Recent Submissions

  • The differential activities of Runx1 promoters define milestones during embryonic hematopoiesis.

    Sroczynska, Patrycja; Lancrin, Christophe; Kouskoff, Valerie; Lacaud, Georges; Cancer Research UK Stem Cell Biology Group, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom. (2009-12-17)
    The transcription factor RUNX1/AML1 is a master regulator of hematopoietic development. Its spatiotemporal expression is tightly regulated during embryonic development and is under the control of 2 alternative promoters, distal and proximal. Despite the functional significance of Runx1, the relative and specific activities of these 2 promoters remain largely uncharacterized. To investigate these activities, we introduced 2 reporter genes under the control of the proximal and distal promoters in embryonic stem cell and transgenic mouse lines. Our study reveals that both in vitro and in vivo the proximal Runx1 isoform marks a hemogenic endothelium cell population, whereas the subsequent expression of distal Runx1 defines fully committed definitive hematopoietic progenitors. Interestingly, hematopoietic commitment in distal Runx1 knockout embryos appears normal. Altogether, our data demonstrate that the differential activities of the 2 Runx1 promoters define milestones of hematopoietic development and suggest that the proximal isoform plays a critical role in the generation of hematopoietic cells from hemogenic endothelium. Identification and access to the discrete stages of hematopoietic development defined by the activities of the Runx1 promoters will provide the opportunity to further explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hematopoietic development.
  • Early chromatin unfolding by RUNX1: a molecular explanation for differential requirements during specification versus maintenance of the hematopoietic gene expression program.

    Hoogenkamp, Maarten; Lichtinger, Monika; Krysinska, Hanna; Lancrin, Christophe; Clarke, Deborah; Williamson, Andrew J K; Mazzarella, Luca; Ingram, Richard; Jorgensen, Helle; Fisher, Amanda; Tenen, Daniel G; Kouskoff, Valerie; Lacaud, Georges; Bonifer, Constanze; Leeds Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom. (2009-07-09)
    At the cellular level, development progresses through successive regulatory states, each characterized by their specific gene expression profile. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating first the priming and then maintenance of gene expression within one developmental pathway are essentially unknown. The hematopoietic system represents a powerful experimental model to address these questions and here we have focused on a regulatory circuit playing a central role in myelopoiesis: the transcription factor PU.1, its target gene colony-stimulating-factor 1 receptor (Csf1r), and key upstream regulators such as RUNX1. We find that during ontogeny, chromatin unfolding precedes the establishment of active histone marks and the formation of stable transcription factor complexes at the Pu.1 locus and we show that chromatin remodeling is mediated by the transient binding of RUNX1 to Pu.1 cis-elements. By contrast, chromatin reorganization of Csf1r requires prior expression of PU.1 together with RUNX1 binding. Once the full hematopoietic program is established, stable transcription factor complexes and active chromatin can be maintained without RUNX1. Our experiments therefore demonstrate how individual transcription factors function in a differentiation stage-specific manner to differentially affect the initiation versus maintenance of a developmental program.
  • Expression of the leukemia oncogene Lmo2 is controlled by an array of tissue-specific elements dispersed over 100 kb and bound by Tal1/Lmo2, Ets, and Gata factors.

