LINE-1 (L1) retrotransposons represent approximately one sixth of the human genome, but only the human-specific L1HS-Ta subfamily acts as an endogenous mutagen in modern humans, reshaping both somatic and germline genomes. Due to their high levels of sequence identity and the existence of many polymorphic insertions absent from the reference genome, the transcriptional activation of individual genomic L1HS-Ta copies remains poorly understood. Here we comprehensively mapped fixed and polymorphic L1HS-Ta copies in 12 commonly-used somatic cell lines, and identified transcriptional and epigenetic signatures allowing the unambiguous identification of active L1HS-Ta copies in their genomic context. Strikingly, only a very restricted subset of L1HS-Ta loci - some being polymorphic among individuals - significantly contributes to the bulk of L1 expression, and these loci are differentially regulated among distinct cell lines. Thus, our data support a local model of L1 transcriptional activation in somatic cells, governed by individual-, locus-, and cell-type-specific determinants.
- Kathy Burns, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, United States
© 2016, Philippe et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Numerous anti-cancer drugs perturb thymidylate biosynthesis and lead to genomic uracil incorporation contributing to their antiproliferative effect. Still, it is not yet characterized if uracil incorporations have any positional preference. Here, we aimed to uncover genome-wide alterations in uracil pattern upon drug treatments in human cancer cell line models derived from HCT116. We developed a straightforward U-DNA sequencing method (U-DNA-Seq) that was combined with in situ super-resolution imaging. Using a novel robust analysis pipeline, we found broad regions with elevated probability of uracil occurrence both in treated and non-treated cells. Correlation with chromatin markers and other genomic features shows that non-treated cells possess uracil in the late replicating constitutive heterochromatic regions, while drug treatment induced a shift of incorporated uracil towards segments that are normally more active/functional. Data were corroborated by colocalization studies via dSTORM microscopy. This approach can be applied to study the dynamic spatio-temporal nature of genomic uracil.
Single-cell RNA sequencing provides powerful insight into the factors that determine each cell’s unique identity. Previous studies led to the surprising observation that alternative splicing among single cells is highly variable and follows a bimodal pattern: a given cell consistently produces either one or the other isoform for a particular splicing choice, with few cells producing both isoforms. Here, we show that this pattern arises almost entirely from technical limitations. We analyze alternative splicing in human and mouse single-cell RNA-seq datasets, and model them with a probabilistic simulator. Our simulations show that low gene expression and low capture efficiency distort the observed distribution of isoforms. This gives the appearance of binary splicing outcomes, even when the underlying reality is consistent with more than one isoform per cell. We show that accounting for the true amount of information recovered can produce biologically meaningful measurements of splicing in single cells.