells, we found that an oncometabolite-driven pathological version of nuclear reprogramming increases the speed and efficiency of dedifferentiating committed epithelial cells into stem-like states with only a minimal core of stemness transcription factors. Our biomathematical model, which introduces nucleosome modification and epigenetic regulation of cell differentiation genes to account for the direct effects of oncometabolites on nuclear reprogramming, demonstrates that oncometabolites markedly lower the “energy barriers” separating non-stem and stem cell attractors, diminishes the average time of nuclear reprogramming, and increases the size of the basin of attraction of the macrostate occupied by stem cells. These findings establish the concept of oncometabolic nuclear reprogramming of stemness as a bona fide metabolo-epigenetic mechanism for generation of cancer stem-like cells.

Graphycal abstract-Oncometabolic Nuclear Reprogramming of Cancer Stemness

Graphycal abstract-Oncometabolic Nuclear Reprogramming of Cancer Stemness

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