Transposable Elements and DNA Methylation Create in Embryonic Stem Cells Human-Specific Regulatory Sequences Associated with Distal Enhancers and Noncoding RNAs

Gennadi V Glinsky
Genome Biology and Evolution 2015 May 7, 7 (6): 1432-54
Despite significant progress in the structural and functional characterization of the human genome, understanding of the mechanisms underlying the genetic basis of human phenotypic uniqueness remains limited. Here, I report that transposable element-derived sequences, most notably LTR7/HERV-H, LTR5_Hs, and L1HS, harbor 99.8% of the candidate human-specific regulatory loci (HSRL) with putative transcription factor-binding sites in the genome of human embryonic stem cells (hESC). A total of 4,094 candidate HSRL display selective and site-specific binding of critical regulators (NANOG [Nanog homeobox], POU5F1 [POU class 5 homeobox 1], CCCTC-binding factor [CTCF], Lamin B1), and are preferentially located within the matrix of transcriptionally active DNA segments that are hypermethylated in hESC. hESC-specific NANOG-binding sites are enriched near the protein-coding genes regulating brain size, pluripotency long noncoding RNAs, hESC enhancers, and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine-harboring regions immediately adjacent to binding sites. Sequences of only 4.3% of hESC-specific NANOG-binding sites are present in Neanderthals' genome, suggesting that a majority of these regulatory elements emerged in Modern Humans. Comparisons of estimated creation rates of novel TF-binding sites revealed that there was 49.7-fold acceleration of creation rates of NANOG-binding sites in genomes of Chimpanzees compared with the mouse genomes and further 5.7-fold acceleration in genomes of Modern Humans compared with the Chimpanzees genomes. Preliminary estimates suggest that emergence of one novel NANOG-binding site detectable in hESC required 466 years of evolution. Pathway analysis of coding genes that have hESC-specific NANOG-binding sites within gene bodies or near gene boundaries revealed their association with physiological development and functions of nervous and cardiovascular systems, embryonic development, behavior, as well as development of a diverse spectrum of pathological conditions such as cancer, diseases of cardiovascular and reproductive systems, metabolic diseases, multiple neurological and psychological disorders. A proximity placement model is proposed explaining how a 33-47% excess of NANOG, CTCF, and POU5F1 proteins immobilized on a DNA scaffold may play a functional role at distal regulatory elements.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"