(searched for: doi:10.1146/annurev-genet-022620-100039)
Current Opinion in Plant Biology, Volume 61; doi:10.1016/j.pbi.2020.101991
The dynamic properties of the nucleosome are central to genomic activity. Variants of the core histones that form the nucleosome play a pivotal role in modulating nucleosome structure and function. Despite often small differences in sequence, histone variants display remarkable diversity in genomic deposition and post-translational modification. Here, we summarize the roles played by histone variants in the establishment, maintenance and reprogramming of plant chromatin landscapes, with a focus on histone H3 variants. Deposition of replicative H3.1 during DNA replication controls epigenetic inheritance, while local replacement of H3.1 with H3.3 marks cells undergoing terminal differentiation. Deposition of specialized H3 variants in specific cell types is emerging as a novel mechanism of selective epigenetic reprogramming during the plant life cycle.
Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, Volume 9; doi:10.3389/fcell.2021.654915
An expanding repertoire of histone variants and specialized histone chaperone partners showcases the versatility of nucleosome assembly during different cellular processes. Recent research has suggested an integral role of nucleosome assembly pathways in both maintaining cell identity and influencing cell fate decisions during development and normal homeostasis. Mutations and altered expression profiles of histones and corresponding histone chaperone partners are associated with developmental defects and cancer. Here, we discuss the spatiotemporal deposition mechanisms of the Histone H3 variants and their influence on mammalian cell fate during development. We focus on H3 given its profound effect on nucleosome stability and its recently characterized deposition pathways. We propose that differences in deposition of H3 variants are largely dependent on the phase of the cell cycle and cellular potency but are also affected by cellular stress and changes in cell fate. We also discuss the utility of modern technologies in dissecting the spatiotemporal control of H3 variant deposition, and how this could shed light on the mechanisms of cell identity maintenance and lineage commitment. The current knowledge and future studies will help us better understand how organisms employ nucleosome dynamics in health, disease, and aging. Ultimately, these pathways can be manipulated to induce cell fate change in a therapeutic setting depending on the cellular context.
Published: 15 January 2021
Histone variants are distinguished by specific substitutions and motifs that might be subject to post-translational modifications (PTMs). Compared with the high conservation of H3 variants, the N- and C-terminal tails of H2A variants are more divergent and are potential substrates for a more complex array of PTMs, which have remained largely unexplored. We used mass spectrometry to inventory the PTMs of the two heterochromatin-enriched variants H2A.W.6 and H2A.W.7 of Arabidopsis, which harbor the C-terminal motif KSPK. This motif is also found in macroH2A variants in animals and confers specific properties to the nucleosome. We showed that H2A.W.6 is phosphorylated by the cell cycle-dependent kinase CDKA specifically at KSPK. In contrast, this modification is absent on H2A.W.7, which also harbors the SQ motif associated with the variant H2A.X. Phosphorylation of the SQ motif is critical for the DNA damage response but is suppressed in H2A.W.7 by phosphorylation of KSPK. To identify factors involved in this suppression mechanism, we performed a synthetic screen in fission yeast expressing a mimic of the Arabidopsis H2A.W.7. Among those factors was the BRCT-domain protein Mdb1. We showed that phosphorylation of KSPK prevents binding of the BRCT-domain protein Mdb1 to phosphorylated SQ and as a result hampers response to DNA damage. Hence, cross-talks between motif-specific PTMs interfere with the vital functions of H2A variants. Such interference could be responsible for the mutual exclusion of specific motifs between distinct H2A variants. We conclude that sequence innovations in H2A variants have potentiated the acquisition of many specific PTMs with still unknown functions. These add a layer of complexity to the nucleosome properties and their impact in chromatin regulation.
Current Topics in Developmental Biology, Volume 145, pp 167-204; doi:10.1016/bs.ctdb.2021.03.003
The fertilized frog egg contains all the materials needed to initiate development of a new organism, including stored RNAs and proteins deposited during oogenesis, thus the earliest stages of development do not require transcription. The onset of transcription from the zygotic genome marks the first genetic switch activating the gene regulatory network that programs embryonic development. Zygotic genome activation occurs after an initial phase of transcriptional quiescence that continues until the midblastula stage, a period called the midblastula transition, which was first identified in Xenopus. Activation of transcription is programmed by maternally supplied factors and is regulated at multiple levels. A similar switch exists in most animals and is of great interest both to developmental biologists and to those interested in understanding nuclear reprogramming. Here we review in detail our knowledge on this major switch in transcription in Xenopus and place recent discoveries in the context of a decades old problem.
Cells, Volume 9; doi:10.3390/cells9112424
Chromatin integrity is key for cell homeostasis and for preventing pathological development. Alterations in core chromatin components, histone proteins, recently came into the spotlight through the discovery of their driving role in cancer. Building on these findings, in this review, we discuss how histone variants and their associated chaperones safeguard genome stability and protect against tumorigenesis. Accumulating evidence supports the contribution of histone variants and their chaperones to the maintenance of chromosomal integrity and to various steps of the DNA damage response, including damaged chromatin dynamics, DNA damage repair, and damage-dependent transcription regulation. We present our current knowledge on these topics and review recent advances in deciphering how alterations in histone variant sequence, expression, and deposition into chromatin fuel oncogenic transformation by impacting cell proliferation and cell fate transitions. We also highlight open questions and upcoming challenges in this rapidly growing field.
Seminars in Cancer Biology; doi:10.1016/j.semcancer.2020.11.006
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a particular subtype of lung cancer with high mortality. Recent advances in understanding SCLC genomics and breakthroughs of immunotherapy have substantially expanded existing knowledge and treatment modalities. However, challenges associated with SCLC remain enigmatic and elusive. Most of the conventional drug discovery approaches targeting altered signaling pathways in SCLC end up in the ‘grave-yard of drug discovery’, which mandates exploring novel approaches beyond inhibiting cell signaling pathways. Epigenetic modifications have long been documented as the key contributors to the tumorigenesis of almost all types of cancer, including SCLC. The last decade witnessed an exponential increase in our understanding of epigenetic modifications for SCLC. The present review highlights the central role of epigenetic regulations in acquiring neoplastic phenotype, metastasis, aggressiveness, resistance to chemotherapy, and immunotherapeutic approaches of SCLC. Different types of epigenetic modifications (DNA/histone methylation or acetylation) that can serve as predictive biomarkers for prognostication, treatment stratification, neuroendocrine lineage determination, and development of potential SCLC therapies are also discussed. We also review the utility of epigenetic targets/epidrugs in combination with first-line chemotherapy and immunotherapy that are currently under investigation in preclinical and clinical studies. Altogether, the information presents the inclusive landscape of SCLC epigenetics and epidrugs that will help translate the knowledge of epigenetics to improve SCLC outcomes.