Honors & Awards
Ellison/AFAR Postdoctoral Fellowship in Aging Research, American Federation for Aging Research (July 2013)
Dean's Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University, School of Medicine (January 2012)
Doctor of Philosophy, EMBL and Università degli Studi di Milano (joint degree), Biomolecular Sciences (2009)
Doctor of Philosophy, Universita Degli Studi Di Milano (2009)
MS, Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza", Biology (2004)
Anne Brunet, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
H3K4me3 Breadth Is Linked to Cell Identity and Transcriptional Consistency.
2014; 158 (3): 673-688
Trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4me3) is a chromatin modification known to mark the transcription start sites of active genes. Here, we show that H3K4me3 domains that spread more broadly over genes in a given cell type preferentially mark genes that are essential for the identity and function of that cell type. Using the broadest H3K4me3 domains as a discovery tool in neural progenitor cells, we identify novel regulators of these cells. Machine learning models reveal that the broadest H3K4me3 domains represent a distinct entity, characterized by increased marks of elongation. The broadest H3K4me3 domains also have more paused polymerase at their promoters, suggesting a unique transcriptional output. Indeed, genes marked by the broadest H3K4me3 domains exhibit enhanced transcriptional consistency rather than increased transcriptional levels, and perturbation of H3K4me3 breadth leads to changes in transcriptional consistency. Thus, H3K4me3 breadth contains information that could ensure transcriptional precision at key cell identity/function genes.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.027
View details for PubMedID 25083876
Erythropoietin guides multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cells toward an erythroid fate.
The Journal of experimental medicine
2014; 211 (2): 181-8
The erythroid stress cytokine erythropoietin (Epo) supports the development of committed erythroid progenitors, but its ability to act on upstream, multipotent cells remains to be established. We observe that high systemic levels of Epo reprogram the transcriptomes of multi- and bipotent hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells in vivo. This induces erythroid lineage bias at all lineage bifurcations known to exist between hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and committed erythroid progenitors, leading to increased erythroid and decreased myeloid HSC output. Epo, therefore, has a lineage instructive role in vivo, through suppression of non-erythroid fate options, demonstrating the ability of a cytokine to systematically bias successive lineage choices in favor of the generation of a specific cell type.
View details for DOI 10.1084/jem.20131189
View details for PubMedID 24493804
Energy metabolism and energy-sensing pathways in mammalian embryonic and adult stem cell fate
JOURNAL OF CELL SCIENCE
2012; 125 (23): 5597-5608
Metabolism is influenced by age, food intake, and conditions such as diabetes and obesity. How do physiological or pathological metabolic changes influence stem cells, which are crucial for tissue homeostasis? This Commentary reviews recent evidence that stem cells have different metabolic demands than differentiated cells, and that the molecular mechanisms that control stem cell self-renewal and differentiation are functionally connected to the metabolic state of the cell and the surrounding stem cell niche. Furthermore, we present how energy-sensing signaling molecules and metabolism regulators are implicated in the regulation of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Finally, we discuss the emerging literature on the metabolism of induced pluripotent stem cells and how manipulating metabolic pathways might aid cellular reprogramming. Determining how energy metabolism regulates stem cell fate should shed light on the decline in tissue regeneration that occurs during aging and facilitate the development of therapies for degenerative or metabolic diseases.
View details for DOI 10.1242/jcs.114827
View details for Web of Science ID 000315164200002
View details for PubMedID 23420198
Pontin is essential for murine hematopoietic stem cell survival
HAEMATOLOGICA-THE HEMATOLOGY JOURNAL
2012; 97 (9): 1291-1294
Pontin is a highly conserved DNA helicase/ATPase which is a component of several macromolecular complexes with functions that include DNA repair, telomere maintenance and tumor suppression. While Pontin is known to be essential in yeast, fruit flies and frogs, its physiological role in mammalian organisms remains to be determined. We here find that Pontin is highly expressed in embryonic stem cells and hematopoietic tissues. Through germline inactivation of Ruvbl1, the gene encoding Pontin, we found it to be essential for early embryogenesis, as Ruvbl1 null embryos could not be recovered beyond the blastocyst stage where proliferation of the pluripotent inner cell mass was impaired. Conditional ablation of Ruvbl1 in hematopoietic tissues led to bone marrow failure. Competitive repopulation experiments showed that this included the loss of hematopoietic stem cells through apopotosis. Pontin is, therefore, essential for the function of both embryonic pluripotent cells and adult hematopoietic stem cells.