    Landry, Josette-Renee; Bonadies, Nicolas; Kinston, Sarah; Knezevic, Kathy; Wilson, Nicola K; Oram, S Helen; Janes, Mary E; Piltz, Sandie; Hammett, Michelle; Carter, Jacinta; Hamilton, Tina; Donaldson, Ian J; Lacaud, Georges; Frampton, Jonathan; Follows, George A; Kouskoff, Valerie; Göttgens, Berthold; Department of Haematology, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom. (2009-06-04)
    The Lmo2 gene encodes a transcriptional cofactor critical for the development of hematopoietic stem cells. Ectopic LMO2 expression causes leukemia in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients and severe combined immunodeficiency patients undergoing retroviral gene therapy. Tightly controlled Lmo2 expression is therefore essential, yet no comprehensive analysis of Lmo2 regulation has been published so far. By comparative genomics, we identified 17 highly conserved noncoding elements, 9 of which revealed specific acetylation marks in chromatin-immunoprecipitation and microarray (ChIP-chip) assays performed across 250 kb of the Lmo2 locus in 11 cell types covering different stages of hematopoietic differentiation. All candidate regulatory regions were tested in transgenic mice. An extended LMO2 proximal promoter fragment displayed strong endothelial activity, while the distal promoter showed weak forebrain activity. Eight of the 15 distal candidate elements functioned as enhancers, which together recapitulated the full expression pattern of Lmo2, directing expression to endothelium, hematopoietic cells, tail, and forebrain. Interestingly, distinct combinations of specific distal regulatory elements were required to extend endothelial activity of the LMO2 promoter to yolk sac or fetal liver hematopoietic cells. Finally, Sfpi1/Pu.1, Fli1, Gata2, Tal1/Scl, and Lmo2 were shown to bind to and transactivate Lmo2 hematopoietic enhancers, thus identifying key upstream regulators and positioning Lmo2 within hematopoietic regulatory networks.
  • The haemangioblast generates haematopoietic cells through a haemogenic endothelium stage.

    Lancrin, Christophe; Sroczynska, Patrycja; Stephenson, Catherine; Allen, Terence D; Kouskoff, Valerie; Lacaud, Georges; Cancer Research UK Stem Cell Biology Group. (2009-02-12)
    It has been proposed that during embryonic development haematopoietic cells arise from a mesodermal progenitor with both endothelial and haematopoietic potential called the haemangioblast. A conflicting theory instead associates the first haematopoietic cells with a phenotypically differentiated endothelial cell that has haematopoietic potential (that is, a haemogenic endothelium). Support for the haemangioblast concept was initially provided by the identification during mouse embryonic stem cell differentiation of a clonal precursor, the blast colony-forming cell (BL-CFC), which gives rise to blast colonies with both endothelial and haematopoietic components. Although recent studies have now provided evidence for the presence of this bipotential precursor in vivo, the precise mechanism for generation of haematopoietic cells from the haemangioblast still remains completely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the haemangioblast generates haematopoietic cells through the formation of a haemogenic endothelium intermediate, providing the first direct link between these two precursor populations. The cell population containing the haemogenic endothelium is transiently generated during BL-CFC development. This cell population is also present in gastrulating mouse embryos and generates haematopoietic cells on further culture. At the molecular level, we demonstrate that the transcription factor Tal1 (also known as Scl; ref. 10) is indispensable for the establishment of this haemogenic endothelium population whereas the core binding factor Runx1 (also known as AML1; ref. 11) is critical for generation of definitive haematopoietic cells from haemogenic endothelium. Together our results merge the two a priori conflicting theories on the origin of haematopoietic development into a single linear developmental process.
  • The histone acetyl transferase activity of monocytic leukemia zinc finger is critical for the proliferation of hematopoietic precursors.

    Perez-Campo, Flor-Maria; Borrow, Julian; Kouskoff, Valerie; Lacaud, Georges; Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, University of Manchester, USA. (2009-05-14)
    The monocytic leukemia zinc finger (MOZ) gene encodes a large multidomain protein that contains, besides other domains, 2 coactivation domains for the transcription factor Runx1/acute myeloid leukemia 1 and a histone acetyl transferase (HAT) catalytic domain. Recent studies have demonstrated the critical requirement for the complete MOZ protein in hematopoietic stem cell development and maintenance. However, the specific function of the HAT activity of MOZ remains unknown, as it has been shown that MOZ HAT activity is not required either for its role as Runx1 coactivator or for the leukemic transformation induced by MOZ transcriptional intermediary factor 2 (TIF2). To assess the specific requirement for this HAT activity during hematopoietic development, we have generated embryonic stem cells and mouse lines carrying a point mutation that renders the protein catalytically inactive. We report in this study that mice exclusively lacking the HAT activity of MOZ exhibit significant defects in the number of hematopoietic stem cells and hematopoietic committed precursors as well as a defect in B-cell development. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the failure to maintain a normal number of hematopoietic precursors is caused by the inability of HAT(-/-) cells to expand. These results indicate a specific role of MOZ-driven acetylation in controlling a desirable balance between proliferation and differentiation during hematopoiesis.
  • Endoglin expression in blood and endothelium is differentially regulated by modular assembly of the Ets/Gata hemangioblast code.

