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Concept: Transcription factor


Exercise induces beneficial responses in the brain, which is accompanied by an increase in BDNF, a trophic factor associated with cognitive improvement and the alleviation of depression and anxiety. However, the exact mechanisms whereby physical exercise produces an induction in brain Bdnf gene expression are not well understood. While pharmacological doses of HDAC inhibitors exert positive effects on Bdnf gene transcription, the inhibitors represent small molecules that do not occur in vivo. Here, we report that an endogenous molecule released after exercise is capable of inducing key promoters of the Mus musculus Bdnf gene. The metabolite β-hydroxybutyrate, which increases after prolonged exercise, induces the activities of Bdnf promoters, particularly promoter I, which is activity-dependent. We have discovered that the action of β-hydroxybutyrate is specifically upon HDAC2 and HDAC3, which act upon selective Bdnf promoters. Moreover, the effects upon hippocampal Bdnf expression were observed after direct ventricular application of β-hydroxybutyrate. Electrophysiological measurements indicate that β-hydroxybutyrate causes an increase in neurotransmitter release, which is dependent upon the TrkB receptor. These results reveal an endogenous mechanism to explain how physical exercise leads to the induction of BDNF.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Transcription, Hormone, Transcription factor, RNA polymerase


To identify molecular mechanisms underlying the prospective health advantages associated with psychological well-being, we analyzed leukocyte basal gene expression profiles in 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as potentially confounded negative psychological and behavioral factors. Hedonic and eudaimonic well-being showed similar affective correlates but highly divergent transcriptome profiles. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from people with high levels of hedonic well-being showed up-regulated expression of a stress-related conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA) involving increased expression of proinflammatory genes and decreased expression of genes involved in antibody synthesis and type I IFN response. In contrast, high levels of eudaimonic well-being were associated with CTRA down-regulation. Promoter-based bioinformatics implicated distinct patterns of transcription factor activity in structuring the observed differences in gene expression associated with eudaimonic well-being (reduced NF-κB and AP-1 signaling and increased IRF and STAT signaling). Transcript origin analysis identified monocytes, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and B lymphocytes as primary cellular mediators of these dynamics. The finding that hedonic and eudaimonic well-being engage distinct gene regulatory programs despite their similar effects on total well-being and depressive symptoms implies that the human genome may be more sensitive to qualitative variations in well-being than are our conscious affective experiences.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Transcription, Transcription factor


Synthetic biology has advanced the design of standardized transcription control devices that programme cellular behaviour. By coupling synthetic signalling cascade- and transcription factor-based gene switches with reverse and differential sensitivity to the licensed food additive vanillic acid, we designed a synthetic lineage-control network combining vanillic acid-triggered mutually exclusive expression switches for the transcription factors Ngn3 (neurogenin 3; OFF-ON-OFF) and Pdx1 (pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1; ON-OFF-ON) with the concomitant induction of MafA (V-maf musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homologue A; OFF-ON). This designer network consisting of different network topologies orchestrating the timely control of transgenic and genomic Ngn3, Pdx1 and MafA variants is able to programme human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSCs)-derived pancreatic progenitor cells into glucose-sensitive insulin-secreting beta-like cells, whose glucose-stimulated insulin-release dynamics are comparable to human pancreatic islets. Synthetic lineage-control networks may provide the missing link to genetically programme somatic cells into autologous cell phenotypes for regenerative medicine.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Transcription factor, Induced pluripotent stem cell


The mechanism that specifies olfactory sensory neurons to express only one odorant receptor (OR) from a large repertoire is critical for odor discrimination but poorly understood. Here, we describe the first comprehensive analysis of OR expression regulation in Drosophila. A systematic, RNAi-mediated knock down of most of the predicted transcription factors identified an essential function of acj6, E93, Fer1, onecut, sim, xbp1, and zf30c in the regulation of more than 30 ORs. These regulatory factors are differentially expressed in antennal sensory neuron classes and specifically required for the adult expression of ORs. A systematic analysis reveals not only that combinations of these seven factors are necessary for receptor gene expression but also a prominent role for transcriptional repression in preventing ectopic receptor expression. Such regulation is supported by bioinformatics and OR promoter analyses, which uncovered a common promoter structure with distal repressive and proximal activating regions. Thus, our data provide insight into how combinatorial activation and repression can allow a small number of transcription factors to specify a large repertoire of neuron classes in the olfactory system.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Transcription, Transcription factor, RNA polymerase, Olfactory receptor neuron, Activator


Activated RAS promotes dimerization of members of the RAF kinase family. ATP-competitive RAF inhibitors activate ERK signalling by transactivating RAF dimers. In melanomas with mutant BRAF(V600E), levels of RAS activation are low and these drugs bind to BRAF(V600E) monomers and inhibit their activity. This tumour-specific inhibition of ERK signalling results in a broad therapeutic index and RAF inhibitors have remarkable clinical activity in patients with melanomas that harbour mutant BRAF(V600E). However, resistance invariably develops. Here, we identify a new resistance mechanism. We find that a subset of cells resistant to vemurafenib (PLX4032, RG7204) express a 61-kDa variant form of BRAF(V600E), p61BRAF(V600E), which lacks exons 4-8, a region that encompasses the RAS-binding domain. p61BRAF(V600E) shows enhanced dimerization in cells with low levels of RAS activation, as compared to full-length BRAF(V600E). In cells in which p61BRAF(V600E) is expressed endogenously or ectopically, ERK signalling is resistant to the RAF inhibitor. Moreover, a mutation that abolishes the dimerization of p61BRAF(V600E) restores its sensitivity to vemurafenib. Finally, we identified BRAF(V600E) splicing variants lacking the RAS-binding domain in the tumours of six of nineteen patients with acquired resistance to vemurafenib. These data support the model that inhibition of ERK signalling by RAF inhibitors is dependent on levels of RAS-GTP too low to support RAF dimerization and identify a novel mechanism of acquired resistance in patients: expression of splicing isoforms of BRAF(V600E) that dimerize in a RAS-independent manner.

