Transcriptional regulators are prevalent among identified prions in
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- Nature Publishing Group
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- Scientific Reports
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INTRODUCTION Neurons are by far the most diverse of all cell types in animals, to the extent that “cell types” in mammalian brains are still mostly heterogeneous groups, and there is no consensus definition of the term. The Drosophila optic lobes, with approximately 200 well-defined cell types, provides a tractable system with which to address the genetic basis of neuronal type diversity. We previously characterized the distinct developmental gene expression program of each of these types using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), with one-to-one correspondence to the known morphological types. RATIONALE The identity of fly neurons is determined by temporal and spatial patterning mechanisms in stem cell progenitors, but it remained unclear how these cell fate decisions are implemented and maintained in postmitotic neurons. It was proposed in Caenorhabditis elegans that unique combinations of terminal selector transcription factors (TFs) that are continuously expressed in each neuron control nearly all of its type-specific gene expression. This model implies that it should be possible to engineer predictable and complete switches of identity between different neurons just by modifying these sustained TFs. We aimed to test this prediction in the Drosophila visual system. RESULTS Here, we used our developmental scRNA-seq atlases to identify the potential terminal selector genes in all optic lobe neurons. We found unique combinations of, on average, 10 differentially expressed and stably maintained (across all stages of development) TFs in each neuron. Through genetic gain- and loss-of-function experiments in postmitotic neurons, we showed that modifications of these selector codes are sufficient to induce predictable switches of identity between various cell types. Combinations of terminal selectors jointly control both developmental (e.g., morphology) and functional (e.g., neurotransmitters and their receptors) features of neurons. The closely related Transmedullary 1 (Tm1), Tm2, Tm4, and Tm6 neurons (see the figure) share a similar code of terminal selectors, but can be distinguished from each other by three TFs that are continuously and specifically expressed in one of these cell types: Drgx in Tm1, Pdm3 in Tm2, and SoxN in Tm6. We showed that the removal of each of these selectors in these cell types reprograms them to the default Tm4 fate. We validated these conversions using both morphological features and molecular markers. In addition, we performed scRNA-seq to show that ectopic expression of pdm3 in Tm4 and Tm6 neurons converts them to neurons with transcriptomes that are nearly indistinguishable from that of wild-type Tm2 neurons. We also show that Drgx expression in Tm1 neurons is regulated by Klumpfuss, a TF expressed in stem cells that instructs this fate in progenitors, establishing a link between the regulatory programs that specify neuronal fates and those that implement them. We identified an intronic enhancer in the Drgx locus whose chromatin is specifically accessible in Tm1 neurons and in which Klu motifs are enriched. Genomic deletion of this region knocked down Drgx expression specifically in Tm1 neurons, leaving it intact in the other cell types that normally express it. We further validated this concept by demonstrating that ectopic expression of Vsx (visual system homeobox) genes in Mi15 neurons not only converts them morphologically to Dm2 neurons, but also leads to the loss of their aminergic identity. Our results suggest that selector combinations can be further sculpted by receptor tyrosine kinase signaling after neurogenesis, providing a potential mechanism for postmitotic plasticity of neuronal fates. Finally, we combined our transcriptomic datasets with previously generated chromatin accessibility datasets to understand the mechanisms that control brain wiring downstream of terminal selectors. We built predictive computational models of gene regulatory networks using the Inferelator framework. Experimental validations of these networks revealed how selectors interact with ecdysone-responsive TFs to activate a large and specific repertoire of cell surface proteins and other effectors in each neuron at the onset of synapse