Publications

Selected publications

  1. Bak M, van Nimwegen E, Kouzel I, Gur T, Schmidt R, Zavolan M, Gruber AJ, "MAPP unravels frequent co-regulation of splicing and polyadenylation by RNA-binding proteins and their dysregulation in cancer.", 2024, Nature Communications, 15:4110. (doi)
     
  2. Barquin M, Kouzel I, Ehrmann B, Basler M, Gruber AJ, "scTEA-db : a comprehensive database of novel terminal exon isoforms identified from human single cell transcriptomes.", 2024, Nucleic Acid Res., Jan 5;52(D1):D1018-D1023. (doi)
     
  3. Gruber AJ, Gypas F, Riba A, Schmidt R, Zavolan M, “Terminal exon characterization with TECtool reveals an abundance of cell-specific isoforms.”, 2018, Nature Methods, Oct;15(10):832-836. (doi) (Co-corresp. Author)
     
  4. Gruber AJ, Zavolan M, “Alternative cleavage and polyadenylation in health and disease.”, 2019, Nature Reviews Genetics, Oct;20(10):599-614. (doi) (Co-corresp. Author)
     
  5. Gruber AJ, Schmidt R, Ghosh S, Martin G, Gruber AR, van Nimwegen E, Zavolan M, “Discovery of physiological and cancer-related regulators of 3' UTR processing with KAPAC.”, 2018, Genome Biology, Mar 28;19(1):44. (doi)
     
  6. Gruber AJ, Grandy WA, Balwierz PJ, Dimitrova YA, Pachkov M, Ciaudo C, Nimwegen Ev, Zavolan M, “Embryonic stem cell-specific microRNAs contribute to pluripotency by inhibiting regulators of multiple differentiation pathways.”, 2014, Nucleic Acids Research, Aug;42(14):9313-26. (doi)
     
  7. Gruber AJ, Schmidt R, Gruber AR, Martin G, Ghosh S, Belmadani M, Keller W, and Zavolan M, “A comprehensive analysis of 3' end sequencing data sets reveals novel polyadenylation signals and the repressive role of heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein C on cleavage and polyadenylation.”, 2016, Genome Research, Aug;26(8):1145-59. (doi)

All publications

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26 / 26
  • Woodcock, Dan J.; Sahli, Atef; Teslo, Ruxandra; Bhandari, Vinayak; Gruber, Andreas J.; Ziubroniewicz, Aleksandra; Brewer, Daniel S.; Eeles, Rosalind A.; Cooper, Colin S.; Wedge, David C. (2024): Genomic evolution shapes prostate cancer disease type Cell Genomics. Elsevier. 2024, 4(3), 100511. ISSN 2666-979X. eISSN 2666-979X. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.xgen.2024.100511

    Genomic evolution shapes prostate cancer disease type

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    The development of cancer is an evolutionary process involving the sequential acquisition of genetic alterations that disrupt normal biological processes, enabling tumor cells to rapidly proliferate and eventually invade and metastasize to other tissues. We investigated the genomic evolution of prostate cancer through the application of three separate classification methods, each designed to investigate a different aspect of tumor evolution. Integrating the results revealed the existence of two distinct types of prostate cancer that arise from divergent evolutionary trajectories, designated as the Canonical and Alternative evolutionary disease types. We therefore propose the evotype model for prostate cancer evolution wherein Alternative-evotype tumors diverge from those of the Canonical-evotype through the stochastic accumulation of genetic alterations associated with disruptions to androgen receptor DNA binding. Our model unifies many previous molecular observations, providing a powerful new framework to investigate prostate cancer disease progression.

  • Bak, Maciej; van Nimwegen, Erik; Kouzel, Ian U.; Gür, Tamer; Schmidt, Ralf; Zavolan, Mihaela; Gruber, Andreas J. (2024): MAPP unravels frequent co-regulation of splicing and polyadenylation by RNA-binding proteins and their dysregulation in cancer Nature Communications. Springer. 2024, 15, 4110. eISSN 2041-1723. Available under: doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-48046-1

    MAPP unravels frequent co-regulation of splicing and polyadenylation by RNA-binding proteins and their dysregulation in cancer

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    Maturation of eukaryotic pre-mRNAs via splicing and polyadenylation is modulated across cell types and conditions by a variety of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). Although there exist over 1,500 RBPs in human cells, their binding motifs and functions still remain to be elucidated, especially in the complex environment of tissues and in the context of diseases. To overcome the lack of methods for the systematic and automated detection of sequence motif-guided pre-mRNA processing regulation from RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) data we have developed MAPP (Motif Activity on Pre-mRNA Processing). Applying MAPP to RBP knock-down experiments reveals that many RBPs regulate both splicing and polyadenylation of nascent transcripts by acting on similar sequence motifs. MAPP not only infers these sequence motifs, but also unravels the position-dependent impact of the RBPs on pre-mRNA processing. Interestingly, all investigated RBPs that act on both splicing and 3’ end processing exhibit a consistently repressive or activating effect on both processes, providing a first glimpse on the underlying mechanism. Applying MAPP to normal and malignant brain tissue samples unveils that the motifs bound by the PTBP1 and RBFOX RBPs coordinately drive the oncogenic splicing program active in glioblastomas demonstrating that MAPP paves the way for characterizing pre-mRNA processing regulators under physiological and pathological conditions.

