Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University
I study how the 3D organization of DNA in the nucleus drives developmental processes and disease
The 3D organization of DNA in the nucleus dictates different cell states. For example, that of a Stem Cell, and an Immune Cell, are vastly different. Aberrations in this 3D spatial organization can cause disease, such as in T cell lymphoma and leukemia. Current technologies to study the 3D nucleus in single cells are restricted by scale (sequencing) and size (microscopy).
To this end, we have developed a new technology, Multiplexed Ion Beam Imaging (MIBI), which allows simultaneous detection of 50 parameters (versus a limit of ~3-4 currently) with spatial and super resolution. This places MIBI as a valuable addition to current technologies, with extremely high data acquisition rate, surface area scaling, parameterization, and applications to clinical specimens for the prognosis and treatment of disease.
Abstract: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a tool for visualizing protein expression that is employed as part of the diagnostic workup for the majority of solid tissue malignancies. Existing IHC methods use antibodies tagged with fluorophores or enzyme reporters that generate colored pigments. Because these reporters exhibit spectral and spatial overlap when used simultaneously, multiplexed IHC is not routinely used in clinical settings. We have developed a method that uses secondary ion mass spectrometry to image antibodies tagged with isotopically pure elemental metal reporters. Multiplexed ion beam imaging (MIBI) is capable of analyzing up to 100 targets simultaneously over a five-log dynamic range. Here, we used MIBI to analyze formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded human breast tumor tissue sections stained with ten labels simultaneously. The resulting data suggest that MIBI can provide new insights into disease pathogenesis that will be valuable for basic research, drug discovery and clinical diagnostics.
Pub.: 04 Mar '14, Pinned: 29 Jun '17
Abstract: Oncogenes are activated through well-known chromosomal alterations such as gene fusion, translocation, and focal amplification. In light of recent evidence that the control of key genes depends on chromosome structures called insulated neighborhoods, we investigated whether proto-oncogenes occur within these structures and whether oncogene activation can occur via disruption of insulated neighborhood boundaries in cancer cells. We mapped insulated neighborhoods in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and found that tumor cell genomes contain recurrent microdeletions that eliminate the boundary sites of insulated neighborhoods containing prominent T-ALL proto-oncogenes. Perturbation of such boundaries in nonmalignant cells was sufficient to activate proto-oncogenes. Mutations affecting chromosome neighborhood boundaries were found in many types of cancer. Thus, oncogene activation can occur via genetic alterations that disrupt insulated neighborhoods in malignant cells.
Pub.: 05 Mar '16, Pinned: 29 Jun '17
Abstract: Phase-separated multi-molecular assemblies provide a general regulatory mechanism to compartmentalize biochemical reactions within cells. We propose that a phase separation model explains established and recently described features of transcriptional control. These features include the formation of super-enhancers, the sensitivity of super-enhancers to perturbation, the transcriptional bursting patterns of enhancers, and the ability of an enhancer to produce simultaneous activation at multiple genes. This model provides a conceptual framework to further explore principles of gene control in mammals.
Pub.: 25 Mar '17, Pinned: 29 Jun '17
Abstract: Super-enhancers are clusters of gene-regulatory sites bound by multiple transcription factors that govern cell transcription, development, phenotype, and oncogenesis. By examining Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs), we identified four EBV oncoproteins and five EBV-activated NF-κB subunits co-occupying ∼1,800 enhancer sites. Of these, 187 had markedly higher and broader histone H3K27ac signals, characteristic of super-enhancers, and were designated "EBV super-enhancers." EBV super-enhancer-associated genes included the MYC and BCL2 oncogenes, which enable LCL proliferation and survival. EBV super-enhancers were enriched for B cell transcription factor motifs and had high co-occupancy of STAT5 and NFAT transcription factors (TFs). EBV super-enhancer-associated genes were more highly expressed than other LCL genes. Disrupting EBV super-enhancers by the bromodomain inhibitor JQ1 or conditionally inactivating an EBV oncoprotein or NF-κB decreased MYC or BCL2 expression and arrested LCL growth. These findings provide insight into mechanisms of EBV-induced lymphoproliferation and identify potential therapeutic interventions.
Pub.: 03 Feb '15, Pinned: 29 Jun '17
Abstract: The organization of the genome in the nucleus and the interactions of genes with their regulatory elements are key features of transcriptional control and their disruption can cause disease. Here we report a genome-wide method, genome architecture mapping (GAM), for measuring chromatin contacts and other features of three-dimensional chromatin topology on the basis of sequencing DNA from a large collection of thin nuclear sections. We apply GAM to mouse embryonic stem cells and identify enrichment for specific interactions between active genes and enhancers across very large genomic distances using a mathematical model termed SLICE (statistical inference of co-segregation). GAM also reveals an abundance of three-way contacts across the genome, especially between regions that are highly transcribed or contain super-enhancers, providing a level of insight into genome architecture that, owing to the technical limitations of current technologies, has previously remained unattainable. Furthermore, GAM highlights a role for gene-expression-specific contacts in organizing the genome in mammalian nuclei.
Pub.: 09 Mar '17, Pinned: 29 Jun '17