Doctor of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2010)
N6-methyl-adenosine (m(6)A) is the most abundant modification on messenger RNAs and is linked to human diseases, but its functions in mammalian development are poorly understood. Here we reveal the evolutionary conservation and function of m(6)A by mapping the m(6)A methylome in mouse and human embryonic stem cells. Thousands of messenger and long noncoding RNAs show conserved m(6)A modification, including transcripts encoding core pluripotency transcription factors. m(6)A is enriched over 3' untranslated regions at defined sequence motifs and marks unstable transcripts, including transcripts turned over upon differentiation. Genetic inactivation or depletion of mouse and human Mettl3, one of the m(6)A methylases, led to m(6)A erasure on select target genes, prolonged Nanog expression upon differentiation, and impaired ESC exit from self-renewal toward differentiation into several lineages in vitro and in vivo. Thus, m(6)A is a mark of transcriptome flexibility required for stem cells to differentiate to specific lineages.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2014.09.019
View details for PubMedID 25456834
Patients with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB) lack functional type VII collagen owing to mutations in the gene COL7A1 and suffer severe blistering and chronic wounds that ultimately lead to infection and development of lethal squamous cell carcinoma. The discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the ability to edit the genome bring the possibility to provide definitive genetic therapy through corrected autologous tissues. We generated patient-derived COL7A1-corrected epithelial keratinocyte sheets for autologous grafting. We demonstrate the utility of sequential reprogramming and adenovirus-associated viral genome editing to generate corrected iPSC banks. iPSC-derived keratinocytes were produced with minimal heterogeneity, and these cells secreted wild-type type VII collagen, resulting in stratified epidermis in vitro in organotypic cultures and in vivo in mice. Sequencing of corrected cell lines before tissue formation revealed heterogeneity of cancer-predisposing mutations, allowing us to select COL7A1-corrected banks with minimal mutational burden for downstream epidermis production. Our results provide a clinical platform to use iPSCs in the treatment of debilitating genodermatoses, such as RDEB.
View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009540
View details for PubMedID 25429056
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are thought to be prevalent regulators of gene expression, but the consequences of lncRNA inactivation in vivo are mostly unknown. Here, we show that targeted deletion of mouse Hotair lncRNA leads to derepression of hundreds of genes, resulting in homeotic transformation of the spine and malformation of metacarpal-carpal bones. RNA sequencing and conditional inactivation reveal an ongoing requirement of Hotair to repress HoxD genes and several imprinted loci such as Dlk1-Meg3 and Igf2-H19 without affecting imprinting choice. Hotair binds to both Polycomb repressive complex 2, which methylates histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27), and Lsd1 complex, which demethylates histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4) in vivo. Hotair inactivation causes H3K4me3 gain and, to a lesser extent, H3K27me3 loss at target genes. These results reveal the function and mechanisms of Hotair lncRNA in enforcing a silent chromatin state at Hox and additional genes.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.09.003
View details for Web of Science ID 000326152100002
STK40 is a putative serine/threonine kinase and was shown to induce extraembryonic endoderm differentiation from mouse embryonic stem cells. However, little is known about its physiological function in vivo. Here, we generate Stk40 knock-out mice and demonstrate that loss of the Stk40 gene causes neonatal lethality at birth. Further examination reveals that the respiratory distress and atelectasis occur in the homozygous mutants. The maturation of lung and alveolar epithelium is delayed in the mutant, as indicated by narrowed air spaces, thickened interstitial septa, and increased glycogen content in the lungs of Stk40(-/-) mice. The reduction in levels of T1-α, SP-B, and SP-C indicates delayed maturation of both type I and type II respiratory epithelial cells in Stk40(-/-) lungs. Moreover, Stk40 is found to be most highly expressed in lungs of both fetal and adult mice among all organs tested. Mechanistically, a genome-wide RNA microarray analysis reveals significantly altered expression of multiple genes known to participate in lung development. The expression of some genes involved in lipid metabolism, immune response, and glycogen metabolism is also disrupted in the lung of Stk40(-/-) mice. Protein affinity purification identifies RCN2, an activator of ERK/MAPK signaling, as an STK40-associated protein. Consistently, Stk40 deficiency attenuates the ERK/MAPK activation, and inhibition of ERK/MAPK activities reduces surfactant protein gene expression in lung epithelial cells. Collectively, this study uncovers an important role of STK40 for lung maturation and neonatal survival. STK40 may associate with RCN2 to activate ERK/MAPK signaling and control the expression of multiple key regulators of lung development.
View details for DOI 10.1074/jbc.M112.409433
View details for Web of Science ID 000315342500008
View details for PubMedID 23293024
Self-renewal and differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are controlled by intracellular transcriptional factors and extracellular factor-activated signaling pathways. Transcription factor Oct4 is a key player maintaining ESCs in an undifferentiated state, whereas the Erk/MAPK pathway is known to be important for ESC differentiation. However, the manner in which intracellular pluripotency factors modulate extracellular factor-activated signaling pathways in ESCs is not well understood. Here, we report identification of a target gene of Oct4, serine/threonine kinase 40 (Stk40), which is able to activate the Erk/MAPK pathway and induce extraembryonic-endoderm (ExEn) differentiation in mouse ESCs. Interestingly, cells overexpressing Stk40 exclusively contribute to the ExEn layer of chimeric embryos when injected into host blastocysts. In contrast, deletion of Stk40 in ESCs markedly reduces ExEn differentiation in vitro. Mechanistically, Stk40 interacts with Rcn2, which also activates Erk1/2 to induce ExEn specification in mouse ESCs. Moreover, Rcn2 proteins are specifically located in the cytoplasm of the ExEn layer of early mouse embryos. Importantly, knockdown of Rcn2 blocks Stk40-activated Erk1/2 and ESC differentiation. Therefore, our study establishes a link between the pluripotency factor Oct4 and the Erk/MAPK signaling pathway, and it uncovers cooperating signals in the Erk/MAPK activation that control ExEn differentiation.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0905657107
View details for Web of Science ID 000273974600033
View details for PubMedID 20080709