  • Barquin, Miguel; Kouzel, Ian U.; Ehrmann, Beat; Basler, Michael; Gruber, Andreas J. (2024): scTEA-db : a comprehensive database of novel terminal exon isoforms identified from human single cell transcriptomes Nucleic Acids Research. Oxford University Press (OUP). 2024, 52(D1), pp. D1018-D1023. ISSN 0305-1048. eISSN 1362-4962. Available under: doi: 10.1093/nar/gkad878

    scTEA-db : a comprehensive database of novel terminal exon isoforms identified from human single cell transcriptomes

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    The usage of alternative terminal exons results in messenger RNA (mRNA) isoforms that differ in their 3′ untranslated regions (3′ UTRs) and often also in their protein-coding sequences. Alternative 3′ UTRs contain different sets of cis-regulatory elements known to regulate mRNA stability, translation and localization, all of which are vital to cell identity and function. In previous work, we revealed that ∼25 percent of the experimentally observed RNA 3′ ends are located within regions currently annotated as intronic, indicating that many 3′ end isoforms remain to be uncovered. Also, the inclusion of not yet annotated terminal exons is more tissue specific compared to the already annotated ones. Here, we present the single cell-based Terminal Exon Annotation database (scTEA-db, www.scTEA-db.org) that provides the community with 12 063 so far not yet annotated terminal exons and associated transcript isoforms identified by analysing 53 069 publicly available single cell transcriptomes. Our scTEA-db web portal offers an array of features to find and explore novel terminal exons belonging to 5538 human genes, 110 of which are known cancer drivers. In summary, scTEA-db provides the foundation for studying the biological role of large numbers of so far not annotated terminal exon isoforms in cell identity and function.

  • Lal, Avantika; Galvao Ferrarini, Mariana; Gruber, Andreas J. (2022): Investigating the Human Host—ssRNA Virus Interaction Landscape Using the SMEAGOL Toolbox Viruses. MDPI. 2022, 14(7), 1436. eISSN 1999-4915. Available under: doi: 10.3390/v14071436

    Investigating the Human Host—ssRNA Virus Interaction Landscape Using the SMEAGOL Toolbox

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    Viruses have evolved numerous mechanisms to exploit the molecular machinery of their host cells, including the broad spectrum of host RNA-binding proteins (RBPs). However, the RBP interactomes of most viruses are largely unknown. To shed light on the interaction landscape of RNA viruses with human host cell RBPs, we have analysed 197 single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viral genome sequences and found that the majority of ssRNA virus genomes are significantly enriched or depleted in motifs for specific human RBPs, suggesting selection pressure on these interactions. To facilitate tailored investigations and the analysis of genomes sequenced in future, we have released our methodology as a fast and user-friendly computational toolbox named SMEAGOL. Our resources will contribute to future studies of specific ssRNA virus—host cell interactions and support the identification of antiviral drug targets.

  • Hufsky, Franziska; Beslic, Denis; Boeckaerts, Dimitri; Duchene, Sebastian; González-Tortuero, Enrique; Gruber, Andreas J.; Guo, Jiarong; Jansen, Daan; Juma, John; Marz, Manja (2022): The International Virus Bioinformatics Meeting 2022 Viruses. MDPI. 2022, 14(5), 973. eISSN 1999-4915. Available under: doi: 10.3390/v14050973

    The International Virus Bioinformatics Meeting 2022

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    The International Virus Bioinformatics Meeting 2022 took place online, on 23-25 March 2022, and has attracted about 380 participants from all over the world. The goal of the meeting was to provide a meaningful and interactive scientific environment to promote discussion and collaboration and to inspire and suggest new research directions and questions. The participants created a highly interactive scientific environment even without physical face-to-face interactions. This meeting is a focal point to gain an insight into the state-of-the-art of the virus bioinformatics research landscape and to interact with researchers in the forefront as well as aspiring young scientists. The meeting featured eight invited and 18 contributed talks in eight sessions on three days, as well as 52 posters, which were presented during three virtual poster sessions. The main topics were: SARS-CoV-2, viral emergence and surveillance, virus-host interactions, viral sequence analysis, virus identification and annotation, phages, and viral diversity. This report summarizes the main research findings and highlights presented at the meeting.

