Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, CSB-PHD (2019)
Bachelor of Science, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Electrical Engineering (2003)
Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicinee, Chemical and Systems Biology (2019)
B.S.E., University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Electrical Engineering (2003)
Thomas Rando, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Regulation of cell cycle and quiescence in tissue regeneration, homeostasis, and aging.
Hairless regulates heterochromatin maintenance and muscle stem cell function as a histone demethylase antagonist.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
2021; 118 (37)
Skeletal muscle possesses remarkable regenerative ability because of the resident muscle stem cells (MuSCs). A prominent feature of quiescent MuSCs is a high content of heterochromatin. However, little is known about the mechanisms by which heterochromatin is maintained in MuSCs. By comparing gene-expression profiles from quiescent and activated MuSCs, we found that the mammalian Hairless (Hr) gene is expressed in quiescent MuSCs and rapidly down-regulated upon MuSC activation. Using a mouse model in which Hr can be specifically ablated in MuSCs, we demonstrate that Hr expression is critical for MuSC function and muscle regeneration. In MuSCs, loss of Hr results in reduced trimethylated Histone 3 Lysine 9 (H3K9me3) levels, reduced heterochromatin, increased susceptibility to genotoxic stress, and the accumulation of DNA damage. Deletion of Hr leads to an acceleration of the age-related decline in MuSC numbers. We have also demonstrated that despite the fact that Hr is homologous to a family of histone demethylases and binds to di- and trimethylated H3K9, the expression of Hr does not lead to H3K9 demethylation. In contrast, we show that the expression of Hr leads to the inhibition of the H3K9 demethylase Jmjd1a and an increase in H3K9 methylation. Taking these data together, our study has established that Hr is a H3K9 demethylase antagonist specifically expressed in quiescent MuSCs.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2025281118
View details for PubMedID 34493660
Clinical CDK4/6 inhibitors induce selective and immediate dissociation of p21 from cyclin D-CDK4 to inhibit CDK2.
2021; 12 (1): 3356
Since their discovery as drivers of proliferation, cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) have been considered therapeutic targets. Small molecule inhibitors of CDK4/6 are used and tested in clinical trials to treat multiple cancer types. Despite their clinical importance, little is known about how CDK4/6 inhibitors affect the stability of CDK4/6 complexes, which bind cyclins and inhibitory proteins such as p21. We develop an assay to monitor CDK complex stability inside the nucleus. Unexpectedly, treatment with CDK4/6 inhibitors-palbociclib, ribociclib, or abemaciclib-immediately dissociates p21 selectively from CDK4 but not CDK6 complexes. This effect mediates indirect inhibition of CDK2 activity by p21 but not p27 redistribution. Our work shows that CDK4/6 inhibitors have two roles: non-catalytic inhibition of CDK2 via p21 displacement from CDK4 complexes, and catalytic inhibition of CDK4/6 independent of p21. By broadening the non-catalytic displacement to p27 and CDK6 containing complexes, next-generation CDK4/6 inhibitors may have improved efficacy and overcome resistance mechanisms.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-23612-z
View details for PubMedID 34099663
Stress-mediated exit to quiescence restricted by increasing persistence in CDK4/6 activation.
Mammalian cells typically start the cell-cycle entry program by activating cyclin-dependent protein kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6). CDK4/6 activity is clinically relevant as mutations, deletions, and amplifications that increase CDK4/6 activity contribute to the progression of many cancers. However, when CDK4/6 is activated relative to CDK2 remained incompletely understood. Here we developed a reporter system to simultaneously monitor CDK4/6 and CDK2 activities in single cells and found that CDK4/6 activity increases rapidly before CDK2 activity gradually increases, and that CDK4/6 activity can be active after mitosis or inactive for variable time periods. Markedly, stress signals in G1 can rapidly inactivate CDK4/6 to return cells to quiescence but with reduced probability as cells approach S phase. Together, our study reveals a regulation of G1 length by temporary inactivation of CDK4/6 activity after mitosis, and a progressively increasing persistence in CDK4/6 activity that restricts cells from returning to quiescence as cells approach S phase.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.44571
View details for PubMedID 32255427
Altered G1 signaling order and commitment point in cells proliferating without CDK4/6 activity.
