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August 24, 2017

Polylox barcoding reveals haematopoietic stem cell fates realized in vivo.

Developmental deconvolution of complex organs and tissues at the level of individual cells remains challenging. Non-invasive genetic fate mapping has been widely used, but the low number of distinct fluorescent marker proteins limits its resolution. Much higher numbers of cell markers have been generated using viral integration sites, viral barcodes, and strategies based on transposons and CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing; however, temporal and tissue-specific induction of barcodes in situ has not been achieved. Here we report the development of an artificial DNA recombination locus (termed Polylox) that enables broadly applicable endogenous barcoding based on the Cre-loxP recombination system. Polylox recombination in…

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June 14, 2016

Genome-wide characterization of human L1 antisense promoter-driven transcripts.

Long INterspersed Element-1 (LINE-1 or L1) is the only autonomously active, transposable element in the human genome. L1 sequences comprise approximately 17 % of the human genome, but only the evolutionarily recent, human-specific subfamily is retrotransposition competent. The L1 promoter has a bidirectional orientation containing a sense promoter that drives the transcription of two proteins required for retrotransposition and an antisense promoter. The L1 antisense promoter can drive transcription of chimeric transcripts: 5' L1 antisense sequences spliced to the exons of neighboring genes.The impact of L1 antisense promoter activity on cellular transcriptomes is poorly understood. To investigate this, we analyzed GenBank…

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April 21, 2016

DNA methylation on N(6)-adenine in mammalian embryonic stem cells.

It has been widely accepted that 5-methylcytosine is the only form of DNA methylation in mammalian genomes. Here we identify N(6)-methyladenine as another form of DNA modification in mouse embryonic stem cells. Alkbh1 encodes a demethylase for N(6)-methyladenine. An increase of N(6)-methyladenine levels in Alkbh1-deficient cells leads to transcriptional silencing. N(6)-methyladenine deposition is inversely correlated with the evolutionary age of LINE-1 transposons; its deposition is strongly enriched at young (6 million years old) L1 elements. The deposition of N(6)-methyladenine correlates with epigenetic silencing of such LINE-1 transposons, together with their neighbouring enhancers and genes, thereby resisting the gene activation signals…

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February 9, 2016

Shannon: an information-optimal de novo RNA-Seq assembler

De novo assembly of short RNA-Seq reads into transcripts is challenging due to sequence similarities in transcriptomes arising from gene duplications and alternative splicing of transcripts. We present Shannon, an RNA-Seq assembler with an optimality guarantee derived from principles of information theory: Shannon reconstructs nearly all information-theoretically reconstructable transcripts. Shannon is based on a theory we develop for de novo RNA-Seq assembly that reveals differing abundances among transcripts to be the key, rather than the barrier, to effective assembly. The assembly problem is formulated as a sparsest-flow problem on a transcript graph, and the heart of Shannon is a novel…

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January 7, 2016

Genome editing in human pluripotent stem cells: approaches, pitfalls, and solutions.

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) with knockout or mutant alleles can be generated using custom-engineered nucleases. Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9 nucleases are the most commonly employed technologies for editing hPSC genomes. In this Protocol Review, we provide a brief overview of custom-engineered nucleases in the context of gene editing in hPSCs with a focus on the application of TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9. We will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each method and discuss theoretical and technical considerations for experimental design. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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August 1, 2015

Dual functions of Macpiwi1 in transposon silencing and stem cell maintenance in the flatworm Macrostomum lignano.

PIWI proteins and piRNA pathways are essential for transposon silencing and some aspects of gene regulation during animal germline development. In contrast to most animal species, some flatworms also express PIWIs and piRNAs in somatic stem cells, where they are required for tissue renewal and regeneration. Here, we have identified and characterized piRNAs and PIWI proteins in the emerging model flatworm Macrostomum lignano. We found that M. lignano encodes at least three PIWI proteins. One of these, Macpiwi1, acts as a key component of the canonical piRNA pathway in the germline and in somatic stem cells. Knockdown of Macpiwi1 dramatically…

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October 27, 2014

The transcriptome of human pluripotent stem cells.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs) are in vitro derivatives of the inner cell mass of the blastocyst and are characterized by an undifferentiated and pluripotent state that can be perpetuated in time, indefinitely. hESCs provide a unique opportunity to both dissect the molecular mechanisms that are predisposed to the maintenance of pluripotency and model the ability to initiate differentiation and cell commitment within the developing embryo. To fully understand these mechanisms, it is necessary to accurately identify the specific transcriptome of hESCs. Many distinct gene annotation methods, such as cDNA and EST sequencing and RNA-Seq, have been used to identify…

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May 1, 2014

Function-based identification of mammalian enhancers using site-specific integration.

The accurate and comprehensive identification of functional regulatory sequences in mammalian genomes remains a major challenge. Here we describe site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing (SIF-seq), an unbiased, medium-throughput functional assay for the discovery of distant-acting enhancers. Targeted single-copy genomic integration into pluripotent cells, reporter assays and flow cytometry are coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing to enable parallel screening of large numbers of DNA sequences. By functionally interrogating >500 kilobases (kb) of mouse and human sequence in mouse embryonic stem cells for enhancer activity we identified enhancers at pluripotency loci including NANOG. In in vitro-differentiated cardiomyocytes and neural…

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December 10, 2013

Characterization of the human ESC transcriptome by hybrid sequencing.

Although transcriptional and posttranscriptional events are detected in RNA-Seq data from second-generation sequencing, full-length mRNA isoforms are not captured. On the other hand, third-generation sequencing, which yields much longer reads, has current limitations of lower raw accuracy and throughput. Here, we combine second-generation sequencing and third-generation sequencing with a custom-designed method for isoform identification and quantification to generate a high-confidence isoform dataset for human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). We report 8,084 RefSeq-annotated isoforms detected as full-length and an additional 5,459 isoforms predicted through statistical inference. Over one-third of these are novel isoforms, including 273 RNAs from gene loci that have…

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May 1, 2012

Sensitive and specific single-molecule sequencing of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine.

We describe strand-specific, base-resolution detection of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) in genomic DNA with single-molecule sensitivity, combining a bioorthogonal, selective chemical labeling method of 5-hmC with single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing. The chemical labeling not only allows affinity enrichment of 5-hmC-containing DNA fragments but also enhances the kinetic signal of 5-hmC during SMRT sequencing. We applied the approach to sequence 5-hmC in a genomic DNA sample with high confidence.

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