  • Palles, Claire; West, Hannah D.; Chew, Edward; Galavotti, Sara; Flensburg, Christoffer; Grolleman, Judith E.; Jansen, Erik A.M.; Gruber, Andreas J.; Tomlinson, Ian P.M.; Sampson, Julian R. (2022): Germline MBD4 deficiency causes a multi-tumor predisposition syndrome The American Journal of Human Genetics. Elsevier. 2022, 109(5), pp. 953-960. ISSN 0002-9297. eISSN 1537-6605. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2022.03.018

    Germline MBD4 deficiency causes a multi-tumor predisposition syndrome

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    We report an autosomal recessive, multi-organ tumor predisposition syndrome, caused by bi-allelic loss-of-function germline variants in the base excision repair (BER) gene MBD4. We identified five individuals with bi-allelic MBD4 variants within four families and these individuals had a personal and/or family history of adenomatous colorectal polyposis, acute myeloid leukemia, and uveal melanoma. MBD4 encodes a glycosylase involved in repair of G:T mismatches resulting from deamination of 5′-methylcytosine. The colorectal adenomas from MBD4-deficient individuals showed a mutator phenotype attributable to mutational signature SBS1, consistent with the function of MBD4. MBD4-deficient polyps harbored somatic mutations in similar driver genes to sporadic colorectal tumors, although AMER1 mutations were more common and KRAS mutations less frequent. Our findings expand the role of BER deficiencies in tumor predisposition. Inclusion of MBD4 in genetic testing for polyposis and multi-tumor phenotypes is warranted to improve disease management.

  • Islam, S.M. Ashiqul; Díaz-Gay, Marcos; Wu, Yang; Barnes, Mark; Vangara, Raviteja; Bergstrom, Erik N.; He, Yudou; Vella, Mike; Gruber, Andreas J.; Alexandrov, Ludmil B. (2022): Uncovering novel mutational signatures by de novo extraction with SigProfilerExtractor Cell Genomics. Elsevier. 2022, 2(11), 100179. eISSN 2666-979X. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.xgen.2022.100179

    Uncovering novel mutational signatures by de novo extraction with SigProfilerExtractor

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    Mutational signature analysis is commonly performed in cancer genomic studies. Here, we present SigProfilerExtractor, an automated tool for de novo extraction of mutational signatures, and benchmark it against another 13 bioinformatics tools by using 34 scenarios encompassing 2,500 simulated signatures found in 60,000 synthetic genomes and 20,000 synthetic exomes. For simulations with 5% noise, reflecting high-quality datasets, SigProfilerExtractor outperforms other approaches by elucidating between 20% and 50% more true-positive signatures while yielding 5-fold less false-positive signatures. Applying SigProfilerExtractor to 4,643 whole-genome- and 19,184 whole-exome-sequenced cancers reveals four novel signatures. Two of the signatures are confirmed in independent cohorts, and one of these signatures is associated with tobacco smoking. In summary, this report provides a reference tool for analysis of mutational signatures, a comprehensive benchmarking of bioinformatics tools for extracting signatures, and several novel mutational signatures, including one putatively attributed to direct tobacco smoking mutagenesis in bladder tissues.

  • Ansari-Pour, Naser; Zheng, Yonglan; Yoshimatsu, Toshio F.; Sanni, Ayodele; Ajani, Mustapha; Reynier, Jean-Baptiste; Tapinos, Avraam; Gruber, Andreas J.; Wedge, David C.; Olopade, Olufunmilayo I. (2021): Whole-genome analysis of Nigerian patients with breast cancer reveals ethnic-driven somatic evolution and distinct genomic subtypes Nature Communications. Springer. 2021, 12(1), 6946. eISSN 2041-1723. Available under: doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27079-w

    Whole-genome analysis of Nigerian patients with breast cancer reveals ethnic-driven somatic evolution and distinct genomic subtypes

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    Black women across the African diaspora experience more aggressive breast cancer with higher mortality rates than white women of European ancestry. Although inter-ethnic germline variation is known, differential somatic evolution has not been investigated in detail. Analysis of deep whole genomes of 97 breast cancers, with RNA-seq in a subset, from women in Nigeria in comparison with The Cancer Genome Atlas (n = 76) reveal a higher rate of genomic instability and increased intra-tumoral heterogeneity as well as a unique genomic subtype defined by early clonal GATA3 mutations with a 10.5-year younger age at diagnosis. We also find non-coding mutations in bona fide drivers ( ZNF217 and SYPL1 ) and a previously unreported INDEL signature strongly associated with African ancestry proportion, underscoring the need to expand inclusion of diverse populations in biomedical research. Finally, we demonstrate that characterizing tumors for homologous recombination deficiency has significant clinical relevance in stratifying patients for potentially life-saving therapies.

  • Ferrarini, Mariana G.; Lal, Avantika; Rebollo, Rita; Gruber, Andreas J.; Guarracino, Andrea; Gonzalez, Itziar Martinez; Floyd, Taylor; de Oliveira, Daniel Siqueira; Shanklin, Justin; Aguiar-Pulido, Vanessa (2021): Genome-wide bioinformatic analyses predict key host and viral factors in SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis Communications Biology. Springer Nature. 2021, 4(1), 590. eISSN 2399-3642. Available under: doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02095-0

    Genome-wide bioinformatic analyses predict key host and viral factors in SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis

