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Yueyuan Yin, Fei Yan, Ruimin Zhou, Mingchen Li, Jinyi Ma, ,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 5; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101115

Abstract:
Single-domain antibody (sdAb) holds the promising strategies for diverse research and translational applications. Here, we describe a method for the adaptation of the in situ proximity ligation assay (isPLA) followed by sequencing (isPLA-seq) to facilitate screening of a high-sensitive, high-throughput sdAb library for a given protein at subcellular and single-cell resolution. Based on the sequence of complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3), the recombinant sdAb can be produced for in vitro and in vivo utilities. This method provides a general means to identify the functional measure of sdAb and its complementary epitopes and its potential applications to investigate cellular processes.
Shuhao Lin, Daiki Hirayama, Gembu Maryu, Kimiya Matsuda, Naoya Hino, Eriko Deguchi, , Ryo Iwamoto, ,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 5; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101206

Abstract:
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a pivotal role in collective cell migration by mediating cell-to-cell propagation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation. Here, we aimed to determine which EGFR ligands mediate the ERK activation waves. We found that epidermal growth factor (EGF)–deficient cells exhibited lower basal ERK activity than the cells deficient in heparin-binding EGF (HBEGF), transforming growth factor alpha (TGFα) or epiregulin (EREG), but all cell lines deficient in a single EGFR ligand retained the ERK activation waves. Surprisingly, ERK activation waves were markedly suppressed, albeit incompletely, only when all four EGFR ligands were knocked out. Re-expression of the EGFR ligands revealed that all but HBEGF could restore the ERK activation waves. Aiming at complete elimination of the ERK activation waves, we further attempted to knockout NRG1, a ligand for ErbB3 and ErbB4, and found that NRG1-deficiency induced growth arrest in the absence of all four EGFR ligand genes. Collectively, these results showed that EGFR ligands exhibit remarkable redundancy in the propagation of ERK activation waves during collective cell migration.
Xiaokang Wang, Wojciech Rosikiewicz, Yurii Sedkov, Tanner Martinez, Baranda S Hansen, Patrick Schreiner, Jesper Christensen, Beisi Xu, Shondra M Pruett-Miller, , et al.
Life Science Alliance, Volume 5; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101228

Abstract:
DNA methylation at enhancers and CpG islands usually leads to gene repression, which is counteracted by DNA demethylation through the TET protein family. However, how TET enzymes are recruited and regulated at these genomic loci is not fully understood. Here, we identify TET2, the glycosyltransferase OGT and a previously undescribed proline and serine rich protein, PROSER1 as interactors of UTX, a component of the enhancer-associated MLL3/4 complexes. We find that PROSER1 mediates the interaction between OGT and TET2, thus promoting TET2 O-GlcNAcylation and protein stability. In addition, PROSER1, UTX, TET1/2, and OGT colocalize on many genomic elements genome-wide. Loss of PROSER1 results in lower enrichment of UTX, TET1/2, and OGT at enhancers and CpG islands, with a concomitant increase in DNA methylation and transcriptional down-regulation of associated target genes and increased DNA hypermethylation encroachment at H3K4me1-predisposed CpG islands. Furthermore, we provide evidence that PROSER1 acts as a more general regulator of OGT activity by controlling O-GlcNAcylation of multiple other chromatin signaling pathways. Taken together, this study describes for the first time a regulator of TET2 O-GlcNAcylation and its implications in mediating DNA demethylation at UTX-dependent enhancers and CpG islands and supports an important role for PROSER1 in regulating the function of various chromatin-associated proteins via OGT-mediated O-GlcNAcylation.
Nedyalka Valkov, Avash Das, , Guoping Li, Ane M Salvador, Mark D Chaffin, , Ivan Kur, , Olivia Ziegler, et al.
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101048

Abstract:
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) mediate intercellular signaling by transferring their cargo to recipient cells, but the functional consequences of signaling are not fully appreciated. RBC-derived EVs are abundant in circulation and have been implicated in regulating immune responses. Here, we use a transgenic mouse model for fluorescence-based mapping of RBC-EV recipient cells to assess the role of this intercellular signaling mechanism in heart disease. Using fluorescent-based mapping, we detected an increase in RBC-EV–targeted cardiomyocytes in a murine model of ischemic heart failure. Single cell nuclear RNA sequencing of the heart revealed a complex landscape of cardiac cells targeted by RBC-EVs, with enrichment of genes implicated in cell proliferation and stress signaling pathways compared with non-targeted cells. Correspondingly, cardiomyocytes targeted by RBC-EVs more frequently express cellular markers of DNA synthesis, suggesting the functional significance of EV-mediated signaling. In conclusion, our mouse model for mapping of EV-recipient cells reveals a complex cellular network of RBC-EV–mediated intercellular communication in ischemic heart failure and suggests a functional role for this mode of intercellular signaling.
Fu-Kai Hsieh, Fei Ji, Manashree Damle, Ruslan I Sadreyev,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 5; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101127

Abstract:
Chd7 encodes an ATP-dependent chromatin remodeler which has been shown to target specific genomic loci and alter local transcription potentially by remodeling chromatin structure. De novo mutations in CHD7 are the major cause of CHARGE syndrome which features multiple developmental defects. We examined whether nuclear RNAs might contribute to its targeting and function and identified a preferential interaction between CHD7 and lncRNAs derived from HERVH loci in pluripotent stem cells. Knockdown of HERVH family lncRNAs using LNAs or knockout of an individual copy of HERVH by CRISPR-Cas9 both resulted in increased binding of CHD7 and increased levels of H3K27ac at a subset of enhancers. Depletion of HERVH family RNAs led to the activation of multiple genes. CHD7 bound HERVH RNA with high affinity but low specificity and this interaction decreased the ability of CHD7 to bind and remodel nucleosomes. We present a model in which HERVH lncRNAs act as a decoy to modulate the dynamics of CHD7 binding to enhancers in pluripotent cells and the activation of numerous genes that might impact the differentiation process.
Oswaldo A Lozoya, Fuhua Xu, Dagoberto Grenet, Tianyuan Wang, , Jesse D Cushman, Thomas B Hagler, Artiom Gruzdev, Patricia Jensen, Bairon Hernandez, et al.
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101122

Abstract:
PGC1α is a transcriptional coactivator in peripheral tissues, but its function in the brain remains poorly understood. Various brain-specific Pgc1α isoforms have been reported in mice and humans, including two fusion transcripts (FTs) with non-coding repetitive sequences, but their function is unknown. The FTs initiate at a simple sequence repeat locus ∼570 Kb upstream from the reference promoter; one also includes a portion of a short interspersed nuclear element (SINE). Using publicly available genomics data, here we show that the SINE FT is the predominant form of Pgc1α in neurons. Furthermore, mutation of the SINE in mice leads to altered behavioural phenotypes and significant up-regulation of genes in the female, but not male, cerebellum. Surprisingly, these genes are largely involved in neurotransmission, having poor association with the classical mitochondrial or antioxidant programs. These data expand our knowledge on the role of Pgc1α in neuronal physiology and suggest that different isoforms may have distinct functions. They also highlight the need for further studies before modulating levels of Pgc1α in the brain for therapeutic purposes.
, Olimpia E Curran, Javier A Alfaro, Fiona Lickiss, Erisa Nita, Jacek Kowalski, Faris Naji, Rudolf Nenutil, , Radovan Krejcir, et al.
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101054

Abstract:
Better understanding of GBM signalling networks in-vivo would help develop more physiologically relevant ex vivo models to support therapeutic discovery. A “functional proteomics” screen was undertaken to measure the specific activity of a set of protein kinases in a two-step cell-free biochemical assay to define dominant kinase activities to identify potentially novel drug targets that may have been overlooked in studies interrogating GBM-derived cell lines. A dominant kinase activity derived from the tumour tissue, but not patient-derived GBM stem-like cell lines, was Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK). We demonstrate that BTK is expressed in more than one cell type within GBM tissue; SOX2-positive cells, CD163-positive cells, CD68-positive cells, and an unidentified cell population which is SOX2-negative CD163-negative and/or CD68-negative. The data provide a strategy to better mimic GBM tissue ex vivo by reconstituting more physiologically heterogeneous cell co-culture models including BTK-positive/negative cancer and immune cells. These data also have implications for the design and/or interpretation of emerging clinical trials using BTK inhibitors because BTK expression within GBM tissue was linked to longer patient survival.
Jacqueline V Graniel, Kamlesh Bisht, , James White, Eric Perkey, Ashley Vanderbeck, Alina Moroz, , Joshua D Brandstadter, Frederick Allen, et al.
Life Science Alliance, Volume 5; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101208