Concepts: Gene expression, Transcription factor, Enzyme inhibitor, Dimer, Monomer, Inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Alternative splicing


Tumorigenesis is a clonal evolution process that is initiated from single cells within otherwise histologically normal tissue. It is unclear how single, sporadic mutant cells that have sustained oncogenic alterations evolve within a tightly regulated tissue environment. Here we investigated the effects of inducing oncogene expression in single cells in organotypic mammary acini as a model to elucidate the processes by which oncogenic alterations initiate clonal progression from organized epithelial environments. Sporadic cells induced to overexpress oncogenes that specifically perturb cell-cycle checkpoints (for example, E7 from human papilloma virus 16, and cyclin D1), deregulate Myc transcription or activate AKT signalling remained quiescent within growth-arrested acini. By contrast, single cells that overexpress ERBB2 initiated a cellular cascade involving cell translocation from the epithelial layer, as well as luminal outgrowth that is characteristic of neoplastic progression in early-stage epithelial tumours. In addition, ERBB2-mediated cell translocation to the lumen was found to depend on extracellular-regulated kinase and matrix metalloproteinase activities, and genetic alterations that perturb local cell-matrix adhesion drove cell translocation. We also provide evidence that luminal cell translocation may drive clonal selection by promoting either the death or the expansion of quiescent oncogene-expressing cells, depending on whether the pre-existing alterations allow anchorage-independent survival and growth. Our data show that the initial outgrowth of single oncogene-expressing cells from organized epithelial structures is a highly regulated process, and we propose that a cell translocation mechanism allows sporadic mutant cells to evade suppressive micro-environments and elicits clonal selection for survival and proliferative expansion outside the native niches of these cells.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cancer, Human papillomavirus, Chromosome, Transcription factor, Oncogene


The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease increases in people who have had an ischemic episode. Furthermore, APP expression is increased following ischemic or hypoxic conditions, as is the production of the Aβ peptide. To address the question of why APP and Aβ are increased in hypoxic and ischemic conditions we induced an ischemic episode in APP knockout mice (APP-/-) and BACE1 knockout mice (BACE-/-). We find that both APP-/- and BACE-/- mice have a dramatically increased risk of mortality as a result of cerebral ischemia. Furthermore, APP knockout mice have reduced cerebral blood flow in response to hypoxia, while wild-type mice maintain or increase cerebral blood flow to the same conditions. The transcription factor, serum response factor (SRF), and calcium-binding molecule, calsequestrin, both involved in vascular regulation, are significantly altered in the brains of APP-/- mice compared to wild type controls. These results show that APP regulates cerebral blood flow in response to hypoxia, and that it, and its cleavage fragments, are crucial for rapid adaptation to ischemic conditions.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Gene, Gene expression, Stroke, Traumatic brain injury, Transcription factor, Ischemia, Hypoxia


Taxol and other antimitotic agents are frontline chemotherapy agents but the mechanisms responsible for patient benefit remain unclear. Following a genome-wide siRNA screen, we identified the oncogenic transcription factor Myc as a taxol sensitizer. Using time-lapse imaging to correlate mitotic behavior with cell fate, we show that Myc sensitizes cells to mitotic blockers and agents that accelerate mitotic progression. Myc achieves this by upregulating a cluster of redundant pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins and suppressing pro-survival Bcl-xL. Gene expression analysis of breast cancers indicates that taxane responses correlate positively with Myc and negatively with Bcl-xL. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition of Bcl-xL restores apoptosis in Myc-deficient cells. These results open up opportunities for biomarkers and combination therapies that could enhance traditional and second-generation antimitotic agents.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Transcription factor


Unexplained intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) may be a consequence of placental insufficiency; however, its etiology is not fully understood. We surmised that defective placentation in IUGR dysregulates cellular bioenergic homeostasis, leading to increased autophagy in the villous trophoblast. The aims of this work were (1) to compare the differences in autophagy, p53 expression, and apoptosis between placentas of women with normal or IUGR pregnancies; (2) to study the effects of hypoxia and the role of p53 in regulating trophoblast autophagy; and (3) to investigate the relationship between autophagy and apoptosis in hypoxic trophoblasts.

Concepts: Cancer, Apoptosis, Obstetrics, Transcription factor, P53, Placenta, Programmed cell death, Fundal height


The absence of a quality control (QC) system is a major weakness for the comparative analysis of genome-wide profiles generated by next-generation sequencing (NGS). This concerns particularly genome binding/occupancy profiling assays like chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP-seq) but also related enrichment-based studies like methylated DNA immunoprecipitation/methylated DNA binding domain sequencing, global run on sequencing or RNA-seq. Importantly, QC assessment may significantly improve multidimensional comparisons that have great promise for extracting information from combinatorial analyses of the global profiles established for chromatin modifications, the bindings of epigenetic and chromatin-modifying enzymes/machineries, RNA polymerases and transcription factors and total, nascent or ribosome-bound RNAs. Here we present an approach that associates global and local QC indicators to ChIP-seq data sets as well as to a variety of enrichment-based studies by NGS. This QC system was used to certify >5600 publicly available data sets, hosted in a database for data mining and comparative QC analyses.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Molecular biology, RNA, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Transcription factor