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    The novel betacoronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) caused a worldwide pandemic (COVID-19) after emerging in Wuhan, China. Here we analyzed public host and viral RNA sequencing data to better understand how SARS-CoV-2 interacts with human respiratory cells. We identified genes, isoforms and transposable element families that are specifically altered in SARS-CoV-2-infected respiratory cells. Well-known immunoregulatory genes including CSF2, IL32, IL-6 and SERPINA3 were differentially expressed, while immunoregulatory transposable element families were upregulated. We predicted conserved interactions between the SARS-CoV-2 genome and human RNA-binding proteins such as the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4 (eIF4b). We also identified a viral sequence variant with a statistically significant skew associated with age of infection, that may contribute to intracellular host-pathogen interactions. These findings can help identify host mechanisms that can be targeted by prophylactics and/or therapeutics to reduce the severity of COVID-19.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Zavolan, Mihaela (2020): Reply to ‘A different perspective on alternative cleavage and polyadenylation’ Nature Reviews Genetics. Nature Publishing Group. 2020, 21(1), pp. 63-64. ISSN 1471-0056. eISSN 1471-0064. Available under: doi: 10.1038/s41576-019-0199-y

    Reply to ‘A different perspective on alternative cleavage and polyadenylation’

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    dc.title:


    dc.contributor.author: Zavolan, Mihaela

  • Herrmann, Christina J.; Schmidt, Ralf; Kanitz, Alexander; Artimo, Panu; Gruber, Andreas J.; Zavolan, Mihaela (2019): PolyASite 2.0 : a consolidated atlas of polyadenylation sites from 3′ end sequencing Nucleic Acids Research. PubMed Central. 2019, 48(D1), pp. D174-D179. ISSN 0301-5610. eISSN 1362-4962. Available under: doi: 10.1093/nar/gkz918

    PolyASite 2.0 : a consolidated atlas of polyadenylation sites from 3′ end sequencing

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    Generated by 3′ end cleavage and polyadenylation at alternative polyadenylation (poly(A)) sites, alternative terminal exons account for much of the variation between human transcript isoforms. More than a dozen protocols have been developed so far for capturing and sequencing RNA 3′ ends from a variety of cell types and species. In previous studies, we have used these data to uncover novel regulatory signals and cell type-specific isoforms. Here we present an update of the PolyASite (https://polyasite.unibas.ch) resource of poly(A) sites, constructed from publicly available human, mouse and worm 3′ end sequencing datasets by enforcing uniform quality measures, including the flagging of putative internal priming sites. Through integrated processing of all data, we identified and clustered sites that are closely spaced and share polyadenylation signals, as these are likely the result of stochastic variations in processing. For each cluster, we identified the representative - most frequently processed - site and estimated the relative use in the transcriptome across all samples. We have established a modern web portal for efficient finding, exploration and export of data. Database generation is fully automated, greatly facilitating incorporation of new datasets and the updating of underlying genome resources.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Zavolan, Mihaela (2019): Alternative cleavage and polyadenylation in health and disease Nature Reviews Genetics. Nature Publishing Group. 2019, 20(10), pp. 599-614. ISSN 1471-0056. eISSN 1471-0064. Available under: doi: 10.1038/s41576-019-0145-z

    Alternative cleavage and polyadenylation in health and disease

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    Most human genes have multiple sites at which RNA 3' end cleavage and polyadenylation can occur, enabling the expression of distinct transcript isoforms under different conditions. Novel methods to sequence RNA 3' ends have generated comprehensive catalogues of polyadenylation (poly(A)) sites; their analysis using innovative computational methods has revealed how poly(A) site choice is regulated by core RNA 3' end processing factors, such as cleavage factor I and cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor, as well as by other RNA-binding proteins, particularly splicing factors. Here, we review the experimental and computational methods that have enabled the global mapping of mRNA and of long non-coding RNA 3' ends, quantification of the resulting isoforms and the discovery of regulators of alternative cleavage and polyadenylation (APA). We highlight the different types of APA-derived isoforms and their functional differences, and illustrate how APA contributes to human diseases, including cancer and haematological, immunological and neurological diseases.

  • Rzepiela, Andrzej J.; Ghosh, Souvik; Breda, Jeremie; Vina-Vilaseca, Arnau; Syed, Afzal P.; Gruber, Andreas J.; Eschbach, Katja; Beisel, Christian; Nimwegen, Erik; Zavolan, Mihaela (2018): Single‐cell mRNA profiling reveals the hierarchical response of miRNA targets to miRNA induction Molecular Systems Biology. Wiley. 2018, 14(8), e8266. eISSN 1744-4292. Available under: doi: 10.15252/msb.20188266

    Single‐cell mRNA profiling reveals the hierarchical response of miRNA targets to miRNA induction

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    miRNAs are small RNAs that regulate gene expression post‐transcriptionally. By repressing the translation and promoting the degradation of target mRNAs, miRNAs may reduce the cell‐to‐cell variability in protein expression, induce correlations between target expression levels, and provide a layer through which targets can influence each other's expression as “competing RNAs” (ceRNAs). However, experimental evidence for these behaviors is limited. Combining mathematical modeling with RNA sequencing of individual human embryonic kidney cells in which the expression of two distinct miRNAs was induced over a wide range, we have inferred parameters describing the response of hundreds of miRNA targets to miRNA induction. Individual targets have widely different response dynamics, and only a small proportion of predicted targets exhibit high sensitivity to miRNA induction. Our data reveal for the first time the response parameters of the entire network of endogenous miRNA targets to miRNA induction, demonstrating that miRNAs correlate target expression and at the same time increase the variability in expression of individual targets across cells. The approach is generalizable to other miRNAs and post‐transcriptional regulators to improve the understanding of gene expression dynamics in individual cell types.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Schmidt, Ralf; Ghosh, Souvik; Martin, Georges; Gruber, Andreas R.; van Nimwegen, Erik; Zavolan, Mihaela (2018): Discovery of physiological and cancer-related regulators of 3' UTR processing with KAPAC Genome biology. BioMed Central. 2018, 19(1), 44. ISSN 1465-6906. eISSN 1465-6914. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s13059-018-1415-3

