Godwin Sokpor

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Godwin Sokpor
Position PhD Student
Tel. +49-(0)551/39-33900
godwin.sokpor@med.uni-goettingen.de

Publications

    • 2019
    • RBM15 Modulates the Function of Chromatin Remodeling Factor BAF155 Through RNA Methylation in Developing Cortex.
      Xie Y*, Hernandez RC*, Sokpor G, Pham L, Narayanan R, Rosenbusch J, Staiger JF, Tuoc T.
      Molecular Neurobiology, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12035-019-1595-1, 2019.
      abstract link

      Chromatin remodeling factor BAF155 is an important regulator of many biological processes. As a core and scaffold subunit of the BAF (SWI/SNF-like) complex, BAF155 is capable of regulating the stability and function of the BAF complex. The spatiotemporal expression of BAF155 during embryogenesis is essential for various aspects of organogenesis, particularly in the brain development. However, our understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the expression and function of BAF155 is limited. Here, we report that RBM15, a subunit of the m6A methyltransferase complex, interacts with BAF155 mRNA and mediates BAF155 mRNA degradation through the mRNA methylation machinery. Ablation of endogenous RBM15 expression in cultured neuronal cells and in the developing cortex augmented the expression of BAF155. Conversely, RBM15 overexpression decreased BAF155 mRNA and protein levels, and perturbed BAF155 functions in vivo, including repression of BAF155-dependent transcriptional activity and delamination of apical radial glial progenitors as a hallmark of basal radial glial progenitor genesis. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the regulation of BAF155 by RBM15 depends on the activity of the mRNA methylation complex core catalytic subunit METTL3. Altogether, our findings reveal a new regulatory avenue that elucidates how BAF complex subunit stoichiometry and functional modulation are achieved in mammalian cells.

    • Structural brain anomalies in patients with FOXG1 syndrome and in Foxg1+/− mice.
      Pringsheim M,, Mitter D, Schröder S, Warthemann R, Plümacher K, Kluger G, Baethmann M, Bast T, Braun S, Büttel HM, Conover E, Courage C, Datta AN, Eger A, Grebe TA, Hasse‐Wittmer A, Heruth M, Höft K, Kaindl AM, Karch S, Kautzky T, Korenke GC, Kruse B, Lutz RE, Omran H, Patzer S, Philippi H, Ramsey K, Rating T, Rieß A, Schimmel M, Westman R, Zech FM, Zirn B, Ulmke PA, Sokpor G, Tuoc T, Leha A, Staudt M, Brockmann K.
      Ann Clin Transl Neurol. https://doi.org/10.1002/acn3.735, 2019.
      abstract link

      Objective
      FOXG1 syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder associated with heterozygous FOXG1 variants or chromosomal microaberrations in 14q12. The study aimed at assessing the scope of structural cerebral anomalies revealed by neuroimaging to delineate the genotype and neuroimaging phenotype associations.

      Methods
      We compiled 34 patients with a heterozygous (likely) pathogenic FOXG1 variant. Qualitative assessment of cerebral anomalies was performed by standardized re‐analysis of all 34 MRI data sets. Statistical analysis of genetic, clinical and neuroimaging data were performed. We quantified clinical and neuroimaging phenotypes using severity scores. Telencephalic phenotypes of adult Foxg1+/− mice were examined using immunohistological stainings followed by quantitative evaluation of structural anomalies.

      Results
      Characteristic neuroimaging features included corpus callosum anomalies (82%), thickening of the fornix (74%), simplified gyral pattern (56%), enlargement of inner CSF spaces (44%), hypoplasia of basal ganglia (38%), and hypoplasia of frontal lobes (29%). We observed a marked, filiform thinning of the rostrum as recurrent highly typical pattern of corpus callosum anomaly in combination with distinct thickening of the fornix as a characteristic feature. Thickening of the fornices was not reported previously in FOXG1 syndrome. Simplified gyral pattern occurred significantly more frequently in patients with early truncating variants. Higher clinical severity scores were significantly associated with higher neuroimaging severity scores. Modeling of Foxg1 heterozygosity in mouse brain recapitulated the associated abnormal cerebral morphology phenotypes, including the striking enlargement of the fornix.

      Interpretation
      Combination of specific corpus callosum anomalies with simplified gyral pattern and hyperplasia of the fornices is highly characteristic for FOXG1 syndrome.