View details for DOI 10.3324/haematol.2011.060251
View details for Web of Science ID 000308908300006
View details for PubMedID 22371176
FOG-1 and GATA-1 act sequentially to specify definitive megakaryocytic and erythroid progenitors.
2012; 31 (2): 351-365
The transcription factors that control lineage specification of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have been well described for the myeloid and lymphoid lineages, whereas transcriptional control of erythroid (E) and megakaryocytic (Mk) fate is less understood. We here use conditional removal of the GATA-1 and FOG-1 transcription factors to identify FOG-1 as required for the formation of all committed Mk- and E-lineage progenitors, whereas GATA-1 was observed to be specifically required for E-lineage commitment. FOG-1-deficient HSCs and preMegEs, the latter normally bipotent for the Mk and E lineages, underwent myeloid transcriptional reprogramming, and formed myeloid, but not erythroid and megakaryocytic cells in vitro. These results identify FOG-1 and GATA-1 as required for formation of bipotent Mk/E progenitors and their E-lineage commitment, respectively, and show that FOG-1 mediates transcriptional Mk/E programming of HSCs as well as their subsequent Mk/E-lineage commitment. Finally, C/EBPs and FOG-1 exhibited transcriptional cross-regulation in early myelo-erythroid progenitors making their functional antagonism a potential mechanism for separation of the myeloid and Mk/E lineages.
View details for DOI 10.1038/emboj.2011.390
View details for PubMedID 22068055
Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance of longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans
2011; 479 (7373): 365-U204
Chromatin modifiers regulate lifespan in several organisms, raising the question of whether changes in chromatin states in the parental generation could be incompletely reprogrammed in the next generation and thereby affect the lifespan of descendants. The histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) complex, composed of ASH-2, WDR-5 and the histone methyltransferase SET-2, regulates Caenorhabditis elegans lifespan. Here we show that deficiencies in the H3K4me3 chromatin modifiers ASH-2, WDR-5 or SET-2 in the parental generation extend the lifespan of descendants up until the third generation. The transgenerational inheritance of lifespan extension by members of the ASH-2 complex is dependent on the H3K4me3 demethylase RBR-2, and requires the presence of a functioning germline in the descendants. Transgenerational inheritance of lifespan is specific for the H3K4me3 methylation complex and is associated with epigenetic changes in gene expression. Thus, manipulation of specific chromatin modifiers only in parents can induce an epigenetic memory of longevity in descendants.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature10572
View details for Web of Science ID 000297059700038
View details for PubMedID 22012258
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Expansion Precedes the Generation of Committed Myeloid Leukemia-initiating Cells in C/EBP alpha Mutant AML
2009; 16 (5): 390-400
We here use knockin mutagenesis in the mouse to model the spectrum of acquired CEBPA mutations in human acute myeloid leukemia. We find that C-terminal C/EBPalpha mutations increase the proliferation of long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) in a cell-intrinsic manner and override normal HSC homeostasis, leading to expansion of premalignant HSCs. However, such mutations impair myeloid programming of HSCs and block myeloid lineage commitment when homozygous. In contrast, N-terminal C/EBPalpha mutations are silent with regards to HSC expansion, but allow the formation of committed myeloid progenitors, the templates for leukemia-initiating cells. The combination of N- and C-terminal C/EBPalpha mutations incorporates both features, accelerating disease development and explaining the clinical prevalence of this configuration of CEBPA mutations.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ccr.2009.09.036
View details for Web of Science ID 000271755100008
View details for PubMedID 19878871
DNA methylation protects hematopoietic stem cell multipotency from myeloerythroid restriction
2009; 41 (11): 1207-U69