    Discovery of physiological and cancer-related regulators of 3' UTR processing with KAPAC

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    3' Untranslated regions (3' UTRs) length is regulated in relation to cellular state. To uncover key regulators of poly(A) site use in specific conditions, we have developed PAQR, a method for quantifying poly(A) site use from RNA sequencing data and KAPAC, an approach that infers activities of oligomeric sequence motifs on poly(A) site choice. Application of PAQR and KAPAC to RNA sequencing data from normal and tumor tissue samples uncovers motifs that can explain changes in cleavage and polyadenylation in specific cancers. In particular, our analysis points to polypyrimidine tract binding protein 1 as a regulator of poly(A) site choice in glioblastoma.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Gypas, Foivos; Riba, Andrea; Schmidt, Ralf; Zavolan, Mihaela (2018): Terminal exon characterization with TECtool reveals an abundance of cell-specific isoforms Nature Methods. Nature Publishing Group. 2018, 15(10), pp. 832-836. ISSN 1548-7091. eISSN 1548-7105. Available under: doi: 10.1038/s41592-018-0114-z

    Terminal exon characterization with TECtool reveals an abundance of cell-specific isoforms

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    Sequencing of RNA 3' ends has uncovered numerous sites that do not correspond to the termination sites of known transcripts. Through their 3' untranslated regions, protein-coding RNAs interact with RNA-binding proteins and microRNAs, which regulate many properties, including RNA stability and subcellular localization. We developed the terminal exon characterization (TEC) tool ( tectool.unibas.ch ), which can be used with RNA-sequencing data from any species for which a genome annotation that includes sites of RNA cleavage and polyadenylation is available. We discovered hundreds of previously unknown isoforms and cell-type-specific terminal exons in human cells. Ribosome profiling data revealed that many of these isoforms were translated. By applying TECtool to single-cell sequencing data, we found that the newly identified isoforms were expressed in subpopulations of cells. Thus, TECtool enables the identification of previously unknown isoforms in well-studied cell systems and in rare cell types.

  • Martin, Georges; Schmidt, Ralf; Gruber, Andreas J.; Ghosh, Souvik; Keller, Walter; Zavolan, Mihaela (2017): 3' End Sequencing Library Preparation with A-seq2 Journal of Visualized Experiments. JoVE. 2017(128), e56129. eISSN 1940-087X. Available under: doi: 10.3791/56129

    3' End Sequencing Library Preparation with A-seq2

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    Studies in the last decade have revealed a complex and dynamic variety of pre-mRNA cleavage and polyadenylation reactions. mRNAs with long 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) are generated in differentiated cells whereas proliferating cells preferentially express transcripts with short 3'UTRs. We describe the A-seq protocol, now at its second version, which was developed to map polyadenylation sites genome-wide and study the regulation of pre-mRNA 3' end processing. Also this current protocol takes advantage of the polyadenylate (poly(A)) tails that are added during the biogenesis of most mammalian mRNAs to enrich for fully processed mRNAs. A DNA adaptor with deoxyuracil at its fourth position allows the precise processing of mRNA 3' end fragments for sequencing. Not including the cell culture and the overnight ligations, the protocol requires about 8 h hands-on time. Along with it, an easy-to-use software package for the analysis of the derived sequencing data is provided. A-seq2 and the associated analysis software provide an efficient and reliable solution to the mapping of pre-mRNA 3' ends in a wide range of conditions, from 106 or fewer cells.

  • Dimitrova, Yoana; Mittal, Nitish; Ghosh, Souvik; Dimitriades, Beatrice; Mathow, Daniel; Grandy, William Aaron; Christofori, Gerhard; Zavolan, Mihaela; Gruber, Andreas J. (2017): TFAP2A is a component of the ZEB1/2 network that regulates TGFB1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition Biology direct. BioMed Central. 2017, 12(1), 8. eISSN 1745-6150. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s13062-017-0180-7

    TFAP2A is a component of the ZEB1/2 network that regulates TGFB1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition

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    Background
    The transition between epithelial and mesenchymal phenotypes (EMT) occurs in a variety of contexts. It is critical for mammalian development and it is also involved in tumor initiation and progression. Master transcription factor (TF) regulators of this process are conserved between mouse and human.

    Methods
    From a computational analysis of a variety of high-throughput sequencing data sets we initially inferred that TFAP2A is connected to the core EMT network in both species. We then analysed publicly available human breast cancer data for TFAP2A expression and also studied the expression (by mRNA sequencing), activity (by monitoring the expression of its predicted targets), and binding (by electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation) of this factor in a mouse mammary gland EMT model system (NMuMG) cell line.