Abstract:
Telomerase extends chromosome ends in somatic and germline stem cells to ensure continued proliferation. Mutations in genes critical for telomerase function result in telomeropathies such as dyskeratosis congenita, frequently resulting in spontaneous bone marrow failure. A dyskeratosis congenita mutation in TPP1 (K170∆) that specifically compromises telomerase recruitment to telomeres is a valuable tool to evaluate telomerase-dependent telomere length maintenance in mice. We used CRISPR-Cas9 to generate a mouse knocked in for the equivalent of the TPP1 K170∆ mutation (TPP1 K82∆) and investigated both its hematopoietic and germline compartments in unprecedented detail. TPP1 K82∆ caused progressive telomere erosion with increasing generation number but did not induce steady-state hematopoietic defects. Strikingly, K82∆ caused mouse infertility, consistent with gross morphological defects in the testis and sperm, the appearance of dysfunctional seminiferous tubules, and a decrease in germ cells. Intriguingly, both TPP1 K82∆ mice and previously characterized telomerase knockout mice show no spontaneous bone marrow failure but rather succumb to infertility at steady-state. We speculate that telomere length maintenance contributes differently to the evolutionary fitness of humans and mice.
Yuta Endo, Yuko Shimizu, Hanako Nishikawa, Katsuhiro Sawasato,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 5; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101162

Abstract:
Integral membrane proteins with the N-out topology are inserted into membranes usually in YidC- and PMF-dependent manners. The molecular basis of the various dependencies on insertion factors is not fully understood. A model protein, Pf3-Lep, is inserted independently of both YidC and PMF, whereas the V15D mutant requires both YidC and PMF in vivo. We analyzed the mechanisms that determine the insertion factor dependency in vitro. Glycolipid MPIase was required for insertion of both proteins because MPIase depletion caused a significant defect in insertion. On the other hand, YidC depletion and PMF dissipation had no effects on Pf3-Lep insertion, whereas V15D insertion was reduced. We reconstituted (proteo)liposomes containing MPIase, YidC, and/or F0F1-ATPase. MPIase was essential for insertion of both proteins. YidC and PMF stimulated Pf3-Lep insertion as the synthesis level increased. V15D insertion was stimulated by both YidC and PMF irrespective of the synthesis level. These results indicate that charges in the N-terminal region and the synthesis level are the determinants of YidC and PMF dependencies with the interplay between MPIase, YidC, and PMF.
Nnejiuwa U Ibe, Advait Subramanian,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101247

Abstract:
The intracellular bacterial pathogen Legionella pneumophila (L.p.) secretes ∼330 effector proteins into the host cell to sculpt an ER-derived replicative niche. We previously reported five L.p. effectors that inhibit IRE1, a key sensor of the homeostatic unfolded protein response (UPR) pathway. In this study, we discovered a subset of L.p. toxins that selectively activate the UPR sensor ATF6, resulting in its cleavage, nuclear translocation, and target gene transcription. In a deviation from the conventional model, this L.p.–dependent activation of ATF6 does not require its transport to the Golgi or its cleavage by the S1P/S2P proteases. We believe that our findings highlight the unique regulatory control that L.p. exerts upon the three UPR sensors and expand the repertoire of bacterial proteins that selectively perturb host homeostatic pathways.
Terufumi Fujiwara, Margarida Brotas,
Published: 10 October 2021
Abstract:
Flexible mapping between activity in sensory systems and movement parameters is a hallmark of successful motor control. This flexibility depends on continuous comparison of short-term postural dynamics and the longer-term goals of an animal, thereby necessitating neural mechanisms that can operate across multiple timescales. To understand how such body-brain interactions emerge to control movement across timescales, we performed whole-cell patch recordings from visual neurons involved in course control in Drosophila. We demonstrate that the activity of leg mechanosensory cells, propagating via specific ascending neurons, is critical to provide a clock signal to the visual circuit for stride-by-stride steering adjustments and, at longer timescales, information on speed-associated motor context to flexibly recruit visual circuits for course control. Thus, our data reveal a stride-based mechanism for the control of high-performance walking operating at multiple timescales. We propose that this mechanism functions as a general basis for adaptive control of locomotion.
Published: 9 October 2021
Abstract:
Intracellular proteins can undergo phase separation to form liquid-like biomolecular condensates with a multitude of functional roles. Liquid condensates can, however, further age and progressively rigidify. In addition to single-phase systems, multiphase condensates are increasingly identified commonly within multi-component systems, where the different molecular components present sufficient physicochemical diversity to sustain separate phases. Here, we develop a multiscale modelling approach that predicts conditions under which multiphase architectures can arise also within single-component protein condensates. Such single-component condensates are initially homogeneous but become heterogeneous over time due to the gradual enhancement of interprotein interactions. We find that such enhancement could originate, for instance, from intermolecular disorder-to-order transitions within low-complexity aromatic-rich kinked segments in the prion-like domain of FUS. Our model reveals that as increasing numbers of molecules undergo a disorder-to-order transition over time, single-component protein condensates convert into either gel-core/liquid-shell or liquid-core/gel-shell multiphase structures, depending on the relative surface tension of the liquid and gel phases. Despite being formed by proteins that are chemically-identical, the different liquid and gel phases present diverse surface tensions due to their fundamentally different molecular organization. Our study highlights the regulatory role of prion-like domains in tuning condensate behavior and, more generally, suggests a new route by which multilayered compartments or hierarchically organized condensate structures can emerge.
, Priscille Barreaux, Matthew B. Thomas, ,
Published: 9 October 2021
Abstract:
Mathematical models of vector-borne infections, including malaria, often assume age-independent mortality rates of vectors, despite evidence that many insects senesce. In this study we present survival data on insecticide-resistant Anopheles gambiae s.l. from field experiments in Côte d’Ivoire. We fit a constant mortality function and two age-dependent functions (logistic and Gompertz) to the data from mosquitoes exposed (treated) and not exposed (control) to insecticidetreated nets (ITNs), to establish biologically realistic survival functions. This enables us to explore the effects of insecticide exposure on mosquito mortality rates, and the extent to which insecticide resistance might impact the effectiveness of ITNs. We investigate this by calculating the expected number of infectious bites a mosquito will take in its lifetime, and by extension the vectorial capacity. Our results show that the predicted vectorial capacity is substantially lower in mosquitoes exposed to ITNs, despite the mosquitoes in the experiment being highly insecticide-resistant. The more realistic age-dependent functions provide a better fit to the experimental data compared to a constant mortality function and, hence, influence the predicted impact of ITNs on malaria transmission potential. In models with age-independent mortality, there is a reduction of 56.52% (±14.66) for the vectorial capacity under exposure compared to no exposure. However, the two age-dependent functions predicted a larger reduction due to exposure: for the logistic function the reduction is 74.38% (±9.93) and for the Gompertz 74.35% (±7.11), highlighting the impact of incorporating age in the mortality rates. These results further show that multiple exposures to ITNs had a considerable effect on the vectorial capacity. Overall, the study highlights the importance of including age dependency in mathematical models of vector-borne disease transmission and in fully understanding the impact of interventions. Author summary Interventions against malaria are most commonly targeted on the adult mosquitoes, which transmit the infection from person to person. One of the most important interventions are bed-nets, treated with insecticides. Unfortunately, extensive exposure of mosquitoes to insecticide has led to widespread evolution of insecticide resistance, which might threaten control strategies. Piecing together the overall impact of resistance on the efficacy of insecticide-treated nets is complex, but can be informed by the use of mathematical models. However, there are some assumptions that the models frequently use which are not realistic in terms of the mosquito biology. In this paper, we formulate a model that includes age-dependent mortality rates, an important parameter in vector control since control strategies most commonly aim to reduce the lifespan of the mosquitoes. By using novel data collected using field-derived insecticide-resistant mosquitoes, we explore the effects that the presence of insecticides on nets have on the mortality rates, as well as the difference incorporating age dependency in the model has on the results. We find that including age-dependent mortality greatly alters the anticipated effects of insecticide-treated nets on mosquito transmission potential, and that ignoring this realism potentially overestimates the negative impact of insecticide resistance.
Elena Kutsarova, Anne Schohl, Martin Munz, Alex Wang, Yuan Yuan Zhang, Olesia M Bilash,
Published: 9 October 2021
Abstract:
Summary During development, patterned neural activity in input neurons innervating their target, instructs topographic map refinement. Axons from adjacent neurons, firing with similar patterns of neural activity, converge onto target neurons and stabilize their synapses with these postsynaptic partners (Hebbian plasticity). On the other hand, non-correlated firing of inputs promotes synaptic weakening and exploratory axonal growth (Stentian plasticity). We used visual stimulation to control the visually-evoked correlation structure of neural activity in ectopic ipsilaterally projecting (ipsi) retinal ganglion cell axons with respect to their neighboring contralateral eye inputs in the optic tectum of albino Xenopus laevis tadpoles. Multiphoton imaging of the ipsi axons in the live tadpole, combined with manipulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling, revealed that presynaptic p75NTR and TrkB both promoted axonal branch addition during Stentian plasticity, whereas predominantly postsynaptic BDNF signaling mediated activity-dependent Hebbian suppression of axon branch addition. Additionally, we found that BDNF signaling is required for local suppression of branch loss induced by correlated firing.
, Angus McDonald, Hu Cang, Joseph Lucas, Muthuvel Arigovindan, Zvi Kam, Cornelis Murre,
Published: 9 October 2021
Abstract:
Cellular cryo-electron tomography (CET) of the cell nucleus using Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) and the use of deconvolution (DC) processing technology has highlighted a large-scale, 100–300 nm interphase chromosome structure (LSS), that is present throughout the nucleus. This chromosome structure appears to coil the nucleosome 11-nm fiber into a defined hollow structure, analogous to a Slinky (S) (1, motif used in 2) helical spring. This S architecture can be used to build chromosome territories, extended to polytene chromosome structure, as well as to the structure of Lampbrush chromosomes. Significance Statement Cryo-preservation of the nuclear interior allows a large scale interphase chromosome structure—present throughout the nucleus—to be seen for the first time. This structure can be proposed to be a defined coiled entity, a Slinky. This structure can be further used to explain polytene chromosome structure, an unknown chromosome architecture as well as for lampbrush chromosomes. In addition, this new structure can be further organized as chromosome territories, using all 46 human interphase chromosomes as an example, easily into a 10 micron diameter nucleus. Thus, interphase chromosomes can be unified into a flexible defined structure.
Yogita Jethmalani, Khoa Tran, Maraki Y Negesse, Winny Sun, Mark Ramos, Deepika Jaiswal, Meagan Jezek, Shandon Amos, Eric Joshua Garcia, , et al.
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101126