    • 2018
    • Chromatin remodeling BAF155 subunit regulates the genesis of basal progenitors in developing cortex .
      Narayanan R, Pham L, Kerimoglu C, Watanabe T, Hernandez RC, Sokpor G, Ulmke PA, Kiszka KA, Tonchev AB, Rosenbusch J, Seong RH, Teichmann U, Frahm J, Fischer F, Bonn S, Stoykova A, Staiger JF, Tuoc T.
      iScience (Cell Press), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2018.05.014, 2018.
      abstract link

      The abundance of basal progenitors (BPs) - basal radial glia progenitors (bRGs) and basal intermediate progenitors (bIPs), in primate brain has been correlated to the high degree of cortical folding. Here we examined the role of BAF155, a subunit of the chromatin remodeling BAF complex, in generation of cortical progenitor heterogeneity. The conditional deletion of BAF155 led to diminished bIP pool and increased number of bRGs, due to delamination of apical RGs. We found that BAF155 is required for normal activity of neurogenic transcription factor PAX6, thus controlling expression of genes that are involved in bIP specification, cell-cell interaction and establishment of adherens junction. In PAX6-dependent manner, BAF155 regulates the expression of the CDC42 effector protein CEP4, thereby controlling progenitor delamination. Furthermore, BAF155-dependent chromatin remodeling seems to exert a specific role in the genesis of BPs through regulation of human RG-specific genes (such as Foxn4) that possibly acquired evolutionary significance.

    • Epigenetic regulation by BAF (mSWI/SNF) complexes limits neural stem cell proliferation by suppressing Wnt signaling in late embryonic development.
      Nguyen H*, Kerimoglu C*, Pirouz M, Pham L, Kiszka KA, Sokpor G, Sakib MS, Rosenbusch J, Teichmann U, Seong RH, Stoykova A, Fischer A, Staiger JF, Tuoc T .
      Stem Cell Reports, doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.04.014, 2018.
      abstract link

      During early cortical development, neural stem cells (NSCs) divide symmetrically to expand the progenitor pool, whereas in later stages, NSCs divide asymmetrically to self-renew and produce other cell types. The timely switch from such proliferative to differentiative division critically determines progenitor and neuron numbers. However, the mechanisms that limit proliferative division in late cortical development are not fully understood. Here, we show that the BAF (mSWI/SNF) complexes restrict proliferative competence and promote neuronal differentiation in late corticogenesis. Inactivation of BAF complexes leads to H3K27me3-linked silencing of neuronal differentiation-related genes, with concurrent H3K4me2-mediated activation of proliferation-associated genes via de-repression of Wnt signaling. Notably, the deletion of BAF complexes increased proliferation of neuroepithelial cell-like NSCs, impaired neuronal differentiation and exerted a Wnt-dependent effect on neocortical and hippocampal development. Thus, these results demonstrate that BAF complexes act as both activators and repressors to control global epigenetic and gene expression programs in late corticogenesis.

    • ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling during cortical neurogenesis.
      Sokpor G*, Hernandez RC*, Rosenbusch J, Staiger JF, Tuoc T.
      Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00226 , 2018.
      abstract link

      The generation of individual neurons (neurogenesis) during cortical development occurs in discrete steps that are subtly regulated and orchestrated to ensure normal histogenesis and function of the cortex. Notably, various gene expression programs are known to critically drive many facets of neurogenesis with a high level of specificity during brain development. Typically, precise regulation of gene expression patterns ensures that key events like proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitors, specification of neuronal subtypes, as well as migration and maturation of neurons in the developing cortex occur properly. ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes regulate gene expression through utilization of energy from ATP hydrolysis to reorganize chromatin structure. These chromatin remodeling complexes are characteristically multimeric, with some capable of adopting functionally distinct conformations via subunit reconstitution to perform specific roles in major aspects of cortical neurogenesis. In this review, we highlight the functions of such chromatin remodelers during cortical development. We also bring together various proposed mechanisms by which ATP-dependent chromatin remodelers function individually or in concert, to specifically modulate vital steps in cortical neurogenesis.

    • Transcriptional and epigenetic control of mammalian olfactory epithelium development.
      Sokpor G*, Abbas E*, Rosenbusch J, Staiger JF, Tuoc T..
      Molecular Neurobiology (https://doi.org/10.1007/s12035-018-0987-y), 2018.
      abstract link

      The postnatal mammalian olfactory epithelium (OE) represents a major aspect of the peripheral olfactory system. It is a pseudostratified tissue that originates from the olfactory placode and is composed of diverse cells, some of which are specialized receptor neurons capable of transducing odorant stimuli to afford the perception of smell (olfaction). The OE is known to offer a tractable miniature model for studying the systematic generation of neurons and glia that typify neural tissue development. During OE development, stem/progenitor cells that will become olfactory sensory neurons and/or non-neuronal cell types, display fine spatiotemporal expression of neuronal and non-neuronal genes that ensures their proper proliferation, differentiation, survival, and regeneration. Many factors, including transcription and epigenetic factors have been identified as key regulators of the expression of such requisite genes to permit normal OE morphogenesis. Typically, specific interactive regulatory networks established between transcription and epigenetic factors/cofactors orchestrate histogenesis in the embryonic and adult OE. Hence, investigation of these regulatory networks critical for OE development promises to disclose strategies that may be employed in manipulating the stepwise transition of olfactory precursor cells to become fully differentiated and functional neuronal and non-neuronal cell types. Such strategies potentially offer formidable means of replacing injured or degenerated neural cells as therapeutics for nervous system perturbations. This review recapitulates the developmental cellular diversity of the olfactory neuroepithelium and discusses findings on how the precise and cooperative molecular control by transcriptional and epigenetic machinery is indispensable for OE ontogeny.