2020; 11 (1): 5305
Cell-cycle entry relies on an orderly progression of signaling events. To start, cells first activate the kinase cyclin D-CDK4/6, which leads to eventual inactivation of the retinoblastoma protein Rb. Hours later, cells inactivate APC/CCDH1 and cross the final commitment point. However, many cells with genetically deleted cyclin Ds, which activate and confer specificity to CDK4/6, can compensate and proliferate. Despite its importance in cancer, how this entry mechanism operates remains poorly characterized, and whether cells use this path under normal conditions remains unknown. Here, using single-cell microscopy, we demonstrate that cells with acutely inhibited CDK4/6 enter the cell cycle with a slowed and fluctuating cyclin E-CDK2 activity increase. Surprisingly, with low CDK4/6 activity, the order of APC/CCDH1 and Rb inactivation is reversed in both cell lines and wild-type mice. Finally, we show that as a consequence of this signaling inversion, Rb inactivation replaces APC/CCDH1 inactivation as the point of no return. Together, we elucidate the molecular steps that enable cell-cycle entry without CDK4/6 activity. Our findings not only have implications in cancer resistance, but also reveal temporal plasticity underlying the G1 regulatory circuit.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-020-18966-9
View details for PubMedID 33082317
Transient Hysteresis in CDK4/6 Activity Underlies Passage of the Restriction Point in G1.
Cells escape the need for mitogens at a restriction point several hours before entering S phase. The restriction point has been proposed to result from CDK4/6 initiating partial Rb phosphorylation to trigger a bistable switch whereby cyclin E-CDK2 and Rb mutually reinforce each other to induce Rb hyperphosphorylation. Here, using single-cell analysis, we unexpectedly found that cyclin E/A-CDK activity can only maintain Rb hyperphosphorylation starting at the onset of S phase and that CDK4/6 activity, but not cyclin E/A-CDK activity, is required to hyperphosphorylate Rb throughout G1 phase. Mitogen removal in G1 results in a gradual loss of CDK4/6 activity with a high likelihood of cells sustaining Rb hyperphosphorylation until S phase, at which point cyclin E/A-CDK activity takes over. Thus, it isshort-term memory, or transient hysteresis, in CDK4/6 activity following mitogen removal that sustains Rb hyperphosphorylation, demonstrating a probabilistic rather than an irreversible molecular mechanism underlying the restriction point.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.08.020
View details for PubMedID 31543423
An intrinsic S/G2 checkpoint enforced by ATR.
Science (New York, N.Y.)
2018; 361 (6404): 806–10
The cell cycle is strictly ordered to ensure faithful genome duplication and chromosome segregation. Control mechanisms establish this order by dictating when a cell transitions from one phase to the next. Much is known about the control of the G1/S, G2/M, and metaphase/anaphase transitions, but thus far, no control mechanism has been identified for the S/G2 transition. Here we show that cells transactivate the mitotic gene network as they exit the S phase through a CDK1 (cyclin-dependent kinase 1)-directed FOXM1 phosphorylation switch. During normal DNA replication, the checkpoint kinase ATR (ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related) is activated by ETAA1 to block this switch until the S phase ends. ATR inhibition prematurely activates FOXM1, deregulating the S/G2 transition and leading to early mitosis, underreplicated DNA, and DNA damage. Thus, ATR couples DNA replication with mitosis and preserves genome integrity by enforcing an S/G2 checkpoint.
View details for PubMedID 30139873
Stochastic Endogenous Replication Stress Causes ATR-Triggered Fluctuations in CDK2 Activity that Dynamically Adjust Global DNA Synthesis Rates.