Abstract:
The yeast chromatin protein Set4 is a member of the Set3-subfamily of SET domain proteins which play critical roles in the regulation of gene expression in diverse developmental and environmental contexts. We previously reported that Set4 promotes survival during oxidative stress and regulates expression of stress response genes via stress-dependent chromatin localization. In this study, global gene expression analysis and investigation of histone modification status identified a role for Set4 in maintaining gene repressive mechanisms within yeast subtelomeres under both normal and stress conditions. We show that Set4 works in a partially overlapping pathway to the SIR complex and the histone deacetylase Rpd3 to maintain proper levels of histone acetylation and expression of stress response genes encoded in subtelomeres. This role for Set4 is particularly critical for cells under hypoxic conditions, where the loss of Set4 decreases cell fitness and cell wall integrity. These findings uncover a new regulator of subtelomeric chromatin that is key to stress defense pathways and demonstrate a function for Set4 in regulating repressive, heterochromatin-like environments.
Published: 7 October 2021
Abstract:
Montreal is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada with highest number of deaths. The cumulative numbers of cases and deaths in the 33 areas of Montreal are modelled through bivariate hierarchical Bayesian models using Poisson distributions. The Poisson means are decomposed in the log scale as the sums of fixed effects and latent effects. The areal median age, the educational level, and the number of beds in long-term care homes are included in the fixed effects. To explore the correlation between cases and deaths inside and across areas, three bivariate models are considered for the latent effects, namely an independent one, a conditional autoregressive model, and one that allows for both spatially structured and unstructured sources of variability. As the inclusion of spatial effects change some of the fixed effects, we extend the Spatial+ approach to a Bayesian areal set up to investigate the presence of spatial confounding.
Published: 6 October 2021
Abstract:
Multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus is one of the major causes of severe infections. Due to the delays of conventional antibiotic susceptibility test (AST), most cases were prescribed by experience with a lower recovery rate. Linking a 7-year study of over 20,000 Staphylococcus aureus infected patients, we incorporated mass spectrometry and machine learning technology to predict the susceptibilities of patients for 4 different antibiotics that can enable early antibiotic decisions. The predictive models were externally validated in an independent patient cohort, resulting in an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.94, 0.90, 0.86, 0.91 and an area under the precision-recall curve of 0.93, 0.87, 0.87, 0.81 for oxacillin (OXA), clindamycin (CLI), erythromycin (ERY) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (SXT), respectively. Moreover, our pipeline provides AST 24–36 h faster than standard workflows, reduction of inappropriate antibiotic usage with preclinical prediction, and demonstrates the potential of combining mass spectrometry with machine learning (ML) to assist early and accurate prescription. Therapies to individual patients could be tailored in the process of precision medicine.
Biao Zhou, Runhong Zhou, Jasper Fuk-Woo Chan, Jianwei Zeng, Qi Zhang, Shuofeng Yuan, Li Liu, Rémy Robinot, Sisi Shan, Jiwan Ge, et al.
Published: 6 October 2021
Abstract:
Robust severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in nasal turbinate (NT) accounts for high viral transmissibility, yet whether neutralizing IgA antibodies can control it remains unknown. Here, we evaluated receptor binding domain (RBD)-specific monomeric B8-mIgA1 and B8-mIgA2, and dimeric B8-dIgA1 and B8-dIgA2 against intranasal SARS-CoV-2 challenge in Syrian hamsters. These antibodies exhibited comparably potent neutralization against authentic virus by competing with human angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor for RBD binding. While reducing viruses in lungs, pre-exposure intranasal B8-dIgA1 or B8-dIgA2 led to 81-fold more infectious viruses and severer damage in NT than placebo. Virus-bound B8-dIgA1 and B8-dIgA2 could engage CD209 as an alternative receptor for entry into ACE2-negative cells and allowed viral cell-to-cell transmission. Cryo-EM revealed B8 as a class II neutralizing antibody binding trimeric RBDs in 3-up or 2-up/1-down conformation. Therefore, RBD-specific neutralizing dIgA engages an unexpected action for enhanced SARS-CoV-2 nasal infection and injury in Syrian hamsters.
Jingyi Tang, ,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101144

