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Ng S.-Y.,Genome Institute of Singapore | Ng S.-Y.,National University of Singapore | Johnson R.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Stanton L.W.,Genome Institute of Singapore | Stanton L.W.,National University of Singapore
EMBO Journal | Year: 2012

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a numerous class of newly discovered genes in the human genome, which have been proposed to be key regulators of biological processes, including stem cell pluripotency and neurogenesis. However, at present very little functional characterization of lncRNAs in human differentiation has been carried out. In the present study, we address this using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) as a paradigm for pluripotency and neuronal differentiation. With a newly developed method, hESCs were robustly and efficiently differentiated into neurons, and we profiled the expression of thousands of lncRNAs using a custom-designed microarray. Some hESC-specific lncRNAs involved in pluripotency maintenance were identified, and shown to physically interact with SOX2, and PRC2 complex component, SUZ12. Using a similar approach, we identified lncRNAs required for neurogenesis. Knockdown studies indicated that loss of any of these lncRNAs blocked neurogenesis, and immunoprecipitation studies revealed physical association with REST and SUZ12. This study indicates that lncRNAs are important regulators of pluripotency and neurogenesis, and represents important evidence for an indispensable role of lncRNAs in human brain development. © 2012 European Molecular Biology Organization | All Rights Reserved.


Yu H.-B.,Genome Institute of Singapore | Yu H.-B.,National University of Singapore | Johnson R.,Genome Institute of Singapore | Johnson R.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | And 3 more authors.
Genome Research | Year: 2011

The differentiation of pluripotent embryonic stem cells is regulated by networks of activating and repressing transcription factors that orchestrate determinate patterns of gene expression. With the recent mapping of target sites for many transcription factors, it has been a conundrum that so few of the genes directly targeted by these factors are transcriptionally responsive to the binding of that factor. To address this, we generated genome-wide maps of the transcriptional repressor REST and five of its corepressors in mouse embryonic stem cells. Combining these binding-site maps with comprehensive gene-expression profiling, we show that REST is functionally heterogeneous. Approximately half of its binding sites apparently are nonfunctional, having weaker binding of REST and low recruitment of corepressors. In contrast, the other sites strongly recruit REST and corepressor complexes with varying numbers of components. Strikingly, the latter sites account for almost all observed gene regulation. These data support a model where productive gene repression by REST requires assembly of a multimeric "repressosome" complex, whereas weak recruitment of REST and its cofactors is insufficient to repress gene expression. © 2011 by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


Johnson R.,Genome Institute of Singapore | Johnson R.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Richter N.,Genome Institute of Singapore | Bogu G.K.,Genome Institute of Singapore | And 9 more authors.
PLoS Genetics | Year: 2012

Increasing numbers of human diseases are being linked to genetic variants, but our understanding of the mechanistic links leading from DNA sequence to disease phenotype is limited. The majority of disease-causing nucleotide variants fall within the non-protein-coding portion of the genome, making it likely that they act by altering gene regulatory sequences. We hypothesised that SNPs within the binding sites of the transcriptional repressor REST alter the degree of repression of target genes. Given that changes in the effective concentration of REST contribute to several pathologies-various cancers, Huntington's disease, cardiac hypertrophy, vascular smooth muscle proliferation-these SNPs should alter disease-susceptibility in carriers. We devised a strategy to identify SNPs that affect the recruitment of REST to target genes through the alteration of its DNA recognition element, the RE1. A multi-step screen combining genetic, genomic, and experimental filters yielded 56 polymorphic RE1 sequences with robust and statistically significant differences of affinity between alleles. These SNPs have a considerable effect on the the functional recruitment of REST to DNA in a range of in vitro, reporter gene, and in vivo analyses. Furthermore, we observe allele-specific biases in deeply sequenced chromatin immunoprecipitation data, consistent with predicted differenes in RE1 affinity. Amongst the targets of polymorphic RE1 elements are important disease genes including NPPA, PTPRT, and CDH4. Thus, considerable genetic variation exists in the DNA motifs that connect gene regulatory networks. Recently available ChIP-seq data allow the annotation of human genetic polymorphisms with regulatory information to generate prior hypotheses about their disease-causing mechanism. © 2012 Johnson et al.


