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San Raffaele Cimena, Italy

Karnavas T.,Chromatin | Pintonello L.,San Raffaele Research Institute | Agresti A.,Chromatin | Bianchi M.E.,Chromatin
Frontiers in Physiology

Mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent mammalian cells derived from the inner cell mass (ICM) of mouse blastocysts, which give rise to all three embryonic germ layers both in vivo and in vitro. Mouse ESCs have a distinct epigenetic landscape and a more decondensed chromatin compared to differentiated cells. Numerous studies have shown that distinct histone modifications in ESCs serve as hallmarks of pluripotency. However, so far it is still unknown whether the total histone content (as opposed to histone modifications) remains the same in cells of different developmental stage and differentiation capacity. In this work we show that total histone content differs between pluripotent and differentiated cells. In vitro spontaneous differentiation from ESCs to Embryoid Bodies (EBs) and directed differentiation towards neuronal and endodermal cells entails an increase in histone content. Primary MEFs also contain more histones than ESCs. We suggest that the difference in histone content is an additional hallmark of pluripotency, in addition to and besides histone modifications. © 2014 Karnavas, Pintonello, Agresti and Bianchi. Source

Esko T.,University of Tartu | Mezzavilla M.,University of Trieste | Nelis M.,University of Tartu | Borel C.,University of Geneva | And 40 more authors.
European Journal of Human Genetics

Population genetic studies on European populations have highlighted Italy as one of genetically most diverse regions. This is possibly due to the country's complex demographic history and large variability in terrain throughout the territory. This is the reason why Italy is enriched for population isolates, Sardinia being the best-known example. As the population isolates have a great potential in disease-causing genetic variants identification, we aimed to genetically characterize a region from northeastern Italy, which is known for isolated communities. Total of 1310 samples, collected from six geographically isolated villages, were genotyped at >145 000 single-nucleotide polymorphism positions. Newly genotyped data were analyzed jointly with the available genome-wide data sets of individuals of European descent, including several population isolates. Despite the linguistic differences and geographical isolation the village populations still show the greatest genetic similarity to other Italian samples. The genetic isolation and small effective population size of the village populations is manifested by higher levels of genomic homozygosity and elevated linkage disequilibrium. These estimates become even more striking when the detected substructure is taken into account. The observed level of genetic isolation in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is more extreme according to several measures of isolation compared with Sardinians, French Basques and northern Finns, thus proving the status of an isolate. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Source

Celona B.,University of Milan | Weiner A.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Di Felice F.,University of Rome La Sapienza | Mancuso F.M.,IFOM IEO Campus | And 16 more authors.
PLoS Biology

The basic unit of genome packaging is the nucleosome, and nucleosomes have long been proposed to restrict DNA accessibility both to damage and to transcription. Nucleosome number in cells was considered fixed, but recently aging yeast and mammalian cells were shown to contain fewer nucleosomes. We show here that mammalian cells lacking High Mobility Group Box 1 protein (HMGB1) contain a reduced amount of core, linker, and variant histones, and a correspondingly reduced number of nucleosomes, possibly because HMGB1 facilitates nucleosome assembly. Yeast nhp6 mutants lacking Nhp6a and -b proteins, which are related to HMGB1, also have a reduced amount of histones and fewer nucleosomes. Nucleosome limitation in both mammalian and yeast cells increases the sensitivity of DNA to damage, increases transcription globally, and affects the relative expression of about 10% of genes. In yeast nhp6 cells the loss of more than one nucleosome in four does not affect the location of nucleosomes and their spacing, but nucleosomal occupancy. The decrease in nucleosomal occupancy is non-uniform and can be modelled assuming that different nucleosomal sites compete for available histones. Sites with a high propensity to occupation are almost always packaged into nucleosomes both in wild type and nucleosome-depleted cells; nucleosomes on sites with low propensity to occupation are disproportionately lost in nucleosome-depleted cells. We suggest that variation in nucleosome number, by affecting nucleosomal occupancy both genomewide and gene-specifically, constitutes a novel layer of epigenetic regulation. © 2011 Celona et al. Source

Colonna V.,National Research Council Italy | Colonna V.,Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute | Pistis G.,San Raffaele Research Institute | Bomba L.,Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute | And 14 more authors.
European Journal of Human Genetics

Population isolates are a valuable resource for medical genetics because of their reduced genetic, phenotypic and environmental heterogeneity. Further, extended linkage disequilibrium (LD) allows accurate haplotyping and imputation. In this study, we use nuclear and mitochondrial DNA data to determine to what extent the geographically isolated population of the Val Borbera valley also presents features of genetic isolation. We performed a comparative analysis of population structure and estimated effective population size exploiting LD data. We also evaluated haplotype sharing through the analysis of segments of autozygosity. Our findings reveal that the valley has features characteristic of a genetic isolate, including reduced genetic heterogeneity and reduced effective population size. We show that this population has been subject to prolonged genetic drift and thus we expect many variants that are rare in the general population to reach significant frequency values in the valley, making this population suitable for the identification of rare variants underlying complex traits. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

Porcu E.,National Research Council Italy | Porcu E.,University of Sassari | Medici M.,Erasmus University Rotterdam | Pistis G.,National Research Council Italy | And 117 more authors.
PLoS Genetics

Thyroid hormone is essential for normal metabolism and development, and overt abnormalities in thyroid function lead to common endocrine disorders affecting approximately 10% of individuals over their life span. In addition, even mild alterations in thyroid function are associated with weight changes, atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, and psychiatric disorders. To identify novel variants underlying thyroid function, we performed a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for serum levels of the highly heritable thyroid function markers TSH and FT4, in up to 26,420 and 17,520 euthyroid subjects, respectively. Here we report 26 independent associations, including several novel loci for TSH (PDE10A, VEGFA, IGFBP5, NFIA, SOX9, PRDM11, FGF7, INSR, ABO, MIR1179, NRG1, MBIP, ITPK1, SASH1, GLIS3) and FT4 (LHX3, FOXE1, AADAT, NETO1/FBXO15, LPCAT2/CAPNS2). Notably, only limited overlap was detected between TSH and FT4 associated signals, in spite of the feedback regulation of their circulating levels by the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Five of the reported loci (PDE8B, PDE10A, MAF/LOC440389, NETO1/FBXO15, and LPCAT2/CAPNS2) show strong gender-specific differences, which offer clues for the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and related pathologies. Importantly, the TSH-associated loci contribute not only to variation within the normal range, but also to TSH values outside the reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings explain, respectively, 5.64% and 2.30% of total TSH and FT4 trait variance, and they improve the current knowledge of the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis function and the consequences of genetic variation for hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Source

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