Abstract:
DNA damage is a double-edged sword for cancer cells. On the one hand, DNA damage–induced genomic instability contributes to cancer development; on the other hand, accumulating damage compromises proliferation and survival of cancer cells. Understanding the key regulators of DNA damage repair machinery would benefit the development of cancer therapies that induce DNA damage and apoptosis. In this study, we found that isoprenylcysteine carboxylmethyltransferase (ICMT), a posttranslational modification enzyme, plays an important role in DNA damage repair. We found that ICMT suppression consistently reduces the activity of MAPK signaling, which compromises the expression of key proteins in the DNA damage repair machinery. The ensuing accumulation of DNA damage leads to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in multiple breast cancer cells. Interestingly, these observations are more pronounced in cells grown under anchorage-independent conditions or grown in vivo. Consistent with the negative impact on DNA repair, ICMT inhibition transforms the cancer cells into a “BRCA-like” state, hence sensitizing cancer cells to the treatment of PARP inhibitor and other DNA damage–inducing agents.
Rachel Pass, , , Lawrence S. Wilkinson, ,
Published: 5 October 2021
Abstract:
Mutations affecting DLG2 are emerging as a genetic risk factor associated with neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and bipolar disorder. Discs large homolog 2 (DLG2) is a member of the membrane-associated guanylate kinase protein superfamily of scaffold proteins, a component of the post-synaptic density in excitatory neurons and regulator of synaptic function and plasticity. It remains an important question whether and how haploinsuffiency of DLG2 contributes to impairments in basic behavioural and cognitive functions that may underlie symptomatic domains in patients that cross diagnostic boundaries. Using a heterozygous Dlg2 mouse model we examined the impact of reduced Dlg2 expression on functions commonly impaired in neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders including motor co-ordination and learning, pre-pulse inhibition and habituation to novel stimuli. The heterozygous Dlg2 mice exhibited behavioural impairments in long-term motor learning and long-term habituation to a novel context, but not motor co-ordination, initial responses to a novel context, PPI of acoustic startle or anxiety. We additionally showed evidence for the reduced regulation of the synaptic plasticity-associated protein cFos in the motor cortex during motor learning. The sensitivity of selective behavioural and cognitive functions, particularly those dependent on synaptic plasticity, to reduced expression of DLG2 give further credence for DLG2 playing a critical role in specific brain functions but also a mechanistic understanding of symptom expression shared across psychiatric disorders.
RuiPan Guo, Yun Hu, Yuki Aoi, Hayao Hira, Chennan Ge, Xinhua Dai, ,
Published: 5 October 2021
Abstract:
Gretchen Hagen 3 (GH3) amido synthetases conjugate amino acids to a carboxyl group of small molecules including hormones auxin, jasmonate, and salicylic acid. The Arabidopsis genome harbors 19 GH3 genes, whose exact roles in plant development have been difficult to define because of genetic redundancy among the GH3 genes. Here we use CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to delete the Arabidopsis group II GH3 genes, which are able to conjugate indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) to amino acids. We show that plants lacking the eight group II GH3 genes (gh3 octuple mutants) accumulate free IAA and fail to produce IAA-Asp and IAA-Glu conjugates. Consequently, gh3 octuple mutants have extremely short roots, long and dense root hairs, and long hypocotyls and petioles. Our characterization of gh3 septuple mutants, which provide sensitized backgrounds, reveals that GH3.17 and GH3.9 play prominent roles in root elongation and seed production, respectively. We show that GH3 functions correlate with their expression patterns, suggesting that local deactivation of auxin also contributes to maintaining auxin homeostasis and is important for plant development. Moreover, this work provides a method for elucidating functions of individual members of a gene family, whose members have overlapping functions.
Matúš Vojtek,
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101190