Faithful DNA replication is challenged by stalling of replication forks during Sphase. Replication stress is further increased in cancer cells or in response to genotoxic insults. Using live single-cell image analysis, we found that CDK2 activity fluctuates throughout an unperturbed Sphase. We show that CDK2 fluctuations result from transient ATR signals triggered by stochastic replication stress events. In turn, fluctuating endogenous CDK2 activity causes corresponding decreases and increases in DNA synthesis rates, linking changes in stochastic replication stress to fluctuating global DNA replication rates throughout Sphase. Moreover, cells that re-enter the cell cycle after mitogen stimulation have increased CDK2 fluctuations and prolonged Sphase resulting from increased replication stress-induced CDK2 suppression. Thus, our study reveals a dynamic control principle for DNA replication whereby CDK2 activity is suppressed and fluctuates throughout Sphase to continually adjust global DNA synthesis rates in response to recurring stochastic replication stress events.
View details for PubMedID 29909278
Transcription-coupled changes in nuclear mobility of mammalian cis-regulatory elements
2018; 359 (6379): 1050–55
To achieve guide RNA (gRNA) multiplexing and an efficient delivery of tens of distinct gRNAs into single cells, we developed a molecular assembly strategy termed chimeric array of gRNA oligonucleotides (CARGO). We coupled CARGO with dCas9 (catalytically dead Cas9) imaging to quantitatively measure the movement of enhancers and promoters that undergo differentiation-associated activity changes in live embryonic stem cells. Whereas all examined functional elements exhibited subdiffusive behavior, their relative mobility increased concurrently with transcriptional activation. Furthermore, acute perturbation of RNA polymerase II activity can reverse these activity-linked increases in loci mobility. Through quantitative CARGO-dCas9 imaging, we provide direct measurements of cis-regulatory element dynamics in living cells and distinct cellular and activity states and uncover an intrinsic connection between cis-regulatory element mobility and transcription.
View details for PubMedID 29371426
A Transcriptional Circuit Filters Oscillating Circadian Hormonal Inputs to Regulate Fat Cell Differentiation.
2018; 27 (4): 854–68.e8
Glucocorticoid and other adipogenic hormones are secreted in mammals in circadian oscillations. Loss of this circadian oscillation pattern correlates with obesity in humans, raising the intriguing question of how hormone secretion dynamics affect adipocyte differentiation. Using live, single-cell imaging of the key adipogenic transcription factors CEBPB and PPARG, endogenously tagged with fluorescent proteins, we show that pulsatile circadian hormone stimuli are rejected by the adipocyte differentiation control system. In striking contrast, equally strong persistent signals trigger maximal differentiation. We identify the mechanism of how hormone oscillations are filtered as a combination of slow and fast positive feedback centered on PPARG. Furthermore, we confirm in mice that flattening of daily glucocorticoid oscillations significantly increases the mass of subcutaneous and visceral fat pads. Together, our study provides a molecular mechanism for why stress, Cushing's disease, and other conditions for which glucocorticoid secretion loses its pulsatility may lead to obesity.
View details for PubMedID 29617644
Competing memories of mitogen and p53 signalling control cell-cycle entry
2017; 549 (7672): 404-+
Regulation of cell proliferation is necessary for immune responses, tissue repair, and upkeep of organ function to maintain human health. When proliferating cells complete mitosis, a fraction of newly born daughter cells immediately enter the next cell cycle, while the remaining cells in the same population exit to a transient or persistent quiescent state. Whether this choice between two cell-cycle pathways is due to natural variability in mitogen signalling or other underlying causes is unknown. Here we show that human cells make this fundamental cell-cycle entry or exit decision based on competing memories of variable mitogen and stress signals. Rather than erasing their signalling history at cell-cycle checkpoints before mitosis, mother cells transmit DNA damage-induced p53 protein and mitogen-induced cyclin D1 (CCND1) mRNA to newly born daughter cells. After mitosis, the transferred CCND1 mRNA and p53 protein induce variable expression of cyclin D1 and the CDK inhibitor p21 that almost exclusively determines cell-cycle commitment in daughter cells. We find that stoichiometric inhibition of cyclin D1-CDK4 activity by p21 controls the retinoblastoma (Rb) and E2F transcription program in an ultrasensitive manner. Thus, daughter cells control the proliferation-quiescence decision by converting the memories of variable mitogen and stress signals into a competition between cyclin D1 and p21 expression. We propose a cell-cycle control principle based on natural variation, memory and competition that maximizes the health of growing cell populations.