    Results
    We found that upon induction of EMT, the activity of TFAP2A, reflected in the expression level of its predicted targets, is up-regulated in a variety of systems, both murine and human, while TFAP2A’s expression is increased in more “stem-like” cancers. We provide strong evidence for the direct interaction between the TFAP2A TF and the ZEB2 promoter and we demonstrate that this interaction affects ZEB2 expression. Overexpression of TFAP2A from an exogenous construct perturbs EMT, however, in a manner similar to the downregulation of endogenous TFAP2A that takes place during EMT.

    Conclusions
    Our study reveals that TFAP2A is a conserved component of the core network that regulates EMT, acting as a repressor of many genes, including ZEB2.

  • Hölzer, Martin; Krähling, Verena; Amman, Fabian; Barth, Emanuel; Bernhart, Stephan H.; Carmelo, Victor A. O.; Collatz, Maximilian; Doose, Gero; Gruber, Andreas J.; Wehner, Stefanie (2016): Differential transcriptional responses to Ebola and Marburg virus infection in bat and human cells Scientific Reports. Springer Nature. 2016, 6(1), 34589. eISSN 2045-2322. Available under: doi: 10.1038/srep34589

    Differential transcriptional responses to Ebola and Marburg virus infection in bat and human cells

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    The unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in West Africa resulted in over 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths, underlining the need for a better understanding of the biology of this highly pathogenic virus to develop specific counter strategies. Two filoviruses, the Ebola and Marburg viruses, result in a severe and often fatal infection in humans. However, bats are natural hosts and survive filovirus infections without obvious symptoms. The molecular basis of this striking difference in the response to filovirus infections is not well understood. We report a systematic overview of differentially expressed genes, activity motifs and pathways in human and bat cells infected with the Ebola and Marburg viruses, and we demonstrate that the replication of filoviruses is more rapid in human cells than in bat cells. We also found that the most strongly regulated genes upon filovirus infection are chemokine ligands and transcription factors. We observed a strong induction of the JAK/STAT pathway, of several genes encoding inhibitors of MAP kinases (DUSP genes) and of PPP1R15A, which is involved in ER stress-induced cell death. We used comparative transcriptomics to provide a data resource that can be used to identify cellular responses that might allow bats to survive filovirus infections.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Schmidt, Ralf; Gruber, Andreas R.; Martin, Georges; Ghosh, Souvik; Belmadani, Manuel; Keller, Walter; Zavolan, Mihaela (2016): A comprehensive analysis of 3' end sequencing data sets reveals novel polyadenylation signals and the repressive role of heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein C on cleavage and polyadenylation Genome Research. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. 2016, 26(8), pp. 1145-1159. ISSN 1054-9803. eISSN 1549-5469. Available under: doi: 10.1101/gr.202432.115

    A comprehensive analysis of 3' end sequencing data sets reveals novel polyadenylation signals and the repressive role of heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein C on cleavage and polyadenylation

    ×

    Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a general mechanism of transcript diversification in mammals, which has been recently linked to proliferative states and cancer. Different 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) isoforms interact with different RNA-binding proteins (RBPs), which modify the stability, translation, and subcellular localization of the corresponding transcripts. Although the heterogeneity of pre-mRNA 3' end processing has been established with high-throughput approaches, the mechanisms that underlie systematic changes in 3' UTR lengths remain to be characterized. Through a uniform analysis of a large number of 3' end sequencing data sets, we have uncovered 18 signals, six of which are novel, whose positioning with respect to pre-mRNA cleavage sites indicates a role in pre-mRNA 3' end processing in both mouse and human. With 3' end sequencing we have demonstrated that the heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein C (HNRNPC), which binds the poly(U) motif whose frequency also peaks in the vicinity of polyadenylation (poly(A)) sites, has a genome-wide effect on poly(A) site usage. HNRNPC-regulated 3' UTRs are enriched in ELAV-like RBP 1 (ELAVL1) binding sites and include those of the CD47 gene, which participate in the recently discovered mechanism of 3' UTR-dependent protein localization (UDPL). Our study thus establishes an up-to-date, high-confidence catalog of 3' end processing sites and poly(A) signals, and it uncovers an important role of HNRNPC in regulating 3' end processing. It further suggests that U-rich elements mediate interactions with multiple RBPs that regulate different stages in a transcript's life cycle.

  • Kanitz, Alexander; Gypas, Foivos; Gruber, Andreas J.; Gruber, Andreas R.; Martin, Georges; Zavolan, Mihaela (2015): Comparative assessment of methods for the computational inference of transcript isoform abundance from RNA-seq data Genome Biology. BioMed Central. 2015, 16(1), 150. ISSN 1465-6906. eISSN 1465-6914. Available under: doi: 10.1186/s13059-015-0702-5

    Comparative assessment of methods for the computational inference of transcript isoform abundance from RNA-seq data

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    Background
    Understanding the regulation of gene expression, including transcription start site usage, alternative splicing, and polyadenylation, requires accurate quantification of expression levels down to the level of individual transcript isoforms. To comparatively evaluate the accuracy of the many methods that have been proposed for estimating transcript isoform abundance from RNA sequencing data, we have used both synthetic data as well as an independent experimental method for quantifying the abundance of transcript ends at the genome-wide level.