Abstract:
Retroelement silencing factor 1 (RESF1) interacts with the key regulators of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) OCT4 and NANOG, and its absence results in sterility of mice. However, the function of RESF1 in ESCs and germline specification is poorly understood. In this study, we used Resf1 knockout cell lines to determine the requirements of RESF1 for ESC self-renewal and for in vitro specification of ESCs into primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLCs). We found that deletion of Resf1 in ESCs cultured in serum and LIF reduces self-renewal potential, whereas episomal expression of RESF1 has a modest positive effect on ESC self-renewal. In addition, RESF1 is not required for the capacity of NANOG and its downstream target ESRRB to drive self-renewal in the absence of LIF. However, Resf1 deletion reduces the efficiency of PGCLC differentiation in vitro. These results identify Resf1 as a novel player in the regulation of pluripotent stem cells and germ cell specification.
Jiawen Bu, Yixiao Zhang, Nan Niu, Kewei Bi, Lisha Sun, Xinbo Qiao, Yimin Wang, Yinan Zhang, Xiaofan Jiang, Dan Wang, et al.
Published: 4 October 2021
Abstract:
Background The therapeutic benefit of the standard combination of anti-HER2 and chemotherapy in triple-positive breast cancer (TPBC) is limited even after the addition of endocrine therapy to the regimen. Therefore, treatment optimization is required urgently. Methods Through the drug sensitivity test, the drug combination efficacy of anti-HER2 drug, endocrine drug and CDK4/6 inhibitor to BT474 cells were tested. The underlying molecular mechanisms were investigated using immunofluorescence, western blot analysis, immunohistochemical staining and cell cycle analysis. Potential biomarker which may indicate the responsiveness to drug treatment in triple positive breast cancer was selected out using RNA-sequence and tested using immunohistochemical staining. Results We found that pyrotinib combined with dalpiciclib showed better efficacy than pyrotinib combined with tamoxifen in BT474 cells. Degradation of HER2 could enhance ER nuclear transportation, whereas cell cycle blockers could reverse this process. This may be the underlying mechanism by which the addition of dalpiciclib was more beneficial than the addition of pyrotinib plus tamoxifen. Furthermore, CALML5 was revealed to be a potential indicator of responsiveness to anti-HER2 therapy plus CDK4/6 inhibition in triple positive breast cancer. Conclusion Our study provided evidence for the introduction of CDK4/6 inhibitor in the treatment of TPBC and indicated that the combination of anti-HER2 therapy and cell cycle blockers may be a better strategy for TPBC treatment. Funding This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (#U20A20381, #81872159)
Yapei Xie, Zhilei Xu, Mingrui Xia, Jin Liu, Xiaojing Shou, Zaixu Cui, ,
Published: 4 October 2021
Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Neuroimaging studies have reported functional connectome aberrancies in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the time-varying patterns of connectome topology in ASD individuals and the connection between these patterns and gene expression profiles remain unknown. METHODS: To investigate case-control differences in dynamic connectome topology, we conducted mega- and meta-analyses of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data of 939 participants (440 ASD patients and 499 healthy controls, all males) from 18 independent sites, selected from the ABIDE (Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange) dataset. Functional data was preprocessed and analyzed using harmonized protocols, and brain module dynamics was assessed using a multilayer network model. We further leveraged postmortem brain-wide gene expression data to identify transcriptomic signatures associated with ASD-related alterations in brain dynamics. RESULTS: Compared to healthy controls, ASD individuals exhibited a higher global mean and lower standard deviation of whole-brain module dynamics, indicating an unstable and less regionally differentiated pattern. More specifically, ASD individuals showed higher module switching, primarily in the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate gyrus, and angular gyrus, and lower switching in the visual regions. These alterations in brain dynamics were predictive of social impairments in ASD individuals and were linked with expression profiles of genes primarily involved in the regulation of neurotransmitter transport and secretion, as well as with previously identified autism-related genes. CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to identify consistent alterations in brain network dynamics in ASD and the transcriptomic signatures related to those alterations, furthering insights into the biological basis behind this disorder.
Richard Evans, Michael O’Neill, Alexander Pritzel, Natasha Antropova, , Tim Green, Augustin Žídek, Russ Bates, , Jason Yim, et al.
Published: 4 October 2021
Abstract:
While the vast majority of well-structured single protein chains can now be predicted to high accuracy due to the recent AlphaFold [1] model, the prediction of multi-chain protein complexes remains a challenge in many cases. In this work, we demonstrate that an AlphaFold model trained specifically for multimeric inputs of known stoichiometry, which we call AlphaFold-Multimer, significantly increases accuracy of predicted multimeric interfaces over input-adapted single-chain AlphaFold while maintaining high intra-chain accuracy. On a benchmark dataset of 17 heterodimer proteins without templates (introduced in [2]) we achieve at least medium accuracy (DockQ [3] ≥ 0.49) on 14 targets and high accuracy (DockQ ≥ 0.8) on 6 targets, compared to 9 targets of at least medium accuracy and 4 of high accuracy for the previous state of the art system (an AlphaFold-based system from [2]). We also predict structures for a large dataset of 4,433 recent protein complexes, from which we score all non-redundant interfaces with low template identity. For heteromeric interfaces we successfully predict the interface (DockQ ≥ 0.23) in 67% of cases, and produce high accuracy predictions (DockQ ≥ 0.8) in 23% of cases, an improvement of +25 and +11 percentage points over the flexible linker modification of AlphaFold [4] respectively. For homomeric interfaces we successfully predict the interface in 69% of cases, and produce high accuracy predictions in 34% of cases, an improvement of +5 percentage points in both instances.
, Guillermo Serrano Nájera, Manli Chuai, Vamsi Spandan, Cornelis J. Weijer,
Published: 3 October 2021
Abstract:
Gastrulation is a critical event in vertebrate morphogenesis driven by cellular processes, and characterized by coordinated multi-cellular movements that form the robust morphological structures. How these structures emerge in a developing organism and vary across vertebrates remains unclear. Inspired by experiments on the chick, we derive a theoretical framework that couples actomyosin activity to tissue flow, and provides a basis for the dynamics of gastrulation morphologies. Our model predicts the onset and development of observed experimental patterns of wild-type and perturbations of chick gastrulation as a spontaneous instability of a uniform state. Varying the initial conditions and a parameter in our model, allows us to recapitulate the phase space of gastrulation morphologies seen across vertebrates, consistent with experimental observations in the accompanying paper. All together, this suggests that early embryonic self-organization follows from a minimal predictive theory of active mechano-sensitive flows.
Manli Chuai, Guillermo Serrano Nájera, , ,
Published: 3 October 2021
Abstract:
The morphology of gastrulation driving the internalisation of the mesoderm and endoderm differs dramatically among vertebrate species. It ranges from involution of epithelial sheets of cells through a circular blastopore in amphibians to ingression of mesenchymal cells through a primitive streak in amniotes. By targeting signalling pathways controlling critical cell behaviours in the chick embryo, we generated crescent- and ring-shaped mesendoderm territories in which cells can or cannot ingress. These alterations subvert the formation of the chick primitive streak into the gastrulation modes seen in amphibians, reptiles and teleost fish. Our experimental manipulations are supported by a theoretical framework linking cellular behaviors to self-organized multi-cellular flows in the accompanying paper. All together, this suggests that the evolution of gastrulation movements are largely determined by the shape of and cell behaviours in the mesendoderm territory across different species, and controlled by a relatively small number of signalling pathways.
Yasmin Natalia Serina Secanechia, , Matt Rogon, , Nicolas Descostes, Stephanie Le, Natalia Lopez Anguita, Kerstin Ganter, Chrysi Kapsali, Lea Bouilleau, et al.
Published: 3 October 2021
Abstract:
Recent progress in the generation of bona-fide Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells (HSPCs) in vitro and ex vivo has been built on the knowledge of developmental hematopoiesis, underscoring the importance of understanding in detail this developmental process. Here, we sought to elucidate the function of the hematopoietic regulators Tal1, Lmo2 and Lyl1 in the Endothelial to Hematopoietic Transition (EHT), the process through which HSPCs are generated from endothelial precursors during embryogenesis. We used a mouse embryonic-stem cell (mESC)-based differentiation system to model hematopoietic development, and combined gain-of-function experiments in sorted vascular smooth muscle cells (VSM) with multi-omics to obtain mechanistic insights into the mode of action of Tal1, Lmo2 and Lyl1. We found that these factors promote the silencing of the VSM transcriptional program and the activation of the hematopoietic one. Through this approach and the use of a Tet-on system to control the expression of Tal1 during hematopoietic specification from mESCs, we discovered that its expression in endothelial cells is crucial for the EHT to occur.
, Irene Vraka, Olga Siskou, Olympia Konstantakopoulou, Aglaia Katsiroumpa, Ioannis Moisoglou, Daphne Kaitelidou
Published: 3 October 2021
Abstract:
Background Accurate measurement of individuals’ attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination and pandemic is critical to understand the way that people respond during a major crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Objective To develop and validate a questionnaire to assess attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination and pandemic. Methods We performed a reliability and validity study in a sample of the general population in Greece. Data were collected online through social media between 15 August and 7 September 2021. Thus, a convenience sample was obtained. Reliability and validity of the questionnaire were assessed with a Delphi study, an exploratory factor analysis, and a test-retest study. Also, we calculated Cronbach’s coefficient alpha for the factors that emerged from the exploratory factor analysis. Results The final study included 1959 adults from the general population in Greece. Our four-factor model explained 73% of the variance and confirmed out initial hypothesis regarding the factors of the questionnaire. In particular, we found the following four factors: (a) fear against the COVID-19 (five items), (b) information regarding the COVID-19 (two items), (c) compliance with hygiene measures (two items), and (d) trust in COVID-19 vaccination (seven items). Cronbach’s coefficients alpha for the four factors that emerged from the exploratory factor analysis were greater than 0.82. Pearson’s correlation coefficients for the 16 items and the four factors were greater than 0.67 (p-value<0.001 in all cases). Conclusions We developed a reliable and valid questionnaire to measure attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccination and pandemic. Further studies should be conducted to expand our knowledge and infer more valid results.
Published: 3 October 2021
Abstract:
Previously, we have shown that apoplastic wash fluid purified from Arabidopsis leaves contains small RNAs (sRNAs). To investigate whether these sRNAs are encapsulated inside extracellular vesicles (EVs), we treated EVs isolated from Arabidopsis leaves with the protease trypsin and RNase A, which should degrade RNAs located outside EVs but not those located inside. These analyses revealed that apoplastic RNAs are mostly located outside EVs and are associated with proteins. Further analyses of these extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) revealed that they comprise both sRNAs and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), including circular RNAs (circRNAs). We also found that exRNAs are highly enriched in the post-transcriptional modification N6-methyladenine (m6A). Consistent with this, we identified a putative m6A-binding protein in apoplastic wash fluid, GLYCINE-RICH RNA-BINDING PROTEIN 7 (GRP7), as well as the small RNA-binding protein ARGONAUTE2 (AGO2). These two proteins co-immunoprecipitated with each other, and with lncRNAs, including circRNAs. Mutation of GRP7 or AGO2 caused changes in both the sRNA and lncRNA content of apoplastic wash fluid, suggesting that these proteins contribute to the secretion and/or stabilization of exRNAs. We propose that these extravesicular RNAs mediate host-induced gene silencing, rather than RNA inside EVs. One-sentence summary The apoplast of Arabidopsis leaves contains diverse small and long-noncoding RNAs, including circular RNAs, that are bound to protein complexes and are located outside extracellular vesicles.
Published: 1 October 2021
Abstract:
Bone and bone marrow are vital to mammalian structure, movement, and immunity. These tissues are also commonly subjected to pathological alterations giving rise to debilitating diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, osteomyelitis, and cancer. Technologies such as matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) enable the discovery of spatially resolved chemical information in biological tissue samples to help elucidate the complex molecular processes underlying pathology. Traditionally, preparation of native osseous tissue for MALDI IMS has been difficult due to the mineralized composition and heterogenous morphology of the tissue, and compensation for these challenges with decalcification and fixation protocols can remove or delocalize molecular species. Here, sample preparation methods were advanced to enable multimodal MALDI IMS of undecalcified, fresh-frozen murine femurs allowing the distribution of endogenous lipids to be linked to specific tissue structures and cell types. Adhesive-bound bone sections were mounted onto ITO coated glass slides with a microscopy-compatible glue and freeze-dried to minimize artificial bone marrow damage. Subliming matrix does not induce further bone marrow cracks, and recrystallizing the deposited matrix improves lipid signal. High spatial resolution (10 μm) MALDI IMS was leveraged to characterize lipid distributions in fresh-frozen bone, and complementary microscopy modalities aided tissue and cell assignments. For example, various phosphatidylcholines localize to bone marrow, adipose tissue, marrow adipose tissue, and muscle. Furthermore, we discovered that [sphingomyelin(42:1) + H]+ was abundant in megakaryocytes, whereas [sphingomyelin(42:2) + H]+ was diminished in this cell type. These data reflect the vast molecular and cellular heterogeneity indicative of the bone marrow and the soft tissue surrounding the femur. Therefore, this application of multimodal MALDI IMS has the potential to advance bone-related biomedical research by offering deep molecular coverage in a preserved native bone microenvironment.
, Xian Zhang, J. Adam Noah, Swethasri Dravida, Adam Naples, Mark Tiede, Julie M. Wolf,
Published: 1 October 2021
Abstract:
Reluctant eye contact and reduced social interactions characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are consistent with deficits in oculomotor and face processing systems. We test the hypothesis that these deficits are interrelated ASD. Eye-tracking and hyperscanning with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) were used to acquire neuroimaging data during live, dynamic eye-to-eye contacts in 17 ASD and 19 typically-developed (TD) adults. Real eye contact conditions were contrasted with conditions where eye gaze was directed at a comparable dynamic face video. These findings were regressed with eye-contact dwell-time, i.e., times when gaze of both partners was in the eye-box of the other, to confirm the relationship between visual sensing and neural coding. Visual fixations and positional variance were also determined. Average gaze dwell-times in the “eye-box” did not vary between ASD and TD participants but were longer for the Real Eye than Video Eye condition for both groups. However, positional gaze variability, “jitter”, was higher for ASD in both conditions. Neural findings for TD [Real Eye > Video Eye] were consistent with previous findings for interactive face-gaze with activity in right temporal and dorsal parietal regions. However, in ASD ventral temporal regions were observed for this contrast without evidence for dorsal parietal activity. This neural difference was enhanced when regressed by eye-contact dwell-times. Together findings are consistent with the hypothesis that unstable bottom-up oculomotor signals contribute to deficits in live face processing and reduced dorsal stream activity in ASD. Significance Eye contact avoidance is a diagnostic feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. Using a two-person neural imaging system and a face-to-face paradigm with eye tracking, we found that the neural systems activated by live eye contact differed between typically developed (TD) and ASD groups. In ASD, the ventral occipital parietal systems were engaged, whereas in TD, the dorsal posterior parietal systems were engaged. Positional variation of eye gaze, “jitter”, was higher in ASD than TD. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that bottom-up variations in visual sensing are components of altered interactive face processing and dorsal stream mechanisms and may contribute to the neural underpinnings of reluctant eye contact behaviors in ASD.
Tara-Kay L. Jones, Julio S. Bernal,
Published: 1 October 2021
Abstract:
Dalbulus maidis [(DeLong & Wolcott), corn leafhopper], a phloem-feeding insect, is the most efficient vector of maize stunting pathogens (Spiroplasma kunkelii, Maize bushy stunt phytoplasma, and Maize rayado fino virus) in the Americas. Studies involving gene editing in insects are rapidly providing information that can potentially be used for insect vector and plant disease control. RNA interference (RNAi), a sequence-specific gene silencing method, is one of the most widely used molecular tools in functional genomics studies. RNAi uses exogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or small interfering RNA (siRNA) to prevent the production of proteins by inhibiting the expression of their corresponding messenger RNA (mRNA). In this study, we measured the efficacy of gene silencing, and its effects on D. maidis mortality as proof of concept that RNAi is a viable tool for use in genetic pest control of phloem-feeding insects. Oral delivery of dsRNA using an artificial diet was used to silence two key insect genes, vacuolar ATP synthase subunit B, and subunit D (V-ATPase B and V-ATPase D). Our results showed reduced gene expression of V-ATPase B and V-ATPase D after ingestion of dsRNA, and significantly higher mortality, and wing deformation, associated with reduced gene expression, compared to control insects that were not orally fed dsRNA. These results reveal RNAi as a viable tool for use in genetic pest control of phloem-feeding insects, and a way for further functional genomic studies, such as identification of potential target genes for either population suppression or population replacement of this vector of maize diseases.
, Jiaji Chen, Natalie del Rossi, Mohammed Muzamil Khan, Adriana Sistig,
Published: 1 October 2021
Genome Research, Volume 31, pp 1706-1718; https://doi.org/10.1101/gr.275224.121