DNA methylation is a dynamic epigenetic mark that undergoes extensive changes during differentiation of self-renewing stem cells. However, whether these changes are the cause or consequence of stem cell fate remains unknown. Here, we show that alternative functional programs of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are governed by gradual differences in methylation levels. Constitutive methylation is essential for HSC self-renewal but dispensable for homing, cell cycle control and suppression of apoptosis. Notably, HSCs from mice with reduced DNA methyltransferase 1 activity cannot suppress key myeloerythroid regulators and thus can differentiate into myeloerythroid, but not lymphoid, progeny. A similar methylation dosage effect controls stem cell function in leukemia. These data identify DNA methylation as an essential epigenetic mechanism to protect stem cells from premature activation of predominant differentiation programs and suggest that methylation dynamics determine stem cell functions in tissue homeostasis and cancer.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ng.463
View details for Web of Science ID 000271247600013
View details for PubMedID 19801979
Diabetes-linked zinc transporter ZnT8 is a homodimeric protein expressed by distinct rodent endocrine cell types in the pancreas and other glands
NUTRITION METABOLISM AND CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES
2009; 19 (6): 431-439
Zinc is abundant in pancreas, being required by endocrine islet cells for hormone secretion and by exocrine acinar cells as pancreatic juice component. ZnT8 is a member of the SLC30A family of zinc transporters whose overexpression in cultured pancreatic beta cells leads to increased insulin secretion in response to glucose, suggesting a possible role in regulating glycemia. ZnT8 was therefore proposed as a therapeutic target for diabetes, and recent genome-wide association studies identified polymorphisms in the ZNT8 gene conferring increased type 2 diabetes risk.As limited information was available on the biochemical properties of ZnT8 and on its endogenous expression, we have raised a specific polyclonal antibody and immunostained protein extracts, cell lines and tissue sections. We show that ZnT8 forms a very stable dimer that requires biological membranes to properly assemble. We demonstrate localization of murine ZnT8 to the secretory granules in pancreatic beta and alpha islet cells. Moreover, we show that ZnT8 is also expressed in other secretory cell types, namely the cubical epithelium that lines thyroid follicles and the cortex of the adrenal gland, suggesting a more widespread role in endocrine secretion.We provide novel insights into the features of the ZnT8 transporter, of special relevance in light of its proposed role as therapeutical target for diabetes treatment.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.numecd.2008.09.004
View details for Web of Science ID 000268617900008
View details for PubMedID 19095428
Effects of red wine on ochratoxin A toxicity in intestinal Caco-2/TC7 cells
TOXICOLOGY IN VITRO
2007; 21 (2): 204-210
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is found in a variety of foods and beverages, including red wine. OTA was reported to be nephrotoxic, immunotoxic, hepatotoxic and a potential carcinogen, with yet uncharacterized mechanisms. Consumption of contaminated wines might contribute up to 13% of OTA daily human intake. Potentially chronic exposure has therefore raised public health concern. OTA toxicity in the presence of de-alcoholated red wine was investigated in human intestinal Caco-2/TC7 cells, differentiated on filter supports, by measuring tight junction (TJ) permeability, morphological alterations of TJ proteins and occurrence of apoptosis. Cells were treated with OTA, in the presence of de-alcoholated red wine, for 48h and the ability to recover from the effects of OTA was evaluated after 24h in complete medium. OTA treatment increased TJ permeability and caused intracellular redistribution of claudin-4. However, cells were able to restore permeability and correct localization of claudin-4 following 24h recovery. Conversely, in the presence of red wine, OTA produced faster and irreversible increase in TJ permeability, intracellular delocalization of claudin-4 and extensive apoptosis. Our results point at a possible synergy between OTA and some red wine components, such as polyphenols, in the induction of apoptotic cell death.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tiv.2006.09.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000245498900006
View details for PubMedID 17107771