View details for PubMedID 28869970
A map of protein dynamics during cell-cycle progression and cell-cycle exit
2017; 15 (9): e2003268
The cell-cycle field has identified the core regulators that drive the cell cycle, but we do not have a clear map of the dynamics of these regulators during cell-cycle progression versus cell-cycle exit. Here we use single-cell time-lapse microscopy of Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 2 (CDK2) activity followed by endpoint immunofluorescence and computational cell synchronization to determine the temporal dynamics of key cell-cycle proteins in asynchronously cycling human cells. We identify several unexpected patterns for core cell-cycle proteins in actively proliferating (CDK2-increasing) versus spontaneously quiescent (CDK2-low) cells, including Cyclin D1, the levels of which we find to be higher in spontaneously quiescent versus proliferating cells. We also identify proteins with concentrations that steadily increase or decrease the longer cells are in quiescence, suggesting the existence of a continuum of quiescence depths. Our single-cell measurements thus provide a rich resource for the field by characterizing protein dynamics during proliferation versus quiescence.
View details for PubMedID 28892491
Engulfed cadherin fingers are polarized junctional structures between collectively migrating endothelial cells
NATURE CELL BIOLOGY
2016; 18 (12): 1311-?
The development and maintenance of tissues requires collective cell movement, during which neighbouring cells coordinate the polarity of their migration machineries. Here, we ask how polarity signals are transmitted from one cell to another across symmetrical cadherin junctions, during collective migration. We demonstrate that collectively migrating endothelial cells have polarized VE-cadherin-rich membrane protrusions, 'cadherin fingers', which leading cells extend from their rear and follower cells engulf at their front, thereby generating opposite membrane curvatures and asymmetric recruitment of curvature-sensing proteins. In follower cells, engulfment of cadherin fingers occurs along with the formation of a lamellipodia-like zone with low actomyosin contractility, and requires VE-cadherin/catenin complexes and Arp2/3-driven actin polymerization. Lateral accumulation of cadherin fingers in follower cells precedes turning, and increased actomyosin contractility can initiate cadherin finger extension as well as engulfment by a neighbouring cell, to promote follower behaviour. We propose that cadherin fingers serve as guidance cues that direct collective cell migration.
View details for DOI 10.1038/ncb3438
View details for Web of Science ID 000389134600009
View details for PubMedID 27842057
Fluorescent indicators for simultaneous reporting of all four cell cycle phases.
A robust method for simultaneous visualization of all four cell cycle phases in living cells is highly desirable. We developed an intensiometric reporter of the transition from S to G2 phase and engineered a far-red fluorescent protein, mMaroon1, to visualize chromatin condensation in mitosis. We combined these new reporters with the previously described Fucci system to create Fucci4, a set of four orthogonal fluorescent indicators that together resolve all cell cycle phases.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.4045
View details for PubMedID 27798610
Irreversible APC(Cdh1) Inactivation Underlies the Point of No Return for Cell-Cycle Entry
2016; 166 (1): 167-180
Proliferating cells must cross a point of no return before they replicate their DNA and divide. This commitment decision plays a fundamental role in cancer and degenerative diseases and has been proposed to be mediated by phosphorylation of retinoblastoma (Rb) protein. Here, we show that inactivation of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC(Cdh1)) has the necessary characteristics to be the point of no return for cell-cycle entry. Our study shows that APC(Cdh1) inactivation is a rapid, bistable switch initiated shortly before the start of DNA replication by cyclin E/Cdk2 and made irreversible by Emi1. Exposure to stress between Rb phosphorylation and APC(Cdh1) inactivation, but not after APC(Cdh1) inactivation, reverted cells to a mitogen-sensitive quiescent state, from which they can later re-enter the cell cycle. Thus, APC(Cdh1) inactivation is the commitment point when cells lose the ability to return to quiescence and decide to progress through the cell cycle.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2016.05.077
View details for Web of Science ID 000380254400019
View details for PubMedID 27368103