Abstract:
Spatial transcriptomics is a rapidly growing field that promises to comprehensively characterize tissue organization and architecture at the single-cell or subcellular resolution. Such information provides a solid foundation for mechanistic understanding of many biological processes in both health and disease that cannot be obtained by using traditional technologies. The development of computational methods plays important roles in extracting biological signals from raw data. Various approaches have been developed to overcome technology-specific limitations such as spatial resolution, gene coverage, sensitivity, and technical biases. Downstream analysis tools formulate spatial organization and cell–cell communications as quantifiable properties, and provide algorithms to derive such properties. Integrative pipelines further assemble multiple tools in one package, allowing biologists to conveniently analyze data from beginning to end. In this review, we summarize the state of the art of spatial transcriptomic data analysis methods and pipelines, and discuss how they operate on different technological platforms.
Sangappa B Chadchan, Pooja Popli, Chandrasekhar R Ambati, , Sang Jun Han, Serdar E Bulun, Nagireddy Putluri, Scott W Biest,
Published: 30 September 2021
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101224

Abstract:
Worldwide, ∼196 million are afflicted with endometriosis, a painful disease in which endometrial tissue implants and proliferates on abdominal peritoneal surfaces. Theories on the origin of endometriosis remained inconclusive. Whereas up to 90% of women experience retrograde menstruation, only 10% develop endometriosis, suggesting that factors that alter peritoneal environment might contribute to endometriosis. Herein, we report that whereas some gut bacteria promote endometriosis, others protect against endometriosis by fermenting fiber to produce short-chain fatty acids. Specifically, we found that altered gut microbiota drives endometriotic lesion growth and feces from mice with endometriosis contained less of short-chain fatty acid and n-butyrate than feces from mice without endometriosis. Treatment with n-butyrate reduced growth of both mouse endometriotic lesions and human endometriotic lesions in a pre-clinical mouse model. Mechanistic studies revealed that n-butyrate inhibited human endometriotic cell survival and lesion growth through G-protein–coupled receptors, histone deacetylases, and a GTPase activating protein, RAP1GAP. Our findings will enable future studies aimed at developing diagnostic tests, gut bacteria metabolites and treatment strategies, dietary supplements, n-butyrate analogs, or probiotics for endometriosis.
Anirudh Chakravarthy, Anirudh Nandakumar, Geen George, Shyamsundar Ranganathan, Suchitta Umashankar, Nishan Shettigar, , ,
Published: 30 September 2021
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101213