    Results
    We found that many tools have good accuracy and yield better estimates of gene-level expression compared to commonly used count-based approaches, but they vary widely in memory and runtime requirements. Nucleotide composition and intron/exon structure have comparatively little influence on the accuracy of expression estimates, which correlates most strongly with transcript/gene expression levels. To facilitate the reproduction and further extension of our study, we provide datasets, source code, and an online analysis tool on a companion website, where developers can upload expression estimates obtained with their own tool to compare them to those inferred by the methods assessed here.

    Conclusions
    As many methods for quantifying isoform abundance with comparable accuracy are available, a user’s choice will likely be determined by factors such as the memory and runtime requirements, as well as the availability of methods for downstream analyses. Sequencing-based methods to quantify the abundance of specific transcript regions could complement validation schemes based on synthetic data and quantitative PCR in future or ongoing assessments of RNA-seq analysis methods.

  • Ahrné, Erik; Martinez-Segura, Amalia; Syed, Afzal Pasha; Vina-Vilaseca, Arnau; Gruber, Andreas J.; Marguerat, Samuel; Schmidt, Alexander (2015): Exploiting the multiplexing capabilities of tandem mass tags for high-throughput estimation of cellular protein abundances by mass spectrometry Methods. Elsevier. 2015, 85, pp. 100-107. ISSN 1046-2023. eISSN 1095-9130. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2015.04.032

    Exploiting the multiplexing capabilities of tandem mass tags for high-throughput estimation of cellular protein abundances by mass spectrometry

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    The generation of dynamic models of biological processes critically depends on the determination of precise cellular concentrations of biomolecules. Measurements of system-wide absolute protein levels are particularly valuable information in systems biology. Recently, mass spectrometry based proteomics approaches have been developed to estimate protein concentrations on a proteome-wide scale. However, for very complex proteomes, fractionation steps are required, increasing samples number and instrument analysis time. As a result, the number of full proteomes that can be routinely analyzed is limited. Here we combined absolute quantification strategies with the multiplexing capabilities of isobaric tandem mass tags to determine cellular protein abundances in a high throughput and proteome-wide scale even for highly complex biological systems, such as a whole human cell line. We generated two independent data sets to demonstrate the power of the approach regarding sample throughput, dynamic range, quantitative precision and accuracy as well as proteome coverage in comparison to existing mass spectrometry based strategies.

  • Gruber, Andreas R.; Martin, Georges; Müller, Philipp; Schmidt, Alexander; Gruber, Andreas J.; Gumienny, Rafal; Mittal, Nitish; Jayachandran, Rajesh; Pieters, Jean; Zavolan, Mihaela (2014): Global 3′ UTR shortening has a limited effect on protein abundance in proliferating T cells Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group. 2014, 5(1), 5465. eISSN 2041-1723. Available under: doi: 10.1038/ncomms6465

    Global 3′ UTR shortening has a limited effect on protein abundance in proliferating T cells

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    Alternative polyadenylation is a cellular mechanism that generates mRNA isoforms differing in their 3′ untranslated regions (3′ UTRs). Changes in polyadenylation site usage have been described upon induction of proliferation in resting cells, but the underlying mechanism and functional significance of this phenomenon remain largely unknown. To understand the functional consequences of shortened 3′ UTR isoforms in a physiological setting, we used 3′ end sequencing and quantitative mass spectrometry to determine polyadenylation site usage, mRNA and protein levels in murine and human naive and activated T cells. Although 3′ UTR shortening in proliferating cells is conserved between human and mouse, orthologous genes do not exhibit similar expression of alternative 3′ UTR isoforms. We generally find that 3′ UTR shortening is not accompanied by a corresponding change in mRNA and protein levels. This suggests that although 3′ UTR shortening may lead to changes in the RNA-binding protein interactome, it has limited effects on protein output.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Grandy, William A.; Balwierz, Piotr J.; Dimitrova, Yoana A.; Pachkov, Mikhail; Ciaudo, Constance; Nimwegen, Erik van; Zavolan, Mihaela (2014): Embryonic stem cell-specific microRNAs contribute to pluripotency by inhibiting regulators of multiple differentiation pathways Nucleic acids research. PubMed Central. 2014, 42(14), pp. 9313-9326. ISSN 0301-5610. eISSN 1362-4962. Available under: doi: 10.1093/nar/gku544

    Embryonic stem cell-specific microRNAs contribute to pluripotency by inhibiting regulators of multiple differentiation pathways

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    The findings that microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential for early development in many species and that embryonic miRNAs can reprogram somatic cells into induced pluripotent stem cells suggest that these miRNAs act directly on transcriptional and chromatin regulators of pluripotency. To elucidate the transcription regulatory networks immediately downstream of embryonic miRNAs, we extended the motif activity response analysis approach that infers the regulatory impact of both transcription factors (TFs) and miRNAs from genome-wide expression states. Applying this approach to multiple experimental data sets generated from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) that did or did not express miRNAs of the ESC-specific miR-290-295 cluster, we identified multiple TFs that are direct miRNA targets, some of which are known to be active during cell differentiation. Our results provide new insights into the transcription regulatory network downstream of ESC-specific miRNAs, indicating that these miRNAs act on cell cycle and chromatin regulators at several levels and downregulate TFs that are involved in the innate immune response.