    Pimanda, John E; Chan, Wan Y I; Wilson, Nicola K; Smith, Aileen M; Kinston, Sarah; Knezevic, Kathy; Janes, Mary E; Landry, Josette-Renee; Kolb-Kokocinski, Anja; Frampton, Jonathan; Tannahill, David; Ottersbach, Katrin; Follows, George A; Lacaud, Georges; Kouskoff, Valerie; Göttgens, Berthold; Department of Haematology, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom. (2008-12-01)
    Endoglin is an accessory receptor for TGF-beta signaling and is required for normal hemangioblast, early hematopoietic, and vascular development. We have previously shown that an upstream enhancer, Eng -8, together with the promoter region, mediates robust endothelial expression yet is inactive in blood. To identify hematopoietic regulatory elements, we used array-based methods to determine chromatin accessibility across the entire locus. Subsequent transgenic analysis of candidate elements showed that an endothelial enhancer at Eng +9 when combined with an element at Eng +7 functions as a strong hemato-endothelial enhancer. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-chip analysis demonstrated specific binding of Ets factors to the promoter as well as to the -8, +7+9 enhancers in both blood and endothelial cells. By contrast Pu.1, an Ets factor specific to the blood lineage, and Gata2 binding was only detected in blood. Gata2 was bound only at +7 and GATA motifs were required for hematopoietic activity. This modular assembly of regulators gives blood and endothelial cells the regulatory freedom to independently fine-tune gene expression and emphasizes the role of regulatory divergence in driving functional divergence.
  • The stepwise specification of embryonic stem cells to hematopoietic fate is driven by sequential exposure to Bmp4, activin A, bFGF and VEGF.

    Pearson, Stella; Sroczynska, Patrycja; Lacaud, Georges; Kouskoff, Valerie; Cancer Research UK, Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, Manchester University, Wilmslow Road, M20 4BX, Manchester, UK. (2008-04)
    The differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells offers a powerful approach to study mechanisms implicated in cell fate decision. A major hurdle, however, is to promote the directed and efficient differentiation of ES cells toward a specific lineage. Here, we define in serum-free media the minimal factor requirement controlling each step of the differentiation process, resulting in the production of highly enriched hematopoietic progenitors. Four factors - Bmp4, activin A, bFGF (Fgf2) and VEGF (VegfA) - are sufficient to drive the selective and efficient differentiation of mouse ES cells to hematopoiesis. Each of these factors appears to regulate a step of the process: Bmp4 promotes the very efficient formation of mesoderm; bFGF and activin A induce the differentiation of these mesodermal precursors to the hemangioblast fate; and VEGF is required for the production of fully committed hematopoietic progenitors. The stimulation of mesodermal precursors by bFGF and activin A switches on very rapidly the hematopoietic program, allowing us to dissect the molecular events leading to the formation of the hemangioblast. Runx1, Scl (Tal1) and Hhex expression is upregulated within 3 hours of stimulation, whereas upregulation of Lmo2 and Fli1 is observed later. Interestingly, increased expression levels of genes such as cMyb, Pu.1 (Sfpi1), Gata1 and Gata2 are not observed at the onset of hemangioblast commitment. This stepwise control of differentiation is extremely efficient, giving rise to a very high frequency of hematopoietic precursors, and provides an optimal system for understanding the molecular machineries involved in blood progenitor commitment.
  • Quantitative proteomics analysis demonstrates post-transcriptional regulation of embryonic stem cell differentiation to hematopoiesis.