    • 2017
    • Chromatin Remodeling BAF (SWI/SNF) Complexes in Neural Development and Disorders.
      Sokpor G*, Xie Y*, Rosenbusch J, Tuoc T.
      Front. Mol. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2017.00243 , 2017.
      abstract link

      The ATP-dependent BRG1/BRM associated factor (BAF) chromatin remodeling complexes are crucial in regulating gene expression by controlling chromatin dynamics. Over the last decade, it has become increasingly clear that during neural development in mammals, distinct ontogenetic stage-specific BAF complexes derived from combinatorial assembly of their subunits are formed in neural progenitors and post-mitotic neural cells. Proper functioning of the BAF complexes plays critical roles in neural development, including the establishment and maintenance of neural fates and functionality. Indeed, recent human exome sequencing and genome-wide association studies have revealed that mutations in BAF complex subunits are linked to neurodevelopmental disorders such as Coffin-Siris syndrome, Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome, Kleefstra’s syndrome spectrum, Hirschsprung’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and schizophrenia. In this review, we focus on the latest insights into the functions of BAF complexes during neural development and the plausible mechanistic basis of how mutations in known BAF subunits are associated with certain neurodevelopmental disorders.

    • 2016
    • mSWI/SNF (BAF) complexes are indispensable for the neurogenesis and development of embryonic olfactory epithelium.
      Bachmann C*, Nguyen H*, Rosenbusch J*, Pham L, Rabe T, Patwa M, Sokpor G, Seong RH, Ashery-Padan R, Mansouri A, Stoykova A, Staiger JF, Tuoc T..
      Plos Genetics, 2016. 12(9), *equally contributed authors
      abstract link

      Neurogenesis is a key developmental event through which neurons are generated from neural stem/progenitor cells. Chromatin remodeling BAF (mSWI/SNF) complexes have been reported to play essential roles in the neurogenesis of the central nervous system. However, whether BAF complexes are required for neuron generation in the olfactory system is unknown. Here, we identified onscBAF and ornBAF complexes, which are specifically present in olfactory neural stem cells (oNSCs) and olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), respectively. We demonstrated that BAF155 subunit is highly expressed in both oNSCs and ORNs, whereas high expression of BAF170 subunit is observed only in ORNs. We report that conditional deletion of BAF155, a core subunit in both onscBAF and ornBAF complexes, causes impaired proliferation of oNSCs as well as defective maturation and axonogenesis of ORNs in the developing olfactory epithelium (OE), while the high expression of BAF170 is important for maturation of ORNs. Interestingly, in the absence of BAF complexes in BAF155/BAF170 double-conditional knockout mice (dcKO), OE is not specified. Mechanistically, BAF complex is required for normal activation of Pax6-dependent transcriptional activity in stem cells/progenitors of the OE. Our findings unveil a novel mechanism mediated by the mSWI/SNF complex in OE neurogenesis and development.

    • Epigenetic regulation by BAF (mSWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complexes is indispensable for embryonic development.
      Nguyen H*, Sokpor G*, Pham L, Rosenbusch J, Stoykova A, Staiger JF, Tuoc T.
      Cell Cycle, 2016. 2016, 18;15(10):1317-24, equally contributed authors
      abstract link

      The multi-subunit chromatin-remodeling SWI/SNF (known as BAF for Brg/Brm-associated factor) complexes play essential roles in development. Studies have shown that the loss of individual BAF subunits often affects local chromatin structure and specific transcriptional programs. However, we do not fully understand how BAF complexes function in development because no animal mutant had been engineered to lack entire multi-subunit BAF complexes. Importantly, we recently reported that double conditional knock-out (dcKO) of the BAF155 and BAF170 core subunits in mice abolished the presence of the other BAF subunits in the developing cortex. The generated dcKO mutant provides a novel and powerful tool for investigating how entire BAF complexes affect cortical development. Using this model, we found that BAF complexes globally control the key heterochromatin marks, H3K27me2 and -3, by directly modulating the enzymatic activity of the H3K27 demethylases, Utx and Jmjd3. Here, we present further insights into how the scaffolding ability of the BAF155 and BAF170 core subunits maintains the stability of BAF complexes in the forebrain and throughout the embryo during development. Furthermore, we show that the loss of BAF complexes in the above-described model up-regulates H3K27me3 and impairs forebrain development and embryogenesis. These findings improve our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms and their modulation by the chromatin-remodeling SWI/SNF complexes that control embryonic development.