PubMed | University of Lausanne, Bioinformatics and Genomics Group, Maastricht University, National University of Singapore and Comparative Bioinformatics Group
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology | Year: 2015

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as important regulators of developmental pathways. However, their roles in human cardiac precursor cell (CPC) remain unexplored. To characterize the long noncoding transcriptome during human CPC cardiac differentiation, we profiled the lncRNA transcriptome in CPCs isolated from the human fetal heart and identified 570 lncRNAs that were modulated during cardiac differentiation. Many of these were associated with active cardiac enhancer and super enhancers (SE) with their expression being correlated with proximal cardiac genes. One of the most upregulated lncRNAs was a SE-associated lncRNA that was named CARMEN, (CAR)diac (M)esoderm (E)nhancer-associated (N)oncoding RNA. CARMEN exhibits RNA-dependent enhancing activity and is upstream of the cardiac mesoderm-specifying gene regulatory network. Interestingly, CARMEN interacts with SUZ12 and EZH2, two components of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). We demonstrate that CARMEN knockdown inhibits cardiac specification and differentiation in cardiac precursor cells independently of MIR-143 and -145 expression, two microRNAs located proximal to the enhancer sequences. Importantly, CARMEN expression was activated during pathological remodeling in the mouse and human hearts, and was necessary for maintaining cardiac identity in differentiated cardiomyocytes. This study demonstrates therefore that CARMEN is a crucial regulator of cardiac cell differentiation and homeostasis.


Kedzierska A.M.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Drton M.,University of Chicago | Guigo R.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Guigo R.,University Pompeu Fabra | Casanellas M.,Polytechnic University of Catalonia
Molecular Biology and Evolution | Year: 2012

In phylogenetic inference, an evolutionary model describes the substitution processes along each edge of a phylogenetic tree. Misspecification of the model has important implications for the analysis of phylogenetic data. Conventionally, however, the selection of a suitable evolutionary model is based on heuristics or relies on the choice of an approximate input tree. We introduce a method for model Selection in Phylogenetics based on linear INvariants (SPIn), which uses recent insights on linear invariants to characterize a model of nucleotide evolution for phylogenetic mixtures on any number of components. Linear invariants are constraints among the joint probabilities of the bases in the operational taxonomic units that hold irrespective of the tree topologies appearing in the mixtures. SPIn therefore requires no input tree and is designed to deal with nonhomogeneous phylogenetic data consisting of multiple sequence alignments showing different patterns of evolution, for example, concatenated genes, exons, and/or introns. Here, we report on the results of the proposed method evaluated on multiple sequence alignments simulated under a variety of single-tree and mixture settings for both continuous-and discrete-time models. In the simulations, SPIn successfully recovers the underlying evolutionary model and is shown to perform better than existing approaches. © 2011 The Author.


Ounzain S.,University of Lausanne | Pezzuto I.,University of Lausanne | Micheletti R.,University of Lausanne | Burdet F.,Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics | And 11 more authors.
Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology | Year: 2014

The key information processing units within gene regulatory networks are enhancers. Enhancer activity is associated with the production of tissue-specific noncoding RNAs, yet the existence of such transcripts during cardiac development has not been established. Using an integrated genomic approach, we demonstrate that fetal cardiac enhancers generate long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) during cardiac differentiation and morphogenesis. Enhancer expression correlates with the emergence of active enhancer chromatin states, the initiation of RNA polymerase II at enhancer loci and expression of target genes. Orthologous human sequences are also transcribed in fetal human hearts and cardiac progenitor cells. Through a systematic bioinformatic analysis, we identified and characterized, for the first time, a catalog of lncRNAs that are expressed during embryonic stem cell differentiation into cardiomyocytes and associated with active cardiac enhancer sequences. RNA-sequencing demonstrates that many of these transcripts are polyadenylated, multi-exonic long noncoding RNAs. Moreover, knockdown of two enhancer-associated lncRNAs resulted in the specific downregulation of their predicted target genes. Interestingly, the reactivation of the fetal gene program, a hallmark of the stress response in the adult heart, is accompanied by increased expression of fetal cardiac enhancer transcripts. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that the activity of cardiac enhancers and expression of their target genes are associated with the production of enhancer-derived lncRNAs. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Nikolaou C.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Nikolaou C.,University of Crete | Althammer S.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Beato M.,Chromatin | Guigo R.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group
Epigenetics and Chromatin | Year: 2010

Background. Recent advances in the field of high-throughput genomics have rendered possible the performance of genome-scale studies to define the nucleosomal landscapes of eukaryote genomes. Such analyses are aimed towards providing a better understanding of the process of nucleosome positioning, for which several models have been suggested. Nevertheless, questions regarding the sequence constraints of nucleosomal DNA and how they may have been shaped through evolution remain open. In this paper, we analyze in detail different experimental nucleosome datasets with the aim of providing a hypothesis for the emergence of nucleosome-forming sequences. Results. We compared the complete sets of nucleosome positions for the budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) as defined in the output of two independent experiments with the use of two different experimental techniques. We found that < 10% of the experimentally defined nucleosome positions were consistently positioned in both datasets. This subset of well-positioned nucleosomes, when compared with the bulk, was shown to have particular properties at both sequence and structural levels. Consistently positioned nucleosomes were also shown to occur preferentially in pairs of dinucleosomes, and to be surprisingly less conserved compared with their adjacent nucleosome-free linkers. Conclusion. Our findings may be combined into a hypothesis for the emergence of a weak nucleosome-positioning code. According to this hypothesis, consistent nucleosomes may be partly guided by nearby nucleosome-free regions through statistical positioning. Once established, a set of well-positioned consistent nucleosomes may impose secondary constraints that further shape the structure of the underlying DNA. We were able to capture these constraints through the application of a recently introduced structural property that is related to the symmetry of DNA curvature. Furthermore, we found that both consistently positioned nucleosomes and their adjacent nucleosome-free regions show an increased tendency towards conservation of this structural feature. © 2010 Nikolaou et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Ounzain S.,University of Lausanne | Pezzuto I.,University of Lausanne | Micheletti R.,University of Lausanne | Burdet F.,Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics | And 14 more authors.
Current Therapeutic Research - Clinical and Experimental | Year: 2014

