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.


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.


The mechanisms used by antisense transcripts to regulate their corresponding sense mRNAs are not fully understood. Herein, we have addressed this issue for the vimentin (VIM) gene, a member of the intermediate filament family involved in cell and tissue integrity that is deregulated in different types of cancer. VIM mRNA levels are positively correlated with the expression of a previously uncharacterized head-to-head antisense transcript, both transcripts being silenced in colon primary tumors concomitant with promoter hypermethylation. Furthermore, antisense transcription promotes formation of an R-loop structure that can be disfavored in vitro and in vivo by ribonuclease H1 overexpression, resulting in VIM down-regulation. Antisense knockdown and R-loop destabilization both result in chromatin compaction around the VIM promoter and a reduction in the binding of transcriptional activators of the NF-κB pathway. These results are the first examples to our knowledge of R-loop–mediated enhancement of gene expression involving head-to-head antisense transcription at a cancer-related locus.


Metastasis is responsible for most cancer-related deaths, and, among common tumor types, melanoma is one with great potential to metastasize. Here we study the contribution of epigenetic changes to the dissemination process by analyzing the changes that occur at the DNA methylation level between primary cancer cells and metastases. We found a hypomethylation event that reactivates a cryptic transcript of the Rab GTPase activating protein TBC1D16 (TBC1D16-47 kDa; referred to hereafter as TBC1D16-47KD) to be a characteristic feature of the metastatic cascade. This short isoform of TBC1D16 exacerbates melanoma growth and metastasis both in vitro and in vivo. By combining immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry, we identified RAB5C as a new TBC1D16 target and showed that it regulates EGFR in melanoma cells. We also found that epigenetic reactivation of TBC1D16-47KD is associated with poor clinical outcome in melanoma, while conferring greater sensitivity to BRAF and MEK inhibitors.


Vasculogenesis, the establishment of the vascular plexus and angiogenesis, branching of new vessels from the preexisting vasculature, involves coordinated endothelial differentiation, proliferation and migration. Disturbances in these coordinated processes may accompany diseases such as cancer. We hypothesized that the p53 family member p73, which regulates cell differentiation in several contexts, may be important in vascular development. We demonstrate that p73 deficiency perturbed vascular development in the mouse retina, decreasing vascular branching, density and stability. Furthermore, p73 deficiency could affect non endothelial cells (ECs) resulting in reduced in vivo proangiogenic milieu. Moreover, p73 functional inhibition, as well as p73 deficiency, hindered vessel sprouting, tubulogenesis and the assembly of vascular structures in mouse embryonic stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell cultures. Therefore, p73 is necessary for EC biology and vasculogenesis and, in particular, that DNp73 regulates EC migration and tube formation capacity by regulation of expression of pro-angiogenic factors such as transforming growth factor-β and vascular endothelial growth factors. DNp73 expression is upregulated in the tumor environment, resulting in enhanced angiogenic potential of B16-F10 melanoma cells. Our results demonstrate, by the first time, that differential p73-isoform regulation is necessary for physiological vasculogenesis and angiogenesis and DNp73 overexpression becomes a positive advantage for tumor progression due to its pro-angiogenic capacity.

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