formation. We showed that these network models can be used to identify downstream effectors that mediate specific cellular decisions during circuit formation. For instance, reduced levels of cut expression in Tm2 neurons, because of its negative regulation by pdm3 , controls the synaptic layer targeting of their axons. Knockdown of cut in Tm1 neurons is sufficient to redirect their axons to the Tm2 layer in the lobula neuropil without affecting other morphological features. CONCLUSION Our results support a model in which neuronal type identity is primarily determined by a relatively simple code of continuously expressed terminal selector TFs in each cell type throughout development. Our results provide a unified framework of how specific fates are initiated and maintained in postmitotic neurons and open new avenues to understanding synaptic specificity through gene regulatory networks. The conservation of this regulatory logic in both C. elegans and Drosophila makes it likely that the terminal selector concept will also be useful in understanding and manipulating the neuronal diversity of mammalian brains. Terminal selectors enable predictive cell fate reprogramming. Tm1, Tm2, Tm4, and Tm6 neurons of the Drosophila visual system share a core set of TFs continuously expressed by each cell type (simplified). The default Tm4 fate is overridden by the expression of a single additional terminal selector to generate Tm1 ( Drgx ), Tm2 ( pdm3 ), or Tm6 ( SoxN ) fates.more » « less
The stress response of
Saccharomyces cerevisiaehas been extensively studied in the past decade. However, with the advent of recent technology in single-cell transcriptome profiling, there is a new opportunity to expand and further understanding of the yeast stress response with greater resolution on a system level. To understand transcriptomic changes in baker’s yeast S. cerevisiaecells under stress conditions, we sequenced 117 yeast cells under three stress treatments (hypotonic condition, glucose starvation and amino acid starvation) using a full-length single-cell RNA-Seq method. Results
We found that though single cells from the same treatment showed varying degrees of uniformity, technical noise and batch effects can confound results significantly. However, upon careful selection of samples to reduce technical artifacts and account for batch-effects, we were able to capture distinct transcriptomic signatures for different stress conditions as well as putative regulatory relationships between transcription factors and target genes.
Our results show that a full-length single-cell based transcriptomic analysis of the yeast may help paint a clearer picture of how the model organism responds to stress than do bulk cell population-based methods.
ELT-2 is the major transcription factor (TF) required for Caenorhabditis elegans intestinal development. ELT-2 expression initiates in embryos to promote development and then persists after hatching through the larval and adult stages. Though the sites of ELT-2 binding are characterized and the transcriptional changes that result from ELT-2 depletion are known, an intestine-specific transcriptome profile spanning developmental time has been missing. We generated this dataset by performing Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting on intestine cells at distinct developmental stages. We analyzed this dataset in conjunction with previously conducted ELT-2 studies to evaluate the role of ELT-2 in directing the intestinal gene regulatory network through development. We found that only 33% of intestine-enriched genes in the embryo were direct targets of ELT-2 but that number increased to 75% by the L3 stage. This suggests additional TFs promote intestinal transcription especially in the embryo. Furthermore, only half of ELT-2's direct target genes were dependent on ELT-2 for their proper expression levels, and an equal proportion of those responded to elt-2 depletion with over-expression as with under-expression. That is, ELT-2 can either activate or repress direct target genes. Additionally, we observed that ELT-2 repressed its own promoter, implicating new models for its autoregulation. Together, our results illustrate that ELT-2 impacts roughly 20–50% of intestine-specific genes, that ELT-2 both positively and negatively controls its direct targets, and that the current model of the intestinal regulatory network is incomplete as the factors responsible for directing the expression of many intestinal genes remain unknown.