The key information processing units within gene regulatory networks are enhancers. Enhancer activity is associated with the production of tissue-specific noncoding RNAs, yet the existence of such transcripts during cardiac development has not been established. Using an integrated genomic approach, we demonstrate that fetal cardiac enhancers generate long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) during cardiac differentiation and morphogenesis. Enhancer expression correlates with the emergence of active enhancer chromatin states, the initiation of RNA polymerase II at enhancer loci and expression of target genes. Orthologous human sequences are also transcribed in fetal human hearts and cardiac progenitor cells. Through a systematic bioinformatic analysis, we identified and characterized, for the first time, a catalog of lncRNAs that are expressed during embryonic stem cell differentiation into cardiomyocytes and associated with active cardiac enhancer sequences. RNA-sequencing demonstrates that many of these transcripts are polyadenylated, multi-exonic long noncoding RNAs. Moreover, knockdown of two enhancer-associated lncRNAs resulted in the specific downregulation of their predicted target genes. Interestingly, the reactivation of the fetal gene program, a hallmark of the stress response in the adult heart, is accompanied by increased expression of fetal cardiac enhancer transcripts. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that the activity of cardiac enhancers and expression of their target genes are associated with the production of enhancer-derived lncRNAs. •Fetal cardiac enhancers are transcribed, generating enhancer-derived lncRNAs. © 2014 .


Knowles D.G.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Knowles D.G.,University Pompeu Fabra | Roder M.,Bioinformatics and Genomics Group | Roder M.,University Pompeu Fabra | And 4 more authors.
Bioinformatics | Year: 2013

Motivation: The avalanche of data arriving since the development of NGS technologies have prompted the need for developing fast, accurate and easily automated bioinformatic tools capable of dealing with massive datasets. Among the most productive applications of NGS technologies is the sequencing of cellular RNA, known as RNA-Seq. Although RNA-Seq provides similar or superior dynamic range than microarrays at similar or lower cost, the lack of standard and user-friendly pipelines is a bottleneck preventing RNA-Seq from becoming the standard for transcriptome analysis.Results: In this work we present a pipeline for processing and analyzing RNA-Seq data, that we have named Grape (Grape RNA-Seq Analysis Pipeline Environment). Grape supports raw sequencing reads produced by a variety of technologies, either in FASTA or FASTQ format, or as prealigned reads in SAM/BAM format. A minimal Grape configuration consists of the file location of the raw sequencing reads, the genome of the species and the corresponding gene and transcript annotation.Grape first runs a set of quality control steps, and then aligns the reads to the genome, a step that is omitted for prealigned read formats. Grape next estimates gene and transcript expression levels, calculates exon inclusion levels and identifies novel transcripts.Grape can be run on a single computer or in parallel on a computer cluster. It is distributed with specific mapping and quantification tools, but given its modular design, any tool supporting popular data interchange formats can be integrated. © 2013 The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press.


PubMed | University of Lausanne, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Bioinformatics and Genomics Group and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
Type: | Journal: Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology | Year: 2014

The key information processing units within gene regulatory networks are enhancers. Enhancer activity is associated with the production of tissue-specific noncoding RNAs, yet the existence of such transcripts during cardiac development has not been established. Using an integrated genomic approach, we demonstrate that fetal cardiac enhancers generate long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) during cardiac differentiation and morphogenesis. Enhancer expression correlates with the emergence of active enhancer chromatin states, the initiation of RNA polymerase II at enhancer loci and expression of target genes. Orthologous human sequences are also transcribed in fetal human hearts and cardiac progenitor cells. Through a systematic bioinformatic analysis, we identified and characterized, for the first time, a catalog of lncRNAs that are expressed during embryonic stem cell differentiation into cardiomyocytes and associated with active cardiac enhancer sequences. RNA-sequencing demonstrates that many of these transcripts are polyadenylated, multi-exonic long noncoding RNAs. Moreover, knockdown of two enhancer-associated lncRNAs resulted in the specific downregulation of their predicted target genes. Interestingly, the reactivation of the fetal gene program, a hallmark of the stress response in the adult heart, is accompanied by increased expression of fetal cardiac enhancer transcripts. Altogether, these findings demonstrate that the activity of cardiac enhancers and expression of their target genes are associated with the production of enhancer-derived lncRNAs.

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