Abstract:
The continued resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic with multiple variants underlines the need for diagnostics that are adaptable to the virus. We have developed toehold RNA–based sensors across the SARS-CoV-2 genome for direct and ultrasensitive detection of the virus and its prominent variants. Here, isothermal amplification of a fragment of SARS-CoV-2 RNA coupled with activation of our biosensors leads to a conformational switch in the sensor. This leads to translation of a reporter protein, for example, LacZ or nano-lantern that is easily detected using color/luminescence. By optimizing RNA amplification and biosensor design, we have generated a highly sensitive diagnostic assay that is capable of detecting as low as 100 copies of viral RNA with development of bright color. This is easily visualized by the human eye and quantifiable using spectrophotometry. Finally, this PHAsed NASBA-Translation Optical Method (PHANTOM) using our engineered RNA biosensors efficiently detects viral RNA in patient samples. This work presents a powerful and universally accessible strategy for detecting COVID-19 and variants. This strategy is adaptable to further viral evolution and brings RNA bioengineering center-stage.
, Meng Yuan, Hans-Christian Kornau, , Scott van Hoof, Elisa Sánchez-Sendin, Melanie Ramberger, Wenli Yu, Yuanzi Hua, Henry Tien, et al.
Published: 30 September 2021
Abstract:
SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant of concern (VOC) resists neutralization by major classes of antibodies from non-VOC COVID-19 patients and vaccinated individuals. Here, serum of Beta variant infected patients revealed reduced cross-neutralization of non-VOC virus. From these patients, we isolated Beta-specific and cross-reactive receptor-binding domain (RBD) antibodies. The Beta-specificity results from recruitment of novel VOC-specific clonotypes and accommodation of VOC-defining amino acids into a major non-VOC antibody class that is normally sensitive to these mutations. The Beta-elicited cross-reactive antibodies share genetic and structural features with non-VOC-elicited antibodies, including a public VH1-58 clonotype targeting the RBD ridge independent of VOC mutations. These findings advance our understanding of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 shaped by antigenic drift with implications for design of next-generation vaccines and therapeutics. One sentence summary SARS-CoV-2 Beta variant elicits lineage-specific antibodies and antibodies with neutralizing breadth against wild-type virus and VOCs.
Ian R. Humphreys, Jimin Pei, MinKyung Baek, Aditya Krishnakumar, , Sergey R Ovchinnikov, Jing Zhang, Travis J. Ness, Sudeep Banjade, Saket R Bagde, et al.
Published: 30 September 2021
Abstract:
Protein-protein interactions play critical roles in biology, but despite decades of effort, the structures of many eukaryotic protein complexes are unknown, and there are likely many interactions that have not yet been identified. Here, we take advantage of recent advances in proteome-wide amino acid coevolution analysis and deep-learning-based structure modeling to systematically identify and build accurate models of core eukaryotic protein complexes, as represented within the Saccharomyces cerevisiae proteome. We use a combination of RoseTTAFold and AlphaFold to screen through paired multiple sequence alignments for 8.3 million pairs of S. cerevisiae proteins and build models for strongly predicted protein assemblies with two to five components. Comparison to existing interaction and structural data suggests that these predictions are likely to be quite accurate. We provide structure models spanning almost all key processes in Eukaryotic cells for 104 protein assemblies which have not been previously identified, and 608 which have not been structurally characterized. One-sentence summary We take advantage of recent advances in proteome-wide amino acid coevolution analysis and deep-learning-based structure modeling to systematically identify and build accurate models of core eukaryotic protein complexes.
, Prabhu S. Arunachalam, Mengyun Hu, Noah Reis, Meera Trisal, Olivia Raeber, Sharon Chinthrajah, Meredith E. Davis-Gardner, Kelly Manning, Prakriti Mudvari, et al.
Published: 30 September 2021
Abstract:
The development of the highly efficacious mRNA vaccines in less than a year since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 represents a landmark in vaccinology. However, reports of waning vaccine efficacy, coupled with the emergence of variants of concern that are resistant to antibody neutralization, have raised concerns about the potential lack of durability of immunity to vaccination. We recently reported findings from a comprehensive analysis of innate and adaptive immune responses in 56 healthy volunteers who received two doses of the BNT162b2 vaccination. Here, we analyzed antibody responses to the homologous Wu strain as well as several variants of concern, including the emerging Mu (B.1.621) variant, and T cell responses in a subset of these volunteers at six months (day 210 post-primary vaccination) after the second dose. Our data demonstrate a substantial waning of antibody responses and T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, at 6 months following the second immunization with the BNT162b2 vaccine. Notably, a significant proportion of vaccinees have neutralizing titers below the detection limit, and suggest a 3rd booster immunization might be warranted to enhance the antibody titers and T cell responses.
, Irene Vraka, Olga Siskou, Olympia Konstantakopoulou, Aglaia Katsiroumpa, Ioannis Moisoglou, Daphne Kaitelidou
Published: 29 September 2021
Abstract:
Background Parents’ intention to vaccinate their children against the COVID-19 is envisaged as critical strategy to control the pandemic. Objective To investigate the intention of parents to vaccinate their children against the COVID-19 and the factors influencing this intention. Methods We conducted an online cross-sectional study in Greece and we collected data during the first week of September 2021. A convenience sample was used by collecting questionnaires through social media. Our study population included adult parents with children aged 12-17 years who were eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Results Study population included 813 parents with a mean age of 42.3 years. Among parents, 36% reported that they will vaccinate their children against the COVID-19, 33.5% denied vaccination and 30.5% were undecided. Concerns about the safety, effectiveness and side effects of COVID-19 vaccines were the most important reasons for decline of COVID-19 vaccination. Parents who took the flu vaccine in 2020 and those who had more knowledge and fewer concerns about COVID-19 vaccines had a greater probability to vaccinate their children against the COVID-19. Increased self-perceived severity of COVID-19, and increased trust in COVID-19 vaccines and the government regarding the information about the COVID-19 vaccines were associated with parents’ intention to vaccinate their children. However, increased knowledge regarding COVID-19 was associated with decreased intention of parents to vaccinate their children. Conclusions Parents’ intention to vaccinate their children against the COVID-19 was low. Our findings could contribute to the development of target strategies to implement adherence to COVID-19 vaccination campaigns.
Jeffrey Kuniholm, Elise Armstrong, Brandy Bernabe, Carolyn Coote, Anna Berenson, Samantha Drinan, Alex Olson, Xianbao He, Nina Lin, , et al.
Published: 29 September 2021
Abstract:
HIV establishes a persistent proviral reservoir by integrating into the genome of infected host cells. Current antiretroviral treatments do not target this persistent population of proviruses which include latently infected cells that upon treatment interruption can be reactivated to contribute to HIV-1 rebound. Deep sequencing of persistent HIV proviruses has revealed that greater than 90% of integrated HIV genomes are defective and unable to produce infectious virions. We hypothesized that intragenic elements in the HIV genome support transcription of aberrant HIV-1 RNAs from defective proviruses that lack long terminal repeats (LTRs). Using an intact provirus detection assay, we observed that resting CD4+ T cells and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) are biased towards generating defective HIV-1 proviruses. Multiplex reverse transcription digital drop PCR identified Env and Nef transcripts which lacked 5’ untranslated regions (UTR) in acutely infected CD4+ T cells and MDMs indicating transcripts are generated that do not utilize the promoter within the LTR. 5’UTR-deficient Env transcripts were also identified in a cohort of people living with HIV (PLWH) on ART, suggesting that these aberrant RNAs are produced in vivo. Using 5’ rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE), we mapped the start site of these transcripts within the Env gene. This region bound several cellular transcription factors and functioned as a transcriptional regulatory element that could support transcription and translation of downstream HIV-1 RNAs. These studies provide mechanistic insights into how defective HIV-1 proviruses are persistently expressed to potentially drive inflammation in PLWH.
, , Paul A. Christensen, Randall J. Olsen, Robert Olson, Maulik Shukla, Sishir Subedi, Rick Stevens, James M. Musser
Published: 28 September 2021
Abstract:
The ARTIC Network provides a common resource of PCR primer sequences and recommendations for amplifying SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The initial tiling strategy was developed with the reference genome Wuhan-01, and subsequent iterations have addressed areas of low amplification and sequence drop out. Recently, a new version (V4) was released, based on new variant genome sequences, in response to the realization that some V3 primers were located in regions with key mutations. Herein, we compare the performance of the ARTIC V3 and V4 primer sets with a matched set of 663 SARS-CoV-2 clinical samples sequenced with an Illumina NovaSeq 6000 instrument. We observe general improvements in sequencing depth and quality, and improved resolution of the SNP causing the D950N variation in the spike protein. Importantly, we also find nearly universal presence of spike protein substitution G142D in Delta-lineage samples. Due to the prior release and widespread use of the ARTIC V3 primers during the initial surge of the Delta variant, it is likely that the G142D amino acid substitution is substantially underrepresented among early Delta variant genomes deposited in public repositories. In addition to the improved performance of the ARTIC V4 primer set, this study also illustrates the importance of the primer scheme in downstream analyses. Importance ARTIC Network primers are commonly used by laboratories worldwide to amplify and sequence SARS-CoV-2 present in clinical samples. As new variants have evolved and spread, it was found that the V3 primer set poorly amplified several key mutations. In this report, we compare the results of sequencing a matched set of samples with the V3 and V4 primer sets. We find that adoption of the ARTIC V4 primer set is critical for accurate sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 spike region. The absence of metadata describing the primer scheme used will negatively impact the downstream use of publicly available SARS-Cov-2 sequencing reads and assembled genomes.