Abstract Background Pancreatic cancer is a complex disease with a desmoplastic stroma, extreme hypoxia, and inherent resistance to therapy. Understanding the signaling and adaptive response of such an aggressive cancer is key to making advances in therapeutic efficacy. Redox factor-1 (Ref-1), a redox signaling protein, regulates the conversion of several transcription factors (TFs), including HIF-1α, STAT3 and NFκB from an oxidized to reduced state leading to enhancement of their DNA binding. In our previously published work, knockdown of Ref-1 under normoxia resulted in altered gene expression patterns on pathways including EIF2, protein kinase A, and mTOR. In this study, single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) and proteomics were used to explore the effects of Ref-1 on metabolic pathways under hypoxia. Methods scRNA-seq comparing pancreatic cancer cells expressing less than 20% of the Ref-1 protein was analyzed using left truncated mixture Gaussian model and validated using proteomics and qRT-PCR. The identified Ref-1’s role in mitochondrial function was confirmed using mitochondrial function assays, qRT-PCR, western blotting and NADP assay. Further, the effect of Ref-1 redox function inhibition against pancreatic cancer metabolism was assayed using 3D co-culture in vitro and xenograft studies in vivo. Results Distinct transcriptional variation in central metabolism, cell cycle, apoptosis, immune response, and genes downstream of a series of signaling pathways and transcriptional regulatory factors were identified in Ref-1 knockdown vs Scrambled control from the scRNA-seq data. Mitochondrial DEG subsets downregulated with Ref-1 knockdown were significantly reduced following Ref-1 redox inhibition and more dramatically in combination with Devimistat in vitro. Mitochondrial function assays demonstrated that Ref-1 knockdown and Ref-1 redox signaling inhibition decreased utilization of TCA cycle substrates and slowed the growth of pancreatic cancer co-culture spheroids. In Ref-1 knockdown cells, a higher flux rate of NADP + consuming reactions was observed suggesting the less availability of NADP + and a higher level of oxidative stress in these cells. In vivo xenograft studies demonstrated that tumor reduction was potent with Ref-1 redox inhibitor similar to Devimistat. Conclusion Ref-1 redox signaling inhibition conclusively alters cancer cell metabolism by causing TCA cycle dysfunction while also reducing the pancreatic tumor growth in vitro as well as in vivo.more » « less
Komeili, Arash (Ed.)ABSTRACT Histone proteins are found across diverse lineages of Archaea , many of which package DNA and form chromatin. However, previous research has led to the hypothesis that the histone-like proteins of high-salt-adapted archaea, or halophiles, function differently. The sole histone protein encoded by the model halophilic species Halobacterium salinarum , HpyA, is nonessential and expressed at levels too low to enable genome-wide DNA packaging. Instead, HpyA mediates the transcriptional response to salt stress. Here we compare the features of genome-wide binding of HpyA to those of HstA, the sole histone of another model halophile, Haloferax volcanii . hstA , like hpyA , is a nonessential gene. To better understand HpyA and HstA functions, protein-DNA binding data (chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing [ChIP-seq]) of these halophilic histones are compared to publicly available ChIP-seq data from DNA binding proteins across all domains of life, including transcription factors (TFs), nucleoid-associated proteins (NAPs), and histones. These analyses demonstrate that HpyA and HstA bind the genome infrequently in discrete regions, which is similar to TFs but unlike NAPs, which bind a much larger genomic fraction. However, unlike TFs that typically bind in intergenic regions, HpyA and HstA binding sites are located in both coding and intergenic regions. The genome-wide dinucleotide periodicity known to facilitate histone binding was undetectable in the genomes of both species. Instead, TF-like and histone-like binding sequence preferences were detected for HstA and HpyA, respectively. Taken together, these data suggest that halophilic archaeal histones are unlikely to facilitate genome-wide chromatin formation and that their function defies categorization as a TF, NAP, or histone. IMPORTANCE Most cells in eukaryotic species—from yeast to humans—possess histone proteins that pack and unpack DNA in response to environmental cues. These essential proteins regulate genes necessary for important cellular processes, including development and stress protection. Although the histone fold domain originated in the domain of life Archaea , the function of archaeal histone-like proteins is not well understood relative to those of eukaryotes. We recently discovered that, unlike histones of eukaryotes, histones in hypersaline-adapted archaeal species do not package DNA and can act as transcription factors (TFs) to regulate stress response gene expression. However, the function of histones across species of hypersaline-adapted archaea still remains unclear. Here, we compare hypersaline histone function to a variety of DNA binding proteins across the tree of life, revealing histone-like behavior in some respects and specific transcriptional regulatory function in others.more » « less