  • Balwierz, Piotr J.; Pachkov, Mikhail; Arnold, Phil; Gruber, Andreas J.; Zavolan, Mihaela; van Nimwegen, Erik (2014): ISMARA : automated modeling of genomic signals as a democracy of regulatory motifs Genome research. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. 2014, 24(5), pp. 869-884. ISSN 1054-9803. eISSN 1549-5469. Available under: doi: 10.1101/gr.169508.113

    ISMARA : automated modeling of genomic signals as a democracy of regulatory motifs

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    Accurate reconstruction of the regulatory networks that control gene expression is one of the key current challenges in molecular biology. Although gene expression and chromatin state dynamics are ultimately encoded by constellations of binding sites recognized by regulators such as transcriptions factors (TFs) and microRNAs (miRNAs), our understanding of this regulatory code and its context-dependent read-out remains very limited. Given that there are thousands of potential regulators in mammals, it is not practical to use direct experimentation to identify which of these play a key role for a particular system of interest. We developed a methodology that models gene expression or chromatin modifications in terms of genome-wide predictions of regulatory sites and completely automated it into a web-based tool called ISMARA (Integrated System for Motif Activity Response Analysis). Given only gene expression or chromatin state data across a set of samples as input, ISMARA identifies the key TFs and miRNAs driving expression/chromatin changes and makes detailed predictions regarding their regulatory roles. These include predicted activities of the regulators across the samples, their genome-wide targets, enriched gene categories among the targets, and direct interactions between the regulators. Applying ISMARA to data sets from well-studied systems, we show that it consistently identifies known key regulators ab initio. We also present a number of novel predictions including regulatory interactions in innate immunity, a master regulator of mucociliary differentiation, TFs consistently disregulated in cancer, and TFs that mediate specific chromatin modifications.

  • Dill, Michael T.; Makowska, Zuzanna; Trincucci, Gaia; Gruber, Andreas J.; Vogt, Julia E.; Filipowicz, Magdalena; Calabrese, Diego; Krol, Ilona; Lau, Daryl T.; Terracciano, Luigi (2014): Pegylated IFN-α regulates hepatic gene expression through transient Jak/STAT activation The Journal of clinical investigation. American Society for Clinical Investigation. 2014, 124(4), pp. 1568-1581. ISSN 0021-9738. eISSN 1558-8238. Available under: doi: 10.1172/JCI70408

    Pegylated IFN-α regulates hepatic gene expression through transient Jak/STAT activation

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    The use of pegylated interferon-α (pegIFN-α) has replaced unmodified recombinant IFN-α for the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis. While the superior antiviral efficacy of pegIFN-α is generally attributed to improved pharmacokinetic properties, the pharmacodynamic effects of pegIFN-α in the liver have not been studied. Here, we analyzed pegIFN-α-induced signaling and gene regulation in paired liver biopsies obtained prior to treatment and during the first week following pegIFN-α injection in 18 patients with chronic hepatitis C. Despite sustained high concentrations of pegIFN-α in serum, the Jak/STAT pathway was activated in hepatocytes only on the first day after pegIFN-α administration. Evaluation of liver biopsies revealed that pegIFN-α induces hundreds of genes that can be classified into four clusters based on different temporal expression profiles. In all clusters, gene transcription was mainly driven by IFN-stimulated gene factor 3 (ISGF3). Compared with conventional IFN-α therapy, pegIFN-α induced a broader spectrum of gene expression, including many genes involved in cellular immunity. IFN-induced secondary transcription factors did not result in additional waves of gene expression. Our data indicate that the superior antiviral efficacy of pegIFN-α is not the result of prolonged Jak/STAT pathway activation in hepatocytes, but rather is due to induction of additional genes that are involved in cellular immune responses.

  • Gruber, Andreas J.; Zavolan, Mihaela (2013): Modulation of epigenetic regulators and cell fate decisions by miRNAs Epigenomics. Future Medicine. 2013, 5(6), pp. 671-683. ISSN 1750-1911. eISSN 1750-192X. Available under: doi: 10.2217/epi.13.65

    Modulation of epigenetic regulators and cell fate decisions by miRNAs

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    Mammalian gene expression is controlled at multiple levels by a variety of regulators, including chromatin modifiers, transcription factors and miRNAs. The latter are small, ncRNAs that inhibit the expression of target mRNAs by reducing both their stability and translation rate. In this review, we summarize the recent work towards characterizing miRNA targets that are themselves involved in the regulation of gene expression at the epigenetic level. Epigenetic regulators are strongly enriched among the predicted targets of miRNAs, which may contribute to the documented importance of miRNAs for pluripotency, organism development and somatic cell reprogramming.

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