    Williamson, Andrew J K; Smith, Duncan L; Blinco, David; Unwin, Richard D; Pearson, Stella; Wilson, Claire L; Miller, Crispin J; Lancashire, Lee J; Lacaud, Georges; Kouskoff, Valerie; Whetton, Anthony D; Stem Cell and Leukemia Proteomics Laboratory, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, University of Manchester, Kinnaird House, Kinnaird Road, Manchester M20 4QL, United Kingdom. (2008-03)
    Embryonic stem (ES) cells can differentiate in vitro to produce the endothelial and hematopoietic precursor, the hemangioblasts, which are derived from the mesoderm germ layer. Differentiation of Bry(GFP/+) ES cell to hemangioblasts can be followed by the expression of the Bry(GFP/+) and Flk1 genes. Proteomic and transcriptomic changes during this differentiation process were analyzed to identify mechanisms for phenotypic change during early differentiation. Three populations of differentiating Bry(GFP) ES cells were obtained by flow cytometric sorting, GFP-Flk1- (epiblast), GFP+Flk1- (mesoderm), and GFP+Flk1+ (hemangioblast). Microarray analyses and relative quantification two-dimensional LCLC-MS/MS on nuclear extracts were performed. We identified and quantified 2389 proteins, 1057 of which were associated to their microarray probe set. These included a variety of low abundance transcription factors, e.g. UTF1, Sox2, Oct4, and E2F4, demonstrating a high level of proteomic penetrance. When paired comparisons of changes in the mRNA and protein expression levels were performed low levels of correlation were found. A strong correlation between isobaric tag-derived relative quantification and Western blot analysis was found for a number of nuclear proteins. Pathway and ontology analysis identified proteins known to be involved in the regulation of stem cell differentiation, and proteins with no described function in early ES cell development were also shown to change markedly at the proteome level only. ES cell development is regulated at the mRNA and protein level.
  • A developmentally regulated heparan sulfate epitope defines a subpopulation with increased blood potential during mesodermal differentiation.

    Baldwin, Rebecca J; Ten Dam, Gerdy; Van Kuppevelt, Toin H; Lacaud, Georges; Gallagher, John T; Kouskoff, Valerie; Merry, Catherine L R; University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK Department of Medical Oncology, Manchester, United Kingdom. (2008-12)
    Heparan sulfate (HS) is a mandatory coreceptor for many growth factors and morphogens involved in embryonic development; its bioactivity is dictated by complex sulfation motifs embedded within the polymer chain. Using a panel of HS-specific antibodies we have identified a unique HS epitope recognized by antibody HS4C3 that is selectively expressed during differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells along the mesodermal lineage to the hemangioblast stage. The appearance of this high-affinity HS4C3-binding (HS4C3(high)) epitope is transient; the epitope is specifically expressed within the emerging Brachyury(+) (Bry(+)) population and marks those cells that will become fetal liver kinase 1 (Flk1)(+). Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) separation and colony forming assays revealed that HS4C3(high)/Flk1(+) cells have a dramatically increased potential to form both blast and endothelial colonies, both of which depend upon the HS-binding growth factor vascular endothelial growth factor. Critically, expression of this HS epitope is tightly regulated, disappearing from the cell surface as the resultant hematopoietic lineages mature, in a similar manner to protein markers Bry and Flk1. In vivo studies showed a remarkable correlation with in vitro findings, with expression of HS4C3-binding epitopes restricted to newly formed mesodermal tissues during gastrulation. We believe this is the first time a defined HS epitope has been implicated in a specific developmental pathway and that this provides, in addition, a novel enrichment technique for the isolation of hemangioblasts from mixed differentiated ES cell cultures.