Katherine A. Amato, Luis A. Haddock, , , Brandi Livingston, , Grace A. Schaack, Emma Boehm, Christina A. Higgins, Gabrielle L. Barry, et al.
Published: 28 September 2021
Abstract:
Transmission of influenza A viruses (IAV) between hosts is subject to numerous physical and biological barriers that impose genetic bottlenecks, constraining viral diversity and adaptation. The presence of bottlenecks within individual hosts and their potential impacts on evolutionary pathways taken during infection and subsequent transmission are poorly understood. To address this knowledge gap, we created highly diverse IAV libraries bearing molecular barcodes on two independent gene segments, enabling high-resolution tracking and quantification of unique virus lineages within hosts. Here we show that IAV infection in lungs is characterized by multiple within-host bottlenecks that result in “islands” of infection in lung lobes, each with genetically distinct populations. We performed site-specific inoculation of barcoded IAV in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets and tracked viral diversity as infection spread to the trachea and lungs. We observed compartmentalized replication of discrete barcoded populations within the lobes of the lung. Bottlenecks stochastically sampled individual viruses from the upper respiratory tract or the trachea that became the dominant genotype in a particular lobe. These populations are shaped strongly by founder effects, with no evidence for positive selection. The segregated sites of replication highlight the jackpot-style events that contribute to within-host influenza virus evolution and may account for low rates of intrahost adaptation.
Rahul Ranjan, Richard Partl, Ricarda Erhart, Nithin Kurup,
Published: 27 September 2021
Abstract:
Although significant advancements in computer-aided diagnostics using artificial intelligence (AI) have been made, to date, no viable method for radiation-induced skin reaction (RISR) analysis and classification is available. The objective of this single-center study was to develop machine learning and deep learning approaches using deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for automatic classification of RISRs according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) grading system. Scarletred® Vision, a novel and state-of-the-art digital skin imaging method capable of remote monitoring and objective assessment of acute RISRs was used to convert 2D digital skin images using the CIELAB color space and conduct SEV* measurements. A set of different machine learning and deep convolutional neural network-based algorithms has been explored for the automatic classification of RISRs. A total of 2263 distinct images from 209 patients were analyzed for training and testing the machine learning and CNN algorithms. For a 2-class problem of healthy skin (grade 0) versus erythema (grade ≥ 1), all machine learning models produced an accuracy of above 70%, and the sensitivity and specificity of erythema recognition were 67-72% and 72-83%, respectively. The CNN produced a test accuracy of 74%, sensitivity of 66%, and specificity of 83% for predicting healthy and erythema cases. For the severity grade prediction of a 3-class problem (grade 0 versus 1 versus 2), the overall test accuracy was 60-67%, and the sensitivities were 56-82%, 35-59%, and 65-72%, respectively. For estimating the severity grade of each class, the CNN obtained an accuracy of 73%, 66%, and 82%, respectively. Ensemble learning combines several individual predictions to obtain a better generalization performance. Furthermore, we exploited ensemble learning by deploying a CNN model as a meta-learner. The ensemble CNN based on bagging and majority voting shows an accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of 87%, 90%, and 82% for a 2-class problem, respectively. For a 3-class problem, the ensemble CNN shows an overall accuracy of 66%, while for each grade (0, 1, and 2) accuracies were 76%, 69%, and 87%, sensitivities were 70%, 57%, and 71%, and specificities were 78%, 75%, and 95%, respectively. This study is the first to focus on erythema in radiation-dermatitis and produces benchmark results using machine learning models. The outcome of this study validates that the proposed system can act as a pre-screening and decision support tool for oncologists or patients to provide fast, reliable, and efficient assessment of erythema grading.
Raphael A. Reyes, Kathleen Clarke, S. Jake Gonzales, Angelene M. Cantwell, Rolando Garza, Gabriel Catano, Robin E. Tragus, Thomas F. Patterson, ,
Published: 27 September 2021
Abstract:
SARS-CoV-2 infection elicits a robust B cell response, resulting in the generation of long-lived plasma cells and memory B cells. Here, we aimed to determine the effect of COVID-19 severity on the memory B cell response and characterize changes in the memory B cell compartment between recovery and five months post-symptom onset. Using high-parameter spectral flow cytometry, we analyzed the phenotype of memory B cells with reactivity against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein or the spike receptor binding domain (RBD) in recovered individuals who had been hospitalized with non-severe (n=8) or severe (n=5) COVID-19. One month after symptom onset, a substantial proportion of spike-specific IgG+ B cells showed an activated phenotype. In individuals who experienced non-severe disease, spike-specific IgG+ B cells showed increased expression of markers associated with durable B cell memory, including T-bet, FcRL5, and CD11c, which was not observed after severe disease. Five months post-symptom onset, the majority of spike-specific memory B cells had a resting phenotype and the percentage of spike-specific T-bet+ IgG+ memory B cells decreased to baseline levels. Collectively, our results suggest that the memory B cell response elicited during non-severe COVID-19 may be of higher quality than the response after severe disease.
Published: 27 September 2021
Abstract:
The development of AlphaFold2 was a paradigm-shift in the structural biology community; herein we assess the ability of AlphaFold2 to predict disordered regions against traditional sequence-based disorder predictors. We find that a naive use of Dictionary of Secondary Structure of Proteins (DSSP) to separate ordered from disordered regions leads to a dramatic overestimation in disorder content, and that the predicted Local Distance Difference Test (pLDDT) provides a much more rigorous metric. In addition, we show that even when used for disorder prediction, conventional predictors can outperform the pLDDT in disorder identification, and note an interesting relationship between the pLDDT and secondary structure, that may explain our observations, and hints at a broader application of the pLDDT to IDP dynamics.
Houriiyah Tegally, Eduan Wilkinson, Christian L. Althaus, Marta Giovanetti, James Emmanuel San, Jennifer Giandhari, Sureshnee Pillay, Yeshnee Naidoo, Upasana Ramphal, Nokukhanya Msomi, et al.
Published: 27 September 2021
Abstract:
The Beta variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in South Africa in late 2020 and rapidly became the dominant variant, causing over 95% of infections in the country during and after the second epidemic wave. Here we show rapid replacement of the Beta variant by the Delta variant, a highly transmissible variant of concern (VOC) that emerged in India and subsequently spread around the world. The Delta variant was imported to South Africa primarily from India, spread rapidly in large monophyletic clusters to all provinces, and became dominant within three months of introduction. This was associated with a resurgence in community transmission, leading to a third wave which was associated with a high number of deaths. We estimated a growth advantage for the Delta variant in South Africa of 0.089 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.084-0.093) per day which corresponds to a transmission advantage of 46% (95% CI 44-48) compared to the Beta variant. These data provide additional support for the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant relative to other VOC and highlight how dynamic shifts in the distribution of variants contribute to the ongoing public health threat.
Xinhua Chen, Wei Wang, Xinghui Chen, Qianhui Wu, Ruijia Sun, Shijia Ge, Nan Zheng, Wanying Lu, Juan Yang, Lance Rodewald, et al.
Published: 27 September 2021
Abstract:
Evidence on vaccine-specific protection over time and boosting impact against the Delta variant across different clinical endpoints and age groups is urgently needed. To address this, we used a previously published model, combined with neutralization data for four vaccines - mRNA-1273, BNT162b2, NVX-CoV2373, and CoronaVac - to evaluate long-term dynamics of neutralizing antibody and to predict time-varying efficacy against the Delta variant by specific vaccine, age group, and clinical severity. We found that booster vaccination produces higher neutralization titers compared with titers observed following primary-series vaccination for all vaccines studied. We estimate the efficacies of mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2 against Delta variant infection to be 63.5% (95%CI: 51.4-67.3%) and 78.4% (95%CI: 72.2-83.5%), respectively, 14-30 days after the second dose, and that efficacies decreased to 36.0% (95%CI: 24.1-58.0%) and 38.5% (95%CI: 28.7-49.1%) 6-8 months later. After administration of booster doses, efficacies against the Delta variant would be 97.0% (95%CI: 96.4-98.5%) and 97.2% (95.7-98.1%). All four vaccines are predicted to provide good protection against severe illness from the Delta variant after both primary and booster vaccination. Long-term monitoring and surveillance of antibody dynamics and vaccine protection, as well as further validation of neutralizing antibody or other markers that can serve as correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants are needed to inform COVID-19 pandemic preparedness.
, , , Marta Gomes, Marcos Bicalho, Jonas Coelho Kasmanas, , Antonis Chatzinotas, , Oscar Dias, et al.
Published: 27 September 2021
Life Science Alliance, Volume 4; https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.202101167

Abstract:
The high complexity found in microbial communities makes the identification of microbial interactions challenging. To address this challenge, we present OrtSuite, a flexible workflow to predict putative microbial interactions based on genomic content of microbial communities and targeted to specific ecosystem processes. The pipeline is composed of three user-friendly bash commands. OrtSuite combines ortholog clustering with genome annotation strategies limited to user-defined sets of functions allowing for hypothesis-driven data analysis such as assessing microbial interactions in specific ecosystems. OrtSuite matched, on average, 96% of experimentally verified KEGG orthologs involved in benzoate degradation in a known group of benzoate degraders. We evaluated the identification of putative synergistic species interactions using the sequenced genomes of an independent study that had previously proposed potential species interactions in benzoate degradation. OrtSuite is an easy-to-use workflow that allows for rapid functional annotation based on a user-curated database and can easily be extended to ecosystem processes where connections between genes and reactions are known. OrtSuite is an open-source software available at https://github.com/mdsufz/OrtSuite.
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