Ageing constitutes a critical impediment to somatic cell reprogramming. We have explored the regulatory mechanisms that constitute age-associated barriers, through derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from individuals with premature or physiological ageing. We demonstrate that NF-κB activation blocks the generation of iPSCs in ageing. We also show that NF-κB repression occurs during cell reprogramming towards a pluripotent state. Conversely, ageing-associated NF-κB hyperactivation impairs the generation of iPSCs by eliciting the reprogramming repressor DOT1L, which reinforces senescence signals and downregulates pluripotency genes. Genetic and pharmacological NF-κB inhibitory strategies significantly increase the reprogramming efficiency of fibroblasts from Néstor–Guillermo progeria syndrome and Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome patients, as well as from normal aged donors. Finally, we demonstrate that DOT1L inhibition in vivo extends lifespan and ameliorates the accelerated ageing phenotype of progeroid mice, supporting the interest of studying age-associated molecular impairments to identify targets of rejuvenation strategies.

 

Despite the fact that microRNAs (miRNAs) modulate the expression of around 60% of protein-coding genes, it is often hard to elucidate their precise role and target genes. Studying miRNA families as opposed to single miRNAs alone increases our chances of observing not only mutant phenotypes but also changes in the expression of target genes. Here we ask whether the TGF-β signalling pathways, which control many animal processes, might be modulated by miRNAs in Caenorhabditis elegans. Using a mutant for four members of the mir-58 family, we show that both TGF-β Sma/Mab (controlling body size) and TGF-β Dauer (regulating dauer, a stress-resistant larval stage) are upregulated. Thus, mir-58 family directly inhibits the expression of dbl-1 (ligand), daf-1, daf-4 and sma-6 (receptors) of TGF-β pathways. Epistasis experiments reveal that whereas the small body phenotype of the mir-58 family mutant must invoke unknown targets independent from TGF-β Sma/Mab, its dauer defectiveness can be rescued by DAF-1 depletion. Additionally, we found a negative feedback loop between TGF-β Sma/Mab and mir-58 and the related mir-80. Our results suggest that the interaction between mir-58 family and TGF-β genes is key on decisions about animal growth and stress resistance in C. elegans and perhaps other organisms.

 

Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID), the most frequent primary immunodeficiency characterized by loss of B-cell function, depends partly on genetic defects, and epigenetic changes are thought to contribute to its aetiology. Here we perform a high-throughput DNA methylation analysis of this disorder using a pair of CVID-discordant MZ twins and show predominant gain of DNA methylation in CVID B cells with respect to those from the healthy sibling in critical B lymphocyte genes, such as PIK3CD, BCL2L1, RPS6KB2, TCF3 and KCNN4. Individual analysis confirms hypermethylation of these genes. Analysis in naive, unswitched and switched memory B cells in a CVID patient cohort shows impaired ability to demethylate and upregulate these genes in transitioning from naive to memory cells in CVID. Our results not only indicate a role for epigenetic alterations in CVID but also identify relevant DNA methylation changes in B cells that could explain the clinical manifestations of CVID individuals.

 

Blocking mitotic progression has been proposed as an attractive therapeutic strategy to impair proliferation of tumour cells. However, how cells survive during prolonged mitotic arrest is not well understood. We show here that survival during mitotic arrest is affected by the special energetic requirements of mitotic cells. Prolonged mitotic arrest results in mitophagy-dependent loss of mitochondria, accompanied by reduced ATP levels and the activation of AMPK. Oxidative respiration is replaced by glycolysis owing to AMPK-dependent phosphorylation of PFKFB3 and increased production of this protein as a consequence of mitotic-specific translational activation of its mRNA. Induction of autophagy or inhibition of AMPK or PFKFB3 results in enhanced cell death in mitosis and improves the anti-tumoral efficiency of microtubule poisons in breast cancer cells. Thus, survival of mitotic-arrested cells is limited by their metabolic requirements, a feature with potential implications in cancer therapies aimed to impair mitosis or metabolism in tumour cells.

 

DNA replication initiates at defined replication origins along eukaryotic chromosomes, ensuring complete genome duplication within a single S-phase. A key feature of replication origins is their ability to control the onset of DNA synthesis mediated by DNA polymerase-α and its intrinsic RNA primase activity. Here, we describe a novel origin-independent replication process that is mediated by transcription. RNA polymerase I transcription constraints lead to persistent RNA:DNA hybrids (R-loops) that prime replication in the ribosomal DNA locus. Our results suggest that eukaryotic genomes have developed tools to prevent R-loop-mediated replication events that potentially contribute to copy number variation, particularly relevant to carcinogenesis.

 

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